Monday, September 26, 2011

The Golden Month

We have had exceptional weather this fall. After a cold wet summer, we have been treated to a few weeks in September that has been wonderful. Although the valley below me did see frost at the beginning of the month, this year it has spared me up on the hill long enough to let my gorgeous Mammoth Russian sunflowers come into bloom.

They are now about 10 feet tall, so tall that they are impossible to cover, although one night after dark I went down to their garden and tried to fling sheets over them to protect them from frost. After decapitating one, I managed to clip sheets and towels around the others from the neck down and left them standing like a group of ghosts not knowing what to do at a party.

The geography here is characterized as Aspen Parkland. That means we have some boreal forest mixed with aspen, poplar, birch and maple, set within grasslands. Look at the natural beauties of fall within these deciduous forests. These are wild areas. Look at the variety of colors!

Here the ripe barley has a backdrop of wild color. There is a cougar living in our valley which is rarely seen. I met a man last month who said his dog came back after going missing for four days with its ear ripped off and four huge gashes along its side. The vet who gave the dog 60 stitches said it was probably a cougar that was responsible. I'm a bit more careful now on my walks in the back. Cougars have been known to attack riders on horses if they happen to be above them. They are so stealthy that they are difficult to avoid, though I'm sure they prefer to remain hidden in the trees where there are plenty of deer and other wild game.

The maple tree in front of my house is covered with so many seed pods that it appears to be yellow.

In the last few weeks I've seen many snakes and salamanders. The weather has been warm, so they've been active, along with the larger dragonflies who show up in late August, replacing their smaller cousins.

Notice that the end of the rainbow is in my barn. Maybe there is a pot of gold there, under all the llama manure. I guess I'll find it when I do the fall cleaning in October. Lucky me!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Here are some beauty shots from the end of summer.
These water flowers are growing wild in the dugout:

Big Kylie loves to wade around in the pond to cool off.

Here are some of the babies from this spring with their moms. It's comical to watch them play on the hills.

A few weeks ago I went to the Ellis Bird Farm, which is a beautiful bird sanctuary near Lacombe, Alberta. It's definitely worth a visit if you love being out in a beautiful park full of birds, gardens and ponds.  The day we were there they seemed to be setting up for a private function on the lawn by the old barns.

They have a teahouse in the old farmhouse,

 and a good interpretative center that highlights the species of birds, bats, and other creatures you might encounter.  It has some butterfly gardens by the doors.

This beaver is helping keep the ponds full and has his home near a bridge at the Farm.

This little fellow was friendly and curious.

I made this birdhouse for my sister's birthday. It's called "the Victorian Gardener". It has four nestboxes for swallows, but we'll see who nests there, since my sister lives in the city where there are few swallows. I built it from reclaimed plywood and iron and cedar barnboards.

A goshawk was perched on my back fence. We have many species of raptor here this year. Goshawks are not as common as red-tailed hawks or bald eagles, it was definitely the first picture I've taken of a goshawk at my farm.