Monday, October 20, 2014

The Leaving of LIverpool

Well, actually the leaving of Fultonville. 

We did get a hard frost last night, cold enough to leave ice lying around.

The birds are taking it seriously and leaving in droves.

This morning the Red-winged Blackbirds are coursing over like hounds hot on the trail of Hell. There is no looking back, no pause in their travel. Although the individual flocks are small, a dozen here, a hundred there, I would imagine by the time it warms up thousands will have passed over the house.

As the sun rose their red epaulets flashed like stop lights as they flew over the Robins and Cardinals and Blue Jays that are still here.

A few starlings flew up to join their urgent quest, then settled back into the bare ash trees. Not yet. Too lazy. Too content to natter over the pasture, gleaning seeds and insects.

The leaves are living up to their name too

Their path crosses that of westbound geese, evidently still enjoying the river and the freshly harvested corn fields around the area.

I'm not ready for this.......

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I would have passed these vegetables by, just a few weeks ago. Big old beans gone too mature, missed under heavy leaves somehow and forging into to leathery toughness. At the other end of the spectrum, tiny beans, no more than threads, but succulent and sweet.

I should not pick them. They will fit right down the sink drain in a swoosh of water. I'm sure that isn't good for the plumbing. I should just eat them right off the vine instead. Or leave them.

Left to grow they would only get fatter and better.

However, there is no more left to grow this year. What the meteorologists euphemistically call "the end of the growing season" is upon us.

Killing frost.

The big freeze.

It will fall tonight sure as November, unless somehow this icy wind holds it off. I don't think so. But maybe

Minuscule squashes, barely more than blossoms, a single grape that the wind tore off the apple tree. One apple just to see if somehow the Winesaps taste better this year than last.

I know better than to test them before frost, but they always tempt me beyond reason. It will be dry and bland and mealy, just as they always are until the frost turns them tangy

We will have a stew tonight of mostly homegrown. Beef from the big steer, the beans and squash, and a few store bought carrots...ours are all gone alas...though they surely were delicious.

After a breakfast of French toast made with eggs from the kids' hens, topped with jelly made from apple cider that Alan helped squeeze....delicious stuff, think i'll have some with dinner...we will feel well-fed indeed.

The electric fencing is holding so far, down on the chicken coop, although there were reports of an outlandish howling out there in the night, as if something had tried to crawl through and got zapped.

And zapped.

And zapped.

And zapped again.

What a shame......

Sunday Stills....Guess the Challenge

I guessed the color green or perhaps the letter G, so I went with grazing, green, and golden....lots of all those around here this fall. I meant to put a cap on a pumpkin, but it rained....pretty cool challenge, even if I got it wrong,.

For more Sunday Stills.......

Saturday, October 18, 2014

So Far, So Good

Did anybody get the number of that truck?

The kids spent a lot of time yesterday and last night putting up a electrified grid of cattle panel over the heifer barn door and putting a very hot fence around the turkey tractor, oh, and Becky put a bunch of used kitty litter down where they were coming in from the north. I went out an hour or so ago and all the birds were resting quietly.....

I would have liked to have been watching when the foxes checked out that hot the charge zapped Jade through a stick.....maybe a trail cam would be an asset....

A minor, but entertaining, murmuration of starlings

In other news we have several hawks hanging around hunting the birds, which fortunately are well protected against assault from the air.

However, something went after a chickadee right outside the kitchen window and it fled, striking the window. I ran out to find it upside down, but alive, on the step.

I warmed it in my hand and set it in a flower pot. A little while later it was upright and soon after gone. I wish it well. 

Chickadees share the favorite bird spot in my world with Carolina Wrens. Guess I like to root for the little guy. I would also like to be sure the accipiter I see every day hunting in the backyard is a Cooper's. I have seen several sharpies and this bird looks larger....too fast to be sure far.

Friday, October 17, 2014

And that did Too

These guys are.....or were....much bigger now

I'm thankful for a phone call this morning. Normally I just let Daisy out the back door and maybe stand on the porch while I wait, or possibly even come in and get her dog food ready.

However, this morning Alan called me to chat for a while before he went to sleep for the day, as he is on nights, way down in the big city.

Thus I went out in my bathrobe to enjoy the dawn, the talking with my boy, and just being alive.

Heard something wrong. Saw something out of the corner of my eye that didn't look quite right. The big chickens down in the barn were making a monotonous alarm call as if they had been at it for a long time. They sounded tired.

Then Pumpkin, the fluffy logger cat, ran up the driveway and I thought, 'Okay, they were alarming at the cat."

But they didn't stop. So mini Dachshund in tow I meandered down toward the heifer barn where the big hen flock is. Sneakers untied, eyes still blurred with sleep, not exactly at my best.....

Out of the barn sprang a huge, motley-looking red fox, literally licking his chops. This was a really big fox. Usually when I see one I am surprised by how small they actually are. Not this guy.

I hustled down to find the wire all mashed down on the brooder, some beady, terrified eyes looking up at me, and bodies mashed under the wire. 

Yep, he got the chicks Liz featured on her blog in a post she wrote just yesterday.

I called the kids out to look at the situation. The fox ate eight chicks, and killed a couple others, leaving only six out of sixteen. The six are now in a cat kennel in the dining room, Driving Miss Daisy plumb crazy. She came to us because she is a poultry killer herself and did much damage in a past life. She would like to finish what the fox started I fear. Thank goodness for the kitchen baby gate (which has been keeping dogs in the kitchen for over twenty years.)

So....although I am always glad when my boy calls me, but today I am extra glad. Now there are big jobs to be done before that son of a gun gets the big hens, or the coop full of guineas, turkey and a couple of chickens up on the lawn. 

Or Heaven forbid the turkeys.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Well that Sucked

That load of hay we were gonna unload this morning? Yeah, that miserable so and so. right from the get go, I had a lot of trouble with the bales, too big and heavy for wienie me.

However, I was gettin' 'er done. Sorta

Until....the motor cut out on the cross mow elevator, and I didn't see it, as I was trying to get bales down off the pile and they were wedged together like badgers in a burrow.

Then I heard the clanking. By the time I climbed over the tractor tire to shut off the PTO a whole lot of cross paddles on the big elevator were bent.

The boss had to bang them all straight again. After all that fun, I convinced him by looking all weak and worn down to throw the rest of the bales off himself. Soon the cross mow quit again. And again. And again.

Finally he pulled the plug and said, "Let's go get breakfast." 

I will give the man credit. He never said a cross word to me, although he wasn't exactly smiling either.

I didn't argue about breakfast either. There are only a dozen bales or so left on there. If they won't go up into the mow the heifers and cows can eat them. And we were hungry

October Redux

The rosemary bloomed and made seeds this year.
Since I grew it from seed itself that seems kind of cool
It didn't bloom sideways, but it is determined to look like it

Can't get away from the amazement of this month. Who ever heard of making hay in October? Well,actually the boss has been making hay right into November in recent years, thanks to cool, very wet summers and springs.

We have another load to throw off today. I am so proud of myself, throwing off two loads on Monday. And I wasn't even stiff the next day, which utterly astonished me.

Not that I am tough or anything. It is just knowing how to use leverage to get the load apart and get the bales on the elevator.


The rosemary

Today is another balmy, soft one, with the sun rising all silver and gold, and the trees slowly undressing right down to their bones, and putting on quite a floor show as they do.

I have finished the Farm Side for this week....a tale of unloading hay....time to fill the bird feeder, see Becky off to work, and get that wagon done.

Katydid....nope, not a katydid, a leafhopper.... on a clothespin