Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Cameras Please!

I was going to title this entry with one of my favorite quotes and take a picture of the view from there, but I've already dropped one cell phone in the pool, so I sure don't need to have my camera out there. So, you'll just have to imagine the bright blue sky, white puffy clouds, a glimpse of a pine tree or some amazingly still green leaves from the toughest, hardest working little peach tree in Kentucky, bees buzzing and even some buzzards circling so high in the sky that it's nicer to imagine they were playing on the air currents rather than searching for a snack (Look alive!).

While there is nothing I can do to counter the record breaking temperatures we've had for three days in a row, I can now happily embrace it by grabbing a favorite book (A Country Year by Sue Hubbell) and heading to the pool. I really have too much I need to be getting done before the Kentucky Wool Festival next month, but one last day in the 90's at the end of September was too good to pass up.

"Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you." Annie Dillard

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Equinox Farm

We have been here four years. Equinox Farm - the closing on the fall equinox, 2003. This morning I pulled up (funny - we used to pull "out") some pictures we'd taken that fall and we considered all the work we've done. Some things are best not remembered too well. I wish I could say that it seemed like just yesterday, but it doesn't. Maybe that comes with time. Maybe that's just something people say. I remember a time when it didn't feel quite like home, but now I can't imagine living anywhere else. I hope the farm feels the same about us.

This is a view from what is now the far end of our sheep field. I had wanted to post a before and after picture, but without any rain for so long, the after picture is far too sad, and really, this is a happy day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are You There God, It's Me, Big Green

We have had a bunch of Praying Mantis visitors this summer. Maybe it's just been a good year for them, but we like to think it's because we have created an attractive and safe environment for them. I found one on our hummingbird feeder yesterday, and last night, and this morning, and still there this afternoon. My first thought was that he was just chuggin' some syrup, but when he was still there this morning I got to wondering. I read somewhere that a Praying Mantis can take down a hummingbird (!). That would have to be a mighty big Praying Mantis wouldn't it? This medium size fella was probably just picking off the bugs trying to get to the syrup, but what if...

"If I could just catch me one hummingbird..."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Tribute To Friendship

Many of my furried, finned and feathered friends are old. When the end comes, it's really no surprise, but that doesn't make it any easier. A couple of months ago one of my Cory Catfish passed. I had two small catfish living with my beloved Betta, "Campfire" - a huge brown and orange, heavily finned, beautiful fish. When I put their food in that morning, no one came up to greet me. Well, the Cories aren't super friendly, but Campfire, like most animals on this farm, was a good eater and never turned down a meal. Upon closer inspection, I found him and the remaining Cory sitting with their dead friend.

Now this isn't the first time I'd seen what appeared to be friendship among my fish. I used to leave the fish in the tank when I cleaned it and once unknowingly flipped a rock over and caught one of the catfish underneath. As I was putting away the cleaning supplies, I noticed a commotion in the tank and saw the other catfish trying to push the rock off his friend. I'm not kidding. There was nothing to question. However, in this case, even as I wanted to say these two fish were either trying to protect, comfort or mourning the loss of their friend, I had to consider that it might be just a coincidence.

This morning, Campfire did not come up to eat. He's very old and I knew we were on borrowed time. He was still alive, but failing. I considered a humane euthanasia (yes, this is sometimes the kindest thing and there are ways to do it - no fish should ever suffer), but he seemed "okay". I left to run some errands and when I got home, he was gone. Now, not so amazingly, his friend, the remaining Cory was right by his side. Once is a coincidence. Twice is real. I can only think he was providing some sort of comfort for his friend and while I never really questioned it before, will never, ever believe fish don't have feelings. And while I feel a bit creepy posting this sad picture, I wanted "proof" for anyone who might doubt my story.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Grapes Of Wrath

Fall is here. For the last 30 some years of my life, you’d have seen that written as FALL IS HERE!!! This summer, as the 100 degree temps loomed last month, Saint Tim installed a summer saver - the little blue pool.

I have been a miserable person for almost five months of every year. I can’t help it. No matter how hard I try, I have never been able to handle hot weather. It ruled where I could or could not live, when or even if I would visit good friends living in hot climates, jobs, relationships, hobbies, sports...everything. Now I have a pool. Any time I want I can jump in, go under water, swim around weightless, drown out the heat and humidity, sit on a floaty, read a magazine (or camera manual) and splash in the cool water. I have watched and listened to birds I never normally see or hear, observed bees of all sorts up close, even been able to sleep at night, peaceful and relaxed. Maybe the best treat though was the grapes.

We've been here almost four years and I have never eaten any of these grapes. By the time they come on in late August, there are no recreational trips to the orchard. My loss - they are wonderful. Especially out by the pool. How decadent - sitting on a floaty in a swimming pool eating grapes.

So now, fall is here. Lower case and period. It's been cool enough for the last two days that the pool (which doesn't get any morning sun) is chilly. It's just going to get cooler this weekend. And for the first time in my life, I'm sad summer is gone.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Story That Might Have Been

After it became clear that we were not going to have much luck getting the power company to help hang our painted barn quilt square (remember from a couple of months ago?), we started looking for other options. After not getting too far along those routes, we started thinking about hanging it ourselves. The story that might have been - think ropes and chains and pulleys, hooking the 300+ pound quilt square to the tractor and Tim up on a 40' extension ladder with power tools. Probably would have been a classic...or at least a good Vonage commercial (cue woohoohoo music).

Thankfully Clifford Tree Service came to the rescue. Don't get me wrong, even with the proper truck and equipment it was still a big job. Fitting it between the roof and the dusk-to-dawn light was a game of mere inches. Ben Clifford did an outstanding job and even went to the trouble of touching up the paint so that the lag screws didn't show. I can't thank him or recommend him enough.

Interestingly, within about 15 minutes of the truck pulling out, a hummingbird flew in to have a look. I was on the phone with Tim and his first thought was that the bright colors brought him in (this is most likely the correct answer). My first thought was that the hummingbird was probably angry (or worse, seriously disappointed) that there wasn't a hummingbird included in the design.

Hmmm, maybe I should get that ladder out...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Lifeguard Still On Duty

Although traditionally pools close after Labor Day, our pool will stay open. It's still very warm and we are enjoying the luxury of floating around in the cool water. We are also supplying water to hoards of bees. Most are our honey bees (at least we are assuming they are ours), but we are also being visited by at least two other varieties of bees that look similar to honey bees (we are assuming they are wild honey bees), several smaller bees, a large black bee and some wasps. Our hive is situated between two ponds, albeit the little pond is dry, but maybe the water from the larger, but drought stressed pond is such that they prefer the chlorinated pool water. I suppose it could possibly be a salt issue, but I'm going to leave the chemistry to the pros.

The problem with bees drinking from the pool is not fear of them stinging us or being weirded out by the incredible noise as over 100 swarm around at peak times, but that some hit the water and can't get back out. My afternoons are spent tossing them life preservers (my fingers) and holding them as they dry off and are able to fly away to the nearby pine trees to regroup. While I have not been able to save them all, I probably handle 40-50 per day. I've only been stung once, and as usual, that was my fault.

Some bees fly off as soon as you lift them out of the pool. Some are very particular and go over every speck of their body to remove every trace of water before they take off. Now I'll be the first to admit to not enjoying a shower from a dog climbing out of a pond or bath, but a bee shower is a different story. You'd be surprised how much water they'll throw from their wings and you can actually feel the air move as they prepare for flight.

While I'm not saying everyone should be running around picking up bees, but if you do see one in a bad spot, I hope you will do what you can to help. They are having enough trouble these days and without their crop pollination, we are all in big trouble. You never know, they might reward you with a magical bee shower.


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