Showing posts with label flowers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flowers. Show all posts

Saturday, July 19, 2014

summertime and the living isn't necessarily easy but is gorgeous

When considering what a summer should be, this has been the perfect one for us here at the farm. Hot days but most of the time not too hot. We have not had to bring out the room a/c unit which is an indicator of it being too hot. We don't have central air conditioning here because with the creek, it's only a few days a summer where we might need it.

Sunday we had an exciting thunderstorm with just enough rain to lessen the risks of fires from lightning strikes. It was the kind of storm I have seen more frequently in Arizona with squalls of hail, and thunder rumbling around for about four hours. The main Willamette Valley, to the east of us, got most of the wind, lightning and damage. 

Our vegetable garden is starting to really produce, and we are enjoying thinking up creative ways to use all the tomatoes, zucchini, string beans, corn, and cucumbers we have and soon will have. I think we might make pickles this year. The variety of cucumber we planted has been surprisingly sweet even when bigger (when they usually get a little bitter).

For pickles I am looking for a recipe for spicy, peppery dill pickles as I like that better than a straight dill. We have been considering getting a food dryer as the apple trees are loaded too. There is a lot of bounty to process in some way for the winter.

In the meantime it's good to sit out on the patio and talk, to enjoy the family when we can get together, to dream dreams (I have had some interesting ones), to mix the work that is part of this season with the joy, and to savor these long, warm and lush days. This is Oregon's season to shine.

The only concern will be fire danger. Eastern and Central Oregon got hit hard by the recent lightning storm, and fires are everywhere with enough to have the governor declare a national emergency to enable the National Guard to help. So it's been tough on some regions for the danger and fear. I totally relate to it and we could end up with the same problems as we have in previous years. 

Photos all from July on the farm. I find myself not wanting to leave here because this is the place I'd most want to be if I didn't already live here. I spent some time where dragonflies hang out trying to get some good photos but so far no luck. Just blue blurs. I haven't given up yet. I do though have some wonderful photos of swallowtail butterflies on our butterfly bush, but will save those for next Saturday.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

heading toward summer

This has been a week of getting the yard geared up for summer. I am fine with that and enjoying it a lot-- despite concern that if we don't get rain, this may present future problems regarding fire danger. For now, it's just delightful with the climbing roses in full bloom, the new additions to our outdoor lawn furniture which makes sipping a glass of wine outside delightful.

I am so ready for summer but is it ready for me? It better be.

Oh and I need to take some vegetable garden photos. It's looking so good :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

what we can do

 wildflowers-- blue flags

Lately my weeks do not have a pattern to them. There are, of course, those things I must plan-- like getting my teeth cleaned. That requires scheduling. Same with doctor appointments, but generally I can pretty much do what I please. That doesn't mean lie around and eat bonbons, but I guess I could if it was what I wanted.

I remember years, when I had very planned weeks with kids in school and work schedules I had to weave my life around. Today I have freedom to make of my day what I choose. I am captain of my fate-- most of the time. 

As a creative person, I love the freedom to let a day take me wherever it will. My one constant is to write regularly-- but about what can vary quite a lot. Having been a stay-at-home mom, I learned long ago to be disciplined in work. There are always the unexpected additions that can turn a week from what I might have expected to something totally different.

A few weeks back on our little ranch, we began photographing bees. There is something wonderful about watching bees go for pollen. While they make our apple trees more prolific, they also are making honey. I shared those photos here (go back a week or so if you didn't see them). Bees are something I'd have once taken for granted but no longer.

The article is pretty good about describing what is happening and some possible choices we can make-- for instance not removing all the weeds we could nor using insecticides without realizing that they kill more than nuisance insects... and incidentally what did we think the birds were eating if it's not insects?

I've seen farms on my way to town where they are pulling out what used to be hedgerows, brushy zones between their fields where the wild roses and wildflowers put on a show. Wildflowers are regarded as weeds by those who only value dollar signs. I am sure those farmers are good people but have to be thinking-- wow, another acre if we get rid of all of this unprofitable brush. They probably also figure someone else will save ground for the bunnies, birds, lizards, snakes, and insects. It's always someone else who needs to do it, isn't it?

For all our talk about climate change, the risks we face if the oceans rise and become less saline, we are doing a lot of the damage to our immediate environment with our demand for dandelion free yards, with the love of these big landscapes of mowed grass, and spraying detrimental insecticides all around our homes. I recognize some areas need lawns. It's culturally expected. Those people can compensate for the lawns not being particularly helpful to birds and insects by adding those plants that are.

Years ago we went to a seminar in Corvallis where the speaker was talking about Jesus from the perspective of historic or mythic. He spoke one evening about his interest in the environment by ending lawns on his property. It made total sense to me. The next summer, we restored our front yard to natural environment by plowing it up, putting in a natural waterway (helps a lot when we have too much rain coming off the fields), and planting four trees (actually five but a buck broke one off by rubbing his horns on it). 

The past of that yard carries with it many memories. I remember well how for figteen years I mowed it, finding different patterns to make the job more interesting. Today it's a natural looking landscape as if it had always been this way.

Then a few years later I got the idea of fencing in a veggie and flower garden area next to the house and then giving the sheep the rest. That took a lot of work from Farm Boss but eventually we had it as we do today. Fenced personal space and sheep just beyond. I love it, like hearing them so close, but also they do a neat job on making the lawns look mowed. 

 looking toward our home from the gravel road
If we don't let the sheep be anywhere too long, the weeds, the grass, the shrubs, all benefit from their presence. (the bird feeder had to be moved up for reasons obvious in the photo below).

 below the house and above the creek

Managing range land is part of a rancher's job-- and in this case turning our lawns into pasture benefited them and us. We haven't mowed a yard in years which means no fuel used and a natural environment around the home-- mostly free of poisons... (I swear men do like their sprayers).

 large swarm- more photos earlier this week

So after the individual photos of the bees, we then had the joy of seeing a large swarm that landed in our pear tree for a few hours as their scouts went beyond to find a new home. Generally this happens when hives divide. The old queen takes off when the new queen is ready to take over responsibility for the old hive.  Where we live, what they are looking for are hollow trees. 

The first big swarm took off after a few hours in the pear tree. The next day a smaller swarm landed there. We are not sure if the pear tree is big enough for them but we'd be delighted if it was. Evidently when hives divide, it can involve several stages.

 small swarm

We would love it if the smaller swarm can find our pear tree to be a proper home. Either way we hope they find healthy ground on which to live. 

We don't believe in monoculture. We plant many varieties of shrubs and plants to provide feed for the bees and butterflies. It's the least we can do for insects that keep us in food. It's a good thing for us all to remember next time we reach for an insecticide. Sometimes there is nothing we can do. In many situations, there is. 

Will our small changes be enough? Well like so many choices being made in our culture today, it might not; but at least we will know we did what we could for the small things. In nature's big picture, we're not as important as some of us like to think.

Friday, May 09, 2014

it's the columbine time to shine

The bees and hummingbirds all love the columbine. The columbine season keeps the cats out of their yard for obvious reasons.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

bees and blueberries

It was interesting for me to do a whole series, a week long, of bees and blossoms. It's been beautiful to see them hovering over the apple and blueberry blossoms--  but for awhile we had some concern. At first, we did not see honeybees. They had been seen earlier this spring but then we had a hard freeze rather late. We worried that they had lost their home. Bees out here are mostly wild and live in hollow trees along the creek or in the forest. 

Then I saw a bee in the house trying to get out through the glass. It had flown in the cat door. I thought about swatting it-- then thought better of it. I got a plastic glass with a wide mouth, nailed it over the bee and slid a postcard between it and the glass. The bee was safely inside. I was not stung. A win/win when I released it outside. 

When Farm Boss went out with the camera, he got photos of the honeybees to prove they are here. I don't think in the numbers previously, but they can build their population back up.

Perhaps bumblebees could do the jobs of the honeybee in pollinating our fruit, but it should be of concern for us when something we take for granted is not there. I think we need to, as individuals, seriously think about avoiding insecticides. 

If we let the wasps and yellow jackets hang around, they will eat a lot of the insects we'd rather not be here. There are, of course, places we cannot permit a yellow jacket hive, but we need to be sure that is the case before we poison. If we sicken these insects with our overuse of pesticides and removing their natural habitat, where will that leave us???

If you are one who thinks the smallest things don't matter, I don't envy your life in any arena... And no, I do not believe that God will step in and save those who abused this creation-- believer or not believer. Take care of the small things. You're not as important as you think. 

I used the following quote as one my heroine loved from my second Oregon historical. It pretty much says what I think--  

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
and Eternity in an hour."

William Blake

The photos above are of honeybee and bumblebee. Next week-- look for more photos of bees and blossoms :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

spring fever

i think i have a classic case of spring fever. mentally, i am in a strange place-- especially for me. nothing is on my mind when I am not actually editing the novella due out May 1st. 

it has been a mild spring-- so lots of afternoons where i can sit outside and just watch what is happening around me which amounts mostly to insects and birds, hearing the sounds of nature-- which include the sound of sheep eating the rose leaves they can reach outside the fence. hummingbirds are very noisy, lots of squabbles over territory, but you probably know that. 

other than that, i am thinking of nothing, nada, nil. my mind is a blank slate or an empty cup ready to be filled-- putting a positive spin on my current state of mind. i admit, that for someone who always thinks, this feels very strange.  

i shall blame it on April-- Pieces of April. (i had to dig deep to even remember it was Three Dog Night. i guess my memory isn't as shot as i might've thought.)

so here i am, enjoying the beauty of this April and just being. i always say i want to do that, but it's rare when i actually do. there has been virtually no wrestling with world problems... or when something comes up, I write about it into 'my political rant' and release it. No wrestling with my own problems-- currently I can't think of any as life is flowing along as smoothly as the creek below our house. 

all my creative activity at the moment is editing. being in edit mode is probably the reason for the non-thinking brain when away from the computer. in edit mode, you aren't trying to come up with something new. it is about what you already created. did you get it down logically? can it be said better? is it consistent? very anal work and word for word reading.

i don't take it away with me when i leave the computer as I do when writing something original where i wrestle with what comes next every minute i am not doing an activity that i actually need to think about. so lots of photos and because i have so many with the bumblebee in the apple blossoms as well as the blueberries, one photo a day for awhile with no words. words aren't needed.

you know, to post this looking like my brain is right now, i left out all caps except for titles. do you know how hard that is to do...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

being heliotropic

no matter what situation we find ourselves in,
we can always set our compass to our highest intentions
in the present moment.
Jack Kornfield

Yes, I love sunflowers! There can never be too many sunflowers with their heliotropic qualities. And this year I have a veritable feast of them, some over ten feet tall. Me, the birds, and insects are happy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

the season of roses

Walk and touch peace in every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Thich Nhat Hanh