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Archive for the 'Seasons' Category

March of the Seasons and Halloween Fun

October 30th, 2010

The days come and go…  I seem to remember one of my grandmothers, while visiting her in a nursing home more than a decade ago.   She kept repeating, ”Time and tide waits for no man…”   

And she would smile when I asked how she was.   “About as fine as could be I suppose…  Time and tide waits for no man…” and she would laugh a little.  She was 99 years old, and passed away a few months later.  She had a remarkable memory for verse, poem and song.  One of these days I’ll share some of them.

 We decorated around the house the other night… it was fun.  Putting up spider webs and lights.  I don’t remember such festivities for Halloween while growing up, but that’s okay. 

Happy Halloween

It was also the first “freeze” of the fall season the other night.  I went around getting the house and a few other things ready this week, and then picking green tomatoes and bell peppers… sad to see the garden fade away, and there’s even some lettuce and beans still growing.   The chickens are having a great time pecking through the litter- they’ll be great to keep the garden area mulched.   A few of the plants were hit pretty hard by the frost. 

Everything changes…   but it looks like the week ahead will be nice still, so we’ve had a gentle transition to colder weather this year.

October Peppers

It’s fun to wander around to see how different the landscape looks.  The leaf colors have given way to browns and yellows.   A lot of leaves on the ground, but the majority are hanging on.  The boy loves to play and the dog is more than willing to accomodate his spirit…

Afternoon fun

I’m still working on a few things at home that have focused my attention elsewhere this year.   I just haven’t had time to get around and visit, or even get outside as much as I would like.   That will change too eventually!  I hope you are all doing well.   Enjoy the season and have a Happy Halloween…

And late entry,  isn’t this great!?  I strung one of the webs where he wanted it in front of his room. The spider theme was his own idea…  makes for an interesting hallway at night! :)

Happy Halloween Spiders




Seasons Bring Change

October 15th, 2010

Autumn changes are happening even faster now.   The beauty of the landscape always amazes me… I love watching the seasons change as a physical reminder of how we too change and grow.

DSC 1149

Across the decades we can embrace that change and shape our lives.  With that change looking outward, there’s always change within too, and it’s time for me to ponder such things.  I’ve taken a break from writing and sharing my thoughts here at Fox Haven, but I hope to be back soon. In the weeks ahead I look forward to catching the leaves that have started falling, jumping in leaf piles and playing the kind of games that we often leave behind as the years pass… games inspired by the imagination of a child, and in this case, a young boy.  I trust you too will enjoy the fall season wherever you may live…



September Joys… and Flowers!

September 18th, 2010

I have to ask.  Does September seem like a really busy month to everybody?  For some reason I seem to be running around in circles trying to catch up with myself.   Classes and elbows trying to get things done, if you know what I mean :)  I can hardly contain myself with all the things I’d like to do.   Ah, like writing a little more.  This has been a slow year for the written word, perhaps a year of change.  I’ll get there, and my friends I hope you’ll go with me…  this is the start of such a beautiful season!   

I see change all around, and feel the pace of insects and birds hurrying a bit more, gathering all they can before the fall begins.   Another season of color…

Harvest Chrysanthemum

A few days ago I was enjoying watching a few of these Yellow-collared Scape Moths (Cisseps fulvicollis) flying around the goldenrod and this white flower in the Aster family.    The moths were very slow flying, almost like helicopters, and the wings opened up wide just before take-off.

Cisseps fulvicollis moth

I finally remembered the plant is called White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) and is tremendously abundant at this time of year, along with the goldenrod, which is great for the bees and other pollinators.  So far I’m excited about the season in terms of pollen and nectar for the bees.   We’ve had a few rains, but mostly warm sunny days for the bees to forage, which means a nice fall nectarflow so they can really work to strengthen their hives.  

Honeybee on Goldenrod

Last year we had so much rain in autumn that I couldn’t feed the bees enough to carry them through winter.   But now, things are looking up! 

In the picture below a bee is carrying a white colored pollen into the hive (and another one along the bottom-left corner of the picture).  I thought it might have been from the snakeroot flower, but I didn’t see a single bee gathering pollen from that plant- it may only have been something from which they gathered nectar.

honeybee white pollen

Later I realized with a Doh! that the bees were getting the white-colored pollen from our very white Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora), which is growing all over the shed next to the chicken coop.  

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Sweet autumn clematis is very easy to grow and has an amazing fragrance with a profusion of white flowers.  I watched the bees fill their tiny pollen baskets with white pollen and fly right back to the hive a hundred yards away.     Each year when the clematis is finished flowering, I cut it back within just a few feet from the ground.  All that growth is just one season!   And I even cut it back a little in July to try and train it around the top of the shed… alas it has a vigorous, wild nature!   It’s covering one window and half the door…

This year I plan to cut it back a little earlier so that I can paint the older shed to match the chicken coop, and fix the rickety old door.   I need to repair and paint our brown garden fence as well.  Some of the cross bars have rotted where they join the posts.  Maybe I can salvage it for a few years more with a little stain/paint and not too much expense?

Sometimes it seems as if everything needs fixed!   Well a lot of them do… and it’s time to get that weedeater out again and really take some of the brush and weeds down, clean up the garden, work on the engines, clean up the barn and garage, organize the desk and downstairs, decorate a little, etc.  

And you know what?   I feel really lucky… really blessed, to be here…  to be able to be in good health, to have so many things to do that need done.   Simply to wake up and watch the sun rise.   Here’s wishing you a great week ahead!

“The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Chrysanthemums.
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.”

- John Updike, September

  September Morning




Summer Downpour

July 10th, 2010

Isn’t it amazing how the first half of summer explodes with growth everywhere and its hard to keep up with everything?   As we head towards midsummer, the vivid green foliage slowly matures  and begins to dry out to darker colors and browns throughout the landscape.  We’re not there yet, but I’m ready for the grass to slow down a bit more!  

Driving home the other day I took this picture just because the clouds looked interesting.  I love the depth of the clouds, and it reminds me of driving out west.  It foreshadowed the rain we’ve received over the past couple of days.  We needed it, and I’m glad it will keep the clover and other summer flowers blooming a little longer for the bees.

Summer clouds

It began raining as I worked around the pond, trimming brush and weeds and enjoying the coolness.  But I called it a day after a half hour when I realized the rain wasn’t letting up…  I like seeing the rain around the watershed, and watching it fall on the pond in summer.  A few years ago it we barely received any rain for months and the pond dropped five feet very quickly.  Last year and this year however, the rain has topped it off every few weeks.  

Rain on the pond

Last night we had an enormous rainstorm though, close to 2 inches of rainfall before it finished.  With that kind of rain I worry about erosion and the pond flows out the spillway.  I imagine a lot of insects and organic matter are washed into the pond, and it clouds up for a couple of days and then settles out.

The boy had just climbed in bed with the sound of falling rain outside his window, and then the intensity changed… it became heavier and heavier, drumming on the roof and the gutters began overflowing.   It was amazing really and he said, “I want to see the rain!”   To the kitchen we went, and turned on the outside lights… all the gutters looked like waterfalls, unable to keep up with the volume of water on the roof. 

I said, “Do you want to go out there?”  half kidding, and wondering if he would, but he jumped at the chance!   No lightning or thunder, just a good ’ole fashioned downpour.  He threw on a light windbreaker and went dancing barefoot through the storm…

Summer rainstorm

We watched as he giggled and ran under the gutters, drenched from head to toe.  Just a few minutes of summer fun, and watching him I  could remember playing in rainstorms myself as a child.  I almost went out there with him…  almost :)   He was back inside drying out with towels and asleep fifteen minutes later.

This morning the sun is shining and the air is cool… once again the landscape is refreshed, growing and bursting with life.  It’s time for me to head back out  and see what I can do about it!



Little Blessings in Spring

April 9th, 2010

I love morning in spring… everything is so cool and refreshing, and the sounds of the birds are amazing.   Life is scrambling everywhere it seems, and I feel that energy to start things that Iv’e been waiting for all winter.   The sun’s light quickly colors the landscape and the redbud trees are beautiful…

Spring morning

And there are other blessings too, or at least cute ones. Somehow I’ve always wanted to raise a few chickens. But I never said much about that, at least seriously. Then the boy comes along and tells me he wants to raise chickens. His mom not so much… but she at least thinks they’re cute, and likes looking at them- as long as I take care of them!   So I figure we’ll have a little project for a few years or more.   I’m not getting any younger- and the boy is growing older fast, so this is the perfect time.   I’m excited to introduce our new friends… a host of little chicks that will grow up to lay eggs.

Chicks in grass

So it seems I have another project to add to the list…. building a coop! They are doing well though, at about 2 1/2 weeks old. These little guys (girls!) are funny- they snuggle together to keep warm, and then chase each other all around when one of them appears to have something to eat that the others want.

There’s seven pullets and three from a “straight run” batch, or “pan fry special” where it’s a guess as to their sex. Overall for the hens I picked up three red sex-linked chicks which were cited as a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Delaware (or other white) hen, a New Hampshire Red, two Buff Orpingtons and a “rainbow pullet” which looks like a Leghorn. The other three are made up of two Barred Plymouth Rocks (which I think are hens…), and a black colored chick which is anyone’s guess. I’m hoping it’s a rooster, as it just had that feel to it. The two Barred Rocks could be roosters as well, but by the coloration my guess is that they’ll be hens.

baby chick

Aside from taking care of them,  the biggest challenge may be to keep them safe from predators- including our dogs and cats to begin with. The little shiba dog sat nearly drooling as he watched the little chicks running about for exercise the other day. I’ll have to build a stout coop and run for them. But we’ve got foxes, coyotes, racoons, owls and hawks of all kinds around the area. I’m looking forward to watching them grow, and sometime next fall we should have some healthy eggs.

With effort and a little luck, the peeps should grow up to have a good, happy life.  Ah yes, we’ll see.   But I’m not quite ready to count my… well, you know.

On A Spring Day

March 23rd, 2010

Goodness, Spring has arrived in Missouri in force this week!  It was doubtful for a while this past weekend, with much snow for our western friends.   But after a few days of rain, the sun has returned and with it the frogs, flowers and fullness of early spring itself. 

I saw a few crocus last week, and a couple of daffodils peeking out.  I swear they came out so quickly, and then Voila! all the other daffodils are  blooming at once.  Bear with me… I have to share them as the days go by.   After all, we waited all winter for them! :)

Spring Crocus

We even enjoyed a brief picnic dinner by the pond before the rain last week.  It felt so strange to be relaxing outside in a light shirt after the cold days of winter.   The yellow lab is always your buddy where food is concerned, and hope springs eternal!

Lab hopes for a bite

The pond is warming up nicely too.  I’ve seen a few more minnows and fish rising.  Today we even saw the koi, but I’ll save that for another day. 

Early Spring Pond in Missou

Of course the yellow lab decided to roll around in the grass while wandering near the pond… the same grassy area that had been burned by my inadvertent fire. He seemed to enjoy that smokey burnt aroma!    And he wasn’t quite so yellow after that… 

Dirt and Yellow Lab

A quick retrieve in the pond cleaned things up nicely.   He brings so much energy and joy to my daily experience.    I’m working really hard to enjoy life half as much as my dog does!



Late Winter Warm Up

February 27th, 2010

The thaw has begun. At least here in Missouri… and although the nights have been in the 20′s, the daytime temperatures are warming up nicely. I’m so thankful for the handful of sunny days we’re having. Especially reading of the snow and storms some of you are seeing in the northeast. Hang in there! Spring is on the way!

The pond is thawing from a lengthy winter freeze.  The last time the water was fully open was late December or early January.

february thaw

I wandered outside in the middle of the night a couple days ago (I prowl around at night…), and the moon was shining half full in the sky, contrasting with tons of stars.  It was cold, but so refreshing and beautiful, and I’m almost positive that I heard a few frogs calling!   Which is quite remarkable considering it was way below freezing.  But since the daytime temps had warmed up it may have brought a few out already.

The first really nice day we get will bring out tons of little Spring Peepers… and I always enjoy hearing them.  It just speaks of spring to me. Their calls reach their peak around the middle of March in our area.   I posted a short video here with spring peeper’s calling almost two years ago…

I’m ready, and it’s nearly time for onions, potatoes, peas and more.   Time to get the inside chores and projects finished up!



Visions of Spring

February 21st, 2010

A rainy day today with colder days and freezing nights on the schedule this week.  But yesterday?  Oh my goodness, it was a glorious 50+ degrees Farenheit yesterday!  I took full advantage of the intermittent sun and almost balmy temperatures by wearing a t-shirt around all day!  Okay, most of the day.  The cold came back in the afternoon and I put on a sweatshirt.

But with visions of spring in mind,  I took advantage of the temps and hooked up a hose to wash cars.  The boy helped and it was great… gave them a good clean up, and even washed and mopped out the garage that was so dirty from winter road grime.   Yeah, the cars will be dirty again in a day or two, but it felt good to clean them up all the same.  

As if to join me in my reverie, I saw several bluebirds darting around the trees playfully and singing to each other.  A cardinal sat high in an ash tree calling to mark his territory, and throughout the day I saw and heard a half-dozen groups of geese migrating. 

These were the white-fronted geese,  flying incredibly high with their flute-like whistling calls.  I haven’t seen them since October, but they were probably looking for open water.   I took this picture as they flew over the house and it came out with a neat halo around the sun.  

migrating geese

I also managed to clean up the old truck with the messed up clutch.  I’m still fiddling with it trying to find a solution other than a $600 repair bill.  Bleeding the clutch on these old trucks is a painful affair.  The best recommendation I found includes using 3 people for the job.  But hey, I almost got it working.  Tightened up the system, added more fluid, checked out the mechanism, pumped it like heck… it seemed fine. 

It even worked well enough to carry the garbage cans up to the road.   Of course as I proceeded to turn around on the rural highway… clunk!  The clutch goes out right there on the road.   So I’m sitting in the road (fortunately on the correct side) with my clutch pedal on the floor, and the boy in the seat next to me saying, “I told you we shouldn’t take the truck!”   

Anyway I finally managed to jam it into reverse, and we headed backwards at a good clip down the quarter mile driveway, making a big rut in the soggy grass along the way, and eventually parking it near the house.  That’s a good place for a tow truck just in case I give up fiddling with it.  Arrggh! 

But it really was a beautiful day out there :)   And I managed to find those daffodils…  Just peeking out of the soil, not nearly as far along as last year.  No surprise with the cold and snow, but they’ll be here soon!

daffodils coming up 

And tulips!  I didn’t expect these to come back up.  They were planted a few seasons ago and are usually eaten by rabbits and other critters.  I don’t remember them last year, but hopefully they’ll flower too.

emerging tulips

While I cleaned up outside the little Shiba slept on the hillside. We gave him treat and he promptly growled at me… thankless!

shiba with bone

*******

* By the way, I wanted to put a plug in about comments for those who use Blogger.   I love to peruse different blogs and make comments, but some of the Blogger comment settings only seem to allow Google or other “name-brand” or Open ID’s for registered users.   A lot of us don’t use an “Open ID” and really like to use the “Name and URL” option for leaving comments, so I recommend considering allowing “anyone to comment” as a setting if you can.   Sometimes folks will come by here and make a nice comment, and I’d like to say hello on your blog too! I think you’ll find you receive more comments from folks who are not using Google or other Open ID registration.  Just a thought; have a great week…



Winter Day’s End

February 10th, 2010

 

missouri winter sunset

I will never tire of sunsets, no matter the season, or the place.   I see the dawn and dusk of each day as constants that mark and celebrate our journeys through life.

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~

The landscape has been so very bright of late, with that good bit of snow that makes you feel winter has really come.  And soon enough I’ll be happy to say, “and gone!”.    Even a few snow days off from school has tempered the boy’s excitement.  Still we had a chance to frolick about yesterday and marvel at winter’s beauty. 

I see our little snowfall and can only wonder what waking up to two feet of new snow must be like for those of you back East.   Our rural schools are mostly closed, simply because there’s so many twisty country roads that the buses can’t get around to very well.   Personally I like living in a place where the plows can’t get to everywhere.   Keeps you on your toes just enough to not take things for granted, at least as much as we usually do. 

If I’m lucky (or motivated!), some wayward plowman will do something with our driveway. Stay warm out there.



Winter Mix of Shadow and Light

January 14th, 2010

winter shadows

My goodness the days are flying by.  The snow on the pond was beautiful yesterday with the shadows of the trees. And there were many animal tracks near the pond’s edge, with a few tracks heading out across the ice. The mysteries of the night…

tracks on pond

Yesterday we enjoyed almost fifty degree weather finally, and the snow has almost finished melting. Gave me a chance to catch up on splitting wood, running a few engines and chasing the mice out of the barn.  These are the remaining oak and hickory rounds from trees cut up in summer.  They don’t look like it, but the wood should be fairly dry and will provide enough heat to get us through winter.  I didn’t expect to use so much so quickly this season.

wood for splitting

That subzero weather last week really did a number on a few things, not the least of which is my 16 year old truck. Seems the clutch fluid must have moisture in it because the clutch froze in place and I couldn’t drive it. Maybe ice on the cables… anyway I’ll top it off today and since we’ll see 40+ F degree weather again I’m hoping it works normally.   One morning we awoke to a beautiful scene of ice crystals on the trees and shrubs.  I love how the light shimmers through the branches.

morning ice crystals

I am worried about the bees however… I didn’t see them flying around yesterday which I would have expected. Usually after an extended cold period they will be out and about briefly with temperatures above 40 degrees F.   It wasn’t warm that long yesterday however, so maybe they’re still clustered up?   I won’t open the hive unless it’s warm for a few days in a row, and we’ve still got freezing night temps.  From now through March is the difficult time of year for the bees when they really depend on stored honey.  When it’s super cold they go through those stores faster… and you can’t really feed them until it warms up a little. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Driving home at dusk the other day, the sunlight glowed beneath the clouds.

winter sunset

Our wintery landscape seems so far from the events taking place around the world, such as earthquakes and unrest.  Wish I could do more to help from so far away.  In a couple years when the boy is older I may be able to… for now our thoughts, prayers and donations can help in some way. 

Did you know you can use the American Red Cross’ TEXT2HELP program to donate from your cellphone here in the U.S.?   For specific Haiti-related donations, you can text HAITI to the number 90999 and it will donate $10 to the Red Cross to help with earthquake relief efforts.


Update: There’s many other organizations to help with Haiti disaster assistance, and other charitable efforts of course. Here’s a few more links to share:
The International Committee of the Red Cross
International Medical Corps
Catholic Relief Services
Save the Children
Direct Relief International
World Food Programme
World Vision
International Relief Teams
Yéle Haiti
Operation USA
CARE
World Concern
UNICEF USA
Mercy Corps
Operation Blessing International
Shelterbox
Americares
Operation USA
Doctors Without Borders
Medical Teams International
The Salvation Army
American Red Cross


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