Tuesday, March 13, 2018

postcard from this morning


And blowing.

I'm very happy when the occasional gust take some of the snow from the trees.
The less weight on the trees, the easier I feel.

Despite the dense snowfall, birds have been busy at the feeder since before daylight. Right now there are at least two dozen taking turns: woodpeckers, goldfinches, juncos, cardinals, titmice. They are not even wasting time warning each other off the feeder - just eating as fast as they can.

I put a loop of 6-foot fence around the feeder a few days ago, to keep the chickens out from under it. They were ignoring their own bowl and eating up all the millet I put on a platform and on the ground for the wild birds. Bonus: the fence is providing lots of great perching opps. Not very nice to look at, but as a first attempt at any new experimental design, I always go for function over elegance ;)

I have doubts about how clear these images will be, but I'm not going to edit them. I want you to experience the full dim and murky effect of this, the third big storm in what seems, unbelievably, like only a couple of weeks.

It seems like it because it is.

I don't mind telling you, I brought out the serious reinforcements for this one. Not just the extra hay and prepping the barns the night before. Not just filling water jugs in case we lose power.


This time I went to the grocery store and bought:

and ginger beer.

I also made a roast yesterday and cooked a pound of pasta,
because I am a grown-up.

But it's the ginger beer that will get me through.



Monday, March 12, 2018

into a new week

Hold onto your hat, Ms. Piper!

Apparently we are to expect more of this in the middle of the week:

I don't think I'll be putting away my high boots any time soon.


Meanwhile, in the "Spring will come!" department: my order from Sow True Seed has arrived, with all my 2018 vegetable seeds except pole beans and turnips, because STS doesn't carry the varieties I've chosen. I also bought flower seeds when they were on sale at a local store: zinnias and sunflowers. Color? Yes, please.

This year I plan to start several things indoors from seed, so I won't be tempted to buy plants. (Unless I find that amazing, velvety, nearly-brown Rudbeckia again. If I ever find that again, I will certainly buy it.) The last time I started a few vegetables indoors, we had a wet, cold Spring and they got leggy before I could transplant. Fingers crossed for an easier transition this year.

It seems like a long time before we'll be seeing flowers in the gardens here in Massachusetts, so I've been sketching flowers from photographs. Like these primroses:

And this iris.

I've been trying to draw an iris for several years now.
I think this is as close as I've come to being satisfied with the result.
Not very satisfied.
Will keep trying!

And finally, this is a terrible photograph, but I'm sharing it with you because it's also wonderful: the first bluebird I've seen on my property.


Here's hoping for a week of wonderful firsts!

And wishing a huge snowfall to my friends in Colorado.


Thursday, March 8, 2018


It's that quiet, pre-dawn time when the world outside my window has very little color. Ordinarily, it is a view of very dark shades, with light gradually increasing.
This morning, it's reversed: nearly greyscale, with a strong emphasis on the light end of the spectrum.


The first birds - a cardinal and a titmouse - have caught my eye as a flicker of motion in an otherwise still, east-to-west panorama. The birds are silhouettes, swooping to the thin branches of shrubs now arched with a heavy burden of snow.

When there is this much snow balanced in narrow ridges on even the tiniest of branches, you can be sure there is quite a lot on the ground.

The goats will be in no hurry to start their day.
Nor am I, really, though Moxie and Della will have something to say about that.

But the wild birds have been busy at the feeder for a good while already.
And now it is light enough to see them as more than a silhouette. 

Good morning!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

saturday already

This has been a busy week. Wildly variable weather means any day which is above freezing and not raining is a day to Get Things Done Outside.

Also, a day to take Piper for a little walk.

One cold but sunny day we walked in this hay meadow.
Makes a change from our usual woodsy walks.

There's a tiny wetland (a big shallow puddle) at the lower end.

The meadow is public property but is surrounded by homes with horses and dogs, so Piper was on lead the whole time and therefore I have no pictures of her.

Well, I tried, but they all look like this:


At home, The Flock has made the most of every non-precipitating hour. Already there are patches of suddenly-clear earth where they have scratched and pecked away the covering of semi-frozen, decaying leaves.

This may not be a great thing for wintering plants, since any perennial crown is left exposed to the rest of Winter, beginning with the snow and sleet we have had since this picture was taken.

I need to make a pen for the chickens, but I always hate to do it as they generally have run of the place within the perimeter fence.
Still, they must be contained when gardening begins, else they will cheerily scratch up and eat every planted seed. So "build chicken pen" goes on the list.


Moxie alerted me to the latest activity of the squirrel recently defeated by a block at the porch gable. Now, the squirrel has undertaken entry via the vent window in the west gable of the house. There is a screen on the attic side, which fortunately had not yet been breeched though it was only a matter of time.

I almost never use the door on the west side of the house. It could have been weeks before I realized what was happening, and I would have realized it because I would have been hearing squirrels in the attic.

On his last day of work before the month off, my Occasional Helper kindly saved me the awkward effort of dragging out the extension ladder and climbing up to install a new piece of hardware cloth on the outside of the vent window.
Nice work, Occasional Helper!

There is nothing to nail to across the bottom edge, and no way to slide the screen into the window frame as was done on the top and sides. So...fingers crossed the squirrel doesn't manage to work that bottom edge loose. I know she hasn't done it yet, because I heard her swearing at me from the porch roof yesterday. Then she slid down the wall and hung onto the porch windowframe, staring in at me. Della marched right over, put her nose a millimeter from the glass, and gave that squirrel a Meaningful Look. I took the opportunity to mention - again - the abundant trees of suitable nesting size available in every direction.

And on we go.

Good night from the land of cold but not-currently-snowing-or-raining!

I hope all your skies are clear (unless you need rain)
and all your squirrels are nesting in trees like Proper Squirrels.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

morning light

No one values the quality of light more than a photographer.

And cats.

Della gave me this picture for a present this morning.

Thanks, Della!