Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Storm

Yippee!  How lovely to be home on a Friday night with the sound of a steady rain coming in through the open door.  It's sort of cold with the chill breeze at my back, but I can't get enough of the sound of falling water.  The radar image from the weather service shows a band of bright green headed steadily our way.  Most excellent.

My great wish is to see rainwater collected in the lowest part of the pond area when I come out to look tomorrow morning.  Even a modest amount of standing water down there would give that large depression that held our pond a glimmer of life.

Tomorrow morning I'll go down there with my camera to see if Frogpond was blessed with tricks or treats (but even if there isn't any water, this rain will bring relief to the multitudes of thirsty trees and animals.  It's all a treat, and I'm grateful).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Pansies

Nothing quite as seasonally jarring as planting pansies on Halloween week.  However, tomorrow we're expecting rain (!!!), so wanted to get as many plants in the ground as possible.  With luck, they'll get a good soak.

It's probably a bit much to ask that we actually get some water in the large hole that is our pond, it sure would be nice to get the start of a puddle down there.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Weekend Shower

I almost forgot to mention: on Saturday, while I was giving my writing workshop at the university (that sounds grander than it was.  Still, as a humble teacher of nine-year-olds, I'm sort of glowy over it all), it rained at Frogpond.  The rain gauge marked 0.38".  This amount may not sound too impressive, but the forecast was for less than 0.1", so we were pleased.

Speaking of glowy, chrysanthemums are bursting the color spectrum in shades of red, purple, orange and yellow.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Autumn Flirtations

There are two tom turkeys that have adopted us.  They amble up to eat, relax and chill with the hens when they're released from their coop in the late afternoon.

They make a soft "chucking" to the hens.  They are slightly interested, but do their best not to let it show.

The toms are looking gorgeous in spanking-new plumage.  All the molted feathers that were shed all over the yard have been replaced.  It seems strange that all of this polished finery would show up after the dating and mating season is well over.  Not a hen turkey in sight -- just my motley group of hens who are still half bald themselves.

This doesn't seem to bother the toms one whit as everyone sociably scratches through the manure together.  The compost heap: water cooler to the poultry at Frogpond.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkin Time

The entire Frogpond pumpkin harvest, lined up on the porch rail.   All three of them.  They may be few in number, but they're a magnificent rich, dark orange and as lovely as can be.  I'm excessively proud of my plump beauties.  They feel so heavy that I'm thinking they would make great pumpkins for pie.  If I can bear to cut them up.

This is why I'll never be a true country woman -- way too poetic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


On Sunday, Bruce and I were almost home when we pulled over because a cattle drive was happening all around us.

We sat and watched the cows spill down the road all around us, herded by cowboys on good ranch horses.  I had my camera in my purse.

One of those ranch horses looked very familiar.  Starboy!  I watched this boy being born 12 years ago.  The one baby from my mare Sheba.  I kept him until he was two, then sold him to my former neighbor, Mike.

Mike was looking for a good working horse.  Starboy was a youngster looking for a job.  A match made in heaven.

When I decided to breed Sheba, his mom, I researched bloodlines and sires for months.  I chose his sire, Junior Starlight, as the best stud.  Yeah, I think we did well.

I'm so freakin' proud when I see my strong, beautiful boy chasing down an errant cow.  And I'm so happy that he grew into his birthright as a cowhorse.  Such a magnificent horse.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October Sun Day

Max soaking up the October sunshine.  The temperatures are still hovering in the mid to upper 70's with an occasional dip down or spike upward.  The days are beautiful and mild and the flowers have burst into a last flourish of color.

Pretty as it all is (and I love autumn), I'm ready for winter.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chicken Clippings

Two of the six new hens have continued to insist on roosting in the pine tree's high branches.  Sleeping outside the coop is an eventual death sentence for any hen who attempts it.  So this evening Bruce and I knocked the two black hens out of the tree yet again.  However, this time, we took the next step and caught them and clipped  their wings.  While we were at it, we also clipped the wings of the small, light bodied Leghorns and Buckeye hens who daily flap over the fence of the chicken run.

It was not a happy night in the coop.  One by one, the hens who didn't follow the rules were caught, brought outside and carefully clipped.  This involves stretching out one wing and trimming back the feathers.  This throws the hen's balance off just enough to keep them from becoming so easily airborne.  From the way they screamed with every feather that was cut, you'd have thought we were lopping off an entire wing.

But now it's all done.  The hens are all safely in the coop, sleeping and dreaming chicken dreams.  Another hopping Friday night at Frogpond.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Days Grow Shorter

The days are getting shorter.  Now when I take my walks, it's generally dark when I get home again.  Still, it's so pretty.  The sky just sits back and quietly glows.  Subtle but gorgeous.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Up in the Treetops

Arby sharpening his claws in the tupelo tree

The weather has definitely changed -- autumn has arrived at last.  The temperatures are finally down to the 70's and yesterday it was even a bit blustery with a grey cloud cover.  Now for rain.

Arby wasn't the only one climbing trees last evening:  two of the new black hens decided to roost in the high branches of the pine tree in their coop.  The sun was setting, the wind was blowing and the hens were hunkered down for the night.  What I knew but they didn't is that any hen who spends the night in a tree at Frogpond will very likely become dinner for a raccoon before daybreak.

So I gritted my teeth and got a long pole in order to poke them off of that branch.  The pole wasn't long enough.  So I lugged the tall extension ladder out from the barn, braced it up against the pine tree and climbed up to poke at them some more.  To no avail.  The hens simply moved farther along the branch, well out of reach of the stick.  Next I tried hosing them down with a stream of water.  If we had decent water pressure, this would probably have worked.  But our pressure is sickly, so I just managed to get our hens very wet, but they stayed right where they were.  I, too,  got soaked as the water dribbled down my arms and down my shirt.  It's very possible that the hens were laughing at me.

Finally I managed to knock one of the hens low enough that I could grab her (she screamed high and loud like a little girl) and set her inside the coop.  The other hen was too high up, so I finally gave up and went inside to take a hot shower.  When Bruce got home he grabbed the ladder and shoved it upwards onto the branch the second hen was perched on.  She was bopped right off and came flapping down.  It was a bit of a chase for Bruce to finally catch her, but he prevailed and soon she was in the coop with the others.

Tonight I was worried that we might have a repeat of last night's circus, but all the hens demurely filed into the coop like good girls.  Trying to stay one step ahead of the poultry is exhausting.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sprinkler Geese

It's the middle of October and it's still very warm.  Almost hot, actually.  It's easy at this time of year, when it feels like summer should finally be over (enough, already!), to slack off on watering.  This is a mistake.  Every year I lose plants that I've managed to keep alive all through the stinking summer heat because I've lost the energy to keep watering once the promise of autumn is in the air.

So this evening, I was faithfully back at the business end of the hose watering the garden.  I also put on the sprinkler for awhile, much to the delight of the geese.  I've never seen them actually stand in the droplets of water, but this evening all three of them planted themselves right in the middle of the splash zone and enjoyed every moment.

They even opened their mouths to let the water fall in, but every time I clicked the camera, they'd already closed their beaks.  That's how geese are.

Tomorrow is supposed to be about ten degrees cooler than today and the day after that even cooler, with a chance of showers.  I can hardly wait.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Green Hat

I totally forgot to move Skunk Skull from my window ledge before the cleaning ladies arrived today. No one, most especially the two Hispanic Wonderwomen who clean our house every two weeks, should have to deal with an animal skull on a window ledge.

But our two ladies magnificently rose to the challenge.  Before I tell you what they did, I must add in another "treasure" I brought home from a walk on the neighbor's trails: a green badminton shuttlecock.  It was just lying there by the side of the path and at first I just glanced at it and walked on by.  But I couldn't resist -- I had to gather this thing in and take it home.  It's got problems.  The nose part is broken off and it's missing parts of the feathered plastic that allows it to sail through the air.  Still, I brought it home and put it up on the window ledge along with the rest of the menagerie.

This is what I came home to this evening:

Skunk Skull now has a little green hat.  I love our ladies!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The New Hens

On Sunday, Bruce and I drove down to Dorothea's to pick up six of her fine home-grown pullets that she'd offered to me.  They are absolutely gorgeous -- young, glossy and very full of themselves.

We settled them in the barn with the attached run to start with.  It just seemed too drastic to throw them in the coop right off the bat with our cranky and bedraggled bunch of hens.

We'll give the new girls a week to adjust.  I think they'll do fine -- they're exceptionally
calm, sensible young hens.

Dorothea's husband gently teased me about my affection for chickens.  I smiled, but am not a bit apologetic about loving my girls.  Look at those faces - irresistible!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hello, Horatio!

The Two Plump Hens, Tiny Turtle, Cat-in-Car, Chick-in-Pot and Velociraptor on the kitchen window ledge have been joined by a new critter.

I thought that Velociraptor didn't fit in, but this new guy has him beat.

I found this yesterday evening as I was walking the trail on the neighbor's property.  I happened to look down and there it was.  I could very easily have stepped on it and am glad that I didn't.

Bruce has been fascinated by it and has gone onto the Internet trying to figure out what animal used to have it.  It is delicate, with very large eye sockets.  It has fangs, but also flat molars in back.  So it was an omnivore.  He's thinking that this may have been a skunk.  Naturally, I have named it Horatio...

I suppose that there are two kinds of people in the world -- those who will bring a skull into the kitchen to reside on the window ledge and those who won't.  I'm the sort who will.

That said, Horatio will be outside before the cleaning ladies show up on Friday.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Sage

 It's a struggle to have success in the garden at Frogpond Acres.  There are so many things just waiting in the wings to destroy or devour my green children.  Deer, gophers, cows, and chickens to scratch or eat them up.  Rock, heat, wind and frozen winter nights to do in the survivors.  It's a wonder, in every sense of the word, when something manages not only to stay alive, but to thrive.

Sage is one of the thrivers.  I planted this bed late last spring, and the roots dug in and the plants spread outwards and blossomed.  The hummingbirds adore the bright flowers.  The deer and gophers detest their pungent aroma (which I love).

They don't ask for much and light up the garden with their bright red, purple and blue blossoms.

Note to self:  next year - more sage.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Clever Dog

Seal is our old dog -- she'll be 13 years old on November first.  She may be elderly, but she's smart and she's determined.  Recently, she figured out how to open the front door by rearing up on her hind legs and pawing at the door handle.  She now can open the door whenever she feels like it.  Since she's decided that sleeping on her dog bed in the bedroom is her favorite place to be, that door gets pawed open a lot.

This is a picture of Seal just before jumping up and pressing down the door handle.

Several seconds later, Seal was padding past me as quietly as possible, hoping I wouldn't notice her.

I did.


She was asked to go back outside, which she did with a great show of dejection.

The Border Collie in her is tenacious though -- she'll be be back inside very soon.  We spend a lot of time trying to outwit the animals.  At this time, our human brains have definitely been bested by a dog's.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Moment of Prayer

I felt like I was being watched, and there she was -- a lovely praying mantis peering in through the screen.

Mantids are impressively regal by the time autumn rolls around.  Hard to believe that only a few short months ago they were tiny, skinny-armed hoodlums swaggering about the garden.  Now the females have become slow and contemplative as they search for the best place to lay their eggs.  This one seems mighty interested in our bedroom -- thank God for tight screens.

She is a pretty thing, though.