Brute's Bleat: April 2, 2014

 

Things are starting to periodically look brighter with a 60-degree Sunday. With that comes melting snow drifts and I figure that, by the end of the week, I should be able to pick up the Christmas light extension cords that have been buried since the New Year. That goes ditto for the holiday lights that I wrapped around some bushes and the snow has been too deep to remove them. After driving around town, I noticed I’m not the only resident with that problem. Of course, there is still the possibility of additional snow this week (Thursday) which could postpone cleaning up for another week. If that happens, my plan is to plug the lights back in and use them for Easter decorations (April 20).    .     .    Last week’s brief rainfall had the robins congregating on lawns void of snow apparently looking for food. There was a huge flock at the intersection of Linden Ave. N. and Division Street poking their beaks into the sod and apparently finding some sort of bugs. The ground was too frozen for worms and nightcrawlers, but another shower should help the robins in that respect. I heard a pair of Sandhill cranes while Vanna and I were walking in the eastern portion of Ney Park Saturday. We also saw a hen pheasant fly into the Lake Mary swamp, but so far I haven’t seen any migrating ducks. Anglers are still driving vehicles and ATVs on local lakes and as long as there is a way to get on, there should be ample ice for them. That’s not an endorsement for safe ice on the lakes, which is never 100%, so use your own judgement.     .      .      On the other hand, my Florida informant, Mike Muller, doesn’t have a problem with ice on Lake Okeechobee, but he’s reluctant to put his hand in the water because of alligators. Last week he e-mailed me a photo of a crappie he caught in that lake, 14.5 inches and 2.7 pounds, which has been his largested this year. He and his fishing buddy, Jesse, apparently had a banner day with most of their 30 fish catch in the 12- to 13-inch range. I’d say they must have found the honey hole! I haven’t been out for a good week, but hope to remedy that this week.     
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I spent a portion of Sunday watching the NCAA basketball games which are going into the final four. Naturally I was pulling for the Michigan teams, neither of which made it when they were defeated by the University of Connecticut and the University of Kentucky. I suspect I’ll back Wisconsin now, even though that’s kind of like ‘jumping ship.’ Another harbinger of spring was the Twins opener with the Chicago White Sox Monday. Their first home game is April 7, 3:10 p.m., with Oakland, with eight more home games through April 17 before they go on the road. We’ll need a major warm-up for those games, which include three night games. 
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The DNR has some hints for home and cabin owners who like living in remote, wooded areas or, for that matter, on a prairie. 
Q: With the potential for a wildfire season this spring, is there anything people can do now to protect their homes and cabins?
A: Now, while the snowpack is still here, burn brush piles. If there is less than three inches of snow on the ground, a burning permit is required. Check with a local forestry office.
Late winter is the best time to prune trees. Look at the trees and shrubs within 100 feet surrounding the cabin or house. Eliminate ladder fuels by pruning 6 to 10 feet up from the ground. Thin out evergreen trees so branches are 10 feet apart. Maintain a 10-foot space between the crowns of trees. Clean roof and gutters of any wood or pine needles, leaves or debris. Prune off tree branches touching the house. Move wood piles outside a 30-foot zone surrounding the cabin or house. Make sure the chimney has a spark arrestor.
For more information go to www.mndnr.gov/firewise.
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I didn’t get to the Northwest Sportshow last week, the 82nd annual, which means the show started before I was born, but not by much. It’s a great place to see the latest in sports equipment and there are aisles upon aisles of vendors from fishing, family resorts and hunting outfitters from the Midwest as well as Canada and other countries. Last week’s Outdoor News included a lot of advertising by vendors who planned to be at the show. One item that caught my eye was a Fishphone WIFI underwater camera which turns your smart phone or tablet into a fully functional underwater camera monitor. It’s a Vexilar product and, if I was 60 years younger, there’s no double I’d have one either on the ice or in the boat. You don’t need cell phone coverage to use it, but it’s like other gadgets, it will show you fish, but it’s still up to the angler to entice them to bite!
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