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Who could resist

What? That’s not a fawn, you say.

True.

Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me when I encountered the fawn yesterday. So instead of posting relevant photos while I tell the tale, I’m posting photos I’ve been taking since my last posting. We all like a photo or two, I know.

Handsome felow

This fellow was around here for weeks. The females seemed unimpressed, but I bet they are busy sitting on eggs right now.

The girls are not frequent visitor just now. At least not many of them. Today one female arrived at the feeder with three males. The males kept shooing her away, so she, smart turkey, leapt up onto the feeder itself and helped herself from there.

clever turkey

Those are teen-aged guys (I think). Except for the striped bird – that’s one of my hens, chowing down with the turkeys.

So…yesterday I rounded the corner of my house and came upon a beautiful fawn at the end of the drive. She was eating the hostas which I have not yet covered. I immediately froze. She seemed not to be worried about me. She looked up, and then went back to ripping leaves off the plant. Okay, I muttered, I guess you’re going to eat my plants because I’m not going to shoo you off.

The Girls

Then Bo, my little, deaf, poodle, wandered past me and into the garage, He was hoping I had not cleared away the old cat food he’d found days earlier in a garbage bag that was destined for the dump. When he realized it was gone, he turned and saw the fawn.

Perrenial beauty

I was standing right on the other side of these flowers when I froze.

The Fawn became quite excited. Her ears perked up, her tail swished back and forth and around in half circles. Slowly she came toward us.

Heirloom Iris

Bo stood watching. Then he looked over at me. I don’t know what he thought since I never stand still like that.

Suddenly the fawn started stamping her feet. Not pawing the ground the way a horse does, but pouncing on her front feet the way a dog does to invite play.

The Wanderer

The Wanderer

Unfortunately, Bo didn’t pick up on the message. He’s old, and deaf, and not much into play.

Iris Beauties

The fawn wouldn’t give up. By now she was up nearly at the garage, and right in front of me, only ten feet away.

Lupin

She circled the drive, and pranced her feet, then then snorted at Bo. I wanted to go and dance with her. But I didn’t dare move.

Sweet Woodland Rhododendron

This went on for fifteen minutes. My legs were going numb.

IMG_5839

The fawn gave up on Bo and went back down the drive and continued snacking on the hosta.

Bridal V

I cut my bridal veil down to the ground a few years ago – it was in such a sorry state. But it’s coming back.

Sadly, Bo wandered back to the cat door and disappeared inside. I stayed and watched the fawn until she too gave up and headed off through the woods.

Spider Hiding

This yellow spider was on the front of a the blossom when I arrived. He slowly crawled around to the back to hide.

Not a very exciting story to tell, but believe me, it was quite amazing to stand there and watch.

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The weather was beautiful Sunday. So beautiful that my guilt over painting indoors with my dog snoring beside me, finally forced me put up the brushes and get my shoes on for a walk. As I headed outside with Bo, I made note of  where the cats were. Lately Finn, my granddaughter’s cat whose been living here while she is at college, has taken to following me around the yard. I was afraid he might try to follow us on our longer trek. I was not sure he wouldn’t wander off and get lost, or get stuck up a tree (which he has done several times). I saw he was safely indoors. Good, I thought.

We were half way down the driveway when Finn came bounding along. He’s free to go in and out the cat door as he pleases. I had wrongly assumed he was happy snoozing inside.

So, I decided to see how it went.

Finn is very much like Max, the neighborhood cat, who used to follow me, Buddy, and Bo, frequently on our walks. Max is featured in many of my past blogs. Max moved away, and I’ve missed his company. Of course I didn’t have to worry about Max – he was a roaming cat and not mine. But I was not keen to have to tell my granddaughter that I’d lost her cat.

01 How does he know the way

How does he know the way?

Right away Finn took the lead.

02 Bo and Finn Heading for the water

Bo and Finn just rambling on toward the water.

 

03 Beaver Dam Across the way

The beaver dam across the road.

 

05 Someone Else Passed This Way

Stopping for a little scent exploration.

 

04 Following along

Sometimes Finn leads – sometimes he follows.

06 High Alert - Ducks

On high alert – ducks ahead!

 

08 Marsh Path

Someone has made a path through the marsh. Hmmm?

 

09 Finn, come back!

No Finn – come back!

 

10 Not a good idea

That’s not a great idea either. Remember how you got stuck up the tree all night?

 

IMG_5468

Thank you!

07 Happy Cat

Happy cat!

 

11 Taking the shortcut home

Taking the short cut back towards home. We went far enough for a first foray.

 

12 Back out on the road

Back on the road.

 

13 Stopped to roll in the dirt

Finn stops for a roll in the sand.

 

14 Heading Home

Heading back home. Finn knows the way. Why do I think he’s roamed farther than the yard before?

 

15 Back safe and sound

Home sweet home, safe and sound.

 

We’ll have to do that again!

(No apologies for all the cat pictures.)

Signing off.

 

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This morning when I went out to feed the chickens I heard the first red winged black bird of the season. This is a sure sign spring is here. I couldn’t catch sight of the newly arrived, but a few minutes later I saw her (or him) under the feeder – no doubt chowing down after a long journey.

Red Winged Blackbird 3-9-16

I’m so happy to see her as last year I saw no red winged blackbirds at all. Usually they are plentiful. I feared my birds were some of those found dead on the roads down south.

Normally this time of year snow still covers the ground. Not so this year. In fact I have not had to take out the snow blower even once (knock on wood).

Along with the blackbird came a gloriously warm winter day – 75 degrees (f). I let the girls out of their penned area to enjoy the weather.

The girls out composting

Here they are composting away.

Poor me…I had to choose between staying indoors and working on an oil painting that is near completion, or heading outside to enjoy the day. Of course I did both.

Beautiful afternoon on the pond

The pond across the way.

Ice still on the pondYou can see we still have ice on the pond.

Bo still trekingMy old dog Bo came along for the walk. He’s still a trouper despite his old age.

IMG_4936 croppedHere’s a photo from yesterday. Another beautiful day it was. The sun was setting – but I cheated and put this on “fall” setting to bring out the light.

Their turn under the feeder

When we returned from our walk today, the girls had made their way to the feeder to clean up what was left after the birds, squirrels, and turkeys had had their fill.

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Stopping at the water’s edge

Bo and I walked the trail today. It’s the first time we’ve done this since spring. The deer flies were so bad earlier that walking was not pleasant, even with my hat covered in ferns (old wives method for keeping deer flies away). Once the flies were pretty much gone, the garden consumed most of my time with dehydrating, freezing, and making soups with all the bounty.

Blurry photo, but this little frog is only half an inch long

 

I don’t know what this blue flower is, but when I tried to photograph it a white spider crawled out (see it at the edge?)

 

Anyway, today was a beautiful mild late summer’s day – perfect for a walk. I took my backpack, a plastic bag or two, and my camera. I had my mind on an oak tree on which I’d found a huge mushroom some years back. At the time I hadn’t identified it, but recently at a party, one of the women brought a huge mushroom which looked quite similar. Hers was a chicken mushroom, and very edible. She shredded and sautéed it – delicious. Anyway – I was hoping this might be the same species. We have had so little rain this summer that most mushrooms have been few and far between, so I wasn’t surprised when I got to the oak tree and found nothing. Actually, I was a little surprised that there wasn’t even a sign of the old one as it had been big enough to fill my arms, and seemed the sort that would go hard and hang on for a long time.

 

Coral mushroom – edible

Never mind – we ambled along the trail, and I took a few photos. Then, much to my surprise I came upon a patch of coral mushrooms. I’ve eaten these many times. Ideally one picks these when first up out of the ground and are still pure white, but these were still edible. I also found two puff-balls still at the edible stage.

 

Back at home

When we got home, I washed and dried the mushrooms in the sun, and then sautéed them in olive oil along with zucchini and yellow tomatoes from the garden. I am still in awe of Mother Nature who provides my summer meals in such abundant and delicious ways.

 

Lunch

She has also provided squashes and parsnip for the winter.

 

Look at these fabulous butternut squashes

 

and beautiful butternut blossom

 

Still making zucchini

 

Just about ready to harvest – I’ll be doing that next week

The afternoon was spent connecting the chicks’ A-frame to the netted tunnels through which the other hens and cats meander. I simply used the cat bridge I’d removed earlier as a connector between the two. Then I let Audrey and the chicks free to explore. They must have been watching me working away, because they ran down the ramp and over immediately to the connector.

 

Exploring the new connector

 

Greens again – though a little hard to reach

 

Running through the tunnel

 

Here comes the leader

 

What’s that shiny round thing?

 

Hi!

 

Room for the whole family

 

 

I’d blocked the tunnel at the bridge to keep the other chickens and cats from entering the chicks’ end of the tunnel. At some point I’ll open things up so they can all mix. But not until I’m confident the chicks can’t get out, and they are completely familiar with the territory. I’m not sure how Audrey would respond to one of the cats actually going all the way into her coop. I guess I’ll have to stand guard for a while. There’s not a lot of room in the tunnels for passing without rubbing shoulders.

 

Dead ended at the bridge

 

exploring the bath house

 

Excuse me – that’s our bath house!

The chicks and Audrey had a grand old time – not so sure about the ostracised hens.

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Audrey and the chicks hanging around while I cut up the fallen branches.

Having finally dispensed with the birch woodpile, and with winter looming, I cut a swath through the ferns on the hill to the one remaining stack of logs and began carting them down to the woodpile area for splitting. After 6 trips to the wood splitting area, I gave myself a break and began cutting up the top of a maple tree that had snapped and fallen right beside the log pile.  It was late afternoon and Audrey and the chicks were roaming about. Like bees to a gaudy flower, the chicks rushed up the hill to investigate – Mama clucking up the hill behind them. I upended a log and sat for a while watching them climb about in and out of the dead leaf branches.

 

Bo was there hanging about too.

 

Finally I went and got my camera. Work was abandoned as I followed them around the yard. I did not regret taking a break as it turned out to be another milestone day in the lives of the chicks.

Mama and chicks at the stump outside the playhouse.

 

Bottoms up!

 

When their wanderings drew them near the main coop, one of the chicks crossed the bridge over the netting tunnel into the coop area. Audrey followed and called the other chick.

Crossing the bridge to the big coop.

 

With head cocked, Audrey listened for the other hens, finally determining that the area was abandoned. Then she let the chicks scamper in through the door to the chicken pen.

 

One little chick immediately scampered up the ladder and stood in the coop doorway having a good look around. Audrey led the others around the enclosed area, showing them the water, and the favorite digging areas.

 

Audrey kept a watchful eye.

 

They discovered the roosting branch and sat on that for a while.

 

At one point the other hens began to return, but upon crossing the bridge, they discovered that there were visitors in their area. They backed away. I opened the front door to the coop to give another exit for the chicks if it was needed.  Audrey then led the chicks back out of the pen and around to the front door.

 

Alert! We have visitors! 

 

The chicks jumped up and Audrey took them in for a little snack.

 

Then they headed back over the bridge to their own coop.

I’ve been trying to figure out how the chicks will eventually migrate to the bigger coop. They aren’t old enough to be eating the adult food yet, but I’m guessing that if I make a tunnel from their A-frame to the other netted tunnel so they have access to the other pens, Mama will move them in when the time comes. I need to expand their outdoor pen area as they are now all well able to destroy my grassy areas.

Here are the two visiting cats, Max and Kitty. Notice the bald spots? Those are created in the wink of an eye by my composting hens.

 

Ever since the torrential rain we had a week or so ago, I’ve had to play sentry shooing the chickens away from my grassy back yard area. Yesterday, just after admiring the growth of the grass seeds I’d scattered in one of the large uprooted areas, Audrey and the chicks had it all dug up again while my back was turned. Keeping eleven chickens away from the grassy worm mecca  is nearly impossible. I find it very frustrating. I want them to be relatively free, but I also don’t want my yard looking like a pile of dirt. Relatively speaking, my hens have a luxury life as their pens and tunnels give them a huge area to roam. But now that they’ve tasted the free life, they want nothing less, and squawk at me to let them out. Sigh…I know when the snows come there will be no more digging for a while.

 

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Loving those dandelion greens

This is a posting I started a week ago. The arrival of two little grandsons for a week put it on the back burner.

The A-frame is now devoid of greens. I toss in corn and grains for the chicks to forage, but today Audrey seemed to be clucking at me to let her and the chicks out into the yard again, so I did. I got my camera as settled into my chair. Audrey brought the chicks out in no time. Bo was delighted to have some new entertainment. For an hour or so, he followed along as Audrey led the chicks all around the yard. I kept expecting her to chase him away, but she didn’t. She seemed to know he meant no harm. The chicks ran from Bo initially, but eventually they too, ignored him. I ended up taking over 200 photos. The best are here. 

Curious Bo

At first the chicks ran from Bo

Creeping closer

Bo follows along everywhere

Audrey seems to know he means no harm

Heading for the Jerusalem Artichoke

 

Under the Jerusalem Artichoke

 

Searching for bugs

Got one

How exactly do I eat this?

Off to the side gardens we all go

Under the redwood tree

Lots to investigate under here

At Buddy’s grave

Under the oregano

In the oregano

Heading up the slope for home

Chessie and Mimi watching from afar

Abbey luxuriating on the driveway

The end

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Ready to hang maybe?

I’m getting behind, so this post will be a catch up. Tomorrow’s post is already in the works. But before then I must record the progress with the science project. And a few other critters encountered.

The monarch caterpillar kept traveling higher and higher on his milk weed branch, convincing me that at any moment he’d (well, it could be a she) anchor himself and make his pupa. But every time I’d go to check, he’d have moved laterally to another leaf and was still eating.

Nope – still eating

Wednesday the transformation begins. Here he is curled up – eating no longer.

Can you believe one caterpillar did all this?

Early Thursday morning

Finally on Thursday morning he was a caterpillar no more. And I missed the whole thing. There he was, a green pupa. Looking at it, it seems as though the caterpillar turns upside down once it’s encased. Anyway – it takes 10 to 14 days to emerge, so it will be either I or my neighbors who get to watch the transformation.

Mrs. Porcupine and baby

That night when I went up to put my neighbors’ chickens to bed, the baby porcupine and his mother were hanging around. When I went to photograph them, the little one nuzzled in for a quick nursing from mama. The little one is so cute. They didn’t bother to move away when I approached. I think they know no one is going to mess with them.

A little comfort from mama

Njill made herself as comfortable as she could during her visit, considering the lack of body room in my house. There were a few surprises while she was here. The first time I let her out to pee when the chickens were free, I almost lost a chicken. Njill couldn’t contain herself when she saw seven chickens running all over the yard. She went flying after them. I had no idea Njill could actually run. Needless to say, after that there was no peeing for her between five and sundown.

Njill and Bo heading down to the water

The chicks are growing.

Beautiful Audrey and three of her chicks

Here’s the forth. For some reason I think this is a he.

Not my monarch. This is a female enjoying the Jerusalem Artichoke.

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