Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie

The bird watching was going along swimmingly.  I was enjoying watching the phoebes and juncos at the feeder and a small group of Northern flickers appeared on the lawn.

One morning last week, I went out to take my morning trek down the hill to the barns and I saw the suet feeder on the driveway, metal cage broken apart and all the suet eaten.  The wooden feeder was on the ground minus the seed.  The steel hanger post was bent at a 45 degree angle.

I would not want to meet the squirrel or raccoon that can bend steel.

There were only two plausible explanations:  Superman or a bear!

An Associated Press article in the Sunday paper shed more light on the happening.  It seems that the unusual warmth this December has kept the bears out of their hibernation dens and they are still roaming around foraging for food.  The article recommended waiting until after the snow comes to put out bird feeders.

I will do that.

The summertime peach eating mystery may be on its way to being solved.  It was either a bear or Superman.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Warm Spell

A couple of days ago, I was able to walk down to the barns wearing a T-shirt and jeans -- no jacket.  I'll don a jacket this morning, but by this afternoon, a sweater or sweatshirt will probably do.

They're saying that it will be cold tomorrow after the rain, but then we'll warm up again before Christmas.

The trees have all budded out and I see new lilac seedlings leafed out.  This concerns me, because if the fruit trees bloom all is lost for a crop next year.  For all I know, the trees themselves may decline.

This is unusual, to say the least.

The garden clean up is progressing.  I still haven't decided what to do with the space.

I moved the bird feeder up to the top of the hill and can watch birds outside my window near my desk.  Bird identification books and binoculars are in place there.

I managed to see one "falling star" during the night.

There is less and less light as we zoom toward Solstice.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


October's brilliant color is being washed away gradually by November rains and wind.  The hills are slowly turning mostly brown, which will morph into grey as we descend into Winter.

Temperatures haven't been too bad, however.  We had a few cold days, but today, for example, it got up to seventy degrees.  This will not last, as the weather roller coaster takes us up and down and then stops at the low end of the thermometer.

Flocks, large and small, of birds are on the move.  Sometimes the sound of their collective wings flapping make me stop what I'm doing and look up.

I've been working on cleaning up the vegetable/butterfly garden, loading and dumping brush and weeds each day.  I'm going to convert it to some neater area, but it's still formulating in my brain.  As long as the weather cooperates, I'll continue.

'Ran into a Spring bulb sale and 'bought a lot of them.  They are all planted except for one package of forty blue crocus.  I need to decide where they'll go and then that task will be finished.

Friday, September 11, 2015


It is hot and humid.  The weather forecasters promised rain for days, but none fell on this farm.  The front pond is just a damp spot at the bottom of a depression in the earth.

As you can imagine, the geese are praying for rain.

Goats and cows have recently been given entrance to fresh pastures.  There are three new calves so far.  The chickens have picked up on egg production for some reason.

I forage old apples from the trees and tomatoes and peppers from the garden and take buckets to the chicken house.

Yesterday, a pair of green finches slammed into the dining room window one after the other.  I do not know if they were mating or fighting when they met their ends, but it made me feel sad either way.

The always accurate prognosticators are promising cooler weather by Sunday.  I guess that eventually they'll be right as the planet aligns in its Autumn path.  If it happens, it'll be a relief for me and will allow some more physical work outdoors.

Monday, August 24, 2015


A bowl of orange tomatoes and green and red peppers sits on the counter.  It is a still life waiting to be painted.  Large bowls and baskets of peaches, apples, and pears have dwindled down as I've tackled the peeling, cutting up and freezing.  I've squirreled away what I had room for and made a few jars of no-sugar-added jams for the Winter.

There is a mystery regarding the fruit trees.  I had to pick a lot of unripe fruit in order to get any for myself.  At first, half-eaten peaches and their stones were left all over the ground under the trees, presumably by the deer and groundhogs, possums, etc.  I picked as much of the low hanging peaches as I could deal with, leaving the high fruits beyond the reach of deer.  I soon noticed that there were no longer half-eaten fruit and no pits at all under the trees.  No deer were coming at dusk anymore.  However, most of the high fruit was being rapidly and efficiently picked during the night.  Lights and wind chimes had no effect on the thievery.

I wondered just what (or who) was picking fruit during the night.  It was obviously animals who either took the whole fruits away or ate them stone and all.

It wouldn't be turkeys or other birds, because they would, presumably leave the pits.  Could it be bears?  Giraffes?  Troupes of baboons?

Although I could train a camera on the trees and find out, I'm thinking I'll just let the mystery be.  It would be a shame to eliminate the fanciful imagining of night visitors to my peach trees.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Never Underestimate the Power of Throw Rugs

'Almost at the end of July -- just August humidity to get through before I can breathe again.

The new pullets have started laying their miniature eggs, which are unsaleable and therefore "house" eggs for me.  It takes three to make a respectable plate of scrambled eggs.

Butterflies are everywhere, but especially in the former vegetable garden, which looks more like a butterfly jungle.  'Glad to help out.

We've had some nice rain and red raspberries are ready to pick again.  First, I'll need a machete to cut down the giant weeds that block my path to them.  There are more ripe tomatoes than I can use, so the chickens get the benefit.  Peppers are on the bushes and nearly ready to pick.

The peach and pear trees are so loaded with fruit that the branches are hanging low.  Deer come to feast each evening.  I hung a wind chime in the peach tree to discourage them and will do some arts and crafts with tin cans and old keys to arm the pear trees.

The men cut and baled more hay.  I am happy to report that the big barn lofts are full of square bales.

Having gotten the lawnmower stuck in a slight dip between the fence and the peach tree with no one around to help me push it out, I discovered that laying a couple of old throw rugs in front of the tires gave me enough traction to get back on the job.  I think this will work for ice and snow if the Mule gets stuck, so I have a new respect for throw rugs.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice

June has been as hot and humid as any July or August.  I hide indoors during the middle of the day.  All productive outdoor work is done early in the morning or early in the evening.  It is a survival technique.

Since there is also some rain most days, it was a challenge to get the hay in, but the men did it.  The hayfields are already well into the next growth and will likely allow for another cutting in the Fall.

Berries are prolific this year.  I've picked red raspberries, black raspberries, gooseberries, and blueberries already.  The wineberries will be ready soon and then blackberries.

There are pears, peaches, and apples on the trees which will ripen later on.  Vegetables march on, developing at an amazing rate.

Last week, I saw a bald eagle in one of our lower pastures -- don't know what it was hunting.  A lone monarch butterfly appeared near the barn.  I'm hoping all the butterfly bushes and milkweed will insure a large visitation this year.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Kids, Kids, Kids

Yes, I'm hip-deep in little baby goats.  There are 41 so far, with one doe still to go.  They are fun and a lot of work.  If we had chandeliers in the barn, they'd be swinging from them!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Marching Onward

It' nearly the end of March and I'm still on baby goat watch.  Any day now...

The temperatures are up and down.  Rainy and sunny.  There are mentions of a snowy mix.

The world is waking up from its long winter nap.  Butterfly bushes are showing new growth.  Daffodils are up and blooming in drifts.  Grass is greening up in the pastures and lawns.

Fifteen pullet chicks are lounging in the big brooder, eating and drinking like little lumberjacks.  The geese are laying.  The ganders are murderously protective.

There is comfort in this annual miracle.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


We are deep in the deep freeze this week.  It was in the minus zero range last night and won't get past 9 degrees F today.  We got eight inches of snow a couple of days ago and the Governor declared a State of Emergency!  The county was closed.  There was no garbage pickup and no mail delivery on Tuesday.  The schools are closed.

I guess that Virginia is technically the South.

I managed to drive down the hill in my UTV even before a neighbor came around with a snow plow.  I put my lone trash can out on the road.  It's still sitting there.  Yesterday, after taking care of the animals, I saw the sun come out and knew that it was my big chance to get out and get a haircut and buy some supplies.  I made a break for it.  It worked out really well because when I got home just after noon, the next weather event was starting.  It was this current cold front and a light coating of new snow.

The forecast is for more interesting weather and a warming trend with rain.  That sounds jolly and exciting.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Blue Eye

The days are so truncated right now.  I try to make use of all the daylight hours doing farm chores and it seems that 5 p.m. rolls around awfully quickly.  That is the time just before it is pitch dark.  I must go down and get the geese tucked in while there is still a little light.

The old grey goose has gone mostly blind.  She walks into things and has a hard time finding the entrance to her side of the goose house.  She shares it with Baby Huey, son of M. Honky Embden, who does not tolerate geese other than his old Wifey in his private apartment.

B. Huey Embden acts as her seeing-eye gander, leading her with sounds.  She navigates by sound.  I don't know exactly how old she is.  I bought her here from an acquaintance about ten years ago.

We've had Honky et al. for at least twenty years.  Embden geese can live past thirty.  I can still remember Baby Huey's blue eye scoping me out from the incubator even before he fully emerged from his eggshell.  He was alert and intelligent even then.  I'm guessing he imprinted on me.

He and his brother especially enjoyed untying shoelaces on people's shoes when they were little.  They've lived a pretty natural goose life on our ponds and exhibit the charming testiness that I admire in geese.  Huey greets me each morning with enthusiasm when I open his door and escorts the old grey goose to the pond.  He then insists on walking me to the gate of the pond yard as I go on to whatever my day will entail.