Friday, February 18, 2011

Winter Wonders in my Woods

I was so excited when the snow melted that I took a nice walk a couple of weeks ago. Most think that during winter, everything is barren and colorless. Not so...come walk with me and you will soon see.
This old dead tree was proudly dispaying some frozen sap I guess.  I have never seen anything like this before.

Can you see my first Robin? There were about 50 flitting about and chirping that day.
Look at the spectacular shades of green, celadon and seafoam on this huge rock.
My beautiful Toohey did not fly off this time. Wish I had my long lens...ahem...a certain reader of this blog will know what happened to it...
How am I supposed to find antlers in these woods?  This stupid vine is all over the place!
What?  It is too warm for snow...what is this???
Straange!  I am sure there is a name for this growth but I am clueless,  It is pretty though!
Busy beavers down by the river.  Beavers, why do I never catch a glimpse of you?  Or hear you for that matter?
There are plenty of acorns left, maybe that is why my turkeys have not returned.
Isn't that beauiful?  What a pretty perch for a squirrel!

Oooh, the scary rock cliffs.  If you read my previous post then this is where I was referring when I said I can be 'invisble.
 Tree porcupines! Kritter Keeper likes to rename things...

Ah, a beautiful birdy lost its life but I am befuddled...I have no large yellowish birds...maybe an interior feather of a Dove?

Ok, hope you had a nice walk and burned lots of calories! Now hop on over to Farm Friend Friday and follow some new friends to make their day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Watch Crow

"I was bow hunting in my camos near home when I came across something I had never seen before.  A clump of thick bushes about eight feet in diameter was growing in the woods that were fairly open.  I noticed a tunnel through the center and in the middle of the clump, the ground was bare and smooth with a nice big deer print in it.  Aha! A buck bed! I crawled in to wait for the hapless deer.  In the meantime, up on the hill, a flock of crows were noisily ganging up on some predator as they like to do.  The noise came closer and then ceased.  I could see the crows flying by so I gave a suckling noise on my hand that sounds something like a rabbit being killed.  The crows were still high from their previous activity and immediately stopped to investigate.  One remained on the tree top as a lookout while the others flew lower, from branch to branch. They craned their necks back and forth just like humans, bobbing their heads trying to see what was killing the rabbit.  This was very humorous and I could barely keep from laughing out loud.  Just then, a wood hawk flew by and smacked the watch crow from his perch causing the crow to fall about three feet.  The crow finally recovered with a squawk, then he and his brothers silently flew away."
                                                                ...written by my Dad ~

I jogged today.  Today was good, the weather was warm, the sun was out.  I wanted to ride Blue but he was too wired so after a quick lunge, I turned the ponies out to roll in the mud and graze.  I jogged 2 miles, no stopping with another mile at just a walk.  No smooth treadmill either, I jogged down our lane.  It was difficult going up the last hill but there was no stopping.  It was tough but it felt good.  It had to feel good because three years ago today, February 13th of 2008 was the worse day of my life.  I had to make something good of this day.  For now on a good thing will happen on this day.  I spotted the usual 'watch crow' this morning in our backyard and just smiled to myself.  I think of him now when I see crows, especially a 'watch crow'.  I say a little prayer and tell him I love him...I know he is with me in spirit, the 'clues' are always there. 

Dad with me after my bath

Dad with Jeff my cousin in Vermont
Today I received one of those clues only I didn't know it at the time.  During my walk I saw a huge hawk silently fly away from the lane as I approached his feeding territory.  I knew Dad would have loved to see the mighty wing span from a worm's eye view and I was thrilled to have spotted him.  I don't often get to see that hawk unless I'm within the confines of our car.  I knew I wanted to share his crow story but wasn't sure I could find it and it just hit me about the hawk. (sorry, no pun intended) I hadn't read the story for a long time and just remembered something about a 'watch crow'.
Vermont Christmas and smoking....
So here's to you my dear sweet Father.  Your last child will always carry with her your deep love for the great outdoors, the animals, the trees, the wildflowers and the birds.  I walk my woods just as you walked your hunting grounds.  I am quick with the eye just as you taught me to be keen and observant. I can be very quiet and almost invisible just as you were with those crows.  If only you loved your strong capable body as I do mine.  Unlike you, I will never smoke.  I will exercise for the remainder of my years and preserve my heart to my best ability.  Damn those cigarettes Dad, you had the genes to live to a hundred.  I miss you tremendously.  No one else in our family loved my wildlife stories as you did.  No one else shared in the delight of finding a tiny hidden wildflower.  No one else understood the sheer joy of being surrounded by nature's beauty and the magical feeling from listening to stillness of the woods.   The wall divides us now.  The silent wall where we on earth cannot see, cannot hear, cannot use our senses to penetrate this unknown world.  Only faith can bring us together until it is my time.  So keep on giving me clues, keep on reminding me that you are with me in spirit.  And keep on sending me the 'watch crow' who loves to perch on top of the tallest tree in our backyard. 
Summer evening at the table with my kitty doll that great Grammy made.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Gone For Good" Farm Friend Friday

I walked the woods, hoping to find him. I faithfully fed each evening, hoping to see him. I purposedly hayed the horses late at night in case he needed total darkness to shield him. (they wait for me if they want a late night snack) His familiar form hidden in the shadows was not to be seen. I searched the edges of the cornfield where he bedded each evening, hoping to surprise him. I looked. I listened. I would call his name and they all just stared at me. I asked his new little companion buck who used to follow him, "where's Bossy Boy"? He just looked at me and trotted off. They know their names, they knew his name, they knew I was worried but the dividing line between human and wild animal does not permit question and answer as we know it.

I haven't heard coyote howls for quite awhile now. My dogs will be the first to join in. During their lengthy "lets pretend we are wolves" howling session I would run outside no matter what time of day or night to see if it was coyotes. Only the usual culprit could barely be heard, a distant shrill of a siren across the way.

Oh little Autumn, will you stay on the farm or leave me next year?
Hope is a very interesting little gift we have. Perhaps mine hid the obvious but this time of year is a strange one and I couldn't be sure. The deer didn't feed daily this time last year. Beauty Boy returned much too late compared to the previous years when the bucks would return. He would come and go. Bossy Boy didn't choose to feed daily either but he never stayed away more than three days. I prayed for something more obvious and I think I got it...

Brownie's brood rules and gets 'first choice'.
Two days ago a bitter cold front came to our area bringing spitting snow but nothing unusual. It was a strange day. The sun would shine brightly then the clouds came, then the sun came back out and by evening, the cold settled in and icy flakes feathered down bringing with them 38 hungry deer. I have never had that many visit the corn yard. It was joyful and peaceful and the rhythmic sounds of the crunching of corn was music to my ears. Everyone was there but Bossy Boy. If there was ever a time to come and feed, that day would be it. For some reason the various herds decided they wanted corn.

The Long Tails herd is very skittish and run at the slightest sound.
I hear deer go away to die. I have read that they seek dense woods which I don't really have. The remains do not last long with the predators needing a meal. Did he cross the creek into the dangerous killing lands? Did he limp across the highway late at night and disappear into thicker woods? He couldn't have jumped our perimater fencing so those two options were the only ones he had...unless he found a little thicket on the farm to seek his final moments. My Bossy Boy is gone and yes, gone for good. I guess...

Be sure to join  Farm Friend Friday hosted by Verde Farm. Take the weekend to browse the farm blogs, follow your favorites and make new friends!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Farm Friend Friday - My Farm Family

Now that we are living on our farm, I can always depend upon clearing my mind while caring for the horses and being outside.  Cleaning two stalls is a snap, tidying up the barn, washing water buckets, feeding and caring for the horses, barn cats and deer are treasured tasks that I love completing.  All are easy for me to do and I enjoy doing them. But my farm work is not hard, my life doesn't depend upon the outcome of my labors.  And my mind, well, I find my thoughts wander back in the the days where real farm work was done.  To the times where your body ached from non stop activity that lasted easily into 10-16 hour long days no matter if you were a man or a woman.

Fred Neal walking in Elijah's hay field.  Fred would summer at Elijah's farm and that is how my Grampy and Grammy met....they knew eachother since they were babies.

Young Floyd Fuller tending to his cows in Warren, VT
I am blessed to share the blood of real farmers.  Vermont farmers to be specific. Dairy cows, draft horses, driving horses, chickens, etc.  Those were the days when horses were the machines.  Big beautiful powerful cold blooded horses.  My grandfathers (maternal and great) were excellent horse trainers though Elijah was the special one, the human who's gifts exceeded the norm.
The Elijah and Harriet Fuller family

What a sense of humor!
I love to gaze at their photos. I love to wonder about all of their accomplishments. Oh, how I wish I could talk with all of them.  Hattie, how many pies did you have to make each day when hay harvest time came and you had to single handily feed your husband, your four boys plus the working men for noon dinner?   Elijah, how did you learn about medicinal plants, and cures for the horses and cows. How did you get to be sought out by your community when the local vet was unsuccessful?  And that horse's leg that was broken, where in the world did you get the idea to hoist him in a sling to keep weight off his healing bone? It didn't matter how hard my great grandparents worked on their farm, they found time for others.  They both were sought out in the community for helping the sick horses (Elijah) and sick humans (Hattie).  Hattie would have been considered a nurse in today's world.  Off she would go in her horse and buggy down the long winding Fuller hill and into the town of Warren to help those in need.
Hattie wrote on the back of this pic that 'she looked mean but the sun was shining so brightly'.

My great Aunt Anna, Gena Davis Neal's sister.  Anna loved her chicken babies and her french bull dogs.
Thankfully my grandfather was still alive as I reached adulthood and his descriptions of life as a farm boy have been recorded by the Vermont Cultural Center.  One such story I do remember were the dances he so loved to attend.  He was a talented fiddle player and was part of the instrumental group providing the music which allowed him a tiny bit of spending money.  One evening he played until the dances ended at 3:30 in the wee hours! He never made it to bed and went directly to the barn to begin the long process of hand milking since he had a change of clothes.  I think I remember him saying he didn't dare go into the house for fear of waking his parents and catching hell.  He always laughed and said he would never pull that trick again!  
Baby Floyd Fuller who played the violin all his life with brother Claron who didn't play...funny.

Grammy and Grampy Fuller
My sister and I love to reminisce of our childhood days spent visiting our grandparents while vacationing in Randolph, Vermont. Grammy always had beautiful flower and vegetable gardens.  She baked donuts for us in the mornings and delicious hot meals at noon.  We thought it was very strange to eat dinner during the day and lunch in the evenings.   I remember her working on her braided rugs. Thankfully I have a couple and a part of her lives with me in our home.  She was so talented at decorating for Christmas and to this day we wonder where all those lovely treasures have disappeared to...sigh...those were the days!
Elijah Fuller family with Fred Neal family.  Young Floyd Fuller and young Gertrude Neal sitting down.  Wonder what they would have thought at that time had someone told them they would be marry as adults?

Neal family during harvest time.
These are my some of my favorite images. I see pride in their eyes, strength in their bodies, and a love and zest for their lives.  I am very proud to be a part of my farm family and thinking of them and how hard they worked is a wonderful way to clear my mind and set things straight.  Not that things are so crooked and clogged up there, but you know what I mean!  ;~)

Grammy with Lady in 1951. Grampie had just purchased the mare from the Hewitts.
Now its time to blog hop and join Farm Friend Friday, click on the button and find some new friends!