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Catch and Release

9 Oct

The forefinger largehairy caterpillar eating on the Milkweed fell off the plant I picked so it did not come home to be photographed.  It sure was not a monarch larva.  It was a caterpillar.

The red darning needle dragonfly was rattling under a piece of grass.  Freeing it, holding it in my hand, wondering if I should set it free or keep it for cards.  It was a spectacular  bright red.  It flew off just then and I was happy the decision was made for me.

The Black Swallowtaillarva went back out into the dill and promptly disappeared.  It overwinters as a pupa so perhaps it got ready for winter.

We found one Katydid still alive and kicking in the long grass verge on the side of the corn field.

Earl and Merle Squirrel have increased their range dramatically.  They now go over the lower roof to the west side of the house, they meet us at the door, and this afternoon Earl was on top of the freezer in the back room; I gave him a chestnut, got hold of him and he jumped onto the door and up over the roof.

Jay took Isabelle hunting Saturday and they came home with one goose.


And while we were cleaning up the garden, we thought maybe the answer to higher food prices is to feed out the turnips.  One of these would feed a family for a couple days.  Or even longer if no one likes turnips! Turnips as large as your head.

Turkey and Quilts

1 Oct

Happy October First!  The Morning Glories were glorious indeed this morning.  There were more than 45 blooms.  Perhaps they sense their time is just about up?

Jay went turkey hunting this first morning of the season and returned with a nice hen he met on the edge of the cornfield.

Hawthorne was very excited by the arrival of the bird.


Ellie and I went to the perennial county quilt show.  There were about 10 Civil War era quilts on display there from the county history museum which were made in this county.  Here are two:

This was made by a member of the Treman family of Trumansburg.  Lots pf striped fabrics. 

Incredibly beautiful.  And below, a silk quilt, perhaps made by Quakers since it is backed with the same drab brown cotton they used to line their silk dresses.

The docent from the museum who shared a bit about these quilts said that the silk in this quilt came from Paris and was of higher quality than Victorian era silks and thus had not shattered.  I asked what the difference in the silks was.

It seems that silk from China was sold on a weight per pound basis and to make the fabric weigh more the element lead was added during processing.  It also gave the silk the nice weight and rustle when used in dresses. The lead, though, also caused the premature decay (shatter) of the silk itself.

French silk, on the other hand, contains no lead.  It also does not rustle.  It shsh’s.

12.5 hours and 333 miles

20 Aug

Those are the bald measurements of the day Isabelle and I spent going up to Uncle Harold’s memorial service.  In the process we stopped at the farm twice, stopped to take Aunt Janice with us and then deposit her back home, and went for a quick shop at Sephora at a large mall on the way home.  Oh, and ice cream cones for supper along the lake.

Uncle Harold was a large man who did a lot of things large.  He loved to fish and hunt.  He loved to eat.  He grew vast crops of fruit and vegetables.  He grew pigs to which he fed the rejected ice cream from the plant where he worked.  He grew mammoth sized turkeys.  Who ever heard of cooking a 42 pound turkey? Harold is the tall one in the center.

Harold is on the far right.  He helped people in the same manner in which he did all other things:  largely, joyously, generously.

Harold in the middle.  Jay on the left, Daren at right, and our first dog, Boomer licking his chops  over the large buck.

His last month was, as his daughter aptly put, “brutal”.  For him, for his wife, for those who loved him and watched him suffer.  He died on the day and at the time he usually met his best friend each week for breakfast and then a fishing outing.  This week it was his Savior.

Since we left in a rush early this morning I forwent making breakfast.  But here was yesterday’s: Uncle Harold would approve if meat had also been involved.

Before.  Yes.  It is orange.

Ready to eat.  The orange tomato was slightly sweeter than a regular red.

Tomato, Wasp, Raspberry, Deer Eating Corn season

18 Aug

If you are a pale gray or white small moth, though, you better watch out.  The birds are eating you.  I find their wings in the mornings on walks.  The deer rip off the young corn cobs and take one bite before leaving them lay on the ground.  Or they break off the top of a smaller stalk and chew on the inflorescence and young leaves.  Either way, the edges of the corn fields near the woods are mangled and battered.

It is tomato sandwiches morning and noon for me these days.  Don’t knock an open-faced sandwich of toast, mayo, and fat red slice with salt for breakfast until you have had it!

Three different wasps this week have made my acquaintance.  One was already dead.  The other two species died .  The ichneumonid  wasp and the dead wasp I have yet to key out which is metallic blue with lovely tight “c”-curved antennae are being readied for use in cards.  The yellow-jackets were showing way too much interest in my window washing for comfort and were poisoned.

Yesterday we harvested the first watermelon.  The first we have ever successfully grown.

It weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces. 

And it was very good warm.

25 Days with Clarisse

11 Jul

Clarisse had been going downhill more rapidly the past few days.  She had liked one of us to carry her up into the clover field where she could eat while I sat and watched the clear sky, the grass, the insects.

Breathing and eating are both necessary.  And both were very difficult and antagonistic for Clarisse. If she ate, she could not breathe well.  If she did not eat enough she lost weight.  She never ate enough so she gradually lost weight.  It was clear that even holding her chest between her front legs while carrying her had become uncomfortable and made her breathing even more difficult.

She did like to eat.  If left to her own devices in the evening she would run or toddle down to the chicken coop and climb in their pen if the door was open so she could eat their feed.  She thought it tasted better than her own. She liked rose buds.  Narrow, smooth-leaved goldenrod.  Wide-leaved plantain.  Purple hosta flowers and stems. Daisies.  Purslane a bit.  Clover the best.  And grain.

Last night I took her up to the clover and she ate as fast as she was able; leaves of clover, timothy, orchard grass.  She ate as fast as she could, it seemed, before the breathing difficulties set in. But never enough.  She had lost so much muscle tone she could not get up if she fell.  We had to be watching or have  an ear out for her ‘meehing’. She loved company. Hawthorne would run around in the tall grass and come to check on us occasionally while I sat with her and watched two spiders spin their webs for the evening catch.  They each spun a line from the top of one tall grass to another.  I missed how, exactly.  Then they would drop down on a line, attach it lower, climb up, repeat, repeat,  making a plane with four edges made of silk which was then filled with spoke lines of silk running from an edge to a center point that got thick and opaque white with all the connections.  Lastly, the spider went around and around–in a clockwise direction for the one I saw–and put in the circular lines attaching the spokes.

The spiders’ choice of area to build webs was prime, it seemed.  Several times moths or insects flew through the two grass pillars marking the outer limits.  There was not enough web at that stage to catch them.

This morning Clarisse went up again to the field.  She was so hungry and so starved for air.  What a conundrum.  I left her there eating and fighting to breathe while Hawthorne and I took our walk.  Lots more dragonflies!  Many more wings on the ground also.  My suspicion is that the Indigo Bunting is the dragonfly hunter.  When we arrived back at Clarisse she was down and bleating. I carried her down.

Isabelle discovered newly hatched fly larvae on her feet.  She washed her and put a bit of spray on her lower legs.  Clarisse spent the day out of her blue pen as she was almost too weak to go anywhere.

Almost.  I found her down flat by the garage once.  The chicken feed had called to her.

How do you sleep if you can not lay down? She kept falling.  She leaned on me.  Her breathing became more labored.  We finally folded her legs so she lay upright and made a bolster of hay for her head. We checked her often.

She seemed to sleep.  Her breathing got shallower.  And then in between times, it stopped.

We will bury her under the Mountain Ash tonight.

Berries and Blight

9 Jul

Yesterday Jay took four of us and Hawthorne to “The Old Man’s Pool”.  A favorite swimming area on the creek when he was a boy, it was named by our daughter when she was little.  It has a couple deep (4 feet) pools and several small, powerful waterfalls. There is even a plastic covered metal line for a dog around a tree on one bank.  It is one of the few places where you can sit in the cool flowing water and eat ripe mulberries directly from low hanging branches.  Jay and I moved rocks to (re) start building a dam to raise the water level in one pool even further.  It was very fun.

The blueberries are blue on the earliest variety and now are getting sweet.  After supper we went and grazed.  For breakfast I made cornmeal waffles and the girls filled the depressions with their freshly-picked berries. And butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar enhanced yogurt.

The wild black raspberries are in full swing now, too.  But they are so good hardly any get into the house.

The pear tree Jay planted a couple years ago was so beautiful: it had a crop of about a dozen pears hanging and growing that could have been on the cover of any magazine for beauty and perfection.  Until this week.  A few days ago I noticed that the pears were no longer perfect-looking.  They were covered with wide brown blots.  And many leaves were.  Even the morning glory planted next to the tree was affected.  Jay investigated those ominous signs last night.  It was fire blight.  Boo.  Hiss.  Sob.   Pears are particularly vulnerable to Erwinia.

He cut the tree down and consigned it to the flames within the hour.  The Goldrush apple growing next to the pear is showing signs of fire blight also.  But it has some resistance, and Jay will spray it with copper.  We are hoping the quince and crab apples will be spared. The rainy weather here has helped spread the infection.

More dragonfly wings each morning.  But there are more dragonflies, too.  Now they seem to like the tall grass field.

First June Days

2 Jun

Can you recall how hot and moist and calm you are after a tortuous sob?  Yesterday morning was like that. Perhaps that is why fifteen red efts were out strolling on the edge of the corn field.   Perhaps that is why the orchard grass in the shallow grass sea decided to release its pale golden green pollen in small dense clouds as one passed.  Or maybe it was to remember my brother who is now planted like a seed in the ground was born that day 51 years ago.

A stiff breeze brought cool, dry air over the night.  This morning there were no efts, and little pollen.  Though in the background of the blog you can see a slight haze as the wind whips the grass to release whatever pollen is left. Pounce decided to come with Hawthorne and me. He only wished to be carried a few times.  And only for a short while.  There were fewer dragonflies.

Can you see Pounce?  He is all business on walks.  Except when he is complaining about being left behind.  While I accompanied him (read–he walks slowly) Hawthorne was off running and exploring.

The clouds were playing tag and racing across the fields after each other, dark, light, dark , light.  I used to chase them, or run from them,  across the hay fields.  The corn is up in the last field.  The beans in the garden are up.  The deciduous peonies are opening.

We walked through the dry grass sea.  We made bed nests in it.  Really, a mature orchard or timothy grass field is the best place to hide if you do not wish to be found.  I used to do it regularly as a child.  Still do on occasion.


The perennial and annual poppies are popping.  The lupines are out.



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