summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Thursday, July 31, 2014

An Amazing Morning

This morning as I walked along the ridge line farm road, I noticed a bird flying in my direction.  I stopped to watch its flight.  As the bird flew directly over my head, I immediately recognized it as a pileated woodpecker - very large and very distinct.  Then, the bird disappeared.


Did said bird land in the tree only feet from my location or did it continue its flight into the adjacent woods?  I did not have to wonder too long as I immediately heard the familiar ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ of a woodpecker.


My excitement grew as I realized the bird had landed in the tree.  I slowly took a few steps backwards.  Looking upward, I had an amazing view of this pileated.  He (verifiable by the red moustache which the female does not exhibit) seemed unconcerned by my presence.  A definite rare opportunity for me to observe from not only such a proximity but also for more than a brief second which is usually my norm with this species.


The dogs were patient with me and quietly laid down while I took an unintended but fabulous break from my walk. 


I remained as long as this woodpecker.  My glance did not waver.  Within minutes, the woodpecker flew into the woods and vanished.  I continued on my way much richer than I was only moments ago.


As I have mentioned many times before, the little things in life make a BIG difference.  I recommend to anyone to open your eyes just a bit wider and to enjoy the moment.  You, too, will be rewarded.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sharing some sunshine...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Walking in the Rain...Not Quite!

My early morning walk through the woods was cool, refreshing and quite noisy.


There was a bit of showers, and I do mean bit, the night before and the rain that collected on the leaves was now dripping from the canopy to the ground below.


The sound was loud enough to profess actual rain, but no precipitation was falling from the sky…only falling from the treetops.  Despite the sound like I was getting soaked, I stayed dry except for one drop that landed on my shoulder.


A kind of walking in the rain without getting wet…sweet!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Visit to Becky's Barnyard

Recently, I went to visit my daughter Becky’s farm.


Sure…I live on a farm, enjoy each aspect of our farm; but our farm does not have pigs.  Becky’s farm has pigs.


Pigs are a much different creature than cattle or sheep.  They seem to constantly snort, unless napping; they love to wallow in mud; and they vocalize when wanting food.  They vocalize a lot.


Becky has one gilt who comes to her for a bit of petting.  This gilt actually lies down and rolls over for that much appreciated belly rub.  We are talking pig here…not pet dog.


A special treat for the pigs is when Becky throws them a scoop of peanuts, rejects from the Little Debbie Snack Cakes factory.  The peanuts are not considered rejects by the pigs. As they eat the peanuts, I can tell by a different sound that they are fully enjoying each little peanut morsel.


After surviving her first farrowing, Becky is preparing for her three Tamworth gilts to farrow.  Her pig production is on the increase. 


And, the pork (a whisper here - I don’t want the pigs to hear) is quite tasty. 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

More Baby Birds

This time the babies are northern Mockingbirds.


And, their nest is just feet from the main door to our house…the door we use constantly, the door we are always going in and out, and the door where the dogs hangout and nap.


Why would these mockingbirds build their nest so close to our activity?  I guess I would have to ask them? Unfortunately, I do not speak ‘mockingbird’.


Anyways, I always look out the window when I go into the upstairs bathroom.  The view of the yard is splendid from that location.  About two weeks ago, I noticed two adult mockingbirds fly into our small, flowering dogwood tree.  Immediately, I investigated further and discovered the nest.  It is difficult to see because of the lovely shade and protection provided by lush leaves.  I had no idea that the nest existed until the mockingbirds gave away their secret.  Since then, I have been watching the nesting site on a daily basis. 

Look can see mama mockingbird sitting on the nest

getting food

anxiously waiting for food

patiently waiting for food has arrived

The nest is crudely fashioned from twigs and sits smack dab in the middle of the dogwood tree which I planted years ago.  The tree has been plagued with boring-type bugs off and on over the past several years, so its growth has been challenged.  That little dogwood is finally looking healthy and is finally starting to put on more growth.  Now, it seems to be large enough to support a bird nursery.


During the ‘sitting’ stage, the mockingbirds would scoot out from the branches and quickly fly away from their station every time we opened the door or walked by the nest. The birds left often. Fortunately, they always returned to the task of getting their eggs to hatch.


Even though the nest is situated mere inches from where we frequently pass, the best view is from that upstairs bathroom window.  I can look down through a small opening in the foliage and see directly into the nest.  Using binoculars brings the action into detailed focus.


A couple of days ago, I spied the babies.  First, I thought there were two, until a parent returned with food and three bright orange beaks burst open. 


Today, the wind is gusting and that little tree is swaying a lot.  Hold tight babies!


Now, I worry about our dogs and cats.  So far, they are unaware of the new family in their neighborhood. But, if a baby falls from the nest, well….


We just won’t go there yet.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Never Say Never

Yesterday, Matt wanted to go canoeing.  Glenn, a big boater in days past, was all in.  And, somehow I got added to the mix.  I have not been canoeing for years, decades.  In reality, I did not think I would ever go canoeing again. Never. Whitewater canoeing is one of many activities that scare me.  But, I always felt somewhat safe with Glenn in the stern due to his expert experience.  He always got us through any whitewater rapids without the canoe flipping.  That, in itself, is huge.


After a few morning chores, we prepared.  The guys got the boats (one canoe, one kayak), the paddles, the life vests and their personal gear ready.  I fetched the towels, sunscreen, bottles of water and my personal stuff…hat, boating glasses (eye glasses that I would not care about if lost - the pair I took is over 40 years old - remember I am a packrat, rarely throwing anything out), boating shoes (old running shoes that would eventually be wet and muddy), swimsuit (finding an old one in my closet), shorts, t-shirt, jeans.  And, an extra dose of courage.


Off we went with Glenn driving the truck with the boats securely tied in the back and Matt and I following in my car.


Glenn selected a section of the James River.  The put-in was in the town of Glasgow and the take-out was about 5 miles downstream just before the dam at Snowden.  The last time I ran this section of river was exactly 30 years ago. We recently moved to Virginia.  I was pregnant with Matthew. So, thirty years ago I took Matt down the river.  And, yesterday, Matt took me down the river. 


The put-in was a dirt pull-off.  Then, a somewhat arduous walk (especially for a pregnant lady) down a narrow dirt path flanked by woods was made.  The canoe and gear had to be carried quite a distance.  I struggled with the weight of our burden. Finally, a steep incline down to the water had to be maneuvered. The first rapid encountered, which was extremely hairy, was just one minute into the trip.  I was scared the entire time.  Glenn has no memory of this trip. 


Now, the parking area is enlarged, graveled and roped off.  The path has been widened and graveled and it is much shorter distance to the actual put-in. Steps lead to the water’s edge.  And, Matthew did my part of the carrying…whew! 


The boats were unloaded.  Glenn and Matthew drove to the take-out to drop off the truck. I watched the boats waiting for their return.  As the time ticked, my anxiety grew.


When Matt and Glenn returned, I was informed that Matt would be in the canoe with me.  Matt!  By no means does Matt have the boating experience that Glenn has.  What about the rapids?  Would we make it safely through?  Would we flip?  Would I survive?  I tried to stay calm and confident.  After all, what was the worst that could happen?  We would flip and swim.  Actually, my thoughts went more to my foot getting stuck in a rock crevice below the water and drowning. Or, my head hitting a rock and rendering me unconscious. I knew I had to stay in the boat!


So, what happened?  As you can see, I did not drown.


Matt and I managed the canoe.  Not as smooth as with Glenn, but we did well.  We worked together.  We never flipped. My anxiety went away and I really enjoyed the trip.  We took a short break at Jump Rock.  Matt made several jumps off this high rock into a deep pool below.  I took a swim which meant fighting the river current and watching out for the boulders hidden below in the water.  Glenn played in

the adjacent rapids in his kayak. The water was so refreshing and relaxing. Yes, relaxing.


I moved out of my comfort zone for a day and returned to an activity I thought was only a part of my past.  I almost felt like I was 29 again. Well, almost!


A very successful and fun-filled river trip, no doubt!


Canoeing?  What a great idea.




Saturday, July 5, 2014

Every Day A Holiday

Typically, holidays go unnoticed or, at the very least, are fairly low key at Mountain Glen.  Work is rarely put ‘on hold’ for any type of diversion.  There are always the routine, daily chores and usually a priority task or two that cannot wait one more day.

Such was the holiday yesterday. The day itself was gorgeous - cool, sunny and comfortable.

I started out with my morning walk.  Yes, I consider this work.  Not the walk itself, but the exercises that follow on my return.  Just steps outside the door, a couple of birds flew past me with one briefly landing in a nearby Bradford pear tree.  The early morning sun blazoned the bird making identification difficult.  Eventually, I was thrilled to realize that the birds were Cedar Waxwings- a rare sighting in my garden.  The waxwings are so sleek and so beautifully colored.  This was a definite treat…a holiday bonus.

I spent hours on paperwork while Glenn and visiting son Matt went about the outdoor chores.  Garden debris piles were moved out the garden.  Fences were repaired. The long, overdue project of finishing, or nearly so, the pond house was priority for the majority of the day.  I, too, was able to enjoy a few moments of the dazzling day hanging two loads of laundry out to dry.

By early evening, I was shown the progress on the pond house. The empty shell was now furnished with a platform for an air mattress, a counter, cabinets and hooks for drying and storage.  Now, not only quick afternoon visits will be less hassle (not having to remember to bring all our required stuff like inner tubes, towels fishing gear) but we will be able to spend nights, too. 

Speaking of fishing, Glenn and I decided to take a few minutes to try our luck. Glenn cast the first line and within seconds he had caught a catfish.  We were not prepared to make a dinner of him, so back he went.  My first cast hooked a bass and within seconds my line was broken, hook and bobber gone.  I changed poles and cast a second time.  And, again, a bass made the grab and broke my line.  I lost the hook. But, after a few minutes, the bobber, which I was able to retrieve, surfaced.  I was done fishing.  I will try again when I have heavier test.

Nearing 8:00 PM, Glenn and I hurried back to the house so that we could change and drive to Lexington to view the fireworks.  We decided to officially celebrate the liberty and freedom the United States currently enjoys.  How many more of our freedoms and rights will be lost by this same time next year? 

This year, Glenn chose a new, to us, viewing area.  It was perfect.  Each firework exploding into color was fabulous and in full, unobstructed sight.


All in all, we had a great day doing what we chose to do - the true spirit of living in the United States. Let us all keep it that way.

INDEPENDENCE DAY…What does this day mean to you?