There’s Something Fishy About The Woods

March 31, 2009

I decided to meander around in the woods after the flood waters receded, just to see what might have been left behind.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the woods was the Trillium is finally up and blooming! 

Trillium cuneatum

Most of the buds aren’t fully opened yet, but these are some of the first flowers around here to welcome spring.

Whippoorwill Flower

This particular variety, Trillium cuneatum,  is also known as Whip-Poor-Will Flower, Cuneate Trillium, Large Toadshade, Purple Toadshade, Bloody Butcher, and Sweet Betsy.  That’s sure a lot of different names for one little plant!

Nearby there was some Virginia Springbeauty (Claytonia virginica) blooming.

Virginia Springbeauty Flowers

These little flowers pop up all over the place in the woods.  Of course, after the flood waters had been through, they weren’t the only buds in the woods.

Bud Light

Nestled among the other flowers, there was a special metallic version known as “Bud Light”.  It’s frustratingly long lasting in the woods, and the only flowers that appear with it are the blooming idiots who consume a little too much of this bud’s nectar.

I don’t know if this particular denizen of our woods tried any Bud Light, but he was certainly laid back.

Box Turtle - Male

In fact, this male box turtle was totally unconcerned by my presence and happy to pose for pictures.  How do you like those bright red-orange eyes?  That’s what makes it easy to tell this turtle is a guy!  (The females have brown or light orange eyes.)

He was wandering near yet another patch of flowers, some Yellow Trout Lilies, also known as Dogtooth Violet.

Trout Lilies

They’re another one of the first wildflowers to bloom around here come spring.  They are such a pretty bright yellow, and look particularly cheerful after the drab browns of winter.

Trout Lily

Supposedly, this plant is called a TROUT Lily because the mottled leaves resemble the patterns seen on trout fish.

But these weren’t the only fishy things in the woods.  Oh no.  You see, along side one of my regular paths in the middle of the woods, I found a fish.  Yep, that’s right, a fish.  You want proof?  Here’s a picture:

Fish in the woods.

See, told ya!

At first I thought it was dead, considering the flood waters were long gone and there was only a little puddle of water left underneath it.  However, when I touched the fish, it moved!  Whoa! time for a rescue operation – get it to the creek quick!

I tried scooping it up with what little water there was, but the fish was unimpressed with my rescue efforts and flopped out onto some leaves.  Now here’s where I wish I had someone following me around and taking movies of some of my misadventures.  I mean, surely ONE of them would go over well enough on Funniest Home Videos to win the big prize!

Just picture a chubby old lady chasing after a little fish flopping all over the fallen leaves in the middle of the woods.  I picked it up several times, but it was a slippery little devil and would manage to get loose once more, and there we’d go again… fish flopping, me hopping.

Finally I sandwiched it between some leaves to hold it fast and ran … well, stumbled really, as fast as I could to the creek, trying to get there before the fish ran out of air.  I’m not sure which one of us was gulping for air the most by the time we made it to the creek.

Despite the prolonged lack of water, after I deposited the fish sandwich in the creek it wasn’t long until the fish was swimming off.

Fish in creek.

I took two pictures in quick succession, but by the second one he (she?) was long gone!  (Do you suppose he’ll tell his buddies about his remarkable experience when a strange alien plucked him out of the woods?  Maybe he’ll even appear on the Fishy Springer show on Small Fry TV!)

Since we were by the creek, our Farm Collie decided it was a good time to wade right in.

Farm Collie in creek.

Toby loves playing in water no matter what the temperature is!

As you can see here, the flood waters left a lot of debris.  All kinds of leaves and stuff caught in the branches of this fallen tree.

Tree fallen across creek.

On the bank nearby, I found a black plastic milk crate which I carried back to the feed shed.  I even found something to carry in it on my way out of the woods.

Yes, there was one last interesting thing Cast Away by the flood waters:

Ball by creek.

Like Wilson, this ball was washed to shore. I think it needs a name. Should it be another Wilson or something entirely different? It’s generic, with no name imprinted on it anywhere.  What would you call a little mini-basketball left behind after a flood?

What with spring flowers, stranded fish, a turtle and cast away basketball, this was definitely one of the most interesting walks in the woods I’ve had in a while!

Flooded Creek

March 27, 2009

Rain Gauge

There seems to be a lot of rain falling all over the country.  We’ve had a bunch here lately, but at least we don’t have to worry about the record level flooding of the Red River like the folks in Fargo, North Dakota, and on into the Manitoba, Canada, area do.

Nevertheless, we still got a lot of rain a little too fast, and by yesterday morning the creek that runs along one side of our property was flooded. 

It backs up a lot when it gets to the culvert/bridge just down the road from us.  There’s just too much water and not enough space for it to run through!  The culvert also gets clogged with debris, and that constricts the water flow even more, and it has to go somewhere.

Flooded creek and pond.

The Farmer decided to check out the flood waters before he left for work and walked down as close as he could get to the bridge, then headed back.

Flood waters over the bridge.

Thankfully, since the bridge is past our driveway, we don’t have to worry about flood waters over the road when we want to drive somewhere.

However, The Farmer was worried about the flood waters getting into his pond.  When it was built, they made a high bank on the side closest to the road, hoping to prevent that.  So far it had worked, but he decided to check it out.

The Farmer looking at the flood waters near the pond.

It almost worked this time, but in a couple of spots there were trickles of water flowing into the pond.

Water flowing into pond.

There wasn’t enough water to worry about, but we’ll just have to see what happens next time we get a lot of heavy rains.

When the creek floods, the water also backs up into our bottom pasture and flows through the adjacent woods.

Flooded field.

As you can see, the water runs over the fence line, which is why we have an electric fence there.  It’s easier to fix when the fast waters tear the wire away from the posts, or the debris just flat out breaks the wires.

The ground was so saturated with water, the earthworms were bailing out everywhere.  The grass was polluted with them, and I could barely walk down the driveway without stepping on one.

Earthworms on driveway.

The guineas chose to stay high in the treetops, even though it rained on them all night. 

Guineas in treetops.

Of course, I wouldn’t accuse guineas of having an excess of intelligence.  They obviously don’t even know enough to come in out of the rain!

All this wet weather makes our Maremma LGD (livestock guardian dog) look pretty ragged since she’s all white.

Muddy Maremma/

She probably looks like a lot of folks in dangerously flooded areas feel – a little rough around the edges.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’re done with the rainy weather, so time to hunker down and wait it out!  I’m just thankful we got the basement water-proofed a couple of years ago, so I no longer have to spend hours and hours with a shop vac trying to drain the rising pool of water in the basement!

I guess there’s a silver lining in every cloud after all.

The Joke’s On Us!

March 1, 2009

After numerous times this winter of hearing the weatherman tell us we might get snow and nothing ever happened, last night we kind of laughed off all predictions of the white stuff.  After all, we got through December, January and February without much more than a few flakes, so the first of March would seem pretty safe, right?

Wrong!  The joke was on us when we got up this morning and there was snow swirling around in gusty winds, and even a layer of snow on the ground.  Amazing!

Church services and other Sunday activities screeched to a halt as closing after closing scrolled by on the tv and computer screens.  The animals hunkered down in their sheds, not sure what to make of so much white stuff carried around in wicked gusts of wind.

The sheep, being the hardy souls they are and protected by a nice layer of insulating wool, were the first to stir out of their shed once the weather cleared a little.

Sheep in Snow.

A few of the guineas also ventured out, though the strong wind made things a little precarious. This guinea was hanging on for dear life while the fence swayed back and forth.

Guinea on Fence

After fixing some blueberry muffins for breakfast, I got on my layers of winter clothing and ventured out into the cold, cruel world.  Once all the animals had feed, hay and water, I figured Toby and I needed to take a walk in the woods while we had an opportunity to take pictures of so much snow.

Going into the woods.

Now I’m sure our northern neighbors are rolling their eyes at my definition of “so much snow”, but remember, it’s all relative!  And to us, this much snow is relatively lots!

We walked back to the creek first thing.

Creek with snowy banks.

From there, I looked across at the neighbors woods.  It was obvious to see which way the wind had been blowing from the snow plastered on the sides of the trees.

Snowy Trees

The snowy creek banks lent a bit of softness to the scene we don’t often see.

Creek and snowy trees.

It didn’t last long however.  It had obviously stopped snowing by the time I went out walking, and by the time Toby and I got out of the woods the sun was shining brightly.  There was a hawk flying high overhead enjoying the better weather.   (At least I suppose it would rather have sunny skies, but maybe it was just looking for dinner.)

Blue skies with hawk flying.

The daffodils in the yard were in the shade and still surrounded by snow.

Daffodils in Snow

Now when I look out the windows, I see bright sunshine, and just a few little patches of snow left behind here and there in the shade.

Mother Nature’s snowy joke didn’t last long!

Looking for Signs of Spring

February 12, 2009

We had a fair amount of wind yesterday, and a few showers.  This morning the weather was lovely, so Toby and I went for a little walk in the woods.

Almost as soon as we got in the woods, we saw new plant growth.  That’s a nice sign spring is on the way!

New plant growth.

There were also signs of wind damage, with a smaller tree blown down across the creek.

Tree Fallen Over Creek.

It will probably be swept away the next time we have enough rain for some high water.

On the way back towards the house, I noticed lots of patches of bright green grass, already growing 4 or 5 inches tall.

New Grass

Hey, I know it’s just grass, but it’s green, and it’s growing! That sure looks like a sign of spring to me.

Speaking of things that are growing…

Llama Lady.

Looks like to me that our lovely llama diva has a more rotund mid-section than usual. Sure hope this isn’t just wishful thinking and there’s a little cria growing in there! Her due date is April 1st, and I would love to see a healthy little one arrive on time.

That would be a GREAT sign spring was here!

Continued Cold in The South – That’s My World!

January 19, 2009

Mother Nature seems to have forgotten an important premise… it’s supposed to be relatively warm in the south.  Yes, it gets pretty cold in the winter sometimes, but it’s usually brief, and usually not much below freezing.

Lately, we’ve had much colder weather lasting for longer periods of time.  In fact, according to our local weatherman, we’ve had the coldest temperatures there’s been here in 6 years.  Me, I hope it’s at least another 6 years before it’s this cold again!

When I walk out to the mailbox, there is ice on the pond beside our driveway.  A little ice around the edges happens now and there most winters, but this much ice is too much!

There are lots of cardinals here that must brave the cold, cruel world for food and water. Here was one in the tree beside the birdbath.

However, the heater in the bird bath can’t keep up with the continued cold weather and let some ice form.

Even the birds can’t believe all this ice everywhere, and look in disdain at the icy water in the birdbath.

What’s with this?

When I walk out the back door and see the tub on our back porch – said porch having solid walls on two sides I might mention! – I see even the tub garden has a skim of ice on it.  I’ve never seen ice in this tub before.

There’s even a little iceberg forming where the water hits the surface.

After I’ve been out and done chores, I often go for a walk in the woods.  Even there, things are weird.  For instance, the creek has crusts of ice here and there along the sides.  With the swiftly running water, there usually isn’t any ice on the creek.

The shallower water in some of the sloughs is totally frozen.

And strangest of all, the ground is crunchy. That’s right, when I walk through the woods, my steps make crunching sounds.

That’s just wrong. The ground in the south is supposed to be dry and hard, or maybe wet and sloppy, but it is NOT supposed to be frozen and crunchy.

Just take a close-up look of our crunchy ground.

Ice, my world is full of ice, and that just isn’t right!