summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Snapshots

 Thanksgiving morning

Autumn meets Winter

we have plenty of beef, pork and lamb...but, today we had to have the bird

the legs are always reserved for Matt

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving has been snowing all day.


The outside world looks more akin to Christmas than Turkey Day.


The snow is wet and heavy; so many plants that are normally upright are now close to lying flat on the ground. My grasses and bamboo fall over quickly.  Many evergreen tree limbs, typically feet off the ground, have bowed under the weight of the snow.  Their tips are touching the snow-covered lawn.  Some limbs, extremely-laden, have sloughed off their loads and are now more dusted than dough-like.


Becky called to inform me that her last sow is farrowing.  Piglet count is at 12 which is huge.  And, Becky is not sure if the last baby pig has arrived.  (Just got an update text…number 14 just arrived - yikes!) So far, mama and little oinkers are doing well. It is fortunate that Becky did not have a repeat of the farrowing of sow #3 who was not a good mother, would not let her babies feed, and the entire litter succumbed including the little tike that I held for hours inside my jacket to keep him warm.  This mama is calm, laying down and letting her little ones rummage all over her as they search out the nipples. Now, this mama sow is a keeper.


now, that is one full mama - 15 piglets is the final count
(photo courtesy of Becky - I have not been out to see these newest babies yet)

Sow#3…she is already scheduled for a date with the butcher.  No second chances at Becky’s Barnyard. 


Either her livestock performs well or they become dinner. 


All  I can say is…yummy!



Friday, November 21, 2014


This is a very SAD day for the United States.

The LAWBREAKERS are rewarded and the LAWABIDING are punished.

The Republic is dead.

I am in mourning!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nature's Secrets

I had withdrawn to the comfort of the house for several days because it was SO COLD, but I was anxious to get outside again. The air temperatures warmed a bit today, so I took the opportunity to take a quick walk down to the pond.


The pond displayed a bit of ice around its edges.  The cold temperatures, teens and twenties, of the past few days had been enough to begin this transformation from liquid water to its solid form.


The puppies licked where they normally lap.  Sammy and Snowball were curious.  They edged further out onto the thin ice.  I could hear the cracking.  Suddenly, Snowball fell, head first, through the somewhat solid layer into the water below.  He quickly retreated to firm ground with concern.  ‘What just happened to me?’ was evident in his facial expression. 


I just had to chuckle. 


Unbeknownst to me, our resident heron was hiding in the brown cattail thicket during our pond visit. He eventually gave up his hiding and flew grandly up into the air and away from our direction.


I wondered what made that heron remain at the pond so long today, especially since we were present, when in the past he always flew away upon our immediate arrival.


Hmmm…I must have had that same quizzical look upon my face that Snowball had revealed earlier.


Nature keeps us all guessing which, in turn, keeps life very fascinating.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Study In...Kingfisher

On my walk down to the pond, I disturbed the heron, yet again. This has become a daily habit.  Fortunately for me, watching that heron fly is so amazing.

No sooner did the heron take flight and land in a nearby tree that my resident female Belted Kingfisher arrived.  At least, I heard her.  I did not immediately see her.


But, as I walked around to the far side of the pond, she flew to the bench of the pond house dock where she was content to sit for minutes.  Then, she flew to what I now call the ‘kingfisher tree’, that small walnut tree growing nearest the pond and to where I was now standing.


This was the closest that kingfisher and I have ever been.  I was ecstatic inside and tying to remain calm and motionless on my outside.


From the tree, the kingfisher flew to the overhead electric line which runs near the pond bank opposite the kingfisher tree bank.  She perched on that line for quite some time during which I heard some grunting coming from the woods located uphill from the pond.  I looked up just in time to see a couple of white plumes, the tails of the white-tailed deer, move quickly through the trees.  Next I heard the shrill screams of, what I thought was, a hawk.  I was not able to see the bird.  Maybe it was an eagle as our son thought he saw two eagles fly over the farm the previous day. 


Suddenly, the kingfisher flew down and dove into the water returning to the pond house deck.  She was not alone. She had a fish in her beak.  WOW!  More excitement for me as I had never seen her catch a fish in all our previous encounters. 


After devouring the blue gill, the kingfisher dove into the water and returned to the bench.  Then, she dove again and again returned to the bench.  She repeated this series several more times within the course of about one minute.  On her last return, she spent several minutes preening, grooming her feathers. 
In all, I had been watching that kingfisher for over 30 minutes observing activity which was probably part of her usual routine. 


What a full morning.  I felt my day, my week, even my month was well satisfied with these many small wonders from the wild, natural sphere.


And, I am looking forward, to many more marvels. 


I just need to keep my eyes and ears alert.


Note: This event took place a few weeks ago.  The past few days have been so cold - not getting above ‘feels like 20 degrees’ according to Intellicast that I have pretty much stayed indoors.  My canine companions are not very happy with me as they like to take a daily walk with me.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

OH NO!!!!

Last night, Becky and I were returning from an afternoon of shopping.  She had to make a quick stop at her house to change into her work clothes before dropping me off at my house.  Becky still had pig chores to do which included checking on her newest piglets which were born earlier in the morning.  Two sows had already farrowed and two were getting close. 

first sow of four to farrow this cycle

piglets crowding under the heat lamp

check out one of the four new farrowing pens...pretty fancy!

We both hate shopping, but she needed to find a dress for an upcoming event.  She purchased the first dress she saw, albeit we had continued the search to several other shops, when we returned to the first shop several hours later. We were very exhausted and very hungry.  We ate lunch at 6:30 PM.


Driving the country road between our homes, in the dark, Becky slowed down as she approached a sharp turn.


There…right in front of us, a cat crossed our path…low to the pavement and stealthy.


It was not any ordinary household cat, not even a stray tomcat…it was a BOBCAT!


This bobcat, I believe, was the first bobcat I had ever really seen in the ‘wild’.


Today, as I relayed the incident to Glenn, I had a troubling thought.  That bobcat was only about one short mile, as the ’crow flies’ or as the bobcat prowls, to our sheep.


Are you getting the picture?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Goal Accomplished

Today, I was successful in meeting a goal I had set.


I had a huge pile of mulch that I had been spreading out among my garden beds all summer. The spreading was slow, and fairly irregular.


Initially, a dump truck full of mulch was unloaded near, but not in, my yard and perennial garden beds area.  Over the weeks and months, the pile seemed to become a fixture in the nearby pasture as I was moving it so slowly.


 I had decided to move the mulch a wheelbarrow full at a time.  I wanted some physical exercise and this was chore was a good option. Glenn offered many a time to scoop up the mulch with the tractor bucket and dump a bunch of mulch at one time, but I was also concerned about the well-being of my existing perennials.  I needed to carefully spread the mulch around and under each plant.  I did not want to crunch any of my plants by dumping bunches of mulch via the tractor bucket.


The task was slowed even more by weather.  Spreading mulch is a hard job, best done during the cool of the morning or the cool of the evening…never at mid-day.  Since my cool mornings were allocated to my walks, the evenings were the best choice.  But, of course, once the cool evening arrived, I was already exhausted from a day of various other chores.  My mulching, at the time, was low priority and kept being penciled in as a chore for the next day, then the next; thus, my rationalization for my slow going.


My goal had been set early.  The mulch pile had to be gone, totally gone, before the freezing temperatures of fall/winter arrived.  Once the weather changed and started to freeze, the mulch would freeze too and would be impossible to dig out of the pile, let alone spread it. And, it would also deteriorate some by the following spring.  This mulch is just too expensive to waste.  Besides, I had plenty of time.  I set this goal in June.


Today, I finally got all the mulch spread. 


I have to admit that I did cheat a bit toward the end of the day.  I was running out of daylight, I was running out of time as in season, and I was definitely running out of muscle.  I had already wheeled 6 loads early in the morning and my stamina was fading fast.  Six loads per day are pushing my physical limit.  I had at least 15 more loads to go. 


Since I was in an area where there were no plants, just the backside of the corncrib flower bed, I decided that Glenn could dump a bucket of mulch without plant damage.  Actually, two dumps were made.

weeding complete late September...finally looking cleaned-up rather than the normal jungle
90% of the extraneous vegetation was removed, mainly out-of-control Virginia Creeper and
lots and lots of invasive bamboo

dead plants trimmed, mulching complete
there are more perennial plants hiding under all that mulch...
come spring, I will have daffodils, peonies, irises and

Voila…mulching is complete for the season.  My goal attained.  


I was able to mulch about 30% of all my perennial beds this season.  Next spring, I will purchase another dump truck of mulch and continue where I left off.  After all, this is a never-ending gardening chore.  When 100% complete, the first of the mulch that was put down will have deteriorated and will be ready to be renewed.



But, for now, my gardens are ready for winter.





Monday, November 10, 2014

Warms My Heart

A KILLING freeze arrives during the night which is then followed by a shirt-sleeves warm day.


And, a most welcomed surprise…an unexpected bloom glows to brighten the last of the comfortable autumn days.


A little gift to me!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Nest Falls from a Tree

As I was hanging out my laundry today, probably for the last time of this year, I noticed a pile of twigs laying at the edge of a nearby garden.

small tree which held the second nest
I realized that the pile of twigs was actually a mockingbird nest that must have recently fallen from the tree branch above. The wind has been blowing quite frequently lately. Frankly, I am astonished that the nest did not succumb sooner.

This is the second nest, that I observed, which the mockingbirds
had used during the 2014 season.
Mockingbird nests are very crude and loosely layered compared to nests of other bird species.  The mockingbird nests always look like a pile of twigs thrown onto a branch of a tree or shrub. Fortunately, they work.
This is the first nest...the usual pile of twigs thrown on a branch. 
We must have passed by the first nest hundreds of times during the day as it was just feet from our main door of the house, located just about head level in a small dogwood tree.  Those parents left the nest every time we passed.  They were always on the move.  But, they returned just as rapidly to care for their eggs, then young.
(Note: I took this video back in July, one of many, from my personal bird's eye view - a second story window.  What a wonder to be able to observe the goings on inside the nest!)

I guess they realized themselves that they had built this nest just a bit too close for their comfort. Therefore, they built their next nest about ten feet away from the first and much higher up. (Note: Northern Mockingbirds can have two or more broods per year.)


We still passed by the new nest regularly, but we were not in as close proximity as we had been to the first.


With our three cats and two dogs (at that time) in constant hunt mode, the baby birds surprisingly thrived and survived. 


Mockingbirds are common in our yard.  So, I look forward to many more seasons of discovering many more of those rudimentary nests.


In previous years, our mockingbirds have made nests in the apple trees, the barberry bushes, and the holly tree.


Where will these amazing songsters nest next spring?


They are keeping that location secret for now.

(Final Note: See more on this Mockingbird family at my 7-8-14 blog, More Baby Birds.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

One Day Too Late

We had our first killing freeze last night. I was not paying much attention to the weather forecast.


I did not bring in any of my potted plants. And, this morning, I was greeted with a few very sad-looking plants.  Some of my potted plants, though, endured the cold quite nicely. Hardier, I guess.


My angel wing begonia was the most distressed.  This plant’s foliage was sparse most of the summer and was just beginning to flourish this fall.  That is, until, last night.  I was one day too late. 


The normally large, upright and stiff leaves had been transformed to limp and droopy mush.  The once firm stems are now soft and bending over.


I brought the failing plant inside into the living room, placed it in the sunny window, and hope that it will, at the very least, sprout new leaves.  It will have five months indoors to recover.


If the begonia does not survive,  I do have a few rooted cuttings, from this very plant, sitting in water-filled jars on my kitchen counter.  They are small, but alive.


Next year, I will be more vigilant knowing that the begonia needs to take inside shelter earlier than most of my other potted plants.


But, for now, it looks like I will be retrieving some potting soil, some pots and my rooted cuttings. 


No time like the present to get a healthy start for next season with this begonia.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Personal Achievement

I was fully enjoying my favorite month, the month of October, when suddenly November arrived.

This morning when  I wandered into the kitchen I noticed the two clocks displaying different times.  I rushed to the computer to verify.  Sure enough...the time had changed, falling back one hour. Now, my days will seem even shorter than they already do - pooh!

The temperatures have significantly cooled from the warm 60’s and 70’s of October to as low as 30 degrees at night. Potted plants had to be carted indoors. The last of the garden harvest gathered.


Also, Glenn finally started the furnace for the season, never before November 1, and now we have heat in the house - hurray!    I do not like to be cold.


Yesterday, I treated myself to a beginner painting class.


 I was going to spend the entire day with my friend Ann, first taking the class together and then having dinner out. But, she had to cancel.  The night before, Ann ate a food she was either allergic to or poisoned by and the typical consequences resulted.  I will not go into detail, but she was very sick.  I was so disappointed since I had waited all summer to spend this day with her. 


Fortunately, for me, the painting class did not disappoint. 


Each class attendee painted the same picture, Chickadee on Snow-covered Branch.  The subject was so appropriate and timely.   To be able to paint a bird commonly found at my bird feeder and, the way the weather was forecasted, we were expecting our first snow. The only snow to arrive, though, is what I painted into my picture.  

my work station - first step - criss cross brush strokes of sap green

The instructor provided all the materials as well as her expertise and love of painting.  I just had to listen and paint and enjoy...which I did willingly. This was my first ever attempt at oil painting and I love it!


At the end, each novice artist went home with an amazing oil painting. I was so surprised with my resulting canvass.


I am already looking forward to continuing with this, new to me, hobby.


Glenn is already making sounds about me adding one more ‘fun’ thing to my full schedule.  Hey…life is too short to stop expanding one’s interests. 


Next???  Come back and see what I have planned for early December.