Sunday, August 28, 2011

Strolling on a summer's day

While our friends out east deal with the wind and water from Hurricane Irene, here in our southwest Michigan summertime "the living is easy".  A short stroll through the yard revealed a number of interesting items to share with you.  C'mon!

Down on the septic prairie, the prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) is in glorious bloom.  How I wish the entire mound was covered in these plants this time of year! 

The leaves are impressively large and rough as sandpaper.  When I first saw them I was convinced the plant was a weed.  But when it sends up a red stalk...

...of these bright, dancing daisy flowers, well nothing is cheerier!  Just look at them!

I hope they're going to set seeds and spread up the mound for next summer.

Now we take a peek into the barn and find Barnard resting in the dog crate.  I tried to get Barnard fixed this week, but it turned out he was broken -- in the form of an upper respiratory infection that must heal before he can have surgery.  So he's been taking it easy in the barn, sneezing and sleeping.

He's a little bored.  You know how it is when you have a cold.  (BTW, he does NOT use that box for his bathroom needs.  I still have not discovered how he's taking care of that part of his hygiene.  Am moderately concerned to figure that out!)

The chickens are outside in their run, which is full of tall weeds giving them shelter from any predators.  They just love to take a dust bath in the sun.  I'm really happy that they're getting daily fresh air again.

Ulani waits patiently outside the barn door when I go in.  As a known chicken killer, she's not allowed inside.

Peeking into the backyard I saw this lovely swallowtail on a clover plant.  I only snapped this one picture before it flew off.  Then, looking back across the field behind us, I saw some white movement in a tree.  Suddenly I realized an egret was flying directly towards the barn!

There it is!  Need help?

Lately I've seen one Great Blue Heron hanging around with six egrets in various field pools.  They always startle me, and I wish my camera could do more zooming.  But seeing them in person is the most magical thing and I always stop whatever I'm doing, or slam on the brakes, so that I can enjoy them.  Before long the birds will begin their migration, though one heron remains here year round.  Until then, I'll keep my eyes open.

Hope you enjoyed our little stroll around Busy Solitude Farm.  Come back again!

Monday, August 15, 2011

In memory of Abe

It's been a difficult summer pets-wise.  And today I had to take Abe for his final visit at the vet.

His health has been declining, as I wrote last September.  After Oskar died, I knew it wouldn't be too long before Abe followed him.  I just hoped it would be a little longer.  Whatever his illness was, he was not getting much nutrition from what he ate, was hungry constantly and losing strength.  His back legs weakened significantly over the weekend.  Today when he had trouble standing up and then staggered across the floor, I knew it was time.

Abe's personality, like his place on the Busy Solitude power map, fell in the middle.  He was always friendly, but not what you would call outgoing.  A bit more on the timid side, he always ran when Ulani would try to play with him outside.  Luke, on the other hand, stands his ground and then rubs up against Ulani's legs as a show of victory.  When Bodhi was still around, Abe and Bodhi hung together, letting Luke be the front man.

Where Abe really outshone his brothers was as a hunter.  In mouse season, Abe brought a daily prize.  He spent long hours in the kitchen, staring at the stove, waiting for the unlucky critter to wander just far enough that Abe could pounce on it and have his way.

Those skills will surely be missed this autumn.  But the loss of Abe's easy-going presence is already felt throughout the house.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Barn cat

Well, he wandered into the barn almost a week ago and he's still there.  It might be time to find him a name besides Barn Cat.

He's getting more used to me. 

He doesn't immediately jump out of my arms when I pick him up.  Even if he maybe thinks about it.

We can get a few photos before he shoves off.

And every once in a while...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hummingbird Courtship

Yesterday I saw as many as five hummingbirds around the feeder at once.  Then today I realized that the male ruby throat had begun to do the courtship dive.  (I took a second brief video after this one in which you can see him lead a female off behind the cone flowers, but after a little verbal misstep on Facebook I decided not to post it!)

Maybe there will be little hummies before the end of summer!

I have been informed that it is too late in the summer for hummingbirds to be mating.  Instead, this behavior is resource guarding as they work to bulk up before their southerly migration.  Guess that's why I've never dated a ruby-throated hummingbird!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Insect art

It might be art, the scalloped edge left on this hosta leaf after someone dined on it.  Surprisingly, I cannot find a simple web page with photographs of damaged hosta leaves and explanations of which insects do what. 

Does anyone know who the creative spirit might be?