early february afternoon at Mountain Glen Farm

early february afternoon at Mountain Glen Farm

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

He's Back

Yesterday was a RED-LETTER day for me…well, at least I made a notation, in pencil, in my calendar.

My Green Heron returned to our farm pond. YIPPEE! I love that little guy.  He made a quick appearance, as if to say, “I’m back!” and disappeared.

No great photo yet, but I did get a funny little silhouette, today, of the heron flying from his perch in the walnut tree.  He flew directly to the middle of the cattails and disappeared, again, from my sight. 

cattails...here I come

That’s fine.  Just knowing that he is back, and hopefully here to stay through the summer, is outstanding.

I look forward to our daily interaction.  Little Green, as I call him, puts a smile on my face!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Timely Teals

Nearing the pond, I saw a bit of motion in the cattails.  Was it an ever-present blackbird?

No.  Another few steps closer, the movement took to flight…two ducks.  I was disappointed that I missed them on the pond.

But, that disappointment was short-lived.  The ducks circled the pond a few times and returned. Lucky me!

I was able to watch the pair for quite some time before I decided to take leave and let the ducks enjoy their time on the water.

Once back home, I had to go directly to my bird ID book.  I was at a loss at identification.  Ducks rarely visit our pond. 

These two were a Blue-winged Teal couple, migratory in my part of Virginia.  

I am glad that they decided to stop by our pond and I am glad that I timed my morning walk perfectly to meet these two. 

My life is full of wonder and surprise.  Today, Teals.  Tomorrow…

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bird Frenzy

This morning I glanced out the window on the orchard side of the house.  The apple trees, as well as the sour cherry, still stood naked.  The sweet cherry tree had just a hint of green from recently expanded buds.  The raspberry canes not yet growing.

But, there was a definite bird frenzy going on.

There were the usual morning birds of Blue Jays, Robins, Mockingbirds, Mourning Doves and Red-bellied Woodpeckers flying from tree to tree, from tree to ground, from ground to tree.

Brown Thrasher...could be male or could be female
Suddenly, my eye caught a reddish-brown glimpse.  On closer inspection, I determined I was watching a Brown Thrasher. Seeing this bird is a rarity for me.  At first, he pecked around the grass.  Soon he wandered into a small bed which is filled with crape myrtle shrubs.  A friend was supposed to come over and dig those out two years ago to use to line her driveway.  She didn’t.  The ground was covered with a thick layer of browned leaves under these bare-branched shrubs.  And, that brown thrasher had the best time flicking up the dry leaves, even so much as flipping the leaves out from the bed onto the lawn. I assume he was looking for food and having fun to boot.

male Eastern Towhee

Soon, another rare species for me, an Eastern Towhee, joined in the leaf-flipping game.

male Northern Flicker

Then, two huge Northern Flickers joined the party.  One f licker had a small tiff with a woodpecker.  Both birds hovered about six inches above the ground verbally abusing and threatening the other with outstretched wings.  The red of the woodpecker’s head and the bright yellow of the underside of the flicker’s tail feathers were radiant.

male American Kestrel

I could not have watched a better show than the one I witnessed just outside my window.

I am coming back tomorrow, same time, just in case there is an encore.

And, for the proverbial ‘cherry on top’…an American Kestrel and Belted Kingfisher were part of today’s bird sightings. 

A bird frenzy, indeed!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Frog Frenzy 2017

The day was a rainy one.  At noon, there was a window of a few hours when the rain would subside.  I took that opportunity to take my daily walk.

Moments out of the house I heard the familiar sound.  The ‘frog frenzy’ had begun down at our farm pond.  I was excited.  After all, this is the only time I actually get to take photos, and movies, of frogs. I was serenaded the entire way down to the pond.  The closer I got to the pond, the louder the mating song became.  I walked faster.

As I stepped along the shore, I could hear the frogs jumping into the water as I neared each one.  I did not actually see the frogs, but I did see the disturbed water where they jumped.  One after another.  I would have to be more quiet and unassuming if I was to get my pictures.

Within minutes, I noticed that the surface of the water was covered with expanding concentric circles.  Was it raining?  I was not feeling the drops, but suddenly, I was in the middle of a downpour.  I was glad that I was able to duck into the pond house to stay dry.  Buddy slinked under the pond house.  Snowball just stayed put standing in the rain.  He probably needed a bit of cooling off.  The tumultuous rain hitting the tin roof of the pond house was near deafening.  The frog sound was gone, or, at least, masked.


When the rain stopped, the frogs could be heard again.  Now, I hoped, I would be able to get a few good photos.  I did. 


Five days ago, I heard one frog at the pond.  Four days ago, I heard two frogs.  Yesterday, I heard several more frogs, but not yet the ‘frenzy’, a term which I coined the raucous a few years ago.

Today…the true start of the 2017 ‘frog frenzy’.  I am thrilled to be able, once again, to partake of this annual event. 


Note:  the 2016 frog frenzy occurred on April 2, the 2015 frog frenzy on April 13

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A New Project

It all started with Becky gifting her Dad a shitake mushroom inoculated log for Christmas.  A great idea.

But, Glenn thought…if he was going to nurture one log he might as well nurture more. Glenn did his research and purchased a complete mushroom growing package (three strains of shitake inoculant and the tools to prepare the logs – special drill bit, inoculator, wax applicator, tags and wax) from Field Forest Products located in Peshtigo, Wisconsin.

Glenn and Matt cut oak logs from some trees Glenn recently had thinned on our Jonestown farm.  They brought the logs to the home farm to prepare.

First, Glenn drilled holes 6-8 inches apart at two-inch intervals.  Then, Becky inoculated each hole and sealed the holes with melted wax which hardened almost immediately. The logs were tagged identifying the inoculant used and stacked. Matt joined the workforce as soon as he arrived on the scene 30 minutes later.

Three laborers working six hours with no breaks and 50 logs later, the task of inoculation was complete.

I am looking at the logs realizing that we are either going to grow enough mushrooms to supply the county or the entire project is going to be a tremendous bust.  The results will be available in about one year.

But wait, the project is not done.  Those logs have to be placed in a suitable environment for the mushrooms to grow and flourish. 

The next step was to place the logs in a wooded area.  We have plenty of options, but Glenn chose a spot that was easily accessible and near a livestock waterer since those logs need to be watered from time to time during their early development.  Glenn wanted his water source nearby to make that task easy. So, the logs were lovingly placed in a very desirable spot.

The first crop of mushrooms may be ready as soon as this coming fall, most likely next spring. 

Now, we wait.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Muddy Dog, Muddy Me

The day is about 20 degrees cooler than it was yesterday.  Therefore, I had to bundle up a bit more for my walk.

Snowball exited from under the pond house here...

Once at the pond, I sat down on the combination wood and grass steps which lead directly from the top of the grassy dam into the water.  I was sheltered from the blustery wind by the pond house.  All of a sudden, Snowball appeared right in front of me.  He had walked under the pond house, along the very muddy bank, exiting at my feet with a big smile of satisfaction. 

Initially, I thought his caper was cute.  That is until he made a quick jump into my lap.  My pants, shoes and sweatshirt were now covered in fresh, damp mud.  A big dog, like Snowball, can cover a lot of real estate (that real estate being me) with no effort.  He did manage to miss my camera by mere inches since it was hanging from my neck, now just above a big blob of mud.

It never fails.  If I sit on the ground, Snowball feels obligated to jump in my lap.  Why?  I cannot make any sense of his action.  I usually am on the lookout and prepared to give him a shove, but this time…

he caught me by surprise.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Arrives...Calendar Verified

Well, it is official…Spring is here.

There is nothing I enjoy more than getting outside in the early morning on an early spring day to hear the robust birdsong.  There are so many different species of birds singing at once that it is difficult, if impossible, to distinguish any one particular bird.  All the birds are singing their own songs, their own tunes, yet the combination works. 

This morning was such a morning.  The intensity was almost too much, yet again, it is just the way I like it – happy birds, one and all.

And, I was right in the middle…a kind of surround sound.  No matter the direction my walk took, I was enveloped in the sweet melodies of my feathered friends.