Monday, July 29, 2013

Sunflower Community

Red Winged Blackbird, Laughing

Perched hummingbird

House finch perched on the left, hummingbird perched on the right

Female Diana fritillary, top side

Bumblebee and Diana fritillary

Female Diana fritillary, underside

Ruby throated hummingbird

Male and female hummingbirds

A little "in-flight video". Sorry about the dust on the lens!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hummingbird Haven

This year I let the birdseed grow itself under the feeders.  It's created a lovely bed of sunflowers.  Birds hop around under cover of the stalks at ground level.  To be honest, Barnard enjoys crouching down on the perimeter and stalking the birds, but she's never caught one or even pounced, as far as I can tell.

 The hummingbirds can often be found perching on the sturdy stems of the sunflower leaves!

Hummingbird activity is up in the past week or so.  All day long at least two of them swoop and dive around the feeder.  Sometimes one hides in the flowers, waiting until the other comes to drink, then explodes up out of the cover to scare the other off.  There is nothing peaceful about hummingbirds!  If you look really, really closely at the photo above, right along the left edge, you'll see a hummer flying into view.

I'll help:

Aren't they terrific?!

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Amazing light this morning. 


A moment on the lips...

You know the saying -- a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips?

Is there a similar saying for when you don't get the weeding done and all the evil ones start to make fruit and set seed?

Because I should be reciting it right about now. As you can see. 


Sunday, July 21, 2013

It's the Garlic Harvest!

Today we celebrate the garlic harvest!

This year I planted four varieties.  Chesnok Red is a purple stripe, hardneck.  Inchelium Red, an artichoke softneck.   Loiacono Italian, another artichoke softneck. Nootka Rose is an heirloom silverskin softneck.  I thought I knew which was which, but I did not mark the bed well and now I'm not certain I can tell!

I do know that I selected varieties in part because of their color.  If you've only ever bought garlic at the grocery store, it might surprise you to see how colorful the bulbs can be.  From pinks and reds through purples and even mahogany, garlic comes in a really wide range of colors.  And the flavors are stunningly varied -- mild garlics you'd be happy to eat raw, through exceptionally hot, spicy garlics that linger on your tongue for an hour after you eat them.

Now that the bulbs are out of the ground, they need to dry up a bit for a week or two.  Unlike some other vegetables that "cure", garlic stays out of the sun in the barn where there's good air circulation for this period.  Makes the barn smell amazing, by the way!

Then in early August I can cut the stalks and bundle up the bulbs by variety in paper bags.  Some I'll share as gifts to friends, setting the bulbs in clear egg cartons with variety descriptions.  This year I may try freezing some, as described by Margaret Roach on her A Way to Garden blog.

But most will be eaten!  I love garlic, and rarely cook without it!  And if you grow your own, you will, too!

Friday, July 19, 2013


A week ago I noted that Goldie had taken to the nest.  That would be the nest on the right, but who's there now?!

The Cuckoo Marans mama hen!  She's the second-best mama in the flock. Apparently a few days of ten-minute egg sitting while Goldie took her constitutional switched on some hormones. Now they're both setting. 

No eggs for breakfast for me for a while!  Stay tuned!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Screen test

I am trying to learn how to manually adjust my camera.  The automatic settings work fine for quick snapshots, but for super close-ups or interesting framing, it seems useful to know what aperture and shutter speed will do.  So I went out this morning and did some screen tests.  The monarda seemed to enjoy posing!

This one was actually taken with automatic exposure and super zoom.  So pretty flitting around!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Goldie finally listened to her hormones and sat on a nest a week ago.  She's been holding tight ever since.  But even a broody hen needs a drink of water and a bite to eat every once in a while.  This morning she hopped off the nest while I was visiting, so I got a few photos.

She was moving fast, so I'm not quite in focus!  I love the way her feathers stay fluffed up as she moves around.  Fluffed up feathers hold more warmth and if there's something that incubating eggs need, it's warmth!  (Note that Rooster and the ducks gave her a wide berth.  Don't mess with a hormonal hen!)

 She had a few deep drinks of water.

Then a quick bite with Rooster to bring her energy back up.

After about four minutes, she was ready to hop back up on the railing and return to her eggs.

While she was out of the nest, Maria stepped in to keep the eggs warm.  Unfortunately one of the five incubating eggs broke -- not sure if it was Goldie or Maria who broke it.  That made Maria hop back out of the nest.  It didn't appear that the broken egg had a chick growing.  I cleaned up the nest and put in fresh straw so that Goldie could return to a fresh bed.

Stay tuned.  I figure another two weeks or so.  By the end of July we should have the pitter patter of little chicks!