Sunday, August 25, 2013

This Summer On The Farm

It's been a long and interesting summer, and it's not quite over yet folks.  I do have a bunch of random pictures taken during the height of it to share. But before I get into that, let me just announce that I now have two sister blogs, up and running, which is something that I've been thinking about doing for a long time. I decided that this weekend—when I have two deadline writing projects done and in editing, and just finished the first draft of my latest novel—was a good time to dedicate to getting my blogs going again. So I've been blogging in between putting up vegetables from the garden.

First of all, COMPANION DRAGONS TALES, which has been on a long hiatus, is back on the web, with a brand new focus, now that the first book of the series is in print. I plan on sharing news and snippets from the books, as well as interviews with co-authors and possibly even a few words from the artist(s) whenever they have the time. Waxy and Lazlo (they are small dragons), along with some of their other little friends, will be making occasional guest appearances.

Secondly, I finally decided I need a separate author site, so I set up a blog for primarily handling my writing news. WRITING FROM HOME was the name of a forum I had as a moderator for the old Books & Writing Bulletin Board on Prodigy Communities. That's where I met Roger and Lee, who share this blog with me, and also co-write the COMPANION DRAGONS TALES. It just seemed logical to keep the name going, since in between newsy posts I plan on sharing my perils of writing in a busy household. I do hope you'll go check them out!

And now, on to the pictures!

 Ariel The Wonder Dog welcomes you back to the farm, where she is kept busy most of the time scouting for potential problems from the swing out by the garden. She does manage to get up there by herself now. Ever vigilant, no chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies, woodchucks, coyotes, deer, or zombies ever make it past her before they are sent running for their lives. She's very alert!

June is the month for wild buttercups. The snow was plentiful over the winter, the rains came regularly through mid-July, and the grass was loaded with them. Two years of regular mowing and we have a much more green and lush wild 'lawn' in the fields around the house this year. I didn't get ahead of us as badly as it has in the past. Lots of white clover in it now too. 

Storms were a regular occurrence throughout June and into early July, and most of them brought copious rain. I seldom had to water. Thank goodness I built raised beds! Most people lost their gardens to storm washout. 

I did hang the feeder out by the garden again. We have several in the yard and a feeding station up by the house. The blackbirds came daily and emptied them for us. These are brown headed cowbirds, but it was the redwings and grackles who were the biggest pigs. They cost me a fortune in birdseed, but they were fun to watch. Now in August they've mostly moved on to nearby farm fields.

I did mention the storms! They were frequent and intense at times. Very dramatic cloud mass moving up from the northwest at sunset. That is the barn, and the projecting part of the building is the old milkroom which is now my garden shed. I got that organized back in April, and used it often this summer for potting plants and other projects.

The same system boiling up around the house, which sits on a knoll just above the barn. That is the ell, which holds the kitchen, and the dining room at that very end. My PC desk is in that end of the dining room, and that little string of icicle lights you can just barely see hangs from a big chestnut beam behind me. They throw enough light to work in the evenings.
 The early June garden, still pretty orderly at that point. It's a weedy, tangled mess now, but we are getting plenty out of it. We are just finishing the last of the romaine lettuce. I have not bought salad fixings all summer. I gave quite a bit away too. The cauliflower didn't do too well, but we got a few heads. Broccoli has been fair, and cabbage is very abundant.

The lush foliage of summer. The big field looks so good this year! If you look close enough in this pic, you'll see a deer out there. They were frequent visitors in the mornings and evenings, but this one came out on a nice afternoon..

We do get some spectacular sunsets. Those big, moist layers of clouds look like pastel fleece blankets. 

I have one big hummingbird feeder up by the porch, and this smaller one down by the garden. That's a male ruby throat having a sip. A male house finch looks on rather dispassionately. The garden birdseed feeder would be to the right.

Not easy to catch these guys when they're not in motion. He was a regular customer all summer, and did U-shaped 'display' flights around the feeder, claiming the territory as his. He even chased off his own mate! She'd still slip in for a nip, now and then. They nested somewhere in the big white pines along the road again. Those trees are a bustling community of bird life.

I know that the red dye nectar is not as healthy, but this was a gift from a family member, and one does not ignore those who augment your obsessions. LOL! The hummers seem OK with it, they raised two nestlings again this year, and both come to the feeders and hanging plants now.

We seemed to have a pretty good sized population of cowbirds this year. These are juveniles and females. Cowbirds or Buffalo Birds as they were once known, lay their eggs in other birds' nests, and the foster parents have to feed them. Since they are migratory birds following animal herds, that makes sense. But how do they learn to be cowbirds instead of wrens or warblers? So much about animal instinct we don't understand...

The deer came out more during the later afternoon and evenings in the summer. This fellow is almost across the field. They don't mind us if we stay quiet, but Ariel doesn't like them very much. She barks and barks, and then acts very proud once they go bounding away. We're safe for another day.

Cropping the picture showed this was a buck. I'd say heading toward his second year, with those forks in velvet, and the lengthening body. Beautiful creature!

Yeah the buck stops here, and quite often too. They do some grazing and a lot of browsing on tender brush tips on the edge of the clearing. That white stuff in the background is multiflora rose.

Sorry the cropped pictures are fuzzy. Ariel finally saw this guy and loudly expressed  her opinion that he should leave immediately. He agreed. That redwing blackbird was a lot closer, and decided to photobomb the shot.

The next time he just kind of casually walked off. I guess he figured the noisy little dog wasn't going to come after him after all.

He still seems reluctant to leave. Young and inexperienced, on his own for the first time, he's eager to stay and graze. 
 In early July, I had tire size lettuce clumps. We ate most of it. The orange buckets were for stones, which I hauled out of the garden in the small white one on top.

Poor Dumpy died out there, his dumper broken and his fuel tank on the ground. We had to haul him off with the tractor. He'll get rebuilt  later on.


Evidently, we're good for more that just dining. Sometimes the hummers would just hang out with us a while.

Such dainty little creatures but they can be fairly fierce. I've watched them drive off far larger birds who were encroaching on their territory. This is either a female or a juvenile. The males have the ruby band around their throats. Rubythroats are the only hummers here in CT.

This one was a regular ham, it sat and posed for me quite a while. Late summer, and you see the hummers all the time. I had my feeder by the porch out back in early May, once I saw the first ones come looking for it.

As July spun out, the weather that had been so terribly hot and humid, began to dry and cool down. It was a welcome relief! I'd had viral bronchitis through the worst of it, and so was indoors a lot with the AC. I snapped this one after a rainstorm came through. 

The days are still fairly long, but there is a noticeable difference in the sunset time. I love that gorgeous backlit look, and the way it reflects on the barn cupolas.

Someone to the south might have been getting more rain, but we stayed dry. We had some seriously severe storms in July. 

Some of my potted plants up by the house. The storms often brought torrential downpours and the plants did not do well in that. I lost a few. That's a supertunia on the left, lantana mix on the right, and verbena in the background.

Some of those petunias have a very heady scent. I love that! Another supertunia and a zonal geranium.

A box full of French marigolds. They need deadheading.  

A tub of lantana next to mint.

Ornamental peppers. They last forever on the plants, which are even more loaded right now.

More supertunias and lantana. 

A rescued six pack of coleus fills a porch box with some shady cheer. These plants were in with a throw-out pile at the nursery, but they looked fine to me. Evidently, they were.

As the sun sets my mind turns to indoor things. I'd love to paint this scenery some day, but I don't think I could do it justice. My skill is more with words than with a brush and pigment, though I do love to dabble.

And finally, Ariel says that this is THE END of this blog entry. She hopes you enjoyed your brief tour of summer on our farm. We'll have even more pictures for you next time.

In the meantime, we will keep busy, living and loving every moment of it.

Now you go do something meaningful with your life, even if all it is taking off your shoes and walking barefoot in the grass. Leave the computer and the TV for a while. Read a book under a tree, or go talk to someone you care about. Maybe bake a cake or teach a kid to ride a bike. The important thing is to realize there's more to living than what we can manufacture or have to pay for. No one can make a hummingbird or a sunset in a factory. Don't miss seeing one if you get a chance. There's an entire world out there waiting for you, and it's wireless and energy efficient. You only need step outside your door and look. Even if you live in the heart of a big city, there's something to see if you open your eyes, your mind, and your heart.

Peace to all,


Missy said...

Glad to hear you are feeling better! All is well w/our 90 & 93 yr old parents ("the kids") living with us. The pix are beautiful & although I have flowers, feeders & a tomato garden sometimes you don't appreciate them until you see them in someones pix! Don't want to rush winter but "the kids" do enjoy seeing the squirrels come right up close & personal on their window feeder, their antics make them laugh every day. Say hi to the boys! Marianne Sousa

Nancy A. Hansen said...

Hey Marianne! Good to hear from you again. Yep, feeling better and looking forward to fall. Just about my favorite time of year. Was a decent year for the garden, other than the weeds taking over, we did pretty well.

My mother is 79, living with the boys in the old house. Youngest is married now and his wife and her son are there, with a new grandson due any day now.

Life gets interesting!

Nancy A. Hansen said...

I would have replied earlier too, but for some reason the blog wasn't publishing my comments. I had to research online and found out I needed a different setting. Sheesh—nothing is easy these days!