Saturday, July 29, 2017

Room for Ribbit

There’s always room for one more, they say.  In this case, the “one more” doesn’t take up a lot of room.  He (or maybe she) also doesn’t take food out of our mouths, doesn’t need to be walked or brushed, doesn’t use a litter box or require us to clean out a cage.  We just need to be careful not to step on him.  

Ribbit is a southern leopard frog.  He took up residence in our pool a couple of weeks ago, and shows no sign of leaving.  Not quite as big as my thumb, I suppose Ribbit is still a froglet.  Wikipedia says his body can grow up to 13 centimeters, so he still has a long way to grow.  I understand that leopard frogs are mostly nocturnal, and we have seen Ribbit leaving the pool a couple of times in the evening…to hunt I suppose.  But most of the time he can be seen basking by the pool.

Here is Ribbit on his rock.  We had placed a couple of flat stones on the top step of our pool so any small creature that fell in would have a way to exit.  Ribbit has apparently decided that the stones make a good basking spot, and the area behind them affords a fine hiding place.

During the day, we sometimes bring him small worms from the garden, which he gobbles up as soon as we place them on his rock.  When Colt enters and exits the pool, water streaming from his coat, Ribbit usually just sits quietly as 50 pounds of border collie leaps over him on the way in or out. 

Occasionally, when we swim the waves wash Ribbit off his rock and he swims around the pool.  I usually just scoop him up and put him back on his rock so he won’t get caught in the skimmer.  So far, he seems to be managing very well.  

It’s too bad frogs don’t do cute things like puppies and kittens do.  Then I would have more pictures to entertain you.    Unfortunately, Ribbit's big, googley eyes look the same no matter what is going on around him.  His expression never changes, except when he smacks his froggy lips after eating a worm.  His right and left profiles look the same. 

No matter; it doesn't take much to amuse us and we’re enjoying our new friend.  We hope he stays around for a while.   

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

(I know, I know...I'm a little late with this one, but we've been busy.)

We almost always spend the Fourth of July at the farm…because we love being there, and because Kota gets terribly anxious when she hears fireworks.  There are plenty of poppers in our neighborhood near Volente, but none on Goat Hill.  This year was no exception.  We arrived on the first and spent time with Allan and Jef and the McElhaney family.  Jamey and Laura twirled each other into falling-down dizziness on the sack swing.

And Lulu and Clover hung out with their cousins.

We had a smoked pork butt feast with Cousins Kathy and Eric and topped it off with fresh figs poached in balsamic vinegar over Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.  (I know, it doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but just try it.  You'll like it.)  The dogs got bone treats.

Cousin Kaia showed off her squirrel-chasing, tree-climbing skills,

and Radius and Savvy enjoyed some fresh grass after their ride.

All in all, it was a wonderful Fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wiley Coyote x 2

There is seldom a dull moment at the farm.  When we arrived a week ago, the rain gauge was brim-full…showing 5 1/2 inches had fallen since our last trip.  Then, last Friday night it rained another inch.  We are awash and aslosh!  The cows and calves are happy.

When we went for our walk on Saturday morning, Red Cow’s heifer calf was having a mid-morning snack.

B1’s calf was getting a bath, which she apparently enjoyed immensely.

On Saturday afternoon, Brian, Debi and Granddog Louie arrived for their first look at the place since we did the prescribed burn in February.  

Everything looks very different.  There are seeps and springs where lush grasses now grow, and we have an abundance of wildflowers.  

The dogs are once again outfitted in their T-shirts to keep at least some of the spear grass and “beggar lice” out of their coats.

My brother and his family took on the project of sorting and organizing the many projectile points, arrowheads and stone tools that have been picked up on the place over the years (mostly by our parents and our Aunt Frankie and Uncle Watt).

A couple of months ago, Brian Jameson and Carol Macaulay-Jameson, archeologists familiar with this area, looked through our collection, and recommended that we try to organize and identify them.  They said some of the points were several thousand years old, evidence of continued habitation by native peoples throughout our county’s history and before.  While Noah and Rachel played a serious game of cards, Allan and my niece, Erin Carmody, worked hard to sort and catalog the collection.  This will allow us to preserve it for kids and grandkids, and it won’t be just a bunch of projectile points and stone tools.  There will be a real connection to the farm we all call home.

I had a delightful surprise on Tuesday morning.  I had gone out just at sunup to photograph the meadow below our house.  I noticed movement a couple of hundred yards away and thought it might be a deer or turkey.  As I quietly watched, I saw something very unusual.  A pair of coyotes made their way across the pasture, apparently unaware of me or Colt who was dozing a few feet away.  These images are certainly not wall-hangers, and normally I wouldn’t use them.  However, I can’t resist showing you how perfectly the coyotes blend into the tall grasses, and how comfortable they were within sight of the house, even if they didn’t know I was watching.

For several minutes the smaller of the two hunted for mice or grasshoppers in the tall grass.  She would crouch quietly, then spring with paws together and front legs extended in an attempt to catch her prey.  I didn’t see her eat anything, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.  After several minutes, the two of them loped up the hill, then melted away into the brush.

We know coyotes live on the farm.  We hear them from time to time, and see their scat.  However, I can probably count on one hand the times I have seen one of them.  This chance to watch them in their daily routine was a real treat, and one I hope will be repeated…maybe if I get up early enough.