Catching Up - Fall 2017


It has been a while since I've added an update to this web site. I decided I needed to let people know we are still alive.

Why I haven't done recent updates is fairly straightforward. There were relatively few things changing. Of course, we have been getting older and experiencing the hazards associated with that. I had a knee replaced in 2014 with the associated 35 pre and post operative, and rehab appointments. In 2015, Faith had cancer surgery - apparently completely gone now - no chemo was needed. You know: just the normal stuff. We are doing OK.

Now that we are in our 70's, we have slown down a little. Now instead of miles of foot trails on our property, we have upgraded to miles of Gator trails. My poor old lawn mower was wearing out dragging cart loads of firewood in addition to mowing. We bought a John Deere Gator to act as a small in-the-woods carry-all truck. It does very well carrying wood up and down the steep rocky trails.

So, what has changed?


The competed barbeque.


Last summer I finally got around to putting in a permanent barbeque pit. It is sold brick. Of course, that summer was very hot so I was not able to spend much time working on it on any given day - a day that I worked outside, that is. It was about 16 hours of work spread over 4 months. That is what retirement allows you to do with your schedule!

Behind the barbeque gazebo you can see the wood shelter for the barbeque. It keeps the wood dry. We get 12 inches of rain spring, summer, and fall each plus 6 inches equivalent in the winter. A wood shelter is necessary.

The Summertime Pond.


The summer of 2017 was especially good for rain. Locally we did not experience much in the way of flooding unlike other parts of the state. The rain we had was heavy but spaced out enough keep the countryside well watered but not flooded. The grass grew especially heavy. In addition to that, August was much cooler than normal allowing cool season grasses to not go dormant. I usually don't have to mow for the entire month of August. This year I had to mow every 3 or 4 days.

You will probably notice some brown spots in the grass in the photo above. That is thanks to the efforts of our resident feral cat population. They tend to re-use previously peed upon spots. Eventually dead spots develope each year. The grass eventually grows back with new dead spots developing each year. Depending upon the time of year and the weather, we've seen as many as 25 feral and or dumped household cats around the food bowls in the morning. Usually the number is much less than that but we live just up the road from a country veterinarian so this is a popular area for unwanted house pet dumping. We do NOT have a mouse problem in our house or barn!

Canadian Geese - early spring.


The photo above is obviously not of a summertime view. It is actually early spring in 2015. If you look carefully you will see two Canadian Geese swimming on the pond. That was their second annual arrival. We have named them Herman and Mildred. They have been coming to our pond every spring to nest. It has been a fascinating thing to watch.

Herman on patrol.


Herman and Mildred spend a few weeks feeding and defending their pond. Other ducks and geese occasionally land on the pond but are quickly and noisily chased away by Herman. He is a BIG bird. He as successfully kept his pond free of intruders for years. The geese and the cats get along just fine. The cats know to not approach too close and the geese ignore them. We frequently see both geese napping with cats nearby.

Eventually egg laying time arrives. Mildred chooses the same spot on the far side of the pond each year for her nest. She stays on the nest for weeks with only a few minutes a day off of it for water and food. During those weeks Herman maintains watch from the house side of the pond. He just wanders around the lawn, even sometimes on the far side of the house from the pond. I guess he just gets bored. He knows to move to the other side of the pond when I am mowing, otherwise he pretty much ignores our activities.

Oh yes, that pipe sticking out of the water near Herman is our Senior Citizen Handrail for conveience getting in and out of the water when we are playing in the pond.

Herman and Mildred with their chicks.


If you look carefully you can see four little goslings between Herman and Mildred. They walk the chicks around, exercising them to get ready for the trip down to the lake behind our property. It is a march of 600 to 800 yards through the woods. They are usually gone within about four or five days of hatching. Herman and Mildred don't return until the next spring.

Back to 2017 and a thick lawn.


Returning to 2017, here is another shot of the pond. With this years rain, it has remained full. The lowest the water level dropped since last winter is two inches to be quickly refilled.

Along the north side of the pond.


We have lived here for 15 years. It is sometimes a bit of a shock realizing how long we have been here. When we moved here the trees in the photo above were mere shrubs. It is a little difficult to tell the height of these trees in the photo. For reference, the lowest limb on that small front tree just to the left of center is high enough that I have to stretch my arm upward to touch it. We could see the trees on the far side of the pond from the porch over the tops of these trees. We sure cannot now.

Our 'front' yard.


The photo above was taken looking toward the driveway. That bright horizontal strip you can see through the trees is the driveway. Much of our gravel driveway is covered in grass. I mow it like the rest of our lawns.

Here is that driveway.


The above photo shows the view along our driveway from by our house toward the street.

The north side of the house.


The photo above was taken by just spinning around 180 degrees. As you can see, the lawn is dense and the driveway is green.

One of Faith's decorative gardens.

I have done a little yard decorating over the years. I built that archway and fence. It encloses a multi-layer circular flower bed and a concrete bench. Being a bit lazy, I designed it to be sturdy and built it with heavy pressure treated wood to avoid the need for future maintenance.

The Arch.


This is a closer look at Faith's garden. Notice the farm bell mounted on the tree stump with a concrete bench just showing behind it.

The driveway side porch.


Over the years, potted plants have come and gone. Most years the railing is covered with Virginia Creeper and Passion Flower vines. There has been a minor plague of Japanese Beetles that stunted the Virginia Creeper. Passion Flower prefers bright sunlight and temperatures well above 80 degrees Fahrenheit for growth. A cool August has stunted its growth. No worries though. Both are difficult to kill.

My latest attempt at Raccoon proofing.


Raccoons are an on going problem for rural folks. They are curious, strong, and have opposable thumbs. Once they discover a garbage can, their efforts to get at the contents can be both messy and destructive. So far, my new wood garbage can shelter has successfully kept them out of our garbage.

The house seen from the guest parking area.


Those who have seen previous photos of our house will notice that not much has changed from this angle.

The driveway loop.


The photo above is looking from the house through our driveway loop. For those not familiar with rural driveways, a loop is a common feature. When your driveway is 600 feet long, backing out to the road is not convenient, especially for delivery trucks and such. We elected to clear the brush between our house and the RV site on the far side of the loop.

I have been keeping the ground clear in the loop by blowing the leaves off in the fall and mowing weeds and grass that comes up. An interesting thing has happened. The ground in the loop has been taken over by a thick, dark green moss. It feels like a lumpy padded carpet when you walk on it.



The photo above shows the moss in the driveway loop. It is varies in thickness giving it a kind of lumpy look but is three quarters to an inch and a half in thickness. It would be as good as a camp mattress for sleeping - once you brush the sticks aside.

And another summer ends.


Well, that's our story for 2017 and we are sticking to it.