Friday, September 7, 2012

Late Summer in Photos

On Aug. 26 I decided it was high time I started riding these horses again. When I checked my riding log, it had been 6 months. Too long! I have ridden 9 days since then, some very brief, only a couple times on Jessie Anne and once on Nightingale. Above I'm on Jessie Anne in my weedy arena with her daughter Nightingale watching from across the fence. I have great plans for riding when it's cooler and the blessed garden has quit.

Here is a photo of the blessed garden today, in 96 degree heat. You may notice a ladder in the middle of the greenery. I have given up on hand watering some areas and now put a sprinkler on top of one of the two ladders I plunked out in the middle of the squash and melons that are totally out of control.

Here is the out of control pumpkin patch and one of the pumpkins that are turning from gold to orange under all those leaves. These are "Golden Harvest" pumpkins that start out bright yellow and gradually turn orange.

Here are some of the blessed cucumbers I have not yet done anything with. I am hoping someone will stop by and I can sneak them into their car. I am happy the tomatoes are finally ripening... slowly enough that we can eat them without me having to can... yet.

And here are the pears I picked and will have to can when they ripen. Help! They're ripening! Lots more are still on the tree and must be picked soon.

And the first batch of onions. I love onions. They behave themselves and keep all winter without me doing a thing. I'm only digging as many potatoes as we need for now. I dig more when we run out. They're still going strong in their raised bed manure spreader and are now re-covered with dirt since a few were showing green. A few purple onions I planted in there to give the potatoes company come out with them.

After digging some of the above the other day, then saving beet seeds and parsnip seeds from last year's crop, I called a neighbor friend, who also puts up a big garden and saves seeds, to commiserate and see what was happening in her garden. She wanted to know if my sunflowers were doing strange things this year like hers. She was getting multiple heads on hers and she has never had that before. I didn't know because I hadn't paid any attention to the sunflowers which I never plant but always come up in mass from last year's plants that I also didn't plant. (In fact, I don't think I've ever planted sunflowers but I feed seed I've bought to the birds and the chipmunks plant them for me.) So I went out and looked. Sure enough, some of my sunflowers have multiple heads, like the one on the left below coming up out of the pea patch (that still has a few peas coming). Others, like the one on the right below, may just have multiple stalks all planted in the same hole.

I've had failures, too. Few of my beloved french filet beans came up. But I have lots in the freezer from last year, so no worries. Likewise the broccoli and cauliflower are not making proper heads. I still have plenty in the freezer. It's always good to put up at least 2 years supply for just such contingencies. That's what I keep telling myself when I'm making more pickles than I think we could eat in a decade.

Besides gardening chores, I do, occasionally, do other things. Like write my monthly column for United Caprine News. The latest one was a nostalgic look back at my twenty years of showing goats... so long ago that it seems like a previous lifetime. Johnny incorporated a trophy case into the new barn's milk room and I've been rounding up trophies and ribbons to display. I have lots. Here's one of my favorites, plus some of the rosettes I found. That goat on the mug is GCH Fink Family Farm Total Eclipse, my first permanent champion Nubian. It will be nice to have that trophy in the glassed-in case in the new milk room for me to see twice a day when I milk her descendants. Move-in day is getting closer, as Johnny's huge project of cleaning out his shop and getting rid of the stuff he doesn't want is making good progress. He has taken a break from time to time to work on the goat barn.

Of course, I escape to birdwatch now and again. Here's a Western Grebe at Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge and Long-billed Dowitchers at Baskett Slough on excursions with the Woodhouses.

Friend Carol hiked Cape Lookout with me as I searched for new Black Oystercatcher sites in my monitoring area. I didn't find BLOY, but we did find a place they should be, covered this day in Brown Pelicans and gulls and cormorants. Next spring, it could be habitat for a pair of my favorite coast birds.

One day this week I visited birder friend Marilyn in the nursing facility where she is trying to learn to regain use of her left side after a devastating bleeding stroke three months ago. Little by little, feeling is coming back but, unfortunately, the brain receives the signals as pain, not movement. She made progress in moving her leg, albeit painful progress, while I was there watching the therapist work with her.

Each day, I was forced to realize, is a gift. Whether it's doing something fun like riding horses or hiking at the coast or birding... or something not so fun like canning pickles... I need to remember to be grateful that I am able to do it.

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