Let It Rain

As this month went on, we just could not believe the rains kept coming. After four years of drought, our area of Oklahoma had been designated as having “severe” drought status while conditions in the area just west of us were considered to be in the “extreme” drought category. As such, I never heard anyone complain about the first torrential storms that came through. And, given the much-needed rain, few even lamented minor tornado damage a couple of weeks ago. As usual, Oklahoman’s accepted what Mother Nature doled out. And when the recent flooding came, I still did not hear complaining. We all knew we needed water, and lots of it. Our ponds, lakes, and rivers were drying up.

The woodland floor has a very different perspective these days! This is a reflection from a pool of water in the woods.

The woodland floor has a very different perspective these days! This is a reflection from a pool of water in the woods.

The rain does not stop Daisy deer and Mr. Gambini the squirrel from having a snack of corn in the afternoon!

The rain does not stop Daisy deer and Mr. Gambini the squirrel from having a snack of corn in the afternoon!

Just about all Buddy and Francesca know about their outdoor world is rain! It has rained almost every day since we put them in their outdoor cage. Of course now they have ventured out to the trees and last night spent their first night sleeping in a tree!

Just about all Buddy and Francesca know about their outdoor world is rain! It has rained almost every day since we put them in their outdoor cage. Of course now they have ventured out to the trees and last night spent their first night sleeping in a tree!

The most welcomed rains began May 5th. The first one doused us with 3.45 inches of rain overnight. In the days that followed, another inch or two of rain, and sometimes three or five, fell in a single day. Fortunately for us, we had installed two drains up top on our property after Hurricane Erin trekked inland and dumped torrential rains upon us for three days straight back in 2007. With our recent rains, these drains were kept busy funneling water down a pipeline to the bottom of the slope where it gushed out into a little “dry” creek bed we had fashioned out of rock several years ago. Day after day, the rains came and the grounds all around the property became saturated to the point where it looked like we lived in a marsh. I half expected alligators to show up, searching for unattended Japanese Chin as they patrolled the moat around the house! Ok, maybe it was not quite that bad, but I absolutely did not venture out without first donning my muck boots!

Decades ago, before the trees of the bottomland established a presence up top, FD’s Grandfather built a couple of catch ponds in an area above the canyon. Now grown up in trees, I had never seen more than knee-high water in the deepest of the “ponds”. But the one particular pond flooded one night recently, with water spilling over its dam and paralleling my electric buggy path down to the bottom of the canyon, then gushing on north towards the neighboring pecan orchard.

After exploring the area the next day, I could not believe the mess I found in some places – lots of dead wood, leaf, and plant debris washed down in small gullies. I also discovered that the rushing water had turned my buggy path into a trail of mud and mostly exposed tree roots. It is obvious that I will most certainly have a bumpy ride to the bottom from now on! In other places, oddly, the floor of the woodlands looked very clean – the rushing water having completely stripped the debris and plant life, while leaving a smooth, dirt surface behind.

The pecan orchard is flooded into our property.

The pecan orchard is flooded into our property.

The river just a half-mile from our home is now out of its banks.

The river just a half-mile from our home is now out of its banks.

The pecan orchard from the road looking back towards our property.

The pecan orchard from the road looking back towards our property.

Our young neighbor and a couple of friends prepare to kayak in the quiet waters of the pecan orchard.

Our young neighbor and a couple of friends prepare to kayak in the quiet waters of the pecan orchard.

After three weeks of continual rain, the pecan orchard finally flooded, and now the water is backed up to our fence line. I have never known it to come back this far. No wonder I have been seeing so many water turtles around the property lately – a snapping turtle and several red-eared sliders. There are many little land turtles seeking higher ground as well. Daisy deer and two does, along with a little yearling buck, have been hanging about also. Apparently, the foxes have found dry ground in our area too, as have a few skunks and an old opossum that I have seen at the feeders. I hope the wildlife in the river bottom further west have managed to find safe places to relocate as well, as the river has just come out of its banks today. Oklahoma has broken nearly every historic rain record for the Month of May, and it appears we are not finished setting new rain total amounts, as more rain is forecast this week.

And even though this particular month of rain and flooding is quite an event, I do not believe I have seen anything compare to the storm that resulted from remnants of Tropical Storm Erin, on August 18, 2007.  Our area was inundated with over twelve inches of rain in just five hours. Several lives were lost in the flash flooding. More than one hundred and fifty bridges were washed out and countless roads were reduced to mere gullies or completely washed away. Farmer’s lost their crops and their land and, in some cases, their livestock as well. Protective dikes broke out and pond dams crumbled away. People lost their homes. The damage was catastrophic.

The dike of a large farm pond gave way during the  August 2004 rains, obliterating roads further down.

The dike of a large farm pond gave way during the August 2007 rains, obliterating roads further down.

The road that the farm pond dam washed out became this huge expanse of spillway, and the new road became the dam. Now the pond is much larger and wider with a safer release of future flood water.

The road that the farm pond dam washed out became this huge expanse of spillway, and the new road became the dam. Now the pond is much larger and wider with a safer release of future flood water.

The Washita River flood of 2007.

The Washita River flood of 2007.

Typical road damage in our county in 2007.

Typical road damage in our county in 2007.

Yes, FD drove our truck across what was left of this road. I took a few shots with the camera and walked across very carefully!!

Yes, FD drove our truck across what was left of this road. I took a few shots with the camera and walked across very carefully!!

 

This evening, while venturing out to do chores, and listening to the squish, squish of my boots as I slopped my way to the chicken barn, I looked over at my garden. With all this rain, it has been in limbo all month. Oh well, nothing much flourishes without the sun, I thought. I walked past my fruit trees and noted the black apricots and peaches dangling from the branches. Back in April, it looked as if we would finally have a bumper crop, but now, sadly, I might only have blackberries and possibly a few apples or pears to harvest.

On a brighter note, I have been thankful not to have to drag the water hoses around every day as I had to do over the last four years and, without much sunshine, I had not had to mow much at all either. Also, my gardening workload has been much lighter this spring. Yes, it has been an exciting time of rainy days and cooler temperatures this spring!

As we pulled up on this closed road, we noticed three boys attempting to fish in the flooded river water.

As we pulled up on this closed road, we noticed three boys attempting to fish in the flooded river water.

Shortly after I shot this photo, the boys left this area and opted to fish from a bridge higher up. I have to say I was relieved. I did not want this photograph to be the last memory their parents might have of their sons.

Shortly after I shot this photo, the boys left this area and opted to fish from a bridge higher up. I have to say I was relieved. I did not want this photograph to be the last memory their parents might have of their sons.

The river finally broke loose from the banks yesterday evening. It looks calm and peaceful, but I can guarantee you the rush of water was anything but calm.

The river finally broke loose from the banks yesterday evening. It looks calm and peaceful, but I can guarantee you the rush of water was anything but calm.

Just three hours prior this was river bottom farm land.

Just three hours prior this was river bottom farm land.

Barn swallows dart about, as access to their bridge home narrows.

Barn swallows dart about, as access to their bridge home narrows.

Road Closed_1205

And I know it sounds crazy, but I am a little excited about having just a few more rains in this area. For Daisy deer has not birthed her babies yet. And, if you remember… Daisy always has her babies in a spring morning’s rain.

Gust Front_1170

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

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When Your SNAP Is Gone

When this morning first began, I did not have a plan for the day at all. [This space is provided as a pause, to allow you time to pull yourself up from the floor after hearing that I did not have a plan for the day – you all know how I am.] The weather forecast boasted a bright and sunny day with a mild breeze, which are perfect conditions to help dry things up after more rain this past weekend. Even so, I knew it would be too wet and soggy through most of the day for me to manage any mowing or gardening, so I thought I might just do some reading. After all, I had been quite busy over the previous few days, so it just seemed right to take a day off to relax.

After having my coffee over a couple of telephone conversations with two of my sisters in Nebraska, I went to the back porch to check on Francesca and Buddy, our orphaned squirrels. They have been outdoors on the back porch in the big cage for about three weeks now, so this last Friday, FD and I decided it was time to open the little hatch door and let them start investigating the porch and beyond – if they chose to. As a result, Saturday and Sunday proved to be quite entertaining. Francesca seemed to be the most adventurous – taking all sorts of risks and being quite a show off. Buddy kept to the top of the cage, hidden in the leafy branches I put up there for cover. He finally did venture out on the deck railings and even managed to nibble some rose leaves and honeysuckle blossoms, but all of those places and plants were in “safe” areas. Francesca, on the other hand, had ventured into the grass and out in my flowerbeds – a little too far away for my comfort. But as always, instinct led her to quickly leap back or scurry to cover and safe nooks next to the house whenever a sudden noise or movement spooked her.  So, with this a new part of our morning routine, FD opened the hatch door just before sitting down for his breakfast at 7:00. Soon, the two youngsters were out of their cage and scampering around on the back porch when he left for work.

Francesca drinks from the bird bath on the back porch.

Francesca drinks from the bird bath on the back porch.

Buddy watches his sister on the deck.

Buddy watches his sister on the deck.

Francesca decides she likes the grass and dirt!

Francesca decides she likes the grass and dirt!

Buddy checks out the old antique grinding wheel.

Buddy checks out the old antique grinding wheel.

The sun shade and coral honeysuckle makes a great place for two little squirrels to observe the canyon below!

The sun shade and coral honeysuckle makes a great place for two little squirrels to observe the canyon below!

When I checked on them around 7:30, I found them having a wrestling match back inside their cage. But just thirty minutes later, I could not find either of them. Finally, I found Buddy hidden between the honeysuckle and the sun shade. I thought Francesca was probably cleverly hidden somewhere nearby too, but after about ten minutes of searching I began to worry. After checking the porch, roof, and flower beds that run all around the perimeter of our home, I decided to check the trees on the south side of the house. Perhaps Francesca had followed Punkin, our older, orphaned juvenile squirrel, who had also been on the back porch earlier for her morning pecan(s).  At this point, I donned my muck boots and started walking around the trees grunting, “Ur ur ur ur ur” and softly calling “FranCEEEESCA!!! Where ARRRRRE YOOOOOOU?” Becoming a little distraught, and in my mind going over all of the places she might have ventured to, I finally sat down at the old picnic table. Looking out further in the yard and pasture, I wondered if she might have ventured to other nearby places but, no, the usual first-go outings for young squirrels were these hackberry and elm trees I was sitting under.

And then, I spotted a large lump out in the yard just to the east. How odd. It looked like a big rabbit to me but, surely, it was not. I laughed. My eyesight is not the clearest anymore, as I suffer with dry eyes and allergies a good bit. But it did look like a rabbit to me, only it was awfully still. And if it was a dead rabbit, a fox or coyote or, at the very least, a vulture – would have confiscated it by now! Nothing dead ever lasts very long here. Curious, I walked towards the mound in the grass. Squish, squish, squish went my boots in the soggy grass. Whatever it was, it was still not moving. I looked to the south of the unidentified object, and saw a strange trail left in the grass. Whatever this was, it had drug itself across the dewy grasses leaving a tell-tale path. As I got closer, I realized that what I had discovered was a very big turtle and, by the looks of the shell, it appeared to be a very old one too. I had no clue what kind it was. It had the face of a snapping turtle, but there were no vicious ridges running along its back and the beak was somewhat smooth. This was definitely a photograph worthy subject, so back to the house I trudged to fetch my camera.

This is the lump in the distance I saw as I sat at the picnic table.

This is the lump in the distance I saw as I sat at the picnic table. Do you see the brown spot between the oak tree in the forefront, and the two little cherry trees in the upper left corner of the photo?

This low to the ground you have to keep your head up and be alert for danger!

This low to the ground, you have to keep your head up and be alert for danger!

My visitor seems to be old and weathered.

My visitor seems to be old and weathered.

I love the detail of this close-up shot. I wonder about the many stories this turtle could tell!!

I love the detail of this close-up shot. I wonder about the many stories this turtle could tell!!

After getting a few photographs, I followed the path the old codger had taken which led me to the pasture gate leading out to the street. But surely this turtle had not come from town! A sharp turn in the grassy trail told me it came from the west and followed our south fence line along the alley. From there, I walked all the way back to my new friend. In a slow but purposeful manner, it had made a little progress towards the picnic table where my quest began. As it trudged along, I stayed a distance behind and to the rear so I would not deter it from proceeding on its journey. Meanwhile, I spoke squirrel, “Ur ur ur ur ur”, just in case Francesca might be playing nearby. I doubted I would have the patience to follow this turtle very far along its journey, but I was curious about where it was going.

Following the turtle trail in the dewy grass to the pasture.

Following the turtle trail in the dewy grass to the pasture.

Somehow the turtle shimmied under the pasture gate, though it looks like a very tight squeeze to me!

Somehow the turtle shimmied under the pasture gate, though it looks like a very tight squeeze to me!

The same path along the ally fence indicated my friend came from a neighborhood to the west.

The same path along the ally fence indicated my friend came from a neighborhood to the west.

After conducting my investigation  of where the turtle came from, I decided to follow and see where it was headed.

After conducting my investigation to understand where the turtle came from, I decided to follow and see where it was headed.

S L O W L Y, my old friend made it to the slope and then picked up a little momentum as it headed down the hill and into the canyon. I took a few more photographs, and then decided to look around for Daisy. I walked back into the woods, but was immediately attacked by masses of mosquitoes. I zipped my hooded jacket, but my ill-fitted garment was no match for the buzzing army I faced. My left hand held the camera while the right swatted and smacked at my ears and face and my exposed left hand. These annoying bastards were everywhere!

Determined, I trudged back deeper into the jungle of growth where I had seen Daisy resting the week before. Through poison ivy and tacky spider webs I pushed forth into the cool dark of the woodlands. Finally, the mosquito population seemed to dwindle. I noticed the recent rains had washed a lot of decomposing matter and wood along the canyon floor, leaving small lines and piles where the water receded. Sandy, red dirt, mixed with black loamy soil, created a kind of sand art on the woodland floor. Fragrance from blossoms of a woodland shrub that I had often observed Daisy eating summer berries from, mingled with the musky scent of damp earth. In this cool darkness of the woodland tree canopy, I felt alive. I was deep in the oxygen tank of the woodlands… And I felt entirely immersed in the pureness of it!

Gaining momentum going down the slope!

Gaining momentum going down the slope!

Recent rains smoothed areas of the canyon floor into works of sand art. I wonder what small animal left these tracks?

Recent rains smoothed areas of the canyon floor into works of sand art. I wonder what small animal left these tiny tracks?

Each spring I see Western Scarlet Cup fungus in the darker areas of the woodlands. grasses. I am always careful not to step on  these small, delicate beauties!

Each spring I see Western Scarlet Cup fungus in the darker areas of the woodlands. I am always careful not to step on these small, delicate beauties!

I imagined the turtle might travel through the pecan orchard, heading to the old river channel or perhaps the river beyond.

I imagined the turtle might travel through the pecan orchard, heading to the old river channel or perhaps the river beyond.

A sudden “SMACK!!!” brought me back to reality – I was still battling mosquitoes and was beginning to get hot in my hoodie, despite the cool shade. Maybe it was a hot flash, I do not know, but I was suddenly mighty uncomfortable. Obviously, my clothing selection was much too heavy for the warm and humid temperatures and, along with these stinging insects buzzing about my ears and alighting on my face, I had had enough! Squish, suck, squish, suck, I slopped along the electric buggy trail with my boots being sucked into the dense muck. As I hurried out of the humid and insect ridden depths of the canyon, I met the old turtle heading to the west. I imagined he would travel into part of the pecan orchard and on to the old river channel. Maybe he would even venture as far as the river, just beyond. I thanked him for allowing me a few photographs, and then headed towards the slope. And then, there was Daisy deer at the feeder!

I am always happy to see Daisy Deer!

I am always happy to see Daisy Deer!

After spending a little time with Daisy, I finally made my way back inside to the cool of the house to research the turtle I had found earlier. From my photos and research, it appeared I had stumbled across a very old female Common Snapping Turtle. Long gone were the spiky ridges running the length of her shell. Worn smooth was the point of her beak. Even her tail had lost its ridge of sharp, jagged scales. I have seen quite a few snapping turtles in my day, and it was quite plain that this old girl had lost her snap a long time ago.

With all my missing squirrel, turtle discovery, and Daisy visit going on, I did not manage to read my book at all today. Instead, I took more worrisome walks to the trees and all around the house, in search of Francesca. Finally, I decided to just come in and write about the day’s adventures. Maybe that would take my mind off of Francesca’s disappearance for a time. Then, with a heavy heart and my writing almost complete, I decided to go out for a quick break at 3:00 and give poor Buddy some company. Imagine my delight when I stepped out on the porch and saw TWO squirrel tails… brother and sister wrestling in their cage!

I was SO happy to see TWO fluffy tails!

I was SO happy to see TWO fluffy tails!

There was a time today when I felt I had lost my snap too! Like the old, weathered snapping turtle, I was feeling smooth worn out, trudging along, defeated. But now, here was Francesca, as if she had never been gone, roughhousing with her brother. I knew this was a sign that it was time for me to “snap” out of the fear and worry I had allowed to take over my mind. It was time to celebrate and live in the moment of happiness! So, I went to fetch a few pecans for everyone in celebration of Francesca’s return!

Snapping Turtle_0779

Later in the evening, while chatting with my neighbor, I learned that he had actually seen the snapping turtle while walking his dog this morning.  Apparently the turtle made it to our gate, but was unable to get under it. My neighbor lifted the hefty girl up and over, reaching down as low as he could to allow her to land with a slight thud on the other side. He felt she was better off on our property than walking the streets. I asked if she snapped at him and thrashed to get free. He said she was quite compliant and accepted his help without any fight. Maybe she had not lost her snap at all, I wondered, but had simply lived long enough to learn when she was exposed to real danger, and to hold her snap in reserve until the threat was dire…

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

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Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-a-Dee-A

A month has passed since I have written and published a blog post.  To make an excuse, I could go on and on about how busy I have been (and this is true), as I never lack for things to do on our ten-acre ranch. But the real reason is that, after I wrote, “Too Many Hats And Too Many Irons In The Fire”, something strange happened – everything just fell into place.

My beloved winter work in the woodlands ended abruptly in mid-March, when the weather warmed up and the spring rains arrived. Overnight, it seemed, the woodlands transformed into a lush green jungle covered by a canopy of sun-dappled tree tops. This “jungle” included various native grasses and thick weeds that kept me from venturing too far into the dark of the woods to continue my work of clearing downed trees and limbs.

Also helping to relieve my burdens, Buddy and Francesca, the two little orphaned squirrels we “acquired” when we took the widow-maker down in Mom’s garden, are now a little easier to deal with. A couple of weeks ago, the pair were moved from the small cage in the house to the large “pre-release” squirrel complex on the back porch. In this larger cage, they are becoming very playful and growing quite rapidly. Additionally, their feeding routine has dwindled considerably over the past couple of days, with both refusing formula the last two feedings. This is normal (and easy on the caretaker!), as squirrels tend to “self-wean”.

Feeding time!

Feeding time!

An old jacket makes a great squirrel caddy!

An old jacket makes a great squirrel caddy!

Francesca is the adventurous acrobat... Buddy prefers to stay close to the nest box. That is Buddy giving me the evil eye!

Francesca is the adventurous acrobat… Buddy prefers to stay close to the nest box. That is Buddy giving me the evil eye!

Francesca tests her skills while Buddy looks for food.

Francesca tests her skills while Buddy looks for food.

So, with a little less time spent on squirrel duty, I have finally found time to weed the flower beds around the house and transplant a few perennials that needed dividing. FD tilled up the garden plot and, thanks to warm and breezy days in between rains, I have also managed to put in most of the vegetable plants and seeds that I purchased weeks before. I even got a lucky break in the streak of hot, dry weather we were having when my sweet potato vines arrived in the mail. An overcast day presented itself for the planting and light rains followed the next couple of days. I could not have asked for a better start for those persnickity sweet potato vines!

Along with the new plantings in this year’s garden, the clover plots we planted for Daisy deer last fall and earlier this spring are doing well and attracting scores of butterflies and bees, seen throughout the day alighting on the clover blossoms. I have been surprised to find that even hummingbirds love clover, and I am still hoping to manage a photograph of one of these tiny birds hovering at a blossom! Of course the clover also provides a lactating mother like Daisy with all sorts of greens to make milk to feed her babies. And the deer-feed patch – planted in Daisy’s old deer pen where she was raised as a little fawn herself – is again growing thick with oats, clover, chicory, canola, and sweet peas. You might recall from older posts that, last year, Daisy hid her week-old babies in these tall, lush plants in the deer pen. I wonder if she will do the same this year?

In five days we received 6.75 inches of rain. I do not think I have ever seen the driveway flooded!

In five days we received 6.75 inches of rain. I do not think I have ever seen the driveway flooded!

The front yard looks more like lakefront property!

The front yard looks more like lakefront property!

The canyon became a muck mess as water drained from our yard and pasture up top.

The canyon became a muck mess as water drained from our yard and pasture up top.

Another welcome sign of spring, is that birds of all sorts are back from their winter migrations south. Once again, we have the usual cardinal nests hidden away in low-growing shrubs around the house. This always bothers me a bit as snakes and squirrels are such a threat to steal their eggs or young. And there are the usual, territorial hummingbird fights over honeysuckle and nectar feeders. Even the Baltimore Orioles that come back every year think the Coral Honeysuckle that grows at the back porch is all theirs, scolding any critter that comes near it, including me. Along with the pair of Bewick’s Wrens I frequently see poking around the back porch, this often makes finding any peace in the mornings impossible. And let me not forget the drumming woodpeckers. Our area supports many different species of woodpecker, including that elusive piliated woodpecker that I have seldom seen, but I hear quite often. I cannot possibly list all of the bird species that thrive here, but I know they find plenty of weed and grass seed to feed on, and a bounty of sweet blossoms from which to find nectar. And, I am getting pretty good at recognizing all their calls, trills and tweets.

The rain does not stop the hummingbirds - I've even observed them flying through hail! This one looks a little ruffed up!

The rain does not stop the hummingbirds – I’ve even observed them flying through hail! This one looks a little ruffed up!

Daisy's clover patch is beautiful after so much spring rain!

Daisy’s clover patch is beautiful after so much spring rain!

The Titmouse is a common bird in the woodlands. They also frequent our back porch for discarded sunflower seeds that the squirrels may drop.

The Titmouse is a common bird in the woodlands. They also frequent our back porch for discarded sunflower seeds that the squirrels may drop.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker attempts to run off a Downy Woodpecker - who simply hops round and round the tree to avoid confrontation! Nature is often amusing!

A Red-bellied Woodpecker attempts to run off a Downy Woodpecker – who simply hops round and round the tree to avoid confrontation! Nature is often amusing!

Though I have not seen it, I know there is a barn owl living, or perhaps just hunting, either next door at the neighbor’s property or just behind my mom-in-law’s house. Each morning in the dark, just before daylight, as I set out on the walk from our home at the edge of the woods, up the driveway to the street to open the entrance gate, I am often greeted by a hair-raising hiss. I try to remain calm but I am never quite sure what direction that eerie hiss will surprise me from. One particular morning, a sudden WHOOSH sounded just above my head – no flapping wings, just a strong sense of air rushing. I am just sure it was this elusive barn owl!

Another month to go - that belly will get much bigger!

Another month to go – that belly will get much bigger!

Dinner dishes can wait! Daisy lets me pick ticks off of her head and neck, while she keeps watch. That's one of her clover patches in the background.

Dinner dishes can wait! Daisy lets me pick ticks off of her head and neck, while she keeps watch. That’s one of her clover patches in the background.

In early April, Daisy deer returned from her winter hiatus in the river bottom, spending time with the wild deer. She generally returns to her home territory (our ten-acre ranch) the month before she gives birth to her fawns.  Before long, she will be setting up the nursery and protecting her territory of about five acres, more or less. She will soon begin running off every animal that she feels is a threat, from the neighbors dogs to feral cats and occasional raccoons – and, hopefully, the foxes. I love this particular time, as Daisy seems to need her “parents” to pamper her just a bit this last month of her pregnancy. It is as if she needs a little spa treatment before she gets busy with her fawns. So, FD and I brush her and pick ticks and fleas off of her, or just pull her favorite snack of elm leaves down within her reach, whenever we get the chance.

The old fox isn't seen often but it does occasionally enjoy snacking on deer feed.

The old fox isn’t seen often but it does occasionally enjoy snacking on deer feed.

The young fox is seen many times a day. The wildlife tub is a regular stop for many species of mammal and birds.

The young fox is seen many times a day. The wildlife tub is a regular stop for many species of mammal and birds.

It will be interesting to see if Daisy manages to run off the two red foxes who have also set up housekeeping in the area this spring. I have not yet located just where in the pecan orchard it is that they have their kits, but it is apparent that they are feeding young over there somewhere. Along with the occasional dove, raccoon and opossum, they both have been eating deer feed and also our neighbor’s cat food on a fairly regular basis. And, sadly, I have seen them take a number of squirrels from our canyon, heading off to the north in the pecan orchard to share the catch with their young. Both foxes appear quite thin and are on the go constantly. I wonder how many little mouths they are feeding?

Fortunately, there are no worries concerning our orphaned juvenile squirrels who have been on their own since November. Punkin comes by the back porch on a daily basis, so we know she is doing just fine escaping the foxes. Most mornings, she enjoys two or three (or more pecans) if I have time to indulge her. I still see Mr. Gambini occasionally on a rainy day, but he is all business – simply after the vittles and definitely not wanting any ear scratches or petting like Miss Punkin does. Instead, he eats his grub and is soon on his way down to the canyon to join the other male squirrels, feasting on dropped corn from Daisy’s last visit at the corn feeder. Mr. Gambini is still small but he is very fast – and likely that is what keeps him safe from those clever foxes in the shadows.

Punkin enjoys her daily pecan snack.

Punkin enjoys her daily pecan snack.

Mr. Gambini isn't about to come down until he sees I have a snack for him!

Mr. Gambini isn’t about to come down until he sees I have a snack for him!

As I write this, bountiful rains continue to fall, sometimes calling me to just stand in the middle of it all and marvel at the beauty. When the rains subside, my totem, the vultures, fly high above on the balmy, windy days that follow, and I remember to “Glide and Soar” and revel in the love and happiness that flourishes on this little piece of land. And then a happy little song comes to my mind… “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-a-Dee-A.  My oh my, what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine heading my way.  Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-a-Dee-A!”

Juvenile Squirrel_0651

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

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On The Brink Of Full-Fledged Spring

Early morning is my favorite time to walk the pasture and venture into the wooded area behind our home. It is also the best time to revel in the cacophony of birds singing and woodpeckers busily hammering away at dead trees. At dawn, it is always possible that I might spot one of the red foxes trotting along the trail between our canyon and the pecan orchard, or perhaps catch Daisy deer still lingering about in the woodlands below our house, nibbling on cat brier or wild honeysuckle as she makes her way into the pecan orchard and on to the river for the day. And, most every morning, a group of squirrels can be found under Daisy’s corn feeder, scarfing up kernels of corn she left scattered on the ground.

The sun peeks through a dismal sky.

The sun peeks through a dismal sky.

Most folks around here use chemical to get rid of Henbit, but I find its lavender hues beautiful and the deer love to graze on it, not to mention it attracts a lot of butterflies.

Most folks around here use chemical to get rid of Henbit, but I find its lavender hues beautiful and the deer love to graze on it, not to mention Henbit attracts a lot of butterflies.

One morning this past week, a heavy fog shrouded the area, creating a mystical wonderland. For me, fog creates a kind of quiet that helps me to focus on landscapes, rather than closeups of images in front of me. I also love that the misty event offers me the challenge of working with depth and contrast in subdued light. And, in foggy or overcast conditions, I do not have to worry about shadows or overexposure in my images.

On this particular morning, I was busy cleaning up breakfast dishes, attending to squirrel feedings, and getting our dogs set up with medications for the day, so I missed the heaviest fog conditions. Unfortunately, by the time I ventured out with my camera, the fog was lifting. With my photography, this happens to me far too often – I let too much time slip by and I miss the moment – a reminder that nature waits for no one.

A young Redbud Tree blossoms lavendar, while the Red Currant Shrub offers a yellow flower, and a very old Quince Shrub bears a brilliant red blossom.

A young Redbud Tree blossoms lavender, while the Red Currant Shrub offers a yellow flower, and a very old Quince Shrub bears a brilliant red blossom.

One of several Purple Leaf Redbud trees lining our driveway.

In full blossom, one of several Purple Leaf Redbud trees lining our driveway.

The willowy branches of the Ornamental Redbud are lovely laden in spring pink!

The willowy branches of the Ornamental Redbud are quite lovely, laden in spring pink!

It is this time of early spring in Oklahoma, when the sleepy earth awakens from its winter slumber and Nature comes alive, and our surroundings change quickly. Within days, the metamorphosis from barren and lifeless to green and flourishing unfolds. And if we are not paying attention, we can easily miss the moment.

This woodland blossom will produce some kind of fruit the shape of an apricot... but the fruits are snatched up by birds before I can determine just what the fruit is!

This woodland blossom will produce some kind of fruit the shape of an apricot… but the fruits are snatched up by birds before I can determine just what the fruit is!

Our peach tree is loaded with blossoms this year. So far we have avoided frost or a late freeze this spring... maybe we will have fruit this summer!

Our peach tree is loaded with blossoms this year. So far we have avoided frost or a late freeze this spring… maybe we will have fruit this summer!

The pear trees are four years old now and this is the first year they have put off blossoms! Daisy deer loves pears.

The pear trees are four years old now and this is the first year they have put off blossoms! Daisy deer loves pears – I wonder if she will leave us a few…

I think what I love most about being a farm girl, is the opportunity to spend time outdoors, doing the work I love. Working outside, I do not miss out on much in nature. And, spending time in nature is, for me, a sensory thing… I feel, see, touch, and hear the movement of life, and of time.

When was the last time you allowed fog to envelope you as daylight emerged? Have you ever taken the opportunity to purposefully stand in the rain, just to feel the cool drops on your face? When was the last time you stood outside and experienced the wonder of a formidable storm front as it moved in? What about your last close encounter with a wild creature?  If it has been a while, I hope you will take time to experience nature this spring. I believe that such experiences can take you to, and beyond, the brink of full-fledged living!

Decades ago, FD's Grandmother planted daffodil and iris bulbs all around the back yard perimeter of the old house. In the spring, we see a blanket of color in the distance. Right now the view is yellow with daffodil, but soon the multi-colored iris will be in full bloom. It will become a sea of color!

Decades ago, FD’s Grandmother planted daffodil bulbs and iris rhizomes all around the perimeter of the old house. As a result, we see a blanket of color from our living room windows during the spring. Right now the view is yellow with daffodil, but soon the multi-colored iris will be in full bloom. It will become a sea of color!

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 

 

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