spring greens at Mountain Glen Farm

spring greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meadowlark Sighting



Today, I saw two meadowlarks sitting on a nearby fence.  One was singing, sweetly.



I was thrilled.  I had never seen a meadowlark.



When I announced my sighting to Glenn, his response was, “Big deal.  I see them all the time in the lower pastures.”



Well, it was a big deal because I have not seen them.  Of course, Glenn spends 95% of his time down in the pastures while I do laundry, dishes, garden, and clean.  There is a good reason he sees them all the time.  As for me, I was glad that these meadowlarks were part of my immediate world.



And, the day before, Becky called me outside to view a couple of birds in our silver maple tree.  I looked and I could not even see one bird.  ‘There, there!’ Becky repeated emphatically and pointing her finger in the direction I should be focused.  “Where, where?’ I replied.  Suddenly, those two birds flew out from their concealed position, crossing right above our heads. 



The lead bird was black and bold orange.  The following bird muted and much lighter color.  Becky and I concluded orioles.  Orchard Orioles to be exact...we think. 



I hope these birds stay around so that I can get another look-see.



Two beautifully colored bird pairs, my first verifiable verification of either species; within a two day time frame…pretty remarkable birding , even if by chance!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Blood


Our South Poll herd is increasing.


Glenn and Becky returned from a trip to Missouri where they attended the annual meeting of the South Poll Grass-fed Cattle Association with a few head of South Poll cattle in tow. Transitioning away from Black Angus, South Poll is now our breed of choice; an up and coming breed for our all natural grazing regime.  Remember you heard it here first…South Poll will be the new prime beef…move over Angus, you best days are now behind.


Scruffy


Our largest purchase, all 1900+/- pounds, is an eight-year-old South Poll bull, named Scruffy.  Little Red, our previous main and only herd bull, is in residence at ‘55’, so the unloading after midnight went without fanfare; just the way I like it, calm and uneventful.  At the unloading, I was instructed to stand by on open section not secured by fencing or a gate, to direct Scruffy in the right direction, if need be.  By the time I got to my assigned location, Scruffy had already walked off the trailer and into his new quarters.  No jumping, no bellowing, not looking for an escape route, no excitement; just a slow, measured walk into the darkness of the pasture.  Wow!  I am going to like this bull.




Also, four yearling heifers, all South Poll, were purchased from the same producer. These heifers have different genetics than the bull, so future breeding between them will not be a concern.  We will see the results of Scruffy with the new calves come next April.  We are hoping for an exclamation of…


‘Outstanding!’

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Carefree Color


Butterflies are special. 


Spicebush Swallowtail

When a butterfly, or moth, comes floating past me while I am out in my garden, I always stop and watch its flight.  I have been doing this ever since I was a little girl; a wonderful habit to retain.  I would also go running to my Mother pleading for a butterfly kiss.  She always relented.

Zebra Swallowtail

Now, if I am especially fortunate, the butterfly will light upon a nearby flower; whereby, I can watch the nuances of every motion…eating, wing flutter, stepping from one petal, one flower to another.  Most times, the butterflies are too speedy to study.  They land for one second and are airborne swiftly and carefree. They seem most comfortable, and are most beautiful, gliding along the breeze.  I have learned to be expeditious to enjoy these momentary visitors to my garden.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

I am most intrigued by the color of the wings’ scales; similar to fabric; bold, concise color on the top, muted color on the underside.   The colors displayed can include black; white; and every hue, tint, value on the color wheel.  The colors also form a pattern specific to a unique species of butterfly; thus, making identification easy. Well, not quite easy; more like helpful.  Even with butterfly identification book in hand; at times, I find it very difficult to hone in on the exact Lepidoptera.

Monarch


This week the majestic Monarch is the mainstay in my garden.  Last week, the swallowtails, the zebra even more prevelent than the eastern tiger.  (Sounds like I live in a jungle.) I also had a rare look at a grape leaffolder. 

Grape Leaffolder (moth) on a lawn chair - what? That cannot be very nutricious or delicious.

Next week...I am waiting with anticipation to see what will float in on the wind!

Is that a flower or a butterfly...look closely, it is both!  That one is really working for its nectar!




Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Elusive Bunny


I do not know if you noticed, but I have never included a photo of a rabbit, or bunny for that matter, in any of my blogs.  In fact, I do not think I even have a photo of the furry fellow.

Why?  I can’t get one!

First, with all the cats and dogs running around the yard, the few surviving grass nibbling nose wigglers do not stay in residence for very long.  They usually move to a safer, more rabbit friendly environment.  Well, that is my perspective on the matter.  In reality, there is no rabbit friendly environment around that I am aware…the woods provide better cover, but those owls and hawks are quite talented and usually quite accurate.

Second, if I do see a bunny; by the time I fetch my camera…gone.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of the cottontail quickly scurrying into the tall grass of the nearby pasture or into one of many of my perennial flower beds, hidden by the lush vegetation - lucky bunny.

I will continue to pursue this aspiration until I am successful; if it takes days, months or years. 

Eventually, I will have to be the lucky one.



Today was my lucky day…I finally saw this cutie through my living room window.  I took the photo from  inside the house.   I was not taking any chances of scaring the little guy away. Then, I tried to get one from outside, but the second I quietly opened the door, the bunny hopped swiftly into the daylilies lining that side of the house.

Huh?


No matter…I got my picture; my goal achieved!



Friday, June 22, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer's First Thunderstorm?

The sun shines bright.  The still air is hot and humid.



Suddenly, thunder rumbles in the distance.  Clouds build higher into the sky.  Trees sway in the occasional gusts of wind. Dust spirals over the gravel driveway.  The sun is veiled; darkening the blue sky to grey.




I wait.



I contemplate…will I receive the anticipated rain during the first thunderstorm of summer 2012, or will the indicators only tease at my hopes?



I continue to wait.  And, wait.



No rain, not one drop. The clouds clear enough for the sun to make a final appearance as it lowers in the western sky.




Fortunately, the air temperature dropped over 20 degrees resulting in a comfortable early summer evening.   



Ahhh….

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sizzling Summer...Welcome!






















The summer solstice will occur, for me, at 7:09 PM tonight.




A minor benchmark as celebrations go; but, significant nonetheless.  I like to take notice of these marginal holidays as special.





Today is the hottest day of the year, to date, so my celebrating will be kept to a physical minimum.  I will wait until the coolness of the evening to wander about my gardens enjoying the bounty of the season on this day of longest light hours for the year.  I cannot believe that this date in 2012 has arrived so quickly; the light of day time will now begin to shorten. 




As I sit indoors during the heat of early afternoon, I hear a most energetic bird singing loudly. Usually the birds are most melodic throughout the early morning hours; finding respite, like me, from the afternoon heat.  I tried to locate his perch, but this songster is comfortably hidden among the thick summer foliage; so, I just continue to sit back, relax, and enjoy the mélange of tunes while sitting in the slight breeze entering through the opened window. 




I have conscientiously slowed down my life; but, I cannot slow down the influences of Mother Nature. 




Today, my celebration includes reflection of my life; now, and in the near future. 




The sun has changed direction.   What direction do I want to journey?



Are You Registered To Vote?

Last night, Glenn and I attended the 2012 Rockingham Feeder Cattle Association Annual Meeting.



Our newly elected, and hoping to represent our district for his 11th term, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (or representative) was due to attend.  The representative attended.  Of course, Mr. Goodlatte was just elected (one week ago) as the Republican candidate for that U.S. House of Representatives seat; the first time he was ever seriously challenged for that position.  Why would he take the time to come and say a few words?  He was the successful candidate.  And, speaking of few words…his representative said nothing; a missed opportunity.  A few words to the constituents might have shown real concern in our interests.  The voters of the 6th District in Virginia elected this man, for an amazing ten terms no less…I was disappointed and irritated at his absence.  Note:  For the record, I did not vote for Mr. Goodlatte.  I am neither a republican nor a democrat.  I vote for the candidate who will best represent my focuses of less government, fewer regulations, less taxes and a common sense approach to maintaining the freedom and liberty of the United States.  If you want Socialism, you should probably consider moving to Europe.  I voted for new blood; new ideas; and, I think, a better representative; I voted for Karen Kwiatkowski.  Check out her qualifications and platform for yourself.  I was impressed.





But, the main speaker at the meeting was wonderful; Colin Woodall, representing the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association from the Legislative Affairs Office in Washington, D.C.



He briefed the audience on recent wins…negate new dust regulations that would have shut down most every farmer in the U.S., negate every person driving a tractor to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License even if driving the tractor on the farm proper, negating stiff regulations concerning farm children, under age 16, from, pretty much, doing any chores on the farm….to name a few. 



Each second Mr. Woodall spoke, the angrier I became.  These wins are fabulous.  However, these introduced regulations were ludicrous from the beginning; a result of a too big government.  What is happening to common sense in this country? 



Then, Mr. Woodall continued on with an update on current proposed legislation; again, more ludicrous ideas that the Cattlemen’s organization is working to prevent.  The main issue is that the CEO of the Humane Society is trying to eliminate all livestock production.  His intent is for all Americans to be vegetarians.  What happened to choice? I can think and make decisions for myself.  I like to eat beef, pork, lamb, chicken.  Do you? 



And, do you know where the Humane Society gets it capital to lead this endeavor?  Hundreds of millions of dollars come from ads asking for $19.95/month to help poor and abused dogs and cats.  I know you have seen pictures of the pathetic animals stream across your television screen.  Do not get taken in by these misleading pleads; find out the facts.  In reality, only  pennies go to help the animals, while the majority of the money obtained goes to pay the CEO and his minions to shut down livestock production in the U.S.  Oh, by the way…the most supportive partner in this enterprise…the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 



Have you heard the latest?  The EPA is trying to regulate all water sources, anything that contains water or can potentially contain water; this includes that puddle in your yard. I am not making this up! Do the research for yourself. 



Folks…we are losing our rights, our freedoms inch by inch.  Please wake up, get politically educated and discover for yourself what is really happening in your state,  in the United States, and in the world.  You might be surprised and shocked!



Make sure you are registered to vote and vote to make a difference!



The freedoms of all United States citizens depends on getting the right people back into the government; those who truly support the common sense values and morals of the majority.  Please make a conscious effort to do your part.  Remember all those before us who made the ultimate sacrifice of life to keep us free - REMEMBER!  Now, it is our turn to contribute.



We all need less government, fewer regulations, less debt and more prosperity in our lives!


Be PROUD to call yourself an American!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Friends of Gladys Taber Reunion - Memories and Friendships To Cherish




Sagamore Bridge - a gateway to beautiful Cape Cod


I just returned home from the Friends of Gladys Taber Reunion which was held on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.   The weather was perfect; sunny with comfortable temperatures. The company; perfect, as well.



The trip was quick, but worth the time away from our farm.   I came back distinctively rejuvenated and relaxed after spending two precious days with women I call my friends.



Still Cove, located on Cape Cod, was Ms. Taber’s second, or alternative, home.  Her appreciation for Still Cove, the Cape and its people is obvious as lovingly detailed in her books, My Own Cape Cod and Still Cove Journal.  Still Cove, with a major rebuild, is now under new ownership; but, the essence of Gladys and her small seaside cottage remains.






Blue Rock


Sea Call Farm

Gladys Taber still draws people to the Cape in spirit with skillful prose; her rhetoric most alluring. The lucky ones actually get to vacation on the narrow land of sand, salt marshes, pine and oak woodland surrounded by ocean.  I am lucky.


On  the Cape, I had fun taking photos of many of the places Ms. Taber writes about in her Still Cove books: Sagamore Bridge, The Lobster Claw restaurant, Mill Pond, Rock Harbor, and  Sea Call Farm to name a few.   The tranquility, the dampness of the sea spray, the dark water lapping quietly and rhythmically onto the rocky shore near Blue Rock, the fresh and tasty seafood meals, the ever changing blue hues of the ocean water…well, I really had to be on site to experience these  unique sensations hands-on.  I  gratefully took away an exclusive, personal understanding of Cape Cod.  My visit made me a richer person.

Gladys Taber probably said it best..."Cape Cod is whatever one seeks."


Mary standing in front of Mill Pond at Still Cove.


Connecticut Friends

Carol mails our fabulous newsletter out to all the members.


During the gathering, I was able to glean new information about my favorite author, Gladys Taber, via interesting slide shows and programs presented by our knowledgeable members ; but, sharing life in back and forth conversations with other Friends was most satisfying. 

Illinois Friends
















And, more  GREAT Friends from Virginia, Vermont,   Iowa, Missouri...Friends from all over the United States participate! 







The Friends of Gladys Taber are an exceptional mix of wonderful, thoughtful, and diverse individuals who boldly convey their passion for Gladys Taber and her extensive writings.  Are you a fan of Gladys Taber?  If so, please take the opportunity to join us in becoming a member.  We wholeheartedly welcome all new members.  (friendsofgladystaber.org)


Rock Harbor

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hurray for Hydrangeas


I have two hydrangeas growing in my garden.




One is what I call my generic hydrangea…huge flower clusters adorning, almost hiding, the shrub.  The overall color is peculiar as some flowers are pink, others blue, and still others seem to be a combination of the two resulting in a lavender tint.


 copious spring rains were a tremendous help toward the production of such large and plentiful floral balls


What is a bit confusing is that the petal color of the hydrangea is usually a result of the soil in which the plant grows; blue flowers indicate alkaline soil and pink flowers indicate acid soil.  So, what is pH of my soil?



I really do not care.  I just love that I get a combination and mix of both colors on one plant as I think the pastels are most attractive together.




My second hydrangea displays the lacey-type flowers.  Again, this hydrangea is so different from the more common hydrangea; yet, beautiful in its distinction. The flowers are airy, and numerous.  This hydrangea does not leave the ph of the soil up for question...always intense blue, so the soil is definitely alkaline.



But, the best characteristic of both of my hydrangeas is that the flowers persist for weeks and weeks; which means I get to enjoy the blooms for weeks and weeks.




I applaud my hydrangeas for their endurance.