Sunday, July 11, 2010

Whooo Cooks for Youoooooooo?

It's an owl's night tonight. I'm not sure just what's going on out there in the growing dusk, but the evening has been alive with barred owls, from several directions, all around us, the owls are calling and calling. Their distinctive call is unmistakable and urgent, and it arouses a feeling in us that makes us want to get out and look for prey--or to do something wild!

We live in a wonderful place with a lot of deep dark pines all around, and more woods, and the owls have always found it to be a good place to be. We've seen and heard them so often that we named our home after them, Owl's Haven, a safe haven for the delightfully wise and ever so mysterious, barred owl.
According to Wikipedia: The adult is 44 cm long with a 112 cm wingspan. It has a pale face with dark rings around the eyes, a yellow beak and brown eyes. It is the only typical owl of the eastern United States which has brown eyes; all others have yellow eyes. The head is round and lacks ear tufts, a distinction from the short eared owl. The upper parts are mottled gray-brown. The underparts are light with markings; the chest is barred horizontally while the belly is streaked lengthwise. The legs and feet are covered in feathers up to the talons.

Since we so seldom see them, their chief draw for us is their calls. It's a repeated melodious call that sounds like: "Who cooks for you, (pause) Who cooks for you allllllllll?" The female, when looking for a mate, warbles the alll at the end, otherwise, it's the same call. We've been listening for that call for so many years, that we've heard lots of variations.

In early spring, there are the calls of two owls in love, who echo the calls back and forth for a while, then finally discintegrate into a wild mixed hooting, that sounds like a lust-driven melee of some sort. There are the tentative youngster hoots of confused pitch and tone, usually corrected snippily by some oldster who paces it out in precise syllables, sounding irked at "these kids today", who just can't get it right. We live in a year round concert of these magical musical singers and seldom see them, since they're so good at hiding in the dense trees around us.
A few times, we've been fortunate to share in a special moment, treasured for years and remembered as we listen to the calls. There was one time, early on, when Jim joined me here on the farm, when I happened to see an owl settle on a branch in the tree nearby. We slowly moved nearer and I pointed it out to Jim, and we stood in awe as the mighty bird looked down on us from about 20 feet away, calmly judging whether we had a right to be there or not.
Another time, in early spring, the owls were calling, looking for mates. In the rapid confusion of calls coming from two owls near our home, our grandaughter raised her head and called back to them. It called one in, who landed in a tree near our garden, and we all watched while it continued to call and the mate joined the first one, then they got acquainted, right there near us in the open. What a rare and precious opportunity.

So tonight they've been calling all around us, for hours, and we've seen one flying low over our back yard to land nearby. We're reluctant to go outside to try to spy on their activities, since it seems as though the timing may be such that there's a youngster fledging and on the ground and the adults are looking to protect her. We don't want to do anything to risk their rescue operation.
I can't get any pictures of ours here, it's too dark already, but will post some pictures found on the net of these gorgeous birds we share our home grounds with. Aren't we the luckiest people ever? Life is very good.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

He's got teeth-Two of 'em! Honest!

I confess, we've collapsed into that silly, sloppy state of grandparenthood where we know, with absolute certainty, that our grandkids are the best, smartest, cutest, most lovable and adorable kids in the world. We're already over the hill with our granddaughter, so when our youngest sprouted his two new baby teeth in the bottom front of his mouth, I was there with camera in hand to document the historic event.
He's got the greatest smile ever.
When he flashes that smile, those two pearly whites just shine and reflect the light.
He's so very adorable, that the lights shine a little brighter and music plays sweeter-truly!
His sister can tease him and he smiles great big and shows off those two new teeth.But not for the camera. Not today.
Not even when Grandpa coaxes him while I stand ready with the camera.
Un-uh, not happening today!
But you have to admit, he's still the cutest little guy ever was!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Our Garden's Running Amok!

It's that time of year, when all the hard work we've done to set up and plant that garden is paying off and we're just running full speed to try to keep up with it. Jim and I spent days out there this week catching up with the weeding, then yesterday mowed the whole yard, raked up the grass and spent hours tucking the clippings in around the plants to mulch them against the dry days ahead.

This is our best garden ever. We've had one meal of green beans and new potatoes, and it was a delicious forerunner to what's coming. We've spent so much time composting stuff and adding it and tons of all kinds of vegetation to the old sand dunes we live on, that it's finally becoming a fertile place to plant in. With the addition of the greenhouse this spring, we could get our specific plants out there and really enjoy watching the results.
Here's Jim pulling weeds and I'm snapping the pictures.
The melon plants are escaping the bed and flowing down the walkways-who knows how far they'll go!
There's one small zucchini, soon to be ready, followed by many more than we'll possibly consume by ourselves. This may be the year we set up a produce stand out front.
The Scarlet Runner Beans are taking over the fence, and what beautiful bloom!
Our second cucumber-the first one was eaten already.
Start of the herbs-lots of basil! Yummmm.
Almost tomatoes! With 17 tomato plants this year, we should have all we could possibly use, and then some.Pea Pods, in a wonderful green jumble. It's always hard to find the pods in this confusing tangle.
Each year, we try to plant something new and different. This year it's artichokes. Don't know if they'll ripen before frost, but aren't the plants spectacular? They're about 2 feet tall now, and share the bed with zinnias and multiplier onions in bloom. It's really a show.
Corn, when it gets close to ready, we'll have to put up the electric fence to keep the raccoons out.
The horseradish looks ready to take over the world.
First year for the new asparagus bed and it's coming along very well, with some volunteers I just let stay, like the nasturtiums and tomato.

Little hot peppers coming on strong. We're going to wait for them to turn red before harvesting.
Overview of the northern beds, with lots of tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Great stuff doing well.