Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunday Morning Walk

Sunday morning was bright but chilly.  The fire in the big black range had gone out overnight and the kitchen felt unwelcoming when I came downstairs.
I pulled on an assortment of wooly garments and set about making a fire in the stove.  I didn't want to wait for water to boil and coffee to perk on the slowly heating cooktop, so pulled out the electric coffee machine.
With coffee over, breakfast eaten and the cats tended, I put on my boots and headed outside to dump  compost in the woods beyond the barn.
Heading back I met Jim on the path.
"Are we going for a walk?"
When he nodded affirmatively, I plunked down the compost bucket and dashed back to the house for my camera.
The tortie sisters and Willis fell in behind.
The 'girls' always turn back after a short trek but Willis is good for the long haul.
I stopped to take a photo of some tight green stalks emerging from the dry leaves beside the path.
Jim remarked that they looked a bit like asparagus in early spring.

Once I had noticed these I found more--several colonies in various stages of emergence. 

When I saw this one with its leaves unfurling like an umbrella, a possible identity drifted up from the ragbag stash of memory: 'May apple.'
A later check on google confirmed the name.
The google images show may apple in flower and with a small yellow fruit later in the season.
Perhaps I will brave the possibility of ticks and a snake or two to visit the area again. 

A clump of bloodroot.

The flowers are creamy white, but if picked, the stems exude a sticky orange sap.

Leaves still cling to the many beech trees in the woods.

The woodland floor is host to an abundance of this plant--I was unfamiliar with it, but research seems to place in the 'toothwort' family, possibly 'slender toothwort, dentaria heterophylla.'

Our house sits in the narrow 'valley' between steep wooded hillsides to the east and west.
Trees grow thickly on the slopes, with thick roots pushing out of the soil in odd conformations.

Another odd mossy tree root--like the claws of a huge prehistoric monster [?]

The entrance to a hobbit house, perhaps.

I have not seen hepatica since leaving my native Vermont.
The several photos I took did not capture the flower well.
I was clambering about trying to work around my own shadow.

I wonder if Willis was inspired by some animal's scent left behind near this log.
He wallowed and thrashed in the dry leaves.

Willis with his back turned and ears expressing his annoyance as I coaxed him to pose prettily.

Willis and Jim headed home, walking along the creek bed, while I plodded steadfastly behind hoping to spot more spring blooms.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fox Squirrel

Who knew there was such a creature?
When we first spied our visitor during the first weeks at the farm, we noted the billowing rufus tail and realized this was not a common grey or red squirrel.
In spite of his robust size, he obviously was not a fox.
A friend assured us that we have in residence a fox squirrel.
[He also cautioned us that fox squirrels don't make good eating--not that we had any such intentions!]

 The fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), also known as the eastern fox squirrel or Bryant's fox squirrel, is the largest species of tree squirrel native to North America.[Wikipedia]

Fox squirrels are apparently fairly common in our area, sustained by the abundance of oak and walnut trees. The steep ridges rising to east and west behind the farm house are a perfect habitat.
We have seen the fox squirrel several times.
No matter how quietly I let myself out of the house, camera at the ready, he senses my presence and goes bounding deeper into the woods, his plume of a tail marking his passage, although the rest of his body blends into the carpet of dead leaves.
These photos were taken with the zoom--after I cautiously exited the house from the front door and crept to the back of the building, slipping out from the corner and getting these shots before the creature sensed that I was watching.
Note the blaze of white on his face; I'm told this is an indication of a mature squirrel.
Some may have black streaks on their heads or backs.

Only the tail is visible as the squirrel scurries down the fence post.
[Why am I assuming this is a "he?"]
I hope his wariness and agility keep him safe from the interests of the barn cats!

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Phone and internet were [finally] installed at the farm on Thursday afternoon.
I've had time to quickly catch up with a few favorite blogs and to check in on Face Book to see how family and friends are doing
I haven't had time to reply to comments or leave many.
Perhaps this time without internet has given me a bit of needed discipline--I don't need to look at the computer every time I walk past my desk!
Through the weeks of cold weather, the stress of moving and working on the farmhouse, my bargin table amaryilis has been a joy.
It was slow to bloom, but eventually sent up two proud stalks of four blossoms each

My camera does not do justice to the depth and delicate tracery of the blossom.

With moderating weather the deep snow has melted, the brook is running freely.

Last week grandson D. with his girlfriend and a pal paid us a surprise visit.
[Surprise because no one could contact us!]
They with Jim carried fish poles down to the well-stocked pond which is part of our new propery.
The total haul was 30 white croppie and 1 bass.
I hurried to put potatoes in the wood stove oven to bake, brought green beans from the cellar pantry, corn and applesauce from the freezer.
The men cleaned and filleted the fish--making an incredible mess around the sink.

Two of the larger fish.

Some of the catch displayed in a pan.
The cats were fearful when Jim showed them the fish.
They prefer it as a smushed and smelly entree from a tin!

A tangle of vines and brambles along the brook.

Fresh green moss growing where the little brook dives beneath a culvert.

Oh, the delight of discovering daffodils in the verge near the mailbox!

Daffs crowding the fence and blooming through the sunshine and rain of springtime.

Home--I hope forever!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Checking In

No photos--although I have taken a few of more snow!
Installation of phone/internet is indefinitely delayed due to the continuing cold and storms.
We have stayed snug thanks to an adequate wood supply for the big farmhouse stove.  On several evenings we have pulled our favorite chairs close to the warmth, turned on the radio [for Jim] while I've sat still with a book.
Most of our worldly goods were moved to the farm on Monday and Tuesday, beating the snowfall with the help of two stalwart Amish lads who helped with loading and unloading. Many of my books are still in piles on the study floor and a few pieces of furniture remaining to be conveyed.
Unpacking at the farmhouse continues. [Why do we have so much chattel?]
Jim is now installing lights in the upstairs, and we set up our king-sized bed last evening in what will eventually be called the 'master bedroom.'
I am so anxious to paint, but some repair of poorly finished drywall should be done first and isn't a priority on Jim's 'to-do' list.
I see the finished product in my mind's eye and get impatient with the long process of remodeling and decorating.
I've been at our local family-owned store and café for an hour, using their WiFi connection--fighting with my recalcitrant laptop--which isn't allowing me to comment on the few blogs I've had time to read.
Surely this time of frustration--like the lingering winter--will surely give way to more 'normal' times!