Friday, September 20, 2019

The Lads Are Back!

Or, probably in this case, lasses. It's been a while since we've seen the turkeys. But I walked up the lane the other morning and 

...there they were, on the neighbour's immaculate lawn.

They didn't hang around. Meanwhile, this little salamander was trying to cross the road. Sadly some of his friends had been squashed but I hope he made it.

I'm never quick enough to get a good picture but here are some Canada geese flying south - or west in this case. Another perfect V passed right over my head, so close I could hear the rush and beating of their wings, not to mention their purposeful honking.

Autumn is fast approaching, despite the fact that, with all the rain, we don't seem to have had a summer.  The goldenrod is taking over everywhere.

The neighbour's pond is rippling with autumnal breezes.

The wildflowers getting ready for tapestry time.

And in the garden, the evening sun shines through the fir tree.

This is about as good as the garden's got this year.

It seems the deer didn't eat all the garden phlox. Just most of them.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Chipmunk Grand Design

You've got to hand it to the little stripy fellas -they're nothing if not resourceful.

While we were busy cooing over them and handing out peanuts on the front porch, they were up to something of their own at the back...
  The first thing we noticed was a suspicious amount of debris around the oak tree.

Odd - it hadn't been all that windy. A closer look showed empty acorn hats - much of the contents had disappeared.

 Later, we heard the sound of plopping and the end of a branch mysteriously shaking.

The chipmunks were having a relay. One shinning up the oak tree to nip the twigs with their acorns and send them falling onto the grass, another coming down. "Go on Harry, it's your turn, bite those twigs son!"

And around the tree on the ground, the rest of the family were busy collecting the spoils.

 Aren't we clever!

 Somebody's going to have a good stash for the winter. Never mind that our oak looks as though it survived a hurricane. And it's not just ours.

 This was the scene around a neighbour's tree up the lane.
  Not content with tunneling our lawn into a swiss cheese, they're out to get the trees now. Little darlings.

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Prickly Visitor

 Dateline: Cattaraugus Country, western New York state

What on earth will be next in the wildlife circus we live in?

The handyman was working on the outside of the house when I heard a shout and he burst in through the screen door, white as a sheet,
  "There's - there's some kind of animal out there........

........and he's heading straight for where I'm working!

"Do you think - could it be a porcupine?"
 "Yes",  I said - the Brit to the lifelong western New Yorker -  "that's definitely a porcupine" And I added optimistically, "Don't worry, he won't hurt you."
 Then I started to have second thoughts. "Don't go too close in case he shoots his spines out!"
 "No he won't!" Hubby had emerged behind the house, "That's a fallacy".
  "But what about the neighbour's dog? He turned up at the door looking like St Sebastian shot through with arrows."
  "Well he was probably trying to bite the porcupine. The spines have barbs so they get stuck."

I wasn't about to get close enough to find out. But the handyman had downed tools until such time as the new visitor left.  I grabbed the hose and tried a gentle spray. Mr Tiggywinkle turned and looked at me, "You cannot be serious!" and waddled slowly, very slowly under the bush right where the handyman was working.

Hubby tried the same trick on the other side. Very nonchalantly, the porcupine emerged again and waddled down the hill and out of sight.
  Last week we had family staying,  including a tiny rescue Yorkie.  I do not want to think of what could have happened there.
  Still, the porcupine, with his little beady black eyes, was quite the charmer. Though we'd prefer he didn't come back too soon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


  We waited until dark. On one of the few nights when it wasn't raining. Then hubby announced grimly, "That's it - we're going in". He carried the petrol can; I had the matches. And the torch. As the searchlight swept the flower bed, hubby slung an almighty slosh and I struck a match with a gung-ho flourish. It broke.  So did the second one. And the third. "Defective weaponry!", I cursed. Finally, on the fourth attempt, as our helpful commenter (see below) had so graphically described, there was a sizeable "Woosh!" and flames leapt upwards. We stood back to gloat on our handiwork.
  The next morning we inspected the scene. There was unavoidable collateral damage - the rudbeckia and the garden phlox slightly singed. There was a small black patch in the flowerbed. And all appeared quiet on the wasp front. We congratulated ourselves on a successful operation.
  That was last week.
  Yesterday I walked past the patch to have another gloat. I heard an ominously familiar sound. Two wasps were jauntily celebrating their survival. I blasted them with what was left of the spray.
  Today I walked past again.  Three more of the brutes whirled around,  defiantly buzzing the wasp equivalent of "Remember the Alamo!" You've almost got to admire them.

Monday, August 26, 2019

One Red Leaf

The geese are on the move. Here are a few of them waddling across someone's foggy front garden.  And they've been flying overhead in their big V formations, ready to go south.

 Oh and here's a deer crossing the road. You need to look very carefully - or just take my word for it..

 And here's what looks very definitely like the first red leaf. OK it's only a sumac - they're a bit impetuous - but still.. And it feels as though we haven't had our summer yet. Hardly two dry days in a row and the garden's still boggy.

 They'll be bringing the snowploughs out next.

Meanwhile we're still struggling with the wasps' nest in the flower bed (see below). We've now tried one kind of spray twice, another kind four times - with hubby valiantly getting up before dawn when they're supposed to be asleep. Today we tried ammonia - a friend's suggestion. But all these efforts have only invigorated them. This afternoon they're buzzing around like whirling dervishes on speed. More and more of them too. I think it's going to have to be the flamethrower. Goodbye the only flowers they deer didn't eat.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

More Mysteries of the Lane

The lane in the morning fog certainly looks mysterious enough.

A ghostly landscape from which almost anything could emerge. The other morning two deer were picking their across through the whiteness. Sadly a pickup truck came up behind me and scattered them before I could take a picture.  It's a mystery all right where all these pickup trucks are going in the early morning.

The cloud formations are haunting enough, even on the rare fogless days.

 There's the mystery of the abandoned open mailbox at the end of the drive of a seemingly abandoned house.

The wood of an old barn, overgrown by the forest.

 A derelict shelter under an ancient apple tree where children, long grown and gone, once waited for the school bus in the snow.

But this  was the summer's biggest mystery.  In the distance, I spied a pale patch in the long grass.

A path - for deer or humans?

Leading to the patch, which turned into a carpet.

And then, even more mysteriously, growing out of the rutted mud,

More flowers.

Flowers that looked as though they belonged in a garden.

Gallantly springing up in the middle of nowhere

Not weeds but flowers fit for a bouquet

What were they doing there?

How did they get there?

Is the answer mundane or magical? Do we really need to know? That's the lane.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Bleepin' Beeping

Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York state

 There can be few things more ominous than this type of sign

Or more annoying than the beeping you get from reversing lorries aka trucks. The other day we had a whole symphony of them, working on patching up the road surface. Truck after truck heading up and down the lane and each with its own musical (sic) pitch. In our hilly country you can hear them echoing all over the place which makes it ten times worse. Here's one going past the end of our drive. I believe it's the same one they attach a snowplough to in the winter.

And here's the lane partly finished. For once they were reasonably quick about it.

Our tax dollars at work as hubby would say. They seem to have done an OK job if they would only lay off the beeping. Elf and Safety again.
  Though one thing I never understand about this part of America. They spend all summer digging up roads and patching potholes and the next spring it's just as bad and they start again. The charitable explanation from hubby is that the freeze and thaw sequence in the winter wreaks havoc with the roads and then there are all the heavy trucks cutting up the surfaces. I say that the Americans have many good qualities but they are nowhere near as good at building roads as, say the French. Plus they take ages over it.  One tiny bridge took about five years to finish and the motorway to Buffalo is in a perpetual state of cone-inflicted chaos. You'd think someone would invent a better way. Or perhaps there are too many vested interests in the local road building business looking for their annual windfall.