Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Orange 'Shrooms

Orange ‘Shrooms

The photos don’t do these mushrooms justice. They are blaze orange. I’ve never seen any others like them.

closeup

Read Full Post »

I know people who detest barn swallows and will go to great lengths to discourage them from nesting in their barns. I guess if you have a swarm of them they could be a nuisance because they do, after all, poop. But we had our first nest of barn swallows this summer, and they were absolutely hysterical to watch.

We’ve had phoebes build nests over our light fixtures for many years, but we were surprised this year to discover that one of the nests was inhabited by swallows. When the chicks hatched we could see small heads poking just above the nest and initially thought there were four. But as they matured and were old enough to peek outside the nest, we discovered there were actually five. It’s hard to believe that they all fit in there, especially as they got big enough to fledge.

Barn Swallows 5 in nest

We checked on the nest each day as we were feeding the llamas. As the llamas would exit the barn, they would parade single file under the nest. All five chicks would be perched on the edge of the nest, their little heads swinging from left to right as they watched each llama pass in review.

I did some research on wiki and learned some interesting facts. The pairs mate for life and both are actively involved in the nest building and child care. However, apparently the females have a reputation for having a little fun on the side. Wiki says that “Males guard females actively to avoid being cuckolded. Males may use deceptive alarm calls to disrupt extrapair copulation attempts toward their mates.” Tsk tsk ladies.

Both the male and female defend the nest and hunt for insects. They work incredibly hard, each one dashing out for a bug and returning in less than a minute with the spoils. They are constantly on the go. Each time a parent returns to the nest, the chicks start screaming to compete for the parent’s attention. I have no idea how the parents keep up with who they have already fed, but it seems to all work out. All five appeared healthy and well fed.

The parents not only work from dawn to dusk catching dinner for the kids, but they are meticulous housekeepers as well. We’d see an adult return with a bug, stuff it in the beak of one of the chicks, then reach into the nest, and pick up a glob of poo and spit it out on the barn floor. Once the chicks got a little more mobile, they would stand on the edge of the nest, and turn around so that they were pooping outside the nest.

Watch this short video showing the chicks getting fed. Particularly watch out for the extremely rude chick that stands on the head of its sibling to take a dump and then shoves him out of the way to primp and preen. This one just has to be a girl.

I hate to anthropomorphize, but they behave so much like people that they could almost star in their own sitcom, like “Empty Nest” or “Fowl Play”.

Read Full Post »

soup

Ever just have the TV on for background noise? Our TV is on anytime one of us is in the house, but we rarely actually sit down to watch anything. Such was the case last week when my attention was captured by a chef showing us how to make gazpacho. So what’s so exciting about that? Gazpacho is gazpacho. But there, my friend, you are wrong. This was Watermelon Gazpacho, and it was weird enough that I stopped what I was doing to watch him toss the garden into a blender.

I was in the market for a new and refreshing lunch recipe, as a good friend of mine was coming over to give me a hand with doggie hygiene…..dental hygiene…..for dogs……

My friend is a retired dental hygienist (for people) who has been scaling her own dogs’ teeth for years. She offered to drive an hour and a half out to the farm to clean my two dogs’ choppers. She does this without anesthesia. Mayzie, the bearded collie, behaved like an angel. But I didn’t expect anything less of her. She is a perfect lady. Bayley, the year and an half golden doodle, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so easy. But with Bayley on her side, and me laying fully stretched out on top of her, we were able to keep her still enough to finish the job. Both dogs were over and done with in less than half an hour and it saved me at least $600 over having the vet do it.

Bayley and Mayzie

So the least I could do was to make lunch. I served the Watermelon Gazpacho and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches. And the soup was DELICIOUS!

I checked out a dozen or more recipes online and combined bits and pieces of several recipes to come up with my own signature dish. I’m going to show you how I made it. It’s super easy.

Ingredients
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 English cucumber (about 1 pound) peeled, seeded and chunked
4 stalks of parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Extra basil leaves for garnish
3 cups of watermelon, cubed (I used a small, round, seedless melon)
2 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt and dash of pepper
Feta cheese for garnish

You can use a food processor, or a heavy duty blender. I used my Vitamix that we bought at a state fair back in the 80’s. It’s a work of art, don’t you think?

vitamix

First, assemble all of your ingredients. Remember, there is no substitute for the freshest and ripest veggies and fruits.

ingredients

Peel and seed the tomatoes. No cutting corners here. Peeling and seeding is not an option.

tomatoes

tomatoes

Peel and seed the cucumber. I like to use the long English cukes, because the seeds are really tiny. But particularly if you are using a regular cucumber, you need to remove the seeds. It’s easy. Just quarter the cucumber lengthwise, and cut the ridge off along with the seeds.

cucumber

Chop the rest of the ingredients and set aside.

chopped ingredients

melon

Throw the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, basil and parsley into the blender and blend until smooth.

in blender

Continue to blend and add the peaches.

Now toss in the watermelon. You have a choice here. Do you want it slightly chunky, or smooth? I wanted a little texture of the watermelon, so I only pulsed the machine a few times.

Then I stirred in the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper so as not to further mash the watermelon. Check it for seasoning according to your taste.

Place the soup in the fridge for at least 3 hours until it is chilled.

One of the recipes I found suggested sprinkling Feta cheese on top. Initially I was a little conflicted about the addition of the Feta, but I had some on hand, so I did a taste test with and without, and “with” won hands down. If fact, it totally “made” the soup.

soup

So take my word for it and give it a try. Just be sure to crumble the cheese up really fine and just sprinkle on a light dusting.

This is a recipe that begs for summer fresh ingredients, so try it now and enjoy before the season ends.

Read Full Post »

Imagine my glee when I looked out the window this morning and caught Farina snoozing…

peacock sawing logs

snorking peacock

waking peacock

peeping peacock

Read Full Post »

For those of you that have been following the story of my vagabond peacock, you know that one of my males, Farina, flew the coop in January, was given up for dead, replaced with a peahen, Darla, and then miraculously returned after a 6 month winter wonderland adventure.

But this story is not about Farina, but about a wooden egg that I placed in a nest box that we fashioned for Darla.

Darla and Buckwheat

She is our first peahen and we were told by the breeder, that she would not be a year old until this summer, and it was rare that one year olds produced any eggs. But we wanted to be prepared just in case.

So we made this nest box and placed it in the corner of the ‘pea pod’ where we had seen her resting. And to give her a clue that this was her nest, I placed a wooden egg in it.

nest box

She liked the box, and snuggled up in it all winter. Every day that I would go in the ‘pea pod’ I would see the wooden egg right where I had put it. Last week, I glanced at the box, and the egg was not there. I thought to myself that it had probably gotten buried in the straw, and I would look for it later.

When I started to clean the aviary, I noticed the egg was under the perch.

egg under perch

That really threw me for a loop. How it the world did it get there. The peas couldn’t pick it up in their beaks. I didn’t think a mouse could get it out of the nest box and roll it outside. Road Warrior thought that one of the birds had kicked it out of the nest. But to what purpose? Is Darla like the “Princess and the Pea”, (no pun intended) and is too sensitive to sleep with a hard lump in her bed?

I was in a hurry, so I left the wooden egg where it lay under the perch. Then yesterday, I noticed that the egg had been moved yet again. It was now all the way on the other side of the aviary in a corner. What the heck. Are they in there playing soccer?

corner

I proceeded to clean under the perches, and lo and behold, there is the egg right where I saw it last week, and in the corner……another just like it!! Mystery solved. Darla had laid two eggs. She obviously wasn’t interested in sitting on them, and we’re not interested in hatching any little peachicks, so I collected the two eggs for examination.

They are not as big as I expected. The white ones on the left are the 2 pea eggs, and the brown one came from one of our chickens.

egg comparison

The big difference is in the size of the yolk.

Yolk comparison

I scrambled them up and fed them to the dogs with their dinner. Two paws up from the pups!!

Read Full Post »

Farina on coop

“Hey, guys. I just stopped by for a visit. Where’d everybody go?”

scared chickens

“Hmmm. They were here just a minute ago”

there you are

“Oh, there you are!”

Read Full Post »

Mommy Deerest

Mommy Deerest

Read Full Post »

♫ “Yeeeoowww” ♪♪♫

6:30 am. The view outside my bedroom window…

You up yet?

You up yet?

I'd like some breakfast now, if you don't mind

I’d like some breakfast now, if you don’t mind

Okay, I'll just meet you back at the barn.

Okay, I’ll just meet you back at the barn.

Read Full Post »

“Yeeeowww, Yeeeeowww”.

“Bagawk, Bock, Bock, Bock, BEGAWK”.

For those uninitiated in bird speak, that translates into:
“Hellooo, who are youuuu?” (from our recently returned vagrant peacock)

“Help, helphelphelp, H-E-L-P”. (from our little flock of hens who apparently think they are being stalked by the biggest chicken hawk ever)

That was not a discussion that I wanted to hear outside my bedroom window at 7:00 this morning. A quick peak outside revealed the source of the problem. There Farina sat on top of the chicken coop, calling at the top of his lungs, and sending the terrified chickens below scurrying for cover.

Farina on coop

Since Farina, the wandering Peacock returned after a 6 month walk-about, he has been sticking really close to the barn. He can always be seen sitting on a fence rail, or showing off to the llamas. It’s like he’s thinking, ‘I lost this place once and I’m not taking any chances’.

Farina displaying

As he’s getting more comfortable with his surroundings, he’s starting to do a little exploring. Yesterday afternoon, I found him checking out our back yard, and this morning he was trying to make the acquaintance of the hens.

Take a peak in the window. See all the noses pressed against the glass? The chickens are huddled inside peering around wondering where that danged screaming eagle is.

scared chickens

Read Full Post »

Our peacock, Farina, miraculously returned home after being on the lam for 6 months and given up for dead. He had spent the first 3 years of his life safely ensconced in the aviary with his brother, Buckwheat, and was pampered with daily treats, a sunny perch for basking in the summer, and a heated house for snuggling in the winter.

2009 Peacock Christmas Card

Farina went missing early in January, after I foolishly opened the peahouse door to show him off to some friends. He got spooked, and flew the coop, so to speak. He flew up to the roof of the barn where he spent the night. By morning, he was gone, never to be seen again.

Farina on cupola

Winters here in northern Virginia can be harsh. This wasn’t the worst winter we’ve experienced, but there were weeks of below freezing temps, and many days of cold rain, sleet and snow, not to mention the days we had wind storms with gusts up to 60 mph. What was he going to find to eat with snow all over the ground? And all variety of predators, from the 4 legged variety: foxes, bobcats, and bears; to the sky borne great horned owls and red tail hawks that can grab a peacock in his sleep, high on his arboreal perch.

After 2 months, and no sign of Farina, we decided to get a companion for our remaining peacock, Buckwheat. We thought he might be happier with a girlfriend, so we brought home a young hen, whom we named Darla. It was love at first sight.

Buckwheat and Darla

How could we have been more surprised when we saw Farina back at the ‘Pea Pod’ last week? He looks great. And he has a beautiful full tail. I might have thought it would look a bit rag tagly after being drug though the underbrush for months. But he has apparently eaten well. I wish I knew where all he’d been.

Farina-on-fence

But the funny thing is, he has taken up with the llamas. The paddock behind the barn is just across the drive from the aviary, so he can be close to the other peas, and socialize at the same time with his new llama buddies. Almost any time of the day, he will be seen sitting on the fence rail next to the barn, or down in the paddock with the llamas, strutting his stuff and showing off his tail.

displaying-for-llamas

The llamas were a bit curious to see him at first, but now they just walk around him to get to their hay nibbles.

Llamas ignore peacock

We hope that he decides to stay here permanently. Maybe having the girl close by in the pen will give him incentive to stick around. At least, we know that he is a survivalist if he does get the wanderlust again.
Farina and Pea Pod

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 190 other followers