Archives for August 2014

Buddy—A Series Of Adventures— Bird Bustin’ Buck

As we make our way back up north to our “summer home” (the Toy Hauler), I notice several rather cool looking properties for sale off the beaten track.  I wonder how much places like that are valued at.  It has been so very long since I’ve spent any amount of time up north.  The last decade or so we have dedicated all of our free time southwest of Minneapolis, down in corn country where the pheasants are.  You are tired and sore, but you still crane your neck to look out the side window.  We have always enjoyed fanaticizing about having a place in the country.

Buddy do you remember that cool hobby farm we came across in our bird hunting travels?  Oh how we loved to hunt that public land bordering it.  The farm was so darn cute, and it was for sale.  I came very close to pursuing that hobby farm.  There were so many outbuildings.  Everything was painted red and white and was so picturesque.  I became somewhat obsessed with it, visualizing us getting away from it all and living a lavish farm life.  You, the girls, a couple horses, some chickens, a lama or Alpaca, and of course….some pigmy goats!

Despite how perfect it was, I was afraid to take on a farmstead, knowing it would need lots of maintenance by myself.  Out there, it would be pretty hard to get help fast.  But oh, we did have some good times bird hunting around it!  Do you remember that one day?

We had been to at least large 3 fields before it was even noon.  Lots of hens, but no roosters.  I’d planned for us to work our way towards the cute red hobby farm, and by 11:30 am, there we were.  It was a breezy morning.  Perhaps that attributed to our lack of success.  Maybe those roosters were running in the grass and hard to scent.  But when we pulled up to the parking area, you were dialed in to hit the ground running.  We were perfectly positioned to hunt the big patch of tall grass into the wind.  I could hardly hold you back.

The grass was super high, and had gotten quite heavy since our last visit to this area.  You dove into the thick cover and disappeared instantly.  I could hear the “beep………….beep………….beep……….beep” of your collar, my only chance to keep track of you.  You were ranging back and forth pretty steady, which told me you must be onto something.  I tried my best to keep up but your stealth body was much more suited for gliding through this thick stuff.  I fell behind, huffing and puffing as I tried to pick my heavy boots up and through the tangled mess of grass, holding my shotgun out of the way.  Your beeper was getting weaker, and weaker.  You were getting farther away.  Still I tried to stay with you, feeling the calories burn away, sweating and panting through the field.

“Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” You were on point, but far, far away, perhaps 70 or more yards away.

Damn!  I’ve got to get up there!  I pushed hard through the wall of heavy blades of grass, determined to reach you in time to harvest that bird.  The beeper was getting louder.  I still couldn’t see any blaze orange ahead of me, but I could hear you.  I’m getting closer.

I’m getting closer.

I’m getting…….

HOLY SHHHHHHIT!  The last step I took launched into the sky the biggest buck I’d ever seen, directly in front of me!  He came out of nowhere, with wet, hairy nostrils flaring, wild eyes, front hoofs flailing, and the biggest rack I’d ever seen—points everywhere!  The massive creature rose up in front of me as I fell backwards, clinging to my shotgun across my chest, praying to God I wouldn’t be trampled.  The guttural grunting sound that shook through his chest almost made me pee my pants.  He heaved himself up over me in that tall grass and shook the ground upon landing just above my head, clearing me and spinning around,  bounding off right towards you within three more leaps.

My heart pounded in my chest so hard I thought for sure I was having a heart attack.  Maybe I was having a heart attack.  I couldn’t see.  I couldn’t hear.  It felt like days went by.  I finally realize I was gripping my gun so tight to my chest my arms were numb.  Two hens flew overhead; clearly he busted them in his mad dash to escape.  And then I heard it.

“Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!”

Oh, geeze, Buddy, bless your heart, you are still on point!  And that buck had to have about ran into you.

I came to my senses, and tried to collect myself and get up off the ground.  Right in front of me was a warm, “buck bed”.  Guess I wrecked his safe, noon nap.  Still shaking head to toe from my run in with the buck, I pressed on toward your beep and finally spotted just a glimpse of blaze orange.  What if he is between you and I?   What if you spot him and begin a chase?  As I closed in, I could see you on a solid point.

A very solid point.

Forcing myself to take some deep breaths and try to calm down, I moved closer to you.  You spotted me approaching, and don’t think for a minute I didn’t see you give me that dirty look, like; “where the hell have you been all this time?”

I creep closer, looking and looking ahead of me, and you, for a sign of feather.  Nothing.  You take one step.  I still don’t see.  I step closer.  Closer.  I am anticipating being startled by the buck again.  All of the sudden a flutter of yellow, orange, blue black wing rises up out of the tall grass and takes to the sky.

“Boom!”  My gun goes off.

“Fetch!” I cry, and in doing so, a second rooster busts out of the grass just left of the first one, and heads straight away from me as you bolt into the grass after the first bird.

“Boom!  Boom!  Boom!”

“Fetch!”  I cry, hoping you will mark that second bird, and I begin to run towards where I thought it went down.

I can hear you pushing through the thick grass, so I stop, and begin calling;

“Bring it here!  Bring it here!” to help you locate me.  You appear like magic, with rooster in tow.

“Give!  Good boy!  Thank you!”  And I point out into the grass.

“Fetch it!”BuddyBird

You bound back into the deep cover, off for the second bird.  I see glimpses of blaze orange bouncing through the grass.  And then, I notice something else bounding through the grass to the right. The giant buck has made a run for it once again, and is gracefully leaping down the field towards the adjacent woods.  His magnificent rack seemed to float across the top of the heavy cover.  I tried to count points.  It was impossible—maybe 12 or more?  And the main beams were simply unbelievable.

And suddenly there you were, with bird in mouth once again.

“Good boy!  Give!”  And you surrendered our second bird to my hand, then quickly rolled over onto your back, rolling back and forth in euphoric, bird ecstasy.

You had no idea about that buck.

Lucky for all of us.

All the way home I kept thinking about that buck.  No doubt you kept thinking about those birds.  We both had the good fortune of getting our natural high.

I’d  never been so proud of you as I was that day.  You held that point for me a good 10 minutes despite the ultimate distraction.  What a good boy.  I am certain that if that little red hobby farm goes up for sale again, this time I will not let it pass me by.

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”.  Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our stories.




The Terrible Toxic Toad

While paging through my comprehensive dog care book looking for treatments for Buddy’s open sore, I came across something dreadfully alarming—especially alarming for my friends in Florida, and me, as I tend to spend a good deal of time there lately.

Apparently Florida is home to a Toxic creature called the Bufo Toad.  I cannot believe I’ve spent what amounts to about a years-worth of time in the Sunshine state and this is the first I’ve heard of it.  They are extremely common.  Actually, they live in other areas as well, but the Florida ones are particularly dangerous.

The Bufo toad moves very slowly; so slow that most dogs or cats could easily catch one in their mouth.   At first this may seem funny and cute to see, but unfortunately if it were to happen, your pet could easily die in a matter of minutes.

The toad has salivary glands on the back of its neck that look like warts, and they will release a poison into your pets mouth that will instantly absorb into its system through its mouth and stomach lining, and at first will cause heart irregularities.

Then, your pet will start to drool profusely, and become unable to stand up, losing coordination and shaking its head.  Its heart rate and breathing will become rapid, and soon it will collapse into convulsions.  Death can occur within 15 minutes.

Holy Hanna.  Right?Bufo

So what can you do?  There are only two things you can do, and it’s imperative you do them immediately once you see your pet has had hold of the toad.

  1. Immediately grab your pet, wrap your arm around the head and hold it, pointed down, and rinse out its mouth thoroughly—I mean thoroughly—with a hose, taking care not to ever tip the animals head back, or water will go down its breathing tubes, potentially causing it to drown.
  2. Get your pet to the nearest veterinarian’s office immediately. Time is of the essence, so don’t try to call for an appointment. Just rush your pet in to the nearest office–we are talking ‘911’ style. Tell them what happened. They will need to administer intravenous drugs to try correct the heart irregularities, and they will be racing against time. Survival is not guaranteed.

Make sure you keep a close eye on all creatures moving across the ground when you have your dog or cat outside. If you walk your dog at night, make sure you keep them on a short leash so you can see what they see. Think twice about letting your cat out to prowl in the dark, that’s when the Bufo Toad likes to be out too.

So now you know what I know. Always keep it in mind, doing so may be saving your pet from The Terrible Toxic Bufo Toad. Please feel free to share this information with others. I’d love to hear if you’ve had any experiences with this terrible toad!


PRs Roasted Chicken Soup

The perfect solution for leftovers!

Complete chicken stock from PRs Roasted Chicken (approx. 2 cups)
2 T butter
2 nests of angel hair pasta
4 cloves garlic chopped fine
2 stalks celery, sliced 1/8 inch wide
2 cups left over chicken pieces and shreds from roasted chicken
2 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
1 t Kebseh spice
1 large stick fresh tarragon
½ box fresh sliced mushrooms
½ c quick cook barley
  • Remove all of the bones skin, and fat from the chicken pieces being used.PRs Roasted Chicken Soup
  • Melt butter in a large pot, crush pasta nests into the pot and sauté until the noodles turn brown.
  • Pull the tarragon leaves from the stick, discard the stick.
  • Carefully add in the chicken stock and everything but the mushrooms and barley.  Simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms and barley, simmer another 30 minutes.
  • Serve with crustini or garlic bread.
  • Makes enough for about 6 – 8 people
  • So good, and so good for you!

Be sure to check out the recipe for PR’s Roasted Chicken, and other great dishes under my Killer Cookin blog category, and feel free to share with others!



PRs Roasted Chicken

This is such a uniquely tasty bird—YUM!PRsRoastedChick1

Whole chicken (giblets removed)
1 onion, chopped
1T Garlic Powder
2T Kebseh spice (found in Middle Eastern Grocery Stores)
¼ t Salt
½ t Pepper
1 cup water
  • Cover the bird in light coating of EVOO (I pour some into my hand and massage onto the bird).
  • Roll the whole chicken in the mixture of seasonings (or put in large plastic bag and shake to coat).  Whatever doesn’t end up on the bird should go in the pot with it.
  • Place seasoned bird in greased roaster or slow cooker, breast up.
  • Add sliced onion on top and around sides.
  • Carefully pour in the water.
  • Cover and cook at about 325 for 2 ½  hours, until top is golden browned.
  • Serve with your favorite side dishes – here are a couple ideas:

Quickie single sides: place a large potato that you have poked several fork holes through into the microwave for 4 minutes, then a covered bowl of pepper sprinkled broccoli for 3 minutes, and wa-la, dinner is served.

Meal for 4: about 30 minutes before chicken is due to be done, toss 2/3 cup brown rice and 2/3 cup long grain white rice into the rice cooker with 1T butter, and 1t garlic powder and water as directed, place thick sliced carrots and 1 large sliced onion on top to steam, and cook.  In about 30 minutes, wha-la, dinner is served. *

PRsRoastedChick2*Photo shows chicken and rice served with broiled Brussel Sprouts—toss sprouts in EVOO to coat, sprinkle with S&P and place in broiler or toaster oven at 400 for 15 minutes or until tender, and serve.

So what do you do with all that robust juice from the chicken and the leftover meat?  Well, make soup of course!  Be sure to check out the recipe for PR’s Roasted Chicken Soup, and other great dishes under my Killer Cookin blog category, and feel free to share with others!

Archery Sales and Equipment-A Perspective

Although it’s sometimes hard to imagine, I’ve spent perhaps 30 years working on my archery equipment needs.  With me being technologically  challenged, the idea of switching out my set up and accessories on bows for hunting versus target was just too much, so I have several set-ups.   My multiple bow arsenal is complete with all accessories, practice and “go time” arrows matched for each bow.  Each bow has a purpose, whether it be outdoor target, indoor target, bowfishing, rugged “out west” hunting, etc.  I take care to maintain my equipment, and by doing that it has continued to serve me well years later.  My NEWEST bow is my Martin Scepter.

Yes, a Martin Scepter (I believe now they are on Scepter V Series).  It has been the only bow I pick up each September bow opener for years.  I absolutely love that bow.  Love it!  It is easy on my body as I age.  I consistently bring home dinner with that bow.

Sure, it would be cool to have the latest and greatest.  But do I actually need all that?  Of course not.  My Martin Scepter takes care of my needs.  It shoots perfectly.  I have complete confidence in the field with it.  It holds great sentimental value (especially now that the Martins are no longer the helm).   I don’t really care much about “keeping up with the Jone’s” and upgrading to the newest model or hottest brand out there each year.  The animals don’t judge me for what kind of bow I’m shooting—or how old it may be.  And I don’t care what anyone else around me thinks.  Not everyone has deep pockets, or a need to impress others.  Guess that makes me not an ideal consumer.

For me, when I go to the practice range and see 3 or 5 or more guys standing around with their brand new top of the line bows that they have spent well over $700 on, I smile.  We both will hit the bulls-eye.  But my shots are a lot less expensive.  I’m not judging.  Perhaps for some people it’s their first bow, and of course, you have to start somewhere.  I glance at them and think to myself;

“There’s a new garage door in his hands, there’s a week in Bonaire, Scuba Diving, there’s gas and camping fees for an entire deer season, or there’s enough replacement arrows for the rest of my life.” I am grateful that I have the wear-with-all to be frugle.

Now, if Santa Claus delivered me a brand new top of the line bow for Christmas, I sure would embrace it with wild enthusiasm.  But until my Martin Scepter falls apart in my hands, it will remain my steady companion in the woods.

So, when  someone like me walks into a Cabela’s, or Archery Retail store, looking for a $4.00 bag of replacement nocks, how in the world do you upsell me?

Start out with a conversation—find something out about my current equipment situation. Now that you know, consider me a long term project and provide me SERVICE! SERVICE! SERVICE! SERVICE! SERVICE!

Help me — You just found out I have at least 5 bows and they are all at least 10 or more years old.  I’m very busy and travel all over to hunt.  I could use someone else’s help with equipment upkeep and maintenance. Does the store offer a maintenance plan? A chronograph?  Can you re-string and tune my bow? What do you charge to fletch a dozen arrows? How can you help me have more time in the field?

Information – Offer me something useful to think about.  Give me some of the latest legislation, or rules and regulations, just to have, or update me on what’s the latest and greatest in equipment, and how it measures up to what I currently use.  Perhaps I should consider a new rangefinder?  Maybe there is a new scent technology outfit that would be great just for me.

Opportunities—whether they are for seminars, practice shooting, hunting trips, social leagues, or special sales, share something about the store with me that will encourage me to come back.  The more times I come back, the better the chances I’ll be making additional purchases.

Sometimes it seems retail has gotten away from the old adage, “treat each and every customer as though they are your only customer.” It’s what I am expecting from the sales staff when I am standing in their store.

So is it true I’m not an ideal customer?  No way!

Small purchases are nothing to balk at.  The sales person who takes the time to know me, and respects what I need, and don’t need, will quickly become a trusted vendor in my eyes. That’s who I will turn to when I do decide to make bigger purchases, or it’s time to retire my favorite bow. That’s who I will look to for hunting and shooting ideas, and a feeling of community.  That’s where I will tell everyone else to shop.

PR Brady AdVentures offers individual and group training on Sales and Customer Service Excellence.  Empower your team and increase your bottom line–contact me today!

Women Gone Walleye!

Give a woman a fish and she will cook it.

Give a woman the opportunity to catch trophy walleyes, and…

KA-ZAMMM!  You’ve got friendship, camaraderie, and wild woman adventures spilling all over Lake Of The Woods!  Adventure has many faces—but nothing compares to the faces of 6 women cruising for Walleyes on a fully loaded, decked out downrigger.

The group varies from year to year, from 6 to upwards of 36 women.  This year they came from Chicago and Minnesota, with at least one common goal—to have a great weekend.  Of course, they were all looking for the thrills of reeling in big fish, secretly hoping to snag a lunker Walleye.  Armed with raingear, sunscreen, coolers and determination they met in Minneapolis at 9:00 A.M. Friday, to embark on the 6 hour drive to the top of Minnesota.

It’s no coincidence that the half way rest stop point happens to be Walker, Minnesota, the gift shop haven of the northwest.  They pull in for a quick lunch and a stroll through the main street stores.  A few souvenirs later they are off again, to complete the 2nd half of their journey north, chatting and checking their phones and messages. A Salesperson, an Engineer, a Teacher, a Property Manager, a Programmer, and yours truly.  What a crew of anglers. We discuss our careers, our families and our idea of a perfect life.  Phones are starting to get weak signals.  Several lose reception completely.  We’re almost there….

The last turn right leads us down a narrow road to the lodge and lake. We pull into the parking lot, register, and get keys to our cabin.  “Well girls?  Its 5:00 and time to celebrate!”  We drive over to the spacious cabin, get comfortable, claim beds, unpack, then head to the bar for dinner and drinks.

The place is packed with a buzz across the room all about fish stories.  Big heavy ones, the fighters, the ones that got away, and what went over the boat?  The excitement is infectious.  We can’t wait to get on the water in the morning!  We each commit $2 into the kitty for “biggest fish”.  We talk about “Snag” the hot fishing guide, noting that guide selection is very important since we spend most of the time looking at the back of him…. We review what needs to be done to be ready in the morning.  We laugh and tell fishing stories—and start conversations with others in the bar, listening to their stories, until 6 women’s eyes become heavy and it’s time to call it a night.  Of course a few of us had a little boat decorating to do first.

Saturday morning, 7 A.M. The girls are dashing back and forth from kitchen to bathroom to bedrooms like busy little hummingbirds, getting everything in order for day one on the lake.  Food cooler packed?  Check!  Beer and drink cooler packed?  Check!  Munchies and personal stuff–got it all?  Check!  We gather up our load of necessities and get to the dock by 7:50 A.M. where the boat boys wait to help us with our gear.  We are ready to push off by 8:00 sharp.  Where’s Snag?


2012’s Big Fish—what a beauty!

First order of boat business is for everyone to pick a spot to sit.  It can be a long and bumpy ride to the fishy “sweet spots”.  Snag arrives, gets situated, we are all seated, so he begins to pull out amongst the mighty mass of downriggers moving slowly through the “no wake” zone.  Chatting starts up right away, laughing at who brought what, or forgot what, where’s that bag of chips, and whatnot. We call out birthdays to establish our “reeling line up”, it helps keep activity on the boat more organized to take turns reeling in fish. When a line goes off,  it’s the next persons turn to reel.  When multiple lines go off during a big run, things can really get wild.  The combination of the boat rocking, and sun pounding us all day can make keeping track of who’s up next difficult. Remember who is before you and who is after you. Add in adult beverages and of course, try to remember you….

What could be better than spending two hot sticky dog days of summer out on big waters of Lake of the Woods?  This is a prime fish catching time of year.  And boy, are we catching them!  Saugers and Walleyes, walleyes and saugers.  Every 5 minutes someone is shouting “fish on!” and girls are jockeying back and forth between each other to grab a pole and reel in a fish.  The action is crazy!  We will have our limits in no time.  Snag can barely keep up with or keep count of our fish.  You know it’s a good day when we can become selective on what we keep.  No trophies yet, but a whole lot of very nice fish.  What is a trophy fish?  Must be at least a MINIMUM 10 pound fish and 29 inches.  And they are down there, for sure!

The beauty of this type of fishing is there is no pressure.  Some participants don’t ever touch a fish or a hook or the bait.  Some of us don’t mind helping out with netting and taking fish off. No one is judged either way.  Experienced anglers join this trip, first timers come, and everyone in between.  It’s a girl’s weekend in the north woods, to laugh, learn and live it up with the ladies!

Fish4And that’s exactly what we do Saturday night.  Some of our “catch of the day” is fried up for Fish2us to enjoy in the bar as we tell new fish stories to all who will listen.  A little dancing, a little imbibing, and a whole lot of fun wrap up an amazing day of Walleye fishing.  We exit the bar just as a bus load of bridal shower girls pile in.  Perfect timing.

Sunday morning, same routine.  Six women, synchronized buzzing around the cabin, getting things ready, then down to the boat before 8:00.  ‘What happens at the lake, stays at the lake’, so, many details are being omitted, indeed.  But let’s just say that to our delight, Saturday’s boat ornament was still intact.  Snag starts up the engine and once again 6 Walleye lovin’ women are off to search for the big one.

Another great day on the water.  This time, less fish are hitting, more jokes being told, and eventually, “The Fish Dance” must be performed to lure fish to our boat.  Remember what I said about what happens on the boat?  Only those who attend these great fishing trips are privy to this “a-lure-ing” dance. By the end of the day our limits are filled and a Minnesota teacher walks away with the kitty for big fish for the weekend–weighing in at almost 8 pounds and 27 inches.  After posing for a few pictures she gently released that mama Walleye back to the dark waters.Group

Another evening of fresh caught Walleye in the bar, and stories galore.  Monday  morning, 6 happy anglers pack up and head back south to their worlds, with, many great memories to smile about until next year’s trip.

Adventure can be found in many places. Women Gone Walleye find it at Lake of the Woods in August.  Maybe you would too!



This is an annual event.  If you or someone you know would be interested in joining the 2015 Women’s Wild Walleye Weekend, contact me today for complete details and trip information.  And please share with others who may be looking for an action packed, fishy adventure—I have packages available for mixed groups, men’s groups and corporate groups as well.



Big Black Bird

The Crow Pose.

As I hunker down on all fours, place my hands on the ground in front of me, shifting all of my weight forward, trying to hoist my knees up onto my elbows,  and balance all of my body weight on my hands my mind begins to wander. How in the world this Yoga pose ever got its name is beyond me.

“Even if you only raise one foot from the ground, it’s okay. This is your time on the mat.  Listen to your body.”

Right.  My body is telling me this is not how a crow stands.  Ever.

But I continue to try, as futile as it seems.  Try is the key operative word here.  I teeter and fall over, focus, reset, and try all over again, and again.  My intention is to eventually be able to achieve this pose, although at times I’m not sure why it’s so important for me to do it.

Perhaps it has to do with accepting and embracing the challenge.

Life is full of challenges, and not just for us mere mortals.  Life is challenging for all beings on this planet.  At the top of the food chain, we humans claim to have a leg up advantage with our keen intellect that separates us from all other forms of life. But there are other species out there that also seem to have it all figured out.

Take the Crow, for example.

As I lay peacefully slumbering in a quaint little lakeside cabin in the great north woods, the sky slowly begins its transition from night to first glimpses of mornings light.  All is peaceful.  All is at rest.  All is…..


And so it begins.

I am haunted, and downright taunted, by crows at the crack of dawn. They are relentless. They do not give up.  They have accepted and embrace the challenge.

“What challenge?”  You ask.

Well, the challenge of getting me up and out the door to feed them peanuts.  Yes, you heard me, they want their peanuts.

I am highly irritated.  ARGHHHH this wouldn’t be happening if they hadn’t been trained to expect daily peanut feedings whenever humans are present.  I had no hand in this, mind you.  I don’t believe in interfering with the circle of life by feeding wild animals. But to those big black birds, we humans all look the same.  They don’t care that I’m not their normal food giver.  They know I’m in here, and they want their breakfast now!  They continue to caw, and caw and caw, with no breaks.  Mother crow has several babies to feed, and those are some big babies.  She has things all figured out.  She knows I am the human that can pull the lid off of that big metal can and fetch peanuts for her family. Resistance is futile.

“CAWWWW!  CAWWW! CAWWWWWWW!”   She flits from tree to tree, trying to peer into the cabin as I roll over and bury my headBlackBird2 under the pillow.  Her kids perch in branches on the hillside, close to their “feeding area” eagerly awaiting a signal.

“CAWWWWWWWWWW!” Dad chimes in from a distance as if to ask “did you get her ass out of bed yet?  Where’s breakfast?”

I’m not doing it.  I’m just NOT!  And I try to shut out the incessant cawing of the big black birds.  But now, they have wrecked any hope of me falling back to sleep.  Round one goes to the black birds.

Eventually, I do roll out of bed— to take care of my own family’s needs, and head to the outhouse.

“CAWWW!  CAWWWWWW!”  Mama Crow hollers to me from the trees.  I look up to see big black blobs dotting the mighty oaks along the property line.

No!  I am not allowing this to happen!  I ignore her cries, all the way to the outhouse and back, and through most of the morning. This does not make her happy.  They finally fly off, filling the sky with black feathers.  Ha, round two goes to me!

I do a little work, a little housekeeping, and a little relaxing.  After taking the girls for a walk and bringing Buddy up to the Gazebo it’s time to pull out the lawn chair for some tanning time.  Ahhh, I’m horizontal.

“CAWWW!  CAWWWWWWWWWW!”  She is back again with the entire family of 6, and let me tell you, the natives are getting restless.  They are dropping down from the trees to the ground, just 20 yards away from the lawn chair, picking at the ground and empty hulls and giving me dirty looks.  She struts over to the magical metal can on the side of the cabin and eyes it up and down.

“Caw! Cawww!” the kids begin to chime.  She is staring me down with her beady black eyes.  She opens her wings toward me like a scene out of ‘Dominion’ or something, then she gently rises up to the cabin rooftop, looking down on the peanut can.

“CAWWWW!  CAWWW! CAWWWWWWW!”  She demands again.  She is relentless.  She will not give up.  She has accepted and embraces the challenge.

Oh yeah, I am one tough human.   I am just waiting for her to start trying to wing check me on the lawn chair.  She would have a pretty good fly at me from the corner of the rooftop.  I glance over to the babies.  Those are some big black baby birds.  I look over to her again.  Suddenly, I feel sorry for her. Dang. She’s really got her ‘wings’ full with that brood.

She cocks her head sideways at me…..“CAWW.”

“Ohhh….FFFFFFFFFFFINE!”  I reluctantly get up and storm over to the peanut can, grabbing two fists full of them. Then I turn to their “feeding area” and sprinkle them across the ground.Blackbird4

I barely escape to my lawn chair before the frenzy begins.  The 6 big black birds cover the hillside, mom dropping down, grabbing a peanut and pecking it open.  The kids all standing there with their heads tipped back, cawing like mad for a food drop.  That poor mother crow about wore herself out running from baby to baby trying to feed them all.  Aren’t they big enough to feed themselves? Dad stayed back, grabbing for an outer edge peanut, then would hop off out of sight to enjoy it in peace.  How typical.

I had placed the last few peanuts on the black iron patio chairs facing the lake.  One of the babies hopped up on a chair.  Mother crow quickly scolded the baby to get down.  When he wouldn’t, she glanced over to me.  As I witnessed the dynamics of this family of big black birds, I developed a new appreciation for the Crow Pose.

BlackBird3Oh yes, my dear, if you are going to demand something from me, I want something from you.  By the end of October, you will be taking peanuts from my hand on that chair.  I will focus, and set up a plan, and try.   Remember, I am the human that can pull the lid off of that big metal can and fetch your peanuts.  My intention is to eventually be able to achieve this connection with you, although I’m not sure why it’s so important for me to do it.

Perhaps it has to do with accepting and embracing the challenge.

Resistance is futile.

She hops up on the chair and pecks open the peanut, glancing nervously at me.

I accept and embrace the challenge.  So begins the taming of a big black bird.


What’s the latest challenge you’ve taken on?  I’d love to hear about it!    Feel free to check out more posts under Girl Outdoors, and share with others! 

Buddy – A Series Of Adventures – Darkest Decision, Brightest Star

Our walks have been diminishing.

Oh God, Buddy, I am so sorry.

In the past few months, we’ve gone from a brisk 45 minutes to 30, then 30 with a few breaks, then down to a slow 20, with breaks.  Today, we barely made it 60 yards, stopping every 10 feet or so, before turning back around.  But July is over.  We’re into August now.  Tomorrow is your 11th birthday.  The vet only gave me 10 days of pills at your visit in April, believing we would not need to come back for more.

You sure showed him.

The hardest part is to witness this unbeatable deterioration, knowing how badly you want to run like the wind.  Nose up, and on the alert. Get those birds. You don’t understand why it feels so impossible to do now.  You look up at me with those big brown trusting eyes, as if asking me to make it better.

But I can’t make it better. I’m not a rich woman.  I can’t afford over $10,000 just to maybe give you 6 more months.  I can only try to keep you comfortable until the day we need to make that darkest decision.  And there is no way of knowing when that day is going to come.  For now, the futon cushion is on the living room floor.  The girls and I stay with you every night on that cushion while you struggle through restless sleep and intermittent groans of pain as your Rimadyl starts to wear off.  The midnight snacks and pill we started seem to be helping pull you through the night more comfortably.  By morning, the girls have climbed to higher ground, leaving you curled up by my legs on the floor.  As hard as you sleep after that pill, all it takes is for me to stir just a little, and you are awake, looking intensely at me as if you are afraid to be alone, and you pull yourself up to my bosom and place a paw on my arm, staring into my face.  I know you are scared .

They say that I will know when ‘it’s time’.  They say that you will tell me.

Is this you telling me?  Oh no, please, no.

It was hard enough to make those tough decisions two years ago when you were sick.  But how in the world do I stand up and say it’s time to extinguish the light of my brightest star?

We hardly leave home any more.  Your leg has swelled so much your boot no longer fits.  I know you are tired from that big 10 minute walk around the yard.  After a long drink of water, you lay down on the patio, next to your big smoked bone, too tired to chew on it, but instead drifting off into dog dreamland.

What are you dreaming about, sweet boy?  Days in the field, running like the wind, getting those birds?

You open your eyes from time to time, checking to see where I am.  I am right here –I could watch you sleep all day.  The girls make it a point to give you extra space.  They often flank you while you are sleeping.  You never have to fear with the three of us around, we are protecting you.

Sometimes you will not listen, or even look at me, when I call you.  It’s not the same as looking like you are in pain.  With head down, you turn and slowly go the other way, as though you are ashamed or dejected.  How can I convince you?  How can I make you understand?  How can I assure you that you have done nothing wrong?  You are the best boy ever.  You are brave, and strong, and bring great joy to us all.  You are an important member of our family and you are deeply loved by everyone.  There is nothing to be ashamed about.  We love you no matter what is happening to you, and we will be there through thick and thin.

You have toys scattered throughout the main floor.  Bones and chews that you’ve pretty much lost interest, or energy in.  Your hunting collar hangs against the wall in its assigned place.  You no longer point to it and then to me.  Same with the treats container.  You’ve become indifferent towards that as well.

I know we are nearing time for making the darkest decision I’ve ever had to make. DarkDecisions2

As I struggle and cry and mourn over the seriousness of this situation, you suddenly perk up and come to my side, trying to comfort me.  You have your ball, drop it at my feet, and are nudging me.  You hate it when I cry.  I hate it that I am not stronger for you.  You lick my leg, and look at me with those big chocolate brown trusting eyes.

My god.

I am not anywhere near ready for such a dark decision.

My sweet Buddy, you need to know you are, and will forever be, my most cherished companion, the brightest star of my heart.


You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”.  Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our stories.

Manufacturing Across The Pond

Ah yes, consumerism.

Several years ago I purchased a wonderful oversized lounge chair.  It has become my favorite destination to collapse into in the back yard, after a long day out in the field or the boat.  I have used it as a spare bed.  It’s adjustable, comfortable, sturdy, and will likely last forever.  Last week I went to that same store, to hopefully purchase another lounger to keep in my RV (yes, that Toy Hauler of mine that has had dozens of things go wrong right out of the dealers lot, and ongoing problems).  To my pleasant surprise, the same brand was at that store!  To my not so pleasant surprise, when I picked it up, it was much lighter, the fabric much thinner and the frame much less sturdy. It will not last forever.   And the price?  About 40% more than my original lounger.

How disappointing. My brand loyalty went right out the window.  Again.

Seems manufacturing and production has shifted into making the cheapest product the fastest, with little regard for product longevity, and the majority of it is done overseas.  Can’t even count how many outdoors products like flash lights, lanterns, camping accessories, and so on have literally fallen apart in my hands 6 months into the purchase. Not one product says “Made In America”.  What happened to quality made product, anyway?

Is there a global perception that consumers no longer buy based on performance and brand loyalty?  Are they really only surfing for the best “deal” of the moment, constantly brand hopping based on price, with no concern for long term use or where the product was made?  At least that’s what some experts claim.  If this is true, consider what that does to the American Manufacturer, if the cost to generate product continues to become higher than the price the market is willing to pay?  There are certainly many cases where it makes sense to produce product in other areas of the world, but is it the answer for everything?  Probably not.

Several weeks ago an old friend reached out to me, asking for support in boycotting products manufactured overseas. He admitted having had a hand in the developing of outdoors products in China, many years ago.  Today he is filled with regret, and a burning desire to spearhead change.  Who would have guessed, 15 or 20 years ago, that sharing some ideas would come to this? I remember those days well.  First one treestand manufacturer started manufacturing overseas.  Then another, then another….and pretty soon, you couldn’t find but a handful of treestands manufactured in the United States.  And just as fast as the origin of manufacturing changed, there became a need to develop an organization whose sole purpose was to protect those “manufacturers” from product liability, as more and more treestand accidents were occurring.

“You get what you pay for?”

The thing is, at the end of the day, what do foreign made product profit margins really look like? Weighing out the cost to manufacture in the USA, versus the cost to manufacture overseas.  As new businesses are developed, it’s easy to grab that international production referral, and jump on the import band wagon to produce a product at a profitable price point overseas.  But close scrutiny may reveal it’s not such a good deal after all.

There are many unique costs associated with overseas production that may prove “it’s a wash” at best to set up shop across the pond.  Sure, overseas labor costs are a fraction of the cost of labor in the states.  But it’s not that simple. Don’t forget the expense of having qualified experts on site to manage QA and general operations. Long distance management, especially without your own right hand man on site, can be highly stressful. You can’t just run down the hall to check on things—your livelihood is plugging along, thousands of miles away.  And about that QA?  Maybe materials are less expensive overseas, but what kind of quality do they deliver?

Consider my new lounger.  Or my new Toy Hauler–the plumbing began failing in the first year, the parts made overseas couldn’t survive traveling over the road (hummm, isn’t that what you do with an RV is drive it down the road?).  Just sayin’.

In addition, the entire process associated with importing of goods is complex, expensive, and sometimes unreliable.  What happens to your cost to do business, or your seasonal product, if your ocean freight container is pushed to the back of the list and doesn’t make the boat on schedule?  Your entire year can be held hostage by elements completely out of your control. Conversely, the cost to manage that piece of your business with a seasoned expert can destroy ROI in a hurry as well.  The way to capture your best CPP is volume.  VOLUME.  But after investing in it, and manufacturing it, where do you keep that volume?  Not completely factoring in the cost to store product until it hits the shelves will also skew your bottom line. From overseas, to customs, to rail, to road, to warehouse (or distributor), to storefront, to consumer.  Any problem along the way can wreck your year.  What else can go wrong?  Suddenly discovering you have invested in a great big “boat load” of poorly made product that you can’t sell.

I want a sturdy lounger.  I want a brand new camper I can feel safe using when I’m far away from repair resources. I want a treestand that won’t break out from under me.  I want to see products made with pride in the USA, bringing strength to our economy and helping to support our peoples’ wellbeing.

Are things like that important to you?

Do the math.  All the math.  There are communities all across our country begging for manufacturing opportunities, and willing to work with companies to bring them in.  Maybe it makes absolute sense to paddle over to a foreign country and build your mousetrap.  But you may find that it’s not such a good financial deal to manufacture overseas.  You may also find that you will gain a regime of loyal purchasers and a favorable reputation in the business community because your product is made in the USA.  The grass isn’t always greener, manufacturing across the pond.


Want help doing the math, or more information on offshore manufacturing feasibility?  Contact PR Brady AdVentures.


Sweet Tomato Basil Soup

TomatoSoup1One of the most amazing things about Florida in the winter time is being able to eat fresh produce right off the garden.  After all, they are the Tomato capitol of the country.  Where else can you hand pick a 5 gallon bucket of ripe fresh tomatoes on the vine for $8.00 in January?  It’s heaven, and trust me, I pick plenty of those big juicy red beauties.  But I also freeze a bunch to bring home for later.  Here is a quick, easy delicious way to cook up frozen tomatoes.

1 Bag frozen whole tomatoes
1 bunch (about 2 cups) fresh chopped basil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 T pepper
1 T salt
2 T sugar
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 15 oz can chicken broth
1 C red wine
½ cup sour cream
  • Empty the bag of frozen tomatoes into a large deep pot and set them aside to thaw
  • Sauté onion and garlic in EVOO
  • Once tomatoes are thawed, add the tomato paste and chicken broth to them and heat to a simmer
  • Transfer onions and garlic to the pot
  • Add basil, salt and pepper –stirring well
  • Let simmer, covered, about 20 minutes
  • Cool the mixture, then transfer to a blender and liquefy to a puree
  • Pour the mixture back into the big pot and add the red wineTomatoSoup2
  • Let simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes
  • Ladle into bowls, with a dollop of sour cream and a basil leaf on top
  • Serve with sliced sourdough, French or garlic bread

Serves  4-6

Sound yummy?  Please feel free to share with others and check out more great recipes under my Killer Cookin’ blog category!