Sunday, August 29, 2010

I like Orange

These orange zinnas are on the list for next year!

The Happy Couple

I admit it, we had a great day wandering the paths, though we only stayed an hour and a half in the hot sun!  We pledged to go back in the spring to see the spring bulbs bloom.

A Beautiful Bed

Black Millet, and orange gaillardias.... we're going to try it!

Powell Gardens for our Birthdays

We decided to celebrate our birthdays with a trip to Powell Gardens in Missouri.  We waited until Saturday, in between mine on August 25, and Keith's on September 10.  We got up early and did chores, and then left for the 50 mile drive to the large gardens.  I had not been there in ten years, and Keith had never been.  We enjoyed seeing the plantings, despite the fact that we had missed the bloom of high summer, and the mums had not come on yet.  There was enough to keep us taking pictures, discussing planting schemes, and hatching plans for Calamity Acres. We got lots of good ideas, and a visit to a nursery on the way home gave us more.  Now Keith has spent the weekend planting four trees we bought on Friday  -- special trees, two dwarf apples and two dwarf pears, the first of our fruit trees! 

The Intrepid Floaters

Okay, I admit it... I had NEVER FLOATED IN A TUBE BEFORE!  Despite being (nearly) 60 years old, my experiences in inner tubes were limited to some previous tries with "blow-up" airtubes at the swimming pool of my youth.  I laughed so hard I cried at trying to get into them, and had to have help getting in and out.  Thank heavens the water was only three feet deep!  The picture shows Grandma, the birthday boy Nathan almost asleep standing on the left, Jacob, and Madison.

Celebrating Nathan's Birthday

Grandson Nathan turned 11 on the 21st, and for an end of summer birthday treat, we hit the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in neighboring Kansas City, Kansas.  Nathan, his stepbrother Jacob, stepsister Madison, Grandma, and mom all spent the day in the sun, floating on the raging waters, or sliding down the slides!  We had a great time, and wore ourselves out.  The birthday boy spent his night with his Dad, his steps and little brother and sister, and Grandma got a rest after spending the day floating in a tube. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

Once there was Rambo, King of the Big Henhouse.  Rambo had a deputy, Fred, the Japanese Bantam rooster, white with a black tail.  Now, descendants of these two roosters are in my flock... Fred's four year old boys Butch (of the One Eye) and Studley, and their children One, Two, Three and Four, who are three this year.  Ratchett, the Hooster, is the King of the Little Henhouse.  He has Silka, the last silkie hen, and the half-Polish Flicka, and the Maniac Hen, as his harem.  In the big henhouse, Studley and Butch reigned supreme until Butch was vanquished to the feed room to be my pet, left with only one eye after a battle.  Studley lorded it over the remaining hens, and the other smaller roosters.  Last year, we had one male chick that looked like Rambo's last son... tall, high tail feathers, his dad's shape.  Baby Rambo has grown into a beautiful rooster.  Yesterday I heard a squawk, and saw Rambo Jr. chase Studley across the big henyard. Then, I watched as Studley was afraid to go into the big henhouse at nightfall.   Tonight, I found him in the little henhouse.  Ratchett was not bothering him... maybe he is afraid of him... and the three little hens were ignoring him.  I'm glad he found a place to go. 

Beat the Heat

Inca and Tony learned from Mama, while she was still here.  She taught them to stay in the shade during the worst part of the day, and to lay by the troughs for the coolness of the water.  In the morning they stay at the south fence in the shade of the cottonwoods, but in the afternoon, they come up to the troughs for the cool ground.  Tony appears to be getting along better than Inca, who is suffering in the terrible heat of this week (114 heat index).  She is eating, but only in the evening, it looks like, and is conserving her energy.  If the pond were still there, she would stand in it and cool off, but she won't let me spray her with the hose, and walks away indignantly. She is the one animal I am really worried for in the heat.

Flight of the Swallows

Today, they flew.  When I walked out the door to do morning chores, the air was full of chirping and calling, and fluttering wings.  Mama and Daddy (Hekyll and Jekyll) swooped around them, encouraging them.  When the last four launched, two were dead within hours, one into the door, and the other, found out in the yard.  Of these four, all fluttered around the porch, onto the wires, onto the porch roof and off again.  I went to work happy for them.

Tonight, there were only three.  Hekyll and Jekyll were flying farther away feeding, and the three little ones huddled, two on the wires, and one on the porch roof.  At nightfall, their parents had come back for a few minutes, and I watched one lone baby try to make his way down the wire, fluttering his wings, to his sibling.  The sibling flew off, and he is huddled out there in the dark, alone.  After weeks of no rain, black clouds came over at dusk and there is a breeze and lightening cutting across the western sky in jagged arrows.  We just went out to check on him again at 10:30, and he is hunched down, holding on.  I hope he is okay by morning, they are such pretty little birds. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crowded House

Babies on the Porch

Feeding the Hungry Mouths

For the last three years, we have had a pair of barn swallows raising two clutches each season on our porch.  So used to us that they fly past us frequently, at eye level, they have had great success with their clutches.  We like to watch them glide and swoop, and then swoop in, feed the babies, and swoop right back out!  This year, they raised five in the first clutch.  Two of those met their fates, one flew into the door and was found on the porch, and the other I found in the yard.  The other three we hope survived. 

The second clutch so far has lost one baby, fallen out of the nest twice.  We gave up after the second time, and put it down sadly, as we could not feed it and keep it going while we are both working.  Now the babies are big, and we are hoping no one else falls out. 

The Pond Now, August, 2010

This is what weeks of no rain will do. 

Our neighbor's ponds to the east are still full... they are very, very deep and stocked with fish.  Ours, however, was simply a hole in the ground where we took dirt to make a pad to build a barn that was never built.  The rainwater filled the hole, and our ducks were happy.  For a while, the geese could even swim in the pond and clean themselves, but little by little, it silted shut.  In the spring, we are going to have a proper pond dug, with a dam and a spill pipe.  On Friday night, we counted 16 green frogs in the last of the water in the middle of what was their own little pond.  This morning, Sunday, there were only one or two, so maybe they have started the trek downhill to our neighbor's big ponds to stay alive.  Still, I miss our pond... the frogs, the tadpoles, the birds and llamas and (ponies) who drank there. I can't wait until we have another.

The Pond Then

This was the pond six months ago, and you can clearly see that though it is not deep... it IS capable of holding enough water to freeze during winter.  We knew it was silting in because the ducks and geese could no longer swim in it, but they liked wading in it still. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hannah, Waiting

Hannah is blind, or nearly so.  Her world is the house, the porch and the deck.  When the deck was finished last year, she increased her world by another 24 x 16 feet, and loves to lay on it in the sun.  Where I am, when home, she is.  If I leave the porch to do chores, and she is out, she sits at the edge of the steps, staring into space, waiting to catch a dim sight, or hear a sound of me as I go past.  Every once in a while I hear an insistent, staccato bark to remind me that my girl is waiting for me.  I call to her from the pasture when I hear those barks, to reassure her I haven't forgotten her, and am hurrying.  Sometimes I will carry her down into the yard, but she becomes disoriented by the feel of the grass, and all the smells.  She will begin to run in circles, and become frantic, her breathing going heavier and heavier until she is groaning, so we never do this for but a minute or two.  Once on the deck she is calmer, and she will collapse and sleep next to our feet.  She doesn't like to be held, like Abby, who cuddles on our laps, but to be near us, where she can be stroked, and to sleep with her body alongside one of us where she feels reassurance.  She needs drops every day to keep what little sight she has.  Soon her world will be completely dark, we are afraid. She came to us from a rescue, where she and her four pug companions had been placed by their vet, their mama had been diagnosed with cancer and had died suddenly.  We were so blessed to have her come into our lives, to be a companion for first Addie Mae, and then our new little Abby.   She is Mama's Little Doll... our little Hannah Mama, our little Hannah Jean.