One big advantage of spending much of the summer at home plugging away on chores, relaxing with a book and wine is being in nature unlike the city. Like one night in mid June I got up around 2 am to get a glass of water and heard this scratching noise outside. Couldn’t figure what it was so flashlight in hand I went out on the porch and the biggest porcupine I had ever seen was gnawing away on an antique chair I had set on the deck. I swear the bloody thing was at least 300 pounds. Grabbing a garden hoe and clad in my tighty whities I gave battle to the mighty beast for at least an hour before finally driving him off into the darkness. (I think the poor animal coudn’t stop laughing long enough to stay)
Quite a few interesting birds this summer. Below a Baltimore Oriole take off after a free meal
I saw this summer after seeing some blue jays coming in for peanuts and sunflower seeds that some seem to be bald. Wondering what the heck was going on and found out both Blue Jays and Cardinals do a full moult of the feathers in late summer. With the neck and head feathers being a bit slower. Odd looking. Boris and Karl below.
Had both the chainsaws out (not at the same time) to cut up the last of the 8 foot logs into pieces to split and the resulting pile below. Did all the splitting with the axe in the blazing sun and high humidity. Finally finished the last few one afternoon and a had a cold beer on the deck to cool off before a cold shower. I was just about to step in to the shower and realized all the towels were on hanging outside. Too lazy to get dressed to stuck on the flip flops and grabbed the plastic bag to stick the towels in thinking that the house was far enough back from the road no one could really see me and if I moved quickly, efficiently and with athletic grace I would be out and back in within seconds. Of course I get out there and the first I thing I do is not the close peg bag onto the ground. Quickly grabbing that I lost hold of the plastic bag which started to blow off in the breeze towards the road. Charging after that with my hair blowing in the breeze – and not only my hair – I caught up to the bag 50 feet on just as the local seniors bus drove by in time to see the moon setting over my property at 3 in the afternoon
Cardinals were around most of the summer but haven’t seen them the past few weeks. Seems all the birds enjoy the sunflower seeds. Hoping they are around this winter.
Seem to be at least 3 or 4 northern flickers around all summer. Colourful bird which seems to eat a lot of insects
One night last week I heard a bang on the porch around 11 pm so up I get to investigate thinking it was the bloody porcupine back for a return match. Turns out in was a fisher which is apparently a nasty mammal willing to put up its dukes and have a one on one , last man standing fight. Bugger took one look at me when I switched on the light and took off like a bolt of lightning. Obviously heard of my prowess with the garden hoe from the porcupine. Bound to have heard.
Snow gone and the ground is drying up. Birds migrating north and setting up nests. Deer coming out of the forest more during the day looking for food and fun times. Lederhosen weather. Will soon be out in my leather shorts, hat with a feather and accordion. Yodeling to the music while walking the pastures.
Spent Saturday planting trees. Two yellow weeping willows out towards the road, river birch and lilac near the house and a macintosh, 2 royal gala, couple pear trees and a second plum tree out back. If all produce I guess i will be making a lot of hard apple cider, pear brandy and not sure what one does with a plum but must be able to turn it into booze as well. Old man Cam’s roadside emporium will get you toasted.
Checking the trees out back Sunday in the rain and heard underbrush in the forest rustling like something big coming. Quickly ducked down and out charged this enormous chipmunk. Scared the bejesus out of me. Had teeth like a sabre tooth tiger. I pretended to be tying my shoe in case anyone was looking (although i was wearing rubber boots so not too convincing). I swear that bloody chipmunk must have tipped the scales at 20 pounds. Eating all my bird see i bet.
This fellow often walks down the suet feeder and trees looking for food. Eats and runs for the trees. Bigger woodpeckers seem to scare him off
Couple of gold finches starting to moult to bright yellow after the winter.
Grackles arriving. Very social bird with all sorts of noises. Quite bright but they look like their pissed off about something
Kill deers seem to next near water. Always have a few running around during the day. Nest in meadows apparently. Distinctive voices
Seeing deer many mornings. I can never get close enough to get a good picture though. Buggers seem to be able to run faster than me. As do the chipmunks, field mice, squirrels, seniors and cops
The Pileated woodpecker is the largest in North America. I think ! About the size of a crow. This one is about the size of 2 – 2.5 blue jays. Comes around once in a while when i put some suet in the old tree stump
The gray ghost or male northern harrier. Around daily and they nest out back. Low flying and like an owl hunt a lot my sound. Seen him or her pick up some fresh food here and there. Hard to see without enlarging the pic. Yet to come and sit on the perch near the house, or at least never does when I’m looking out the window
Meanwhile digging out a larger potato patch. Onion patch next. Seabuckthorn and goji berry shrubs likely coming in a few weeks. Along with herbs: Bergamont, Chamomile Roman, Columbine Plants, Hyssop, Jacobs Ladder Plants and Lavendar. A few more raspberry and strawberry plants as well.
A lot of fall / early winter chores in 2015. Moving compost here and there to the fruiting trees and nut trees and organizing the winter wood for the stove. A warm December and some trees were heading towards blooming, will see in the spring if that affects them. Kept looking to see if the garlic would start to shoot up but fortunately it did not. Planted a lot of bulbs so hoping to get a good return this year.
Now that the temperatures have started to drop and snow on the ground the bird feeders are in heavy use. I’ve seen tracks of grouse, deer and what I think is a coyote. One night I stayed out late with the camera to hopefully get a shot of the deer or coyote, but ran out of whisky in my hip flask so had to run back inside and have a drink. (There was a wandering trio of skunks who waddled by to see what I was up to but I decided not to get close!). No sign of rabbits this winter so I think there must be a coyote hanging about.
Need to click on the picks to see them best. Especially the Jay grasping the peanut
Hairy at the Suet
Deer are around but in the middle of the night. Beet tops seem the favourite item. Next year will have to figure out a way to keep them out of the vegetables. No pics of them as I am not up in the middle of the nights these days. Up with the sun and down shortly after it sets !
These skunk kits spend a week or so wandering about. Quite happy at the paths I had made. A few times they confronted me with their tail overhead and did the front paw stomping and gnashing their teeth. Prelude to spraying if I came closer. Declining the invitation I backed away slowly and they left me alone. Dumping some javex and blood meal around the deck a few days later and I never saw them again.
Harrier is a type of hawk that flies low to medium height over the pasture and can hover in mid flight when it spots prey. (like the fighter jet in the UK) Two juveniles and the adults out back and lots of fun to watch dive for stuff. Wingspan about 2-3 feet. Head is like an owl and they have hearing apparently like an owl. Need to double click on the pics and see them to get an impression of the bird. enlarge if one can ! They seem to sort of tolerate me but have had a visitor leave the back pasture – nervous as three or four fly overhead an circle
Lots of frogs in the pastures. Suppose to be a sign of good eco health. See the frogs and garter snakes almost everyday when out there doing chores.
Now that i figured out what bird this is I hear them all around. They sound – at times – like a cat squawking for food first thing in the morning. Apparently have a bunch of different songs but …… eats a lot of insects
Three or 5 of these buzzing around all day. Lots of wild flowers this year and some other stuff plus the feeder. They never stop long enough to get a good picture though. At least for me. Very socialable though and happy to be around feeding if someone is there. One flew up to me about 2 feet away while I was standing on the pile of logs with the chainsaw going wondering what the hell I was doing
Usually about 10-15 sparrows around. Short tail, long tail, song sparrows etc. Eat a ton of insects and quite happy of the cut grass in the middle of a field of bugs to eat. Hear them singing or chirping away all day.
They don’t come around the house but there are a ton of them out in the pasture. Seem to nest in the field. Another insect control . All seem to have different kind of yellow splashes on them. Some full body others partial. Without a camera to snap a shot or I guess binoculars, hard to get close to
Wood to split for the winter. Did some a day ago. Doing a bit here and there to whittle it down. Then likely cut up the rest of the logs for the following year.
First weekend in a while without rain. Lots of weeding around the vegetables. Thinned out the carrots. I was going to thin out the beets but one of my deer friends did it for me last night. Bugger. Selective eating though so they are thinned out now. Sprinkled some blood meal on them and the bush beans hoping to deter any more midnight munching.
I’ve been enjoying the whites and reds of Rioja this spring and early summer. Generally all are a blend and the moderate priced ones seem quite good. Just finished one called the Invisible Man which was quite good for an afternoon. Another De Padre or DP on the label was enjoyable.
Will add a some medicinal plants etc once i figure out what those are
Putting lots in the ground the past few weeks. Weekends have been busy as heck. Lots of rain so what has been planted is growing and the effing weeds are growing faster. Spend 3 hrs weeding Saturday after 3 hrs of cutting grass. Cutting more grass today and weeding a bit.
Planed two big planters with flower stuff , two big tubs with more flower stuff and two tubs with borage which is my favourite plant to add to salads – leafs and flowers. Usually a race between the rabbits and I to get to them. I think this year I have outwitted the bastards by putting them in a tub but will see. Finally learning that one has to work with mother nature not confront her.
Bought flower bulbs from a real store not Walmart this year and they are starting to come up. Not quite sure what they are or what they will look like though. Have a plot of those and 5 plots of wild flowers. Figure by July it will all be doing something.
This stuff made it to the UK when the Romans hung out there for a bit. For centuries a part of all gardens until the past 30 yrs. Now making a comeback in the UK with foodies and in North America. Spring shoots are like asparagus and leaves and flowers are edible.
Starting to shoot up. Will get to six feet in another few weeks. Smallish sunflower atop. Sunchoke by another name. Another perennial making a comeback. Will store the tubers and use them for soups and frying up in the winter
At least some are eating well
Will dig up this area this fall and some behind me. Will quadraple the area for annual vegetables and likely test grow some grain for the dual purpose cattle i am leaning towards now
Spent the morning laying down these rubber tiles in the pantry (paint in the winter) so I could move the freezer inside. Will now build some shelving units and start making booze, and once the fruit start producing – raspberry and strawberry jam
I’ve always thought of humor as a state of mind. The ability to laugh at oneself as the adventure unfolds.
All the book learning I have had seems to matter little when dealing with the complexity of producing food on the land in a sustainable and resilient way. Apparently the deer, chipmunks, jack rabbits etc figure I’m there to feed and amuse them. Out again the other day chasing deer off in flip flops at 6 am. The jack rabbits now that they have seen me run, just snigger a bit and eat away until I’m a few feet away then leisure move off to some other tasty bits I have planted for them.
Success I think comes from watching the animals and working for them. I mean with them. Although it may seem I do work for them. Country life is a Three Stooges festival. Nyuk, nyuk.
This fellow – barred owl – came by in mid February and took down a big jack rabbit. Spent the day in the sun (-20) and nibbled away on his prey.
Devoured the whole thing, fur and all. Thinking I can hire him for year around control of the animals. Maybe he can be Hootie and I can be the Blowfish. If he could keep the chipmunks and rabbits from eating stuff I would worship him/she as a god
Have about half an acre towards the first tree line of really good, well drained soil. Nitrogen fixing black locust are to the north and apple trees to the north east. The plum trees I will put to the west leaving the area in front of the trees for perennial vegetables, berry and nut trees, herbs, medicinal plants and ones that attract good insects (honey bees) and birds. Picture below shows a bit of it. The funny looking things on the ground are old carpets I use for killing off the grass under it to bring new areas under cultivation.
Some shots below of stuff growing or to grow – maybe
And a pileated wood pecker for those who made it to the end