Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bears, bunnies, a weasel, turkeys, and a rampaging hummingbird...

I was stuck indoors most of the weekend.  There were two bears to butcher and no excuses.  I spent three days cutting meat.  Yes, I am the world's slowest butcher.  It was a fine dance between frozen and thawed quarters.  In the end there was 37 pounds of roasts, stew meat, and meat to grind.  I also salvaged 5 pounds of bear fat that  can  be rendered down into the incredible bear grease.  While doing all of that, I canned 11 jars of bourbon peaches, 5 jars of peach syrup, one giant jar of peach bourbon, 8 bottles of rhubarb wine, and two little jars of homemade vanilla.  Somewhere in the middle of that I made a blueberry pie (using bear grease of course). 

I was pretty proud of my accomplishments, that is until I spent an hour outside.  In that hour, I saw a bunny, weasel (I have never seen a weasel up here), a hen turkey with her 5 poults, and last but not least I was buzzed by a hummingbird. 

I didn't get a photo of the weasel.  He was too fast.  Hopefully, he was looking for chipmunks.  We have a plethora of them.  I did get a photo of this shy guy.  He is the first bunny we've had around for a few years.  Though last week a huge jackrabbit was laying in the yard and staring at my garden.
This grand dame wanders through the yard about once a day.   Obviously, they are not worried about our bird dog.  Ella isn't too worried about them either.
The hummingbird just about ran into me.  It must have been the orange shirt I was wearing.  That was the first one I have seen since July.   Ella and I kept our eyes open, because there was a lot going on this evening.

Not only did we see those animals around the house, but we also got a photo of a fox on our game camera.  Our neighbor got a photo of a pine martin on his game camera. That is the first time we have seen a fox and weasel, after 12 years here in the woods.  We missed quite a bit being cooped up in the house. Of course, I won't regret it when we are enjoying some bear stew this winter.   

Have you seen any animals rare to your area this year?  What do you see in an hour around your home?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The mysteries of gardening

The garden is hanging tough despite cold days, colder nights, and strong winds.  Gardening has really become a mystery for me this year thanks to my labeling system for seedlings.

 My Mexican Sunflowers are going great guns.  They are huge.  I accidentally planted them in the vegetable garden, thinking they were my eggplants.  Note to self; come up with a better way to identify seedlings.
 The clematis is blooming much later than normal.  That is ok, as it is giving some much needed color to the already peaked rose bed.
 Somewhere amongst the cosmos and sunflower are pumpkins, squash, and other assorted vines.
 Any ideas what this is?  I go back to my previous mention of a better labeling system. It is either a spaghetti squash or maybe a winter squash.
These are either black krim or black beauty tomatoes.  I guess you could say gardening is an adventure for me.  Do you have any unidentified vegetables or flowers in you garden?  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Busy bees...

This year I had a plethora of garlic.  Enough to make my first braid with plenty left over to plant this fall.   I have to say there is something very satisfying in not only harvesting, but also creating something beautiful from the garden.  That wasn't the end of my bounty.  I canned the carrots, peas, beans, and onions for stews and casseroles.  There is always raspberry jam.  It was great picking raspberries with my niece and teaching her how to make jam.  Finally, I bottled my rhubarb wine.  Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I will get some sweet corn, egg plant, tomatoes, and maybe a pumpkin or two.  I am not certain as the temperature went from 90 degrees yesterday to 56 degrees today.
My flowers are plentiful.  I'm extremely happy with this year's garden.  I am improving at growing annuals.  After years struggling with growing hollyhocks here, I have some real beauties.  I am always a sucker for taking photos of the bees busy with action.  I love the dusting of pollen on their legs and the glint of sun on their wings.  As the saying goes, "the hum of bees is the voice of the garden."

This used to be my strawberry bed.  Now it holds cosmos, sunflowers, poppies, and there are pumpkins in there somewhere.
I finally have an established colony of peaches and cream hollyhocks.  I took a bouquet of them to school the other day and the students didn't believe they were real.  They thought the flowers were made of tissue paper.
She is very intent on making honey for winter.  I know how she feels.
Oops, I guess spiders have to eat, same as worms.
I am so impressed with borage.  My new favorite wrap is a spinach tortilla, ranch dressing, spinach, bacon, chicken, and borage flowers.  My nieces thought it was amazing to eat flowers that taste just like cucumbers. 
A very slow follow up on my rhubarb leaf bird bath.  It does hold water and it is HUGE.  Unfortunately, just like every birdhouse on our place, I have yet to see a bird use it.

Aren't these hollyhocks beautiful? A big thanks to my mother-in-law who kept supplying me with seeds until I finally got some to grow.
Probably my favorite summer flower are my AJ's Black Eyed Susan.  Given to me by a good friend.  They make beautiful sunshine drifts around the yard.
Last year the chipmunks planted sunflowers all over, so this year I didn't plant any.  My mistake.  This is the only one in my garden.  Live and learn.
I have the worst luck with onions.  They never get big.  I let them go to flower this year.  I'm leaving them in the ground, with hopes of having something bigger than a golf ball next year.

The bee balm is thriving this year.  It looks so nice against the yellow.
Yellows and reds are the colors of my summer garden.
With that lengthy dialogue, I will leave you with a few parting shots of the yard.  It is certainly green for August.  I hope you enjoyed the garden tour.  How does your garden grow?  Any hints to get larger onions?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Post rally

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is finally over.  There are a few stragglers, but the dull roar that has permiated the air is starting to lull.  We headed out to our property to see what we could see.
 I saw these nasty caterpillars eating my gooseberry bushes.  There aren't any berries, thanks to a hard freeze.
I did some research and found out these vines are wild cucumbers.  Bummer they aren't edible.
The wildlife was abundant.  We saw wild turkeys and antelope.

I think my favorite photo was capturing the hawk in flight, while taking a picture of Bear Butte shrouded in clouds. 

I am so glad the Rally is over.  Is there something you have not been looking forward to this summer?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Loose ends...

 Well, I survived 5 days with two rambunctious youngsters.  We had so many adventures:

-Making Walking Sticks
-Visiting the Spearfish Fish Hatchery
-A picnic in the Park 
-Wading in the Creek
-Doing a Scavenger Hunt
-Visiting where I Work
-Hiking Bear Butte (WAY HARD)
-Picking Berries
-Making Jam and Jello
-Learning to take Pictures
-Fox watching
-Singing and making up silly stories
-Gold Panning
-Driving with the top off of the Jeep
-Eating lots of Lemon Drops

 I was super happy with this pinterest project, an outdoor adventure hunt bag.  It printed easily on a paper bag so the kids could put their treasures inside.  You may notice we had an additional camping guest.  We did pretty good for our first time camping.  Of course i was just in the back yard.  Close enough for an extension cord so I could blow up the air mattress.  That is Aunt Bonnie's idea of roughing it.

Probably the thing we were proudest of, but will never do again is hiking Bear Butte.  It was a way more difficult hike than I anticipated.  It didn't help that the wind was blowing so hard.  It is a good thing I fed the girls before the hike.  They needed the extra weight or they would have blown away.  This photo is from the top.  If it looks steep IT IS!
 We picked raspberries and one learned how to make jam, while the other worked on her photography skills.  The photo on the left was taken by Sierra and the heart below was Taylor's.  

It was a grand week and I am so thankful that I got to spend time with them.  They were great little ladies and I'm very proud of them.