Late Summer Ramblings

August 25th, 2009

The mornings have been crisp and cool, and autumn is right around the corner.  Just the right temperature for getting work accomplished outdoors… which I keep adding to my list.  “I should really be working on that…”  I muse as I wander around admiring the landscape.  The days are still warm yet and this day lily is the last for the year… a solitary figure among the hundreds having already bloomed in July.


The young boy found this little guy along the driveway.  This is the last milkweed plant we’ve seen around the house, and this lucky monarch larva found it all to itself, perhaps being one of the last around here as well.  Could its luck continue to become a beautiful butterfly that migrates south for winter?


The rich green colors of summer are still with us, and everything feels so much closer and well, cozy perhaps compared to the open landscapes of winter.  Rain came through one afternoon last week, dappling the pond with raindrops, and breaking up the reflections of the trees on the surface of the pond.   The old Burt Dow Boat is still hanging on…  and I like filling it with petunias every year.  Behind it I planted a river birch which will overshadow it one day.    And to the left a small austrian pine grows- hopefully to provide a screen and some protection for the bees behind the picture up the hill.  


Several of the oak trees have died, and the big trunk/log laying in front of the rowboat has been cut up.  The boy and I moved it up the hill behind the barn this past weekend,  round-by-round in a bucket of the tractor.   We missed one… probably more than 100 pounds, and it rolled down the hill making a big Splash! in the pond.  The boy loved that, jumping and clapping, and I still haven’t figured out how I’ll get it out without getting wet.  I may have to give it a name as it floats around the pond…  now where did it go?

A Cool Morning in August

August 12th, 2008

There are few things like coming home.  The familiar, the comfortable, all the sights and sounds and… the work to do!    We’ve been blessed with cool weather this summer, and for being almost mid-August it’s amazing to see the grass and landscape so green.   In years past the grass would be brown and not require cutting by now.   But it’s beautiful in the early morning, especially with the air so cool and refreshing.

I walked down to the pond and enjoyed watching the wisps of fog move gently across the warmer water.   What is it about mornings that I love so much?  The quiet awakening of the day?  The promise of things to come?  I really don’t know, but its always been my favorite time of day.

The pond on a summer morning

Our little apple orchard seems to be doing well, meaning that the trees have received enough water and the deer haven’t chewed them to pieces this summer.  That may change quickly in the fall, but for now I’m spraying deer repellant around the leaves and base of the trees to discourage the deer from browsing.  The next plan is to wrap the trunks and install some fencing to protect the little trees.   We even have a few apples developing still, the first for a small apple tree planted two years ago.  I’m not sure who will get to eat this apple first, us or the deer… but it looks pretty good!

Home grown apple

For now it’s time to catch up on chores (and writing and reading too).  It was interesting to be without internet access for much of our trip the past two weeks.  Sure I missed the convenience and instant information available, yet it brought back awareness of simpler times and was kind of nice to just “be” if that makes any sense.  More to ponder, but while I do the garden is still producing a bunch of tomatoes and cucumbers, and even a few beans.  It’s about time to put up some pickles again too!

Too Much Rain

April 1st, 2008

An incredible day of rain yesterday. We’ve never seen the pond as high as it was, or the amount of runoff coming from the upper pastures.  There’s little anyone can do when you receive 2-3 inches of rain in as many hours.   The pond is now totally brown colored due to the runoff.  It filled up at least 2 feet higher, over the banks.

On a whim, I took the young boy out for a walk in the downpour to show him all the water.  Of course my amazement was not the same as his… he was amazed at the miniature rivers of water everwhere, and the large puddles to splash in.  He smiled and shouted with delight at the water, and said he had never been so wet before.  Fortunately it was 65 degrees, and warm enough to enjoy.   He stood by the spillway, with water flowing through pipes, and gently over the top of the grass.

The Pond is full!

The spillway let the water flow down through the woods.  All the creeks were filled and roaring with water. 

Water flowing down the spillway

The news tonight stated that this is the most rainfall we have had during March and the first three months of the year since 1897.   Will the summer still be too dry and near drought like the past two years?  The contrasts are amazing.  I’m ready for a little warmer (and less wet!) weather.  It’s time to get ready for planting, and a little more work outdoors.   But the weather patterns go all across the nation- the Cardinals, Yankees and Toronto BlueJays openers have been rained out.  It’s time for a change.

… Smile when you’re spinning round and round
Sigh as you think about tomorrow
Make a vow that your gonna be happy again

It’s all right in your life, no more rain…

                                                      Paul McCartney, Too Much Rain

At the end of the day the sun glowed brightly under the clouds, still with storms all around.  The landscape was cast in a beautiful yellow glow.

Sunset after rainstorm

Water, Water Everywhere

March 19th, 2008

We’ve had so much rain the past few days that many areas have flooded already.  I started wondering where Noah was building the ark yesterday…  Some of the smaller towns have evacuated people temporarily, and the larger rivers may not crest yet for a few days. Let’s hope the water doesn’t rise too fast. We received over 3-4 inches of rain this week at Fox Haven, so everything is very soggy and muddy. At least the water table will be strong going into the summer this year.

We do sit up fairly high, although a large watershed drains into the pond.  We’ve never seen water crest the dam, and I hope I never do.  But it was within a foot or two yesterday, and the water rushed out the spillway to the side of the dam and down through the woods.  Today it’s all colored brown and muddy.

Here’s a picture of our “rain gauge stump” under the water for half the day yesterday.  Today it’s finally back a few inches above again as the water drains.

Pond stump under water after heavy rain

Compare the picture above to this one of the same stump!  This is our “Old Man in the Stump” and in August last year he was quite dry. Hopefully we’ll have a little more rain through the summer this year.

Old Man in the Stump in August

But not everyone minds the rain and high water.  These wood ducks enjoyed playing all around the shoreline, but kept a wary eye out too!

Wood Ducks on Fox Haven Pond

Bluestem Around the Pond

February 24th, 2008

I’ve taken pictures of Bluestem before, but I really appreciate the color against the snow.  In the past I’ve cut the grass around the pond in late summer to keep it trimmed looking.  This year, I cut more carefully and allowed the Little Bluestem to really grow.  Turned out to offer beautiful color to the landscape as well as erosion prevention.  I don’t know how agressive Bluestem grass is, but it seems to grow very well here.  If it helps stablize the pond bank then that is another plus.  Somehow I just enjoy it’s natural look.

Little Bluestem grass growing around the edge of the pond

We’ve enjoyed some new snow this morning, but the temperatures are rising fast.  Time to clean up some woody debris around the property, but everything is by hand.  It’s just too wet and muddy to drive any kind of equipment around the landscape.  We’re about 2.5 inches ahead of our average rainfall by this time of year.  That’s good, and maybe it will keep us ahead of the dry weather going into summer!

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Winter’s Journey

February 17th, 2008

A lot more rain last night, but we slept through most of it. Awoke to a balmy 50 degrees F, but the temperature is dropping fast. Maybe even snow tonight or tomorrow. We’ve certainly had a lot of moisture so far this year. I hope the summer is not quite as dry as the past few years, but at least the pond will have a good start. It’s full to the brim and we haven’t even had our spring rains yet. Only a couple more weeks and the little critters should be coming out. Cricket frogs and Spring Peepers! I love their calls in early spring and look forward to the end of winter’s journey this year.

It was interesting to see the ice thawing on the pond this morning, but also where the rain washed silt into the pond. Can you see the bands of silt under the ice?

Pond ice and silt

We went to our son’s Blue and Gold Banquet last night for Cub Scouts. It was very nice, with a lot of symbology. The young scouts received awards and pins as recognition for their effort and dedication. There was a lot of parental involvement such as lighting candles to symbolize positive steps through life’s journey. You could see how proud the kids were, and it was very touching to speak from the heart about helping shape a child’s life in a postive way. This week I found one of my old neckerchief “slides” that I used over 30 years ago, and our young boy was able to wear it as he received his Tiger Badge.

Cub Scout Tiger Badge

Ponds and Rivers

February 9th, 2008

The rain has certainly filled the pond.  Here’s the stump I like to watch during the year- it’s about 3-4 feet tall and was standing on a dry shelf of grass over summer and fall.   I don’t know how long it will last, but it helps me estimate the depth of the water.  And there’s a few nice Bass that like to hide around it in spring!

Pond stump almost submerged after rain

On the subject of water, we live within a half hour of the Missouri River.  Interesting to consider that Lewis and Clarke paddled and pushed their way up this river with a team of men over 200 years ago.  I’ve been camping and boating on the river… it swirls and rushes along, filled with fallen trees and other wood debris in many places.  When it’s really cold in winter you start to see chunks of ice floating down the river.  I’m not sure if that’s just ice coming from farther north, or if it accumulates because it’s so cold?  I have never seen it totally frozen because the river moves so fast.  But chunks of ice do accumulate on the banks of the river.  The Mississippi River can freeze in places where locks and dams make larger pools and lakes.  But it too generally stays open, which brings many Bald Eagles down from the north to winter here.

Missouri River in winter

Larger Perspectives

September 20th, 2007

     Sometimes when we are at peace or opposition with the world around us it seems like nothing else exists but what we see or experience.  It’s not always easy to find that frame of mind where we can detach ourselves from the moment and leave the world’s cares behind; somehow I think that is a worthy exercise at times.   Even here with the tranquil beauty that the pond and land represents, we hear neighbors in the distance, cars traveling the country road and other noises of human endeavor at times.  But in more peaceful settings like this, it’s easier to feel the rhythm of the natural world, to experience timeless moments and the change of seasons, and maybe even to better understand the immutable nature of the spirit within each of us.  Yet it is, after all, simply a pond… a landscape of water.  We are the one’s who give it meaning, and define our experiences as memorable, joyful, sad or beautiful.  Maybe the pond’s reflective nature echoes that within us, and although it’s simply an element of the landscape, it’s a tangible representation of a larger perspective.  Something we all need at times.

The pond is a tranquil place, and means so much more

Foggy Pond and Chubby Fungi

September 15th, 2007

     Up early this morning as the sun came up… Brrr!  The air was so cool that the warm water of the pond had fog rising from the surface.  I can’t believe it’s almost Fall!  But I do love the crisp, cool days :)

Fog rising from the warm pond on a cool September morning


Speaking of mushrooms, here’s a chubby little fellow…. what the heck is it called!? Funny how when you start to think about something, you begin seeing them everwhere!

A chubby mushroom what kind is it!?

Koi and the Blob

September 10th, 2007

    A productive weekend even with rain.  It’s so nice to have softer soil to work with after the dry summer months.  It was time to plant/transplant a few shrubs, clean up wood debris and cut the grass.  The air is noticeably cooler and the grass is turning green once again.  I wish the days were still longer to get more done, but I really enjoy the afternoon light with the sun lower in the sky.  It makes for shadows and dappled light throughout the property, and relaxing evenings.   I spent some time walking the pond this weekend also.   And lo and behold, I finally saw the little Koi we released a couple weeks ago.  They were meeting the bigger Koi near the dam at the time.  I didn’t get too close, but noted the two little Koi swimming near the side of a larger Koi.  I’m just glad they haven’t been eaten!  Later I came back for a few pictures.

     Here are two of the big Koi, and they are very large, probably 15-20 pounds… that’s a Maple tree leaf floating near the orange one’s mouth!  When I stocked them last year, they were only 10 inches- not even half of their present size.  We don’t feed them, but they are obviously doing just fine.

 Two large Koi in the pond

     And here is a shot of the little Koi we just stocked- it’s only about 7 inches long… can you see the Largemouth Bass to the left?   That’s about a 12 inch Bass.  The Koi was swimming along with the Bass for some reason, but it’s a quick one- when it saw me on the bank it darted off in a hurry.  It will be a beautiful Koi when it grows up.

 Small Koi swimming along with Largemouth Bass

I came across this “blob” near the shoreline the other day.  In the Spring I would think it was a mass of frog eggs, but after careful inspection it’s a mass of Bryozoans.  They are a gelatinous group of tiny colonial organisms, sometimes called Moss Animals.  Most species of Bryozoa live in the ocean with harder structures much like coral, but there are a few that live in freshwater lakes, pond and rivers and are more gelatinous.  They are supposed to be a positive indicator of good water quality,  because they feed by filtering microscopic protozoa and algae from the water.  But that’s mostly in terms of  water quality affected by mud or silt perhaps.  I read that some of these Bryozoan masses can move on their own by the swimming action of the tiny colonial organisms! 

Bryozoans in the pond

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