Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The new baby

She's 12 hours old now and content to doze in the dappled sunlight near the barn door. Her mama, a grade Jersey, has a most impressive udder. Woo hoo! Milk for everyone! Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

A beginning

The damp, chilly weather made outdoor work miserable this week. Yet it was exactly what we needed, days of light rain alternating with sprinkles or just a feeling of mist in the air. The earth had time to absorb the moisture as it fell, to begin to replenish itself and recover from the effects of the long drought.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A dog's job is never done

Bebe's chicken management duties interrupted our afternoon walk. We found this young hen huddled in the underbrush near the creek. I suspect she was hiding from those big bully roosters. Or pouting. It's hard to tell, chickens not having lips and all.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cherry blossoms

A hard freeze is predicted tonight, so I suspect these blossoms won't be so pretty tomorrow. The tree is a bit tall and spindly. Mosses and lichens cover its bark so thickly I can't distinguish its natural pattern. Such is the way of trees in overgrown, neglected places. This one is struggles for its share of light among the elms, oaks, ancient cedars, and thorn trees that have overtaken the yard around an old homesite in our north pasture.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Elms in bloom

Elm flowers aren't that impressive, but I still get excited about this milestone of spring. Especially on a still evening when the wind isn't fluttering the tiny parts and ruining the focus on my pictures.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dandelions already

Do you suppose the cow stops to admire this spot of color on her way out to pasture each morning?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Natural knots

This thick tangle of vines wraps around two young elm trees and extend up into the treetops. The bark is smooth, unlike wild grapevines nearby. I'm hoping when it leafs out I'll be able to figure out what it is.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Six months

Bebe's six months old and has been bigger than Blue, the aussie, for a while. She excels at breaking up rooster fights, protecting the poultry, and sorting them at night to keep those bully bachelor roosters out of the henhouse. At night, she guards the yard and barn when the older dogs range further to warn away the coyotes and other predators who might be thinking of dining on our livestock and poultry.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Blue, the Aussie, likes to range ahead on our walks. He has the most intent, focused expression when he's scouting. This is serious work.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Day's end at the pond

Tonight's sunset provided the perfect close to a great day. Warm breezes, sunny skies, temperatures in the mid-60s, a perfect day for planting. We got the last two bundles of seedlings from the conservation department nursery into the ground -- 25 each of Austrian Pine and Norway Spruce. The first of the yellow potato varieties went into the big garden, plus four varieties of peas. It's early yet, I think, but the forecast for the next week is favorable. And what's the worst that could happen...a hard freeze ruins the planting, and I have to replant? What's that compared to the allure of warm soil underfoot and the anticipation of early peas with baby potatoes? The odds aren't bad in the gardener's lottery.

We tagged the trees planted yesterday. And replanted the Concord grape vine the puppy tugged out of the ground.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Way over there

The prairie chickens returned to their booming grounds just before sunset a few days ago. My daughter and I watched them for nearly an hour as they made their way across a wheat field and then began their display. One stayed a bit away from the others, keeping watch perhaps for the return of the hawk that had been patrolling the field earlier. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

This morning I got up early and drove to the Taberville Prairie conservation area to watch the prairie chickens. Turns out, the current booming grounds are on private property across the road from this lovely piece of prairie. I saw six Greater Prairie Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus). I even got one photo with a streak of sunrise and a dark spot that only I can positively identify as a puffed up male Greater Prairie Chicken doing its thing. Yep, sun flares, a splash of early spring wheat, and a brown blur with a white tail fan. Oh well. I'm still excited about my first opportunity to observe this native grouse species in the wild. I stood for a half hour on top the pickup truck toolbox, watching them through the telephoto lens and listening to the thrumming sound the males make when they're trying to impress the hens. It was a successful scouting trip. I have great hopes for future excursions with a better lens, better light, and maybe I'll luck into a viewing spot that doesn't require me to focus directly into the rising sun.

For more information about the Greater Prairie Chicken, check out the Missouri Department of Conservation's website. The Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society has great photos here. Photographer Joel Satore has stunning photos of lesser prairie-chickens booming in Oklahoma on his site. (Search on 'prairie chickens')