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This post is a little different in that I just downloaded my 971 pictures from my big camera and want to share some of my favorites.  I have a new painting (see it in the Instagram sidebar?  Isn’t she fabulous?) and needed a photo of it – a good photo of it – to make prints with.  That’s what led to my downloading, which is when I realized it had been too long since I did that.

I get a lot of bird pictures here.  They’re close on the water, and relatively unconcerned about me.  This is a Common Merganser female.  I love their red heads.

merganser

I consider this “MY” Great Blue Heron.  We live in its territory.  I didn’t see it much the past 4 or 5 weeks, but in the past few days it finally showed up again.  I was concerned something had happened to it.  They are such striking birds.

gbh

From our snow day, early January, Scaup in the snow.

snow scaup

From New Year’s Day, during the very Golden Hour, at the aptly named Sunset Beach.

sunset peeps

I think I need to paint it.  If nothing else, I need to print it and display it at my home.

We have otters here.  Recently I got a couple shots as they left the water.

otter out web otter out web2

This Scaup was sitting at the end of our jetty.  I didn’t realize he was looking at me until I pulled in closer on the picture.  Those eyes!

scaup

I watched this deer walking along the road across the slough from us, waiting for it to frame between these trees.  It most obligingly stopped there and remained there for a full minute at least.

deer

On New Year’s Day, Kimberly and I drove down that road birdwatching.  This guy watched us for a bit.

flicker

When I first started bird watching, Northern Flickers were divided into two species, the Red-Shafted Flicker and the Yellow-Shafted Flicker.  The shaft part of the name refers to the shafts of their feathers.  When they fly, especially when hit with bright sun, the undersides of their wings glow with the color of the feather shafts.  It’s quite striking.  I once found a yellow-shafted feather in Michigan.  We weren’t able to tell what color this one was.

I went birding last weekend for the Great Backyard Bird Count, spending a full hour and a half to drive the three or so miles of Brooks Slough Road (the one across the slough).  The Red-Wing Blackbirds are back around here.  They were quite unconcerned by my car, so I was able to get some close pictures.

rwbb

Lately, a flock of 18 or so Canada Geese has been hanging out in my “backyard” (the part of the slough in back of the house).  They like low tide, and they wade around eating the river grass that grows underwater.

geese

I caught this picture of one landing.  After he landed, he started hissing and chasing other geese, probably males.  He had quite an attitude.

goose landing

Last week I decided a beach trip was in order, for science, you know? and took these pictures around Cannon Beach.

ocean mit peeps

The lighting was just fabulous.

ocean

This is part of the flock of approximately 2,000 Dunlin I saw.  It was pretty amazing.

peeps

I’ve been busy this past week painting a lot.  It seems I can suddenly paint the way I’ve always wanted to, and that is very exciting to me.  Today I didn’t really feel like painting.  I tried avoiding it, but finally took myself out to the studio and just started, telling myself to just block in some color.  Before I knew it, a few hours had slipped by and I was nearly done with the next in my series of Guadalupe animals.  Tomorrow I will finish detailing her.  David gave me an idea for another, bringing my series to six.  I have three painted, five sketched up.  It’s a lot of fun.

 

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levitating tucker

 

The day before we left out last time, we took the dogs for a walk.  I caught this picture of Tucker levitating and Phoebe being kinda dorky.

montana blog

We started off heading to Idaho.  This is Montana.  It was very lovely there.  I miss mountains.

When I’m not driving during daylight hours, I often sit in the jump seat with my camera at hand.  I’m getting pretty good at capturing things quickly.  My camera is very responsive.

horse blog

 

I almost didn’t see the horse at first.  He just blended into the scenery.  Then when I saw the picture, I was very pleased.

prongs blog

 

This, too, was taken from a moving truck.  I barely saw the pronghorns – just lifted the camera and snapped.  This one made me very happy indeed.

I also saw these deer:

deer blog

 

After we delivered in Moscow, we headed to Washington.  I hadn’t been through Eastern Washington but once or twice before.  I drove much of it, as well as Snoqualamie Pass for the first time.  (spell check gives me “squalidness” for Snoqualamie…)

e wash blog

 

I like the swirls on the hill.  There were lots of tumbleweeds out there while we were driving.

We picked up a load in Tacoma, then headed south to give it to another driver.  Since we were so close, we stopped in Ripon and my mom came and picked me up so we got a bit of a visit in.  Just before we got there, we stopped at a rest stop north of Sacramento and I saw this Red-Tailed Hawk sitting on an irrigation bank.  I had my telephoto lens, so was able to capture him when he flew off.

rt hawk blog

 

I followed his flight and got a couple nice pictures.  

Just outside of Ripon, I snapped this picture, thinking it a murmuration of starlings.  I couldn’t find a group name for Red-Wing Blackbirds.

birds for blog

 

Make it bigger-it’s cool!  I’m thinking of getting a large print of it.  You can see the red wing patches on the males.  Again, taken from a moving truck!

After going back to Tacoma for our load, we headed out to the Midwest, then to South Carolina.  We had a few days layover, which was a nice rest.  It was 70 degrees there, and there was birdsong.  Spring is coming, just not here yet.

truck blog

 

After South Carolina was some Michigan time.  We got by the house to find a power outage had turned off the heat, so it was good to get things back on.  Poor Hobie was cold.  I stuffed him in my coat and that calmed him down.   Knowing we were heading for Arizona made the zero degree temps more bearable…but only just.

On the way to Arizona, Tucker got skunked in Missouri.  Thank goodness our noses tune out scents after a bit, because he continued to smell a bit skunky for awhile.  Fortunately it wasn’t a full-on skunking.  I keep telling him to leave kitties alone.  It doesn’t work.

In Arizona, I saw this cloud that looks like an elephant:

cloudwatching

 

I also got a new bird – the Gila Woodpecker.  I had seen one earlier in the day, but couldn’t get a positive ID.  We spent the night in the hotel and I saw it there as well.  Bonus for identification was when it called out.  I whipped out my phone with my handy birding app and made the positive ID.

gila wpblog

 

Looks like a cross between a Flicker and a Ladderback Woodpecker, doesn’t it?  It has a loud churr call.  I love my iBird app.

I also saw these ravens, who were grouping together and playing.

ravens blog

horses blog

 

Also in Arizona.  There had been some serious rains the few days before we got there.  I’d never seen so much standing water in the desert before!  There were clouds after that, but no rain.  Makes for interesting pictures, however.

From Arizona to California.  I finally saw the Hollywood sign!

hollywood blog

 

David, bless him, did the driving in LA traffic.  From LA, we headed north, over the Grapevine.  We came down the other side just at dusk.  I love seeing where hills fall into the flatlands, and I love the tone of light in the Central Valley of California at sunset.  I got both in one picture.

valley eve blog

 

Ever north.  I got to see my beloved Bellingham and Skagit Valley.  The swans are still visiting there:

swans blogs

 

Another place where the hills march down to flats.  I hadn’t been to Bellingham since 2006.  It surely pulled at my heart.  We were just passing through on the way to British Columbia.   Then it was back down to Tacoma and homeward bound.  At this point we’ve been out four weeks.

happy phoebe blog

 

Phoebe loves her some snow.  However, we arrived home to find a broken water pipe and an inch of standing water in the house.  We pulled up all the flooring – laminate wood floors and carpet – so we wouldn’t have to deal with mold later.  Now we’re trying to decide what to do about the floors, which are concrete slab, and quite cold right now!

o rly

 

Can’t have Phoebe without Tucker.  🙂  He just came in damp from outside, and sadly, he still has a hint of skunk.

 

 

August 26 – Drove up to Traverse City today to go sailing.  I also had library materials to return.  The “no puppets” sign made me laugh.

 

Back in December I had bought specially priced tickets to sail on the Nauti-Cat, a 40-foot catamaran.  We ended up on the Happy Hour cruise along with a couple birthday groups.  We met some interesting people and had some fun conversations.  I discovered I do not like IPA beers (so David got two).  They had a special concoction called “Cat Nip” that glowed a particularly pretty green, but when they poured it David could smell pineapple juice and well, I’m allergic to pineapple.  Alas, had to settle for rum n coke.  I generally pour one finger of rum.  He poured three.  I got a little giggly.

 

We want to go on this boat next time.  It just looks cool.

 

August 27 – That dark spot on Sadie’s muzzle is where the coyote bit her last week.  I mentioned that the dogs had chased off the coyote.  I heard chicken consternation and the dogs flipped out.  So I opened the door for them and followed them out to the front yard.  They were running back and forth in front of the fence, barking crazily.  Because the coyote was sitting there taunting them!  It saw me and decided it should scoot and it ambled off in a slow lope.  I opened the gate and said “GO!” to the dogs, figuring they would just chase it off.  I forgot how very fast Sadie can run.  The way we figure it happened is that Sadie caught up and rolled the coyote.  It came up fighting, got a couple bites in (muzzle, eyebrow, paw) then Phoebe caught up so the coyote ran off.  I called them back and they came back.  The coyote came back the next day and the next.  This is why we have fence.   Sadie is up-to-date on her shots, so I’m not too worried.  I won’t be setting them off after any more coyotes, though.

August 28 – My caterpillar spun itself a cocoon!  I will put it in the garage during the winter – these guys take much longer than a Monarch.  Come spring, I will have a lovely moth.

 

August 29 – I went out at lunch.  My office is just across a parking lot from Lake Cadillac.  There are swings right there, so I had a swing. It was quite relaxing.  I also found a bench and sat down with my sketchbook for awhile.  It was a nice way to spend a lunch hour.

 

Self-portrait on the railroad tracks.  I like how the wind caught my skirt.

This is my welcoming committee when I get home.

 

 

August 30 – A trip to the vet (vaccine boosters) is tiring for the Tucker Dude.  He prefers to sit on my lap, which won’t last much longer as he’ll soon be too big.  But for now I let him because he holds still there.

 

August 31 – I don’t work Fridays.  I did some harvesting of my garden and also went in to the Farmers Market for some tomatoes and more jalapenos.  I had occasion to taste candied jalapenos and can’t wait to make some of my own.  They’re like pepper jelly in taste, but have an extra kick due to the whole jalapeno slices.

 

Tucker’s a crazy energy-filled pup sometimes.  He was racing around and had just skidded to a stop when I caught this picture.  Sometimes he races around chasing chickens, which isn’t so good.  While I would like him to herd chickens, he’s chasing with mouth open trying to grab.  Fortunately, I have Sadie.  Sadie believes protecting the chickens is her job so when Tucker goes haring off after them, Sadie chases him down and rolls him over.  He’s beginning to understand he shouldn’t be doing that.  Sometimes he starts, sees Sadie and just drops to the ground.

 

September 1 – Today I let the turkeys out of their little pen and into the great big world.  They keep together in a little flock.  If one gets separated, I always know because I can hear them calling to each other.

 

Two of the Chocolate turkeys are male.  Seeing this made me laugh.  He looks like such a perfect little male turkey, only tiny.  The little female seems not impressed in the least.  I believe I have a male and female Narragansett.  The little Chocolate boys were displaying at the Reds, so I’m not certain if I have a male Red or not.

 

So here’s something you may not have known about me.  I have not, to the best of my memory, ever had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Since I can remember having sugar sandwiches at a very young age, I think I would remember PBJ.  I didn’t like jelly as a kid – too sweet (which, if you knew the size of my sugar jones, you would laugh at).  However, today at the Farmers Market, I saw Concord Grapes.  I was given a sample and discovered that *that* is grape.  I bought a quart and decided to make some jelly.  I used Pomona Pectin, which allowed me to use very little sugar.  Regular pectin needs sugar to set the jelly.  Pomona uses calcium to make it set, and it comes with a packet of calcium from which you make calcium water.  So to my quart of grapes I added approximately 1/4 cup of honey.  The jelly is a little tart, very grapey, naturally grapey sweet.  I decided it was time to have a PBJ.

 

Fortunately, this is the shirt I was wearing, so the globs of not quite-yet-set jelly that dropped on my blended in.  🙂  I really enjoyed the sandwich and now have something new in my edible repertoire.    I also have 12 delectable ounces of Concord Grape Jelly.  I’m hoping I can get some more grapes, but I’m not sure.

August 5 – The geese continue to be a joy.  They’re very photogenic.  And very large.  Sometimes when they run like this, they get a little air now and rise about 6 inches off the ground.  They don’t seem interested in flying, just in flapping about.

 

August 6 – the day Tucker joined us.  As you can tell by my absence, he has impacted our lives.  Mostly in good ways.  He’s really a very good pup.  I am completely smitten.

 

August 7 – Someone brought this caterpillar into the office just because they knew I would be interested.  I am indeed!  It’s a cecropia moth caterpillar, sometimes called a Robin moth.  Here is a most amazing website showing the life cycle of the moth.  I brought the caterpillar home to see if I can raise it to moth state.  I had never seen such an amazing looking creature in the flesh.

 

August 8 – Geese in the morning light.  Henry is in the back, then Anne and Katherine.  Henry’s neck is thicker.  Katherine’s is longest and her head is thinner.  She’s also the most opposed to the puppy, hence the open mouth, which is hissing.

 

August 9 – Tucker went for his first vet visit.  On the way home he climbed up on my shoulder and rode back there, interested in the world around him.  I didn’t know he was yawning when I took the picture.

 

August 10 – The turkeys are growing!  I didn’t realize quite how much so their heads would touch the top of the pen and the biggest of them were hunched.  Fortunately David built Tucker a very nice pen, which he promptly escaped from.  Since he was home alone with the girls and they didn’t eat him, we decided he could just stay out and the very nice pen would become a turkey pen.

 

Now they have lots and lots of room.  By the time they outgrow this space, they’ll be big enough to be in the yard.

 

The new digs even have a little coop area.  I put up a roost and they are some happy turkeys.  That’s one of the Narragansetts.

 

August 11 – Tucker loves to play with just about anything and, so far, any one.

 

My furry kids.

 

July 29 – We drove down south a bit (an hour or so) to visit a friend of David’s.  I baked this lovely loaf of bread using a no-knead recipe I found in Mother Earth News.  Since then I’ve made another 3 loaves.  David loves it!  We also took a couple of the meaties we had processed last week, some homemade barbecue sauce and some zucchini from the garden.  His friend did the cooking and it was amazingly tasty.  We seriously need to get a grill!

Ted has bird feeders set up, so I was in heaven.  His home overlooks a lake and we brought our kayaks, though they never got taken off Hank.  Instead, we went out on Ted’s pontoon boat (link to picture added for folks, like me, who had never heard of a pontoon boat).  The lake is shaped, he says, like a puzzle piece, and we went into each nook and cranny.  We seriously need a pontoon boat!

We saw this guy out on the lake, along with many turtles.  The interesting thing to me was getting to watch the turtles swim down, as we were up higher on the water.  When we’re in kayaks, they just disappear.  It was a very nice day.

I also had taken along a Barred Rock hen to swap with Ted.  He has around 100 chickens (an ordering glitch by his brother – 15-20 each turned into 50 each of Rhode Island Reds and Black Sex-Links).  He also ended up with a single black-and-white barred chicken – possibly a Rock, but  possibly not.  Now, the thing about chickens is that they can be surprisingly clique-ish.  The red chickens hang out with the red chickens, the buffs with the buffs.  So this poor single black-and-white chicken (Speckles, by name) was consistently getting pecked and beat up to the point where it wouldn’t leave the coop.  One versus 100 is horrible odds.  So we took along an adult Barred Rock hen and I traded for one of the Black Sex-Links.  We waited til dusk to put the hen in, and when we did many of the youngsters (all his chickens were 12 weeks old, mine was 1 1/2 years or so) came running up to check her out.  She ignored them until someone grabbed her tail, then she whirled around, hackles raised.  Then she went back to eating and was left in peace.  I just hope she and Speckles get along and can form a little band of two.

Here’s a picture of the chicken I got, now named Jess.

July 30 – I took this picture of Hobie because I had to take Phoebe to the vet.  Our vet only sees Hobie in February, during his annual exam, vaccine booster.  Every year, he tells me Hobie needs to lose weight.  Every year, I assure him Hobie does, during the summer.  By February he has been Cabin Fever Cat for 3-4 months, with no good exercise outlet.  So, I wanted photographic proof that my cat does indeed slim down during the summer.  Dr. Harrison was convinced.

Phoebe had to go in because she had a small round wound on her back leg that wasn’t healing and had become swollen.  It’s called a Lick Granuloma, quite common.  She’s now on antibiotics for three weeks (ACK!) and has to wear a bandage around her foot to keep her from continuing to lick at it.  A couple times now she’s gotten rid of the bandage and all the healing that had taken place got licked off.  We’re keeping a close eye on her now.

This is the only way I can successfully get a pill into Phoebe.  While she smacks the peanut butter, she usually swallows the pill.  Usually.  Sometimes she still manages to spit it out, necessitating more peanut butter or brute force of sticking it at the back of her tongue and making her swallow.  She HATES pills.

We also have orange bandages.  They cool because they’re stretchy and self-sticking.  And come in many colors.

July 31 – Got this awesome full-wing goose shot just by sitting with them for awhile.  I was also getting them to chase me so I got some other pictures.

c

This one is rather dreamy.   Completely out of focus because I forgot to push the button half-way first, but I love the light and the colors.

August 1 (already???) – Someone brought this lovely Barn Spider to work for us to identify.  Charlotte, in Charlotte’s Web, was a Barn Spider.  I brought her home and released her – the people who brought her in had no interest in returning her to her home.  She’s an orb-weaver spider.  Evidently she was building a very large web.  I haven’t seen her since releasing her.  I was hoping to see a very large web.

August 2 – Trouble is spelled G-O-O-S-E at our house lately.  They go after the dogs.

They started chasing the cat.  Poor Hobie is not happy.

August 3 – Ox-Eye Daisies.  I love having wildflowers at my house.

August 4 – During heat of the day (which has been very hot lately), the geese will hang out under the trees with the chickens.  All the big birds are happy with the new truck, as they like sitting under it as well since it is higher up than Hank.

July 22 – I’ve decided I’m going to write cheerful messages on some of the rocks in the driveway and then put them back where I found them.  So far there’s just this one, but whenever it catches my eye, I do indeed smile.

July 23 – My Australorp hen was broody and I let her sit on some eggs.  One hatched!  I discovered this by noticing that the dogs were far too interested in a chicken and the chicken was fighting back.  When I realized it was Mathilda, I ran over to find her protecting this wee one.  Sadly, he was killed in a stupid barnyard accident yesterday.  His mother was trying to keep some of the meaties away from the food I had tossed to her and she jumped at them.  They jumped backwards into a broom and it fell on the chick.  It would be like a tree falling on us.

There have been other chicken deaths lately.  Rose, JuJuBee and one of the Barred Rocks all went missing.  I found feathers from two of them.  I’ll be glad when we get the rest of the fencing up, although it may have been a hawk.  We also lost Reuben to another silly chicken accident.  It looked like he was being chased and he ran between two saplings and got stuck and died in the struggle to get out.

July 24 – Half the meaties went to freezer camp.  We ended up with an extra – the farmer doing the processing called David and said there was an extra chicken, were we sure we had brought 12?  David didn’t know.  When I picked them up that afternoon, they had given the extra to us.  We just had to pay for the processing.  I pointed out there was an extra and the farmer’s wife gave a big shrug and said “sometimes it happens.”    When I got home, I counted and there were 14 left, so it wasn’t ours.  I’m giving the remaining ones another week to fatten up some more, then they’ll be joining their brothers in the freezer.  I’m keeping two hens (who are lean and active and actually can fly) to be the mothers of the future meaties.  Frances, my one remaining Freedom Ranger will also contribute to the cause.

July 25 – I was on my way home and saw this turtle by the side of a very busy road, trying to get across.  I turned around as soon as I could and went back to move it.  Traffic was solid enough to have kept it from leaving the side of the road (it kept sticking its head out and pulling it back in with every car that zoomed by), but it couldn’t figure out to go back.  So I picked it up (wearing a glove) and moved it about ten feet away from the road, facing into the field.    A Google image search indicates it’s an Eastern Box Turtle.  Now I’m wishing I had brought it home and introduced it to my field.  I think our field would be a good turtle habitat.  Then it would be safe from the road…

July 26 – I have been searching for a fan for awhile now.  Last summer I started having the occasional hot flash and this summer has been worse since the temps have been considerably hotter.  This fan makes me very happy.  It kicks up a good breeze AND it has ducks.    I thought I wanted a folding fan, but they don’t kick up nearly enough air.  I found this at a local vintage shop, The Atomic Closet.

July 27 – I was driving up north to see my friend Marcy and saw this on a side road.  The head is about three feet across.  I couldn’t tell if it was made of fiberglass or steel, but it certainly made me smile.

I was going to pick up this!  Our friend Beverly gave it to me – she was clearing out stuff she wasn’t using and remembered me saying I wanted a serger.  I’m looking forward to giving it a test run.  I wanted a serger so I could make one of these sweater coats (I already have the tutorial!)  I even have an order for one from another friend, once I get the hang of it.

On the way home I saw a rainbow.  At one point I could actually see it touch the ground.  I didn’t go look for the pot of gold because it was in someone’s house.  🙂

July 28 – Even though we’re in a drought situation here, my garden is doing really well.  We had a couple days of rain then warmth and things seemed to go crazy out there.  Still no heads on the cabbage, and I have stupid squash vine borers in my zucchini, but it looks like I will get a lot of tomatoes this year.

Today I harvested three large (though not overly so) zucchini and a couple grape tomatoes.  I’m really looking forward to the black cherry tomatoes.  There are a lot of them on the plant but no color from them yet.  I also have Early Girls, Golden Jubilee (a golden tomato that I thought would be pretty canned) and Romas.  My Swiss Chard is quite harvestable.  There are also some tiny watermelons that have plenty of time to become big melons, so I’m quite happy.

 

This is an onion that has gone to seed.  Perspective is a funny thing.

July 8 – Found myself driving on a two-track in the north woods.  Ended up discovering my alternator was dead when I stopped at a rest stop on the way home and relaxed for a bit while listening to the radio.  When I went to start my truck, it just went click.  I asked a couple people if they had jumper cables but no one did.  Then I was asked if it was a manual or automatic?  I got excited because it is a manual, and I know how to bump start (as David calls it – we always called it pop starting).   The man who asked had to have been in his 50s, and he got his white-haired father to help!  It didn’t take much of a push, as I was on a slight incline anyway.  I was quickly on my way.  However, I was still an hour and a half from home and my gas gauge was getting lower and lower.  When I reached Cadillac, I knew I had to stop for gas.  Normally I would add some gas while idling, since I was rather worried about turning Hank off.  However, my ignition key is my gas key…and when I went to start I got the same dull click.  I tried to pop start it again, as I had chosen a gas station that has an incline in back of it.  I ended up stuck in the dip at the bottom of the incline.  Called for road service and soon was on my way home.  About five miles from home my poor truck started staggering and my speed kept slowing.  At this point I couldn’t stop because my phone had been dead all afternoon (note to self: charge fully before taking road trips!).  As I pulled into my driveway, Hank said he was done and shut down completely.  There was a nasty electrical smell.  David diagnosed alternator over the phone and had me charge the battery overnight so I could get to work.  That worked well and I was able to use my truck the rest of the week.

July 9 – Happy geese upon their release from the mini coop in the morning.  They do this every morning, with full honking as their voices continue to change.   When they run with their wings up, it makes me happy.

July 10 – My butterfly hatched!  Eclosed is the correct term, I learned.  It’s a male monarch – you can tell by the black spots on the lower wings – females do not have those.  I wasn’t expecting him for a few days yet.  After his release I read some more and discovered 10 days is the norm, not the two weeks I was expecting.

 

I always wanted a butterfly to land on my finger!  His colors were very vivid and those polka dots made me smile.  Now I’m wondering if I can find another caterpillar!

July 11 – The baby bunny I wrote of earlier this week.  In looking at my other photo (of the nest itself), I realized there were actually at least three kits in the nest.  I tried finding the nest after a rain, but it is very well camouflaged.  Even though it’s in a space about 10 by 10 feet, I was unable to find it.  I was just a little worried because the rain was quite heavy.

July 12 – I am still amazed by how quickly these geese have grown.  They wander all over the yard looking for grasses.

July 13 – I’m collecting rocks.  I want to lay out a labyrinth to walk out by the Art Chalet and I’m thinking to line the paths in rocks.  It’s going to take a lot of rocks…

July 14 – They are just too pretty to not photograph.  It’s hard to tell them apart now, but I believe the one in front is Henry.  He’s the one that comes closest to me, and he looks stockier and masculine compared to the others.  His neck is a little shorter.  I probably should have banded them when I knew who was who, but I wasn’t sure how big they would get.  Since they grew so fast, it is probably best I didn’t band them.

David fixed my alternator first thing this day and my truck is running much better.  It’s so nice to have a handy man.

Much of the information is on the scan below – this is my nature journal.  Last night the dogs wanted in the garden very very much, so I let them.  Then I hear squeaking and see very-interested-in-something dogs.  I tell Sadie to “leave it” (the best thing her previous owners taught her, I believe) and went to investigate.  Found teeny tiny baby bunny with its eyes still closed.  I put it back in its nest and went to grab my camera.  First thing my mind goes to in most instances.  Strangely, a friend and I had just been discussing where the bunnies live.  I assumed warrens, based on Watership Down but learned that is only “Old World” rabbits.  My Eastern Cottontails live mostly in the open and dig a hole and scrape for the baby nests.  The nest was lined in grasses and fur.  I moved the fur aside to replace the kit and discovered another in the hole.  Then I lock up the garden, go in the house and grab my book so I can write down what I’m about to learn.  Drawing a picture from my photo makes it easier to know what I’m learning about so when I scan through this book later, I know this page is bunnies.  Most important to me was knowing whether or not the mama bunny would go back.  I was relieved to know she would.  The whole idea of a mama abandoning her babies just because we had touched them didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  So, mama will return, babies will live to terrorize my apple trees.  I forbade David to mow the back part of the garden.  I threatened tears if he did anything to the baby bunnies, even knowing they will later be after my trees.  I figure we’ll work that out when the time comes.  Killing baby ones is not how we figure that out.

Earlier in June, Hobie brought in a baby rabbit that was probably twice this size.  Fortunately for me, he is not a kill first kind of cat.  He was carrying the baby bunny by the scruff of its neck.  I made him drop it and that bunny was gone in a blink.  It was out on its own already.

So, that’s how my mind works when I find wee critters or see something in nature that is different to me.  I want pictures.  I want to learn about them (including their Latin name).  I want to document their existence.  So I do.

July 1 – We’ve been having unseasonably hot weather here the past week or two.  Normally we have average temps in the 70s.  This week has been topping out at 95, with heat indexes and heat warnings.  Have to keep the chickens hydrated!  That little brown one there is an Ameraucana/Easter Egger I picked up when I bought some fancy layer pullets.  I chose her because she was sooty grey and black and I thought she’d be pretty.  She is, but she’s certainly no longer sooty colored.  Those EE chicks are funny that way – they look like one thing and turn colors.  Chicks that look nothing alike as chicks will grow to be similarly colored as adults.  It’s a crapshoot.

When I go to take goose pictures, I often get one like this as they come to check out the camera.  Often they will mouth the camera strap and tug on it.

July 2 – Had to go in for a pre-employment physical and drug screen.   This turned out to be a Very Good Thing, as I found my old doctor there (he actually did my physical).  He had left the clinic at which he practiced.  I wasn’t happy with the replacement (though I haven’t met her yet, and now never will because my old doctor will let me establish with him at his new practice!).  So, this made me happy.  I don’t see a doctor often, but I always liked him because he *LISTENS* and lets me talk all the way through.  He lets me have some say in my care and responds to what I say is going on.  I need that in a doctor.  So yay!

Chicken comparison picture.  On the left is Baby Chicken, a fully grown large fowl pullet.  In the middle is one of my fancy egg layer pullets at 6 weeks old. The white is a Cornish Cross meatie cockerel at 6 1/2 weeks.  They grow so fast.  I’m having very good luck with them this year – their feathers are keeping up with their growth spurts for the most part.  Sometimes if they get too much to eat, they outgrow their feathers and run around half naked.  I prefer them feathered.  I do have a couple pullets in the group and plan to keep those to grow my own meaties from.  While the crosses don’t breed true, they still should breed bigger than say just an Orpington, so it will be interesting to see what we get.

July 3 – I found an ice shaver at the Goodwill over the weekend (YAY!) and bought some snow cone syrup.  I was dismayed that they (of course) are made with high fructose corn syrup and lots of chemicals (but they taste soooo good – I love cherry snow cones).   So I googled and found a recipe for homemade syrups.  1 1/2 cups of sugar plus 1 1/2 cups of water, brought to a boil and boiled for a minute, then add two envelopes of kool-aid in your favorite flavor.  So far lemon-lime is winning, though the black cherry is very good.  True, there are chemicals and artificial colors and such in kool-aid, but it was less than in the syrup.  And these taste very good.  Next up will be orange and grape, I think.

July 4 – David was gone and Cadillac isn’t having fireworks until July 7, so it was a quiet day and less quiet night at home.  Henry went after Sadie, and I caught her jumping away.  The dogs keep their eyes on the geese lest they be goosed.  Phoebe can’t get in the pool anymore because the geese have gotten territorial about it.  They also will chase the chickens away from the waterer, so I have to make sure there are a couple options for water in the yard.

July 5 – This strange toad showed up today.  I call him strange because he came in the house and later jumped at me as I was walking past.  Finally I put it in a cool place in the shade.  I hope it stays around.  I like having a toad around.  While I haven’t seen our resident snake, I did find a shed skin today as well, so I know it’s out there too.  I’m glad to have these critters around eating bugs and small creatures.

July 6 – First Farmers Market tomatoes!  Since mine got a late start and are still growing, I picked up a small box of fresh tomatoes because I was craving a BLT.  The BLT represents a huge departure for me from my childhood eating habits.  Before, the bacon was the only thing I would eat.  That lettuce would’ve been too green (I only ate iceburg), the bread too brown (white bread only), mayo was icky and raw tomatoes were a big NO.  Now I can’t think of anything better at this moment in time.  Isn’t that a pretty sandwich?  I was sorta planning to make some bread for it, but it’s too hot still.  I understand the garden fresh tomato thing, and this year I may even be one of those folks who stand in the garden and eat one out of hand…

July 7 – This morning I was getting the kayaks out of the barn AT LAST, and noticed this on the lattice chicken gate.  Wolf spider with many many tiny baby spiders.  I was quite fascinated.

You can see her eye!!

Lots of tiny baby spiders.

And later, while hanging laundry, I found this tiny yellow spider on a clothes pin.  I have taken a picture of such a spider before, but this one appeared to have a face on its back, so I needed a new picture.

What appears to be a fence post is the end of a clothes pin.

So, I got the kayaks out so we could go watch the fireworks from Lake Cadillac.  Yay!  We think they’re the best seats in the house.

I also got a very nice picture of us on Instagram and I think this link will take you there.  I’d download it from my camera, only I don’t have the cord with me.  The water was a little bumpy so my long-exposure fireworks photos all turned out squiggly – colorful but squiggly.  It was a lovely evening and this is now a holiday tradition for us.  Picnic dinner on the lake while watching the fireworks.  This year they had live music (a Bob Segar tribute band) again, but it lasted longer into the evening.  We also got to have dessert with friends because I texted her we were on the lake and she invited us over (Thanks, Candy – that lemonade cake was the bomb!)  I was able to get out of my kayak at a dock, which was an achievement.  David then lifted them straight out of the water, which I don’t think I could’ve done.  It was just a lovely lovely evening and I felt full of love all through it.  The fireworks finale made me happy because at the end there was a round of cheers and applause from everyone on and around the lake.  Good times.

Also, more video bonus reward for reading this far!  The geese getting happy in the kiddie pool.  You can see them here!

Halfway through the year already???  How is that even possible?

June 24 – This year I have day lilies!  The deer have not eaten them just before they open!  They evidently changed their track through our yard and instead browsed all the leaves from my new apple trees.  I finally know that in order to get these apple trees to live through the deer and bunnies, I have to wrap the trunks in tree wrap and the leaf canopy in deer netting until they are three years old…They’re going to look like some strange mutant lollipops.  I’ll show you once I get them done.

June 25 – Personally, I can’t get over how much they grow so quickly.  Even the turkeys didn’t grow this fast.  This is Henry at 5 weeks.  I’ve been trying to get Phoebe in each of these pictures to show the true size.  She’s keeping an eye on him because Henry likes to use that bill of his.

The meaties are out with the other chickens all day.  On hot days they go up under the mini coop and stay in the shade, which is sort of contrary to some people’s experiences with these Cornish-cross chickens.  If they are kept penned up with food, they will stay at the food all day, not even bothering to move to get water, and thus can be lost to heat stroke.  For me, treating them like the other chickens and feeding twice a day keeps them acting like other chickens.  They range around the yard, eating bugs and grasses, run to greet me when it is feeding time, stage mock rooster fights and keep themselves hydrated.  They’re rather fun to watch.  Because I left the front of the barn open with the fence keeping them apart, when I did remove the fence there was no unpleasantness between the regular flock and the meaties.  They do keep to their individual flocks, but when they gather at the water everyone is there together.  They, too, are five weeks old, and nearly as big as the layers already.

I had a job interview today.  Spoiler alert:  I got the job!  I’ll be working for the MSU Extension office, doing secretary stuffs and answering questions about bugs and plants and what-have-you.  If you’ve read my blog at all, you know this is a great fit for me!  I’m really looking forward to starting next week.

June 26 – These three are very inter-dependent.  If one gets out of sight of the others, there’s quite the consternation.  It doesn’t happen often, but usually involves the barn (one goes in to filch chick food) or the gate (one or two figure out how to get out and the other(s) don’t).  Chickens and geese have a lot of trouble with the concept of gates.  Unless they watch someone using said gate, they will pace back and forth in front of the fence trying to get to whatever has caught their interest.  This week it was a chunk of watermelon.  I have to stand in the gate and call them, and even then it can take awhile.  Sometimes I herd them through, just to save the time.

I believe she was actually looking at the grass under the glass, but it surely made for a pretty picture.  One day in the not-to-distant future, that glass will become a greenhouse!  Then I’ll be starting my own plants early and having longer lettuce harvests in spring and fall.  I am so looking forward to that.

June 27 – I finally found a Monarch caterpillar!  I’ve been keeping my eyes open because I have seen the butterflies and the milkweed is going gangbusters right now.  I found this one and brought it in the house.  It’s in a half-pint wide-mouth canning jar, with a square of toilet paper as a lid being held on by a canning band.  I went to this Monarch site to learn how to care for my caterpillar.  It told me that this size (2″ or so) is when they pupate, so I was doubly excited.  I had never seen a Monarch caterpillar, nor a chrysalis.  It’s munching on milkweed leaves.

June 28 – I also have orange day lilies!  Still!

June 29 – This morning my caterpillar was hanging upside down in a “J” shape,  just as the Monarch site said it would.  Two hours later I looked at it and it was already a chrysalis!  It’s not the best photo of it, but it’s there, hanging from the lid!  It’s very shiny and a lovely shade of green.  In two weeks it will be a butterfly!

I bought the geese a larger water dish, thinking this might happen.  They appear to take turns climbing in and bathing as best they can.  The ones on the outside will often submerge their heads while the third is in the pool.  They seem to really enjoy it with the heat we’ve been having this week.  I want to build a small pond for them now.

July 30 – Barring a pond, I pulled out this kiddie pool I bought two summers ago during a heat wave.  As soon as the water was a couple inches deep, Phoebe was in there.   She doesn’t like deeper water, but loves it when it’s  shallow.  When we were in Florida six years ago, she would go wading every morning to get her belly wet, then would retreat to the shade under our bus.  Midday, she’d be back in the water to re-wet herself.  She actually surprised me by jumping right into the pool.

I put Henry in and he seemed to like it a little, but he mainly just stood there.  I put the others in and they pretty much panicked and actually leaped straight up and out.  Didn’t realize they could jump so high.

Edited to add this picture.  Two of the geese now have this pattern balding look to them.  Henry has a smoother head as he’s growing fastest.  This is the smaller girl, and to me it looks like a monk’s tonsure.  They are  just so pretty.

So this morning (Sunday) I went out to feed and water and Phoebe jumped right back in the pool.  The geese seemed interested and were investigating the sides of the pool by working it with their bills (they work everything with their bills…it still doesn’t hurt when they grab my fingers, but it’s close).  After a couple minutes of that, one of the girls walked in (the sides push down very easily) and she plopped down in the water and started grooming.  The other girl joined her and also plopped down.  Their bottoms were waggling and they wiggled their shoulders into the water they way bathing birds will.  Henry stepped in but he remained standing.  The water isn’t quite deep enough to float unless they really kick their legs back and one of the girls figure that out.  She started scooting around the pool and got very excited.  Her excitement transferred to the others and suddenly they all jumped out of the pool and ran around the yard with their wings up, calling loudly to each other.  I just stood there and laughed at them.  Their voices are changing so their little whirring cries often end with a soft honk now.  I’m hoping they figure out the pool and enjoy it.

Still no kayaking yet this summer.  I am disappointed.  Looks like I’m going to have to take myself if I want to get out there.  That said, the fireworks are next weekend (instead of on the 4th itself) and David should be home and he knows how much I enjoyed being out on the water for them last year…  so hopefully next week will have water fireworks pictures.