Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Hybrid Deer

So after sending my video to some experts in the province, they believe that the fourth deer in this video is likely a hybrid deer. They are not very common at all, which is pretty exciting that I got a video of one.
Hybrid deer occur when mule deer and whitetail deer ranges overlap. They are often the result of a whitetail buck mating with a mule deer doe (although it can go the other way), as mule deer and whitetail deer have different mating practices that make it easier for the pairing to work this way. Whitetail bucks are used to chasing their ladies around until they get tired, while mule deer usually just stand still for the deed (well, let's just get this over with). So when a whitetail buck encounters a mule deer doe during the rutting season, he can't believe his luck and thus little hybrids are made. Mule deer bucks, on the other hand, are often saddened and confused when whitetail does run away from them, causing them to spend long hours in front of the mirror contemplating what part of them gave such offence. So it is much less rare that baby Hybrid deer are born to whitetail mothers.
As it turns out, it is a good thing that mule deer mother these special little fawns. Hybrid fawns are not too hardy, with only about 50% of them surviving past their first 6 months. Mule deer does are typically larger and more defensive of their babies than whitetails, giving those poor little hybrids a better chance at survival.
One of the reasons that Hybrid deer have such a poor survival rate is that they become confused when approached by a predator. A whitetail's response would be to run away and a mule deer would "stott," bouncing on all four feet at once, bounding over boulders and barriers (I'm pretty sure they make a "boing, boing, boing" sound as they go). The hybrid doesn't seem to do either, but pretty much runs around in circles. Hence, another reason why it is rare.
Hybrid deer males are sterile, but the females can mate with either whitetails or mule deer. The hybrid deer look a lot like the fourth deer in my video above: Dark long tails like whitetails, a white rump like a mule deer, and mule deer ears (maybe a bit smaller). For more information on identifying them, check out this informative article: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2012_heffelfinger_j001.pdf

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spring in February?

I just don't know what to think! It's been hot and thawing for a few weeks now and it doesn't look like it is going to let up anytime soon. I love winter, but I also love spring. I'm torn. Oh well, can't control the weather, might as well embrace it. I am enjoying this sunshine. It has been a cloudier than usual winter and this sunshine just hits the spot.

This little girl turned 9 months old just over a week ago. My husband says in three more months she won't be a baby anymore. Sniffle. That's not true! She'll always be my baby.
 I sewed this little dress for her in 12-18 month size, but my needle was in the wrong spot on my sewing machine. It took in more of a seam allowance than intended, so it fits her now. Oh well. Live and learn.

 Valentine's Day was very special for my little Kesten. He had seen these balloons in the grocery store the day before and begged me for one. I went back later that night, after he was asleep, and got them each balloon. Was he ever excited when he woke up to find it! Oh, and the chocolate :)
And Cedar has been inseparable from her balloon since we first gave it to her. It follows her around at meal times, and play times, and snuggle times.
 Out in the woods, I think I found a flying squirrel tree. Waaaaay up, there are four hollowed out holes in the tree. I bet there are some flying squirrels in there, snuggled up and sleeping away the daylight hours.

 My little goofy girl.
 Look what she can do now!!
 And my silly boy!
 He said that this was his moustache.
 Kesten's new favourite game is "baby otter." In the bathtub, he swims on his tummy and catches "fish" (foam alphabet letters) with his mouth. In the snow, he rolls around and slides on his tummy.
 And on Friday, he decided he finally didn't need anyone to push him on the ice and skated up and down the rink several times.
 Yesterday we made our first trip into Prince George in about 5 months. It's even harder to get our massive shopping list accomplished with two kids to load in and out of carseats, but we managed in good time yesterday. Hopefully it will be several months before we have to do it again!
 And today in the bush, I stumbled upon 3 hummingbird nests! I have been searching for them for a couple of years without luck. They are so well camouflaged, I must have walked by these nests 4 or 5 times before I noticed them. I love that they are held together with spider webs and decorated with lichen.
 Since hummingbirds are pretty territorial, I think that these nests might  be made by the same bird, from different years. From what I have heard, Rufous Hummingbirds don't often re-use their nests because they get so stretched out as the babies grow. When they are first built, the nests are just big enough to fit the tiny eggs inside.
 I wonder if there will be a nesting hummingbird here this spring?
Two weeks ago I got my first video of a lynx passing by my game camera! Lynx season is just starting up, so I'm hoping to capture more videos before March is done!
And here is another marten, just passing by!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sewing: Moose Pattern

This is a fun little pattern that I envisioned one night and had fun bringing to life. I bought some fun fat quarters to sew these up (you only need less that half for each colour) and tried as best as I could to write up a pattern for them. I've never written a sewing pattern before, so please ask if you have any questions about what I've written. I'm providing you with the link to download the pattern and instructions (If you try to print the pattern off the blog, the sizes will likely be wrong). Enjoy!

Moose Pattern and Instructions: Printable version.

Moose Pattern Instructions

What you need:
1 main colour fabric (MC)
1 contrasting colour fabric (CC)
needle and thread
4 matching buttons
stuffing of your choice

1.Trace all the pattern pieces onto the fabrics, as written on each pattern piece. Add a 1/4” seam allowance and cut out. Using a fabric marker or chalk, mark the locations of the ear and antler placements on the head of the moose, and the leg placements and tail placement on the body. Mark the button locations on the legs.
2. Body: With right sides facing, sew along the moose's body, leaving a 1” gap at the bottom along the belly. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, stuff with stuffing and hand sew closed using an invisible stitch.
3. Legs: With right sides facing, sew along lines of each leg, leaving a 1” gap along the side at the top. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, stuff with stuffing, and hand sew closed using an invisible stitch. Repeat for other 3 legs. Position the front two legs in place on the body of the moose. Pull a thread through one leg, into the body of the moose and out through the other leg. Place a button on this leg and sew back through the leg, body, and out through the first leg, placing a button on this leg. Continue sewing back and forth through the buttonholes until the joints seem to be strong. Bring the needle through one leg and knot behind the leg (between the leg and the body) where the knot wont show. Repeat with the hind legs.
4. Ears: Match a main colour piece and a contrast colour piece with right sides facing. Sew together, leaving the bottom un-sewn. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, and tuck the 1/4” bottom up inside the ear. Press flat. Repeat with other ear. Fold each ear in half lengthwise and hand sew onto the location on each side of the moose's head.
5. Antlers: With right sides facing, match up the antlers and sew along the lines, leaving the bottom of the centre un-sewn. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, stuff with stuffing and hand sew the gap closed. Place the antlers in position on the moose's head and hand sew into place.
6. Tail: With right sides facing, match up the tail pieces and sew along the lines, leaving the bottom un-sewn. With scissors, cut small cuts to the seam along any curves or corners (see photo*), so that the seam lies smooth when flipped right side out. Flip right side out, tuck the 1/4” at the bottom up into the tail, press flat, and sew with the contrast colour facing down into place on the body of the moose.

Be sure to add a 1/4" seam allowance to all pattern pieces!

*These pictures below show how to trim up to the seam in order to have the seam sit flat when flipped right side out.
* Trim any fabric on corners as well, like below.

Here is a good tutorial on how to sew an invisible seam.

Thanks! Happy sewing!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Winter Fun With Little Ones

As much as I love winter, it can be a little hard on my little ones. The snow is too deep to be able to walk through, some days can be a little too cold to play outside, and all those layers do make it hard to move around. But we've had lots of fun so far, both inside and out, and I have to admit that I am a little bit sad that there is only a month and a half of real winter left!

Now, on to the fun! Cuddles and snuggles, kitties and blankets can warm up a day!
 Kesten has nearly mastered the art of taking selfies.
 We went for a ski on Family Day. Right at the start we spotted this snowshoe hare in the branches. See it? No? Look to the right of the photograph. You can see its ears above the bottom fence wire.
 My intrepid husband pulled the kids in the chariot while we skied. They both managed to stay awake the whole time. Kesten loved going under trees that hang over the trail. He calls them tunnels.
 A whole row of "tunnels!"
 On days when it is too cold, we bring the snow inside to play with. Food colouring in water and eye droppers add to the fun. Later, he introduced cars and construction vehicles in there.
Were they co-operating in this picture??? Maybe. Cedar likes to touch the snow too, and then she tries to eat it. So does Kesten...
 Trains and animals also help pass the time indoors.
 And when the world is mostly black and white outside, it is fun to brighten it up by looking through some coloured blocks! We hold the blocks up to our eyes and see what colour the snow is now.
 Cars and blocks. What else can I say?
 Oh. Food. Food is also a nice way to pass the time inside...
 Especially when it is so much fun to feed yourself!

We built a snowman one day when it warmed up and the snow was just perfect for packing. (Our snowman is now buried past the waist in new snow).

 I've had to dig the chickens out from all of our snow and we've had even more since this picture was taken.

 We also took the kids out for a snowshoe last weekend up Mt. Pope (just to the third bench). The forest is full of wonders. As we were unpacking everything from the car and getting ready, Kesten said, "Oh, a deer!" And sure enough, a mule deer was prancing away into the shelter of the trees. Good eye, Kesten!
 It looks like hard work, but he enjoys a challenge.

 Cozy babies enjoying a snack at the top. It was lightly snowing, so whenever we lifted the cover of the chariot, they got a bit of a snow shower.

Winter really can be one of the funnest times of year.
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