Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Hunting With A Camera Lens

Morning chores were done yesterday in the dark and the rain.
It seems to be this way more mornings than not these days.
I am guessing that eventually that rain will be replaced by snow...
and if that is the case, we are in for a rather white winter!

By nine in the morning, the rain had stopped, so I headed out for a walk
with the dogs in tow.
Actually, they ran ahead and I was in tow.

Grey clouds hung low over our little valley,

as we hiked through the hayfield -
each blade of grass, glistening with jeweled droplets of water.

Oh, how the dogs love an adventure.
The purpose of our walk was to recover the game cameras we had placed by the stream
just a couple weeks ago.

For the dogs, though, it was just an excuse to run and play

and investigate each and every hole that they came upon.

This particular hole is quite an impressive den for some wild animal -
securely dug beneath a pile of tree trunks.

I couldn't help but notice the fungi growing on rotting, fallen trees.

Autumn fungi is not as colorful as what we find

in the spring and summer...
but every bit as interesting.

I would love to learn more about identifying edible mushrooms,
but, it's a tricky hobby... there are so many look-a-likes.
And they say, "there are no old mushroom hunters."
(I am assuming because they die from poisonous mushrooms!)

With three game cameras recovered, we headed home so that I could sort
through the thousands of photos taken.
I found that most of them were the result of reflections on the water - 
trees blowing in the wind, rain drops, snow, and the rushing water of the stream itself.

But there were a few photos of the deer that come to the stream.

I couldn't help but sing the Limbo Song when I looked at these photos...

There were a good number of buck crossing the stream...

some lovely antlers...

I often get requests to hunt our land.
Of course I decline them.
So much of the land around us is used for hunting.
I like to have our land be a safe zone for these beautiful creatures.

Me?  I'll do my hunting with a camera lens.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Getting Our Ducks In A Row

I try to keep my ducks in order,
but chaos seems to be more the way of the world,
doesn't it?

Seriously, though, these seven Muscovy ducks are the embodiment of chaos.

Oh, how I wish I could turn back the hands-of-time to the day
when seven adolescent ducks came home to live at the barn.
My only wish is that I had known at the time that those adorable,
fluffy, multi-colored ducklings were going to grow up to be 
these red, wrinkly-faced, testosterone-driven, barn-pooping, chaos-causing quackers!

If I had had that knowledge when they arrived,
they most definitely would have become pond ducks, rather than barn ducks.

Our runner ducks are delightful.

They roam all over the farm, 
in a somewhat orderly fashion,
like big-billed penguins without their tuxedos.

They fill their day with all sorts of merriment as they run here and there,
in search of tasty morsels.

The Muscovy ducks, also roam the farm-
much more slowly, however.
They emerge from their hut every morning and spread their wings...
shaking off the stiffness of the previous night's roosting.
Then two or three of them take to the air
on a perimeter flight around the farm.
They quietly circle the farm about fifty feet in the air,
their wings "fluff, fluff, fluff"-ing like velvet blowing in a breeze.

Then they land on the barn roof, or any other structure than the ground,

where they spend a few minutes preening before hopping back down to the ground
to start their day of foraging.

Meanwhile, the Runners have logged their first mile or two of running.
The Runners seem happy until one of the slow-waddling, single-focussed

male Muscovy ducks decides to pin a Runner down and have his way.
This is usually followed by another Muscovy and sometimes a third male joining
in the "attack".

It takes human intervention to stop this nonsense,
and if we are present, 
we intervene.

Luckily, the Runners are fast and hard for these heavy-footed, slow waddlers to catch.

Jack and I are beginning to think that the barnyard would be a happier place without
the seven Muscovy ducks -
at least without the five males.

The odd thing is this:
one of the Muscovy ducks spends every day following the Runners around.
This duck doesn't seem to be interested in anything but searching for food.

It's almost as if he thinks he might be a Runner duck himself...
except for the fact that he cannot run to save his soul.
But as they say, "slow and steady wins the race"...
and this Muscovy just keeps on waddling...
wherever the Runners go.

Our tentative plan is to take the Muscovy ducks down to the pond and see if they will stay there.
My bet is that they will be right back up at the pond within minutes.
Jack suggested that we cover the cage that we use for transporting with a sheet, so that they
cannot see where we are going.
I added to that... that perhaps we should drive them to the pond in a rather
circuitous manner.

Jack countered with the idea that most likely, as soon as they hear the
familiar sound of donkeys braying,
they will head right back up to the barn.

So, you see... we might never have our ducks in order!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Winter's Early Arrival

We awoke to our first snowy morning on Saturday.

It snowed for about 15 minutes and lasted just a few minutes longer,

but it was enough to give us a taste of the winter to come.

We winterized the water buckets, hooking them up to electricity to keep them from freezing,
as the past few mornings have been in the 20's.
The rest of the weekend was clear and cold... perfectly wintery.

I spent Saturday cooking and baking, as Sunday was planned as a family day.

Three of our kids, and their families spent Sunday on the farm.
I was in heaven... surrounded by my favorite littles!

I love days like these... they feel like holidays, without the fuss.

The kids love to spend time around the animals

and are always eager to come help with farm chores.

We sat by the fire (first fire in the fireplace for this year),
we played play doh and put puzzles together,
and ate a big meal late afternoon...
Lasagne soup, mini meatball grinders and roasted vegetables.
Cuppy-cakes for dessert!

Then afterward, we all went out to the big yard by the barn to play.

Tyler loves soccer and loves playing with his aunt, his mom and his uncles.

Annie gets so excited when everyone plays soccer, and joins in the game.

Chester and Brown Sammie play something more like tackle football...

while black Sammy just runs around smelling the farm smells.

This little one is happiest when he's riding in the gator,
 but swinging on the swing satisfied him between gator rides.

It was my perfect day... surrounded by loved ones...
just enjoying each other's company.
Sweet memories... for me,
and hopefully for them.


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