September 2009


Not too long ago, I wrote a post about the hummingbird exodus. The males leave ahead of time, and the females make their way shortly after. We had a mass of females, who very vocally scrapped over who “owned” a particular feeder at a particular moment. I could tell they were nearing their time to leave, as the activity became more frenetic!

They all left on the 12th, while I was away for the day. About a week later, at least 2 more hummingbirds began showing up. I had left the feeders out, for any stragglers passing thru on their southern migration.

There were at least 2 females hanging around. I would see them together at dusk, heading for the treeline right near the house. There could have been more, but it seemed like only 2- but then, they all look alike!!!!

I was starting to worry, as the weather began to change a bit, after the first day of autumn. Some people take the feeders down, in an effort to encourage the little ones to move on. I have always left them up – the hummers have always moved on when it was time.

Last night, I was watching tv, and noticed a tiny bird just sitting on the feeder. She was puffed up, a tiny little ball of iridescence, quickly fading to a shadow, as the sun went down. Another female came twice to check on her and to try to get her to leave before darkness fell, but to no avail. The ailing bird sat there for an hour. I left the room for a  moment, and when I returned, she was gone. I looked out the window, and there she was on the deck, on her side and barely moving.

Just before dark, and her fall...

Just before dark, and her fall...

I ran and got a box, and a soft towel, and went outside. I thought she was dead, but as I gently picked her up, she let out a tiny peep, with a frail flutter of wings. That flutter had neither the power to lift her off my hand, nor the ground.  The day before, we had an inch and a half of chilling nonstop rain, she might be an older bird, there were alot of possibilities for her condition.

I thought about bringing the box inside, but instead, covered her up with the warm towel, with enough of an opening for her to escape, if she regained her strength. At this point, her leaving seemed unlikely. I left the box on the cushioned rocker, and turned off the porch light.

Early this morning, while the fog still covered everything, I ran outside to check the box, fully expecting her to have died during the night. I was very surprised to find the box empty!

It had not been moved or disturbed, and I did not see the tiny bird anywhere. It was 49 degrees, so I decided to refill the feeders for any remaining hummingbirds. As I removed the feeders, 2 hummers zoomed in and flitted around my head!! The perfect Disney-esque scenario would be that one of those tiny birds was the one I rescued last night!!  I will keep on thinking that, altho the likelihood of that being the truth is slim to none……..The one little hummer perched on the feeder right now could be…….

This warm energy drink will hopefully give these stragglers  sustenance for the long journey ahead! As much as I love having them hang around, they need to leave, and I will look forward to their return next year!!!!!

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The hummingbirds have left.

They left on a day I was not home.

Maybe they thought it would be easier on me.

It was not……..

I miss them.

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A week after they left, a stray female showed up at the feeder. I hadn’t removed it, just in case. So yesterday, I made new syrup for the feeder, hung it up, and my hand was still on the bottle, when a hummingbird buzzed in for a sip! I don’t know if she is from my original crew, or just someone passing thru on her southern migration.

A friend on mine in the next town, still has hordes of hummingbirds scrapping over her feeders. That is their usual activity, when it is nearing the time to move on. So, I guess last Saturday was the time for my bunch to start the trek south.

I wish I had been home, altho’ I could tell they were getting ready. My regulars would follow me to the garden, and buzz around like giant bees. At times, they would perch, just above my head – one of the few times I ever saw their frantic wings at rest- and just watch me in the garden.

I worry about the last traveler, still hanging around at the feeder, but I hate to take the feeder down-she will need that extra sustenance for that long journey to South America.

I will miss them, and already have my next year’s calendar marked for their return!!

As soon as the hummingbirds left, some new entertainment arrived! Under the hummingbird feeder is a large patch of coneflowers.

An exuberant  “ti DEE di di” drew me to the window- and there was a vibrant male goldfinch balancing on the top flower. He stayed for an hour at a stretch, feasting on the  seeds. The goldfinches are now regular visitors. The window screen blurs his brilliance- but he fills in the blank  left by the hummingbirds’ absence.

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The other day, as I drove down the driveway, a massive bird in an old dead tree caught my eye. I ran in the house to get the binoculars and my camera. The neighbors have mentioned an eagle nest in the area. The property owner where the nest is, is very secretive of its exact whereabouts. Apparently, out here in the boonies, there are those who would shoot any thing that flies.

I think, the large bird in the tree, might have been a juvenile eagle. More likely a bald eagle than a golden, since a bald eagle is what has the nest nearby.  I could not get close enough, in the glare of the sun, to be able to tell for sure. He flew off, and is definitely larger than our resident hawks! I wasn’t able to get a good picture- (I definitely need a better camera!)

Juvenile eagle?

Juvenile eagle?

One of the larger hawks flew brazenly by us last night- low to the ground and within 6 feet of us and our dogs. This one is one of a pair of pole sitters, who hang out in the horse paddocks on a fence post, or on the telephone wires, waiting for dinner to scurry by in the tall grass! Another reason , if we ever get chickens, for a very secure, fenced in coop!

My favorite photo of all time- and one I have been trying for years to get- is the white heron. We have several blue herons who hang out at the river and soar over in the evenings, like prehistoric pterodactyls. I have never been successful in photographing them. As quiet as I can be, there is no sneaking up on them at the river. They are off before I can even focus the camera.

A week or so ago, while leaving a neighbor’s house, there in the trees, at the edge of the road, was a white heron!!! We stopped, backed the truck up, and altho he eyed us leerily, he did not move. I got my picture!!!! Woohoo!!!

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Our winged residents are a never ending source of wonder.

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All is well, peaceful and cloudy, at Mountain Meadows this Sunday  morning.

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Click here to go there……………..join us for tea!

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All is well, and definitely not as sunny as  pictured above, at Mountain Meadows, this rainy Tuesday morning………………….

When we moved out here to the boonies, we were very excited about a new lifestyle, more laid back, more self supporting, and possibly more economical. These past couple of years have definitely been a learning experience!

I don’t like to sweat -and am not that strong anymore- which is DH’s part in the farming aspect. Farming as a money maker is very low on the totem pole!!

When we started growing and selling hay – I was very excited- got a list of clients together- square bales for horses was not an untapped market out here – but round bales are the norm.

The first year was phenomenal!  The hay was good, and so were the prices. The folks we met as new customers were wonderful.

Farming is totally dependent on the weather – the constant and unusual rain we’ve been having this year- kept the hay from being cut when it should have been – it went to seed – and now was only good for cow feed. The next cut we hoped would  be fine, weather permitting – but we were hoping to get 2 or possibly 3 good cuts to sell to my horsey clients. As time progressed, I realized I’d be lucky if I get one good cut to sell, and the price may not be what we had hoped. That was supposed to pay for the barn DH built to store the hay in – but, what’s a little more debt!! LOL

As it turned out – the 2nd cut of hay was wonderful, it got square baled, and half way thru putting it on the wagon, as I mentioned in my last post, the rains came down! Strangely enough, the 3/4 inch of rain that fell in torrents here, appeared to have fallen nowhere else……………………… Go figure!! Mother Nature was sending us a personal message, I guess. Part of that message is don’t count yer chickens before they’re hatched!!!!


Last year, hay was great – and Georgia had the drought, people were coming up here to buy hay and bring it back down to Ga!! That didn’t happen this year! Prices are very low. I always tried to price my hay below market to keep it affordable for all.

For next year, we decided (altho it took a bit of convincing for me to agree!), we will just be doing round bales. Eventually, we will be physically unable to do all the stacking of square bales ourselves. It’s tough enough now! It doesn’t pay to hire someone to do it. The rounds can be easily lifted with the fork attachment on the tractor and stored in the hay barn. There is still the problem with rain, but we will work with that!! We have a local farmer who is willing and eager to buy all the rounds we can produce!

My other bright idea, in my new life as “agricultural queen” and queen of the home based business, was to sell at the Farmers Market. The Farmers Market in this small town, was not what I had hoped it would be.

My points of reference were the markets in the urban area we used to live in. Crowds of people, eager for whatever the vendors had to offer – and vendors selling out all that they brought!

This local market was tiny, and I felt it was a good way for me to test the waters, being a newbie at this. I read, researched, and felt I was ready. We met wonderful people, and it was a great experience on what sells and what doesn’t, in this area and this economy. I would probably have to drive alot farther to a much larger town market to sell out everything that I bring to market. The farmer who runs the small market told me – that if I was in this to make money, think again. He was right! I listened, but in my newbie enthusiasm, I figured I had products that would sell like crazy!  Quite honestly, it is easier, less stressful, and far less work, (altho maybe not quite as rewarding) to sit home and list stuff on eBay, than it is to pick and wash produce, bake, wrap, be dependent on the weather again, drive into town and set up at the crack of early, and sit for several hours hoping people will show up and buy your goods. The camaraderie among the vendors is wonderful, and I learned alot from each of them, in their lifetimes of experience, but the money is not there in this small town, especially in these economic times.

I am happy enough now to be able to grow what I need to sustain the family, give away the extra to those who need it, put up food for over the winter, and feed my own horses with our own home grown hay.

In these past 3 years, I have learned quite a bit, and have a new appreciation for those who REALLY farm, and have been doing it for generations. The people who supply the food we eat – are really hard workers, and  don’t get enough credit or money for the hard work that they do! When you walk into a supermarket and pick up a bag of lettuce, or some carrots, or a slab of beef, you don’t realize the work that was behind that head of lettuce getting to market!



Living out here, has really made me realize how things work – in the “real ” world!!!

At the end of the day, if you can get your horse to laugh - and you laugh too, that's all that matters!!!

At the end of the day, if you can get your horse to laugh - and you laugh too, that's all that matters!!!

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Every day is a new day, at Mountain Meadows……………………..

Still digging up potatoes,, waiting on the carrots and parsnips to get a bit bigger, finished with the tomatoes, and getting ready to plant more lettuces, chard, broccoli and cauliflower. We finished the last of the hay, and half way thru loading the bales, the rains came down. It turned horse hay into individually wrapped cow meals! Mother Nature always has the last laugh, and she was roaring that day…………………..

Been riding the horses, if we can get out there before the flies wake up. As it gets nearer to fall, flies will be the one thing I won’t miss about the end of summer!!!!

Miss Lilly has taken to looking for every opportunity to escape. I must get a video of her gleeful gallop around the hay field when she gets out!!! She did it again this morning. I plopped the saddle on John, but had not turned around to lock the stall door – that little vixen rushed by me, nosed that door open and trotted to the barn door. With a ‘catch me if you can’ look over her shoulder at me – she flew out the door, and ran for greener pastures!!! In the time it took to catch her,”the big guy” had shaken off his saddle, and was getting ready to poop on it, when I dragged the unwilling Miss Lilly back in!! Some days, ya’ wonder if it is all worth it……………….!!!

Anyway, there is so much to tell, but I will skip the words and just show the pictures- a picture is worth a thousand words…………….and all that!!!!

outbuildings

outbuildings

1st harvested sunflower

1st harvested sunflower

unloaded 1st wagon

unloaded 1st wagon

This was the wagon I unloaded!

This was the wagon I unloaded!

Just a hat.................

Just a hat.................

I really do work, on occasion!!! I unloaded this whole wagon - dd & dh stacked it

I really do work, on occasion!!! I unloaded this whole wagon - dd & dh stacked it

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Salting the damp hay to draw the moisture out............

Salting the damp hay to draw the moisture out............

DONE!!!!

DONE!!!!

DD driving the  tractor to return the hay wagon

DD driving the tractor to return the hay wagon

Neighbor finishing up to do his final round bales on our field.

Neighbor finishing up to do his final round bales on our field.

Another day done..................

Another day done..................

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All is well at Mountain Meadows this fine Sunday morning……………….


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