Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘nature

Unexpected Sprouts

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After cutting up one of the trees recently felled by the pros we hired, I put two chunks in the shop garage to dry out. They looked like potential pieces for a future sculpting project.

Yesterday, we were surprised to find there was still life energy stored in those cut sections of the tree.

Despite a lack of sun or moisture, sprouts of new green growth have burst forth from the bark. Meanwhile, the leaves on the trees we tried transplanting a couple of weeks ago have all shriveled up and look like absolute goners.

I completely understand why the leaves on the transplanted saplings turned brown and wrinkled (even though we have continued to water them) but it seems unfair that the two cut-up sections of the trunk sitting on the concrete floor of the dark garage should sprout new growth that looks so full of life and green optimism.

Nature is fascinating.

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2022 at 6:00 am

Spring Scenes

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Among the range of memories lingering from our night out to see Neil deGrasse Tyson’s talk about a cosmic perspective, these have been prominent: The earth wants to kill us and the universe wants to kill us. As if supporting evidence for these statements were even necessary, Neil provided simple lists.

Earth:

  • earthquakes
  • volcanoes
  • hurricanes
  • tornadoes
  • droughts
  • wildfires
  • floods

He introduced this segment with a reference to people who rhapsodize longingly about flowers and trees and all the romance and beauty in Mother Nature’s spectacular displays. Brings to my mind amazing sunrises and sunsets, waterfalls, ocean waves, golden fields, and gorgeous forests.

The contrast provided one of the many chuckles evoked throughout his presentation.

Universe:

  • solar flares
  • radiation bursts
  • black holes
  • supernovas
  • asteroids
  • meteors

Bringing this information forward in my consciousness had me looking at things with a fresh reference on our walks around the property yesterday. It’s impressive to survive long enough that we generally grow callous to most all of these hazardous natural threats. Some of the earth weather risks don’t get buried all that far away in our minds, but I have tended to view them as more neutral threats than as earth’s intended attempts to snuff me out.

The spring scenes we came upon in yesterday morning’s snowscape included the barn towels that were hanging out to dry from the day before.

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When the horses don’t finish eating before we head back to the house, we leave the feed pans out. It makes for some interesting finds upon our return.

Muddy hoof prints are the least offensive version of soiled pans we’ve had to clean out.

After the sun showed through the thinning cloud cover, the snow evaporated except for places that were shadowed. It made for some cool scenes in the woods.

This morning there is no snow left and we haven’t received new precipitation in the last 24 hours. A big sigh of relief for a day or two.

It looks to be another day when the earth won’t kill us. I can’t say for sure what the universe has in store.

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2022 at 9:38 am

The Birds

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While walking with Delilah yesterday afternoon, I think we gained an appreciation for what might have inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

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It’s not about the video image. You gotta have the sound on to get the gist of what we experienced.

When we got close and stopped to check out the chaos, we experienced a wonder of nature when the birds all suddenly fell silent. It’s just fascinating to witness the cooperation of that many birds that have just been shouting up a storm of noise to all understand when it becomes time to get quiet.

Lasted barely a second and the cacophony resumed at full force.

A brilliant spectacle.

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Written by johnwhays

March 18, 2022 at 6:00 am

Delicate Impressions

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There is a new covering of snow that has created a fresh surface for our forest creatures to make their marks upon. I’ve gotten no better over the years at differentiating the identity of the range of little footprints made by squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, moles, and mice, but I know all of them are out there running around.

It starts with one or two crossing our trails while snow is still falling and by 24 hours later, it looks like everyone is out and about. Yesterday, we found evidence of a feathered friend, or friends, dancing around on the white carpet.

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I love seeing the gentle wisps of wing feathers adding context to visible footwork scribbled in the snow.

While I had my camera out to capture all this art, I spotted a different sort of impression. I love the combination of the shadow of sunlight and the indented snow impression on either side of this dried plant that wind had pressed down.

No pictures were taken during our last walk of the night because it was too dark, but there were plenty of beautiful views we enjoyed as I pulled the trash bin down our driveway to the road.

I wore a headlamp but never turned it on. With the small crescent moon reflecting light onto the white snow-covered ground, there was just enough light that I could navigate my way.

The sky was crystal clear, which explains the space-like below-zero temperatures we are experiencing again. We put blankets back on the horses earlier in the night after giving them a break for a few days. The stars were so bright we almost didn’t need the reflections off the slice of the moon that was visible.

I noticed the horses were standing at the bottom of the slope from the barn, near the gate to the hayfield, as we passed by. As Delilah and I neared the top of the last rise in the driveway before it drops down to the road, my peripheral vision picked up motion to my right.

Turning my head to figure out what it was brought an unexpected startle of the four horses jogging along the fence beside us. We all stopped as I turned my whole body to acknowledge them and exchange greetings. Delilah seemed unimpressed with having company on our trek.

As I resumed pulling the trash bin along the driveway, the four blanketed horses decided to run off in a beautiful semi-moonlit arc off the rise and back down toward the outer perimeter of the paddock fence line.

The delicate impressions of walking the trash to the road always make the chore well worth the effort, even in hazardous wind-chill conditions.

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Written by johnwhays

January 7, 2022 at 7:00 am

Color Gradient

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It caught my eye right away as I passed by and after a few steps beyond I realized I needed to stop and go back.

Look at the color gradient happening here.

Nature putting on a show, plain and simple.

These spectacles are dwindling. There is now a lot more brown on the ground than colors on the branches, which makes these little surprises all the more special.

Our days of summery October are numbered I’m afraid. Near-term forecasts suggest high temperatures in the 50s(F) and lows below freezing.

In preparation, yesterday we flushed the water out of the buried line to the labyrinth and rolled up the last of our long garden hoses. Getting that chore done while still being able to wear a T-shirt outdoors in October is a rarity.

It’s so odd to know the warmth is ominous for the planet while it is also making it more comfortable to work outside this October.

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Written by johnwhays

October 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

Spider’s Nest?

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There is a corner of our large paddock where the grass has grown pretty tall that I wander by frequently when pushing the wheelbarrow during manure management duty. I recently came upon what looked like a well-shaped hole formed out of the surrounding grass, almost like some burrowing animal was making a nest.

Being a person with no interest in getting surprised by a snake, I am hesitant to make close inspections in areas of tall grass. I didn’t see anything obvious at the bottom of that hole in the grass from my safe distance of slightly leaning forward.

A couple of days later, the hole seemed even more well-defined, and this time, there was an obvious occupant present.

Looks like a garden spider to me.

Does anybody know if the spider might have created that “hole” or is it more probable she was simply taking advantage of an excellent location somebody else had already made?

If it wasn’t the spider that made that nicely rounded nest in the grass, was it a bird or maybe a rabbit? Seems like all the birds around here prefer to make their nests in and around the barn ceiling and eaves. If we still had chickens, I’d expect to see that hole filling up with precious eggs, based on past experience.

I think it was the spider, but I have no idea if that is even possible.

Anyone out there have knowledge of the capabilities of Argiope aurantia?

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Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2021 at 6:00 am

Calling

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Written by johnwhays

July 18, 2021 at 7:46 am

Orange Rust

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It’s a sad year for our wild black raspberries. An outbreak of highly contagious orange rust disease has infested many, if not all, of the brambles that are scattered about our property. It’s the first time we’ve faced this calamity in the nine years we’ve been here.

The devastating thing we’ve learned about this disease is that it can’t be cured. The infected plants must be dug up or killed. Before moving on to a different stand of plants, the tools need to be cleaned to avoid spreading the disease to healthy plants.

The thing is, the spores spread in the wind and we’ve already seen evidence of infection in so many places that it feels rather hopeless to assume we still have plants that aren’t already infected. At the same time, we don’t have much choice if we ever want to have black raspberries again. The fungus doesn’t kill the plant, but there will no longer be any flowers or fruit.

Part of me wants to just let nature take its course since that’s how the multitudes of berry brambles showed up in the first place. Easy come, easy go, as they say. But Cyndie has been making the most delicious black cap jam from the bounty of fruit we were finding the last many years, I’m finding it hard to face the possibility that might come to an end.

I’m also lamenting the addition of the unexpected chore of hunting down and digging up the infected plants when there are so many other tasks needing attention.

One consolation I am going to cling to is the fact we have recently planted some red raspberry canes that our daughter, Elysa, brought from her house (originally transplanted from my sister, Mary’s plot!) and orange rust does not infect red raspberries.

I know Cyndie can make a worthy raspberry jam out of red berries, and I’m willing to adjust my desires out of necessity, but oh, that black cap jam was somthin’ else!

Dang orange fungus.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Chicken Thoughts

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It was a good question. What are we going to do differently to protect our new chickens this time? When I heard myself answering, I realized how little in-depth thought I have actually given the subject.

Are we doing them justice by raising them amid the same risk of predation that decimated all our flocks before? I’m not sure.

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Cyndie has dubbed them the Buffalo Gals and the Rocketts in reference to their origins.

My primary reason for wanting our chickens to free-range is for the service they provide in controlling bugs. I’ve also discovered how much fun they are as companions and that they convert the things they find to eat into amazing eggs.

I’m not against considering ways we might dissuade such frequent attacks on our flock as we recently experienced. I will put renewed effort into staging my trail cam in locations where I might capture evidence of visiting predators to give better confirmation of what we are dealing with.

It feels a little like our efforts to constrain water runoff and control erosion or prevent excessive sediment where we don’t want it.

Nature does what it does. Our best successes will come from finding constructive adaptations instead of entirely stopping things we don’t desire from happening.

Imagine the predation phenomena from the perspective of the flies and ticks that try to survive on our land. They are under constant assault from chickens.

Our chickens face threats from their natural predators. We’ve decided to not confine them to fenced quarters that would make it harder for the fox or coyotes to kill them.

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Today, we hope to clean up the coop and try making some modifications to accommodate housing more birds than ever before. The Buffalo Gals will be moving to the coop soon. That will allow us to get the Rockets out of the basement bathroom and into the larger brooder tub in the barn.

We will give our chickens the best life possible for their time with us. Past demonstrations have shown their natural instincts help them control their own destiny up to a point. Their life here will not be risk-free.

For the time being, I guess we are demonstrating we are choosing to accept that.

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Spring Erupting

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It is fascinating to witness what a couple of days with temperatures in the 80s unleashes in the natural world. Between the heady gusts of wind randomly battering us throughout the day, the myriad sounds of emerging frogs are woven into the songbird whistles on top of a persistent snapping and cracking of pinecones gradually, but steadily, opening.

New buds are appearing on tree branches and ground cover plants are sprouting tiny flower blossoms.

Cyndie reported that our neighbor to the south was out on his lawn tractor, appearing to mow the grass. I am not surprised to learn he is already out on his machine, as he mows more acres, more often than anyone I have ever seen. I just don’t know how he found any grass tall enough to cut yet. Our grass doesn’t look like it will be ready to mow until tomorrow or the next day.

Rain is forecast for the rest of the week and temperatures are expected to moderate. That will only pause the explosion of growth unfolding before our eyes for a moment because the water will hydrate thirsty plants and launch a monumental next phase of greening to our surroundings.

Seems a little odd that a frog would seek shelter from some rain, but Cyndie found this little guy hanging out under the recliner in our sunroom.

Is that some sort of hint about how wet the next few days will be? Maybe how cold it will get?

No matter how nice and warm the last few days have been, it is always in the back of my mind that we received 18 inches of snow on the 2nd & 3rd of May in 2013. Nice weather today is no guarantee it will continue through the rest of spring.

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Written by johnwhays

April 6, 2021 at 6:00 am