Saturday, July 2, 2016

the first Saturday of July

Yesterday I visited Second Nature , a beautiful garden center and landscaping facility a few miles south of town and spoke with the owners about how best to keep down the highly invasive and unpleasant wild parsnip which is rampantly overtaking much of the roadside and open spaces all over the state. Some of it has found its way into our meadows. I learned that this plant is a biennial and doing some internet research I have also learned that  it is all over the midwest and rapidly becoming a matter of concern on many levels. We dug out the few plants we spotted here last season but being a biennial we missed those which were not blooming, not calling attention to themselves.
To learn that once you've been burned by the sap of this plant, which makes your skin highly sensitive to sunlight, that site on your body can be injured again when exposed to the sun for up to ten years, was more than frightening. Digging out the plant would be best but being a parsnip the tap root could be several feet long. Cutting off its head would cause it to try again to flower and produce seed which would require constant monitoring over the growing season to eliminate any chance of seed production. Most land owners might choose not to tangle with it at all,  just letting it grow, or might choose to keep the land closely mown and thereby destroying all the beneficials at the same time. A deep dilemma.

Our meadows are surrounded on 3 sides by commercially farmed fields of corn or soy bean. They are treated every season with herbicides. I find myself strangely glad for the first time since planting myself here that the chemically treated lands around me do not allow the wild parsnip to take hold.
The fourth border of our property is our road and across this are lands mostly mowed or brush hogged so any plants growing there would continually lose their heads. But the wind and the birds and the pollinators bring in seeds of all types and so there are a few bullys in the community.
We'll do our best.

Quite by accident this morning I learned that today is the second annual celebration of National Meadows Day all across the UK. A staggering 97% of the UK's natural meadows have been lost since the 1930s. And with them the diversity of life they supported.

So here in the driftless region of the American midwest, this lovely sunny second Saturday of July, on
the ridge meadow we love so well, I proclaim it to be National Meadows Day as well.

Friday, July 1, 2016

after the rain

Happy first of July.
Yesterday after lunch as we were mowing and weeding storm clouds gathered and gave us marvelous views of the approaching storm accompanied by amazing timpani. In less than two hours we received 2 1/2 inches of rain as measured by our gauge. The sun returned and we took a walk in the meadow to have a look.

This is the time of year that beckons you to take several walkabouts each day so as not to miss a single blooming thing. And isn't the light amazing in the late day?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"on bug" season

a fathers day frolic

After dinner and before tucking the chickens in for the night we take out the Bs, John Deere two cylinder 1947 and 1949 tractors, and go for a ride. For this our original walking paths through the western meadow have been multiplied and widened. Sitting on the seats of these giants our heads are high above the landscape rather like being astride elephants, I should imagine. Moving at speeds approximating a light jog there's plenty of time to view all that is growing on these sweet acres and witness the changes taking place, the birds, butterflies, bees that live and visit, the foot paths and nesting spots the deer have made.
A few short days after the solstice, our meadow is wearing a patchwork frock of ever-changing perennials, young as the summer is young, mostly goldenrod and queen anne's lace, vetches, coneflowers, ditch lilies, asters, grasses of many types, curly dock, orange hawkweed, fleabane, campion, nettle, knapweed. (There are uninvited residents as well, wild grapevine, burdock, thistle, brambles and cow parsley, but these in their way provide habitat and sustenance.) Over this she has donned an early season pinafore of daisies, the hems of which are stitched in wild strawberries and white sweet clover. Her pinafore's pockets are currently full of red clover, birds foot trefoil, and eager stalks of milkweed.
Though we are surrounded by commercially farmed acreage, we take comfort in knowing our ridge meadow is a respite from the artificially modified and chemically harmful. Is it any wonder she is teaming with life?

"on bugs"?
Who can resist the magical winking lights of warm summer nights? In Buteraland fireflies or  lightning bugs are known as "on bugs." Makes perfect sense, don't you agree?

Friday, June 17, 2016

on this day

Thank you sweetheart-o-mine. How the time has flown.

Here's to the next 44 years, or rather, forever.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Whether weeding, reading, or feeding the chickens,  not paying the slightest attention to what's just outside my bubble of being, I sometimes feel as if I'm going nowhere. And sometimes feel as if I can't keep up in any single way.
Actually, if I think on the simplest level, I am spinning on the Earth's axis at about 1000 miles per hour. As a speck on this big blue marble I am circling the sun at 66, 000 miles per hour. And that's just the beginning. If you are interested in the  specifics, there is a good link here.
But seriously, many days I slip into bed and think about all that still fills my "to do" list and wonder just what I've done all day. Not taking the time to post even the simplest of the joys I feel here on our ridge top meadow seems such a lost opportunity.
I am blessed to be living during a time when technology allows me to spend moments each day looking through your windows whether they be across town, across the country, or on the other side of the world. Each of you in your own dear ways bring me comfort, encouragement, joy. Today I reach out and thank each of you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

top third finish for Phil, first place for his coangler

Just have to share this photo of Phil coming off the Mississippi on Saturday.
Does this look like the middle of May to you?
The coangler backs up the trailer to the water's edge and the boater drives the boat up onto it. I've watched this choreographed exit from tournaments several times and always marvel at the way 150 boats can get off the water in about an hours time!
After seeing this I wonder just how Phil manages it when he goes out alone…..

Saturday, May 14, 2016

celebrating lives

Flurries in the air this morning on my outdoor walkabout. Temps struggling to hit 40 just now.

Thursday Anne, Matthias, my sister Terri and I spent the entire day shopping Amish greenhouses, having to drive home to empty the car once late morning and then finally ceasing late afternoon when my car was full again, plants even on laps and between the feet of all the passengers. Today all those sweet promises are tucked into the potting shed and the little portable greenhouse on the south deck. Waiting. Tonight's predicted low… 31 degrees.

Today is our son's 38th birthday

and as I type this he's out on the very chilly mighty Mississippi casting into and against the wind on this the 2016 FLW bass fishing tournament season opener. Yesterday's pre fishing included pouring rain, cold winds, and a cantankerous pump. Left this morning about 3:40 am. Jerome and I will drive into LaCrosse for the weigh in this afternoon. There are signs hung all around the house wishing Phil a happy birthday, something Jerome and I started doing to celebrate each family occasion as soon as we were married. It's a treat having Phil here at the farm so we can do it again for him.
We plan to gather this evening to celebrate his birthday, Anne, Matthias, Phil, Jerome, the dogs, our cats and me. We will toast his health, his nearly finished teaching year, the new fishing season and another toast to the many, many happy memories of the one family member who will be missing, Anne and Matthias' Siamese cat, Jerome.

Here is an old Christmas photo of Phil with Jerome and our beloved "first dog" Holden. Jerome and Phil had a special relationship, not surprising since Phil has a deep respect for and appreciation of all living things. (That lovely fish in the photo above was a catch and release, as is his habit.)
Happy birthday, my born on Mothers' Day son. You've given us more than you can imagine.
Goodbye dear friend, Little Jerome. Thank you for the unique joys you brought to my life. I will miss your mighty roar.