A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chasing Rainbows

I was out for a walk a couple of days ago (more on that, perhaps, in a later post), not long after some rain showers had cleared. Looking up in the sky, I saw a faint rainbow.  Nothing spectacular, but the first one I can remember seeing since I moved here last August.  Depending on where I stood, it looked like it was landing in the church across the street or in a little slot in the trees behind the elementary school.  It was a little brighter than this in person; the camera seems to have washed out some of the color.

Merry Half-Christmas!

Today is June 25...exactly six months until Christmas.  I decided to break out the holiday lights and leave them up for a couple of weeks or so.  Why?  Why not!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Road Construction

It's an exciting week in Freeville - Main Street is being re-paved.  When I moved here last summer, I figured that the road was due for repaving before long, and it's good to see it being done.

Today was the beginning of the beginning of the milling process - stripping off the old asphalt surface.  This will be completed tomorrow, and then I assume that the road bed will be leveled on Wednesday followed by laying the new asphalt surface later this week.  

Above is the machine that does the milling, with tank-like treads and a forward chute that discards the stripped asphalt into a dump truck that slowly leads the way.  Throughout the process, men stand alongside each machine, making sure that the operation stays in sync.  In all, there was plenty of help on hand:

After the road surface is milled, another vehicle comes along to smooth out the stones, and later, I saw a street sweeper smoothing the surface and removing the dirt for the cars that will be using it over the next couple of days (didn't get a picture of it, though).   Can't wait until the road is done!

Videos: Deer in the Yard

Here are a couple of videos of deer in the yard.  Above, I was standing maybe 20 feet away from a fawn early in the morning, and neither of us was sure what to make of the other.  Below, I took this video from inside the house of a deer making it way through the yard, and helping to trim the grass.  I don't think the deer is interested in doing the whole yard for me, though...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Solstice Sunset

Friday was the summer solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year.  From now until late December, we'll be having just a little bit less sunlight each day.  It also means that the Sun reaches it farthest point north in the sky.  I wanted to take some pictures of the setting sun, hoping that the views would be good, and I was rewarded for it.  How'd you like to live in this house?

The Sun had settled into a little slot in the willow tree, setting the tree ablaze with light and making for a pretty spectacular photo op. 

Of course, with the Sun low in the sky, the meadow across the street was spectacular as well:

As the Sun approached the horizon, some clouds low in the sky to the north-northwest became awash with color as the Sun passed below them in the sky.

The camera has a hard time doing the scene justice.  In the photo above, the sky is full of color, but the many shades of green in the foreground are washed out.  In the photo below, the sky is somewhat less spectacular, but the contrast between different trees and shrubs is more pronounced.  In reality, I could see both at the same time...truly breathtaking.

I had one last glimpse of the sky before the Sun bid us farewell for the night and began its slow return to the south.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Foggy Dawn in Freeville

Yesterday morning, I was still awake, finishing a video for my newborn nephew, when I looked out the window and spotted a doe in the backyard.  I went over to the patio door to take a picture, but the doe scurried away.

Noticing the mist, I figured it would be a good morning for pictures of the creek, and it certainly was...

As I was on the dock, I heard a weak "eep" coming from above me.  I turned around to see this:

I wonder if this is the same fawn that I saw laying in my wildflowers a week or two ago.  Not wanting to startle the fawn too much, and knowing that the doe might be not far off keeping an eye on the situation, I stayed on the dock to take a downstream photo:

I turned around again and the fawn was out of sight, so I climbed the stairs to head back to the house, and the fawn was still in the yard.  We had a staring contest...like his/her mom, this young deer is very good at them.   I also shot a short video of the fawn, which may make it onto the Tube of You sometime in the future.  I'm sure this won't be our last encounter.

A New Video

I found out not long after midnight on Tuesday that I had become an uncle.  I stayed up all night finishing my latest video, a birthday gift to my nephew.  It includes some of the best animal photos I've taken over the past nine months or so, since I started this blog.  I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Staring Contest with a Deer

 I was sitting in my living room just a few minutes ago when a young doe came along and stopped right next to the patio.  I picked up my camera a took a couple of photos, and my movement attracted the attention of the deer.  She stood there and stared at me for a minute or so, then turned and fled for the safety of the yard.  But then she turned around and stared back at me again: 

 Then she turned again, and it looked like she was going to run away.  But curiosity must have gotten the better of her, and once again she stopped, turned back toward the house, and pawed the ground as she stared back at me yet again. 

I'm guessing that this doe is two or three years old, recently independent of her mother, who appears to have just had another fawn, which I discovered in my yard last week.  I'll be keeping my eyes open for all of them over the rest of the summer.

Removing an ugly, dead shrub

In the side of the yard, there's a dead old woody shrub that I've been wanting to remove since last fall.  I finally got around to it yesterday.  As you can see, it was pretty ugly, and it was in the way of a young tree trying to grow.

I trimming back a few of the outer branches (see below), then as I began to saw one of the main trunks, I realized that the roots weren't holding very well, and I was able to yank it out.  

Now it looks much cleaner, and there's a very strange-looking young tree:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pulling out some raspberry shoots

Today was a beautiful day in Freeville, so I found some time to get outside and do something productive in the yard. I went back to the wildflower area and removed some raspberry plants, tearing up their crowns and underground runners as I went (see above for a particularly well-established shoot that I unearthed).

What might have seemed to be a perfect patch of wildflowers (above) often had one of these pernicious raspberry plants mixed in somewhere.  The sunlight highlights one of these nicely in the photo below.

This particular crown has been around for a few years, as you can see by the old bent-over canes in the photo below.

An ant's-eye view of the old canes and the new shoot:

After I dug it up with a shovel, here's the underground growth that I was able to extract.  I pulled up a few feet worth of an underground runner, which is looped around the crown area from which new shoots grow.

I didn't spend all that long outside, but I managed to dig up a few raspberry plants, and making a bit of a mess in the process:

But it's good that I got the work done today...we're expecting an inch or two of rain tomorrow into Friday, so I may not get back outside until the weekend.

Close Encounters of the Animal Kind

After a close-up experience with a young fawn over the weekend in my backyard,  I had another run-in with a young animal today, this one a red-tailed hawk.  As I was walking en route to an errand this afternoon, I hear the unmistakable, screechy call of a young red-tailed hawk.  The call kept getting closer and closer, and finally I spotted a hawk on top of a nearby building (above).  I knew that this wasn't the hawk that I was hearing - it was too far away - but I moved off the sidewalk to get a picture of it with my phone.  In the meantime, someone had come up behind me, and when I turned around, she asked why I hadn't taken a photo of the other hawk.  "What other hawk?"  "The one directly above you."  So, from the building, mom or dad was keeping an eye out for the kiddo, while I was recklessly standing right below it.  I got a quick picture, then moved along, before I was dive-bombed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fawn by the Lawn

A couple of days ago (this past Saturday), I had a few minutes to kill while I waited for dinner to finish in the oven, so I went outside in search of something new to take a picture of.  First, a dragonfly landed on my shoe, so I got a shot of that (above).  Then, I saw a butterfly on a shrub next to the house, and it stayed there long enough for me to get a picture of it:

I decided to take some pictures of the wildflowers, because they might not be around too much longer:

But then I looked more closely and saw an unexpected visitor:

The fawn was just laying peacefully, hidden among the wildflowers.  When I approached to take a couple of pictures, it didn't flinch; it didn't move.  It just lay there keeping and eye on me.

I have never been so close to such innocence in nature, and there it was, right in my own yard!

The fawn wasn't the only thing looking particularly beautiful on this day.  The whole world looked particularly brilliant, despite the cloudy skies.  The creek had risen due to heavy rains on Friday:

And the leaves of the trees are slightly different shades of green (note the fake buck next to the fire pit):

The fawn was still there, while mom was off foraging:

From farther away, you wouldn't even know it was there:

I re-arranged my living room furniture so I could keep an eye out.  I had seen a fox in the yard just last week, and I was determined to protect the infant deer.  According to Wikipedia, fawns lay hidden all day for about the first month of their lives.  I'm guessing that this fawn was maybe two weeks old...or less.  It probably wouldn't know what to do if a sly fox came along.

At one point, the deer got up for a stretch, and I saw a brown smudge amid the wildflowers:

And later, Bill the groundhog stopped by to see who was trespassing on his grounds.  That must have been an interesting encounter:

As dusk settled in, I wandered outside, looked around for mom, and after not seeing her, I took a peek to see if the fawn was still there:

In the photo below, you can just make out the spots of the fawn toward the right of the photo.  I didn't use the flash for fear of startling it.  Coming so close to take a few pictures is risky enough, not knowing where mom is.

By the next day (Sunday), the fawn was gone:

But its bed was still very much in evidence.  I saw the fox later that afternoon...maybe he'd caught the scent of my visitor...but he had no luck on this day.  The doe was one step ahead.

And in the early evening, she made her way across my yard on her way back to wherever she'd left her child.

And finally, one last shot for you: