Hello December

Lately fall and winter have been playing with us like two kids on a teeter-tooter.  It sounds like old man winter might take charge by the middle of next week so hurry up and finish those last minute outside chores.  Hopefully we can get some cold weather before it starts snowing so the lakes can freeze over.  For me there is nothing more fun than watching my kids skating over the ice having  fun.  The great thing about the outdoors is it’s just sitting there at your fingertips waiting for you.

Hard water fun

Hard water fun

While we were in the transition period around here I took a little R&R time to go with my middle son Brett to Montana to do some wilderness camping, hunting and site seeing.  The unusual lack of plentiful snow did provide some challenges that limited our hunting success but saw some great sights that made me feel lucky to just be there.

Hard water beauty

Hard water beauty

Rock slide delight

Rockslide delight

A view from above

A view from above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always start feeding the birds in my neighborhood during this change of season. Every year I challenge myself to tame the chickadees, a few nuthatches or an occasional woodpecker to eat out of my hand.  For me, it’s great therapy from my hectic daily schedule to go outside and stand there, slowly earning their trust.  Having a bird land on your hat, shoulder or hand sends joy throughout your body.   My tip for the day is if you to want to experience this be patient, be persistent, hold still,  have treats in your hand like shelled sunflower seeds or chopped peanuts and again be patient. Once you earn the trust of one many others will follow.  Remember, many of the same birds will live in your area for years so next season will most likely be easier than the previous.

Try it! It will make you smile I promise.

Try it! It will make you smile I promise.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and even a better holiday season ahead of you.

-Steve

Tee and Turkey Time!

I hope you all got a chance to see the Super Moon this past weekend. I sure did and it was quite impressive. My backyard was lit up like a Walmart parking lot! It would’ve probably been a great time to play some night golf. Maybe we should try to schedule a fun tournament next year around on some of these events?

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Moon Maze

This Thursday will likely be the last time to play a round of golf at Voyager Village, so if you have the time please come on out and enjoy one more round. This year has been an exceptionally long season that provided great playing conditions when it wasn’t raining. I do look forward to the changing seasons and I hear we may get a little snow by the weekend. I think this forecast might hold true seeing as Betty seemed to have a little extra spring in her step this week as she helped us mark the trails on course. I’m always humbled by all of the volunteers who pitch in around our community, so I would like to thank everyone who has helped us make this one of the best golf seasons ever and I can’t wait to see you armed with your rakes next spring.  Don’t forget that most of the pros recommend shoveling snow as a great way to keep your golf swing strong in the off-season, so please come join me this winter as much as possible.🙂

Next week, I will be taking some time off from my blog to focus on time with my family and hopefully fill up on some great Thanksgiving food.  If you don’t like cooking I encourage you to bring your family and friends out to Voyager Village for the buffet. This meal is always suitable for even the most prominent kings and queens of our community and shouldn’t be missed.

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Pardon me, good sir.

Thanks again and have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

-Steve

Happy Veterans Day

Today is an incredibly special day where we should all take time to give thanks to and pay respect to the brave men and women that have served this great country. Without their selfless acts we would be sitting in a very different world than we are today, perhaps without all of the wonderful freedoms we can take for granted. Voyager Village is lucky to have a bunch of these particular individuals in our community and I would like to personally thank them for their truly admirable dedication and the sacrifices that they have made. It is my hope that if you see them today you will do the same.

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To you we salute

The Village has been blessed these past few weeks with a string of sunny, warm days that will make this fall memorable for most. For the first time in my 10 years here at Voyager we had to retrofit our sprayer with a hose so we could go out and water our greens, since we have already blown out the irrigation system. The unpredictable nature of weather certainly makes my job interesting and keeps me on my toes. It’s hard to believe that the general outlook for this winter is mostly cold and snowy. We will see!

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Milkweed seeds fly away in the fall breeze

The one thing that has been missing for me this fall is the lack of geese. I have not seen one V formation fly overhead. Often times I ponder why; could they still be farther north?  I don’t have a love for geese when they’re on my course making a mess but I surely enjoy seeing them passing over, honking away signaling another change of season.  For now I will have to settle for the beautiful sounds of the trumpeter swans and hope that the geese are yet to come.

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Swan enjoying a rest on its journey south.

-Steve

Green Grass is Growing

This fall has been exceptionally warm and it appears that the trend will continue for a little while longer. Typically we are able to stop mowing the grass around October 15th, but this year we mowed a little longer into the season.  However even with mowings later in the season, we find that the grass today is quite long because of the summer-like temperatures.  The reason why we cease our mowing at some point is to allow the grass enough time to store up extra carbohydrates for the long winter ahead, similar to how a beehive needs enough honey in reserves to survive until spring. This is accomplished more easily when the plant is not being constantly stressed by mowers cutting off part of its leaf blade.  Longer leaf blades helps it gather more light which increase photosysthesis and eventually carbohydrate storage, which leads to a healthier plant.

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Number one fairway. Did you know a golf ball is 1.68″ inches in diameter.

The negative side of all this abundant warm weather is that plants are still growing fast and are more prone to winter injury because of that fast growth.  Normally cool weather and multiple hard frosts help the plant harden off and prep them for winter. This is not the case so far this year as I still have flowers on my deck next to the house that have not frozen yet. So lets enjoy the nice weather for now but hope for a gradual cool down and hope that the nasty words “Polar Plunge” don’t make any headlines any time soon.

 

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Two fairway on Nov 4th

The other thing that is on my mind is rain. Can you believe that after such a wet spring and early summer I would be saying that? The reason why is because our irrigation system has already been blown out for the winter, meaning that we have no way to water our grass. Thus, it is starting to dry out from the unusually warm spell. This warm, dry fall has also increased our fire danger for the first time in months. Minimize your fire risks at home by cleaning the leaves and needles out of your gutters and away from the foundation of your home.

Please take a break from the yard work this weekend and enjoy this beautiful weather while it last.  I will leave you with a picture of something that I first saw crossing the road the other day.  This particular salamander was about 10 inches long and is one of the biggest types found in this area.  They even eat small rodents so I’m thinking he isn’t going to starve this year.

Have a Great Weekend!

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Eastern Tiger Salamander

-Steve

Fabulous Fall

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Shoal Lake

For me fall is by far the best time of the year. I personally don’t like hot humid weather so the cooler up-and-down temperatures seem perfect to me. The fall colors of the vegetation are truly breath taking at times. The onslaught of bugs has been reduced to a few pesky wasps, hornets and everyone’s favorite: the Asian Lady Beatles.  This time of the year, everybody seems to have a little more spring in their step. It’s almost as if there is an urgency that fills the crisp air, like beavers trying to fill their lodge and surrounds with enough supplies to last the impeding long winter ahead.

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Loon Creek

This fall has been exceptionally warm just like our spring was.  A few light frosts is all that Jack Frost has manage to muster. Typically by Fall Fest, the leaves on the golf course are scarce to find but this year is a different story.  This fall will hopefully play out in front of us in a manner that is exceptionable for all of us.

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S’mores await you!

In the meantime lets continue to enjoy the what’s left of this beautiful season and try to make time in our busy lives to appreciate what a wonderful place that we live in.  I hope to see you all at 7 pm tonight for the lighting of the pumpkins at the clubhouse and again on Saturday for all the wonderful activities from noon to four.  Come see what may be the first 1000 pound pumpkin ever grown in Burnett County to go under my knife.  Regardless if it really is that heavy (I am merely using a chart to estimate) it truly is a beauty that you should all come see.  If you would like a seed from this particular pumpkin to grow next year just hunt me down and I would be honored to oblige.

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The Beast needs your smiles.

-Steve

Leaves aren’t all Bad

As the wind blew today the sky and ground filled with leaves. One leaf is harmless enough, but a thousand of them dancing across the golf course or your yard is a different story.  For us, leaves and pine needles are a lot of work.   These needles fall like darts thrown by the mightiest of men and lodge deep into the ground, just daring you to remove them from the premise.  Like a bug on your windshield they hang on for dear life, proving to be a formidable opponent.  For the husky warriors on the grounds crew, who brave the morning cold, work means an approaching end to other golf season.  Armed with massive turbine blowers that create category 5 wind speeds and machines filled with whirling rubber teeth that aim to swallow a hundreds of pine needles up at a time they do battle.  Yet even with our best efforts, some always survive to fight for other day!

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Work or ?

Leaves are much like their cousins: the snowflake.  Their beauty is hard to describe and no two seem alike.  These days, Voyager Village and the surrounding area are full of magnificent fall displays.  A pile of leaves can be the end product of this beauty and a hard days work, or just the beginning of fun for some kids filled with more energy than that 30 mph wind.

I hope you will join me next week to witness this great spectacular, as some Webster School kids are coming to Voyager Village on Friday October 21 from 12:30-2:30 to help out people in need for their annual Make A Difference Day.  If you know someone that needs their leaves raked up or want to join in please feel to contact me at stevejohnson@voyagervillage.com or call 715-259-3924.

Better use PLAY!

Better use PLAY!

We hope to use some of these leaves gathered that day for our our annual leaf pile hunt during our annual Fall Fest Extravaganza on Saturday October 22, from Noon to 4 pm.  Come play some games, have great food and drinks, get your picture taken with one of my giant pumpkins or just relax on a hayride through our beautiful golf course. If you can’t make it Saturday stop in Friday night at 7pm at the clubhouse for the Lighting of the Giant Carved Pumpkins and smores by the fire afterwards.

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Hayride anyone? The views aren’t bad

Hope to see you there!

-Steveimg_21921

Fall Fun

This week ended with some much needed sunshine and the picking of this years pumpkins.  This year looked really promising for lots of giant pumpkins but that dream slowly deteriorated as the days passed by.  Deer caused the heaviest toll as they jumped or plowed their way through our makeshift fence to gain access to one of their favorite foods: pumpkins.  Mice and voles joined in on the feast and added to the overall damage.  To add insult to injury, we damaged one in the process of picking it up.  A field that once held over a dozen large pumpkins has been whittled down to just four; two of which have suffered damage from the deer. Hopefully they will make it too the Lighting of the Pumpkins on October 21st.

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Deer trying their luck at carving

One must always look for the positive in any situation and this year it came from my own garden; I reserved a little space to plant a giant pumpkin for myself.  I picked a seed that was from a nice colored pumpkin but not known to grow any extraordinary giants.  Surprisingly however, it did very well and has produced a pumpkin that I estimated to be anywhere 850 to 1000 pounds.  So I loaded it up Thursday evening and brought it to work to be stored until we are ready to put it on display for Fall Fest—which takes place Saturday, October 22.

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Charlie Brown would be proud.

I was busy this week also taking a few other pictures of things.  For me picture-taking is a great way relax and share my passion of outdoors with you.  These coming weeks should offer some great opportunities with all the great fall color around the Villager so enjoy!

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One big mushroom!

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One dirty frog!

Pint-Sized Powerhouse

There are countless things that could be classified under this title; for instance, you might even know some people who you would lump under it. For our sake at Voyager Village, this week’s “pint-sized powerhouse” was but a mere drone. When I first looked at it, it seemed more like a toy than an industrial tool. I was astounded to find out it can fly up to 40 mph, and was allowed to fly at a maximum height of 400 feet in the air.

Ready for take off on 7 tee

Ready for take off on 7 tee

Clay Schnell, the owner, made piloting the drone look simple, but I know that’s not the case from my few tangles with my sons’ toy helicopters. The main goal was to get a hole-by-hole flight of the golf course in order to upload and promote its beauty on our website. All of us that live, play and gather here know what a wonderful sight Voyager is to behold, and soon we will be able to share that with anybody anywhere virtually. I will let you know as soon as the final product is available on our website. I wish Clay a huge thanks for his work and the opportunity to see the process in action.

I leave you with some snapshots from the drone’s flight, which I hope will inspire you to want to get out and explore our beautiful area. Don’t forget that next Wednesday I will be giving a hayride and walk from 11 am to 1 pm leaving from the deck of the clubhouse—weather permitting.

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Hole #7

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Lake Little Bear

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View from above the clubhouse

Enjoy your weekend!

-Steve Johnson

 

The Great Migration

This past week saw people and wildlife on the move in search of desired needs or wants. For some people, this meant flocking to the Voyager Village Arts and Craft sale last weekend. This year the weather was perfect and an aerial photo sent in by Bob Ellson shows the magnitude of people in one location just to find beautiful handmade gifts, food and drinks, or just plain fun. The organizers and volunteers did a great job and were kind enough to bring over some leftover drinks and ice cream bars for the maintenance staff, which have been savored all week.ac6428

I was pleasantly surprised to see a few hummingbirds and monarch butterflies still hanging around my flower garden. Certainly most of local hummers and monarchs are gone but there are always a few stragglers that take advantage of the flowers until Jack Frost says no more.img_41131

Many of the local birds have already raised their young and in the next month or so there will be a lot of different birds passing through from the north headed to warmer climates for the winter.  Many of our very own residents will be joining them soon.  We will certainly miss all them all but I will do my best to keep everyone informed as to what is going on up here in the “North Woods.”

I leave you with a few pictures of some of my favorite insects that you won’t be seeing for quite sometime unless you head south.

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Swallowtail Butterfly

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Luna Moth

-Steve Johnson

Have a Great Weekend!

I want to personally thank all of you for following my blog and making such kind comments. It’s really empowers me to make my weekly posts knowing that so many people are following and enjoying my content. I know many of you really enjoy the pictures so I always try to find something interesting for you. A bountiful harvest from my garden is the main theme for me this week.  This time of the year there are so many great, fresh things to eat, but you always need to beware of the Fall’s cold. Jack Frost is always there waiting, but today my table is filled with his favorites.

Sorry Jack these fruits and veggies are mine!

Sorry Jack these fruits and veggies are mine!

This week we made our best efforts to have the course and facilities in great shape for the holiday weekend.  Staff and tons of volunteers worked like busy bees to get everything ready for the Arts and Crafts Show this weekend at the Community Center on Highway A.  The weather looks great so get out and enjoy this great community event!

Food and Crafts await you!

Food and Crafts await you!

I will leave you with a great picture of the golf course today.  I hope it inspires you to get out and enjoy the great weather, crafts and courses.

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Blue and green do mix together nicely!

 -Steve Johnson