Life in the Country

June 5th, 2007

Everything is growing!  Including the grass, which I need to cut this week.  We’re keeping busy outside and in, with guests coming next week.  Between graduate school, chores, and landscape care we have a full plate.  But being outside helps balance one’s life indoors.  I think it’s essential to find that balance, wherever one lives.  Life in the country is full and wholesome… the young boy loves to run and play, and doesn’t mind getting dirty.  He finds joy in the simplest things and it reminds me to appreciate them as well.  I really like the Nike expression… “Just Do It!”  That seems to fit here… we make lists and have priorities like anyone else, but I can always think of something that needs done, and one thing leads to another…

Here’s another picture of our “Burt Dow” boat.  The petunias are growing nicely, with a canopy of oak leaves above for dappled sunlight. 

The œBurt Dow boat is blooming with petunias

The dragonflies are abundant now, and cruise along the pond looking for insects.  The Barn Swallows and Flycatchers also cruise along the pond… and sometimes catch the dragonflies!

A dragonfly perched on grass

I don’t know how many different species I’ve seen, but probably more than 10-15!

A beautiful dragonfly

The Concord grapes are doing very well this year.  When the vines grow I keep wrapping them around the arbor.  If there are enough grapes at the end of summer I would like to try making wine!

Concord grapes in late spring

The Yarrow plants have beautiful full heads of yellow.  I did some research and found that Yarrow was used as a plant to help stop bleeding, hence the name’s of NoseBleed and Soldier’s Woundwort. Many other medicinal uses as well… but maybe we’ll just cut and dry them!

Yellow flower heads of Yarrow in spring

The Basset Hound looks back at us for a picture before running home across the pond’s dam.  He’s a good old dog- about 9 years old now.  He’s incredibly healthy and trim, and enjoys wandering around exploring the outdoors.  What a life he leads!

The Basset Hound pauses for a look at the camera before running home


Our Burt Dow Boat

April 30th, 2007

It was hot today with the temperature exceeding 91 degrees F with blue skies.  It really felt like summer already, but I know that’s part of seasons of change.  The trees are leafing out vigorously, and the insects have arrived with abandon.  It was a day for planting container flowers around the house as well. 

I found a use for an old dingy our family has had for many years.  I think my father obtained the little boat from a neighboring family in the early 1970’s.  We never really used it for much, but I remember one time in the late 1970’s when a friend and I carried the boat several blocks to a local pond.  We floated around very proud of ourselves, and then carried it back.  It was fairly heavy for two teenagers, and we never did that again.  The dingy saw a little use on the pond here as well, but for many years has stood leaning in and out of the barn.  The wood has rotted and the little boat is falling apart. 

The little dingy filled with flowers sparse yet, but by summer there will be many blooms!

But the other day I remembered one of my favorite stories of my youth… “Burt Dow, Deepwater Man”.  The story was written by award-winning children’s author Robert McCloskey in 1963.  I loved the book so much that I even found an original copy on eBay a few years ago.  Burt Dow is a retired fisherman who lives with his sister.  The story is a charming narrative of going fishing and encountering whales at sea.  But outside their home, there is an old boat filled with flowers.  I always remembered that boat… so today we filled our own “Burt Dow Boat” with colorful petunias… they are small yet, but in a few months I imagine many colorful blooms cascading down the sides of the good old dingy.

The young one was excited to find new tadpoles that have emerged in the pond.  We set up a small tank in his room with a few tadpoles to watch them grow.  I don’t know the species of frog they will become, but we’ll watch them.  Many of them will become food for the fish and other creatures in the pond, but enough will survive to grow into adult frogs.

Tadpoles emerging in Spring


I couldn’t resist a picture of this beautiful Iris… they just bloomed today.

Iris blooming in Spring

Extra Help with the Tractor

April 20th, 2007

I have been getting a lot of work done lately… thanks to the weather cooperating and a helping hand with the tractor.  That machine is helping so much that I’m starting to understand what an even bigger one might accomplish!  But I’d be hesitant to run anything around our slopes that was much bigger.  I’ve been filling the loader bucket multiple times to remove the logs and debris… it’s amazing.  It seems like the more I get done, the more I see that I need to do…

I cut this tree down last fall, it was a mostly dead Oak tree.  I used the chainsaw to cut 16 inch lengths, but didn’t cut all the way through until I could roll it over.  Finally with the new tractor and loader, I flipped it right over.  Probably weighs more than 2000 pounds, but using the loader on the lighter end worked fine.  Now back to the chainsaw again!

Oak log rolled over with tractor

The tractor’s loader is terrific for filling up with logs and carrying to the wood pile.  Still have to put them in there, but it’s nice to have the help to manuever around.  Some of the wood is older and rotted- and I dump that far in the woods.  Driving around the slopes can be tricky- this tractor is about the right size for getting around.  The wheels are filled with fluid and weighted on the rims for extra stability.

The loader bucket filled with wood

The loader is rated at over 1100 pounds lifting capacity.  This log is probably 200-300 pounds… Finally able to move it somewhere else!

Heavy log in the loader bucket

Labrador Puppy Training!

January 9th, 2007

The Beau of Fox Haven (my psuedonym!) is the most recent member of the family- a beautiful Yellow Labrador Retriever.  He is now 14 weeks, and doing wonderfully.  One of my many dreams since childhood, many realized, some forgotten- was to have a Lab as a companion.  More specifically that dream included training the pup as a working retriever, including duck hunting. 

I have found the training to be as challenging as anything I have ever done, both in terms of time and the patience and discipline to be consistent.  I have tremendous respect for those who have the skill and motivation to be successful with training animals.  So much have we learned together during this process, and I must admit the pup is learning despite my shortcomings! 

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What a gift to have such a wonderful animal be a part of our lives. His temperament is tremendous, and his energy is boundless as most other Labrador owners will attest.  It is hard to say how his training will evolve, and to what end. I suspect any limitations in his achievements will reflect the limitations of my own ability to work with him, and to that end we are starting a puppy class next week.  He shows tremendous promise, so perhaps we will also join a local retriever club and see what the future holds!


January 3rd, 2007

 An interesting topic in that I spend a great deal of time reflecting on the nature of things… and often reflecting on the reflections in the pond!  So perhaps this category is titled “Reflections” not only for the beauty we see each day, but also for the meaning it presents in our lives… reflections of who we are, how we came to be in this ‘place’, and where we are headed on this grand adventure.

At Fox Haven it is winter yet, and for these months I have the opportunity to continue learning… but the daylight now lengthens, both too quickly as we enjoy the respite, and later- not quickly enough as we yearn for spring and warmth to touch the earth with the tools and engines of our human labor.  I see less sleep in my future… :)  Here are some Reflections from yesterday…

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