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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wolf Moon

this is the first full moon of the year.

Wouldn't you know it, we have rain coming so the clouds are moving in and enveloping the radiance of this once in a year/ first of this decade/ moon.

The intense light of the moon combined with the shrouding effect of the clouds creates a surreal light where everything appears distorted.

An innocent cattle trailer by day looks slightly sci/fi in the moonlight. Its metal bars resembling a prison.

A boring hay trailer is transformed by a trick of light into looking like a giant three fingered metal claw

The woods leading to the back 80 where the coyotes howl look deep and mysterious.

and on "Dead Fox Hill" the moon appears to hang itself on the dormant branches of winter.

Some interesting facts about the Wolf Moon,

This being the first full moon of 2010, it is also known as the wolf moon, a moniker dating back to Native American culture and the notion that hungry wolves howled at the full moon on cold winter nights. Each month brings another full moon name.

But why will this moon be bigger than others? Here's how the moon works:

The moon is, on average, 238,855 miles from Earth. The moon's orbit around Earth – which causes it to go through all its phases once every 29.5 days – is not a perfect circle, but rather an ellipse. One side of the orbit is 31,070 miles closer than the other.

So in each orbit, the moon reaches this closest point to us, called perigee. Once or twice a year, perigee coincides with a full moon, as it will tonight, making the moon bigger and brighter than any other full moons during the year.

Tonight it will be about 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter than lesser full moons of the year, according to

As a bonus, Mars will be just to the left of the moon tonight. Look for the reddish, starlike object.

Full Moon Craziness

Many people think full moons cause strange behavior among animals and even humans. In fact several studies over the years have tried to tie lunar phases to births, heart attacks, deaths, suicides, violence, psychiatric hospital admissions and epileptic seizures, and more. Connections have been inconclusive or nonexistent.

The moon does have some odd effects on our planet, and there are oodles of other amazing moon facts and misconceptions:

A full moon at perigee also brings higher ocean tides. This tug of the moon on Earth also creates tides in the planet's crust, not just in the oceans.
Beaches are more polluted during full moon, owing to the higher tides.
In reality, there's no such thing as a full moon. The full moon occurs when the sun, Earth and the moon are all lined up, almost. If they're perfectly aligned, Earth casts a shadow on the moon and there's a total lunar eclipse. So during what we call a full moon, the moon's face is actually slightly less than 100 percent illuminated.
The moon is moving away as you read this, by about 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) a year.

photo by David Haworth

Thursday, January 21, 2010


A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do, right?

This has been one of those rare times when I am living completely on my own and "The Hub" is out of town. "Handsome Son" is still here to do the heavy lifting but I am convinced (in my mind if not in reality) that he couldn't possibly make it without my help. So I get up extra early and help (get in his way) put out hay and drive cows and whatever else I can find to do of the annoying helpful variety.

Our Arctic blast of 10 days ago was replaced by a few brief days of sunshine quickly followed by the diluvian conditions of today.

Trust me, when you wake up to a concrete gray sky at 7am and turn on the weather channel only to see see a big red spot (never mind the green or the yellow)headed right toward you on the satellite map, you re going to get rain.

Boy did we!

By noon my front yard looked like this as I sloshed my way home

standing water covered my brick path and more rain was on the way.

Just one problem...

Having been on my own for a few days, I put off my most dreaded chore, grocery shopping. After all, I just had to feed me so I have been eating eggs the chickens lay (ran out of bread a few days ago)and saltine crackers with peanut butter. Heaven! But one of those cravings has been slowly building and with the dark and the wind and the rain it became more than a craving. It became a "have too".

My favorite thing to eat in all the world on a rainy day.

Campbell's Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich for dipping.

Only problem was I had just one of the ingredients to create the fantasy meal I craved, the cheese.

The grocery store still was a Nemesis I wanted to avoid but there IS a mini mart just 3 short miles away from where I stood at my front door.....

staring at this

Part of me wanted to just eat the rest of the saltine crackers with some mustard and call it good.

The other part of me screamed and demanded soup with melted cheese and toast like a tyrannical three year old.

The 3 year old won.

I jumped in my car.

I drove.

And yes, I'll admit it, I grocery shopped at the Jiffy store.

That can of Campbell's and loaf of bread was singing my song!

Three miles back home, still raining

aah, envy this!

But wait!

A grilled cheese sandwich is only ready when the melted cheese slides out of the toasted buttery bread and on to the cast iron griddle with a sizzling sound.


I enjoyed my steamy tomato soup and crispy grilled cheese while I savored my now placid lakefront view.

I have always wanted to live on a lake.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Three Dog Night

In addition to being a famous rock band, the phrase "three dog night" has a story behind it. Supposedly, the band took this name after reading a magazine article about indigenous Australians, in which it was explained that on cold nights they would customarily sleep in a hole in the ground whilst embracing a dingo, a native species of wild dog. On colder nights they would sleep with two dogs and if a night was especially cold, it was a "three dog night".

We have been having a run of "three dog nights" here. A week of temperatures that plummeted to 15 degrees at night and barely crept up to freezing at the height of noon. It hasn't been cold in that sustained kind of way here in 20 years. So of course, even though we tried to prepare, some things just cant be prepared for. They just have to be lived through.

We didn't lose a single animal. From fish to fowl to horse to cow. Every single one did fine. The odds kept sliding from being in our favor to being more out of our control as the days passed however.

On day 6 the coyotes showed up.

The coyotes are hungry too.

This of course kept our dogs very busy. Lots of dashing out in to the night barking.

Two of them never came home till morning where they showed up limping and exhausted.

Beating the coyotes back away from their perimeter.

In the freezing cold.

They had a Three Dog Night.

and the next day when the weather eased its icy grip they were ready to partay (sleep) in the sunshine.

I had to shoot these pictures through my winter frosted living room window because opening a door (or the slightest unusual noise) would have put them back on full "alert"

Blue (the mastiff) is willing to take the first shift of staying awake and alert while the others sleep....

soon it is Emmy's turn to stand guard so Blue can catch some shut eye...

Its just too hard for Emmy and she says "Oh heck - I am fallin for this sunshine, its back to you Blue!"

"Alright fine," says Blue. "Everybody knows I do most of the work around here anyhow..."

But wait! Whats that? His head is up but upon closer inspection....

his head may be up but he is on guard with his eyes closed!

and that my friends, is how you have a Three Dog Day after you have a Three Dog Night~

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Roses and Salt

This rosebush is one of my favorite things on the farm. It was planted from a clipping and is now over 10 feet tall and 30 years old. The nicest thing about it is the smell. So many flowers have no smell anymore but no one has told this rose bush that!

The roses are not just on the surface either, this rosebush is like "The Little Engine That Could " merrily blooming prolifically all through December, hundreds of roses all throughout the bush. At any place on this bush, I could just shove my camera inside its boughs and come up with shot after shot of roses in every stage from tight buds to rich full blooms.

Many times this bush has bloomed its way all through winter and into the following spring, impervious to the fact that seasons exist.

This was not to be one of those winters. After the coldest weather in 20 years and with record breaking lows of 15 degrees, the rosebush is drastically showing what its endured.

rosebush one week ago:

rosebush today:

All the remaining roses hang downward

buds frozen as solid and hard to the touch as acorns.

Left alone they will fall to the ground. Picked, they can continue to be enjoyed. The rose hips can be dried and steeped in hot water as a tea. Not only do they contain loads of vitamin C but even better they are a good vegetarian source of essential fatty acids. Here is a simple and basic recipe for spiced rose hip tea,

4 or 5 rosehips and 4 whole cloves

add piping hot water

a generous drizzle of honey

and enjoy ~

As for the actual petals there are recipes for everything from rose oil to rose water. I chose a simple basic bath salts with roses.

A jar, rose petals, some fragrant oil (or not) and some type of sturdy salt.

I used rock salt. The type used for making ice cream in a churn. Epsom salts would be nice too since this is for a bath.
Start with a layer of salt as a base and then layer petals and small amount of oil (if using) the salt will preserve the petals and they dont have to be dried first.

An easy way to enjoy the beauty of roses indoors.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Today was warm(er) and filled with sunshine.

The horses and cows basked in the liquid gold flowing down from the sky.

The air had that rare and unique clarity that only such harsh weather followed by a sunny day can provide.

Its always a good sign when the cows lay down and warm themselves in the sun instead of standing up to keep away from the cold ground.

The calves flourished in their makeshift tent and even discovered that the walls that surrounded them were edible!

"Whats this stuff I wonder.....I think I'll taste it...."

"wow! thats really good"

Its always a great day when you find out that something you thought was just a structure is actually edible. Kind of like the bovine equivelent of a gingerbread house!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

-D.H. Lawrence

I worry about the birds right now. Florida is where they come to escape the most frigid blows of winter. What happens when all that cold follows them here?

I ventured out today (while the daytime temperature hovered at freezing) to see how the animals were faring.

I had noticed this cute little hole in the bottom of an oak tree two nights ago. There were little tiny eyes in there glittering in my headlights.

Now in the light of day, I wondered if there was any little creature in there. I was afraid to get too close..

this was too close apparently!

I heard a rapid clicking teeth chattering or old typewriter keys. I know owls make that noise to scare people away but do owls nest that close to the ground? I don't know. Possum maybe, or raccoon? Whatever it was, it scared me enough that I almost tripped over myself backwards getting a respectful distance away.

Checking on the fish was an after thought I had as I walked by. They live in the water trough quite self sufficiently, feeding off the droppings of hay and grass from the horses mouths when they take a drink.

For the first time in 20 years, the trough had a film of ice over it. At first, I thought the fish "herman", "ariel" and "batman" were dead. Then I noticed that they were moving ever so slightly, keeping themselves keeled in the water way down deep.

How long can they live with ice coating their surface? Again I dont know, so I gently break the ice up with a twig. The fish start to rise, maybe they think the motion means food... "herman" is the biggest and he gently floats almost to the top with the chunks of ice floating just above him.

So much for being a tropical fish, huh "herman"?

The horses look ok. This one especially has made a custom nose warmer out of an ordinary bale of hay. How clever is she?

The littlest baby calves get kept warm by their mamas but the ones just above that level present a problem. Normally, they are kept in little round pens with their fellows and get grain water and milk. But this weather is way to cold for what is normal.

So we did this. We fashioned a horseshoe shaped barrier to block the wind from the north, east and west.

We filled the interior space with calves each in their individual pen with their grain and water. Then we covered the entire lot with a humongous tarp.

Once the sun peeked out we rolled back the tarp to let the sun warm the calves.

peekaboo you!

This calf told me this was her first time tent camping and she is hoping for "smores" when they camp again tonight.

I was so impressed with how well the "tent" worked and how the calves are thriving in spite of the weather. Now on to their bigger sisters....

These cows do not want me near their hay! As I tried to get near them, I could swear I heard one of them say "Whatch you talkin' 'bout Willis?" I was afraid to take one step nearer. They have circled the wagons...that is T.H.E.I.R. hay and if I want some hay I can find my own!

"Alright, alright," I say backing away! "By the way, have you meet the chattering teeth dudes in the tree? You all have a lot in common as far as defending your space - just sayin..."

The bigger cows are more blasé as they enjoy their routine lunch date together,

in spite of that one guest who just invites herself and eats like a bird. Socially awkward, but what are you going to do?

On to Dead Fox Hill, which yes, gets its name from the time we found a dead fox laying right at the top. It was perfectly preserved so it most have frozen to death one night. It looked like it was older and maybe the cold was just too much for its old self one night. It was as magnificently preserved as any taxidermist could have made it, just laying alone there at the top of the hill. Therefore the name.

Nothing that awesome at the top of the hill today except this,

Somethings had a meal here in the last day...

On the far edge of the farm, the honey bees are silent. Normally there would be buzzing and activity hovering above the bee condos. Not today. They are all tucked in.

This is the furtherest remote edge of the farm. The spot where what we tend and care for meets a 600 acre forest.

What animals are out there, surviving on their own?

It is mow midnight here and 17 degrees.

Stay warm everyone.