About Me

My photo

Tracie Skarbo was motivated to write by her father, who was her biggest supporter. “He was always behind me, rallying me on with my writing. I would always see him with a book in hand. He gave me a great appreciation for the written word, and the power and responsibility that writers have to shape those who read their words. He also taught me to respect nature and to value the beauty within it; my reflections on my environment are just an extension of this.” Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island and is working on her next two books.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Interview with Deana Landrum

"Distorted Beauty" Photo By Deana Landrum
As some of you know I interviewed Keith Landrum, the creator of Every Reason Zine last week. In that interview we talked about some of the photography that appeared in the magazine shot by Keith’s wife Deana. I have always found her to be such an inspiration and thought she would complement the previous interview nicely. So please let me do the honor of introducing you to Deana Landrum and show you some of her amazing images.

When did you start your love affair with photography?





"Loxley" Photo By Deana Landrum

Ever since I was little, I've loved taking pictures. In elementary school, my friend and I would pretend we were models and take pictures of each other. I still have them, they're hilariously bad. I was a terrible photographer. In 1995 my friend Scott got me a job at a camera shop where he worked. Until then, I had no idea how much control the person who printed the photos had and how much a difference a SLR made. It made me want a SLR. I didn't get one until several years after that, when my dad bought me one for Christmas. I bought the book they used to teach photography class at our local college and another book on exposure. I read every chance I got and spent a ton of money practicing. I guess the actual beginning, was when I got a SLR.

"Abandoned" Photo by Deana Landrum


Do you prefer black and white photography?
 
No not necessarily. It really just depends on what I'm shooting. To me, black and white brings out deeper emotions for me. I think that color can sometimes be distracting, whereas with black and white, I'm automatically drawn to the subject. Like a black and white portrait draws me to the person's eyes and I feel like I can see their character better than if it was in color. I shoot color for things where it's the color that I feel makes it what it is. I think of color as happy and black and white as emotional. Wait. Did I say I don't prefer black and white? Never mind. I take that back.


 "Doofus" Photo by Deana Landrum

What kinds of things do you like to take photos of?

I love old buildings, doors and windows and stairs. They seem so mysterious to me. I always want to know the back story of who lived there. What's really awesome is when I can get a model to pose and add even more interest to the photograph.  



Do you enhance your photos with any kind of software?

That's an area that I really need to work on. Right now I don't do a whole lot of enhancing. Sometimes I use Photoshop or Picasa. I need to learn more about Photoshop. My favorite photos I've taken I shot with film and had them printed by hand. They're beautiful, no enhancing needed.

"Parking Gargage" Photo by Deana Landrum


What camera are you using?

At the moment I'm using a digital Canon PowerShot 110. It's just a consumer camera, but it does have a manual setting, which I use most. I had a professional film camera, the Nikon F100, until desperate measures lead to me having to sell it. I still have my Holga though. I love shooting with the Holga and the whole creepy look I get. It's unpredictable and I like the anticipation of seeing how the prints turn out.

"Persistence" Photo By Deana Landrum

 


What inspires you when taking photos?

I'm inspired by many things, abandoned buildings, light breaking through the trees, fog in the early morning and street lights at night. If I don't see inspiration in the distance, I move closer and shoot in macro mode. Often times, things that look boring at a distance, are truly beautiful, you just have to get closer to see the details.
 
 



"The Forest of Eyes" Photo By Deana Landrum

"Woman's Room" Photo By Deana Landrum

Can you describe a typical photo day trip? What is your process? 

Most of the time I'll see things that pique my interest while I'm just out running errands. I remember the spot and will go back to it when I have time and the lighting is good. Usually the whole family goes because my oldest daughter needs to shoot for her photography class. I have a photographer friend and we used to just get in the car, pick a direction and just drive. That was always an adventure and we're planning another long overdue adventure soon.
 

What are your major influences when you are creating photos?

I don't know that I have any specific influences. I just have a drive to capture things through the lens that, oftentimes, gets overlooked. Such as a restroom at a rundown gas station. When I started paying attention and looking for the finer details, I started seeing things in a whole different way.

Who inspires you?

I think everyone inspires me. Everyone who is creative or artistic in some way or another. Just seeing what other people do motivates me to get out and do something myself.


Thank you so much Deana for coming by and sharing your amazing gift with us today, I am so glad to share your images with our readers so they can be inspired by them as well. 

If you are looking for the link to the Keith Landrum interview you can find it here: http://tracieskarbo.blogspot.ca/2012/11/interview-with-keith-landrum.html



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meditation


A homemade bean bag
At my root chakra
The seated lotus
Erupts within me

My hearing stretches
And I listen to the earth’s heartbeat
The solid rhythm
Humming like the generator she is

She calls to me
Promising flight
If only I am brave enough
To take that first step

Kundalini yawns and stretches
Up my spine
Spiraling and igniting fire
Within my heart

White light
Empowers a lifting
I am no longer tied
To what was

I rise
And expand
Then shrink
Into a molecule

Form is no longer
A function
But a vanity
An attachment

In an instant
I am no longer
Where I was
But have traversed eons

My eyes grace
Birthing nebulas
Dying entities
Timeless space

My mind
Tries to force
Form upon them
Only to experience invisible laughter

Light and color
I have never known
Mesh together and deliver
Surreal music

I am alone
Yet surrounded by those
Who have come before me
To draw light and wisdom

Their voices align
Taking me to new heights
No longer am I afraid
Of what is to come

For I realize everything
Has been
And has gone
Only to come again

Like the waning tide-moods of the ocean

Over at dVerse Poets today, Mary has given us the word 'preparation' and asked us to write about some of the techniques we use, or what the word means to us.  I often use meditation for a means to de-stress or to unclutter my mind when things get hectic in my life.  This is just one of the experiences I have enjoyed with regular practice.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Interview with Keith Landrum

Have you ever wondered about how those ezines get started?  What does it take to get the ball rolling?  What can such a project morph into?  Come and meet Keith Landrum.  Talented beyond measure, he took his ideas and a dream and put them into action and ended up touching more people and causes he ever thought possible.

I understand you were the mastermind behind Every Reason Zine, how did this come about?

My friend, Tricia went with me to the annual punk fest here (Chattanooga) a few years back and we picked up some zines. I don't even think she had seen one before. I told her about the ones I had read & she encouraged me to start doing my own. So I did. Tricia made me do it!



What was the main vision of the Zine? The goal? Did it hold this pattern or morph into something all together different and surprising?

When I 1st started out, I had no idea what I was doing at all. So there was no goal. I didn't really even understand what other people who made zines were doing. That helped me out in terms of not having anything to influence the content or design. I was only interested in making a zine I'd want to read. I wasn't consciously thinking in terms of goal or purpose until the 4th or 5th issue. It never occurred to me to go beyond anything local. Ha ha! Of course it did later, and when the idea got in my head I started sending Every Reason all over the world and kept the price at 1 or 2 bucks so that it was accessible to everyone. That became the mission or goal- to get it in the hands of as many people as possible, mainly because I thought the words and images deserved it and it was my job as an editor to see that that happened. I never imagined it would go as far as it did. I never imagined that I would have GB Jones doing art for Every Reason, or so many wonderful, prominent underground poets grace the pages of my little zine. It's crazy seeing people's chapbooks or bios that reference Every Reason. Again, I can't believe it went as far as it did. I just got lucky I guess in terms of content. It's weird, because I guess people think I'm some dude who's really been around, but I'm not. I had no direction or anything, no one to explain how things worked. I just wanted to do it and found ways to do it. 

How long did you run with the Zine?

I did Every Reason just over 2 years. I'm still getting orders for back issues. 

                                           What challenges were the most difficult?
Finding money to fund it was my main challenge. I have a family of 4 to support, so money was always a concern. I had to find a way to print it free or cheaply, and by the end, postage alone was at least $150 an issue. Then there's work. I work 50-60+ hrs. a week at my job and sometimes I have to travel. Keeping up with everything and working and taking care of everything that happens with family obligations took its toll on me. Something had to give, so as much as I loved doing Every Reason, I just couldn't justify doing it anymore if I wanted to keep my sanity. That's why I walked away from it. I like to keep up appearances of being close to sane.

I know that your talented wife Deana had a hand in many of the black and white photos, your oldest daughter contributed works of art many times, and your youngest daughter would help putting the physical magazine together. I love that you had the whole family involved in the process. What was that like?

That happened just by them seeing what I was doing. I would pretty much just say to Deana, "Here's the cover of the new issue (holding up one of her photos), and I'm using all of these too!" Ha ha! She would always be cool with it. I would just dig through so many of her photos to see what fit. Deana would often have a story associated with the photo like "Do you know where that was taken?" or "Do you remember that guy who used to live by the..." She was always glad to have her photos seen. My oldest daughter, Loxley (16 years old) ignored my zine until I started asking her for artwork. Eventually she was saying "If you need artwork for the new issue, I have these that I did. You can look through this whole sketchbook and take what you want." Ha ha!! Then, once everything was printed, my youngest daughter, Madigan (6 years old) would just simply ask if she could help. Of course I'm not going to say no, even if I have to refold or restaple some. ha ha! She actually had a drawing in #8 I think. It was a screaming girl with sharp teeth. She would also decorate the packages sometimes with stickers and glitter. Ha ha! It was really cool having the whole gang involved though. It made it so much better, for me at least.

I know you were one of the contributing writers, and I have read and loved many of your articles.

Thanks! Initially, when I had no goal or any idea what I was doing, I was going to make a zine that just had my writing in it. Every Reason #1 was all me. Then I realized I couldn't fill a whole issue every 2 months, so I decided to ask my friends for words and art and stuff. I would just put whatever words I had at that time into the current issue. I probably shouldn't have though. I just didn't feel like I was at the level the contributors were. I was so honored to have so many talented writers contribute to what I was putting out. I was selfish in putting my own words in every issue. The last issue, ER #12 was void of any words by Keith Landrum. I have 1 poem in #11 and those 2 are the best issues. 

What are your thoughts on your next projects?


Right when Every Reason was on its way out, I did a zine called "Life Is Absurd". It was all older writings that had appeared elsewhere, including Every Reason. I have received good feedback from it, but I'm not sure if there will be an issue #2. I have something in the works right now with a dear friend of mine that includes my family as well. This is a low stress, no deadline type of thing. It will be awesome when it's all done. I have been involved in other things recently that I'm not proud of, so I walked away from them. My new project is completely different, so I'm excited about it and I want it to be the best I have to offer. 

Who are your major influences?

I think I'm influenced the most by my family. My wife, Deana, really inspires me to be creative. She spends every spare minute creating art in some form or another. I wish I could draw the way my daughter, Loxley does. I really envy her talent. She has a ton of work under her belt and has been in The Filth & Notes Magazine. Madigan is the most beautiful philosopher/stand-up comedian I've ever seen. Of course I'm biased, but I try to really feed off of her creativity and simplicity. She prevents me from taking myself too seriously. That is important because so many writers and artists think they are so much more than they are and the forget the reasons they started doing all of this to begin with. It is absolutely necessary to have a sense of humor. This needs to be reinforced as much as possible. 

You have another project called “The Blessing” could you tell me more about this?

The Blessing started as a joke. I accidentally started growing a beard because I had worked many consecutive days in a row or something like that. So I had the beginnings of a full on beard and I thought it looked cool so I didn't shave it. Deana didn't like what it was becoming and demanded I shave it. It was all itchy on her face or something, I really don't remember her initial protest, but I had to convince her to cease it. So I made up some story that, as ridiculous as it is, has some truth to it. I named my beard The Blessing. She didn't protest after that. At that point many of our friends had started showering my beard with wonderful compliments. Ha ha!


One of Deana's friends threatened to make a facebook page and call it The Blessing. I'm not a control freak, but if anyone was going to make a facebook page about my beard, it was going to be me. Here's the good part. I made a facebook page for The Blessing. I started out writing these...I don't know what they really are, but I call them The State Of The Blessing. Let's call them personal updates. Anyway, I did this in character at 1st. My character was a guy who was trying to deal with the beard he'd been blessed with and how it affected his life. Which is really me, but exaggerated.

Anyway, I started making stickers with The Blessing logo at work. The logo came from a drawing that a guy did of me. His name is John Sarmento. So everyone wanted those stickers, because by then The Blessing had kind of taken off. Then Deana, always thinking ahead, asked why I wasn't making any money off of this "Blessing thing". I told her that was a good idea. At that time, my friend, Moon, had sent me some home made things in the mail. Included in that package was a pouch with The Blessing logo on it. It was animal skin or something. Moon is Cherokee and she is "Native Hippie". She makes a lot of Native American Jewelry and art. Anyway, that gave me the idea to market The Blessing as a charity. So I started The Blessing/Moon auctions on ebay to raise money for charity.

So yeah, that's how I monetized something that originally started as a joke. I gave all the money I raised, and then some, to selected charities. We don't raise thousands, or even hundreds, but we raise about $100 an auction. I auction off things that I make or things other people make. So it's all done from the heart. I have been slacking lately though and I feel bad. I wish I could have had something for those folks out in NY when Sandy hit. I have a few things ready though, so I'll post an auction soon. Every little bit helps, even when we don't think it does, you know?

Keith, I have found you and your family an inspiration for so many reasons over the time I have had the good fortune of knowing you; the creative work you all put out into the world, the way you function as a family and the many things you do for others. Thanks so much for your time and for the detailed look into what it is like raising an ezine from the ground up.

If our readers would like to contact you for back issues of Every Reason or find a copy of “Life is Absurd”, or find out more about The Blessing or where The Blessings Auction site is could you please link us up?

Ok folks, if you have a facebook account you can find The Blessing and Every Reason information here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Blessing/336079456720

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Every-Reason/130201593702612

Otherwise, here is the latest Every Reason Blog:

http://pulltheletter.blogspot.com/

And the latest creations from Keith Landrum, come take a look and see how you can make a difference in someones life. 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/thatkeithdude?ref=seller_info

****Photos provided by Keith Landrum
 
~~~  Interested in seeing more of Deana Landrums photography?  Please join me here : http://tracieskarbo.blogspot.ca/2012/11/interview-with-deana-landrum.html
 

 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Dan the "Owl Man"



Approximately a year and a half ago I had the good fortune to run into Dan Tompsett aka Owlster Bierce in a writing circle. I enjoyed his humor and wit with word, but also became intrigued by one of his hobbies which is collecting owl pellets. I thought an interview with Dan would be a great idea, and it went something like this:
Photo by Dan Tompsett

Tracie: How did you become interested in owl pellets?

Dan: One day I was walking around our property here in the countryside, and saw some gray things on the ground. I remembered reading something about owl pellets several years ago, so I wondered if that was what I found. I did a search of google images, and came to the conclusion that was what they were. I'm always looking for stuff to sell on Ebay because no one will give me a damn job, so I checked, and sure enough--pellets were being offered on Ebay for as much as $5 each. I immediately went back outside and searched the grounds of our 3-acre property and found about a dozen more pellets. I then took photos of them and put them on Ebay. They sold right away. I was stoked! I found more pellets under trees around the neighborhood and sold those "owl pellets," too. As it turned out, what I was finding and selling as "owl pellets" were actually hawk pellets. Ooops! Fortunately, none of the Ebay buyers knew the difference, either.

Tracie: What exactly is an owl pellet? Is it an equivalent of a cat's hairball?

Dan: Owl pellets are sort of like a cat's hairball. Something like 50 different birds and other animals regurgitate "pellets." I have collected American Kestrel (North America's smallest falcon) pellets, too. Barn owls swallow their prey whole. They digest the flesh and innards, then the bones and fur form into a ball. The barn owl, unlike other owls, has a natural enzyme that coats the pellets. This makes the pellets smoother than pellets of other owls. Barn owl pellets have a somewhat shiny sheen on the surface, whereas horned owl pellets have a furry, looser texture. The barn owl pellets have a much longer 'shelf-life' than horned owl pellets, which fall apart much more quickly.

Tracie: What came first, the interest in the Owls, or interest in the pellets?

Dan: I have always been interested in birds. I do think owls are some of the more interesting birds. I don't get very excited about robins and Starlings.

Tracie: How long have you been collecting pellets?

Dan: I have been collecting off and on for about three years.

Tracie: Do you have to dry them out before shipping them out?

Dan: Very fresh pellets, or ones wet from rain or snow need to be dried before shipping. A very smelly mold can quickly grow on them if packed or stored wet. I also microwave sterilize the pellets before packing for shipment.

Tracie: Are certain times of the year better for collection of the pellets? Certain places?

Dan: Late Fall through Winter are probably the best times to search for new areas because Barn Owls like to roost in pine trees. It's easier to spot pines from a distance after the other trees have lost their leaves. Other than that, owls usually stick around throughout the year. It gets pretty cold here and sometimes it snows, so Spring and Summer are more enjoyable as far as comfort is concerned.

Tracie: Have you ever found some unique things while searching for pellets?

Dan: When looking for pellets in barns and other structures I've come across a lot of old farm equipment. That would be "unique" to most city folk, but fairly common around here. I've come across coyotes, a badger, owl talons and skulls. One time while collecting pellets beneath a barn owl nest in a stack of hay bales I climbed up to the entrance of the nest and was face-to-face with 5 or 6 nestlings. They kept their large eyes on me while they moved their heads back and forth and hissed at me. I've gotten pretty close to Horned Owl nestlings, too.

Tracie: You came across a badger! I bet that was an experience! What did you do with the skulls?

Dan: It was the first and only badger I have seen. I watched it run in a direction towards me and to my left. The area was rocky. It vanished down a large rocky hole. As for the owl skulls: It's illegal to have most wild bird feathers and other body parts, so I usually leave them where I find them. I did take a barn owl skull once and took a few photos of it. I eventually sent it to a teacher who had purchased some owl pellets from me.

Tracie: What do people use the pellets for?

Dan: Teachers use them to teach students about the food chain and such. The students dissect the pellets then try to reconstruct the skeletons of mostly rodents from the bones they find and identify what kind of rodent it was. Sometimes bird bones and skulls are found in pellets, too. Artists use pellet bones and schools for projects, and sometimes Wiccans want them. I'm not sure what they do with them. Maybe place them on alters or something.

Tracie: Does the size of the owl always guarantee the size of the pellets?

Dan: No. I have seen very young owls regurgitate huge pellets. Pellet size is probably determined by what and how much they ate the day before.

Tracie: You have recently moved locations haven’t you? How is the new place for treasure hunting?

Dan: I went to Las Vegas for about 6 months, recently. I didn't do much pellet hunting there. I found about 75 beneath holes in dirt/sand bluffs at the edge of the desert. I'm back in my old stomping grounds in Idaho, now, but hunting has been slow because I don't drive and the driver I had is still in Vegas. I need to find another driver.

Tracie: In the desert the owls burrow in holes? I never knew that!

Dan: Yes. Holes in rocks, trees, or pretty much anything at least 15 feet or so off the ground are used as nesting sites. I know a guy who actually believed barn owls didn't exist until man built barns. LOL.

Tracie: How do you tell the difference between hawk and owl pellets?

Dan: Hawk pellets are usually larger, much lighter weight, softer, more rectangular shaped than oblong, and have very few bones. The digestive fluids of hawks are much stronger than that of owls, so almost all their prey is digested. Their pellets are virtually all fur, although there can be a few bones.

Tracie: What are your favorite birds? Why?

Dan: Chicken. Yum! Kidding aside; I'm partial to small, colorful songbirds such as warblers. Not sure why.

Tracie: I know you sometimes come across big wasp hives while you are out there searching. I was impressed and thankful for the one you sent me. Have you come across any more of those?

Dan: Only a few egg cells. Finding large hives is luck. They can be anywhere. Hard to look for them, at least as far as I know. I have noticed some people find a lot of them in the Midwestern states. Someone in Wisconsin has several of them on Ebay at times. They fetch good prices, too. Depending on size, shape, and condition they go for between $25 and $100 each.

Tracie: How would someone get a hold of you if they wanted owl pellets?

Dan: They would have to run real fast and catch me. (Just kidding). I can be found on Facebook using the monicer "Owlster Bierce," or they can search Ebay for "earthmonger2010," then send me a message if I don't have pellets listed. I have 42 pellets on Ebay at the moment.

Excellent! Thanks Dan for your time and all the information you have provided on this interesting and unique hobby. I wish I lived closer so I could join you on a feathery treasure hunt taking photos while we go. I’ll drive!




 

 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Purple Martins at French Creek

 
This August, I went to French Creek to see what there was to see.  I often visit marinas for photo opportunities.  I have a deep affinity to these places and people.  There is something soothing and traditional about the fishing boats.  Perhaps I was a fisherman in a previous life and this is why I feel such an attraction for the sea and all things associated with it. 

On this particular evening my son and I were lucky; there was a setting sun for perfect lighting, and the water was calm, perfect to catch reflections.  But what we didn't know was there were even more surprises in store for us.
 



Great big crab traps on this boat, along with the floats to mark their location.

While we were walking and looking at the various boats and wondering where they had come from, what stories they would have to tell if they could talk, I could hear birds.  Then I could see the birds.  Something was disturbing them.  They were dive bombing an area and looked like they were after something.  We decided to take a better look.
 
 
What we found were some retired biologists tagging the newest members of the local Purple Martin population in the nesting boxes.

Here you can see them tagging the chicks with metal tags and checking their health and sexes. 

"By 1994, all known nesting pairs in the province were using artificial nest-boxes, mainly erected on pilings." Without human intervention, particularly the provision of nest-boxes, this species would have been lost some time ago.

Purple Martins were originally found in the lower Fraser River lowlands, downtown Vancouver, and the east side of Vancouver Island from Campbell River to Victoria.  The decline of the species have coincided with the establishment of the European Starling and with the removal of old pilings from harbours.  Here you can see him retrieving chicks from one of the boxes to tag below.  He is constantly being dive bombed by the parents of the chicks, and I am surprised that he has never fallen off of the ladder.  Sometimes he is in a boat balancing on the ladder!

The total number of known active martin nests in British Columbia in 1995 was 55.  All but two pairs nested on southern Vancouver Island.
 
 I must tell you again that these people are volunteers, they are not being paid for coming out here and keeping tabs on the population.  These two were retired biologists that believe in the cause and that someone must keep up the work.  There are others too that come out and help them and at the end of the essay I will give you some information if you want to get involved further.
A nest-box program started in Cowichan Bay at this time probably rescuing the species from extirpation in British Columbia.  There are now active Purple Martin sites on Vancouver Island at the Esquimalt Dockyards, Victoria Harbour, the Sooke Basin, the Cowichan estuary, Ladysmith Harbour and the Nanaimo estuary; at Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park; and on the Lower Mainland at Maple Woodflats and Rocky Point.  The present population is still less then 75 pairs.  The Purple Martin is considered Endangered and is protected from killing or collecting by the Wildlife Act.
 
Purple Martins are the largest swallows in North America.  Adult males are an iridescent purple-black.  Females and immature birds are dark above and pale below.
 

 Long reputed to be an efficient predator of insect pests, this large, dark swallow has for centuries been encouraged to by native people in the American Southwest, and later by wise farmers east of the Rockies.  Highly tolerant of human presence they readily accept colonial nesting boxes.
My son is thrilled when he is encouraged to hold this older chick.
 
Adult males arrive back from migration first, often coming back to the previous years nesting site.  They sing a special early morning song which attracts young males to claim nearby sites.  This is beneficial to the older males in various ways; they are able to mate with the females that the young males are breeding with increasing the number of offspring, they don't have to help with rearing the young because the young males are mated with the females and this ensures that the colony is well-populated.  The young males benefit because the risk of predators is diminished with the older males around, and the older males take the best and safest sites.  Colonies can be one pair to many dozens of pairs.

 
The female alone incubates the eggs for 15 to 19 days.
 
Wintering birds can concentrate in large numbers, on wintering roost site consisting of 5000 birds in Brazil.
 
In British Columbia, Purple Martins almost always select sites near or over open water.  Individuals and groups interested in helping Purple Martins in British Columbia are encouraged to build and erect nest-boxes along the waterfront on southern and eastern Vancouver Island and in the lower mainland.  Boxes should be constructed of cedar, and maintained regularly.  Locations should be chosen that allow easy access for maintenance.
 
For more information:
 
 
With the setting sun it was time to leave our adventure and head back to the car for the long drive home.  My son was full of questions and excitement about what he had seen and the new knowledge he had acquired.  I was grateful for the moments in life where the beauty of all that surrounds us is revealed, most of all happy to have my son there to experience it.  I know today was one of those days that will stick in his mind and he will tell his kids about in years to come.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fish Hatchery Field Trip



 

Today we went out for a field trip to the local fish hatchery.  Luckily when we arrived it was a bright and sunny day, a nice reprieve from the rain we have been having. 

The kids were running about here and there, anxious to get going on the nature walk and see what there was to see but once our guide started talking she captivated her young audience with her knowledge and questions.


We passed a stream where you could see some of the salmon dying.  At this point they have spawned and their lifecycle is over and they will become part of the food chain.  Whether it is the animals, insects or bacteria that consume them, the fish’s nutrients will eventually be recycled into the forests and provide fertilizer for the trees and plants.




These grey fish are on the bottom of the stream are covered with bacteria.  They have died and have started the decomposition process that will face all of the fish coming here to spawn.




Another shot where you can see a mix of live and dying fish in a spawning pool.  The female digs a hole for the eggs, then the male comes to fertilize them and once the egg is fertilized it floats to the bottom of the stream and sinks below the grade.  Only two out of the two thousand five hundred eggs will make it back to sea.  This is why hatcheries are helping out with the process.  With their intervention the odds are raised, and as many as twenty two to forty make back to sea.


This is a Nurse Stump.  Its decomposition supports new life.


A huge ant hill



Another huge ant hill
Fallen trees like this one make perfect hiding places for salmon.  Eagles and seagulls are just some of the many birds that come to feast as well as black bear and other animals.


Can you see the female salmon in the middle of the image?
 


There were many bent trees like this one along the pond.






This is a fish ladder; it helps the fish climb up a stream that is otherwise too steep, or the current too fast to climb naturally.







 



A huge tree with thick moss all the way up and around it.


This was a big tree on a slant.  So huge it would have taken 4 adults to circle the base.


More remains.




If you look at the back of the stream, almost to the other side of the bank you will see a little bit of the dorsal and back fin sticking out of the water.  This is a male.






A fallen tree that has now become a nurse log.  Supporting various life.



 
A female salmon in the big pond.

 






These are the pens they keep the female and male in to harvest the Milt from the males and the Eggs from the females.
 

This male has been put in solitary confinement in special liquid to make him sleepy so the milt can be harvested.
 
Here she is drying off the male to harvest the milt.

This is the amount of the milt that came out of the male.

Now for the female.

The female gets her own bath to make her sleepy.  She, unlike the male, will be killed and her blood drained in order to harvest the eggs.

Examples of the stages of life for young salmon.

Fry: 100 days old

Alevens: 45 days old

Eyed eggs: 22 days old

Eggs: 1 day old

The female being drained.
 

Getting ready to harvest the eggs.
 
 
A bucket full of harvested eggs.

Now the dissection of the female occurs.  The lucky male still has a couple more days worth of milting ahead of him.

This is a gill fin.  It covers the gills and help keep them free of debris.

These are the actual gills and I have been told they feel like “wet feathers”.

This is the fish heart.  It was quite remarkable seeing this because it kept beating after removal.  The woman told us this was due to nerves still firing.  I think she might have thought that this would inspire the kids.  But most of them moved on at this point, leaving only the brave and most of the adults to witness the rest of the dissection.
 

The fish liver.

 
The spleen

The stomach

The egg sac and some of the eggs that were not squeezed out previously.

The swim bladder, this is the part of the fish that allows the fish to be buoyant or to sink to the depths of the sea or rivers.
 

 
Unlike us fish have only one long kidney.
 
The dissection table.

The brain
 
The lens from inside the eye.

Feeding time for the young fry.
 
 
The young salmon feeding on the thrown pellets.

Scarring on the board from a bear in search of a quick lunch.