Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rural Thursday: Early Fawns...

Usually we collect the game camera cards every week, but we were a little tardy this week. We wanted to get them all cleared off in time for the fawns to start showing up. They're usually born anytime during the last week of May or the first week of June, depending on exact breeding dates. Imagine our surprise to find that there are already at least two little ones who were born by May 15th.

The following pictures were all captured by the same game camera situated in a persimmon grove (behind the camera) that is the deer's favorite feeding place, both day and night. From here they can watch the open pasture or escape pretty quickly into the deep woods.
This little guy is probably at least a couple days old.

And this little guy is a little less steady on his feet, possibly
having been born the previous night.

Isn't he just too precious?

The shot immediately following this one on the camera card shows this one nursing,
but he's mostly blocked by his mama's legs, so I didn't include it.

I'm sure his mama told him to stay hidden while she ran some errands,
but he decided to be brave and get a better view of the pasture anyway.
We know that there are at least two fawns with two separate mothers, because the does have very different coloring in their face and tail areas, and the fawns have a different distribution of 'dots' along their necks.

And even though these two are early, we know there are more to come.
This doe appears pregnant, although she's still tending to her yearling.
This doe is obviously pregnant, too, and looks like she'll deliver twins.
Last year we had several sets of twins born at Le Rustique.
I love the game cameras and the little window they give us onto the natural world of a whole bunch of critters. One thing we've learned from them is that deer are much more actively foraging during daylight hours than we used to think. Another thing that surprised us is that raccoons, opossums and deer will eat side-by-side in the dark of night. We haven't seen a single raccoon or opossum, though, on any of the game cameras since the bobcat meandered through. I do hope he's long gone from Le Rustique now and doesn't come back looking for a little fawn for breakfast.

If you like stories of rural life, head on over to the  RURAL THURSDAY blog hop and read many more.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Barn Charm: The Rest Of The Story...

Omigosh! I got so busy outside all day that I nearly forgot it's Tuesday and time for Tricia's Barn Charm. I've been so excited to tell you this story that I can't believe I nearly forgot to post it. If it weren't for the chigger bites, I'd probably still be out there - so I guess I'm thankful for chigger bites???

Maybe you remember when I posted this open air barn to Barn Charm sometime in March.
A majestic old barn not far from Le Rustique in the heart of
Smallville, between Rosebud & Owensville.
Well a couple weeks ago, Big Daddy made his tractor decision and purchased a New Holland from Rosebud Tractor Company, owned by brothers John and Matt Estes. When Matt delivered the tractor and the all-important implements Big Daddy couldn't live without, he spent a few hours with us talking Tractor 101 and the virtues of brush hogging. And how can you have that conversation without talking about farms?  John and Matt both live within minutes of us where, in addition to running their tractor business, they also raise cattle with their dad on the original family farm.

As soon as Matt described how they can watch 4th of July fireworks from four different towns up on the big hill where the power line runs behind their old abandoned barn, my brain clicked into gear. "That's your barn?" I squealed. [Well, I'm not really a squealer, but I was pretty excited just the same.]

Big Daddy and I told him about Missouri BARN Alliance and Tricia's Barn Charm. And then - Sweet Serendipity, How I Love You! - he invited us to "go on up there and take all the old wood you want, just be careful it doesn't fall down on you, and call John at the store ahead of time so he can alert Dad so he won't have to get off his new toy [a bulldozer] to come check on you."

And of course we took him up on his offer.
We drove up from behind and realized it's even more air-conditioned than we thought.

This door immediately caught my eye, and my mind
began racing for ways to use it  fully intact.

Here's Big Daddy assessing access to the hayloft.

And here's the hay loft, complete with collapsed hay bales and growing grass.
But still, the structure is beautiful to me.

All those reachable gorgeous weathered planks are still pretty
well-protected beneath  tightly secured tin panels.

Another door, more tin panels - and aren't those panels interesting?
And here is why it wasn't possible to start dismantling
tin panels to retrieve those upper planks - the
whole thing might have collapsed on us.

Here is the sum of what we took. There are five doors with rotted
bottoms and a handful of odd-sized pieces of loose wood.

The haul is stacked in our barn. I love, love, love
the color of weathered barn wood.

Five doors awaiting a new purpose.
Of course I had to ask Matt why they stopped using that old barn and why so many Missouri barns like it have been left to deteriorate. His explanations made sense, so I did a little historical research - and to keep this blog from becoming the size of War and Peace, I'll write about in the next day or two.

When I sent my thank-you note, I told John & Matt to call us as soon as the wind takes it down so Big Daddy and I can come help them clean up, stack wood and, of course, get a few of those long straight planks. As exciting as that would be, in my heart I hope the old barn stands in defiance forever.

Linking up with Tricia's

Barn Charm ♥86♥

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Parsley In A Pear Tree...

If you've been following my blog for a while, you've probably figured out that Big Daddy is a bit of a character. And for those of you who are less frequent visitors here, I'll just clue you in right now - the man of the house is a study in contrasts. On the one hand, he's a serious guy working hard to provide for his family, his engineering partners, their clients and employees. On the other hand, he's a goofball whose humor can come at you from various angles - sometimes simultaneously, and sometimes when you least expect it.

He can lay the groundwork for a practical joke knowing full well that it might take months to bring it to fruition, but that's part of the fun for him. When we gather as a family, he always figures out some oddball challenge to keep us busy and entertained (like the recent wife-carry race or blow-dart competition). He sometimes says about himself, "If I had more money, I'd admit to being eccentric," but he's living proof that wealth has nothing to do with eccentricity.

And he loves to put his own words to well-known music. As he did the other morning when I gathered a big bundle of parsley that had survived the winter, but bolted early. As I brought the bundle into the kitchen to wash and chop, he started singing, "And some parsley in a pear tree..." to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas, adding other words and phrases throughout the day. Because he sang it every time he walked into the kitchen, and because I couldn't get the tune out of my head, I decided to make it reality.
"And some pars-le-e-e in a pear tree."

The ground is so dry under this tree that we've been hauling water to  it
in hope that it 's enough to keep  the pears growing.

The first summer we owned Le Rustique, we got a bumper crop of pears from this tree. The previous owners took some, we gave a few boxes away, I made a lot of pear pies (sometimes with onions, sometimes with ginger), and I froze bags of them to use in smoothies all winter long. Last year the tree was even heavier with fruit, but the week before we were going to harvest the pears, someone stole every last pear off the tree. This tree was nearly forty-feet high, loaded from top to bottom (except where the deer could reach in the middle of the night), and suddenly there wasn't a single pear left on it.

After I got over being furious that someone would do that - and could do it out in the open and so close to our house without being caught - I wanted to cry, but I'm too pragmatic for that. Instead, we took advantage of there being no fruit on the tree to give it a long-overdue haircut.
By the time I ran to get my camera, this guy was nearly done giving
the pear tree a good thinning and topping off.
 Sometime this summer, we're installing security cameras, and Big Daddy is going to put a sign next to the tree saying, "DON'T STEAL OUR PEARS! SECURITY CAMERAS IN USE." Can you believe the gall of some people? And how in the world did they manage to pull if off? In the city they steal your lawn mower, in the country they steal your pears???

Linking to Rural Thursday, where the stories and photos from rural folk everywhere are worth a look.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Barn Charm: A Little Help From My Friends...

Okay, I've missed the last two weeks of Barn Charm, but I've had good intentions and even better excuses. So, rather than miss out again this week because I'm having trouble sorting photos for a very special barn post, I'm relying on a little help from Big Daddy. Last week he was driving through Kentucky on a business trip with a couple of his partners, and they were kind enough to gather some barn shots for me.

I love this barn, because it still has evidence of the advertising painted on the end facing the road. And because the advertising is for tobacco - something that is no longer legal to promote in this country, even on the side of your own barn.
Another old barn ready to fall in the next windstorm that blows through Kentucky.
An historical piece of Americana.

Maybe they were thinking, "Let's document the documentarian." Or maybe
they were bored with stopping to let Big Daddy get another shot of another barn.
Linking up with Tricia's
Barn Charm 85
Be sure to stop by there for some great shots of more charming barns.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hello Kitty...

Big Daddy made his weekly rounds of the game cameras we keep in the woods of Le Rustique, and we were stunned to find this shot among the more typical ones of deer and turkey. There appears to be a little more wildlife around here than we first thought.
Well - Hello Kitty! You're up and about quite early at just after 5:00 a.m.
At first we thought this was a juvenile mountain lion, because of the distinctive shape of the head and ears, but the shorter tail, foreleg markings and tufting under the chin make it more likely a mature bobcat. We did send the photo to Missouri Department of Conservation for verification, but we haven't heard anything yet. Anyone else have an opinion?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Great Horned Owl - RIP...

The air in the house felt a little stuffy, but the temperature outside was dropping. A perfect night to open the windows, turn on the ceiling fan, crawl under the covers and get a good night's sleep with both dogs snuggling right in there, too.

Sometime in the middle of the night Big Daddy awoke and thought, "Oh, no. That ceiling fan finally bit the dust, and now I've got one more thing to add to my to-do list." And he went back to sleep.

A while later I awoke and thought, "I wonder why Big Daddy turned off the ceiling fan. It's not like him to get chilled in the middle of the night." And I went back to sleep.

When I got up early in the morning to let the dogs out, I realized we had no electricity. Strange, since the only time we might normally lose electricity is in the midst of a dangerous wind and thunder storm, but the previous night had been dry and calm.

So I used my cell phone to call the power company, anticipating a recording telling me they are aware of the problem and expecting it to be repaired by a certain time. Instead, I learned I was the first to report an outage in my area. And less than half an hour later, a power company lineman was at our house resetting the breaker on the transformer and showing us the reason behind the outage, which was limited to our house - a Great Horned Owl had been electrocuted when he decided to perch right next to that transformer.

He was such a majestic bird. Note the feathering on the right upper side
of his head, which gives the "horned" appearance.
The coloring on his underside was quite intricate. Note how the foot on the left appears drawn in.
His talons show how he was able to grab and hold onto his prey.
Note the zapped talon on the left where mega volts of electricity entered his body.

Here is what he would have looked like in flight. Again, the "horns" over the eyes and the white band under his head verify that he was a Great Horned Owl.
Here is another view of that zapped talon.

This is not the first owl to meet his demise at Le Rustique, but the other incident is a whole different story (saved for another day). Of course we would have liked to keep this owl, but it's against federal law to do so. Since this owl was so freshly dead and also intact (except for one talon), I was certain our local office of Missouri Department of Conservation would want to come and get it. It would make a great educational specimen. Instead, as they did with the other owl, they told us just to take it into the woods for disposal. And so, with a prayer for the spirit of the owl and a hope that he had not been the only one here, we took him into the woods.
We chose  a spot deep in the woods, but not in the densest area, and
we laid his body inconspicuously at the base of an old dying cedar tree.
The good news is that later that same day and throughout the night, we heard more owls sounding their beautiful hoots all around Le Rustique. We can only hope that those sounds are wafting the spirit of our owl to some hallowed land.

One of my favorite books of all time is I Heard The Owl Call My Name, a small novel by Margaret Craven (Copyright 1973). It was out of print for several years, but it's available again HERE. It's a beautiful read if you're interested.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flowers for Leontien...

To Leontien: As you bravely face each day, please know that you are not alone. I add my flowers and my prayers to hundreds more - just for you.

You can follow Leontien's story in her own words at Four Leaf Clover Diary. And please add your flowers for her through the link below as she finds the strength to conquer breast cancer once again.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Walk In The Woods: Lewis And Clark Expedition...

Sometimes if you can just get a kid into the woods and let him do the talking, he amazes you. BumperT did just that recently. When #1Daughter's family last visited, we all went for a walk in the woods as soon as the rain let up. We headed straight to the waterfall, because it's at its showiest after a rain.
Our waterfall. The day before, it was flowing over the rock on the left as well.
By the time this next shot was taken BumperT had announced that we were all going to pretend we were part of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition that left St. Louis in 1804 shortly after ceremonies transferring the Louisiana Territory to the United States.
BumperT, who had declared himself to be William Clark, casually informs BumperK that, as Meriwether Lewis, she was only going to live to be 35. He appointed her the primary scribe documenting the Expedition.

While Clark contemplates the dangerous and swift rapids of the Missouri River, his mother says she wants to play, too. He assigns her the role of Sakakawea and entertains us with tales of  controversy over the spelling and pronunciation of her name, for many years thought to be Sakajawea or Sacagewea.

By now I've been assigned the role of Charbonneau, husband of Sakakawea, close friend of Meriwether Lewis, and  experienced water traveler. Due to the latter, I am invited to accompany Clark on an exploration of a major fork in the Missouri River.

All forks lead back to the main passageway, and detailed exploration slows down forward progress. FaveSIL didn't bring his boots along, so the only logical role for him was as Thomas Jefferson overseeing the Expedition from afar.

As the group senses that they are getting closer to their goal of reaching the Pacific Ocean, members of the Expedition often step away to privately contemplate how this trip has changed them.

Success! We have reached the Pacific Ocean and opened a means of travel across this vast nation.
We know we are at the end because we have reached the barbed wire fence along the property line separating Le Rustique from the grass-fed cattle next to us. And besides that, PapaJ (aka Big Daddy)  has managed to portage the boat (aka the UTV) across perilous territory to pick up the crew and continue the overland portion of our tour.

The next morning, BumperT declared that he wanted to recreate the Expedition once again, because during the night he had remembered other important milestones he could teach us about. And more importantly, he wanted to see if we could find the opposite side of the big deer shed we found the day before (a side story for another blog.)

A smaller crew repeated the fun, but the return trip didn't go so well. Clark brought back a little more of the river this time, and we lost a member of the Expedition to a minor meltdown because we inadvertently laughed when she, too, filled her boots. Ah, the perils of the Corps of Discovery.

If you are ever in the St. Louis area or just want more information, HERE is a great place to visit.

And I'm linking up to Rural Thursday #14
It's a great place to read a lot of other rural stories and see some great rural photos.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Barn Charm: On A Parking Lot...

This barn sits on the back side of the parking lot for a local auction place. The man who drove up in his pickup to see what I wanted didn't appear to be very friendly, and his dogs were barking at me as they came from around the corner of the barn, so I didn't stay to chat and ask questions. Auctions are held next door to this barn twice a month, so maybe I'll stop by then and see if I can sneak a peek inside - with my camera in my pocket.
I'm always intrigued by this barn whenever I drive past, so I finally drove right in to snap a photo.
And that's all I got - just one photo.

Linking up with

Barn Charm ♥82♥

Friday, April 20, 2012

Setting Phoebe Free...

Two years ago, amid the cleanup of the big Gulf oil spill, #1Daughter took Bumpers K & T to New Orleans for a wedding celebration. One souvenir BumperK brought home was a water turtle that had been rescued, cleaned up and placed in a big tank with a gajillion others in need of a home.

The man in charge of the tank must have felt sorry for the little girl who has always wanted a dog, but whose mother is inexplicably "pet-free and proud."  And he gambled that the mean momma who would deny her precious children a dog probably wouldn't object to the opportunity to do one little thing to help out the wildlife rescued from the oil spill. He gave BumperK a turtle, and she named it Phoebe.

Phoebe made a lot of friends at her new home in St. Louis, but when it came time for fun stuff like soccer and scooters, she got left behind. At some point the little girl who finally had a pet-even-if-it-wasn't-a-dog began to think that Phoebe might be better off having friends a little more like herself. So a plan was hatched to set Phoebe free in Pondorie at Le Rustique.

BumperK and Phoebe

Phoebe contemplates her new home at Pondorie.

And before I could switch to video mode, Phoebe jumped right in.
Oh, joy. Mission accomplished. And believe it or not, the mean momma is contemplating a dog once a big remodeling project now in progress at their house is completed. All's well that ends well, right?

Okay, I know it's already Friday, but I'm still linking to Rural Thursday. I had a lot of trouble uploading these photos. I thought it would be better to post a day late than present pictures that were oriented both sideways and upside down. Be sure to check out all the other posts there - you know, the ones that were posted on time. There are always such a variety of interesting photos and stories.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Barn Charm: Rusty Roof and Rotting Wood

I'm beginning to worry about the state of many old barns in Smallville. Already one I photographed has collapsed, and most of the others I've found close enough to the road to photograph (without getting yelled at, as in Debbie's case) are either in dire need of repair or are probably too far gone to benefit from repair. Like this one.
Every building (and car, for that matter) on this property is in similar shape, but the folks who
live there have a number of horses that appear well-fed.
Can't we all come up with a list of a hundred adaptive re-uses for a barn? Maybe we could mail the list to the barn owner whenever we see one that is starting to slip - before it gets to this stage. Got any ideas?

Linking to
Barn Charm ♥80♥
I recommend you take a little time to browse some of the other sites linked up with Barn Charm - 
You'll see a lot of great barns (and some great shots of some no-longer-great barns).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Walk In The Woods: Turtles And Mushrooms

The Missouri box turtles are on the move in our woods, and you can hardly go for a walk anywhere on the property without seeing them right now.
This guy is more out in the open than he'd like, but a turtle has to take a few risks
in order to move from his winter grounds to his summer hideout.

He stood perfectly still while I walked around him and knelt down real
close to his face for this shot. His shell is still dusty, meaning he recently
came out of hibernation in one of our more distant creek beds.
 According to Missouri Department of Conservation this particular turtle is a mature male, hence the brighter coloring on his head and forelegs. (And for the more observant, note the piece of Mozarkite at about 2:00 from the turtle.

The wet-weather or intermittent creeks are running just enough to keep parts of the forest floor damp, a prime condition for mushrooms to form amidst all the decay.

Devil's Urn or Devil's Cup popping up in an area we burned last month. Obviously  these
leaves just got around to dropping recently, or they couldn't be there in that condition now.
I'm excited now, because according to the Mushroom Expert the emergence of Devil's Urn mushrooms may be a precursor to the emergence of morels - which we have yet to discover at Le Rustique even using techniques my grandpa taught me as a kid while spending time with him in Michigan.

When I left the woods and made my way to our yard (Ha! - that's what we call it, because we mow it, but it ain't no real yard - just greener than dirt), I ran across another turtle - this time a young snapper.
This snapper was sassy. No sitting still for him. Every time I tried to pick him up out of the fourteen blades
of grass we own to get a better shot of his armored shell, he hissed and lunged with his mouth wide open.
When I was a kid, my uncle killed a snapping turtle that was "running" after us kids as we played in the backyard with hoses and a kiddie pool. His armor was at least 16" long, and he bit right through a broomstick my uncle used as bait. This little guy wasn't quite 3" long, but he wanted my finger to be his broomstick!

Linking to Rural Thursday...
Be sure to check out a diverse group of rural bloggers
who always have something interesting to offer.
Rural Thursday Blog Hop