Friday, June 30, 2023

For the Birds

I've had raiders visiting the hummingbird feeder. Goldfinches, Redheaded Woodpeckers, Orioles, and of course the Hummers.
I have two hummingbird feeders out. The Orioles are bringing their fledglings to the feeders but they are pretty shy. I'll have to try and get a photo of them before they take off for migration very soon. They seem to disappear right around the 4th of July.

The Eastern Kingbird and the Robins have been visiting the feed pan/bird bath quite a bit. I've even left a feed pan with water out by the pump for the wrens who have nest by the busted garage and the old red shed.
I put rocks and sticks in the pans so they have something to land on.

Looks like I'll have another service call for the skid steer. It won't start as something is going on with the ignition -- sigh. I need it running so I can call for some pricey hay to be delivered and we can unload the huge bales. We are now in a severe drought situation in our part of Vernon County.

Hot and dry. Most of our farmers are pretty concerned. My friend who has raised produce for the Farmer's Market for years is feeling quite despondent over the lack of rain.
We've dodged the bullet of severe drought for quite a few years. But I guess it is our time?

I took out our old baby pool and put some water in it. I noticed that there was a crack in it from age but it held enough water for me to put all my potted plants in it overnight.

Of course, I couldn't pass up doing a 'photo' on Climate Change.

Since I hate being indoors all of the time. I did venture out yesterday afternoon to watch the wrens and look for insects in the flower garden.

After a few years of trying, I finally got a shot of the wren coming out of the pipe from the old breeding chute.
She or her descendants have been making nests in this pipe for many years now.

She and her mate scolded me for being in the area. They were busy feeding their noisy kids.

One of my favorite birds has to be the wren. They are so vocal and busy all of the time. When they leave, I get sad as I miss them scolding me every day no matter where I am at.

We still have smoke in the air today, but I can actually see the sky so I am calling that a win.

Have a great Friday.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Bad Bad Air

I'm getting tired of orange/brown skies. 

Sunrises like this one from yesterday are not beautiful or enchanting any more.

The meadow to the east shows a grey nasty sky of smoke and haze.

The girls were totally unenthused about returning to our meadow.
They can head to the woods and find grasses and browsing, but would rather that I bring them some hay. Which I did.

The grey mule has breathing issues and I cannot imagine that this smokey haze is any better for her lungs than it would be for my hubby.

By noon, it was just this... this shot taken from our porch. I could smell wood smoke from the Canadian Wildfires. My thoughts were this: If it is so dry here in the Midwest, how long before our states experience wildfires too? 

I can't even imagine.

With all the chores done early, I just popped out later to add water to the feed pan that the birds were using as a birdbath and source of water.

My Lego friends and Squatch were on the porch. Apparently they were better prepared than I was for the smoke.

I decided to stay in and run the air purifier and the dehumidifier on the Mini Split. 

That led to doing things indoors that I'd put off. It felt odd to be stuck indoors. Even Charlie decided that being on the porch wasn't something he wanted to do. He did his business and never went to his spot and laid down like he normally does. 

Maybe the dog is smarter than I am. [Hey, no comments!]

This was supposed to be the sunrise today 15 seconds:

At noon today I drove out to get the mail and drop off some egg cartons at Olive's house. This was the ridge views.

I stuck close to the house again and for a little while messed around taking photos in my wildflower gardens.

I think I may have caught two insects mating? 

Well. Even if the smoke is heavy? Love is in the air?

--I skipped the workout at the gym for the past two days. The air is nasty and I'm not thrilled about breathing it in when I can smell wood and chemicals.

We are still at 'unhealthy' status of the 150 - 200 index. Hopefully by noon tomorrow it will fall back into just a 'yuck' status.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Sunday Distractions

 I was trying to daydream
but my mind kept wandering.

Steven Wright

I listened to an interview of Steven Wright who apparently is a standup comedian. He wrote a book called Harold that is about a 7 year old in the 1960's. Harold has a meandering mind and wonders about things while he is in school. 

The description of Harold's mind reminds me of myself in grade school. The window of the classroom held so many secrets and it was like a continuous movie of my thoughts and imaginations. Certainly nothing in the classroom interested me.

I may just have to read Harold.

I do day dream too. I sometimes just sit quietly in the meadow or on the porch and look at nothing letting the sounds that surround me take my serious thoughts away and I am left with a brain that amuses itself. I don't have to make myself do it.

It just wanders on its own.

Maybe that's why playing has become such a relaxing thing for me to do.

After all gardening in this weather is HOT work!

The rain we got yesterday was soaked into the dry ground and still, some plants needed watering.

After all was said and done, the guys hopped into their antique cars. Farmer Bob wanted to show off his new collectable car and Grandpa wanted to take his chicken for a drive....

The girls were happy to get them out of their hair for awhile.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Daisy Daisy Daisies...

It is that time of the year when the Ox Eye Daisies bloom. They really are pests in the pasture because the mules won't eat them. I do chop them down in one of the smaller paddocks, but their are gazillions of them across the fence line and some days I feel like it is a losing battle.
However they do make for nice wild flower photos.

I do love capturing them in the early morning light...

 Sometimes I am lucky enough to see them before the sun is high enough to light up the whole plant.

The dew drops on the white petals and their happy bright yellow centers make me stop to admire them.

Then there is the 'daisy' looking flower with the horrid name of Fleabane. Before I knew its name, I called it Wild Daisy. I know it isn't the right name, but --- do they really deserve such an ugly name?

 I saw these while hiking to the creek [well the creek is mostly dry]. 

And then. The sun beams through the mist as the light shines through the trees to light up the forest that surrounds the creek. It is easily at least 10 degrees cooler in this part of the valley. Well, that is until the midday sun shines down on it. 
Now the creek bottom is Hot during the day with little or no breeze.

After my fence inspections were complete, I walked back home.
Interesting to note that this huge mess of thistles I cut down last week were gone!

Apparently they wilted to just right to make them Mule-ishious!
Go figure. 

Enjoy your day... and pick a daisy!

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Why I wake early

In the summer, I wake up without an alarm or even a nudge from anything else. My eyes open and my body says 'Wake up'

On these hot hot days I'm generally out the door as soon as it thinks about getting light out. Sometimes Charlie and I take a walk to on the gravel road to greet the day.
In some ways I think this is the best part of the day.

At least it is right now. It is cooler and the Air Quality Alerts aren't so bad.

Olive's Flower Garden

Mary Oliver says it quite well so I don't have to.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety---

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.


Friday, June 23, 2023

Nature is curious

Bat: Found under my car a few days ago. I picked it up with cardboard and moved it into shade and foliage on the north side of the house.

Our fungi hunts were very successful, both Olive and I bagged full canvas bags of both Golden Oysters and Chicken of the woods the day after we got 2/10ths of an inch of rain. [That was last Sunday]

However, when I went to our forest the next day all I found were nasty slugs climbing all over the oysters. Even though that is gross, I thought it was interesting. The slugs love moisture and it makes sense that they would gather just above the lowest part of our narrow valley and steep hillsides to enjoy the moisture.

For your entertainment....
Classica slug dance -> video is 15 seconds long.

We have misty humid mornings 

and 35% humidity by early afternoon with brown/blue skies.

The colors of the morning sunrise are orange.

The evenings just fade away...

With poor air quality and intense heat, not much is going on around here. My days consist of getting things done outdoors before noon.

Happy Summer to everyone. This summer is sure and odd one.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Dis... organized?

I went downstairs to get the clippers so I could clip the mule's manes. I'm late doing it this year. As usual.

I picked up a strange blue colored hammer when I grabbed the clippers off the shelf. Hmmm, must have been left behind by the electrician from a few weeks ago.

I put the clipper boxes on the porch so I could get right to the clipping job. When I took the hammer to the kitchen to take a photo and send it to the electrician, I noticed the floor was pretty dirty. I walked around the house and picked up all the rugs to get shaken.

Then I started randomly picking things up in one spot and putting things in another. When I turned around I noticed that the little table the tv was on needed dusting. And behind that? The window sill could use a bit of attention.

I opened the windows wide to let in fresh morning air and then got out the window cleaner. Oh wait, I wanted to vacuum. When I walked past the bathroom, I picked up the trash and cleaned the little bin, then took the trash out and ...

somehow in a most unorganized yet busy manner got the house vacuumed, mopped, windows washed, sills cleaned and discovered that I still had not addressed the mysterious hammer. Plus the clippers were still on the porch next to a pile of rugs that needed cleaning.

I finally did get a shot of the hammer and send it off to the electrician, but not before I had the two Lasko fans pulled apart and washed.

Oh and the mules?

Here is Sunshine, my red headed darling...before clipping.

and after...

I didn't get shots of the others as I did them, but they sure look more like mules than some strange equine now.

And then a couple hours later we had rain! Beautiful wonderful amazing rain.

We may have gotten 1/2" all total. Hopefully the pastures will green up a bit.

Looks like I'll be out doing some wild fungi foraging and searching this afternoon in the sweltering heat!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Night of the Fireflies...

I haven't been out to see the fireflies this year...well, that is until Saturday night. The skies have been smokey and the nights have been chilly. I decided to go ahead and look for them last night.

They were numerous!

View back towards the house...

This was just at 'Blue Hour' when Venus was visible in the sky. Our home is just to the right of the pines.

Fireflights/lightening bugs prefer the tall grasses and the woods. If you don't have an area that is unmowed, you won't see as many. I stood at the edge of our yard and took this shot of the meadow on the other side of the fence.

For anyone interested in how this was done. I used my Olympus E-M1 Mark iii which has a 'Starry Sky' Auto focus to help focus things in the dark. I used a setting called LiveComp. I set the LiveComp up to a 4 second exposure for 4 minutes. That means that each 4 seconds that passes by, the camera records any changes to the light and adds it essentially as a layer over the previous exposures for 4 minutes. ISO was set at 1600 and I had to modify the white balance.

I know that sounds like Greek to many folks, but there it is...

Setting it up and figuring out where to point it is the hard part sort of. 

I stopped while heading to the ridge:

The Driveway...

Tigen Road where I noted that the lightening bugs hung out along the long grass in the ditches.

At the mailbox...

And then I took a 'selfie'. The lights from the town 3 miles away was rather intense and gave the sky an odd color as the humidity, haze, and smokey sky increased the odd oranges. 

Could we please get some rain????

Sunday is Father's Day. So I leave these two photos of my father.

Young Dad:

I'm guessing this might be a clue as to why I love photography?

Dad in 2001 when we were in Hawai'i together.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Hiking a well used trail

I think the most well used trail by bicyclers and equine riders is the Little Canada and Ice Cave trail loops at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Generally I can usually hike a trail and almost never run into others.

I met 2 sets of bicyclists and 2 groups of horses on my hike Friday. 

I've almost always met someone on these trails except in the dead of winter.

Even in the winter, it is a well used trail for snowshoers. It winds up and down and around the ridge and dry runs. It passes through a couple of pine plantations and a mixed forest.

The hike was around 5 miles, I took the hiking only trail that runs north of the first leg of Little Canada. It is a little used trail. It doubles as a maintenance trail for work and for events at KVR.

I'm going to just toss up some shots here and let you enjoy. These were with a cell phone.

While on the maintenance trail I walked down to the old trail we used to ride above the river. The old trail is still there and it was closed off years ago due to the fact that an equine and rider walk within a few feet of an 80 foot drop off.

Photo of my youngest son standing on the trail in 1996

I enjoyed the hike and mostly took my time just looking around at all of the light and shadows in the forest.

I took my infrared camera and enjoyed some shooting too.

What a beautiful day to be out in those woods. No bugs and no humidity.

However I sure do hope we get some rain tomorrow. 
The weather service upped our chance to 50%!