Many of us have heard that saying in our lives and most of the time it’s just a just a kind gesture that we make when someone steps in to give a helping had. It’s that revolving wheel of love that makes good people even greater in the eyes of others. That was the case on Friday, as I came to the rescue of my wife as her schedule morphed into something unexpected and required me to jump in and fill one of those parent obligations. These seem to pop up like toast in the toaster each morning.
After the trails meeting Saturday I had about an hour before lunch, which was just the right amount of time to go berry picking. I really enjoy picking berries not only because I like eating the pies and syrups that come from them, but also my love to just be outside enjoying nature. This Saturday black berry pie was on my mind and the weather was just perfect for it. I figured that maybe I could cash on an “I owe you” and have my wife bake me one of those mouth-watering pies she’s known for.
It’s hard to eat just one
Blackberries however have one added challenge that one must not take lightly before encountering: thorns. I’m talking the kind that will make you look like you wrestled with a mountain lion that hasn’t eaten in weeks. Many times the true extent of the damage is not realized right away when the body is filled with adrenaline and visions of pie sitting next to a scope of ice cream. However when you hit the shower that night you’ll know that you were in a battle. The amazing thing about blackberries is the entire plant from head to toe is full of thorns.
Serious thorns everywhere on blackberry vines
The funny thing is that I keep coming back for more. I’m like an addict hooked on their black magic and can’t escape their spell. Sometimes it takes a day or two of healing before I return. The only sad part of this story is there is a new type of fruit fly that has been found in Wisconsin from afar that has also found its way to Burnett County. These fruit flies are a serious threat to many types of berries and have almost ruined my raspberry crop.
So lets hope for the best on that front, and if you’re hooked on this black magic then I urge you to get out in the next week. Picking is good right now but I believe it will peak in the next week and then go downhill. Blackberries like disturbance such as logging that allow light into the forest and usually start to thrive 3-5 years after such an event. Many of our trails provide these kinds of conditions. Always keep a eye out for poison ivy as you hunt for you prize as it too can be found in many of the same places. I hope you get a chance to experience some natural magic and remember that long sleeve shirt before you wrestle with the same wild cat that seems to get the best of me each time I hit the patch.
Three shiny leaves stay away
This past week has been fairly warm and humid, causing us to have multiple foggy mornings. As I was rolling greens this morning I had some time to think on a host of topics. One of those thoughts was on what was going to be the subject of my blog this week. I was assured just a few days ago that I was going to focus on flowers but then as the fog rolled in it became clear to me what it shall be.
The fog rolling in this morning about 5:30 AM
The deciding factor was not the fog for my blog but what came out of the fog, a golfer that I routinely see out there with a little hitch to his step from the scars that we all carry as we go older. He had big smile on his face and as he approached me he said “I finally attained my dream.” I glanced at the green to expect maybe a perfectly placed shot only to see his ball in the rough. I turned to him to find out what he was referencing when he told me “I finally hit the ball farther than I could see.”
Hole 7 at 7 AM this morning
As he left I thought about the importance of staying positive even when things are not going as one had planned. This winter I attend a class that talked about marketing and the importance of protecting a company’s brand. The speaker then took a twist and asked if we knew that all of us had a personal brand as well. He followed up by explaining that how we walk, talk and act effects the way others view us and it’s on display 24/7 365. This was an interesting point that most of us don’t exactly think about, even though I know we all have times where we wish that we could have handled ourselves better. Keeping your brand in tip-top condition can be as simple as keeping a smile when the fog rolls in.
Fog can help you see things in a new light sometimes!
Learn to enjoy the wild side in you!
After dealing with some technical difficulties with WordPress I’m back up and running! The positive side to being temporarily lock out of your account is that it gives one a chance to acquire some more pictures that many of my (much appreciated) followers have so positively commented on over the past two years. This week’s main topic is about taking time to get out and enjoy the bountiful blueberry crop that we have this year. With no late spring frosts this year and ample rain, the crop is certainly going to be above average. This weekend may see crops peaking, with a maximum percentage of ripe berries on the plant. It will quickly go downhill with the warmer temperatures in the forecast so act fast if you want to fill your pails!
(Posion Ivy) three shiny leaves stay away
I find that the best time to pick is early afternoon, where the plants have dried off and the sun angle is not quite as strong. If you wait until after supper the mosquitoes can get quite challenging. I find that avoiding areas of tall grass is wise as they can have a high number of ticks right now. Don’t forget that black bears like berries too so if you feel uncomfortable take a can of bear spray and stay out in the open and remember they are almost just as afraid of you as you are them.
For me just having a reason to get outdoors is what I live for, and right now an added bonus is seeing all the different types of wildflowers out there. This week I was lucky enough to spot three different wood lily plants while picking blueberries. The wood lily is a threatened species that is almost endangered and likes semi-open to completely open areas near forest edges. I hope that you have as much fun and luck as I have had wandering and eating my way home.
Most golf enthusiast took time out of their busy schedules to watch some of the US Open last week, held at beautiful Erin Hills Golf Course here in Wisconsin. The course itself is designed around a great piece of property, where they tried to disturb as little as possible and leave some wonderful natural grass areas. Encouraging native areas can be a win-win for golfers and the environment. These areas normally require less inputs such as water, fertilizer and mowing while providing better habitats for wildlife. Voyager is lucky to already have some great natural areas and I would like to see us continue to add to them.
This area is great for pollinators
The how, when, where and why of establishing a golf course is unique to each course and deserves a lot of thought before rushing into such a venue. Players at Erin Hills are mostly those who have low handicaps, so carrying a ball a long distance over a native field of grass with a walking path mowed through it is not an issue, but the same might not be a good idea for a course like Voyager.
Having proper irrigation coverage, or ideally lack of it, is also important for maintaining a natural area. An example of this is our own hole number 11. Much of the rough left of the second pond to the green is not ours and was left to grow wild. Our sprinklers there are not positioned to water just our property and actually water out into the other, non-mowed grass. This promotes a different type of grass that is thick and really unplayable and wouldn’t be easy to change without a plan and inputs. Compare that sight to the hill between the hole one and nine fairways on the par three that we left go natural that doesn’t have any irrigation.
Thick tall grass hole 11
Shorter, colorful native par 3 grass
All I can say there is a lot of things that play into making the proper decision in whether an area should be let go natural or not, but it can be great for all walks of life if implemented in a positive way.
We all have a list of things we would like to get done before Jack Frost returns to claim his rightful place in the great Northwoods. For me, planting the garden is always a staple on this list, but this year I decided to instead put priority on a memorable family vacation before my kids got too cool for spending time with their old mom and dad. As school got out and the temperatures began to rise, we began our summer adventure by heading West to Yellowstone National Park.
Snow cone anyone?
“Who you calling Short?” Marmot in Beartooth Pass.
Our first stop was to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Here bison, feral horses and tree-covered badlands dominated the landscape. We next headed through the Beartooth mountains in Montana on our way to Yellowstone. Driving through the pass in the Beartooth mountains provided some incredible views, but is not for the faint of heart as you zig-zag your way up to about eleven thousand feet in elevation and then back down. Along the way we saw some hardy winter enthusiast enjoying snowmobiling and skiing on snow that was nearly twenty feet deep in some spots. These trails have only recently been opened and are actually closed again due to more snow.
Mammoth Hot Springs.
White Cap Geyser in Yellowstone.
Once through the Beartooth pass we spent multiple days in Yellowstone and the surrounding area. The thermal features in Yellowstone are truly one-of-a-kind and really shine a light on how the Earth around us is constantly changing. We also visited Earthquake Lake just outside the park. This more evidence on how the world is at work under our feet; in the late 50’s a 7.3 magnitude earthquake caused a part of a mountain to sluff off and fall into the Madison River, damming its flow and flooding a large section of land.
Earthquake Lake in Montana.
From Yellowstone Park we headed back through the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, which was full of wildlife and ever-changing, great views. Here we encountered one of the many highlights of the trip; we saw eight moose feeding along in one spot and had some of them walk within 20 yards of our truck.
Moose on the move.
We ended our vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where we saw plenty of wildlife and did some successful trout fishing in one of the rivers that provided a tasty supper last night.
I hope that all of you take time to chase down one of your items on your bucket list this year and savor those memories for life!
Don’t mess with me.
If you find yourself driving through the Village one day, window down to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors and you just happen to see an animal walking down the road, I can tell you what to not do next. That is to turn the car around, stop the car, jump out of the vehicle with the door wide open, and chase after the thing with the hopes of getting a picture. For me, this scenario happened last week and the animal in question was a Porcupine.
I just wanted a hug!
At the time, chasing after a Porcupine seemed somewhat daring but ultimately fairly low risk, as they are not extremely fast nor vicious as long as you don’t get too close to their tail. Once I caught up to the thing it stopped and started to turn around, showing me its backside in self-defense. We got into some sort of dance of me trying to face it head-on to get a decent picture and it trying to keep its rear pointed at my face. Eventually we got into a position where I was still behind it, but it happened to now be facing the road and, more importantly, my parked car. Before I could even process the circumstances that might transpire, the Porcupine decided to bolt towards my car for safety. It was finally now when my brain realized that I had left the door to my car wide open. It took me a few precious seconds to actually start moving, a part of me frozen with the mental image of what could happen; a huge prickly rodent stuck to my front seat, filling it with quills. Luckily the thing was feeling somewhat merciful to me that day and opted to instead hide under the driver’s-side rocker panel of the old Caprice Classic. So remember, the next time you see something you want to chase, take time and shut the car door.
This past week we also saw our first run at some warm temperatures that apparently allowed some remaining turtle eggs to hatch from our sand traps, as I saw a cute little painted turtle headed across the number one green. I took a picture to help you reference how small and fragile they are when they hatch.
Was that a right turn or left?
The fly in this past weekend was a great success and I want to thank all that helped make that happen, or simply took time to be part of it. On the unfortunate side of things, I saw the emergency helicopter using the airstrip yesterday, but I suppose it makes you appreciate this great asset that we have in the Village.
I hope that you all find time to enjoy this wonderful weekend and explore all the things our area has to offer. For the nature hikers out there, this time of the year means that some of the Black Bears have cubs. Even though we all know that mothers can be protective of their young, don’t let this discourage you from enjoying yourself outdoors. In the past century there have been less than 70 fatal Black Bear attacks across North America, according to the North American Bear Center. Most attacks by Black Bears are defensive reactions in response to a person who gets very close to them, which is an easy situation to avoid. A Bear has recently been hanging around the Mullner trail near the Eagle nest so be sure to use caution.
Picture by Kermit VanRoekel
There are many other animals who are currently prepping for and raising their young. I hear the young eagles making a lot of noise trying to get there parents attention on our lake. I also see the foxes are doing well in Voyager and I counted a total of 10 pups playing around by our maintenance shop on hole 18 the other morning. This should help keep the rodents down and may discourage the geese from bringing the young on the course for awhile.
Fox takes it easy
One of the biggest downsides of Spring is certainly all of the pollen in the air, at least for those who suffer from allergies. I feel for you on days like today; my honey bees are providing plenty of proof as they return to their hive that pollen is plentiful right now. They work so hard all year to provide their beekeepers with some of their liquid gold each year and it’s certainly worth it. When you pop open a jar in the middle of the winder you can almost taste the sunshine from a day like today.
Take care and enjoy the fishing opener on Saturday!
Tuesday morning snow made for a delightful site
This week saw the first spring snow to have fallen since the robins returned from the south. Folklore says that it will snow on them three times before we are done with the white stuff for the season. I did see a chance of rain and snow in the forecast early next week; I hope that we’re not on track to prove this folklore true, as I don’t want to deal with snow anymore. I really do enjoy the beauty of winter, and it’s not too bad to stomach when it’s all melted the same day that it comes. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this, seeing as not very many were excited to see the snow this week. Golfers and some of the birds looked a little confused about what to do next. The woodcock below seemed to have the right idea to just sit tight and wait it out.
“I knew I should have listened to mom and dad and not fly north so fast.”
We have also been blessed with some nice weekend weather recently and lets hope that this trend continues for everyone’s Easter weekend. No matter if your main focus is feasting on some great food or just spending some quality time with the family, it’s important to take time to savor the moment. Time is most important thing in our lives so make the most of it when its in the palm of your hand waiting to be taken!
The Voyager desert bar is always a hit on Easter Sunday
From my family to yours!
Birch Island, very “Lamb Like” on this final day of March
The last day of March went out in style; sunshine, light winds and above normal temperatures were the theme for today and most of this week. The maintenance staff took advantage of the nice weather by installing a couple of long steel poles that hold our new dock in place at Lake Little Bear. Since the water drops off so quickly we need support poles that are 35 feet long. A special barge was brought in to help us with this task.
35 foot pole being slid into place
Emmett, the owner of the barge, is no stranger to running a lift or handling tall tasks. He actually was the guy who ran the crane that installed the new three hundred foot cell tower in Web Lake. Believe it or not he actually flew a drone and operated the crane at the same time in order to get an aerial view and make things a little easier.
The boat landing at Little Bear was also fixed today, as good as we can do for the time being. Caution should be used until more concrete pads can be hauled in and installed. Little Bear beach house will also be the location for the start of my Earth Day seminar on April 22nd at 1 pm. We will be learning about a host of tree issues including whatever might concerns the attendees. Then we will be going across the street to try and find some desired specimens for everyone to take back with them to their house or other areas in Voyager.
This tree has signs that it could fall on your house or garage
Hundreds of trees need you. Please come give them a home!
As we leave winter behind us I wanted to share a couple of pictures of things that I found interesting around the golf course. This past winter with the water levels high the ice has pushed up mounds of dirt around our lakes, including on Birch Island by our par 3 course. The wind also made it marks in many ways, as it blew piles of sand out of our sand traps and caused some problems that will haunt us for sometime.
Line drawn in the sand between greens tarp and sand that blew out of the trap.
Ice push on three green, par 3
Each time the Trumpeter swans dipped their necks into the mirror-like waters of Culbertson Lake, I carefully made my decent down the steep bank. I had stalked these two swans before and even though they knew I have never posed any immediate danger, they still kept their distance. Earlier this year they had eluded my lens by moving into the shadows of the trees. Today provided a different outcome where I was able to slither my way through the maze of downed aspen trees to reach the banks. They quickly recognized they had a spectator and slowly swam toward the beaver hut, away from the lone wolf of the paparazzi on Culbertson Lake.
Two swans a swimming
As the swans made their way around the perimeters of the unthawed portions of the lake, I heard another noise that came from the frozen section. An otter was popping up from one hole to the next enjoying a little spring-time warmth. He too was on the outer limits of my camera and made me think that I might want to invest in a spotting scope and give that a try. I hear that you can use that with your camera to get some great close up shots. That gives me two good reasons to get one now, so that makes it a necessity in my mind right?
Midnight blue ice
As I watched the otter I couldn’t help but think about the family of beavers that used to keep the lake levels a bit higher. If you weren’t aware, many times otters chase off the beavers and take over their lodges. The otters, like the beavers, will give me plenty of entertainment this summer that I hope to share with you.
This year’s weather has sure been interesting too. I look up the stats so far this year and the month of January was 6 degrees above normal, and February was an astounding 11 degrees above normal. Both months have also seen over an inch more precipitation than average, but mostly in rain rather than snow. March has been about two degrees below normal on the temperature side of things, but has been ahead on the moisture end once again. This little cold snap is about to end and this weeks temperatures should rebound quite nicely. This warm up will finally allow us to open the driving range on Monday and the golf courses on Wednesday at 11 am.
The course was originally nice and green when the snow first melted, but the recent cold and wind has turned it brown in most locations. The best looking grass on the course can be found on the putting green. 12 green and 9 green which we had tarps on. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done yet before the course can return to its normal green and pristine condition.
12 green after the tarp was removed
So spread the word and enjoy your upcoming week! I hope to see you swinging the club sometime soon.