October 2010


Bella and the big gray

Jolie stepping from the old pen to the new

 

The Flemish Giant and little Bella
met twitchy nose-to-twitchy nose
then Bella went on the attack.
The gray Belgian
took off
and they raced around the large
hay-strewn corner of the barn
that is their new pen.
We were surprised that Bella
was the aggressor.
She had been kind of sedate before now.
It was Jolie,
the bigger rabbit,
that took after Bella
the one time they were together.

Bella continued to chase after the big one
from time to time.
Jolie,
when she finally negotiated her way out of the smaller pen,
got into a hair-flying tossle with Bella.
They scrambled and wrestled with each other
quite awhile
before ending it.
No one seemed to be hurt.
Then Jolie took after the big one too.
She makes quite a thumping sound
with her large paws.
Everyone eventually settled down –
Bella against the south wall,
the grande gray one nestled into the straw on the west side
and Jolie back in the cool earth
where she had been nesting in the smaller pen.
That was their introduction.
They’re back in their individual hutches for the evening.

Community-building
is interesting.

A Flemish Giant
arrived at Turtle Rock Farm
this morning.
She’s gray,
six months old.
Big feet,
big ears,
which she’ll evidently grow into
in the next 18 months.
Her new home is a giant pen
in the barn.
Flemish Giant rabbits
are gentle and easy to handle.
We hope our guests enjoy
being with this beautiful creature.
And we hope Bella and Jolie,
the rabbits who already live here,
enjoy her too.

Things are just a little wacky
at the moment.
The pecan harvest is in –
but instead of the old days
when you strolled in crispy fall leaves
and picked them off the ground
in the chill of late November,
raccoons and deer and squirrels
scarf them up
as soon as the green pods open
and reveal the nut.
For humans to harvest any,
we have to get in the trees.
For us,
that means standing on the back of a pickup truck
pretending we’re deer.
We have found very few on the ground
and if we want any
we can’t wait for them to fall.

Last night,
the most laid-back animal on the farm,
our dear Maizey,
suddenly started chasing all cats
from the porch.
This has never happened before.
This morning,
during breakfast,
where cats and dogs share a space in the barn,
she was growling at them
and driving them to higher perches.

The offspring of a mamma cat with a stub for a tail
has now grown big enough to see its tail:
It’s about half a tail long,
with a crook at the end,
and then a stub.

I opened Persimmons
this morning,
to check inside the seed
to see what kind of winter we might have
(a fork indicates a mild one; a spoon, a wet one; a knife, an icy one.)
I opened four persimmons
before I even found a seed.
(Not quite completely formed,
it looks like a spoon to me,
even though Farmer’s Almanac says
our winter will be mild and dry.)

A pear tree has produced
an abundance of pears,
but they have no pear flavor.
Fortunately,
the Winsaps are plentiful and delicious.

I have yet to see a Red-tail Hawk
flying over this patch of prairie
or sitting on a fencepost.
Yesterday, I saw one about five miles away,
so I’m hopeful.

The Red-Winged Blackbirds
that flew in a few weeks ago
I’ve not seen lately.
I have noticed a Cardinal or two.

Mockingbird has started singing
(thinking it’s spring??)
We had rain last night –
cracking thunder
and a spring-like light show.

This fall has been so beautiful
and I have soaked in it,
a healing balm.
Yet,
I’m feeling a little discombobulated
as I notice the changes,
the out-the-ordinary.
So it is a comfort this morning
to see a moth I’ve never seen before
on the front porch.
That is “normal.”
And, Hairy the Cat,
unaffected by Maizey,
has returned to the front porch
and sits alongside.

 

 

First Pecan Harvest

 

Yesterday
Ann drove down to the pecan grove
to see if the Twig Girdlers
were at work there.
These little beetles have been chewing circles
around the tiny branches
of the pecan trees around our houses
and she wanted to see if they
were in the pecan grove too.
She only saw one twig
laying on the ground
with the telltale girdling.
That was good news.
But she was in for another surprise:
the pecans are ready to be harvested.
Already the deer are busy harvesting
these beautiful Paper Shells.
And the racoons may be helping.

Too, it was good news
that the Paper Shells have no tiny holes in them:
the weevils did not make it up the trunks
and passed the sticky stuff
with which Ann and Tanner
banded the trees.

It seems early for a pecan harvest,
but who’s to say
since this is the first year the trees
our dad planted in his later years
have produced the delicious, sweet meats.
He tended this grove lovingly –
grafting, transplanting, thinning.
He visited and observed it carefully
several times a week.
He died just a little over a year ago
so this first harvest is a poignant one.
Dad was a laid-back kind of guy.
He didn’t get overly excited
about very many things.
But we see
even from afar
his face
beaming.

Dad in Pecan Grove

Dewy Spider Web Among the Winesaps

…we must protect the remaining wild lands, especially in our cities, because we desperately need the companionship of other species. We need them for pleausre, for instruction, for inspiration. We need them to recall us from the frenzy of our lives. We need the birds, butterflies, frogs and snakes to help us monitor the health of our home places. We need the trees and other plants to purify our water and air. We need wild lands as reminders of the natural cycles and deep time out of which we have evolved and on which we depend. These untrammeled spaces offer us relief from the hard, temporary, sometimes ugly shapes of human constructions. They serve as reservoirs from which other parts of the city and countryside might be repopulated with wild creatures. They give us a chance to glimpse the shaping intelligence in nature, to sense the ultimate mystery from which all things rise, and to align our lives with that power.

Scott Russell Sanders, A Conservationist Manifesto

Morning Sun On the Prairie

It’s hard to describe
perfect days.
One wonders if one should.
But it seems important
to take them in,
to absorb
and soak
and enjoy
and appreciate.
After an extreme winter
with its cold and blizzards
and an extreme spring
with its floods
and historical hail falls
and an extreme summer with heat indexes
that wouldn’t let up,
it is especially
important work
to notice
and spend time in
these golden days of
a perfect autumn.
Clear, crisp, cool air,
golden sun lighting golden trees
and only a slight – the softest – breeze.
The beauty is relentless,
the quiet, profound.
Quiet,
perhaps,
because we’re in between spring’s lyrical bird song,
summer’s sizzling serenades
and the happy chirping of winter.
(The Red-Winged Blackbirds are arriving
and singing
but not in great masses yet,
so we don’t hear them much of the time.)
Even the butterflies,
orange and black flutterings,
seem more silent than usual.
Deep quiet
clear light
and strong shadows
have descended
like an exquisite balm.
Take in as much healing
as your heart can stand.
Let the days
slay you.

Foggy October Morning

We had rain the night before,
fog the morning after.
Hard to know where to look first:
at the big vistas
with the trees on the big pond
silhouetted softly in gray
or at the dewy spider webs
with their droplets
like crystal beads.
Looking closer
at this orb spinner,
a droplet
dripped off its abdomen,
down its leg
and into the grass.

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