Monday, June 20, 2016

Father's Day and The Day After

Johnny wanted to tour the farm in his EZ Go on Father's Day plus walk through the ox-eye daisy field that I had photographed a couple days earlier. So we did. A butterfly flitted from daisy to daisy as we walked behind and I took photos. From the web, I learned it was a Checkerspot Butterfly. I don't remember seeing one here before. We have many Swallowtails, but this butterfly was new to me.

Beside the daisy field is a steep drop-off to Agency Creek. I took Johnny to my lookout spot where I sit and watch birds and whatever else is around the water. Johnny found it to be a very restful spot.

Here is the shirt he was wearing...

After he woke up, we took an EZ Go ride past the goat field...

Johnny measured a gate that needs replacing while I hiked to another spot on the creek... to see what I could see... but I was so noisy crashing through the underbrush that has grown up considerably since the last time I went that way that anything around would have been long gone before I reached the creek.

As I came back out to the horse field, the horses looked to see what was emerging from the woods... Mr. Smith and Nightingale wear grazing muzzles to slow down their munchings so they don't kill themselves on grass. Jessie Anne (the palomino) does not have the metabolic problems of the other two so she doesn't have to wear a muzzle.

Johnny noticed a Red-breasted Sapsucker flying back and forth between a shrub (behind the horses in the above photo) and a big maple down by the gate Johnny had been measuring.

He investigated the shrub and found it riddled with sap wells that the Sapsuckers had drilled. The holes were swarming with happy yellow-jackets. The two Sapsuckers were  busily carting either insects stuck in the sap or the sap itself? to the big maple that must have had a nest hole on the back side. The sapsuckers were presumably feeding nestlings.

They made a lot of trips back and forth.

As usual, there was a lovely sunset that evening...

followed by a full moon...

After such a restful, peaceful Father's Day, I guess Johnny needed some excitement. When I came home from my morning Qi Gong practice the next day, Johnny was behind his shop with a row of bottles. I didn't know what he was doing until later, when I saw the photos he had taken and heard his explanations. Oh my.

These are bottles of cider he made that have started to work. See the white bubbles?

Johnny decided he needed to pop them outdoors before they exploded indoors. So he found a tool to poke a hole in a bottle... from a distance.

It worked.  Here the mist is beginning to escape.

Each bottle emptied quickly after being stabbed open...

Often, more quickly than Johnny could get out of the way...

So he tried a pitchfork with a longer handle.

It didn't work. Johnny came in for lunch covered in sticky hard cider. But I think he had fun.

That night, the first day of summer ended with another lovely sunset...

 that grew more and more brilliant...

And would not quit...

 A beautiful and lasting finale to The Day After Father's Day... and the first day of summer.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Hay is in the Barn!

It was a challenge between broken-down equipment, unsettled weather, and illness. Johnny was nearly over his bad cold when he finally rounded up a neighbor, Bruce, to cut our hay. The usual neighbor, Paul, had not repaired his equipment over winter and although Johnny spent two days running around trying to get parts, it was hopeless. Then he borrowed Paul's rake and had to replace numerous tines before he could use it. Paul brought the baler over but had not looked at it, either, since last summer and the baler had a broken hose that had to be repaired before it could be used. In spite of all that and a little mist right after the hay was cut, it all got dried, baled and in the barn.

Of course, the day we had to put it in the barn was 95 degrees. I was still sick with a bad cold and so was neighbor Irv who usually drives the tractor while we load and stack, so Johnny loaded the hay wagon himself. Johnny and I unloaded after the sun went down and finished at 11:30 at night.  The next day the rest of the hay was baled and we got it in a little earlier, since it was a little cooler that day (June 5). So glad to have that job done! The operation, in photos:

Bruce, mowing

Johnny, raking

Paul baling while Johnny pitchforks hay into place to make it more efficient for the baler

Johnny loading the trailer

It was a lot of work for Johnny. Of course, other things fell apart at the same time: the barn refrigerator quit working; the barn hot water heater sprung a leak... all over the milk room floor. But Johnny managed to replace the hot water heater before too many days and we have given up on a refrigerator in the milk room for the time being. I haul baby goat bottles back and forth from house to barn. Soon the two little wethers will be weaned!

This week I transplanted tomatoes, peppers and artichokes into the garden, and weeded and watered from the rain tank that collects water off Johnny's shop... lots of water. Now it has rained and filled the tank again. It is a wonderful system that gravity flows water from the tank through a hose to the garden at just the right rate. Of course, that newly devised system had to be reconfigured and repaired a bit before being put into use this week.

Johnny has earned his afternoon naps.