Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bush Hogging The North Field

I went out early in the morning to bush hog the north field, but when I got to the barn, I saw these two baby Starlings on the ground, next to the milk room. A Starling nests somewhere up in the insulation below the milk room roof, entering through the eave, each year. I had no way to put the babies back into the nest and could only hope the mother would find them, so all I could do was continue on into the barn and began my day:

 I have been seeing lots of Swallows, more than ever before, and had trouble identifying them. I caught this one on a wire and got a photo, deciding it was a Tree Swallow. I've also been seeing Swallows colored like Barn Swallows but without the long, forked tails. Now that I've got a nest of them, I have identified them as Cliff Swallows. The neighbors say they have Barn Swallows, but I haven't seen the nests. I don't know why the population explosion of Swallows, but I love it! This year there are fewer biting flies than previous years, and I think the swallows' swallowing them is the reason:

 Then I began bush hogging the north field, stopping to photograph wildflowers such as these beautiful Chicory flowers. They are the bluest of the blue. That is Pineapple Weed below them:

 I also stopped to spray paint any rocks which broke the surface of the ground:

 Common Milkweed, a problem plant as far as cattle are concerned, but with perhaps the sweetest perfume of any wildflower. And of course Monarch Butterflies require Milkweeds:

 I had two types of Thistles in the north field. I sprayed most of them with weed killer, but couldn't get them all. Bush hogging (I hope) will cut these off before they flower and produce seed. I searched my field guide and decided this kind was Canada Thistle:

 And this giant, invasive monster was, I decided, the aptly named Bull Thistle. They grow huge and they grow fast:
 

 While I was anxious to bush hog the thistles, I hated to do the same to the white Musk Mallows:

And the lovely pink Musk Mallows. It had to be done, though:

 Cow Vetch is everywhere and grows so low that the bush hog scarcely touched it:

 When I was all done, I removed the bush hog from the tractor and parked them both inside the barn. I was on my way back to the house when I saw a Starling flutter up from the ground. Then I noticed the babies were missing. Did some animal eat them? No, the mother had moved them around the corner, tucking them into the grass between the milk room and a lilac bush. A sad postscript to this story - the next morning, I discovered that a predator had gotten both babies:

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