Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh Deer, It's Summer On The Farm

Thought you might enjoy a whole bunch more brand new pictures. Sure has been hot lately, we've had several little heatwaves of several days in the 90s. Humidity has been an off and on thing, but you sure do sweat out there. I spent a good chunk of June and July so far in the garden, trying to get things planted. Man what a rock pile that is! It will take me a good five years to tame it.

This year we took the fencing off the untended garden at the former homestead and moved it here. It will only fence part of this garden, but that helps. It's not pinned down properly, but it seems to be helping. Having Ariel on the property does too, she barks at anything that moves. We walk her around the perimeter of the garden at least once a day so she can leave her scent in the area.

Not much is going on inside at this point. We had some equipment failures and lots of interruptions that got us behind outdoors. 

Blogger is throwing my pictures in at random, so these are far from in order. But ok, here we go...

Yes, we have deer, and see them regularly. A lot of times they come at dusk, so the pictures aren't that clear. They are so quiet, you look up and spot one, and never new it was there. 

A lovely blue sky over the barn and I caught a barn swallow in flight. Hard not to get one of them in a picture, they are perpetual motion machines. Very chatty too.

A catbird on the garden fence. They are regular visitors. We brought over the old fencing and posts from my other garden, as (sadly) no one is using it and it had grown up to weeds. It's plastic on the inside and chickenwire without. Doesn't quite meet the ground but so far nothing has noticed. About 3/5 of the garden here is now fenced.

The catbird's more talented cousin, the Northern Mockingbird. This fellow sings off and on all day from several perches, one of which is the old TV antenna on the pole by the office, which is full of vines. We didn't have mockingbirds at our other home, though I would often hear them in the city. I think they like the more open habitat here. I sometimes hear them at night.

Cottontails in clover is a very familiar sight. We've seen baby bunnies this year too. So far they have stayed out of the garden. Here's hoping they continue to do so. I enjoy watching them.

It's not a very clear shot but there were a bunch of turkey vultures circling around up the hillside. Not sure if they were onto something or just playing with the updrafts. Lots of predators around here, and carcasses are a big draw for these avian scavengers.

I believe this is a female or juvenile cowbird. Not sure why this one looks so bloated, maybe it's just a 'bad feather' day. You can see that the fence and any posts are a great resting place for the field hunters like these birds, who used to follow the buffalo herds way back when. They are now adapted to pasture life, and don't mind if the grazing is done by deer, cows, sheep, or lawn tractors. They all expose insects that can be exploited.

The doe is leaving for the evening. They generally go as silently as they come.

Plenty of redwinged blackbirds and common grackles this year. They nest in and around the pond, and grab a bite to eat at the birdfeeders, and then hunt the fields for insects to feed their brooding mates and nestlings. There's generally always a robin or three out there too. Robins are strictly insect and sometimes fruit eaters, but seem to be social with other bird species.

A male common grackle displaying his light eye and iridescent plumage. They are big and aggressive birds and squeak and squawk a lot. Fun to watch them bobbing along though.

Everyone seems to get along OK. I believe this is a male redwing hunting and the bunny seems to just be ignoring it. The rabbits will take a cue from the birds though. If they panic and fly off, the bunnies scamper away to safety.

A goldfinch checks out my newly installed poles for paste tomatoes. Lots of perches are good, they give the birds a safe place to hunt from, where they can see prey as well as predators.

There's a feeling of safety when you can graze not too far from heavy cover. Some Queen Anne's Lace and Daisy Fleabane flowering together in this shot.

The mockingbird in the foreground is joined by two bunnies and a robin. They all know where I am, but they don't consider me a threat.

An Eastern Kingbird in the pines along the road. I see him now and then. He landed on the garden fence but flew off before I could get the camera up. I was lucky to catch this shot.

I actually have two catbirds now hunting the garden. I see them quite often in the evenings. The enclosure of the fence seems to make a lot of the birds feel safe in there, and they are keeping the bugs under control. I have seen them fly off with beaks full.

This doe slipped out of the brush around that corner about mid afternoon and headed back in and down to the pond. The lower end there is marshy and the deer can walk out there. We have bushes and trees growing in it.

I believe this is a female house sparrow sitting on the barn roof on an overcast day. Unremarkable except that it looks like she has a #7 on her chest. They play all over that roof, I can hear their little feet tromping on it even out in the garden.

This is the little bunny we call 'Foo Foo' after the obnoxious one in the nursery rhyme song. He or she seems to have an attitude, and chases the birds away if they get too close. A very independent youngster too.

This cardinal sat in those weeds for quite a while, affording me several nice shots. I have several pairs on the property.

I'll admit I do have a soft spot for the mockingbirds. This one is just getting tame enough that I can get regular pictures of it hunting.

Twin bloom stalks of mullien poking up out of the weeds and stuff stored behind the office trailer and garage. First I've seen on the property. It's just a fuzzy weed to most people, but I love the butter yellow blossoms. That's pokeweed to its right, also in bloom. The poke will have poisonous purple berries that colonial people mashed to use as ink, and shoots in the spring that can be boiled and eaten. I know a lot of my wild weeds, they are like old friends whose names and natures I still can recall.

This robin seems oblivious to the flycatcher perched behind it. That little bird seems to like that perch, I see it there often.

One of my fawns out for a stroll. This is one of a set of twins. Look at all the blackbirds hunting!

A male redwing stalking a bug. You can really see those wing patches. They come to the feeders often, mostly just the males.

Everybody has something they want out there in the field. It's a wildlife haven, with the brush, trees, and pond surrounding it.

Little Bunny Foo Foo's mom seems to have shown up for once.

My twins. They are getting bold now. Mom had already melted into the brush and they were reluctant to join her. They are grazing now, but still have some of their baby dapples.

Another set of twins, I believe these are house sparrows. They are not native birds and very aggressive and prolific, and can be bullies. Still I love to watch them because they are comical and entertaining. These little fuzzy guys are learning to hunt for themselves.


I got an action shot of Foo Foo, in mid hop. He or she does the most unexpected things. All of a sudden, it was time to move out. Everyone else out there is now on alert, thinking the baby bunny saw a predator. No, Foo Foo was just being weird.

This pile of old metal frame windows and conduit in the weeds behind the garage is like a birdie jungle gym for all these youngsters. Just goes to show you, kids of all species love to climb and explore.

"Pardon me ma'am, but no interviews while I've got my mouth full!" A male grackle with several bugs in its beak pauses to see if it can grab one more. They are doing their part to rid my field of grasshoppers, cutworms, and anything else that skitters by.

Now and then, a bunny has to check in with mom. She is in the middle of dinner in this shot.

This little guy turned out to be a Least Flycatcher. He likes perching on this bit of brush behind the office and garage. I see him there often.

This male Red Bellied Woodpecker on top of the telephone pole by the house started drumming and calling out it was his territory. Then the Downy Woodpecker male showed up and hustled up to make his claim. It was a standoff for a while.

The male mockingbird would display like this every now and then if other birds or the bunnies got to close. I believe he has a nesting spot up above the office, because he sings up there often.

Yeah, the bigger woodpecker won the contest.

Following mom around, learning to be a big bunny.

These little guys really blend in. Can you see all three of them?

A closeup of that Cardinal.

I just missed these bunnies smooching by seconds.

We had a visitor one midday under the birdfeeders by the house. That is a male Ringneck Pheasant. He was there for around half an hour, scratching and pecking like a chicken.

We were able to sneak outside by the car for closer shots.

They are beautiful birds. First one I've ever seen here.

The Least Flycatcher, up close on my fence.

No more pictures today folks!

This is 6 of the 15 five gallon buckets of rocks I filled this year—all from the garden.

This is my landing, where I now have a hummingbird feeder and a hanging basket of Million Bells/Calibricoa. Yes I know the dye in the red nectar is not supposed to be good for them. Someone gave it to me, and I am using it up. The hummers look healthy so far, and visit it all day long.

I love those big flowered marigolds. These are now in the garden.

A male Cardinal hidden in the white pines by the road.

It's a big garden, 32' x 190'. The upper fenced portion is not all of it, beyond that is an open mulched area for running vines like winter squash and melons. Yeah, I get help, but all the planting is my job.

A catbird on the cucumber trellis. Creative use of zip ties.

We had another unexpected visitor one evening. It ambled out of the pond trail and headed up back. At first I couldn't tell what it was...

This is a bobcat. Kind of unusual to see one in the open. We heard the blackbirds by the pond kicking up a fuss a few minutes before it strolled out. It knew we were there but was totally unconcerned.

Ariel was indoors at the time the bobcat came prowling by. She didn't see it. But she often joins me out at the garden, and sits on the swing with me in the shade. We keep her on the leash or tied nearby when we are outdoors. She doesn't get to roam, too many predators, too close to the highway, and too many things to chase. She gets several walks a day, and plenty of chances to sniff, bark, and dig.

This woodchuck is up by where the bobcat disappeared, but this was a week or so earlier. It's standing up because Ariel is barking at it.

"Get lost woodchuck, Mom doesn't want you near the garden!" A farm dog's job is never done...

This male oriole has been hunting the garden quite often. I believe he's coming in from a nest somewhere across the road. We have a quiet yard and he seems to like the fenced in part of the garden. Many birds hunt in there, all the posts and fencing makes them feel safe.

My snowman feeder was a holiday gift to myself. It is still getting a good workout. The blackbirds here seem to love the sunflower seed. Since they also hunt the fields for grubs, grasshoppers and so on, I really don't mind the expense. It is entertaining to watch them, I can see them from the kitchen and dining room windows. 

Life here on the farm is slower paced and rather laid back, and I love it for that. There's always something to see and do, but no rush to get things accomplished. My child raising years are over, and I'm done volunteering and taking on all sorts of outside projects. Writing holds the majority of my deadlines, and I pick and choose there too. The quiet hours I spend outdoors are invaluable for the years of stress and challenges they are making up for. So, yes, I have time to notice the little things around me. That's what makes life worth living folks.

Have a great week! 

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