Coming Soon: Free Book

Coming Soon: Free Book
Planning to give away a book or two!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pedals from Heaven

Years ago, I put some flowers in my flower press.  I forgot they were there. That is until I went to press some flowers for a young friend.
Dried flowers decorating bottle
I was previously inspired by my friend,  Maria, to decorate bottles.  I wondered what it would be like to attach the dried flowers onto the bottle.  It needs another layer of modge podge but I like the outcome. 
Red, white and blue decorated bottle
Inspired by our national holiday this weekend,  I made one in ted, white, and blue.
Floral arrangement in decorated vase
I put a few flowers in the top (snowball plant and astilbe in one bottle and snowball plant and day lilies in the other.)
Floral arrangement in decorated vase
They can also be used as candle holders or just plain table decorations. 

As a footnote,  last night between midnight and 12:30 Duchess needed to go out. As I stood in the doorway admiring the brilliance of the stars, a wishing star flew by. In a way I guess a pedal from Heaven. (When I lived in Japan,  my friend called lightening "kami damage no hanabi." God's fireworks. The name hanabi is flower of fire. So wouldn't a meteorite be a pedal? )  I  had written the rest of the blog before midnight  Another God whisper of blessing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Feed the birds

I've been sharing photos that I've taken of birds.   This is why I  have the opportunity to take so many beautiful bird photos.  
Feeders from the outside looking in
There are 2 hummingbird feeders, 2 oriole feeders, 4 finch feeders with mix feed, 2 finch feeders with thistle seed, 2 square cages (1 with peanut butter and seeds, the other with lard). To be fair, we picked up the 4 place oriole feeder today because there are so many orioles.
Ooops the pool is a little too full
I've been trying to keep up with the pool maintenance. I've been back flushing the filter a lot. That means I need to refill the pool at times. Oops! I think that I got a little too much water in there this time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Blue bird

There are many blue bird houses on the property.  I was concerned that they had all been taken over by sparrows or barn swallows.  There were nests in them.  But I never really saw the birds that were going in and out.
Blue Bird 1/1000 sec. f/5.3
Last weekend I thought that I saw the bright blue of the bluebird.  But it was a quick flash of color and I talked myself out of believing it.
 Blue Bird 1/500 sec, f/5.6
Friday night I picked up my sisters 70 to 300 mm camera lens from her sons place.  She didn't understand why my lens wasn't good enough. 
Blue Bird 1/640 sec, f/6.3
Hopefully looking at these pictures answers that question.  Blue birds are a little more shy and will roost much farther away.  Using her lens, it makes it looks like the birds are sitting right outside the window.  These last two photos are not print worthy.  The 300 mm lens is touchy to focus and I missed it just slightly.  But I wanted to share them anyways.
Blue Bird 1/500 sec. f/5.6

Monday, June 27, 2016

Tatarian honeysuckle

Over the weekend as we were taking down the fence around the hay field we found this bush. The berries were brilliant and eye catching.I wanted to know what they were.  The colors reminded me of Grandma Stella Field's bittersweet. But I didn't remember that being a bush. I wasn't too surprised to find out that it wasn't bittersweet. These will end up cut out of the woods.  Although it sounds like the birds enjoy the berries, they will grow out of control if they aren't kept in check.


Last week one day, Dale hung up a second Oriole feeder.  It had spots for orange halves and grape jelly.  At one point, we saw 4 Orioles flying nearby.  I've been taking pictures of them but they don't cooperate and they keep their back to the house.
Oriole 1
 It turns out that is a good thing.  Compare the tail feathers!  Here are snags from 11 different photos that took and I am going to guess that we have at least 11 different Orioles eating from the feeder.
Oriole 2
 These top pictures are mature males.  The are the brighter, more vibrant colors.
Oriole 3
 I think that this tiny shot might be a juvenile male but I'm not sure.  I do know that his tale was different.
Oriole 4
 We have a really short shepherds hood under the feeder.   That seemed to make a difference.  They like to land on the hook and fly up into the feeder.
Oriole 5
 Some of the pictures shaded the Orioles just a little bit too much.  But this one's head is more spotted.  That is an indication of a juvenile or female.  Because of the bright color, I am guessing that it is an juvenile male.
Oriole 6
 There are several photos here that I'm not sure how to identify.  This is either a juvenile or female.
Oriole 7
 Here is another one that is either a juvenile or female. I'm guessing a juvenile female.
Oriole 8
 I can fairly confidently say that this photo below is an adult female Oriole.  She is definitely thinner and more constant colored than the juveniles.
Oriole 9
 This is either a juvenile or female. I am leaning towards a juvenile female.
Oriole 10
 Look at the scalloped tail of this male.  The picture is so faded because of the lighting. I had to put the back light effect on in order to capture the bird with shading.
Oriole 11
The moral of this story is that I was originally upset that all I was seeing was the backs of birds.  But now I am excited because I can easily see the large variety of Orioles.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

...sad Saturday

It was hot and humid at the start of the day. That set the tone for the day. I knew that I would need something positive to focus on so I spent 15 minutes bird watching. I was lucky and saw 4 Baltimore Orioles at the same time: 2 male, 1 female and a young male.

Kittens are always something that will cheer you up. My nephew was able to find 3 of the kittens. Later we found the fourth one, deceased. 
When I let the steers out, I noticed that Ethan has a cute "hairdo" going on over where his horns used to be.
Those were the smiles that God gave me to make it through the rest of the day.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Baling time

Wow, it is already time for the first cutting of hay.  I guess that I told you that a few days ago when he cut the hay.  He was by the other day and baled it.  We ended up with more than 126 bales of hay!
It's a bird, it's a plane, NO it's a bale!
I got out to the field just in time.  The bales fly slightly off to the side.  So no matter where you start some of the bales will land on hay that still needs to be baled.  My duty quickly became making sure that the bales around the edge were out of the way of the tractor and baler.
It's looking good!
Our first load was 53 bales.  In total we were between 126 and 137 bales.  The mechanical counter says 126.  But the teams picking up the bales counted 137 bales.
53 bales in the first load
If we get another cutting or two there might not be room for the animals in the barn.  Now there is a thought.  The hayloft is available for this but the the roof isn't good enough yet this summer to check.  That and neither Dale not I are too keen about climbing up a ladder in the winter to toss bales down.
New bales in storage.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Craving protein

This is an awesome Paleo recipe: Inside out bacon cheeseburger
A package of bacon
A pound of hamburger
Garlic and Onion to taste
1 cup cheese of choice
Everything is better with bacon
Begin by weaving the bacon together.  Today I was using thick cut bacon.  The pro is that it weaves easier.  The con is that it makes a smaller base.
Cover with hamburger
I evenly pressed the hamburger over a majority of the bacon.  Notice that I left about 1 width of bacon empty.  You will need that a you roll it in order to help secure it.
I love garlic
I still have a little bit of last years garden fresh garlic.  I chopped about 5 cloves.  I have to laugh at the recipes that call for 1-2 cloves.  Really?  Be brave!
OH! Garden fresh red onion
This spring I planted about 100 red and 100 white onions.  I knew that they weren't ready yet.  But at the same time, I knew that you can use a premature onion like a chive by using part of the greens and everything in-between.
A layer of onions will add taste
Doesn't it look good with the onion mixed in with the greens?  In this section, you can add whatever you want to add.  Just remember that you will be rolling this up and you don't want it to get too thick. I never really measure the cheese.  I just put a good covering over top of it.  But I always have at least 2 cups of shredded cheese in the refrigerator so I know that I won't be short.
Cheddar Cheese
As you can imagine, at this point the bacon will not be cooperative.  Use the foil that you put down as a base to roll everything together. Don't forget to stop short (remember the section that was left without topping - this is why.) Roll up the uncovered bacon from the other side then use toothpicks to secure it.
Use the foil to begin rolling 
Double wrap the foil so that when it cooks, the bacon grease won't cause problems.  My sister buys disposable aluminum pans and puts it in there instead of wrapping it.  Then put it on the grill.  I like the way I do it because then I can turn it and the bacon cooks a little more evenly on each side.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can't see if it is burning.
Double wrap the foil
We put this on the gas grill.  A couple toothpicks poked out allowing bacon grease out and causing a few flames. Every 15 minutes it was turned for about an hour. 
As long as you don't look at the end or the bottom, it turned out wonderfully! I don't mind well done bacon.  It was very delicious!

Sneak peek

Last Sunday we took a peek into the Purple Martins houses. We had the pole down to fix one of the gourd houses.  I decided to take advantage of the time to peek inside and see how the Purple Martins were doing with their nests.
Purple Martin house with eggs
They keep such neat houses compared to so me of the other birds.  There are some of the Purple Martins that build a small mud bridge across the entrance of the house for extra security.
Purple Martin house with eggs (see the mud gate?)
I was excited to see that there were so many eggs in every house.  The tiny little eggs tucked back deep into the house.  You might be wondering how I could get such good picture.  There are removable covers on the side of the nests that allow us to look into the nests and get a clear view.
Purple Martin house with eggs

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Flock of ducks

After banding the leg of Duckie and the hens, we put them together. They have been in the corner of the pasture and wouldn't come out without extreme coaxing.
Herding ducks
I found out the secret to make them move. It takes a lot of running back and forth at a distance.  When they begin heading a direction, different from where I want them to go, I walk that direction. 
Until Dale builds a pond for them in the pasture,  they will be using the pond up by the house. These pictures showed the first time that they got in and stayed in the water. 
Splashingly fun
What can I say? We are having a splashing good time on the farm!

Buffalo Farm

About a half mile East and across the road from us is a buffalo farm.  It might be a beefalo farm (mix between buffalo and beef cattle.)
Richmond Buffalo Farm
There are a lot of calves in the field.  When I first saw them last fall, I  thought it was an illusion. They were in a back pasture and it was difficult to see them.
Buffalo and calves
This week they have spent part of each day in the front pasture.  I was surprised because looking at the fencing I didn't think that it looked strong enough for buffalo.
They are watching us!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Having a hay day

A neighbor came over today and cut the back pasture. It has been a wet spring. It has been difficult to find enough dry days in a row.
Hay field to the West
After it is cut it often drys for a day or two, get rolled and dried before baling. 
Hay field to the East
I got home after he had finished.  You know me, I had to take a picture. I stood there for awhile watching the Purple Martins and singing to them.
Purple Martins
They must have liked the music because the couples came back to the nests.  One went in and the other perched just above the opening potentially guarding it.
Purple Martins
There are so many things to share with you that sometimes I have a difficult time deciding what to share. I hope that you are enjoying my decisions.