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The Pond and More Wildflowers

April 26th, 2007

More rain today, but it gave me a chance to catch up inside.  I did explore a little outdoors between showers… I can’t hardly stay inside during Spring.  The pond has a greenish coloration now- it’s a healthy mild bloom of phytoplankton, or microscopic algae that grow with the increased sunlight and warming temperatures.  The phytoplankton are important to the pond’s ecosystem not only for producing oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide, but also as part of the food chain.  Everything eats something else, and to maintain a healthy fish population it must begin with the smallest living things.  Sometimes the pond will develop a bloom of filamentous algae- the green stringy algae.  Filamentous algae is not desirable and can be difficult to eradicate.  If there are too many nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous entering the pond from drainage or runoff of fertilized fields, then filamentous algae may bloom excessively.  So far this year there is very little of the filamentous algae which is great.  But it probably will come in a month or so- we’ll just have to see how much we get this year.  I stocked both Grass Carp and Koi last year in an effort to help control pond vegetation.

The pod in Spring

I found another species of violet- this one is Viola pedata, or Birdfoot Violet.  The flower is slightly wilted already, but it’s neat to see the slender leaves of this species.

Birdfoot Violet on a rocky slope

I tried to identify this species but was unable so far.  It is about dime sized, with red stems- an interesting flower. It’s the only one I’ve seen of this species so far.

An unknown Missouri wildflower

Spring Freeze and Stubborn Geese

April 7th, 2007

It was very cold last night- we awoke to 20 degrees F.  The wind has been blowing gently so there has not been any frost, but with the deep freeze at this time of year I wonder how many plants and trees will be “nipped” this year.  Many are worried about the peach and apple crops as well as wild fruits and flowers.  Time will tell, and we have another night of very cold weather to go through.  Next week should warm us up however. 

Along with the freezing weather, we have a pair of geese staying on the pond now.  This is the same pair that comes every year… I tried earnestly to prevent them from setting up a “home” but while I was in Europe they took advantage of the quiet and the absence of the “guy who always ran them off” prior to that week.   So now they are nesting and I saw three eggs a couple days ago. I could use noisemakers and such to discourage their presence, but once they are on the nest, it’s extremely hard to get them to leave.  So now we have “goose poop” around the pond… !    We’ll see how it goes- last year some animal like a racoon or possum got into the eggs and the geese left… that may happen again.  They are beautiful to watch, but simply can be a nuisance at times.  We may not be doing any pond swimming this year… 

Here’s a picture looking across the pond- you can see the female goose sitting low on the nest by the tree.

Canada Goose nesting near the pond

The light of early Spring is neat to see in the evening.  The leaves of the trees are just emerging.

Leaves emerging in Spring glow in the evening light

Changes in Spring

April 5th, 2007

It’s amazing how much change takes place in such short time during the Spring season.  The grass, shrubs and trees grow so quickly one can hardly keep up.  The flowers of many plants have begun to bloom- which may or may not be a good thing right now.  Our weather turned colder yesterday… the nights will be colder still and the blossoms and flowers may not make it.  The small apple trees flowered and are very fragrant… we enjoyed them briefly yesterday because they will become nipped by the freeze.  And I spent most of yesterday “chipping” countless branches of trees.  In some ways it’s an eternal battle with the forest encroaching on the grassy areas.  The trees overhang the grass and push outwards… so I trim them back, and cut out many limbs that hang towards the ground.  It looks nicer when trimmed, but takes many hours of chipping up with the tractor’s PTO-driven wood chipper.    For now we enjoy the early Spring. 

This picture shows the many flowers of an Oak tree with the catkins hanging down- it’s either a White Oak or Red Oak… I need to get a closer look at the leaves to really determine which one.  It will be interesting to see how the acorn crop turns out this year with the freezing weather!

Flowering catkins from an Oak tree in spring

The Redbud trees and Crabapple show their full colors at sunrise… I like how the sun shines on the top of the Redbud and Oak trees.  The Redbud trees show the lighter pink-red flowers, while the small Crabapple at right has the deeper red flower color. The small white flowers above the Juniper in the foreground are from several Viburnum bushes.

Redbud and Crabapple trees

 

After the rain

March 23rd, 2007

Another rainy day, but the sun finally broke through at sunset.  The ground is so saturated you can hear the water bubbling through the grass.  Squish… squish… everywhere you go.  Wanted to do some work outside, but I would just put big ruts in the ground with the tractor and mower.  So it has been inside time, and general clean-up.  The birds are really getting ready for nesting, and some trees and shrubs have begun to flower.  Spring sure moves quickly when it comes… one minute it seems cold and quiet, and then with the rain the world comes alive again.  Even the weeds have asserted themselves already!  I should be traveling next week, so I’m not sure how much posting I can do.  But here’s the sunset tonight, or at least the reflection among the clouds.  Each day has so much to offer.

Spring sunset in Missouri after a rainy day

Welcome Spring!

March 21st, 2007

I almost forgot that yesterday was the first day of Spring.  I usually think of March 21st… but technically the Vernal Equinox took place on March 20th this year… the day that the sun is positioned above the equator, with almost equal day and night around the world.  We’ve been busy cleaning up outside, and preparing the plants and beds for the growing season.  Too much to write about, but we still enjoy the early sunrise as well as getting outside more to play.  Last week we planted two young apple trees, and this week two more.  I’ll write more on them as they leaf out this year… hopefully someday we’ll have home-grown apples!   There is much to do…

The Young One helped out by digging his own hole for HIS apple tree!  He needed a break and asked if he could borrow my hat.

 Taking a break after digging a hole for an apple tree

 

The morning sun is now further to the northeast… bringing light to the sky and fields.

 Spring sunrise at Fox Haven

The forest begins to awake with the morning sun… the birds are singing and a new day has begun.

Sunrise on the forest

Harmony of the Seasons

March 18th, 2007

Yesterday we had a brief interlude of snow in mid-March.  Missouri has snow as late as April some years, with brief freezing periods.  Yet they are brief indeed, as the daytime temperatures warm the trees and plants with the coming of Spring.  By the end of this week the weather will be warm with temperatures around 70 degrees F.   The leaves are beginning to emerge from buds and the grass is becoming greener.  But yesterday was nice… the snow lasted just a few hours and gave a brief remembrance to the recent winter.  

March snow reminds us of the winter past

Perhaps it allows a letting go of that cold season as we begin another, and life emerges all around us.

Snowy Daffodils in March

  There is beauty in every day, and sometimes it’s nice to see a tangible reminder of what was, and will be.  The daffodils with garlands of snow bring the harmony of the seasons together.

The Frogs of Spring

February 28th, 2007

Few things herald the coming of Spring for me as the emergence of Cricket Frogs, Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers.  Either late February or early March, and before you realize it, the trleet, trleet, trleet… of the frogs are heard. For me the sounds bring memories of my youth, and exploring the forests and waters in Spring with friends.  Tonight, we heard the first frogs of the season calling… it sounded like Spring Peepers… they live together, along with many other species.  We actually found a small frog today at the pond’s edge, a Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, Acris crepitans blanchardi.   This small frog, less than an inch in size, is found at the waters edge and doesn’t breed or call until later in spring with a kick, or gick, gick call, sounding like pebbles clicking together. It’s a member of the tree frog family, but lives on the ground.  It was fun to see watch… but how they make it through winter and know just when to emerge is amazing.  We’ll have freezing nights this week, and more before the warm weather stays, but the frogs will be fine.  Their blood has properties like anti-freeze fluid, and they simply warm up and get moving again.  The evenings in the coming months will be shared with the music of frogs…

Blanchard™s Cricket Frog- Missouri- 2007

 

We watched as the moon grew brighter at dusk… you can see the Man in the Moon!  It’s “waxing gibbous” on its way to being a Full Moon in a few days. 

Moon Waxing Gibbous

Spring Cometh…

February 16th, 2007

Or at least that’s what I tell myself… :)  Woke up to 2 degrees F this morning.  Brrr!  The sun is out now at 20 degrees F, so it’s warming up.  But it’s the middle of February, and there are slight changes to be seen.  The Daffodils are peeking up almost two inches, the buds on trees are thickening and I’ve seen solitary Starlings and Sparrows around the house- which tells me they are leaving the flocks and seeking homes.  The birds are thinking of nesting… just pondering perhaps.  We bought seed packets this past weekend-  hard to believe, but if we want to put started plants in the ground by mid-April, we need to start them in containers in a couple weeks.  I’m looking forward to the warmer weather more each day, and then I say “But wait! It’s not time yet! I’m not ready!”  There are trees to prune, fallen branches to pick up, batteries to charge, the barn to clean, the garden and grounds to clean…Oh- just remembered I want to plant grass seed and cut the willows near the dam…  it all begins.  So as soon as this cold snap finishes, it’s time to head outside! I know the pup is waiting patiently…

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