Saturday, March 27, 2010

Country Living.. Very wet winter for around here.

I've been meaning to post some pictures of our muddy roads several times this winter and just haven't gotten around to it. I finally did take some pictures after our last rain that we got and am actually going to get them posted.

Overall, we really enjoy living out in the country. About the only negative is the fact that the roads can be difficult when it rains. We live 2 miles off pavement with 1 1/2 miles of that being county roads and 1/2 mile of that is our driveway. Believe it or not, our driveway is not the problem, the county roads are.

After a big rain or even worse, a steady rain or even worse than that, melting snow, the roads get pretty bad. This year has been the worst year in the 11 years that we've lived out there.

I've posted pictures like this of the muddy roads before.

But this time after they dried up a bit and the ruts were still there, I got out and took a picture to show how deep those ruts actually are!

In case you haven't measured one recently, a coke can is just under 5" tall. That would mean that the ruts are between 10" - 12" deep here. We didn't do anything special to make the ruts deeper or wider than any other time, we just drove in them to get back and forth to the house until the road dried up enough and then we straddle the ruts until the county grades the road again.

Thankfully the county does grade the road fairly regularly after a big rain or snow, but it is very important to get that first set of tracks in as straight as possible so you can straddle them after it dries up. When it is still wet, the road is strictly one lane as there is no way you could get out of the ruts to pass someone if you tried. You actually don't even need to hold onto the steering wheel, the wheels just bounce back and forth and it feels like you are inside a pinball machine almost. It feels that way whether you are trying to steer or not.

There is no doubt that we would have been unable to get back and forth to the house this year without both of our vehicles being 4 wheel drive. My company vehicle is a Chevy Trailblazer and when the ruts get deep like they are in the picture, it ends up dragging high center periodically. If you are in the ruts, that means the road isn't dry enough to straddle the ruts so it basically just plows through the mud, but this year has been a chore to keep the vehicles even remotely free of mud. On both vehicles we've had to wash the wheels to get the mud off several times because the mud stuck to the wheels was causing them to be way out of balance and the vehicle would be shaking violently at anything over 50 mph.

Spring is here, so hopefully no more snow, but I haven't hear whether this is supposed to be a wet spring and summer or not. They said that this was going to be a wet winter and they definitely got that right!

That's it for now. Nathan

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My 2009 Mule Deer is back from the Taxidermist!

Well, the title pretty much says it all! I got my 2009 New Mexico Mule Deer back from the Taxidermist!

Here is the living room the way we currently have it. Hopefully one of these days I'll have a trophy class whitetail to go with him, along with a pronghorn and an elk!

That's it for now, very happy to have him on the wall. The taxidermist doing my bobcat said I should be getting it back in 2 or 3 weeks so hopefully it will turn out good too.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flesh eating beetles!!

Well, I broke down and bought me some flesh eating beetles!!!

To be specific they are dermestid beetles and they are commonly used to clean the skulls of animals for European style mounts. They sound pretty scary, but they pretty much can only eat the flesh when it is drying and decomposing. You have to skin the animals head in order for them to feed on it. The biggest danger they pose if they get loose is that they might try to eat any leather that is around the house!

Anyway, I ordered some beetles online from a guy in Kodiak, Alaska of all places. I guess they must have the perfect climate for growing these beetles, because he sells a lot of them and is about the cheapest place that I found and came highly recommended on top of that.

Here's his website -

The beetles arrived today and thankfully the box was intact and they only took 5 days to get here in relatively mild temperatures. The beetles were packaged in a cottage cheese cartoon inside the box and appeared to have made the trip in good shape.

Here's the box that they arrived in.

If you look closely he punched very small holes in the lid so the bugs could get some air, but they were small enough that none of them were able to get out. Included with the beetles was a very nice 4 page write up on how to care for the bugs once they arrived as well as how to use the bugs to clean skulls.
There are supposed to be 1,000 total bugs in the cartoon. I didn't try to count them. There are adult beetles as well as larvae that look like little worms. In the instructions it states that the fluffy stuff the beetles are packaged in is called frass. It is made up of digested flesh, chewed up Styrofoam (that's what they bed in), and shed skin from the larvae when they molt. Sounds yummy and smells worse!
Here's where I'm setting them up for now. Hopefully they won't be able to climb the sides of the tub very well, but I'm not 100% sure about that yet. The net is more to keep other insects out than it is to keep the beetles in. The shredded paper is for bedding material and the black plastic dish is where I'm going to put the skulls for now. I may switch to something else though. The idea behind the plastic dish is in case teeth fall out of the skull when they are cleaning it, this way I won't have to be digging around in the "frass" looking for a tooth. Also this will keep any wet or damp things out of the bedding and prevent any chance of mold.
Here's when I dumped the beetles in. There were a lot of them that's for sure. I should have taken a little video clip because pretty much everything was moving. You could hear them rustling around in the paper.
I added some wet paper towels for them to drink from and some ham to get them started. I don't want to start them on a skull right away because all my skulls have been outside and everything I've read says about the worst thing you can do is introduce fly larvae into the colony. I don't think any flies are out right now to lay eggs in the skulls, but I'm going to put the skulls in the freezer for 24 hours before feeding them to the beetles to kill any fly eggs just in case.
Here's the plastic tote with the netting over the top. Hopefully it will do a good job of keeping the beetles in and keeping any other bugs out.
I'll probably post some updates on the first few skulls that I clean. I tried the boil and scrub method and just didn't seem to be able to get the hang of it. Hopefully this will work out, if not I guess I'll have to get better at the boil and scrub method.

Right now the beetles are in the garage. They need a pretty narrow temperature range from about 60 to 80 degrees to get the best results. I can get fairly close to that in the garage, but I'm not sure if Cathy is going to let me keep them in there long term. If they start to stink, I'll probably have to move them out to the barn and I'm not sure they will make it through the summer out there. I've got 3 pig skulls, 3 deer skulls a bobcat skull and a coyote skull that I would like to get cleaned and even if that's all that I get done before the colony dies off I will be way ahead of what it would have cost to have someone else clean the skulls for me.

It will be interesting to see how it works out.

That's it for now.