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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Here I am at the kitchen window again. This is the big storm day of March 2017. I’m home and cozy at the moment. The birds however, are not. I’ve been out clearing snow for the ground feeders, but I can’t keep up with the falling snow.

Crow at the suet

I just had a look out the window. Crow is here. Yesterday he was at the feeder – today at the suet that hangs in the lilac tree. The branches are filled with puffed up juncos, woodpeckers, blue jays, and chickadees – waiting for Crow to finish.

Others take their turns

Crow picks up the crumbs while the others line up for turns.

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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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I took a stroll in the drizzle today, down to the wetlands where I like to sit and contemplate. Nearly there I sadly discovered that the beautifully shaped ash that I’d wrapped a few years ago against the beaver who’d been taking my trees, had been chewed down to the last half inch.

IMG_5010 - ineffective barrier

Why the beaver stopped there, I don’t know. Probably he knew it wasn’t going to be an easy haul down to the water and simply needed a tooth sharpening.

I strolled on to the water and spotted the beginnings of a new dam.

IMG_5013 beginnings of a new dam

You can see three newly stripped saplings. One laid across the gap, one that must have fallen through, and one further away at the edge of the grasses. That one will probably be part of the dam tomorrow. Above the dam is the pond where I sit and watch the ducks and the sunset. On this side below the new dam is the stream that runs down to the old skating pond area, and on under the road to the big water reserve across the road from me.

IMG_5018 probably the dam starter

I think that dam starter was probably growing here yesterday.

IMG_5019 ugly but effective sheilds

This was my attempt at saving some of my trees. It’s ugly I know, especially during a winter with no snow. But it was necessary to save some of my hardwoods. I wish the beaver liked snap pine. I have plenty of those I wouldn’t mind losing. I put this flashing around these trees two years ago. And though I did leave some saplings for the beaver, once I’d done this, he moved on – probably discouraged by the metal barriers.  But now he’s back.

IMG_5025 beaver dam

This is the major dam the beaver has built over the last two years. When I first moved here 18 years ago, a different dam was in place here. The effect is to create a large pond above which became a skating pond for the grandchildren. I spent hours clearing off the snow, are we all have many happy memories playing down here on the ice.

icepond

The ice pond with small area cleared after snow storm.

If you’ve been following me, you will have seen this ice pond before.

IMG_5020 skating pond again

Here’s the same area today with the same old tree stump – a little more decayed. We didn’t have enough snow and cold for a safe ice pond this year, but next year, perhaps.

The old dam that created the first ice pond was eventually torn down by the town. I was very upset, especially as I knew the beavers were living in the lodge that was now unprotected due to the falling water level.

But come spring and fall, there was a new benefit. The apple tree that had been overhanging the pond was now water free. That fall I had a large bounty of apples (blogged about a few years ago).

But now again, the apple tree is hanging over the pond.

IMG_5021 apple tree

Here’s the apple tree. It fell over during the ice storm of 2008, but it continues to bloom and produce apples. Unfortunately I cannot reach the apples now due to the new dam.

As you can see, the beaver has been at the apple tree. There won’t be any apples, whether or not I can pick them, if he continues.

IMG_5028 skating pond2

Here’s another view of the skating pond. The apple tree is out of sight at the left. The dam is just below at the right.

IMG_5031 water under the bridge2

And here is the water under the bridge – a really lovely old stone bridge. The dam is just to my left, quite visible from the road. Now I don’t know whether I’d rather have apples or a skating pond. I guess what I really want is for the beavers to be able to do their thing without deliberate destruction of their creations. It’s true, I don’t want them to take all my hardwoods, but I wouldn’t destroy their dams and lodge to protect my trees. I like the idea of living in peace together.

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I thought I would add an update on the bobcat situation. Several days after the astounding appearance of the bobcat outside my kitchen window, she (or he), returned. I was at the kitchen sink again and saw the cat over by the chicken coop. I watched her prowling about. Again, I had my camera, and though the distance was too great the capture any good photographs, I did snap a few. She stood near the corner of the coop for a while. She could probably hear the hens inside. And I suspect one or two were cowering outside underneath the coop.

The bobcat returns and contemplates her dinner

The bobcat returns and contemplates her dinner

Suddenly I saw the cat crouch. I knew she was going to attempt to leap onto the roof. From there she would have been able to drop down inside the pen. It would have been curtains for one of the girls.

I raced to the back door, throwing it open as noisily as I could. I was lucky. She had not yet leapt. Off she ran behind the fencing and into the woods. I knew I had to do something to prevent access to the coop’s roof.

Once the ground had thawed enough to allow staking, I set about reworking the tunnels and fencing. I opened up the long tunnel coming from the cat area, and converted it into a tall fence. This I ran from the chicken’s fencing across the front over to the smaller tunnel to the new A-frame. Then I opened up the new short tunnel I’d put in last year, and used that to form another tall fence back to the old door into the back chicken area. Then I built a new door for the new front chicken area. The door looks a bit silly, especially in winter when there is little greenery around. But it serves the purpose, and the chickens are safe. In fact I like this arrangement much better since I can have the front door of the coop open and not have hens escaping into the yard to make holes everywhere.

A new fencing arrangement completed

A new fencing arrangement completed – those boulders to the right are actually in the chicken area

I go in their area and feed them dandelions and other goodies during the day. It’s a much better arrangement.

Lots of new sunny space to dig up

Lots of new sunny space to dig up – the fencing extends forward to the grass where it is staked down, the bamboo poles are freestanding and support the top of the fence by tension.

Happy hens, though they still would prefer being out where I am

Happy hens, though they still would prefer being out where I am

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Mr. Black Bear visited a week or so ago while I was out in the playhouse (now my painting studio) working on an oil painting I’ve been at for quite a few weeks now. Fortunately Bo was in the playhouse with me. I heard a noise and looked up to see a black bear heading for the bird feeder. He pulled it down and helped himself. Bo did not make a sound.

When the bear finished his meal, he headed for the area around the chicken coop. He began rocking one of the posts back and forth causing the chickens some alarm. They flew out of the coop, and I flew out of the playhouse shouting. The bear moved off, and after some crashing around in the woods, all was quiet again.

Sunflower seeds growing under the bird feeder

Sunflower seeds growing under the bird feeder

Yesterday I noticed that around the bird feeder a whole crop of sunflower seeds had sprouted. It occurred to me that if we can eat sunflower seeds, we should be able to eat the sprouts. So I checked on-line, just to be sure, and sure enough, there were a lot of raves about them.

So I went out and pulled up a bunch.  After washing and picking over them, I had them for lunch with tomato and cottage cheese. It was delicious. I found the flavor much more pleasing than either beans or alfalfa sprouts. They have a rather nutty taste.

Sprouts harvested and washed

Sprouts harvested and washed

Lunch

Lunch

I had them again for supper with spinach, feta, and cucumber added.

Dinner

Dinner

I do wonder if the bird seed is GMO. I’ll have to look into this, and if so, find some organic birdseed. It seems to me I could grow these all year round, at pennies a meal – a lot cheaper than buying the sprouts themselves.

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Toward the end of the winter I purchased a bag of organic potatoes. I don’t eat a lot of potato, so I was eventually left with a bunch of sprouting spuds. Instead of tossing them out, I decided to plant them come spring. Which I did. I dug up a weedy area behind the workshop where Audrey raised her chicks last summer. The soil seemed very rich and fertile, so I did nothing except pull up the weeds in a small rectangular area. Then I cut up the potatoes and put them in the ground, with some straw on top.

The potato patch

The potato patch

I almost forgot about them. Much to my surprise, when I finally did think to check and see what was happening, I had ten or so potato plants growing better than any of the vegetables I’d started in the garden. I’ve been blanketing them in straw as they grow which I understand is what one is supposed to do. 

The chicks' A-frame and chicken coop in the background. And lots of weeds and fern around

The chicks’ A-frame and chicken coop in the background. And lots of weeds and fern all around. I’ll have to watch or the potatoes will be over-run.

Two of the girls, watching.

Two of the girls, watching.

The other day I noticed half a dozen strange-looking bugs eating the leaves. I have no idea what these bugs are. The are translucent except for a brown marking that looks like a teddy bear from above. I’ve never seen these bugs before, and all my searches on Google have not come up with anything like them. So, if anyone knows what this bug is, please let me know. 

What are these?

What are these?

It didn't seem able to fly.

It didn’t seem able to fly.

 

 I took the bugs to the chickens, and they were gone in about two seconds. It’s amazing how keen the chickens’ eyes are. Even when I dropped one bug on the ground, the chickens had no trouble seeing it.

This morning I was mowing the grass which had grown almost knee-high with all the rainy days we’ve had. I spotted an unusual spider on one of the white iris. I don’t know this critter either. He’s pretty handsome though. What he does is crawl inside the blossom, pull the petals in around him, and hide there waiting for something – surely not a bee – perhaps a moth of some sort. I don’t know – I couldn’t hang around long enough to find out.

I know it's a spider, but it's not a familiar one.

I know it’s a spider, but it’s not a familiar one.

Visiting Kitty was here this morning for breakfast. She stayed all winter – inside the house, but mostly on the screened porch. Once the snow had melted enough for her to walk, she was gone. She stayed away for weeks, and just when I was sure she’d become someone’s dinner, she showed up again, meowing outside the door for a meal. Her habit at the moment is to show up, have breakfast, and then take off for another span of several weeks. It’s mid afternoon now, and she’s gone again. I think she must have another home somewhere. She doesn’t seem undernourished, even when she’s been gone for a long time. She’s clearly feral, but does allow me to pat her when she is outside. I couldn’t get near her this winter when she was in the house. Bo could though. She loves Bo.

Here's Visiting Kitty, having breakfast this morning.

Here’s Visiting Kitty, having breakfast this morning.

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I’ve been watching the bird house my daughter gave me a few years ago, these past weeks. This is the first year birds have moved in. A pair of chickadees took up residence a while back, and they have been very busy for a while, flying in and out with bugs and grubs. They are so fast that I’ve been unable to photograph them on their way into the house, but when they leave, they pause at the doorstep, so I’ve snapped a few long-range photos.

Abbey with birdhouse in background

Abbey with bird house in background. It is from here that I took all the photos.

Here's Mom heading out for more bugs.

Here’s Mom heading out for more bugs.

 

And here's Dad

And here’s Dad.

This morning I was preparing to head out to the grocery, but thought to check and see if the birds were up and busy. They were – Mom and Dad rushing in and out. When the parents were away from the house, I noticed some movement at the opening. I was surprised that the young were way up near the door. I had envisioned them down at the bottom where they would be safe. I began to worry that one would fall out. So I waited and watched through my binoculars. I had visions of having to rescue a baby bird and put it back into the house. I hung on watching, waiting for Mama to return and tell her babies to behave and get back from the door.

It seemed a longer time than normal waiting for Mom to return. Suddenly a chick poked its head out, and then  flew straight out and over to the hemlock tree fifty feet or so away. Then another chick did the same thing – came to the door and flew off. Then a third. I could see there was still another to go, so I raced to grab my camera, and got back just in time to see chick number four fly out. It was far too fast for my reflexes.

But as luck would have it, there was one more – the timid one. This little chick came to the door and then hopped down onto the ledge and looked around. Mom and Dad were making a racket calling to the little one from the hemlock. Little Chick looked around, cried for Mama, kept looking back at the safety of the nest, and then finally fluffed up its wings and flew off.

Where is everyone?

The last chick. Where is everyone?

Mama!

Mama!

 

Should I go back in there?

Should I go back in there?

Mustering courage.

Okay – I can do this.

 

And then they were gone.

And then they were gone.

The whole thing took less than ten minutes.

I’ve been collecting tidbits to blog about, including Mom and Dad in the bird house doorway, but I was thinking this morning that I needed a focus for the next blog.

As so often happens, Spirit provides.

 

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