Our second stop of our fall road trip was at the Soo Locks. This is considered mecca to the boat nerds. It has been years since we first visited the locks so we decided to take a boat trip through them. We arrived about five minutes before the boat was to leave the docks.
As we sailed to the United States Docks we passed the USCGC Katmai Bay which we see occasionally in Duluth, Minnesota. It usually turns up in the spring during ice breaking operations.
When we reached the United States Locks there was another ship in the next lock but since we just entered and it was exiting it was difficult to see anything but the top of it. There is a 30 foot difference between lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
We then headed across to the Canadian side and sailed past the Essar Steel Algoma steel plant. This is by far the largest employer in the area. The last photo shows the barges that will be loaded with rolled steel that will be used in the auto plants.
We then sailed through the much smaller Canadian Locks and past several ships before heading back to the United State Shore.
As we sailed along the shore we passed a ship yard a resupply boat and the Edison Sault Hydroelectric Plant.
Last week we made our first fall road trip of the year. We actually made two different visits to Seney. We stopped on our drive up to Sault Ste Marie and we stopped again on our way back to Munising. The second visit was much more exciting. We had exited the freeway and were in the middle of nowhere and I happened to notice that we had 43 miles to go before we were out of gas. This never happens. We tried to pull up GasBuddy on our phone but didn’t have a signal. We pulled out the map but weren’t sure where we were. It looked like it we were closest to Sault Ste Marie so we turned around. Fortunately we found a gas station about 10 miles back down the road. When we we drove back toward Seney we checked the mileage to the first gas station. Turned out it was 43 miles from where we turned around. Not sure it actually had gas because there was only one ancient pump.
There was not a lot going on in Seney. There was not a lot of color yet. Some of the ferns offered a bright spot among the green.
There were quite a few Trumpeter Swans in the various pools. On one pool they were surrounded by what I think are Wood Ducks. Apparently the Swans were able to reach the choice morsels at the bottom of the pool so the Wood Ducks just waited until the Swans brought it up before diving in and grabbing some.
These two swans were standing in some shallow water grooming themselves.
On another pool there were a group of Lesser Yellowlegs feeding.
As we were exiting the Refuge we noticed this Red Squirrel sitting in a tree right next to the road. I was able to get quite close and he still didn’t move.
Last weekend was Farm-City Day in our area. It offered non-farmers a chance to get out and see what is happening in farming. Turned out the farm was just down the road from us. We drive past it all the time and didn’t even know it existed. We arrived when the event was scheduled to start and there were already over 50 cars in the parking lot.
After registering we boarded a hay wagon for a trip around the farm. I would have liked to walk around but I suspect the liability would be too great.
We drove past the barn where the new born calves are house. They stay with their mothers for a week and then are moved to this fully automated calf barn. Feeding is automatic and RFD tags allows the farm to monitor each calves food intake. Beading is sawdust made from old buildings torn down in the Twin Cities. As the calves grow they are moved through a succession of barns.
We passed two large liquid manure holding tanks. The were cement with clay underneath to prevent any leakage into the ground water. Sand is used for bedding for the older cows and 99 percent of it is recovered cleaned and reused.
The silage pile was 36 feet high. An iron pipe is driven into the top of the pile so workers can use a safety harness when working on the pile. The pile is on concrete and any drainage is cleaned or pumped into the Liquid manure pit. It takes two people 8 hours per day to feed the cattle.
The highligh of the visit was the milking parlor. It was circular and turned. The cows hopped on and when done milking hopped off. It holds 60 cows and takes 8 minutes to rotate. As we watched it look like two people were preparing the cows and attaching the milkers.
The equipment to cut the silage is designed to scan the wagon and then automatically fill it to capacity before turning off.
The equipment to spread the liquid manure places it in the ground rather than spreading it on the surface.
The farm expects to milk 2,000 cows next year. My grandfather had about a dozen.
I’ve only photographed a few birds in the last couple of weeks. This Northern Cardinal was particularly interesting because it had lost all of it’s head feathers. Not sure if it happened because of a bug infestation or a molting problem. I photographed the same bird a few weeks later and it’s head feathers seemed to be growing back.
I think this is some kind of warbler but haven’t figured out what kind. It turned up during the migration.
The fledgling Red-bellied Woodpecker has been around for the last month.
The White-breasted Nuthatches have been coming around now that fall is near.
The Mourning Doves are still perching on my feeders. They have been trying to perch on the black sunflower feeder but the perches are just too small.
We made a late season trip through Crex Meadows the last week of summer. Things were relatively quiet. We did see a number of hawks and eagles, there were quite a few ducks around. Most of the flowers were gone as well as the butterflies.
There were a lot of Wood Ducks around, far more than I’ve seen before. It was a little difficult to photograph birds because the ducks were very skittish and the grass was so high along the road it was difficult to use the car as a blind.
The Trumpeter Swans are around. This year’s batch of young are almost adults now.
Grebes can be found on the various flowages.
Smartweed is blooming.
There was some color in the trees but it looks like most of the Aspen and Birch trees are turning brown. We noticed this same phenomenon as we drove through Northern Wisconsin.
While photographing hummingbirds feeding I noticed that this fellow had landed and was flopping around on a plant leaf. At first I thought something was wrong with it but as I watched it I concluded it was taking a bath on the moisture on the leaf.
Just before most the hummingbirds left for the summer I had a chance to photograph them feeding on my Red Prince Weigela flowers with a background of sunflowers.
The last time I was down at the Red Cedar Trail I couldn’t find many Pale Touch-me-nots. On a recent trip I found a lot of them blooming along the trail.
A few weeks ago my wife and I decided to drive down to the Red Cedar State Trail for a short walk. The day before I hurt my back so I thought a good long walk would help. Since the goal was to rehab by back I left by camera at home. When we reached the trail there was a heavy fog, nice dew on the flowers, no wind and ideal conditions for photography. That’s always the way it works.
On our hike we found the Groundnuts were in full bloom. The next morning it was foggy and no wind so I grabbed my camera and headed for the Trail. Of course when I reached the trail there was a strong wind blowing. In spite of the wind I was able to get some photos of the groundnuts.
Around Labor day most of the humming birds started to leave. Just before they left my Red Prince Weigela shrub started to bloom on the upper branches. It had been blooming in the lower branches but I hadn’t noticed that the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were feeding on the flowers. Once the upper branches started blooming the hummingbirds were frequent visitors. In addition to the Weigela flowers they also like catnip. I hope catnip doesn’t have the same impact on hummingbirds as it does on cats.