Uriah and I stopped sneezing long enough to watch the harvester turn around.

Beautiful day!  Skies are clear, very little wind; temperatures are mild, in the mid fifties.

 Uriah was the first to notice the farm equipment pull into the field next door. He freaked! He climbed on the deck and cowered on the north side, farthest way from the equipment. 

The corn in the southern field was finally being  harvested. I stood outside and watched as the large tractor moved slowly into place. I could see the farmer in the cab and a child.

Farmer’s children will help them with the harvesting.  They watch for problems as their parent harvests the crops.The cab they sat in was sealed, heated and air-conditioned.

The winds were blowing away from me, so as the tractor passed by most of the dust spread out to the south.

Just as I thought, “Wow,  I am lucky the wind isn’t blowing in this direction.” The wind changed!  I started coughing, and blinking rapidly as the dust settled in over my head.

I choked out Uriah’s name and we headed towards the path to take a walk. The trees in that area blocked some of the harvesting dust. Well, sort of..

I crossed my fingers that the farmer would only be working on the lower part of the field at this time. I smiled, when I saw him hit the half way point near the drainage tiles and turn around.

 Uriah and I stopped sneezing long enough to watch the harvester.

With all the bare fields, the animals have been congregating in our trees. Last night, every hour, I was yelling out the doors for the coyotes to leave. There must have been close to a dozen howling and yelping very close to the house.

Coyotes don’t understand windows.  So, I had to insure the indoor cats stayed away from the glass. I really didn’t have to worry; they hid under the bed when the howling started.

Uriah, on the other hand, was whining and barking wanting to chase them. A dog barking won’t keep coyotes away from the house. It has the opposite effect. So, between trying to calm down Uriah, petting the cats and yelling at the coyotes, it was a fun night.

Halfway through the walk, Uriah disappeared with hackles raised, into the trees. Stupidly I walked in after him, calling and getting tangled in leafless under brush. After a short time, I headed back to the house. When Uriah reappeared  his tongue was trailing on the ground.  

The farmer took a lunch break and finished the back half of the field; I stood out on the deck and enjoyed the view.

This scene has to be a little boy’s dream.  A large tractor harvesting corn slowly chopping, crunching, and roaring through a field, as an equally large dump truck waits to be filled with the corn; such an impressive, unobstructed view of a real mid-western farm life.  

I love it out here.

I wanted a bowl of chicken soup with carrots for lunch

I wanted a bowl of chicken soup with carrots for lunch. So, I took an old colander out to the garden. Kneeled, and carefully pulled up the small carrots. Their tops were still green and healthy looking. The Taproot, a tasty dark orange

This past spring, I had planted a six foot long line of carrots. They grew slowly and perfect, except I planted them a little to close together. Next springs carrots will be spaced apart more evenly.

Carefully I wiggled them loose like a child’s tooth. I have only half a foot remaining in the row.

It was easier than I thought to grow carrots.

Water a little,  weed a little, and then leave them alone.

This year, I have sliced them thinly and cook them into canned soups, homemade soups, and packaged dry soups. I have made beef stews and ‘any vegetable on hand’ soup.

I added the vegetables,  the garlic along with the onions and tomatoes, parsley and potatoes. All were grown in my garden.

The potatoes were a surprise. I had mixed in assorted vegetable peels and egg shells from the kitchen.  I was amazed to see potatoes growing with a dozen strawberry plants. I didn’t plant those either! They came from a couple of fresh, rotting strawberries thrown in around July.

Using  tree leaves  I  covered a large part of the garden in preparation of winter. I planned on moving the strawberries to a different section this coming spring. That idea may change; I have all winter to mull it over.

I pulled out two dozen finger sized carrots; they were growing in a massive clump. I broke off the tops and tossed the them in the mulch pile.  I tried and failed to remove all the dirt. I scrapped off as much as I could. I really don’t need to clog my kitchen drains with mud.

We have had a few frosts already. I was surprised we haven’t had a foot of snow. Some of the carrots have some frost damage; they are a reddish orange color. I set those on the side to be mulched.

I creaked and groaned as I got to my feet, looked up at the blue sky and walked into the house to make myself some soup.

Uriah decided to stay behind and started  hunting  the rat that lives around his kennel.

Clean up and sliced carrots

A quarter of an onion chopped

Rive one clove of garlic from bulb

Relish with a Pinch of salt, and pepper

Olive oil to sauté, Swanson chicken broth

Two skinless chicken breasts simmer till done

Carrot picture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrots

Peace with nature

Its mid-morning, pale baby blue sky, painted with wisps of white clouds, the air is no longer cold, just cool. On the path the grass is about three inches tall and it shimmered in the morning light. Drew drops were everywhere, glinting along the gnarled fence post, to slipping slowly off bare branches.

If I had to describe this morning with one word, it would be ‘peaceful.’

I watched a family of Blue Jays glide noiselessly through the trees to the North. When I was spotted, a single long whistle announced me as trouble. Very similar to the whistle I use to call for Uriah. I whistled back at the bird, smiled and moved on.

I snapped my fingers at Uriah, and we headed for the path. Uriah ran in circles and headed into up the incline to the south, the scent he caught was over powering to him. He had to find it! He didn’t… I could smell a faint a faint musky order it lingered over the damp ground. I knew the animal was no longer here. Finally, Uriah figured that out and came back to me; immediately he pushed off in the opposite direction when a new smell caught his attention.

 A Red-tailed Hawk screeched in the trees to the north. His call reverberated in the morning air. Blue Jays answered with their danger whistle and the Hawk screeched back at them.

Both are extremely beautiful birds. The bright blue of the  Jays and the intense pride of the hawk, for me, their voices carried the soul of the land.

That may sound corny. Yes! But standing here listening, takes me back to my grandmother’s house, and brought me peaceful feel to the day, to this moment.

Peace is more than a word, a thought, or a phrase. It is a way of living. In nature, animals come together to drink from the same pond without killing each other. Just for the sake of replenishing their thirst…?  Or, is it more than that?

Nature is calling out today! With the same whistles, growls, screeches and yelps as yesterday. A peaceful coexistence, caught in a split second where I can connect with the land.

Tomorrow may rage a storm so severe the trees could be ripped up from their roots. This moment of peace, this moment is all I have right now. I am enjoying it immensely.

I have been playing with acrostic poetry.

 Peace

Place yourself within nature

Embrace your creative arc

Actualize your personal Mecca

Confidence regained in solitude

Enliven a past friendship

 

 

 

Picture from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-tailed_hawk

Peanut Butter Sandwich

Rain has coated every blade of dried grass, bare tree limb, and still standing stalk of corn.

The color yesterday, was a faded beige, yellowish green and dark browns, today with all the dampness  the colors have changed into a deeper, darker browns, reddish and wet.

Without the over cast sky everything would be shimmering, at least until the sun dried them off.

I could see my breath, the air was nearly cold enough to snow, but just not there, yet.

When I breathed through my nose, I could smell, cool rain, dampness, and trees. I started huffing and puffing, breathing through my mouth and the scents changed. I could taste dried hay, grass, and mold mixed in with the cool, calm air.

Stillness formed around me, anticipation of the next second. I looked up to the sky. The clouds were pretty high, and smooth; those clouds, were there for their aesthetic appeal and to keep the ground air cool.

No! It wasn’t going to rain on me, at least not in the next half hour. The horizon was clear. Right now I could see a line of clouds, very slowly moving in this direction.

I had taken this afternoons walk with my lunch, a peanut butter sandwich. I was driving Uriah crazy; he stayed at my feet drooling. His dog biscuits weren’t appeasing him; he kept crying and wiggling around on the ground every time I stopped. I had a third of my sandwich left when I gave in to him.  

“Uriah, sit!”

Silly thing to tell him he was already seated. I should have told him to stop drooling. I knelt down and handed him the sandwich. He carefully took it out of my fingers and stood there. He didn’t eat it, just rolled his eyes around.

“Well, that’s yours now.”

I patted him on the head and stood up and he promptly turned back down the path and trotted away. He was either going to bury it, or give it away. I wasn’t going to follow him and find out.

At that moment, a small bird decided I was interrupting his day and started peeping at me, over and over. I tried to see where he was at,  but I had left my glasses on the shelf next to the coat rack. Great place for them…

I reached in my pocket. Notepad and pen was also  back at the house.

 After two minutes of yelling at me the little bird flew out of the leafless mulberry tree. Then down onto a corn husk, where he kept watching me, watching him, while he picked at the corn and looked very upset.

 He was nearly vertical on the corn husk. Long and narrow, with light soft grey under belly and a black streak from his head down his back to his tail.

Uriah started a deep throat barking, somewhere in the trees.

 I started to shiver, dampness and cold temperatures, I craved a hot coffee and my wool socks. It was time to go home.

 I turned back to the little bird, and said goodbye. Then I whistled for Uriah, who was racing around the trees and grass, growling and complaining. He more than likely gave away his sandwich and like a child wanted it back.

“Come on Uriah! Leave your friends out here.” I whistled again, and kept walking home.

 

 

With the aid of Google search, I pulled up different bird sites, as I tried to find that bird.

I got lost in, “The Cornell lab of Ornithology-All About Birds” site and forgot what I was doing.

The sound of the Violet-green Swallow was very similar to that small birds sound

 http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Violet-green_Swallow/id http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violet-green_Swallow

I looked up. It wasn’t Uriah, but a coyote!

The winds had picked up from this morning’s slight breeze, into a dust blowing, eye tearing, corn leaves whirling mess of a wind.   Instead of coming in from the west, the winds are whipping around from the east blowing into the west.

For me, that means everything is being blown down the driveway out onto the road, and then sprinting across the miles of open farm fields.

With this type of wind I can’t think when I’m outside. My hair is going every which way, and sound is indistinguishable.

I called to Uriah, who was running in a circle with his hackles up. I pointed towards the path. He looked up. Then he looked down, and headed into the trees.

I shook my head at him, and started to walk on the muddy path.  The night before Raccoons must have stayed up all night pooping. They had deposited load, after load on the path for me to step in. Slipping on the mud, I maneuvered carefully forward.

I could hear Uriah  as he crashed through the underbrush to my left. He came running out in front of me and stopped.

I looked up. It wasn’t Uriah, but a coyote, bigger than  Uriah, longer and taller, not fatter. This guy was slender.  His coat was gold, beige, and light brown. His fur stuck out at odd angles and he blended in perfectly with the tall dried grass around me.

If he had stayed quietly off the path, hidden in the trees and grass, I would never have noticed him. Except this beautiful guy had been hunting, and even now had his paw on a rodent. He stood frozen. 

Simultaneously we both noticed that there was only about a twelve inches between us. He turned his head slowly, with a look of, “Duh!”  He let his prey go!  Turned slowly away from me and raced up the path with his tail between his legs.

I just stood there, one foot still held in mid-stride. I had been taking a step when he ran out of the grass; I finished the movement, and stepped down.

Right on a pile of raccoon scat! You can guess what I said…

 When I continued walking the coyote was already out of sight.

At that moment Uriah came charging up behind me, fur upright, growling, sniffing the ground then headed off in the same direction the coyote had ran, north. I decided to walk to the south.  I could hear Uriah, as he huffed and puffed in the trees.

I headed back to the house. Uriah came up behind me, he looked very tired with his tongue dragging and a defeated look on his furry face. 

Coyotes have never bothered me on my walks and I have seen many of them. I’m not worried, I am not coyote food. They eat rodents, and small animals. Uriah is too big to be eaten, and too slow to catch them.

Raccoons on the other hand are dangerous, they will attack a human. They are also irritating buggers.

I grabbed a stick and started  to  clean my shoes!

 “Vernon Hills police” site –“Coyote Information”

“The name “coyote” (Latin name Canis Iatrans) comes from the Aztec word coyotl, which is loosely translated as “trickster”. Other names for the animal are brush wolf, swift wolf, prairie wolf and burrowing dog. The animal is in close relation to the wolf, fox and domesticated dog.”

http://www.vernonhills.org/thingsyoushouldknow/TheCoyote.asp#Description

Picture of coyote

http://www.weforanimals.com/free-pictures/wild-animals/coyotes/coyote-1.htm

My little mossy friend in hand

moss prettyThis day started out with bright sunshine, and warm breezes. By mid-afternoon the sky was a haze of grey clouds that stretched across the sky and touched the horizon.

I watched the mist, as it rolled across the choppy fields, and felt the air pressure settle in behind my eyes.

With my blurry eyes to the ground I headed back home. Stepping carefully around holes and dried leaves; I noticed the moss growing in the bald areas on the path. The same type of moss grew prevalently in the low areas. It was the only thing that made and attempt to grow while ignoring the on coming winter. It stood out nice, bright Easter grass green.

I stopped and stooped down to get a better look. Uriah wasn’t watching were he was going and ran into me. Then, quickly he caught himself and put his nose to the ground. He looked up at me, when I didn’t respond, then he stood directly over the moss I was examining.

“Hey, Uriah! A rabbit!” I pointed to the tall grass. He didn’t believe me until the grass shook a little. “Thank you chipmunk!” I muttered, as he took off happily. Which gave me a chance to take a good look at the moss.

It resembled fine, green string with evergreen type of leave. I used the end of my ski pole/walking stick and got underneath the patch, I lifted up a piece that fit in my hand. It was a lot easier to look at the moss with Uriah’s nose further away.

I headed into the house with my little mossy friend in hand, and I checked my books. Then I looked on line. I thought my moss might be a “common feather liverwort -Plagiochila porelloides

I may be wrong. There are over 16,000 Different types. Not all in Illinois and where they grow depends on the soils pH, how acidic or alkaline. Do they like sun or shade?

This section is from a nice PDF, “Illinois Bryophytes” (1)

“Bryophytes, numbering about 16,000 species in three phyla of the Kingdom Plantae, are second only to flowering plants (about 250,000 species) in the number of plant species known to exist on earth.”

I pulled out my trusty notebook and made a notation- to crawl around and list all moss and ferns on my property in the spring. I will check out areas, before the snow hits, that may be inaccessible to me later on.

But for now, that name- ‘The Kingdom Plantae’ sounds like a great start to a story…

 

 

This site shows pictures of different types of moss.. http://www.andrewspink.nl/mosses/thumbnails.htm#l

(1) Illinois Bryophytes
http://bryophytes.plant.siu.edu/PDFiles/Bryo-poster%201.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haeckel_Muscinae.jpg

Robins rely on the Earth’s magnetic field to show them the way home

corn harvesting At dusk tonight, around 4:40pm, I was standing at the back of the path,  looking out over the corn fields. I could see the farmer’s very large tractor slowly moving in the field, that bright John Deere green cutting a path as it harvested the dried corn. An equally large, green truck waited close by for the corn to be loaded. 

That sound, a whirling roaring, scream that tractors make, came at me in waves slipping on the wind, it sounded similar to those monster, sound effects in the old, ‘Lost in Space’ TV show.

My dog sat at my feet, his nose lifted up as he sniffed the wind. It was quiet, except for a few crows that flew past in a huff.

At that point, I suddenly missed the sounds the Robins made at sunset.  I don’t know when it happened, but they all flew south for the winter.

Last winter, the only winter I can remember I spotted a Robin hopping around in the snow, his red breast contrasted beautifully against the pure white snow. I thought maybe his direction finder was off kilter.

 So, I checked on line and found that- Robins rely on the Earth’s magnetic field to show them the way home, to food, to warmer weather.  I really wish I could tap in to that field. I get lost in my living room.

 I thought of an article I had written for a class. It was about electromagnetic fields disrupting bees, birds and our bodies on a cellular level. I find it sadly interesting how everything is connected, except when profit comes into play…

I turned to Uriah. “Here Boy, have a milk bone.”
Uriah pulled himself up, and wagged his tail, while crunching on his treat. He looked over his shoulder at the dark trees.

Squinting at the shadows, I smiled. “I got the message, let’s head back home.”  I rubbed his face with both hands.

He loved it so much; he started to bump his entire body against my legs, nearly knocking me off balance. I gave him a playful shove. He smiled back at me and waddled fast towards the house.

“Chickens also orient themselves by the Earth’s magnetic field”

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-07/jwgf-cao070507.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combine_harvester

Where do the insects go in the winter?

800px-IC_Pyrrharctia_isabella_caterpillarSun is shining! I put on my bright orange, stylish coat and went out for a walk,… and to get the mail.

    I was surprised that there were still a few crickets, and frogs chirping away in the trees and dried grass. I nearly stepped on a few stray grasshoppers. With the weather in the upper twenties last night, they should all have hibernated for the winter, or laid their eggs, larvae, nymphs or pupae.

     The bees and wasps have died off. Well, at least the males and the workers. The females crawl into someplace safe, at least they hope so, until spring.

     All my beautiful Monarchs have flown off to far away places to return again in spring.

     I have been trying to vacuum up and squish all the Japanese beetles and box elders that have been invading my house for the past month. I know that no matter how vigilant I am at removing them, some will have crawled in-between the siding, or find places under the tiles. Others have gotten inside the house hoping to hold out for spring.

     In the middle of winter when the sun beats down on the roof, I will find a fly or a beetle that has a death wish by drowning my morning coffee.

    Some caterpillars hibernate, like the woolly bear caterpillar.  That little bugger is not fun to pick up; I try to avoid it altogether. But, every year I make a mistake and touch it, either with my toes, or while grabbing a hand full of weeds. The sharp, stinging sensation is not a pleasant experience, and they seem to be everywhere in the late summer, early fall.

     I try not to disturbed any insects as they settle in for the winter; except for the ones in my house. The others, the ones in rotting logs and in the wooded area hidden under leaves, I leave them be. In spring I want to see them flying and diving around flowers. I want the bees to pollinate my flowers. I want to hear the summer songs of the crickets and cicadas and katydids.

    For now, as I clean up around the outside of the house. Putting away my rakes, and watering hoses. I hope that all of nature can survive the snows and freezing temperatures.

    That reminds me I need a pair of winter gloves.

Mice are perfect cat food

mouseIt’s nearly five in the morning. The heat is running and Uriah is asleep.  My cats are up and energetic, and the outside nocturnal animals aren’t bumping against the house.

This is that very quiet point of the day. I’m usually in bed, but Kenshin, my male half Siamese heard me tossing and turning and said ‘hello.’

I’m not about to step outside, its  freezing- 34 degrees. I am staying inside.

The walls are quiet; come to think of it I didn’t hear any scratching at all last night. Hopefully all the mice have been caught or chased out by the cats.

This has been a great summer for mice; they tried to have the run of the house. My cats were catching them at a rate of one mouse per week. Normally, the mice only try to come inside  in the fall after the farmers harvested their crops.

I still have a chance at more mice soon.  The farmer still has feeder corn standing tall in his south side field. The cats will be happy…

Country mice and rats are slightly different than their city cousins. They are cleaner, and healthier looking. This is my opinion, from what I observed of the little rodents, from my perch on a chair, the couch or in the bathtub.

Just recently a rat took up residence near the outside dog kennel, which happens to be right outside my office window.

When Uriah wants to stay outside all day, I put a cup full of dry dog food outside with him. The rat will come running as if I were feeding him. Sitting upright, next to the dog bowl, looking eerily like a cartoon rat. If it starts talking I’m in trouble.

That rat’s days are numbered.  The hawk has been circling the deck and I have seen the owl during the day a lot this summer.

Just to clarify I don’t like mice or rats running around where I live! The comical run though the house with me heading for high ground is not fun. 

A couple of weeks ago, Kenshin came running out of the kitchen, inches behind a large mouse. I happened to be walking into the kitchen at the same time. I had a mouse and a cat running in circles around me, literally! 

Cats are great mousers. I am not!

Cats love to give me mice. I have learned how to be thankful when they drop them at my feet or on my chest when I’m sleeping…

Keeping with the Green theme, I don’t use poisons. Poison is very bad for other animals that feed on mice.

Besides, a mouse is the perfect cat food, And a cat is a pefect mouser.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:House_mouse.jpg

Every living creature has to have a migraine from this air pressure

Fir0002/Flagstaffotos Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

 Morning: 8 am~

Silence- over cast sky, heavy air pressure but most of all, the silence  it’s settled in like a thick blanket.

A couple of Blue Jays screamed and whistled at me this morning. I wouldn’t have thought twice about the silence if it had been cold, which is not the case; the temperature is around sixty degrees.

I felt something move around me, Mother Nature is waiting for something to happen.  Every living creature has to have a migraine from this air pressure.

Somewhere around 12:00pm~

The ground is holding in the vibrations from the train nearly two miles away. When the air is this still sounds drift around the trees, and illusion can echo eerily in the darkness and fog. In the middle of the day it just feels odd.

Around 1pm~

I stood out on the deck and sneezed five times, painfully irritating. I looked up as the sun peeked out behind the grey clouds.  Blue sky slipped into view along the horizon.

My sneezing disturbed a Blue Jay. He flew out of the old apple tree into a miniature crab apple tree, closer to the deck and to me, then screamed his anger.

About 5pm~

I just remembered to take Uriah for his last walk around the back. It is almost too late. I decided he needs the exercise, and so do I.

It’s nearly dark; that point where the lighter objects glow and the darkness is shadowed in a mist. Above me the clouds in the western sky fanned out towards the east. Pieces of yellow sunset and blue sky shine through the clouds along the horizon.

A heavy musky smell wafts past me. I whistle for Uriah. He is panting as he trots to keep up. We hit the lowest part of the path. I can’t see the mud so I hold tight to my walking stick and slip on towards home.

 Suddenly Uriah starts to growl, a low muffled sound that comes from deep in his throat. He pushes past me.  Then stops directly in front of me, and starts scraping the ground with his back paws and takes a stance of ownership and protection.

“Good, dog, Uriah!” My voice is loud in the darkness, he turns towards me, sneezes then growls back at the trees and tall grass.  I wondered if his sneezing is a warning that a skunk is hiding in the grass?    I wasn’t going to stick my nose anywhere near a skunk. Hmm,  It could be a raccoon another reason to walk faster.

 I moved past Uriah, and called him to follow. We are moving rapidly towards home I could barely see the ground. 

 Fifty feet or so away from the path, Uriah turns back and barks, scraps his back feet kicking up dirt and grass. His hackles are still raised, as we hurry towards the house.

 Raccoons are dangerous for both of us. A few years ago, when I had three dogs I was attacked by a forty pound raccoon. My dogs saved my life.

My Walking Path