The Homestone

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer visitors on the meadow

 Some of our summer lovelies
of the four legged and winged varieties.
 Pine Siskins
 and the occasional hummingbird :)
 Evening Grosbeaks
Our Doe and her Fawn

 Great Blue Herons

 Rusty Blackbirds
 Red-winged Blackbirds
Right now there are lots of babies on the meadow.
The Grosbeaks are bringing their little ones to the feeder now, introducing them to the
never ending supply of sunflower seeds.  The Red Winged Blackbirds have little ones and of course it's flight school for the swallow babes.
A truly delightful time of year...
Well,except for the hungry mosquitoes!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dandelions On the Menu

David ... and our Dandelions again ~ 

with his promise fulfilled to collect a few pics of the various critters in our yard that eat our dandelions. Were we to spray our yellow flowers to make the perfect green lawn, we would poison or kill the food supply of quite a few different animals and birds. Let's start big ... this Grizzly loves dandelions and we're sure glad because we would not want to end up on the menu...



and this family of black bears is so pleased to find this salad bar in the relative safety of our driveway, I say relative because that is exactly the same place as the grizzly pic was taken.

Groundhogs love dandelions,
as do chipmunks and rabbits and deer

Yellow headed blackbirds seek out just the right one in the closed position and bite all the seeds at once from the side.

and Pine Siskins pin them to the ground to make a meal of them one at a time. They prefer them in the parachute stage. 

And so it goes ~ enjoying all these critters and birds is worth every minute of the work we do to maintain a healthy ecosystem on these 48 acres and it's why we encourage and promote dandelions wherever they occur.
And we humans of course can also benefit greatly from the lowly dandelion.

We worked with Danny and Casey on their rings earlier this year. Casey and I were chatting about Dandelions and she kindly sent me her process for making Dandelion oil which I'll share here: (Thanks Casey)

- Pick the dandelion heads, then lay them out over some towels for about 24 hours.  I didn't do this the first two times I made it and after some more research I found someone's suggestion to do this as it reduces the amount of moisture in the dandelion which can then decrease the chances of the oil going rancid. - fill a 2L mason jar or glass bowl about half full with dandelions and then pour a blend of olive oil and grape-seed oil over top.  But I agree with you, almond would also be lovely, I have also used apricot kernel oil.
- Let the dandelions sit in the oil, in the sun for two weeks.
- Strain the oil
- I add arnica oil and essential oils, that assist with circulation or pain management as this enhances the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the dandelion. 
- Keeping it in the fridge does help keep it fresh and useable.
Casey says that she's had many people say it helps relieve pain in minutes, especially those with injuries or arthritis.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Late May on the Meadow

We've both been keeping the camera discs full these days, and David took some time to jot down a bit about what's going on.

Spring on the meadow is full of new life. The birds are paired and scattered to their chosen nesting spots. Every birdhouse is full and beaks poke from every swallow hole. We have ten pairs of Evening Grosbeaks this year at the start of the season, so we are hoping to have a flock of thirty+ come September.

A very familiar Doe put in an appearance and posed for a few photographs before she made her way down the meadow. She was especially approachable and I think she was in labour. I saw her on the middle meadow a short time later, and she was in the same area she birthed last year. There are a lot of bears around right now, so I hope she is able to find her safe spot

Meanwhile, Mr Marmot is looking ... He seemed to want to get into the dandelion debate and ate a few while we looked on, commenting on their virtues I guess ... He is such a handsome devil, but on the edge of his territory. No girls have ventured onto the meadow yet and so he has to be content to pontificate and dream. And eat ... and sun himself ... and visit with the humans. Life is good ... !!!

We had a late evening reservation at the dandelion salad bar. It took a while for everyone to show themselves, so we assumed that it was the same bunch that were here last week. It turns out that this is a different sow and her four cubs! She must be very comfortable here because while she is quite aware of our presence, she purposely left her cubs on the driveway for a moment to check the harvest around the corner .. then rejoined them.
We were losing light, and I wanted them to look in the direction of the yard, so I disturbed them enough to get their attention and then got some pics of the procession as they made their way down the driveway toward the front gate

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Tall and The Small

Sandhill Cranes and Hummingbirds on the meadow.  Here on the meadow we see our Sandhill's in pairs, or groups of four or six.  "The sandhill cranes bugling calls are unique and can be heard from miles away. These tall, gray-bodied, crimson-capped birds breed in open wetlands, fields, and prairies across North America.  Mates display to each other with exuberant dances that retain a gangly grace."
"Sandhill Cranes are known for their dancing skills. Courting cranes stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air in a graceful and energetic dance."

"Although some start breeding at two years of age, Sandhill Cranes may reach the age of seven before breeding. They mate for life—which can mean two decades or more—and stay with their mates year-round. Juveniles stick close by their parents for 9 or 10 months after hatching.

The oldest Sandhill Crane on record was at least 36 years, 7 months old. Originally banded in Wyoming in 1973, it was found in New Mexico in 2010.

The earliest Sandhill Crane fossil, estimated to be 2.5 million years old, was unearthed in the Macasphalt Shell Pit in Florida."

I believe what we have here is our Rufous Hummingbird however we are always happy to be corrected. : )  "Rufous Hummingbirds have the hummingbird gift for fast, darting flight and pinpoint maneuverability. They are pugnacious birds that tirelessly chase away other hummingbirds, even in places they’re only visiting on migration. Like other hummers, they eat insects as well as nectar, taking them from spider webs or catching them in midair."
All Notes in italics are from the excellent website All About Birds

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hummingbird Arrival

Our newest arrival.  Sunday afternoon; our first hummingbird of the season made his appearance. Very exciting.  By late May and into early September we enjoy well over a hundred hummingbirds at our feeders on a daily basis! It’s absolutely magical.

David is incredibly in tune with our wild birds ~ he observes, listens and communicates with them.  Somehow, he knew it was time! I was sure we wouldn’t see a hummer for a few weeks yet, but David insisted on hanging a feeder about 4 days ago and sure enough, on Sunday afternoon ~ our first hummer arrived!!
Here’s our Sunday arrival on the tree outside our kitchen door that we sometimes refer to as our Christmas Tree because it’s a bird magnet.  During these next few months it’s almost always completely decorated with hummingbirds and other wee birdlets.

For all you fellow bird lovers; May 9th is 'Global Big Day' under the wing (haha) of Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology.  Go birding wherever you are, for any length of time on May 9 and enter your lists in ebird. Here's a link to the Global Big Day 2015 site.   

Their primary goal is fundraising for their excellent work with birds, but May 9th is about finding as many species as possible for the Global Big Day tally and to have a worldwide show of support for the birds! I hope you enjoy your birds wherever you are and if you have some time on the ninth of May ~ please count and record any that you see.