early morning summer sunrise at Mountain Glen Farm

early morning summer sunrise at Mountain Glen Farm

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Outcome You Want?


Today is the day before the 2016 United States Presidential Election.  Personally, I feel,no matter who wins, that the United States is going to be in for big changes and these changes are not going to be good...for anybody.  Call me a pessimist, but I have been following the political scene for years.  I probably am more enlightened than a lot of the US population.  So, I am prepared in a way, yet I am not prepared at all.  I do see some hope, but that hope will depend on all of us working together to get back to common sense, basic morality and downright love for each other.  That will be a tall mountain to climb, but it is possible.  Can we do it?  Only you can answer for yourself. 



That being said, I went out on my usual walk to absorb as much natural beauty as I am able.  The farm, the surrounding mountains, the blue sky, the setting sun did not disappoint.  I was at peace…at least for the moment.



A few days ago, my walk was so very quiet.  I did not see, or hear, any birds. Not one.  I returned home with no new photos documenting the tranquility.  It was odd.



This afternoon, thank goodness, a few birds accompanied me along my journey.  I was content.



A world without birds (fill in the blank with your own fancy) is not complete.  Either is a world without family, friends, love, security, dreams, peace, goodwill, food, health, freedom, …



Will my world be complete on Wednesday? Or the day after? Ever again?



I truly hope so!



Enjoy a look at today’s feathered friends…peace!













Friday, November 4, 2016

What A Difference A Day Makes








Yesterday, my lovely specimen of a sugar maple tree in my yard was full of brightly-colored red and orange leaves – an iconic autumn view.







Last night we had a sprinkling of rain. We
actually need inches as we have been dry for over one month.  Unfortunately, we must have had a bit of wind, too.



This morning I looked out my kitchen window to that same maple and saw a naked-branched tree. What the heck! The leaves were actually still there but, instead of on the tree, the leaves covered the ground beneath the tree.  On the down side, I already miss the blazing glory high in my tree. Yet, on a positive note, this was my opportunity to take my annual crunch walk through the downed leaves. I love the sound of dried leaves crunching under foot.



This is a perfect life’s lesson…enjoy each and every moment as you do not know what the future will bring.  I knew the leaves would eventually fall off, but not so fast and not so complete.







There are still many trees in color and just about as many already sporting their bare branches common to the winter season. 




I faithfully make a conscious effort to enjoy the autumn splendor before I eventually say, “There is always next year.”



Just a bit advice…do not wait until next year, take advantage of every moment now!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October...Did Not Disappoint



My favorite month, October, has ended.  As always, I enjoyed every day, every moment.



October 1, 2016 - greens of summer are about to change



The days were warm, sunny and comfortable.  My daily walks with my best two buds were relaxing. The atmosphere was peaceful.  The colors of the deciduous trees started out with their summer green foliage and ended with a magical change.  The ending hues are a bit on the muted side this fall, but nonetheless, spectacular.   



mid-October  lovely muted sage greens highlighted with some squash-orange

 I believe October 31st proved to be ‘peak’ for us autumn color aficionados.

the color change progresses


green heron staying a bit long into the season





The summer, exotics as I like to call them, birds have moved on.  I miss their diverse songs and calls, their presence.  I am already anticipating their return.  It will be interesting to see how many different species return to our farm which has become quite a bird sanctuary.



A two-day side trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a quick overnight stay with my son in Fayetteville was just the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’.  It was fabulous to be able to swim in a pool.  The water was as cool as our pond, but I did not have to worry about fish biting me…ahhhh!



October just could not get any better than this year’s, but then again, I think I say that every year.



As always, October did not disappoint and it remains my favorite month.



Today is the half way point between the start of fall and the start of the next season.



On toward… winter…ugh!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Nature's Fall Bounty


Today we are having another spectacular autumn day – sunny and comfortable with a breeze.



The black walnuts, acorns and persimmons are ripening and falling from our trees. The walnuts fall with a particularly loud thump.



I have to be especially careful when I walk under a walnut or oak tree.  If I step on a nut, I could easily lose my balance as my foot rolls away from me and I could easily injury myself when my body hits the solid ground.  Walnuts are the worst because they are bigger in size and much easier to roll under foot, but those much smaller acorns can do a trick as well.  They are roundish and they roll, too.  My steps become much shorter and my eyes are peeled to the ground when I walk under the walnut and oak trees.




 I also have to be careful from a walnut falling from overhead.  Those nuts are so big and heavy. I could be knocked out if that walnut directly hit the top of my head.  When it is windy, like today, I hold my hand over my head to protect it from any walnut that might take aim.

 

The persimmon is more forgiving as it is a soft fruit and squishes under foot.  Not as dangerous to my well-being, but a bit messy if I step on too many.



But, I do enjoy seeing the big green walnuts before they turn brown and their outer shell peel off to reveal a much harder casing beneath before you even reach the nut itself.  The acorns are cute with their stemmed caps.  And, the persimmons shine with a golden orange glow, with sunshine or no sunshine.



Nature’s bounty is beautiful and far superior to the negatives it might offer.






Yet, I still watch my step!



 
as of today, the foliage is still very green with just a hint of color change


Friday, October 7, 2016

Off-Farm To View Corn Chopping


My October celebration continues with an off-our-farm visit to another local farm – a dairy farm smack dab in the middle of chopping corn. 



That was the plan.



We are a beef operation.  Our cows feed primarily by grazing (100% grass-fed) so the process of putting corn up for cows, is very different and interesting. 



I wanted to see how this dairy’s huge storage area (bunk) was filled with feed.  Feed that would be used by their milk cows throughout the next 12 months.  (Note: I observed the same operation at a different local dairy last season. See Blog “Silage Up Close”  9-17-15  - like I mentioned, I find this activity very interesting.)



The chopper runs almost continuous.  When the silage trailer, hauled by a tractor, is filled, it returns to the farm storage facility for unloading.  Another tractor/trailer is already waiting to move into place to be filled.  This routine repeats over and over and over…


video





At the storage facility, another crew of two spread and pack the chopped corn (silage) in order to obtain the maximum storage capability and to ferment the chopped vegetation. 

when the bunk is full, the white plastic will cover the silage and be peeled back as the silage is used
video
video


freshly chopped corn - see the stalks, leaves and kernels




The silage cut now has to last for one year until the entire process of planting, growing, cutting and storing starts again.



only a vey few of the over 400  'happy' milk cows on this large dairy farm


The result…happy cows.  Happy cows provide delicious milk.  Milk provides healthy nutrition for your family. 



I thought this getting feed was all for the cows, but now I realize it is really all for me.



I am a daily milk drinker!  I love milk!



Note:  Daughter Becky is behind the wheel in the top video.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Green Heron Live


Today was another great autumn day. Sunny and 70 – the perfect temperature for my personal comfort!



I changed my walking routine from early morning to afternoon since the first of this month.  So far, I am satisfied.  My dogs are a bit confused and are still waiting at the back door early for my appearance from inside the house. They wait patiently for hours.



The days are now less humid and cooler, so the afternoon works well. The best part is that my feet no longer get wet from the always present early morning dew. The overall bird activity is decreased, but I think that is due more to season than to time of day.



I encountered three green herons down at the pond this afternoon.  One flew from the cattails into the nearest walnut tree.  I was able to inch closer and closer until I was just about directly under the tree.  In fact, I was so close that it was difficult to get that perfect photo that I have been pursuing.



While taking pictures, and the attached movie, of the heron in the tree, I could hear the chirp of a heron hiding in the large clump of cattails directly behind and only feet away from me.  I caught a glimpse of this heron minutes before when the dogs scared it up from the tall grass as I was feeding the fish from the deck of the pond house. The small heron quickly flew to the safety of the much thicker cattails.  As this heron sounded, a like response came from a much smaller clump of cattails at the dam edge of the pond. Ahhh…a third heron.  I had passed by this exact spot only moments earlier as I crept from the pond house to get to the walnut tree. I had no indication that there was another heron hiding just inches from me at that time.  Kudos to the heron for keeping its location secret.



When watching the movie, listening to the background closely (try to ignore the loud crickets) and you will hear the two hiding herons speaking to each other.



Enjoy!




video

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Heron Hijinks


Today, I had some fun down at the pond with my little green heron.



This guy resided at the pond all summer, then disappeared on September 1.  I thought he had left on his travels south.  But, he appeared again a few days ago.



But, surprisingly, what I thought was one heron was actually two.  



As I approached the pond, the first heron flew up from the grassy shoreline and flew across the pond landing in the walnut tree.  I thought I had missed another opportunity to get a photo of this guy in flight.  He always looks like a black duck to me when in flight. As I continued to make my way toward the pond house, the second heron flew up, all of a sudden, from pretty much the same location as the first.  I was not expecting a second heron. I pointed my camera and snapped. I had no time to focus.  I just took my chances and hoped for the best. 


looks  like a black duck to me...

I spent another 60 - 90 minutes watching the herons. They perched and preened themselves from fairly open branches in the walnut. (Walnut trees lose their leaves early in the season making my observation so easy.  During the summer, once the heron flies into a tree, it is hidden from view by all the leaves.)  Then, they circled a couple of times over the pond and around the deck where I was sitting.  Little green herons are not very patient.  A Great Blue Heron can sit totally still on a tree branch for hours, but the greens seem to like to be on the move.  I lost sight of them again until I saw heron #2 fly across the pond and into the tall grass disturbing heron #1.  Buddy saw that incident, too and ran to their location.  Both herons immediately flew back up into the walnut tree.  As I left to return to the house, I looked back and I noticed one of the herons fly back into a different section of tall grass along the edge of the water. Within a second, he had vanished. 

two little Green Herons in flight...can you see them both?

preening while in the walnut tree
green heron coming in for a landing...notice the length of its neck - it changes























amazing Green Heron perched on a Black Walnut tree branch...even the walnuts look amazing


This was my most active heron sighting day to date.  Ever!



Extremely good luck or extremely good timing…whatever the case, I was a very appreciative recipient!