We had our first official work day at the farm today. There were twenty people there in all. That including two pre-teenagers, although they definitely did their fair share of work. I think people generally had a good time and we got a good amount done. Clearing the inside face of the dam was something that way way overdue and Ted’s crew handled that with the help of the new Stihl pole saw. My crew worked in the overgrown orchard. It’s been so long without being cleared that it’s not even obvious which trees should be there and which are weeds. That will be easier once the leaves are out. We made a really good start, cutting huge multiflora roses and other small shrubs and some trees that I was sure about. Meanwhile, Dorothy’s crew worked in the cabin and did an amazing job cleaning, especially upstairs.
Dorothy has planned a work day for Saturday at our property in Pennsylvania. The two of us went up today to look things over and to make sure we were ready for all the volunteers. It was a beautiful day, although cool. There was still a little snow on the ground in sheltered areas but that should be gone shortly.
The witchhazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) is in bloom, which I really like. There were also a few small irises coming up and getting ready to bloom and in the woods there were a few large patches of snow drops that were in full bloom. So, while most plants are still in winter mode, there are a few that get an early start on the year. But I particularly like witchhazel, with its somewhat unusual orange, red, or yellow flowers. I think it should be grown more than it is. A foretaste of spring.
When I was helping Dorothy take pictures of the farm’s produce a week ago, Janis gave me this amaryllis to bring home for us to enjoy until it is finished blooming. It has huge, double flowers and it’s really amazing. This is the third bloom and it’s going strong. When it’s done, Janis asked that we bring it back so she can tend it for next year. What a treat. We grown them fairly regularly but don’t generally get a better flower the second year. This one has clearly been treated right.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went for a walk in the local park this afternoon. In the winter I have to look a bit more for things to photograph but there’s generally something if you take the time. There was a time I didn’t care for the fact that some trees keep their dried leaves on until spring but I’ve come to enjoy beech trees, especially when the winter light is shining through them. That’s not the case here, but with the smooth bark of the tree and their nice texture, I still like them. It’s one of our best native trees and they’re very common in the woods. I large beech tree is an impressive sight.
We met some friends at Violet’s Lock on the C&O Canal and went for a walk with them, heading southeast on the towpath. It was a cool day, mostly overcast, but it was really good to be outdoors. We didn’t seem herons as we have recently but did get a pretty good view of this black vulture (Coragyps atratus) flying overhead. This outing was mostly to visit with our friends, and I only took a few photos but I’m pretty happy with this one. Vultures are not most peoples’ favorite bird but they have a beauty of their own.
On the first of January we stopped at this little park owned by the Lake Wiles, Isaak Walton League. We came here again today with Dorothy and walked around the pond again. It was raining both times we visited but I suspect we’ll come again on a nice spring or summer day and it will be a little different. The island in the pond has a sign that says “Lake Wiles”. It’s a pretty place and the trail connects with the Muddy Branch Trail, which goes all the way to the Potomac, apparently.
When I looked out the back door this morning I saw this trio of eastern white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the yard. The appeared to have been there some while and were quite comfortable. They were only marginally concerned when I came up to the door and there were even pretty cool when I opened the door a little to get a photo without the glass of the door involved. When I stepped outside they stood up but I was half way across the patio before they calmly and quietly wondered off. They’re much too comfortable for my liking.
We went for a walk today and I took a very few photographs, including a few of ice along side the path. It’s melting and everything is very wet and cold but there are already signs of spring. Snow drops are coming up and before long there will be witch-hazels (Hamamelis) in bloom. Winter won’t be over for a while yet but the first signs of spring are already staring to appear.
Dorothy is working on the web site for Rocklands Lifestock Company, the meat and egg business of Rocklands Farm. One thing she needed was product photos. I took the day off work and met her at the farm and we took a nice assortment of photographs. Food photography isn’t necessarily my thing, but I’m reasonably pleased with how they turned out. We’ll have to do some more, but it was a good start. And I love any chance to be out at the farm. It’s beautiful even in winter and of course, being in the country is almost always better than being in suburbia.
In the preceding post, dated February 10, I said that we like to seem wildlife in our yard. Then I made an exception for deer. Today, we had a few eastern white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the yard. I can’t tell you how much I’d love to get out my bow and arrow and shoot them. But I won’t, because that would be illegal. I actually know someone who once did that, shooting from his upstairs bathroom window. He didn’t have neighbors behind his house, backing on a park. Wrong, but pretty awesome at the same time.
This isn’t a great photo but since I’m not taking a photo a day, I have fewer to post than I did for the last ten years. The photo was taken through the glass of our kitchen door and with a mere 100mm lens, so it’s less sharp than it might be. Still, it was a nice view of the bird and we always enjoy wildlife in our yard. Well, almost always. We’re less excited about deer, which can be fairly destructive. And rabbits. Once it gets a bit warmer we’ll have lots of rabbits. But we love birds of pretty much all kinds and are especially happy to see foxes (and even more so if they eat the rabbits).
Still catching up on old photos from the winter. It seems weird to be posting pictures of snow when it was nearly 90°F yesterday, but that’s the way it goes. This past winter was pretty mild and we didn’t really have a lot of snow. Writing this in the first week of May, I know how the rest of the winter went and it did seem more like winter in February and and March than it had in December and January. We even had a freeze in the second half of April, although it didn’t do as much damage as the late frost last year, which was even later.
These rocks are south of Pennyfield Lock on the C&O Canal. The photo was taken on the same walk as the previous one of the great blue heron. It’s an HDR composite photo made from three images taken with different exposures. This allows the camera to capture more detail in the shadows and highlights than it would normally be able to do. As amazing as our modern digital cameras are, they still have a ways to go before they can handle the extremes of light that we take for granted.
We walked on the C&O Canal again this afternoon, returning to Pennyfield Lock but walking southeast instead of northwest. We saw three herons including one in a tree over the canal and this one, wading in the water. It seems like a good time of year for them and it’s particularly nice to see them as close as this. The trees are all bare, of course, which makes things in the trees easier to see. It was cool out today but not cols, so a really nice day for a walk.
In addition to the bird track picture, I thought I’d share this sunset picture from February 3. The color was all low in the sky, so had to be seen through the trees, but I think it’s a striking enough color that it’s worth posting. I’ve gone through all the pictures I’ve taken from late January through the first week of April and pulled out those I’m going to post and will try to post two or three a day until I’m caught up. I have more still on the camera that I haven’t processed yet, as well.
We had snow overnight and today and this evening there were lots of bird tracks on our back patio. It was getting dark when I took this, so it’s not as nice as it might have been, but there you are. Also, it feels strange posting this almost three months late, with temperatures in the upper 80s this week. But, it was cold when I took the picture and that’s life. I have ore than 30 pictures to post before I’m caught up.
We went up county today and to the border with Howard County. This photo is of reflections in the Patuxent River, which here is the boundary between Montgomery and Howard Counties (taken from the Montgomery County side). We were on Annapolis Rock Road and stopped where it crosses the Patuxent. A little further along we found the parking area for Annapolis Rocks, which we’ll return to at some point. It’s a really pretty area and one we’ve never been to before.
We’ve had a vase of tulips on our dining room table for a few days. Obviously they are a little past their prime, but I find them quite pretty even in this state. It’s more about color and form than about them as flowers qua flowers. I think I could have done a bit better to eliminate the background from this. Perhaps taking it with a black background would have been better. But, it’s what it’s, as we like to say.
We went for a walk on the C&O Canal this afternoon, heading northwest from Pennyfield Lock. We saw a few great blue herons Great (Ardea herodias), including this one who posed for us very nicely. It was a lovely day and really good to be outdoors. The canal is nice, especially a little ways out from Great Falls Tavern, because it’s open and there aren’t a lot of people. More people than on some trails but not so many it’s a pain, trying to keep our distance from everyone.
Cathy and I went for a walk at the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park today. There’s an area with old farming machinery on either side of the road and I took a few photos there. I’ve always liked machinery and sometimes think mechanical engineering would have been a good career choice for me. If I had been a better student when I was a student, it might have been possible, even. There’s not much use playing the What If game, though, I suppose.
Note, I generally try to post photographs at least reasonably close to when thy were taken. In mid January I ran out of space on one of my hard drives and it’s taken me until mid April to get the new one installed (laziness, mostly). It’s finally up and running and I’ll see what I can do about getting caught up. Thanks for your patience.