Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Walk in the Woods... and Mowing

Yesterday was an unexpected no-rain day, at least until evening. I took the chance to walk through our woods, hoping the rain would stay away, and see what wildflowers were blooming.

There were lots of various species of Cardamine in bloom...

 Quite a few Trillium were blooming, but many looked beat down by rain. This one managed to hide under fern leaves and stay more or less intact.

The Sessile Trilliums with their pretty spotted leaves were in bud, but not yet blooming.

There will be a lot of them open before long...

 Also not yet ready to bloom were the tiger lilies I wait forever and hopefully to see bloom before the slugs and/or deer eat them. This one has another couple of feet to grow upward before making buds.

 The cheery wood violets were plentiful.

And Oregon Forestsnails were happily munching along the forest floor. Rain is fine with them.

 Lots of Indian Plum blooming...

The first skunk cabbage was open in our little creek.

 The big creek, Agency, was a roaring torrent with a newly fallen tree across it.

 On my way back, I sat very still for sometime at our seasonal pond, watching the tiny underwater and on-top-of-the-water creatures. I sat so long, a turkey vulture came to investigate. I guess he wanted to know if I was ready to be eaten yet.

I decided it was time to stand up and walk. When I arrived back by the machine shed, it was still not raining and the grass was, amazingly, dry enough to mow. And very tall... thanks to wet days keeping me from mowing. So I happily climbed onto the one ride-around mower not in the repair shop. It would not start. I connected it to the battery charger, which sits nearby since most of our equipment needs frequent help.. .and called Johnny. He couldn't get it started either.

With one ride-around mower off for repairs and the other needing them, I was relegated to the gasoline push mower. And so I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening pushing it around the too-high grass which we have too much of. But I did get the paths around the flower beds plus the back yard mowed, just before the rain resumed. So the place looks a little more presentable.

Lots of daffodils are blooming, as can be seen in the photo above. Below, the horse wagon I had planted with bulbs is blooming.

I had planted the colorful small hyacinth and tulip bulbs on the side facing the barn and pond as that was the side I would see it from, since there was a fence and shrubbery on the house side. However, I had not considered that when they bloomed, the grass would be growing in front of their wagon bed and I would want to put the llamas in there to eat it. I surely don't need more grass to mow. However, the llamas would likely taste the flowers. So I put up a make-shift fence sure to be replaced by a horrified Johnny. And it was. We now have a lovely high fence on the barn and pond side of the bulb wagon. And I pruned back the shrubbery that was blocking the view from the house side. Plus Johnny moved the wagon, with the tractor, forward so I could see it from my office window.

As a result, the photo above was taken by aiming the camera through a hole in the fence wire. Next year, I'll plant the wee flowers on the other side of the bulb bed. Or maybe on both sides with the taller and later bulbs in the middle. In the photo below, you can see part of the new fence on the left.

 Today we have had a more usual on-again-off-again rain, so I am grateful for an entire day of no rain yesterday. And grateful that the afternoon rain today allowed me to come inside after an exhausting morning of hauling off, with Johnny's help, my enormous heaps of prunings that I have been creating in moments of minimal rain. And it allowed me to put the photos I took yesterday on the computer and add them to this journal of life on our soggy farm.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Today is the first day of spring, according to the calendar. And we have had a day here and there of sun and relative warmth. Whenever that happens, I dash outside and take photos of the blooming flowers, who know it should be spring... any day now.

The hellebores are happy... rain or shine...

So are the honeybees, who love hellebore pollen.

Zillions of daffodils are blooming, getting beat down by rain, then lifting themselves up again when the rain stops. The ones that don't come back up, I cut for inside flowers.

The primroses are happy, too. Rain doesn't bother them at all.

Kitty "helps" whenever I'm in the garden... if it's not raining. She thinks she should be in every photo.

The peacock is looking to see if there's something for him to eat in the barrel...

... or maybe over by the driveway where I throw out seed for the wild birds every morning. He rushes over and hi-grades it before the quail and sparrows and jays can eat it up.

The Cornus mas dogwood (Cornelian cherry) is in full bloom. Maybe it will get cherries this year if frost allows. If so, maybe we will get to eat some... if the birds allow.

The camellia's first bloom of the year...

An elephant in the bamboo!

Can you tell it's an elephant here?

A Mourning Dove enjoying some rare sun.

White crocuses bloomed early in my brother's memorial garden.

Looking toward Spirit Mtn with the horse barn in the distance, the south field was not green yet when I took this photo one sunny day, but the alders were slightly pink with catkins...

Yesterday was another rare and beautiful sunlit day. I went to the coast. A pair of Bald Eagles were resting on a log in Siletz Bay, far from shore so a little blurry in my camera.

I rendezvoused with a new friend from Idaho to search for a seldom-seen-in-Oregon bird, a Brown Thrasher that has been seen by many this winter at a coastal nature trail... and not seen by many others... including us yesterday.

But we did see my favorite coastal birds... Black Oystercatchers...

A cormorant posed in front of the surf...

And a Song Sparrow sunned himself from a perch just a few feet away, so accustomed is this Boiler Bay bird to people.

Sunny days are all the more welcome for their rarity. Rain is forecast again for the next ten days. Sigh.

I'm planning to build an ark...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Snow on Daffodils

 A neighbor who has lived here over sixty years says it always snows one day when the daffodils bloom. And it usually does. Including this year. I took a photo of our snow-covered daffodils on March 5.

And the pretty sunrise in the snow that day...

And, from under cover of my EZ Go, as I hauled manure from the horse barn to the manure pile, I took a photo of the lovely big flakes of falling snow.

And one of the many robins in the snow...

What I did not do was pay attention to where I was going with my load of horse manure. And so I got stuck. It was muddy below the snow.

The feed sack I had with me placed in front of the buried tire did not help.

Nor could I dig myself out. Johnny had to pull me out with the tractor.

That was during Sunday early-morning chores. After breakfast, I returned to the barn, as usual, to let the horses out and milk goats and clean the goat barn. It snowed even harder. I still had my camera with me so I took more photos... from under the shelter of the goat barn entryway.

Mallards in the snow...

I could not clean the second buck pen that afternoon because I would just get stuck. I cleaned the first one on Friday after several days of relatively dry weather. At least, the ground was fairly firm. My back wore out after that pen plus it started to rain so I thought I could do the second pen the next day... or the next depending on weather... That pen is still waiting and may have to wait quite awhile since we are still having rain/snow/sleet with no sign of a break. And the ground is still muddy.

But it was not too bad Sunday afternoon so we decided to drive up Agency Creek Rd. beyond our farm and survey American Dippers... and enjoy the forest and stream. (And rest my back.) So we did. And lucked out on the weather most of the time.

A Dipper cooperated for a photo close to the road in one of the traditional Dipper nesting areas.

Below it shows off its white eyelid.

Well, really it was just blinking. Most birds have dark eyelids so you never notice when they blink. The Dipper has a white eyelid, why I don't know. Neither, apparently, does anyone else. The top bird authority Sibley guide says: "It’s a basic question about a relatively common and easy-to-see bird, and it could be answered by just observing and getting to know some dippers. And that seems like it would be a pretty nice way to spend a few months."

I have spent many happy hours watching dippers and I'm no closer to knowing the why of the white eyelid. Do they blink as often when no one is watching them? Is it a signal to their mate that someone is in the area? Well, since I don't see them when I'm not there, that's a tough question to answer.

Besides Dippers, we saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers and a pair of Common Mergansers. Below are the Hoodies. The Commons floated/swam downstream too fast for photos.

We saw 7 Dippers on our 6 mile survey and heard one that we did not see. But we missed seeing Dippers at a couple of the reliable nest areas. We'll go back again another Sunday afternoon when we don't want to work and look for them.

One site must be hiked into and that one has not had Dippers nesting in their former location, near the waterfall on this rock wall, for several years. I don't know where they've gone. This is the farthest downstream we have found Dipper nests and the water level is very high now, with few rocky, turbulent areas uncovered for Dippers to dive and feed in. So maybe they gave up on this site and have relocated elsewhere.  

Our hike back out was getting very snowy. It was a good time to quit and head homeward for supper.

Supper on Sunday nights is always whatever we feel like... we don't worry about a balanced meal. Often it is just popcorn and baked apples. Last night I felt like jowl bacon (from our pigs of last year) and sweet potatoes... and popcorn. It was good! Then we watched a couple episodes of the Big Bang Theory from Season 5 (we're a bit behind). It was a nice ending to a fun afternoon.

The next morning, the ground was white with snow again. This year it is snowing on the daffodils more than just once. In fact, so far it has done so, off and on, for  a week.