Sunday, July 30, 2017


Wednesday:Trees fall down...
We have had so much rain this month that trees are just tipping over. Of course most of the mess is behind our little red shed.
This has been a problem all summer long since the giant oak fell over. The oak fell on a box elder and split it and took three other trees and bent them over at the same time.

One locust was damaged, an elm lost its top and was caught up in another small oak tree.
That one decided to just complete its fall the day before yesterday.

I did what any person with electric rope fencing might do. I restrung it over and under the downed trees.
Fence restored and ready for the next small disaster.

I spent most of the afternoon cutting weeds off from the cattle's wood pasture fence. I've given up on maintaining the Merry Meadow, Rich can't trim the pasture with the tractor and brush hog this year. I'm pulling the mules out of there as the pasture is not very good and very weedy.
The burdock is getting pretty bad there too. I have 5 mules with burdock tails to clean up.

I won't put them back in that section again. The Meadow is not our land but we have kept it mowed and cleaned for over 10 years so that the absent landowner could drive through it during deer hunting season.

Now absent landowner wants to charge us for keeping the weeds clipped and grazing it.
Since we sold off most of the equine, there is no reason to keep trying to maintain land that isn't ours.

Saturday morning was incredible. I didn't think I'd go up to the ridge to watch the sun come up, but for some reason I decided to go and take a peek.
It was worth the effort.

I tried a new method of trying to catch both the sunrise and the foreground with the camera.

I liked this result. I focused for the sky for shot number one, and focused on the soybeans for shot number two. I used a tripod of course to keep things steady.
I merged the two shots together and am pleased with the outcome.

When I drove back to the house I was met by Little Richard, the guard pony. What a hoot. He has no fear of machinery or vehicles. I love it that he will stand in the driveway and wait for you to come out and pet him.
He will move then.

On Thursday we went fishing. Rich loves to fish. I know there are things I need to be doing at home but since his stroke Rich finds fishing to be comforting and peaceful.

And Friday night we ate like Kings. Fresh produce from the garden along with fresh fried pan fish and ... a first for us...Catfish!

Saturday was bug catching day with the neighbor kids. I went hiking at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve afterwards.

I know my sequence of events are not in order. But I sure have had a busy and productive few days.

Today is adventure day at Awesome Creek. Since the last flash flood there is an area that was created that will be perfect for young children to play and splash in. No large boulders, just sand and small pebbles.

Which reminds me. I need to take a bucket to collect some small pebbles.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Drawn by Fog and mist...

I love misty mornings.

I love the droplets of water that collect on spider webs.
It is nearing August.
Wait? What?
No way! August? For real?

Anyway this time of the year sometimes can present itself in wonderful ways if we have warm days and cool nights in the form of fog that rises out of the valleys and creeps across the ridge as the sun rises.

This morning it crept along from the north east with a very slight breath of air.
On the 21st it came in like a bulldozer from the east and within a few minutes the ridge was cloaked in mystical fog.

I had to be careful as the camera lense quickly got moisture on it. Normally that is not much of an issue, but from what I understand my little Nikon D5200 is a primma donna when it comes to moisture. Well, at least that is what I read.

I went to a different location this morning. The view is not as breathtaking as my normal place, but I wanted to see and try something different. How could I challenge myself?

I lucked out in being able to actually get wisps of fog unfurling across the soybean field. Imagine my luck again that the cropland had been rotated to soybeans. Had it been corn the effort may not have paid off this well.

The road/driveway in and out of this place has some incredible dips and curves and this morning the road looked as if it were from another world.

At dawn the fog was rising from the woods. The above shot was taken looking west towards my driveway that is hidden in the forest.

After the sun burst over the horizon in a golden glow, I was headed home and looked down this same road, but from the opposite direction.

The trees were literally glowing with orange colored light.

Eek gads.
I just checked the weather.

Fog is predicted for the next two mornings.
I am pinching myself.

Then I will go set the alarm clock and see if I can get up and see what the mists have in store for me tomorrow morning.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Time for me.

Being a caretaker is not an easy task. But I am not complaining really. I am again going through the stress of taking care of billings that are done improperly and juggling appointments with the VA Medical Center. I try and help Rich get one goal accomplished each day.

I realized that I needed some quiet time. I hadn't been leaving the farm at all really. Just getting groceries and in the mornings I await for him to get up. We both have the fear that another stroke will happen if I am not there to watch him get up.
He awakens and wonders if something will happen.

But we are working through that now.

So this morning I took a 5AM jaunt to some of my favorite places. I was only gone for about an hour and a half.

But it was worth it.

My first stop was on top of the ridge. The sky and colors were out of this world.

And then I jumped in the Subaru and headed to Black Bottom.

Black Bottom Creek ~ 
the creek is called something else now 
but the old timers still refer to it that way.

I caught a little color before the fog moved in and took over.

I headed home to get a cup of coffee.
And when I got out of the car I had to stop.

The heavy moisture in the air had created a beautiful dew on the burdocks that I intended to cut down.

When did burdock look so lovely?

When did fleabane look so incredible?
My morning was complete.
I went inside to start the day with a huge list of 'to dos'.

However I got some quiet time in before the day really started.

A trip to the creek was on my next "Me Time" list.
As a caretaker I have learned that it is so important to take some time out for myself in order to do things I really enjoy.

Early mornings work out fairly well, and sometimes late afternoons do also.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I love bugs, well...

I love to photograph bugs as a fun experiment.

The neighbor kids do a 4H project and collect bugs. Last year I started to take an larger interest in bugs I could find around our farm. I was so surprised to find that I really don't know my insects!

What a beautiful colored grasshopper right?
Fork Tailed Bush Katydid!

This beautiful creature was on my Gerbera daisy plant on the porch.

 I found this the other morning while watching the sunrise. The flower is a Woodland Sunflower and they grow wild in the ditches.

The exotic looking creature is a Goldenrod Crab Spider. Apparently they blend into the plant and eat other insects such as wasps! I am thinking that I could love this gorgeous spider!

A spider I found on the porch last year is one of my favorites.

I had help identifying this one from another photographer friend who really digs spiders.
Basilica Orbweaver.

Milkweed plants and flowers are great places for 'bugs'.
I'm not sure what the insects are in this shot, but I think the insect in the bottom of the photo was dead and the insect in the top of the photo was going to eat it!
I didn't realize this until I was reviewing the shots later.

I am pretty new to the insect world. I mean I a novice yet at trying to figure out what they are and what they do.
I find them quite interesting.

Milkweed plant with Japanese Beetle. Beautiful colored insect, but an invasive species!

My vegetable garden is another great place. Although after looking the following insects up, I guess I should be aware also of what they feed on and destroy.

This is by far one of the prettiest little bugs I've ever seen. It is called the Candy Stripped Leaf Hopper. Apparently they like to eat the leaves of sunflowers, I guess they actually suck the juices out of the leaves and can do some damage.
I let it be at the time as I am still squeamish about picking up insects.

I found this Helmet Squash Bug on my sunflowers also. The squash plants in the garden make their way through my sweet corn and sunflowers.

This insect is in the Stinkbug family. There appears to be another insect on the squash bug.
When I moved around to look at the other side I saw that two bugs were attached.
I think I don't have to explain what they were doing.

And just near the house on some Queen Anne's Lace I found these ants scurrying up and down the flower.

These flowers are quite fragrant, however I was curious as to why the ants would be all over it like they are on my Peonies in the spring.
Apparently there are aphids that feed on the Queen Anne's Lace and the ants are hunting the aphids.

Bugs or creeply crawly things...Insects.
They are pretty cool.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Morning mists

This morning I yawned and walked past Morris who was sound asleep on the couch.
I checked the time.
I had plenty of time before sunrise.
I stretched, yawned some more and then glanced towards the north east.

I could see a hint of clouds through the trees and another hint of pink.

The rest of the day was destined to be overcast according to yesterday's weather report. More heavy thunderstorms and torrential rains.

If anything interesting was going to happen. It was now.

I grabbed a cup of coffee from yesterday's pot and put it in the microwave while I put together some photography items. I rushed around like a maniac. The Nikon, should I take my phone? Okay phone.
The old Fuji point and shoot? Yes always have a point and shoot.

The 85mm lens or... yes take that one but leave the 35mm lens on. I rushed around while I waited for the coffee to warm.

Mr. Morris never even moved is head. At one point he opened an eye and then closed it as if to say. "Too Early Lady, Go Back To Bed!"

Had it been a year or so ago, he would have been underfoot and pouncing on me.

I swept out the door and headed to the car. Years ago I may have just walked, but I have found a fantastic spot on the ridge that never seems to fail me. Driving is just quicker.

I nearly slid to a stop on the gravel road. I'd seen the fog in the distance and was in a hurry to get to the high point above it.
Until I saw "the Island". This area usually gets predawn fog and presents itself as an island of trees surrounded by fog.
Sometimes I am lucky enough to get the cattle in the photo too.

I took three shots and used a program called Microsoft ICE [Image Composite Editor] which is free to put them together in a panoramic type shot.

I was stunned when I got to my parking spot. Which is actually a pull in spot for cattle to be loaded and unloaded from a huge pasture that belong to my ridge neighbors.
I am just experimenting with trying to get what is called a blended shot together.
I expose for the sky and merge it with an exposure for the foreground.
I walked through the weeds and got soaked.
This year the north east field was soy bean. My lucky break, I'd get to see sunrises all fall without the corn in the way.

I set up the camera and tripod to try and get some neat foreground and sky shots.
Well the fog came in so hard that I had to give that idea up.
The fog confused my Fuji camera. But by the time I got back to the car...

The landscape was disappearing.

I got back in the car and headed towards home.
Since the fog was moving slowly from east to west, I pulled over on our gravel road and parked.

When the sun peaked over the trees, the fog had enveloped the landscape.

Time to go home and make the coffee.

Oh wait.

What did I see?

I love landscapes and small details.
I absolutely love fog and heavy dew.
Did I say how much I love fog and heavy dew?

And last but not least. I thought it would be a fun challenge to take a shot that made the soybean field look beautiful.

Not bad.
The light seemed just right to get an interesting shot.

When I walked into the house with my camera bag, Mr. Morris looked up and then yawned. He seemed to wink at me and then went back to sleep.

I do love early mornings, fog, sunrise, and heavy dew.

I have water in my Outhouse Basement!

I do.

July 19th started out innocent enough with a beautiful incredible sunrise. I went to the ridge and enjoyed a brief flash of colors.

I drove to Black Bottom Creek and the clouds rolled in darkening the morning light.
So I should have heeded the old saying.
Red sky at Dawn
Sailors take Warning...

The sky had turned an incredible red before I got to the ridge.

And the saying proved very true.

This was after the hard winds of perhaps 70 miles an hour raged through with 1.5" of rain in less than an hour.
However the sunset was stunning.

I received a warning on the Smarty Phone saying that more severe storms were on their way.

So I made a quick check of the fences and animals. The mules had gone down into the hollow and were fine. No trees were across the fences and the animals were quiet.

Then the next round came. And the NOAA noted that it would be a long night of heavy storms with heavy rain and lots of lightening.
They were not kidding.

The hail hit at about 3:30 in the morning. I'd given up sleep by then. I worried about the animals and wondered if the heavy rains would wash out the creek again.

I started to chore and noticed there were some limbs down and it appeared that a tree was over on the fence.
We had sort of expected something like that.
So I went to the outhouse which also serves as my storage for my nippers and machete.
I grabbed the nippers then glanced down into the hole.
It was filled with water.
The rain had come so hard and so fast that it ran down the hill from above and had come into the outhouse hole.
I shrugged.

This looked like a job for a chainsaw.

I did chores and checked quickly on the rest of the animals. They were all just fine.

The garden looked like a mess but as of this morning the corn seems to be recovering and didn't suffer too much damage from the hail.

We were lucky. In McGregor Iowa a tornado had come through with the first storm and tore up that little historic town. The storm raged across the river and winds tore up Prairie Du Chein. So we were lucky.

The total rain fall for our place in 24 hours was 6.10 inches.

We finished up the day and have started to make preparations for the next round of storms.
Heavy rains, flash flooding, hail, and high winds.

Yeah. And there is still water in my outhouse 'basement'.