Jan 5- Lake near Mineral and hawk near chickens…

Every Saturday, I do the Louisa trip, which involves driving around Louisa and Mineral doing everyone’s town chores.  Sometimes on the way back, I take a road out of Mineral that is a bit shorter distance than the highway.  Since it is a slow windy dirt road through the woods, I don’t think I save any time, but it is more scenic.  During the winter when the leaves are down, I can sometimes see a bit of a lake off a ways through the trees.  Last night, I was looking at Google Earth, and zoomed in on this particular lake, which looks kind of like this:

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You can see the road I usually drive along the east side of the lake.  This morning, on my way home, I drove around to the grassy area near the dam at the SW corner of the lake.  The view from there looked like this:

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It’s unusual to see a lake of this size in this part of Virginia that is entirely undeveloped.  Unfortunately, as I was driving in, I saw real estate advertisements for lakefront property, so I don’t know how long it will look so pristine.  I might try to come back at some point this year to do some exploring along the lakeshore.  A sign there says that it is open to fishing with permit, but swimming is not allowed.  But I bet if I went away from the grassy area near the road, I take a little illicit dip once it warms up!

When I got home, I went to feed the chickens a bunch of vegetables that I took from the Food Lion dumpster.  Unsurprisingly, Free Willie was still hanging out outside of the chicken yard:

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Suddenly, while I was tossing the veggies into the chicken yard (and some outside of the yard), the ‘happy cluck’ of the feeding chickens turned into ‘alarm distress squawk,’ and they all ran under the henhouse.  I turned and saw across the field a large hawk (or maybe an eagle?) sitting in a tree eyeing the chickens, and I reckon the chickens saw it too.  By the time I got my camera out, it had taken off and was soaring over the treetops:

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Later on, while Sami was chasing Free Willie through the underbrush, trying to feed him some lettuce, I noticed the severed tail of some mammal on the ground in front of me.  I’m not sure if it was placed there by a person or another animal, or what the tail even originally belonged to.  It looked a bit like a little curled up squirrel or something.  I wonder what the story was there…

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This afternoon, I went down to the pond to check it for ice.  We’ve had a couple of cold nights, and days that aren’t getting much above 40 degrees, so I was thinking we might be getting a bit of icy crust.  We are, but not much– hopefully we get some proper cold weather sometime in the first half of January.  By late January, there is too much daylight to get really thick ice that people can walk or skate on.  But as of 1/5, this is all the ice we have:

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