September 4th, 2006


Farm Journal

Ernesto, what was left of it, dumped a much-needed 3.5+ inches of rain the past few days. On Sat night it was nice to see the sun again, just before it set. Three or more weeks without rain is too long for the well. It was a steady rain, not too heavy, just right for soaking into the ground. I celebrated by forgetting I had turned the shower on. Oops.

The new trees were stressed, the forsythia looked stressed, even though that's been in the ground for 3 years. Some of the potted trees in the nursery which we thought had died show some signs of life yet. Pears are ready for more picking. Local apples and some on our own trees are in season. Time to break out the dehydrator. Grass didn't need mowing before, but it will now. J is off to mow, which is my job. Yesterday he worked on the wood piles (yes, piles) and this morning he patrolled for poison ivy. Life goes on.

E and J caught monarchs in the 5 acre field yesterday. E let them go. They're always on the move inside the specimen box. Last year we kept them for almost 48 hours and they damaged their wings. So this year it's strictly catch and release. The monarchs are getting ready to head for Mexico. Fall is coming. Leaves will change color, E says.

We let the chickens run free in the paddock yesterday. One caught a toad. Ok, so what does a chicken do with a toad? Runs around for half an hour trying to keep her prize away from the other chickens.

School starts tomorrow. I think a "yippee!" is in order. We marked the date by waking up early (school hours) and trying on our new school clothes. E is all ready for first grade. A full day at school this year. The Frog worries a bit. Will she know where the bathroom is? Will she be overwhelmed by the noise in the cafeteria? Will she be ok? Yes, to 1 and 3, no to 2, she assures me.

Frog Out


Update on today's fauna....

1 northern racer or rat snake, depending on the argument, approx. 24 inches long, still juvenile. Hard to measure as he/she was wrapped around J's hand. Felt neat to touch it, the skin very shiny as if newly shed. Lots of strength and the tail curls around you as you run your hand down its length. They eat the mice the cats don't get, like up in the attic, so they're some of our best pals. I once nearly mowed over one that was nearly 7 feet long. It went up a tree. I didn't mow in the trees for a few weeks. Found two in the attic once, probably up to no good. I heard slithering in the ceiling. Found a huge skin in the basement once. But today's count is one young snake, very confused.

Add to that a praying mantis of good size (another friend), a daddy long legs wandering in the pears on the counter (moved it outdoors on E's orders) and a tree frog that was a catch and release for E.

Okay so a city slicker runs screaming and snakes make some squeamish. Around here, this is pretty normal for a weekend. If we didn't have all these critters, we would be overrun by bugs and disease-carrying mice. I have nothing against mice. I like mice. Just not in my pantry or in my kitchen sink or in my bedroom closet. ugh. Go cats and snakes.