A Dog’s Life


“Blitz” Redtail’s Rogue Lightening SH

Mary and I couldn’t have asked for a better companion than Blitz. She grew to be the perfect dog. She rode shotgun with me for over seven years traveling the back roads of Northern California. Featuring her in my blog posts felt a little like cheating because she was so lovable. Here is her life in pictures. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Blitz passed from our lives last Friday. We miss her dearly. Your comments are welcome and appreciated, but we probably won’t respond to them. Please don’t take offense.

The silence of a falling star

lights up a purple sky

and as I wonder where you are

I’m so lonesome I could cry

Hank Williams


Forestry Friday … Forest Snapshot Coastal Douglas-fir

Blitz and I have seen a lot of country in our travels. This shot was taken at Lake Prairie in the Northern California Coast Range where the Douglas-fir forests intertwine with coastal prairies. This little lake has been a nice place to stop on the way home to cool off on a warm summer day.

Douglas-fir, Lake Prairie, Blitz, Golden Retriever, forest, forestry

One of Blitz’s favorite stop off places is Lake Prairie.

dogwood, wildflower, nature, photography

I’m so glad that the dogwood are in bloom at this time.


Forestry Friday … Otter, Otter, Otter!

This week I’m going to lighten it up. Animals are always fun and what is more fun than a playful otter, except maybe three!

pen and ink, otter, wildlife, nature, ink, pen & ink, drawing, animals

Three otters resting on a log.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted some art. I hope you like it.


Otter, photography, wildlife, nature


These are our otters that live at the mill. They travel around the mill site from pond, to river and to canals.  I never know where they are going to pop up next.

Otter, photography, wildlife, nature


Otter, photography, wildlife, nature

The three amigos.

In the forest setting, otters don’t ever become an issue during our harvest operations. They live in the water and riparian area.  Harvesting is minimal in the riparian zones.

Otter, photography, wildlife, natureOtter, photography, wildlife, nature

Blitz, golden retriever, dog, photography

Blitz says, “Can’t trust em’, they remind me of cats!”


Forestry Friday … Resilience of Nature

golden retriever, logs, log deck, Blitz

Blitz in the shade of the Pole Plant log deck.

Nature is fragile or is it? Humans certainly have the ability to wreak havoc on our environment, but given time, it heals. I’m not suggesting careless disregard. I believe it’s our responsibility to be the best stewards of our natural world that we can be. The ospreys don’t mess in their nest and neither should we. My experience as a forester over the years has taught me that Mother Nature is a relentless and tough lady. In the natural environment, disturbance often equals opportunity.

In the top picture of Blitz lying next to the pole log deck, it is treeless except for the stacks of logs waiting their turn in the mill. Now look at the picture below. Blitz is sitting in a lovely pine forest. This place was a log deck too, forty-seven years ago. It wasn’t replanted by people. The surrounding forest took it back. The pines invaded this site with no help at all. I was six years old when this process took hold. Now a pine forest stands where a log deck once sat.

Forest, growth, golden retriever, log deck

This was the site of the Little Giant Mill log deck.

Today, by replanting and with proper nurturing, we replenish harvest units and the burned areas much faster than just letting nature take its course. We have a better scientific understanding of our environment and more sophisticated technology available today to manage our forests. We’ve come a long way in forest management over the last one hundred years. Trees weren’t replanted back then, but forests have grown back. Our sustainable forestry practices today are resulting in forests that are more healthy and vigorous.  I’d love to see these forests a hundred years from now.

Forestry Friday … Forestry Quiz Answer

Now this doesn’t replace your regularly scheduled Forestry Friday.  However, it’s time to answer last weeks Forestry Quiz Question.

forestry, ponderosa pine, forestry research

Ponderosa pine seedlings in a growth study.

The question was….

You nail a red tag on a Lodgepole pine tree at DBH.  DBH stands for Diameter at Breast Height, which is 4 1/2 feet about the ground as measured on the high side of the base or the tree.  The tree is growing in height at 2 1/2 feet per year.  In 10 years how high will the tag be above the ground?

Answer, 4 1/2 feet.  Trees grow from the top up.  New shoots emerge at the ends of the twigs.  On the other hand, grass does grow from the bottom up.  Most of you got it right and a few brave souls who weren’t sure, guessed!  No guts, no glory.  Way to go everyone, I’m impressed.  I’ll have to give you a harder question next time.  Let’s see what Blitz thinks.

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It seems Blitz is not impressed.  😦

Natural Born Retriever

watercolor, watercolour, pen and ink, golden retriever, pheasant, hunting

Blitz follows her nose to the prize.

Blitz took me pheasant hunting last week.  I think she would drive herself if she had thumbs.  Luckily, she needs a gunner tagging along.  It’s my joy to watch this girl living her bliss.  I captured this hunting moment in watercolor, and pen and ink.

Blitz, pheasants, hunting, pheasant hunting

Blitz with her bag.

Forestry Friday … Drought!

Lassen Peak, Mt Lassen, drought, forestry

I took this picture of Lassen Peak on January 8th, 2013.

In California we’re in another severe drought.   I took these two pictures of Lassen Peak in January, one this year and the other last year.   You can see the stark difference.  Lassen Peak is the southerly most of the major cascade volcanoes and is 10,463 feet (3,189 M) tall.  Last year we had over 20 inches of rain at this time, and this year we have less than 4 inches.  The snow pack is almost nonexistent.  Cattle ranchers are having a hard time.  There’s no new grass and the foothills are as brown as July.  The price of hay is going to go through the roof forcing many of the ranchers to sell off their cattle.  Our ski resorts are having a terrible winter due to the lack of snow. It’ll be a tough year for these folks and the long term forecast is grim.  Expect the California water war to once again rear it’s ugly head.

Lassen Peak, Mt Lassen, drought

Lassen Peak taken on January 22nd, 2014.

This summer we are expecting our share of challenges in the woods.  Drought stress will cause tree die off.  This will create prime conditions for bark beetle infestation as the trees become more and more stressed.  Worst of all will be the fire danger.  I think red flag fire warnings will be the theme of the this summer.

Blitz, golden retriever

Blitz rolls in the snow while she still can.

Forestry Friday … Ever Feel Like You’re Being Watched?

black bear, pen and ink, nature drawing

American Black Bear, (Ursus americanus), the biggest predator in our woods.

When working in the woods I’m usually alone, but really never alone.  Do you ever get the feeling that someone or something is watching you?  I had this big brute spying on me one day.  He didn’t think I noticed him.

Black Bear, nature, wildlife, photography

My neck is tingling! Is someone there?

bear, black bear, wildlife, nature, photography
There’s a sneaky bear it there!

bear, black bear, wildlife, nature, photography

The watcher was a big black bear boar.

Now, to answer the age-old rhetorical question.

Bear Poop

You know the question.  Yes indeed, they do poop in the woods. Just sayin’.

golden retriever

Hey, where’s my fierce guard dog?

Blitz decided she would wait it out in the truck.  She knew the bear would leave after filling up on a yummy forester meal.

Forestry Friday … Back Again Next Week

Blitz, Forestry Friday

I have an announcement.

Your regularly scheduled installment of Forestry Friday will be back next Friday.  I gave the Forester Artist the day off since he has worked so hard lately.

Turkey, Forestry Friday

South end of a North bound turkey.

Okay, truth is he ate too much turkey and he’s sleeping in, the lazy bum, but you didn’t get that from me.  Since, it’s the downhill side of the Thanksgiving holiday I’ll let it slide just this once.