Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September Flowers

Without water, the roses have mostly quit blooming. The only one in bloom today, when I took these photos, was the climber New Dawn.

In the rose bed, the asters have taken over...

And Naked Ladies are now blooming...

The path to the shop is lined with Autumn Joy Sedum...

Countering all the pinkness of our fall flowers are the nasturtiums in the wagon bed...

With one blooming lily...

But the real jewels of fall are the dahlias...

 Thank goodness for dahlias. The vegetable garden gets all the water during this long summer drought. Maybe when the rains return, the roses will start blooming again.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Sunday Walk

The weather has cooled, a little rain has fallen, and I am tired of canning/freezing/making cheese. So I decided to walk around our property the first Sunday of every month that weather allows. Today was that day. My hope for these Sunday strolls is to photograph the birds still unphotographed in my Birds of the Farm blog.

I was very excited to see this bird way up on top of a tree. I did not know what it was so took photos bringing it closer.  It is the dot on the right side of the tree, a bit below the top of the tree.

 Here it is closer. Very strange...

And here it is close up. It sort of looks like a miniature headless Barn Owl.

On closer inspection, it is one of the very common Not-A-Birds that I routinely find. This one is the backside of a dead leaf.

Onward I went looking for actual birds... and I found some... robins. Lots of them. I have photographs of robins but not of a juvenile. So I was happy to get this one, with his spotted chest.

Soon after this I thought I heard something in the brush behind me. My heart sped up as I stopped and turned to look for it. I could see nothing so went on... looking up in the trees for birds. I heard the brush creature again! Eventually I figured out that when I lifted my head, my hat scraped against my shirt, making the scary creature sound.

The next creature was me. My shadow looked ominous. For a skinny person, I sure look like I have big legs from this angle. (I am easily distracted while hiking through the forest.)

The next distraction was the huge maple at the edge of the horse pasture. I love that tree.

And then, of course, were the horses. Black Nightingale in the foreground shadow, palomino Jessie Anne in the background. Mr. Smith was not in view right then.

And on I went...

Down by the creek, this Chickaree (Douglas Squirrel) kept a watchful eye on me from his perch on a stump.

Back up by the barn was a Brush Rabbit, paying me no mind.

And so my farm "birding" hike for this month ended with just 14 species of birds: Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Steller's Jay, Scrub Jay (now California Jay, I think), Rufous-sided (Spotted) Towhee, Song Sparrow, Swainson's Thrush, American Robin, California Quail, Black-capped Chickadee, Mourning Dove, Bewick's Wren, Tree/Violet-green Swallow (too high for me to tell which), and Red-shafted (Northern) Flicker. Wait! I forgot the Western Wood Pewee, seen flycatching over the creek. That makes 15. (I could count Barn Owl since I know there are  baby owls in the loft, but I did not climb up to look during my 1 1/2 hour walk.) So 15 birds plus 3 mammals (or 4 including myself)... and one notable Not-A-Bird.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Total Eclipse on the Fink Family Farm... Part One

Over two years ago, our now ten-year-old grandson from California, Kestrel, informed us that a total eclipse was going to pass over Oregon on August 21, 2017, and no matter what, he was going to be here for it. And he was. Along with his brother, parents and a host of our relatives... 27 people altogether. It so happened that our farm was in the narrow path of totality.

Since a total eclipse is the union of sun and moon, and since Johnny and I have been married 50 years this year (actual anniversary in February), I decided we should also celebrate the 50 1/2 year union of Johnny and Linda. And so we did.

Kestrel and his brother Cedrus and their parents arrived by car on Thursday, Aug. 17. Grandson Ian from Washington also arrived that day... by train. All of those people cooked meals and helped get ready for the party. Plus took hikes to the river and through the arboretum. Johnny and I each took photos. So many photos that I am dividing them into three blogs: before the eclipse, during the eclipse, and after.

We spent weeks before anyone arrived emptying the carriage house of its stock trailer, horse trailer, surrey, horse cart, jump standards and poles, cavalettis, bicycles, bamboo poles and a host of other stuff. Then we moved in tables and chairs from Johnny's Methodist Church and from our house (with help from our grandkids). The empty carriage house (pole building) made a roomy, shaded area for the meal and for Kestrel and Cedrus to give a dance performance. The surrey became the stage where Kestrel, on guitar, and Cedrus, on keyboard, provided music for our anniversary celebration. We could not have had better weather for the party and for the eclipse... not a cloud in the sky.

Part One: Getting ready...

...putting up parking signs to direct people to the parking areas

Ian, Johnny, Kestrel

Ian standing in the back, Cedrus driving...

...loading chairs and trays onto the EZ Go from the house to take to the party area...

Ian in back, Cedrus driving, Kestrel riding shotgun

Unloading at the carriage-house-turned-party-site
After parental units Steve and Munazza arrived (Ian's parents were unable to come), we hiked to the creek to cool off... and some of us to clamber about on logs...

Steve, Ian, Cedrus and Kestrel

Kestrel and Cedrus

Steve, Ian, Cedrus


Munazza and Johnny

Skipping rocks and drowning stick and leaf boats...

 The kids wanted to walk across on this log on the bank, so Ian obliged by moving it across the stream. Ian is strong.

Kestrel and Cedrus crossing on Ian's log

Ian pretending to balance as he wades across instead of walking the log
 Hikes involve blackberry picking, of course. And sometimes, laugh-filled battles over the blackberry pail.

On Saturday, the guests began arriving...

I had not yet removed the llamas from the eclipse viewing area. Cassandra, Johnny's niece, was intrigued by them... until they spit on her. Naughty llamas. I think they were spitting at each other while vying for the treats she was feeding them, but their spittle goes everywhere. I moved the llamas to a distant field for Eclipse Day.

After farm tours and talk and a lunch of Johnny's chili and more, we all convened at the Wildwood Cafe for supper on Saturday night. On Sunday, some folks went to the coast, others back to the farm, and others rested at the hotel, getting ready for the big day, Monday.

Next up: Part Two... Eclipse Day

Total Eclipse on the Fink Family Farm... Part Three

The next day, Cedrus cooked us breakfast... a most delicious potato and egg and bacon concoction. He, like his cousin Ian, is a most excellent chef.

There was plenty of relax time after all the work getting ready and the activity and excitement on Eclipse Day.


Some of Johnny's relatives came back for a hike to the creek. Johnny provided them with the EZ Go for their return from the creek and woods and field.

 And he gave them a tour of the jungle room.

Johnny, his brother Bruce, Jeff's friend Linda, and Jeff, Johnny's nephew. Apparently Bruce's sweetie, Nancy, was taking the photo

Just before Steve, Munazza, Kestrel and Cedrus left to drive home to California, we tried out our giant bubble mixture. It took some technique learning but eventually everyone created giant bubbles. All the photos were from Johnny's camera except these two, that I managed to get of Cedrus' bubbles.

Johnny's camera caught one of Kestrel's long, large bubbles...

I finally managed a bubble... in the shade. It was hot out.

Johnny's camera seemed to be best at catching Kestrel's bubbles...

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Kestrel and Cedrus declared Ian the master bubble meister...

Johnny had started the session but I caught no photos of his bubbles.

And then it was time to load up and leave. Cedrus loves Shirley Puppy and Shirley (actually 11 years old and not a puppy anymore) loves Cedrus. They were sorry to say goodbye. This photo was taken earlier, with Cedrus wearing his bicycle helmet for driving the EZ Go. (Easygoing is not his style of driving.)

Ian helped that afternoon and the next morning, before leaving on the train, to take the tables and chairs back to the church, take down the parking signs, and with all the other tear down chores. I really don't know how we would have managed before, during and after without his help, (both physical and emotional for me. I am not used to tons of company.)

The eclipse was an event of a lifetime for us oldsters. I suspect the grandchildren will travel to other total eclipses. But perhaps this one, spent on their grandparents' farm, with a host of relatives most of whom they had never met before, will last in their memories as special. It certainly was to Johnny and me.