Thursday, November 20, 2014

Yellow Paphiopedalums

A few years ago I bought a yellow Paphiopedilum  (aka Lady Slippers for pretty obvious reasons) at the Eastern Market in Detroit - which I really miss going to now. I like my winter flowering plants because they help bridge the gap between the late fall and the early spring gardens. There are also dozens and dozens of native, wild species, spring blooming, yellow Paphs back in the woods near the pole barn.

A migrating white crowned sparrow - not related to the so-called English sparrow which is really a weaver finch native to Africa.

The vegetation is now gone from Nordmark so I currently have a 180 degree view of Lake Huron, which had a thin sheet of ice that stretched out about 100 yards this morning but has melted now. After the surface of the lake freezes, evaporation virtually ceases.  I apologize to the folks who live in Buffalo, NY! Their excessive snowfalls came from evaporation from Lakes Huron and Erie. I want to keep our water here in order for lake levels to remain high!

Most or all of these birds are Pine Siskins.Talk about protective camouflage! You will have to look very closely to see the birds in the last photo! Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wintry Day

The wind is blowing from the south; as yet we've had no accumulation of snow. The feeders are swarming with Pine Siskins - which I thought were immature Goldfinches at first; there are a few Goldfinches though. Several have crashed into the windows but most, stunned at first, recover and fly back to the safety of the trees. There's a black cat that stalks them; don't know if it's an indoor/outdoor pet or feral.

This stunned siskin escaped soon after the photo was taken.

Pine siskins summer further north and winter down here. Their diet is mostly small seeds like thistles, dandelions, wild sunflowers, silphiums, etc. My old sourcebook says that they depend on (now virtually extinct) elm tree seeds in the spring. Remove one species from an environment and that removal affects many other species who depend on it.

I consider myself observant but this delicate, small bird nest, located within 25 ' of the house, escaped my notice all summer appearing, as if by magic, only after the last leaves fell. Perhaps from Goldfinches?

T.J. came this morning and inserted the malfunctioning control panel into the generator and it seems to be working - finally. Lost power for a few hours again last week; this should guarantee that I never lose power again, right?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Port Huron

I haven't been to or through Port Huron for many weeks. My 45 minute trip - each way - for my root canal reminded me of how far I am from those "conveniences". I have to go back to have the antibiotic plugs removed in three weeks. Once the bacteria are dead, the bone should regrow - he said. He used a dental dam to work on the tooth - the best experience I've ever had, dentist-wise. I love it up here so the trade off is worth it. After I got back up to the house, I had to go to the pharmacy in Sandusky, 30 minutes each way, to get pain killers (not needed) and penecillin. (I just heard that people who think they are allergic to penicillin might instead be allergic to the K (potassium) that is used with penicillin. How interesting is that?) I know this will sound strange. I love the drives! The scenery is gorgeous.

The last time I was at TSC (Tractor Supply Company) I bought two bird feeders, one for thistle on the left above with goldfinches attached, the other for sunflower oilers. (My Dad used to call goldfinches "American Canaries". Maybe that's why I've always loved canaries.) I like the metal roofed sunflower feeder; it mirrors the metal roof on the house. The bird feeder Kathy gave me last year is still OK but it has cracked, maybe because of the cold; however, I can still use it. All three are filled and working. I'm amazed by the number (dozens) of goldfinches that quickly arrived along with a few chickadees, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, juncos, a fat and happy black cat, etc.

Again with the sunrises. I love the blue-purple clouds over Canada in the first shot. Clicking enlarges.

David suggested that I move some wood from the piles into my garage so that it is easier to get to later when the cold and snow arrive. Much wiser older brother! We have great conversation - mostly about science but also about politics, religion. It surprises me how much alike we, and his wife Carolyn, are in our opinions. The next time it warms up a bit, I'll move some wood. I love working outside - even in cold weather

It's cold now, below freezing, but so far no snow; that seems to be going further south down to Tennessee, Kentucky, and even Georgia again this year. There is often a very thin layer of ice on the pond now but so far it melts in the sun after a few hours. That won't last. I turned the heat on in the utility room of the pole barn to prevent the water lines from freezing. The water in the pole barn is from a beach well; the house has city water.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I'm not sure what these birds are. Maybe swans. Or egrets? They were too far away to get a good photo of and I didn't want to frighten them off.

I drove to Port Huron to have a root canal on an infected tooth with some bone loss. I'm distracted with pain now but the actual process was pain free - except the pain-killer shot into my hard palate which makes me wince just thinking about it again..

I'm sorry we lost all of our ash trees. They join the American chestnuts and American elms. The logs are all from ash trees.

I appreciate the first few tiny flowers in the spring and the last few small flowers in the fall most of all! I think these are some kind of buttercups.

Clicking enlarges photos.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

I'm going to enjoy today and try to get some running around done because the Polar Arctic Vortex arrives uninvited tomorrow and stays for a week. (Reminds me of a few family visits. Sigh.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Veterans Day
A HUGE Thank You for their deeply appreciated service.

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Early Present

I'm listening to James Taylor and Carole King - easy listening.

Here's an early holiday present (below), wrapped, even.

Can you guess what this is below?

And this?

Freighters on Lake Huron at night.

It's not only sunrises, it's also lovely sunsets.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Shake a Tail Feather

I know the phrase "Shake a tail feather" (from a song) dates me but it fits with our Icelandic Sheepdogs. Our Icelandics are supposed to have both good tails and good temperaments (personalities). They should be shaking their tail feathers when they meet new people or new dogs. Alas, some don't have both good tails and good temperaments yet but with continued good breeding practices, their descendants will!

In this country we are just beginning our journey with our Viking dogs. We have time. It's important NOT to lose the marvelous diversity we've been given in our Icelandics while we continue to show and breed our dogs. As long as we don't remove dogs from the gene pool for relatively less important traits until we have a very large gene pool, their differences will ensure their continued good genetic health for generations to come. Narrowing the gene pool at this early stage in our journey may increase the likelihood of inbreeding resulting in the kind of genetic bottlenecks that have stymied and virtually paralyzed some other breeds.

A man may smile and wish you hail
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level.
- author unknown

Our dogs' tails should be wagging virtually all the time - in my opinion. They should be friendly and happy!

When people get ready to breed Icelandics for the first time, if they have asked for my help, I try to encourage them to list, to actually write down on a piece of paper, the wide variety of the many traits, both biological and temperamental, found in all of our dogs and then to rank them by relative importance - in their own opinion - from more desirable to less desirable. Then I encourage them to look carefully at those traits in their own dogs and, when they are considering mates, to choose mates that complement their dogs matching up weaknesses in one partner with corresponding strengths in the prospective partner to try and have pups that are better than either parent individually. With the small gene pool we have here, that is not easy to do. I'm concerned that a few of us look narrowly when choosing mates. While it's nice to have conformation champions in a pedigree, that title doesn't necessarily ensure sound happy temperament. Using only champions for breeding can be a curse for any breed's genetic future. Does that make sense? It narrows the gene pool almost guaranteeing a future bottleneck. Enough!

Here are some of my favorite Icelandic Sheepdog tails: -


Clicking on the photos may enlarge them slightly. Our dogs' tails are interesting, aren't they? Some are long in length, some short. Some have longer fur; some shorter fur. (I do like a 'bottle brush' looking tail; I don't necessarily 'prefer' it.)  Some tails have a complete circle, others a more relaxed curl. Some have a double curl (which I believe might be good for helping to fix a non-curled tail).

I myself do not have a favorite as long as they fit the standard.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

W. H. Auden

One of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets: -

The sense of danger must not disappear
The way is certainly both short and steep
However gradual it looks from here
Look if you like but you will have to leap

W.H. Auden

The gorgeous moon floating in the night sky. Click to enlarge.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beauty - in the Fall

There are still beautiful sights out there even though it's officially Autumn.

Some Viburnum berries - which will nourish returning song birds next spring; for some reason they are left alone all winter by the birds that stay here year round. Maybe they need to age to reduce something that doesn't taste so good? They are still plump and red in the spring.

I didn't normally feed birds in the winter back in RO because it also encouraged rodents - which used to be kept in check by house cats - nowadays cats are all indoor cats so that they don't get feline leukemia and the rodents' numbers are high. However, I thought I would try feeding the wild birds (NOT House [or English] sparrows and Starlings) like Goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, cardinals, wood peckers, etc. Might give me something to watch. The neighbors who stay here year round have warned me that winters are long. They were in RO too!!! Duh!

This bunch of Queen Anne's Lace, wild carrots, missed flowering last summer. Doesn't matter, they look really good to me now. I've heard that the ancestors of our cultivated carrots which came from the middle east were purple, not orange. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

We had snow flurries this morning in the front yard but the snow didn't last long once it hit the warmer ground, and, surprisingly, no snow made it to the back yard. Must have been slightly warmer and/or more protected there.

It looks like the bee keeper on Maple Grove Road going to Sandusky has picked up his hives from around the thumb and stored them for the winter in one location. It must be easier to watch over them when they are all together. I saw a large flock of wild turkeys around them last week. Were they picking off sweet honey-filled bees?

That's three separate views. I wonder how many bees are in each hive and the total number. Lots of 'em, for sure. The three major crops grown here are sugar beets, corn, and soybeans. Maybe the soybeans are pollinated by bees? Sooner or later I'll find out.

I barbered today and had to listen to the barber and his customers talking politics. Very annoying. I have hated all the ads and the endless analyzing by the talking heads on TV. I do not trust any of them, politicians, that is.

The ads now take longer than the programs - at least the news programs. Am I the only one who's noticed that the teasers, the trailers that run all day and all night to entice people to watch the news and the programs, last longer than the actual news they deliver between the ads and the teases? I know they have to raise outrageous amounts of money to pay the salaries of the talking heads, the actors, and the sports heroes but it's getting ridiculous - just my opinion. Rome again. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Didn't the Romans have loads of trouble with the boundaries of their empire? Didn't they provide everyone with free bread, water, and circuses? Interesting? I highly recommend the books of Steven Saylor who wrote of a fictional detective that lived during the time of the Roman empire. Extremely well done. They should be read in order - which you can find on the internet - of course.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Wild" Buff Orpingtons

Today we saw a flock of "wild" (ha!) Buff Orpingtons scavenging in our neighbor's yard. There is a deep gulley, thankfully, between my northern neighbors' yard and Nordmark. They live in the eastern suburbs of Detroit and do not come up often. The Orpingtons belong to Jeff and Sharon, who live north of those immediate northern neighbors, and who have shared the Orpingtons' eggs with me. Fresh eggs. Yummy. When I first started coming up to my property, the Orpingtons would greet me and browse on extra doughnuts (yes, really) from Lakeport that I brought up for the builders. That seems like years ago now but it wasn't.


There were some fearsome predators who warned me about the invading poultry and were dying to get at them.

Bear, Korpur, Kata

Mike and Deb shared some photos of a great looking hen house with me before I moved. One day I'd like something similar to that house for a flock of Icelandic chickens. Daydreaming?!

TJ came yesterday and worked on the Generac for about three hours before finally giving up. He says he found the problem and will come back next week to remove a part and install a new replacement. Makes me a little nervous, ain't it?

That gave me an opportunity to work on cleaning out some scrub willow bushes on a "little creek" near the Generac leading to my bluff. While doing that I discovered about seven very small, about four or five inches tall and very scraggly, white cedars (arbor vitae) and later transplanted them to Nordmark. White cedars are endangered, surprisingly, because the over populated deer feed on seedlings in the winter and destroy them so that the adult trees cannot repopulate. Those small arbor vitae had been browsed by deer where they were trying to grow. Nordmark, their new home, is protected from deer by the wild predators some of which are in the above photo. There was also a small evergreen. (White spruce or balsam? - I don't yet know how to tell the difference between evergreens but I'll figure it out eventually.) I also moved that to Nordmark. It will be several years before any of the few dozen evergreens of assorted species that I've transplanted into Nordmark get large enough to serve as a screen and as a shield from the winds from Lake Huron. I will enjoy watching them grow and one day a new owner will truly enjoy Nordmark. Meanwhile I get the pleasure of watching them grow.

Two hazelnut bushes arrived and were planted by the pole barn parking 'lot' near three Spirea and three lilacs planted last spring. Such plans! Why not? Indeed. Annette and Fred would understand.

From a book ("Nora Webster") I've just started reading - I'm going to edit - - - - with apologies to author Colm Toibin.

"Wait until you're old - then you'll know. It's the mixture of being content with even the smallest thing - - - - - I don't know what it is. I'm not even tired a lot of the time, and all the same I'm half exhausted if I even stand up."

Well, I'm not there quite yet but some of that fits.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Two Suns

You know how much I love watching the sunrises here! Every single time I repeat my Father's saying, "Red at night, sailors' delight; red in morning, sailors take warning." Of course these days the sunrise is almost always "red" because of world-wide pollution. (I've always heard that it's the particles in the sky that reflect the sun giving the sky that red cast.)

This (above) was what I saw first - then a few short minutes later: -
It started to look other-worldly, like one of those twin sunned worlds from Star Trek.

Of course I didn't believe it so I took more than one photo. They were not photo shopped.

It's probably some kind of reflection caused by ice crystals or water droplets - nevertheless, it was awesome to see.

This one turned out best I think.

Well this morning there were two suns. This really is what it looked like. I wonder what my favorite weatherman, Keenan Smith from Channel 7, would say?