Tuesday, May 31, 2016

More Photos From Around The Farm

Spring finally arrived, and the pear tree was the first to blossom. But spring was short lived and lurched suddenly into summertime. Most of the flowers quickly dropped their petals to the ground. I'll have to wait and see what that portends for fruit production:

The cherry tree only produces fruit every couple of years but it produced blossoms this year. That's a hopeful sign:

And the bigger of the two new plum trees bloomed for several weeks. Not only was it beautiful, but I expect to have lots of plums this year. I also have a smaller plum tree and apricot which flowered sparsely for the first time this year. I can't tell which of those two is which, but I'll figure it out when they produce fruit this autumn:

I was inside the barn one morning when an Eastern Meadowlark landed on a nearby fence post and began singing. Not wanting to frighten it away, I stayed where I was and used my zoom lens to get a photo. I snapped many pictures, but this was the only one (just barely) good enough to keep:

The Daffodils were much delayed and modest in their blooming this year, but I noticed a new variety. These buttery yellow, double flowers put in an appearance. They may have bloomed previous springs, but this year was the first time I really noticed them:

Birds built a large nest in the cedar tree just outside my door and were pooping all over everything. It was only a matter of time before they pooped on me. The dogs were tracking through it. Worse, a baby had fallen out of the nest a couple of days earlier and I found it dead on my porch. Judging by the size of the dead baby bird, I figured the fledglings were out of the nest soon thereafter. I used a long board to push the nest out of the tree while two adult Grackles screamed at me. But I knew there were no eggs or babies in it:

Then I set out to mow the lawn, using the riding mower. When I got to the lawn on the other side of the apple trees, I saw a baby Grackle in the grass with its parents flying around overhead. I think I spotted its sibling, already flying. I switched to mowing on the other side of the house and then ate lunch. Later, when I went back, both the babies and their parents were nowhere to be seen:

The Bush Cherry bloomed copiously this year. It also is a new planting and this will be my first taste of a Bush Cherry. I hope they're good. At least they'll be easier to pick:

The apple trees began budding on a few trees:

And then began opening into flowers. Alas, our late spring and early summer weather meant a short blooming season:

One tree on the far end of the property, however, was in full bloom. This tree was probably a wild seedling but it produces lots of early apples. Oddly, its buds and flowers have very little pink in them. They're almost pure white:

While mowing the lawn, I kept seeing these tiny blue flowers in the grass. I snapped a picture and then looked them up in my field guide later in the day. They were Birds-Eye Speedwell, a member of the snapdragon family:

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy House Pets At Home

Let it never be said that the dogs and cats here don't get enough rest. Their days are filled with ease and comfort. This collection included Fergus, Seamus, Daphne, Clover and Draco:

The cats have to stay inside but the dogs have a fenced yard from which they watch everything which happens on the farm:

And then they go right back to bed:

They've become bored with the chickens and mostly ignore them:

  But if I'm cooking dinner, they watch me intently:

And of course they love to bark:

And wait on their ramp for me, hoping to go back indoors for another snooze:

Which they do without delay:

Sometimes they use the ramp as elevation to give them a better view of what I'm doing:

They almost never go into the dog house:

But they do all get along well:

Our springtime was delayed, but it's lovely now that it's here  - and the dogs are happy:

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Around The Farm In May

The lilac buds continued to swell and were in full bloom by last week:

I keep two water buckets in the pigeons' room when it's above freezing, one for clean water and one for dirty water to be dumped. Normally I keep them covered, but one afternoon I left with to refill the clean water bucket and found this when I returned. I rescued this silly bird of course, but was reminded why I need to keep those buckets covered at all times:

Blue has become more gentle and friendly - and yes, I do think he appeared to be laughing here although he was really just yawning:

Blue is a handsome boy:

Both Remy and Blue are inseparable (and sometimes insufferable), but I fear there will be fighting if they grow into stallions. I plan to have them gelded (neutered) soon:

One Saturday afternoon, a neighbor pulled up with a wagon load of grass clippings to give my animals. The cows were in the north field, but we put the clippings in the south field, where the horses were. I felt uneasy about it and headed indoors to do an internet search as soon as the neighbor left for home:

I read online that grass clippings can be very bad for horses, especially if they pig out on them. Remy was gobbling them up pretty fast, so I put both horses in the barn and raked out the clippings. No harm was done but I was very worried for the next 24 hours. The next time the neighbor brought grass, the cows were in the south field with the horses, so I simply locked the horses in the barn and let the cows enjoy the treat:

At the time, however, the Red Poll girls were enjoying the lush green grass of the north field. It was plentiful, so they spent much of their time lounging about and chewing their cuds:

The Shadbush burst into bloom on Mother's Day and continued blooming through much of May. They made a nice backdrop for the north field:

I fed the cows a bit of grain each morning and evening:

In the mornings, I didn't let the chickens out until after the cows ate their grain. But for their evening bowl, the cows had pesky chickens to deal with as they ate. Any cow which lifted her head out of a bowl found a chicken in it when she went back for more:

But they seemed to enjoy the north field. In fact, one day I tried to move them back across the road to south field and they refused to go. No grain, no cow bell, no coaxing had any effect. It's a good thing that cows have hooves and not fingers or they'd have shown me one:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Santamont Trail In Catherineville State Forest - Part 3

We'd hiked as far as I thought I could go on my bad ankles, so we turned around and began our trip back to the car (see also previous two posts):

Seamus looked healthy in his newly svelte body and Clover jumped up onto a rise to survey the forest:

But mostly we just trudged along. My ankles were becoming painful and, though the dogs could have gone on all day, they too had slowed down:

Clover and Daphne went off the trail to explore a rocky, mossy, wet area:

Seamus and Fergus looked noble:

Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris, was blooming abundantly in the many wet spots:

And everywhere we saw the beautiful Painted Trilliums:

By this time I was slowing down and the dogs didn't seem to mind. They certainly weren't as full of excess energy as they were when we began:

The quieter, more leisurely pace of the return hike is more pleasant to me than trying to control five excited dogs at the beginning of the hike:

We were soon approaching the gravel road on which we'd parked. I called the dogs to heel, which they sort of do (except for Jack, and even he is beginning to get the idea):

Shadbush was blooming abundantly along every road and lane, but I never saw a single one in the forest. So I simply waited until we reached the gravel road to snap a photo of this beauty:

And a close-up of Shadbush flowers. But our hike was done and it was time to return home:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Santamont Trail In Catherineville State Forest - Part 2

I was hiking with the dogs in Catherineville State Forest (see also Part 1, posted yesterday):

There used to be people living in this area. In fact, there was a small village, after which the State Forest was named. I haven't yet located the foundations of the homes, but we did find this old kitchen stove. Seamus was very interested. Perhaps he sniffed some hundred year old bacon grease:

There were tiny white violets in bloom. Because of the leaf shape and curled upper petals, I believe this was the Sweet White Violet, Viola blanda:

The dogs frequently collected at certain spots. I'd love to know what they could smell - or perhaps not, given their love of all things putrid:

I spotted this patch of green on a small rise in the woods and began walking over to see what it was:

When we arrived, it turned out to be a big patch of Shining Clubmoss, just right for Daphne to play in:

The dogs were having fun. In this case, Jack and Fergus were racing each other:

We took many short trips off the trail, just to see what we could see:

I didn't get enough in this photo for a species ID, but from what I can see, I suspect this was the Great-Spurred Violet, Viola selkirkii. It's only supposed to have five petals, but so are all violets, so this one must have been an aberration. The long stalked leaves on either side of the violet were Wild Strawberries:

It wouldn't be long before this forest was all leafed out and green. I am anxious to go back and explore farther. I might even drive in a way and begin where I left off since the road was in good condition and I can no longer hike very far:

And speaking of not being able to hike very far, it was soon time for us to turn around and begin our trip back to our parked car:

This was a thoroughly enjoyable hike and there are more photos still. I'll post Part 3 tomorrow: