Monday, July 15, 2019

Insect hunting

Miss Allie, I call her.
The Insect Girl.

It isn't a bad thing or even an insult. How many young girls do you know that adore insects? Enough love for the insect to have 'pet' Madagascar Hissing Beetles in her room?
She has an insect display board in her room also.

Kudos to the parents for letting her pursue an unusual interest.

Here she is!
Allie and I made a date to go looking for 'Bugs' last night towards evening. We thought the stands of Milkweeds in the meadow would be a good place to start.

I have a LOT to learn about finding insects. I thought they'd be easier to find towards evening. Not.

Anyway off we went in the late evening heat to find bugs.


Allie the fearless, led the way. I loved her spiderweb dress, just perfect for insect hunting.  I know she really had her heart set on some Orb Spiders. But those insects will be in the meadow in a few weeks.
Last night we were looking for butterflies or anything I guess.

No bug too small!
Here Allie turns this tiny insect over to show me its legs and explain that she thinks it will grow up to be some sort of 'Leaf Insect'. Leaf hopper? I don't know!

I found a link that helps ID insects called Bug Finder. It is actually very helpful.


We found this red beetle on a milkweed. I was able to look it up and discover that it is a Red Milkweed Beetle with a long difficult scientific name. It is just fine to call it the Red Milkweed Beetle.

The milkweed had many bees on the flowers, but alas no Monarch eggs that we could find.

However, we did find some insect drama:



A Daddy Longlegs eating a bee?
We watched, fascinated.


The ants were very busy on some of the milkweed and not others.

I kept looking for 'good' shots of bees. I liked this one with the bees wings in motion!

Allie thought it would be good to go into my woods and hunt around.

Bonus!
She found a pile of deer bones...



Some went into her pink bag to go home with her.



Here Allie poses with some of the insects she caught. We headed home towards dusk.

My favorite shot of the whole outing? Aside from all the cool things we observed...

Here is Allie explaining to me what we might find on Milkweed plants and what we should be looking for.


I can only say this. I do know I was surprised by how much fun I really had. I was intrigued by the drama in the miniature world of insects.

My guide may have been young, but her enthusiasm rubs off on you.

We are going to try and do this again soon.
Thank you Miss Allie!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Something about pre dawn


Before the sun comes up.
I awaken.

This morning I poured a cup of coffee and warmed it up. I grabbed my camera bag and walked past the sleeping dog and went looking for morning colors.

I decided to visit the bridge on a hunch that the colors might just be fantastic.
The spot did not disappoint me at all.

I headed back and stopped on Riley road to 'shoot' the first burst of daylight.


I used my zoom lens to pull the sun towards me.
All I could think of is ...wow, this day will be hot!
Look at that sun!

I drove half a mile and realized that the sun would rise again in this spot. Bonus!
Two sunrises in 10 minutes!


I scooted home and caught up Mica. She is elderly, calm, and an excellent all around mule.
She has some breathing issues but I hoped to avoid them by riding her on easy terrain.

Hills? I walk and lead her. Flat? We can ride.



We went out to watch the fog lift from the low areas and inspect the rolled hay bales on the neighbor's cropland.

She is the tallest mule we have.
This morning she seemed to have a real issue with leaving home and her pals.



The woods were actually quite cool and comfortable compared to the open sunlight on the ridge.

On second thought, this is where we should have ridden instead of the new morning's blazing hot sun.

Live and learn.



Middays are just too hot right now to do much other than read a book or sit on the porch in the rocking chair with a fan on.

I can't wait for tomorrow's dawn.



Saturday, July 13, 2019

I'll take it


Boots. Wet from hiking in the creek with the neighbor lady and her children.

I had a pretty full day that started with a Partner WOD. [work out of the day] My partner was amazing and IS an amazing lady. Mom of 5 who works two jobs and has a husband who is going to school. The more we visit at CrossFit, the more I am impressed!

So the boots were drying on the porch. Walking IN the creek was the obvious way to stay cool yesterday. My hike had started out strictly in the woods looking for fungi and ended up in the creek with my neighbor and her kids.

Allie takes a rest. She got stuck in that Mule Soul Sucking Mud spot that Siera refused to get near the other day. One thing about mucky mud. It keeps the bugs from biting you.

The rocking chair came from a church bizarre along with the lady's scarves. I absolutely adore rocking chairs. LOVE them. This one is small and perfect for me. The scarves served as adornment to the 'crate' table I have on the porch. I have no idea why I chose those scarves. Colors? Backdrops for still life photos? Don't know. They just said 'Take me!'.

Part of my hike yesterday was to find interesting spots of sunlight and try some Infrared shots.


My favorite one so far is the stump. I won't even say how hard of a trek it was to get here, but it was worth it.

Evening found Charlie and I on the porch where we watched the sky for colors as the sun began to go down.
We were rewarded.


This is the view from the driveway looking across to the west.

This morning I woke up at 4:11. Yes I checked it twice. I got up anyway and decided to take a very early walk.
The gnats were nasty but the scenery was worth the walk.


Mother Nature decided to paint the sky briefly just before 5am.

I'll take it.
The rest of the day still awaits....

Update your plans

The drive to Mad City was just that .. Maddening.
Traffic on the beltline at noon is similar to rush hour.

But we made it to the attorney's office with time to spare.
It was time to review our Estate and Living Will.

We met with our new attorney Rebecca. I think my husband was smitten with her brilliance and smarts. Her beauty did not evade his eyes either.

She was pointed and courteous asking direct questions that got her the answers needed regarding updating the paperwork. We went over assets and debts and quickly went through updating our POA paperwork.

Reviewing your future needs and assessing what you have and don't have are very important things even to do while you are young.

Yes, it may even cost some money. But peace of mind is a great thing to have.

One of the things that keeps us focused on this is all of the issues we've had over the past few years with my MIL. However now with her having a court appointed Guardian we can concentrate on visiting with her and not worry about sorting all of her finances out. Plus she never made a Will but since she has an appointed Guardian, whatever is in her estate is no longer available to any heirs.
Thus there will be no fighting when she does pass on.

I've seen too many families, including my very own relatives argue, fight, and cause rifts because no one thought to prepare.

The drive home was much nicer.

One more meeting and we are all updated.

I know this is not a subject most folks like to talk about. But hey.
It is life
and
death.


Friday, July 12, 2019

Supervisors and trimmers

I drove out to take down a section of invasive thistles that were in a huge patch in the mule pasture.
This is the second patch I took down this week. The bull thistle is usually no problem as the mules will just keep plucking the blossoms off from them and it keeps the growth and spread of them limited.
However these thistles are different and grow in close dense clusters.

The Canada Thistle is from Europe and not Canada. I should be cutting them in June, August, and September. So I'll be out again and keep on fighting them in this section as well as other stands. Controlling them will be hard as the neighbor's land has them and that is only 100 ft away.

As I cut, the mules began to grab the wilted ones.

A delicacy! Soon everyone got in on it.
Sundance ever the explorer...decided that she'd have a go at the blossoms as I made it easier for her to eat them without standing in a group of them. Easy access.

Meanwhile back in the yard...

I had Sven tied on the sandy mound of leftover fill from the house remodel. Little Richard was trimming along the red shed...
and Charlie was
supervising their work.


Charlie is the little black dot on the left.

I took a shot of the thistle patch before I started.


I went at this by hand because there was too many low woody plants in them and the weed trimmer wouldn't go through it very easily.

And the end result of an hour's worth of work with a hooked 'machete' type of blade.


The supervisors approved of my work and walked around eating the wilted thistles and hunted for grasses underneath.

Well.
That job is done until late August. Then I get to do it again.

I worked with my supervisors and my trimmers and we all got along just fine.

The final inspection was rated 'good'.

Just before dark I went out to have a talk with them and did some grooming. Mica got her sweet feed and I had to use some spray on Sunshine's legs.
The flies always seem to gnaw on her cannon area.

Sunset...dew fall...
And then darkness.

All was quiet on the farm.
Peaceful.
I like that.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Possibilities are Endless

The other morning I wrote that while looking at a photo of little Charlie looking up the road from the mailboxes. The whole world lay at his feet and that is because Charlie knows no end to possibilities.

That got me thinking feeling a bit philosophical.
Some days the burden of being a CareGiver seems difficult.
It can be hectic and overwhelming.

Then I go to CrossFit and grimace at the workout of the day, or WOD. I see other folks who I've been working out with since last October and we greet each other and laugh.
Our coach encourages us each step of the way.

Yesterday I did the Back Squat. Ok. I was afraid of this particular lift because it involves weights and a bar. And it involves a movement that I've struggled to do forever.
Learning the proper way to lift is like learning a dance move.
[I've never been a good dancer]

I went through the motions with the rest of the group, pretty sure that I was going to have a hard time with the lift again. But I saw little Charlie in my mind and how he views his world. Never a negative thought. Always with possibilities.

So I tried lifting with just the bar.

Next I added weight, a bit at a time.

Wait.
Wait.
It felt right. I suddenly didn't feel awkward and strange like I had two left feet.

Suddenly my day looked brighter.
Then the next day I was able to do pullups on the bar with the black band. I did 3 in a row with a green and red band. Big deal? Yes.
Until then, I hadn't been able to do it that way.
Small victories in my strength.

And it isn't just about working out. It is socialization too. And for me that means a lot.

It seems that I am slowly finding my way after all that we've been through.
See?
The possibilities are endless.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Muddin' with Siera

I promised myself I'd take Siera riding today.

I even put it on my 'to do' list. We've gone 36 hours without rain so I thought it would be a good time to take Siera on the 4 wheeler trail to the creek and all of the way down the valley.

Siera hates black muddy muck. She has told me that she is sure that the black nasty smelling stuff was only put there in the trail to suck her mule soul out through her hooves.
I have assured her that it is just mud. In the valley where the 4 wheelers have torn things up? Well indeed, it may just be sucking black muck that would pull you down.
However, since the trails those guys made are pretty decent except for low branches, I decided to take her to the end of the valley and back.

We slid down the first incline into a puddle of green slimy water that was at the bottom of a dry run. Well, it appeared more like deep rutted wash out with gobs of gunk in it. See Siera with her head turned? She knows that home is up over the ridge and to her left.

I told her how proud I was of her, she was taking on these slippery inclines and rutted ditches like a real trooper.
She was not impressed with my voice at all.


We made it to the creek and the path we normally use was partially submerged in ages old black dirt that had turned into quagmire.
She tried turning around to take the trail home and I asked her to go up and around.

She is a pretty good mule. Some of the branches I had to duck under had me laying over her neck and slightly to the side to avoid the saddle horn.

Here I gave her a choice. Walk in the soul sucking black muck or walk in the creek.

She turned her head again as if she'd rather go home. I told her that she couldn't head back until we'd gone to the end of the valley.
Hmmm.

Fine.
The creek, it was. We rode to the end of the valley and I made her stand still.
Normally she'd be a bit calmer with another mule along, but she was solo.

On the way back she was in a hurry and stepped over a tiny sapling that was bent across the trail. It slapped her between the hind legs and she did this buck/jump thing. Since Siera is terrible at bucking, it felt more like a trip than anything else.

I took the opposite side of the valley and intended on coming back a different route when we got stopped by a literal 'sea' of black sucking muck mud. I figured we could get around it by edging up towards the woods, but going through wild roses, thorny apple trees, and berry briers didn't look like an option to me.

Siera knew that she had to cross the narrow valley to get back to solid ground and we back tracked as she peered at the maze of gouged 4 wheeler ruts that were black and filled with smelly green oozing water.
I let her go along to seek a way to get across. It was if I could tell that she was really examining things or perhaps she was seeking the spot she'd safely crossed just a few weeks ago.

She made a decision and through the nasty stuff we went.

I could just hear her saying over and over.. 'Nasties! Nasties! My hooves are going to get dirty! Knee deep in smelly wet mucky muck!'

Her hooves did make sucking noises as she crossed the ruts and we got to the creek.
Big Sigh.
I like it when she sighs.
She is relaxed then.

We had two hills to go back up that we'd slid partially down. At the bottom of the hill I gave her her head and let her make her own way up the hill. I wished in a way that she'd had a luxurious mane to grab hold of ... but she doesn't. Up we climbed.

After the last climb we stopped. I wanted to let her catch her breath. The day had turned very humid.

When we got to the gravel road, I dismounted and loosened her cinch.


Siera sighed again and we stood in the road while a nice little breeze cooled us off a bit.
I walked her home.

She had really put out a great effort for me. Mud and water had always been a huge issue for her. Steep hills and tough terrain are also a bit harder for her than a mule out of a quarter type horse. She is gaited and doesn't have the incredible back end strength that Sunshine and Mica have.
On the open and flat terrain, she can really move out.

I tied her to the shade tree in the yard and took my time letting her cool off and brushed her until she was dry. She does like attention. I figured she deserved it after the hazardous adventure she'd gone on.

With dry weather coming up this week I hope to get some more rides in with Sunshine and Mica also. They handle the ditches and the mud in a different way, nearly a bored attitude.

The weather is to turn warm and muggy again so our rides will be early or late along with more round pen work with Sundance.

When I let Siera go she walked away slowly. The red headed sisters crowded me as if to ask for some attention. Sundance smelled my shirt which was spotted with black dried 'valley' muck.
Siera rolled in the dirt...
I took a shower.

...and I had to clean my saddle...
And it was a fine day.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Good Morning...


Sometimes the mornings are the best.
I listen to the birds, and Charlie and I have the gravel roads to ourselves.

Rarely do we have traffic anyway...but...


somehow an empty road and a tiny dog makes things look bigger and the possibilities ....
endless...

Enjoy your day.