Saturday, December 27, 2008

Oh deer - they are only metres away

The kids and I had fun building a deer blind in the back yard.

Every evening at about 5:30 the deer walk through the woods at the back of the yard. We built a wall and put a sheet over us so the deer would walk right past us.

Worked great he first night when the first group of deer walked close to us. When the second group of deer came close a strange sound that seemed to be coming from behind caught my attention.

I could not resist I had to take a look. When I ducked out from under the sheet it must have spooked the gang of 9 deer. While walking up the hill I dicovered the noise I was interested in was actually the daughters stomach. We should have eaten before we came down.

The next evening 3 deer ran through the yard just as I started to go down to the blind. We waited for an hour for the big gang to arrive, but they never showed.

Roll'n had to sit this one out. The first evening we were here he got to chase the deer, but they are so fast he only get of look at which direction they went and never saw them again. He did not run after them for too long.

Hope everyone is having fun this holiday season.

What kind of trees are these?

Yesterday I went for a nice long walk with Roll'n. We are in Richard's Landing for the holidays. We got on the snow machine trail and walked for a couple of hours. Made a round trip out of it, the GPS tells me we walked more then 9 km.

A very different forest here then what I see around me in Timmins. Shagbark hickory and Sugar maple are not found in the Timmins area. Other trees I know what they are but there are some that I have to collect the buds to take home to confirm what I am looking at. The forest here is mostly hardwoods, I am rusty at hardwood identification.

One other common thing seen today on my walk was the long clear rubber tubing connecting the Sugar maple. It is these lines that in the spring will carry the sap to a central location to be boiled down to maple syrup.

I have made maple syrup in the past but have used buckets to collect the sap. Don't do the boiling down in the house, it gets sticky everywhere!

Hope everyone is having a great holiday.

Picture is looking south from 16-0726484-5129082 Map It

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Video on Youtube

This is my 5th video. 1 is just Ben, the others are all related.
I shot this video last week and just finished the creation this evening.
Take a look, leave a comment!

See the video now

or paste this if the link does not work

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Muddy Mark Goes to School

went to school the other day. My kids class was interested in how I became a Forestry Technologist.

I like to think the impression I left them with was that they had to be totally interested in what they choose to do with their future.

If you pick the correct path your job can just be an extension of yourself. Find the best part of your job and do them the most, while making the best of the parts of the job that are not your favorite.

Also very important here in Northern Ontario is to be able to speak french. I can not and I wish I could. The kids are teaching me, but they are better students then teachers!

Classmates, please leave a comment!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Going to school

I am going to my daughters class on Tuesday. I expect they will all have looked at this and be able to ask interesting questions and be able to answer questions. Important questions about the forests of Northern Ontario.

While in class I might ask questions like :
1. What is the provincial trees of Ontario and why is it important?
2. What forest products are made here in Timmins?
3. What is a better construction material, wood or steal?
4. What tree species are found in and around Timmins.
5. What is the biggest tree in Timmins?
6. What is the oldest tree in Ontario?
7. Where can you buy a piece of hollow birch bark?

Questions that might get asked of me so that you sound smart might include:
1. Do you think it is working in the outdoors that keeps you looking so good!?
2. Who cuts your hair?
3. If I make a mark on a tree at 1 meter when I am 10, how high on the tree will the mark be when I am 20?
4. If I get lost in the bush how do I know which way to keep walking, which way is north?
5. Are you afraid of bears, do you get to see any?
6. How do you get seeds for growing trees?
7. How important are trees to the carbon footprint I am creating?

Hope the class is prepared. I will be there with as much 'hands on' stuff as my dog and I can carry.

Winter WonderLand

Snow has arrived in the Great White North.

The white pine, which is the arboreal emblem of Ontario, look good with a dusting of snow.

In the background is McKeown Lake. Today Roll'n and I walked about 5 kilometers in the snow. The snow is not deep enough for snowshoes yet, but sometimes the snow is up to my knees. Roll'n needs to jump sometimes making him look like a running deer.
I do have my snowshoes in the truck with me now, just in case I need them.

Black-capped chickadees and a single woodpecker traveling together worked their way past me while they searched for food in the trees.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Addition to Timmins Honour Role of Trees

Don Buck from OMNR has found the biggest Aspen and Tamarack trees. They have been added to the Honour Roll. These trees are the first of each species to be added, but Don and I agree the record will not stand for long.
I am sure this summer a bigger Aspen will be found.
Just a note about Poplar and Aspen. Typically, in this area, Aspen (specifically Trembling Aspen) is called Poplar, while Balsam poplar is also called Poplar (sometimes called black poplar or just Bam).

Timmins Honour Role of Trees

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tree Planting in Northern Ontario

I am over here on YouTube and there is this connection to my blog. I wonder if others can see this link when looking at the video?

This video is of tree plant last summer. If there is a tree plant next summer there will be another video. I am working on the next video about how a seed is extracted.

I will show the process of how a seed is extracted from a cone, cleaned, tested and stored.

Come spring the video on how to grow a tree seedling will be in the works. Please stay tuned.

Comments and suggestions always welcomed. Is there something you want to see or learn about? Let me know

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

White Cedar Strip Down to Show All

What is going on here?

I have been seeing this in young cedar over the last couple of years. Maybe I just never noticed before , but now I seem to see it a lot. Seemingly healthy young cedar are shedding their bark in strips.

In many cases the bark has been striping around the entire tree. I always thought that if the bark was removed from around the entire tree - it would die. It seems these guys are all doing pretty well.

So what makes this happen?

Will they survive?

I hope someone will be able to help.

I will continue to search for the answer when I find it I will post.

What else did I see today? Just a little snow, but most of the shallow still water if frozen. I Roll'n chase a red squirrel that I was sure was in his mouth at one point. Those little critters are fast!! He loves the chase and sure would like to do more catching.

The Red Squirrels look really healthy. Big bushy tails and lots of fur. Big and bushy I think more then normal. I wonder if this means more cold then normal?

UTM 17-0456255-5334832

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wood vs. Steel - Environmentally Friendly Building

I drive by that big honk'n steel structure every day. Over the hill behind the building sometimes I can see the steam rising from the dryer at the Domtar mill. Not only is steel more harmful to the environment in many ways more then wood, but all that steel had to be transported to the north. Shipping all that weight had a cost on the environment too.

There are many sources that discuss wood vs. steel below is just part of one of them.

Life-cycle analysis results for the steel-framed vs. wood-framed home showed that the steel-framed home used 17 percent more energy; had 26 percent more global warming potential; had 14 percent more air emissions; had over 300 percent more water emissions and had about the same level of solid waste production. Analysis results for the concrete- vs. wood-framed home showed the concrete-framed home used 16 percent more energy; had 31 percent more global warming potential; had 23 percent more air emissions; had roughly the same level of water emissions and produced 51 percent more solid waste. ( From : Evaluating the Environmental Performance of Wood Building Material)

On a much happier note I did get a chance to walk along a new logging road today. At one point a gang of chickadees came by. I was not able to get a good picture but I was able to get this poor picture of one. There must have been at least 10 of them searching for food in the cedar and birch trees.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First Snow, Silent Forest

Today things are so quite, so so quite. With the little bit of snow that is covering the trees the sounds do not travel. Even the wind is silent yet strong enough to move the trees.

The snow can not absorb the sound of the chickadees that travel past me searching every nook and cranny for food.

I love to see the big trees on the edge of their range. The black ash is an unusual sight here near Timmins, especial as big as this on is.

Soon I will be on snow shoes to get around in the boreal forest.

In mixed wood stands there is always plenty of bird habitat, nest cavities and woodpecker evidence.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

White Spruce - Timmins Honour Roll of Trees

This is a big white spruce, but very short. If we were using the points system of big trees it would not a big point winner.

Growing in a very open area, as you can see from the pictures, it has branches almost down to the ground.

Visit the Timmins Honour Roll of Trees. Hope you can find a tree that will beat any of the trees listed so far.

Record Breaker - Sunny Day

Summer is here finally!!!

It was a wonderful sunny day in the forest today. My dog and I walked about 5 km, well I walked that far and he must have ran about 10km. I only see him when we cross paths now and then. Sometimes he chases something for awhile then comes to find me to be sure I am not lost.

Heard the blue jays and chickadees. Watched 3 spruce grouse fly up into a tree and sit there watching me as I was watching them.

Pictures are super special for one reason. They all have a ray of sunshine. Even the moose poop looks interesting when shinning in the sun.
Timmins temperature record November 4th 1975 17.8C.
Yesterday we only hit 16.7C
Todays record from 1956 of 14.4C was crushed! Do not have the official high temperature but it was over 19.0C.
I wonder about tomorrow's record 1975 18.9C. The call is for only a high of 12.
Pictures are:
A moss
A pile of moose poop
A white birch growing on a rock
A hollow birch bark

Monday, November 3, 2008

How to make a white birch culvert - just wait.

Birch Bark rots at a slower rate then the wood wrapped inside. It is the wax and special chemicals in the bark. I have a link below if you want to read more.

I found this very old white birch tree, long time rotting , yet still standing at the base. I pushed it over and rolled it around a little. The bark mostly stayed intact and all the totally rotted wood fell out.

It is a natural culvert, or a great decoration piece. I hauled it back to the office and will put it up on the webstore. I know a gal who has a similar piece in her front entrance. Looks great! This one is taller and the bark more intact.

Talking about the webstore - got a call today about the bear jaw for sale on the "Muddy Mark's" part of the webstore. Turns out it is illegal ! Guess I will not be doing that again.

Black Ash - Timmins Honour Roll of Trees

Black Ash - This is a big one.

Amount of Carbon stored : 818 kg
It has been added to the Timmins Honour Role of Trees. If you have a tree for the Honour Roll let me know!

It was a wonderful day, cloudy but warm for this time of the year. No birds flying south anymore. I heard blue jays, grey jays and many little busy chickadees.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Biggest Cedar so far - Timmins Honour Role of Trees

This is not the biggest cedar I have seen, but it is the biggest I have come across since I started the Timmins Honour Roll of Trees.

This tree in in a clump of 3 very big trees. I think the tree are well over 400 years old.

Check out the Honour roll and find a tree that is bigger and better! let me know.

248.4cm circumference

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Timmins Honour Role of Trees

Published to the net.

Hope you can participate.

Timmins Honour Roll of Trees is now online.

White Birch crawling through the Forest?

It looks like a spider or something, walking through the forest. While walking along the edge of a wet area, where I could see the water running along the ground down between the rocks, I found a very interesting white birch.

This birch tree must have sprouted on what looks like a big tree that blow down. The roots were forced to reach to the ground for food. The root mat of the old tree is still partially visible, but is rotting away slowly but surely. The roots are suspending the tree creating a very interesting root system for the tree.

This birch with the curved 'neck' would make a very unique animal from the forest, if only I could find a way to get it into the living room!

Here is a little snippet from an answer blog:

According to a 1990 Report to Parliament from Forestry Canada, one acre of healthy forest produces about 4 tonnes of O2 per year. On average, we estimate that one acre of mature forest contains 400 trees, therefore:4 tonnes @ 2,200 lbs/tonne = 8,800 lbs 8,800 lbs divided by 400 trees = 22 lbs/tree/year

On a daily basis, this means that a tree releases approximately .06 lbs of oxygen per day, enough to blow out your birthday candles, but not enough to fill your bicycle tire

I found a huge cedar pictures here this week. It will be the first Cedar on the Timmins Honour Roll of Trees.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wood is environmentally friendly !!

Wood Works!!
There are many different sites on the web that discuss the virtues of using wood for building. Cement and steel are much more damaging to the environment then wood. The cost (environmentally speaking) is much more when using steel and concrete.
Here in Timmins, where forestry is one of the main employment sectors, or use to be, college boreal is putting up a building of steel and concrete.
College Boreal - similar to Boreal Forest - is building within throwing distance of the Domtar mill.
Using wood locks up carbon and looks great. Production of steel and concrete produces a net loss of oxygen.
More info. to follow.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How far do I have to travel to see a Polar Bear

Left Timmins as the sun was coming up. Had to drive to Cochrane for an "Ontario Forestry Safe Workplace Association" (OFSWA) meeting. We left Timmins heading north up hwy 655 as the sun began to peak over the tree tops.
The forest in the area along the highway is a mixture of black spruce and tamerack, with the occasional hump of poplar and birch. The sun made the tamerack look a nice bright yellow. The needles of the tamerack turn colour and drop off each fall.
After our meeting at the Tim Horton Center we went to the Polar Bear Exhibit.
Cochrane is in the north, but it is not that far north that polar bears would be wondering around the town. That is reserved for the black bears.
This was my first visit to the place, it looks like it is growing into a very interesting site. Old cars, snow machines and general store are all on site. Worth a visit I would say.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Little creatures prepare for winter - Cone Cache

I was not out to collect cones today, lucky for some little creature
of the woods. I suspect it is a red squirrel that made this little cache of black spruce cones.

The squirrel will climb up a tree and bite off all the branches that have cones on them. It is a smart way of getting the maximum number of cones to the ground with the least amount of energy.

The clumps of cones are then removed one at a time and put into a neat little pile. Much like a beaver that will store food under water for winter a red squirrel will store cones that will be under the snow to be retrieved later.

Each cone can contain between 15 to 30 tiny seeds.

At the bottom of the trees in the area are many little chopped off branches with the cones removed.

While I was taking the picture of the cone cache another creature let me know they were getting ready for winter. I could hear a flock of Sandhill cranes overhead. They are starting to fly together as they prepare to fly south. Their chevron flight may look like Canada geese when they are far away, but the low croaking sounds give them away.

A small creek I walked beside was frozen over with very thin ice.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Honour Role of Trees

Ontario has an Honour role of Trees. It can be found at I have started to keep track of the Timmins Honour Role and have just started a list in a Facebook group.

This weekend I will put up a Honour Role Page of all the species so everyone can see what the biggest live trees in the area are.

To get things stated I am finding the biggest tree I can find over the next couple of months of each species and will fill in the blanks. As you find a bigger tree I will replace the second place tree.

Today it rained and snowed in the bush. Pleanty of good moisture for the trees going into the winter.

I found a big Yellow birch that will be hard to beat. I did not being home the location information, but it will be included in the chart I create. I have a picture and some stats. This tree has produced oxygen for us for over 60 years I guess.

Yellow birch

Circumference 310cm

Diameter 98.6cm

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Tenacious Tree

I have many pictures of these tenacious trees. When I have a chance I will look back and find some of the "best of" tenacious trees. I would love to see examples of what you find out there.
I am just always amazed at how well a forest can regenerate itself. Sometimes trees germinate on rocks and will send roots down around the rock searching for food.
I have been learning about Yellow birch and have come to understand they regenerate by dropping seeds on old rotten stumps. The tree grows and stumps rots, in some cases the rots suspend the tree off the ground with the many roots looking like legs holding up the tree.
The next time I see a good one I will get a picture of it. Here in Timmins we are at the northern edge of the range of Yellow birch.
This balsam fir tree growing on this rock looks very healthy right now. I think the rock is too big for the little guy to make it possible for the roots to reach the ground.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Please do not feed the bears

I did not get a chance to walk about at all, work got in the way. Sometimes that happens.

I thought I would reach into the past and post a picture I took a couple of years ago.

A black bear was working the highway 144. Every day he would hang around the side of the road waiting for people to feed him. Feed him they did. Within a couple of weeks just pulling over to see the pretty bear on the side of the road was an invitation for him to lumber on up to your window to see what you had.

I was parked on a side road about to enter the highway when I watched this little bear cross the road. I got out my camera and wondered how close he would come.

He would have climbed in I am sure if I did not close my window.

Bears and highway do not mix well, the bear was killed by a truck a few days after I took these pictures.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fairy slipper

Talking about orchids reminded me of the orchid discovered just south of Timmins. The Fairy slipper is another orchid that can be found in the area, but it takes a keen eye to not step on them.
This is the Calypso bulbosa (Fairy Slipper) and grows in wet areas. This one was hiding is a cedar and black spruce stand.
July and August are the best times to walk in the bush, if the bugs do not bother you. Some say you do not just want to go walking in the bush because of the bears, but I never get to see them in the bush. I did see one 3 days ago about 2 minutes from the office running out of a backyard, being chased by a black dog. At first I thought 2 bears but the barking gave away the second one.
Where is this orchid :
Ooooohhh I like that. Any comments? is just the link good or do you like to see the map. If I had zoomed out more you would see Timmins.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sunshine on a nice purple mushroom

The sun was out today and so were the little blackflies. I guess they are trying to get in one last attack before the weather turns cool.
This little mushroom which I think is a Hygrocybe subviolacea more commonly called the Violet Waxcap. Please let me know if you think it may be something else.
The picture turned out much better then the yesterdays picture of the orchid. I played with the adjustments more today.
If you want to see the exact location of this little forest wonder follow the google maps link :,-81.599193&spn=0.006655,0.013733&t=h&z=16&iwloc=addr

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Large Round-Leaved Orchid

Large Round-Leaved Orchid (Platanthera Orbiculata)
On August 6th the Orchids were in full bloom (picture on the right). Today I found one with bursting seed pods and leaves beginning to rot.
there are so many colours in the forest right now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Trees everywhere in the forest

Today was the first day I was able to again walk in the woods. I have been layed up for the last 3 weeks. It was a wonderful warm day. I saw flocks of horned larks along the road.

The orchid I found in the area a month ago has faded away. I have pictures and will post them this weekend.

I also hugged a large Yellow birch, which is at the northern part of it's range.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 01 - The Setup

It just is not enough, I NEED more.

First MSN and video calls, the ever additive Facebook, Google everthing - maps, documents, calendar, picasa, gmail, and now blogger. Do I really have time for this?

I will find time, it is an important topic.

Join me on my journey as I discover everything about how oxyen grows on trees and how our carbon footprint effects the earth.