Monday, August 31, 2009


This web extended all the way across the road, with the spider dead center. Small spider, too. I sadly had to break it to drive up to the house. Wonder if it will be back tomorrow?

Blackberry Takeover

Aren't they beautiful? Mouth watering? It's a bumper year for blackberries. Fruit and plants.

Those berries are from this patch, which is trying to take over the woods.

These are trying to take over the pond. You can see the fence in the depth. This growth has all taken place this summer.

A little further on the berries have almost totally covered the fence...

and are heading towards the house. Intervening field? No problem.

The four-hooved stock has been in this field a week, and these vines are now leafless (and, of course, berryless. Goats love berries.) I need to get down there and cut the bare vines back. First step in keeping the temperate jungle under control.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Last spring I bought 6 feeder goldfish to put in my pond, testing to see if it was habitable by fish. Sadly, the fish got Ich and all disappeared by fall. After our exceptionally long and cold winter I was sure there were no fish left.

But the last few days I've caught glimpses of red in the pond. A red in the shape of a rather large goldfish! I've only seen one, but he looks in good health.

While I was there this creature of the (not so) deep rose, stared at me for a few minutes, then sunk back down when the camera got too close.

Now that I know the pond really is fish-habitable I'm going to get some koi.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Millie's Big Day

This morning when I went to feed Millie, she didn't come running. That's not totally unheard of, but I started down to find her anyway, and saw her limping out of the woods. As she got closer I realized she looked like the Porcupine entry at the Halloween ball. Millie had quills stuck in the roof of her mouth, through her tongue, all around her lower face, and completely covering her right foot. As she nudged me I realized that quills have points on both ends. This was not something I could deal with. I needed to find an vet office open Saturdays.

It turns out there's one less than 4 miles from my house. Millie is now back and in a newly-shaving-filled kennel, eating ground lamb and albacore tuna. I have an empty wallet and bottles of drugs for her. She is not a happy dog, although she likes the extra attention.

I went looking for the porcupine, or evidence of a fight. Charlie of course came with me, but it wasn't long before I heard other rustling. My little flock of peafowl were following along behind us. I went from the field into the woods, followed by the peas. I am totally flattered that they consider me part of the flock, and want to be where I am. One of the things I love about the peas is that wherever I am it seems I turn to see at least one gorgeous bird. Maybe that isn't all coincidence.

There was no sign of a fight, no blood, no dead porcupine. I think he or she got away unscathed, Millie being the only injured party. There is just no winning in a fight with a porcupine.

It's interesting what you see when in investigation mode that you miss normally. Millie has marked the entire field. There are small piles of dog scat at even intervals all around the edges of the fenced area. Beware, all who enter here, this land is taken.

Another amazing thing I found on my circuit is that in the past few months a large stretch of fence has disappeared. In its place are blackberries. They have sucked up the fence, and are stretching out into the field. Given a year they'd cover the field and my house. I, however, have a secret weapon that I unleashed on them tonight. I let the sheep, goats and donkey back into that field.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

Morning Alarms or a Dog With a Job

Trey is a smallish Border Collie cross. A quiet dog with few demands. He decided some time ago that his primary job in life is waking me up in the mornings. He waits until the alarm has gone off a few times, then sticks his nose in my face, licks my arms, generally acts very annoying until I truly wake up and assure him I'm getting up. If I don't, he'll return in another 10 minutes to repeat the annoyances. On mornings when the alarm fails to do it's job, Trey waits until the appropriate time 20 minutes or so after the first alarm would have gone off, and starts prodding and poking. So much for sleeping in :).

I am not a clever enough trainer to teach a dog to be my alarm clock. It's a good thing I have such smart, intuitive dogs who see a need and fill it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Saffron Moon

I just can't get the color right, the moon was a gorgeous yellow gold. It was too beautiful to not attempt pictures. Someday I'll actually read my camera manual and figure out how to maintain color at night.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Fast Friends

One of my favorite people is a woman who used to live down the road from me. She spent the night a few days ago, on her way back to her new home in Oregon. Over the years we've been as good of friends with each others dogs as with each other. Jesse was thrilled to see her again. His friend, come to see him after years of absence.

In the morning Danie commented that people think of the country as quiet, when it's anything but. She had thought that the hourly sentinel bark (that sounded like it was just under her window) was Charlie the Pyr doing nightly rounds. However, in the morning she looked out the window to see Jesse laying right under it, looking up at her and smiling. "See, I took care of you all night. Aren't you glad we're friends?"

Saturday, August 01, 2009


I love hay season. As I drive to work in the summer the transition is magical. One day there's a field of tall yellowing grass waving in the breeze, the next day the field is short and green, and there are rows of drying grass. Soon the field is patterned with bales or rounds. And then they disappear. It is a giant living art work created in the country by hard-working farmers.

My cousin is a farmer in central Washington, where they grow alfalfa instead of grass. He sent me these great pictures, capturing the art in process.

Rows of newly cut alfalfa, left to dry to the perfect point - knowing when to bale is part of the art of farming.

The magical step that turns rows of drying vegetation into lovely solid bales of hay.

Food for the winter still sitting in the field, waiting to be collected and shipped or stored.

In the heat of summer winter's food supply is prepared. Farming necessitates a long view of life, an understanding of cycles, preparing for the future. In cities we separate ourselves from nature, and lose the wonderful connection to and knowledge of weather, land, crops, life, regeneration. And miss the beauty.