Weather patterns finally changed in our little neck of the woods. Smoke has been replaced with clouds that tempt us with soft mists.
It’s beginning to look like Fall
Temps in the nineties plus here on Zen for a while now. Fighting smoke from fires in the North as well as our own since the beginning of July finally kicked into a look at Fall.
For many folk I know , Summer is coming to a sudden halt and Fall is staring them in the face. Schools are either starting session or already have. Vacations are winding down and kids are back on school grounds .
On Zen , we had smoke and heat on Thursday with the Air Quality above 150 . The winds kicked in from the West bringing cooler temps and rain clouds. Saturday they teased us with mists a few times but no actual rain. This morning around 2am mists were flitering into the house , all our windows open the chill breezes mists and temps in the upper forties filling our home.
The worst of the smoke density may have only been a few weeks but it seemed like forever. My stupid damaged eye went crazy with aches driving the migraine level into the keeping a trash can in sight at all times and mine as well as many folk having chest pains from breathing the crap… Yes , Yes… I am a Nancy . Too many years working closely with chemicals will do that.
However… Today is a perfect Fall day …for a pre-Fall day especially …
The animals around the homestead; our neighbors , have been fairly quiet during the smokey times though still reasonably close .
A little Elky Out there
The local cow clan ; nursery herd , can be heard every morning far off to the North . This week however , they make their way past the homestead for a drink of water and a lick off the mineral block. Now, before ya’ll say;
” Well just put a bell around one and fill the freezer. “
Which I have heard many times now , there are a couple small problems to that..
A ) They come through in the dark. The herd is well under way before dawn.
Number 2: The homestead is a sanctuary . So no , I don’t kick out the screen door and shoot. Besides, the cost to replace one of our storm doors would pay for a hell of a lot of meat.
Now.. That there saddle over there.. Yeh , that one.. That there be ” The Valley of the Shadow of Death ” The animals need not fear evil , just a quick end followed by a choice of marinades …..
…………………Well……………….. Except squirrels…………. They fear everywhere Ma or I find them..
The only good squirrel is in the jaws of one of the coyote kids.. Kibbles and Bits Baby .
Anyway……………. I woke up again this morning at 2am…to the mists… and an Elk cow chirping outside my window. I got up to see the herd all standing around the yard waiting for a turn at the mineral block. …………………… I continued to listen to them chatter until around 4:30am .. A young spike bull in the group was testing out bugling …Also outside my window .
Oh My! Where do you live so we can hunt there !?!:?! I believe I mentioned they are no where near during the light of day.. ON Private property that even I wont head into .
We are having fun seeing and listening to them after more than a decade of them staying away thanks to a visiting citiot that felt looking through the glass of the window some twenty yards from the herd wasn’t good enough.. He ran out the door and scared them off at fifty yards. The Cows remember crap like that and so they change the route and it takes generations to move them back in some cases… and that is why in part that Zen is Sanctuary ……………..
Now… if said beasties start trying to knock down my fencing to get to fruits and veggies , there will be a nice big delivery trucks bringing a second giant chest freezer for the shop…Just sayin’ …
We have very few deer again this year . Up until the bad winter a couple years ago , we were all but smothered in deer . After the hard winter not so much. This year we have about double of last and yet we have seen only a couple very young bucks and not even great BBQ bucks ; one big party meal and nothing more…
Again , I get the;
Kick out the… Oh piss off… one of those bucks would barely be enough meat to cover the price of screws for the door.
When I take a deer I do everything from stalk to making the sausage and casing them.. If I take a deer , it has to be worth all of the time and effort because the work load is the same for a big buck as a little one the gain is what is different…. Besides , I am not about to take down something that is still following its mother around though I know a lot of people that do…. and then complain about eating the meat ….That is a whole nother rabbit hole that…
We still have our one doe that is all but always in the yard . Like us , she is not overly social with anyone/ thing other than Ma and I . I usually see her at the beginning of the drive as I come home or at the edge of the woods across from where I park. I always say Hi..she always chews her cud … I am forced to assume that’s deer for;
“How was your day? Nice to have you back home. ” I haven’t quite figured out how to put a positive twist on the following relieving herself……… though I can come up with a few snarky comebacks that fit.
The fawns ; Bunnies , are more comfortable around Zen now. In some cases a little too much so as they romp off while mom is getting a drink and talking with ” the girls “. Like with too many kids , they then fuss and whine until mom gives up and follows them.. Granted , unlike in mmm well normal society anyway , the deer kids could very well be eaten so I can see the doe running off after them. The human brat version however…
I imagine there are a lot of folk , well not like me , but in that we don’t want to deal with your runaway toddler , I tend to shove a shopping cart between myself and the offending ball of screaming snot thank you very much..
” Yes.. Please keep that…..thing…. away from my leg… Grease dirt , most all filth from the hills of Zen , blood , gore …wee leelte bits of ‘I don’t especially want to know’ are fine on my camos and are all well and fine , and I expect that.. Little Forest’s snot?!? No so much . “
Our deer file in before dawn for breakfast with Ma and I …and while I am still coming home when it is still relatively light out, they have a bite of dinner with us before their merry trails take them off into the woods and groves saddles and valleys for the eve.
I absolutely believe that everyone thinks I make up every bit of the hummingbird stories…Well.. the talking part yes.. they tend to well..chirp…being birds and all….In case that slipped by y’all..
The rest? pretty much accurate account . As are the morning stories that finish off every Sunday Post.
We are out before the hummers are as they wait until shortly before dawn or when they hear us talking first thing in the morning, afternoon , and evening.
We have a little male Allen that has been VERY insistent this year that we visit with him whenever he is about. Even more so than ” Hummie” himself; our resident Anna , he will not only come flying in as soon as he hears us and takes turn staring at both of us from no more than a foot away from our faces … Maybe it gives him that whole IMAX surround sound feel , but the wee little bugger gets dang close and stays there until we talk to him. He has a tendency to come in from the right side so Ma has to tell me he is there..glaring at me…..impatiently waiting to be acknowledged …Then he skips off to stare at Ma until she talks with him. That is his cue to chase the other hummers about us.
Saturday eve , after we had spent a lot of time visiting with the hummies during the day , Ma and I were just sitting down after eating , last light… When an insistent hummingbird kept coming into the covered porch , to the windows , flying up and down looking in until he saw us … He then spent the next several minutes swooping in and out until we finally went out to visit before they had to go off to bed.
We walked out there with a single hum. He took off , came back with a couple hand fulls of hummers on his tail . They flew about visiting together and with us when “ Hummie ” came in , sat down at the fence by me and pretty much deflated. You can tell he is glad Summer is coming to a close. We have about another month of all the hummingbirds racing about before they move back to their winter homes until around June again when this starts back up. Like every year “ Hummie ” starts off chasing everyone away , by the end he is just worn out… Enough company….Just make the bad Wizits go away …
Ma and I always enjoy having the extra hummers about. Every year they get closer and closer to us zooming by our faces or between us or some times between a raised arm and body just being crazy. One has to keep in mind that the Annas mostly were born here and have known Ma and I their entire lives from egg to present .
The others? A lot come back every year . Some of them were also born here . Here , they get talked to and laughed at . They’ll play in the water as I run hoses watering plants .
They tell us when feeders are low or when hornets are bugging them… They are like a pack of feathered Lassies , so yeah we will miss them as we always do.
” Hummie ” will hang up here until it is miserable . Mrs Hum and their kids will head down to Gotham in late Fall before temps freeze. They start making day trips up here to visit then when the sun is out.
Our cottontail clan has an ebb and flow about it as one would imagine .Wolves, coyotes ,cougars , bobcats . falcons , hawks, eagles , carrion birds , bears and more live here on Zen . being a bunnie is not all hiding Easter eggs and all ….
The Bunnies like all the other kids come popping about when we are outside to see what’s up. They blend in well enough in some of Ma’s gardens that I practically trip over them before we both jump in the air… They , however , land gracefully …I tend to land more like a bag of shhhhhall we move on ?
The little rabbits happily munch on maters I toss over the fence that mice have gotten too and yet leave all the ones on the vines….
They are hell on bean and pea plants when they are small but that’s ok… we plant extra .
We are , of course, still harvesting.
We average about five pounds of tomatoes a day and change . A couple arm loads of eggplants a week and about the same , with zukes. With the new garden upgrades we are seeing more growth so a little more zukiness .
Peppers…………………………JEEZE! Any time now…. The plants have been very slow this year probably with our late start to Summer weather followed within days by walls of smoke .
The hot peppers have tons of peppers on them but they are all green so they have quite a way to go..
Sweet peppers are just being a PIA .. they are not filling out nor are they putting on many peppers.. I imagine it is the water thang along with the cool temps and I was busy through most of the summer so behind on feeding though it is a little late now , we may catch up yet .
Basil ; our first crop worthy year with them . Ma has a ton of it drying as I write .
Rosemary : same deal. Both plants tend to curl up and die up here.
Basil hates the summer weather and Rosemary hates winter. It looks like we finally found THEE spot for each of them it would seem .
Winesap Apples; We were checking the calendar to see when we picked last year but we forgot to put it down. I knew it was around this time that I was racing to keep ahead of the stupid squirrels so I checked them. The apples were already starting to drop Next thing I knew , I had a large box filled with them.
The Golden Delicious apples are still tight and ripening but I remember they are generally close together . I would like to get a harvest this year instead of the critters beating us to it. With the elk coming in at night , I want to make sure to pick them before they get ripe enough to get the elk thinking about getting in to them.
Hopefully the big drop in temp won’t be enough to slow down the peppers again… it is more simply back to our average temps 40sL 60sH generally cloudy .
Ma is pumping out dried herbs and fruits , eggplant parm and Zuke muffins . She is roasting up the tomatoes in large batches peeling and freezing until we get the canning gear out.
I am not sure how long this low winds mid temps are going to last but I enjoy them more than the hot still days which for the last two years means the hills and valleys are filled with smoke. We prefer to have a breeze going through the house rather than an AC unit chugging away .
I like the clouds better….except when they are dumping freezing rain or a bunch of snow gawhhhh…. Clouds are interesting , they constantly change and you never know what is hidden above them. Blue Skies are like being at the beach to me… Well I bet a lot of folk.. I just see it off tilt maybe… I enjoy Blue Skies and I enjoy the ocean.. The crashing waves are great for awhile but they eventually remind me of the winds up here crashing against the house and then I get switchy . The ocean also , to me , are wave after wave to watch for the most part…Up our way anyhow….. Zen , however , you have the crashing of the winds and you get waves from our grasses. You also get all of our animals , like clouds , Zen’s groves and grasses along with hidden saddles not to mention ” The Berm“. hide what’s going on in them.
So… Cloudy and Zen for me ; You never know what kind of mystical crap is going to happen as you look up.
Opening my eyes , I glare at the ceiling.
” MEEEuuuooooooHahahaAwhooyah !!”
I look at the clock. 4 A.M.
Muscles give in to the warmth of the bed , my neck breaking down to begin to sooth as well. My eye begins to sparkle with whatever fireworks my brain sets off in it since the accident. I finally begin to drift off , thoughts shutting down.
” MEEEuuuooooooHahahaAwhooyah !!”
………………………………. I stare at the clock…………..
“Ah……….4:25 A.M. …..Brilliant………. Shut It Bullwinkle ! “
“……………………. 5:01 am…………5:02am ………………………. Gawwhh friggin day off and All…”
” MEEEuuuooooooHahahaAwhooyah !!”
“Ah………..and There we go…………”
I climb out of bed , look out the window at a cow elk with a young bull a ways behind her .Walking through the house I see the herd hanging out in the yard . If I use my binoculars , even though they are only 20 yards away , now I can see them in the dark . Cows and calves with a single spike bull standing around in the yard waiting for either water or a lick at the mineral block.
Ma walks in and watches the elk from window to window .
The skies lighten the cloak of black richening into charcoals of brown greys to black . The herd begins to silhouette against the burgeoning colors in the skies.
With oranges edging at the brown of the under sides of clouds , the elk turn towards the North to head back up into their valley. The herd swinging slowly towards the trees , Ma and I step out onto the porch.
Stepping down to the lavender garden below , I turn on the water to the little pond for the kids as I know the elk drained it down at least a bit. Walking out to look at the level of the water , I see deer coming up the pasture to the house wanting to be next in line for water and maybe a quick snack.
The lead doe walks up to the water hole just as I turn off the faucet . She looks up at me as I tell her good morning . I turn to walk back up onto the deck. The doe watches me until I sit, then she starts drinking. The second doe with fawn show up just as Ma looks around the corner of the porch across the deck. The fawn watches Ma , her mom ignoring us completely while she waits for a drink.
We hear the first hummer as he swings in to sit on the fence behind me. In moments , a second hummingbird flits in followed by five more. The hummer behind my head flies past my ear to head over to the feeder behind Ma. Two more hummingbirds whizz past me , looping through the bars of the top of the pergola and off past Ma and finally over the house as three more pop in to land on the fence behind me. Three hummers are at the feeder behind Ma and another two on fences behind her.
I hear a buzz overhead as a male Allen slowly lowers himself to in front of my eyes hovering .
” Well Hi humm ….What are you up to ?…” and so on………….
The little guy takes off to do the same thing with Ma. After they chat for a bit he takes off after one of the hummingbirds at the fence behind Ma.
To the South of us we hear the coyote kids start singing again. As usual, a second pair call from to the North of us.
The does stand still , ears turning while they watch off to the edges of the woods. The fawn wanders about the water and up to the block . She bolts through the fence and out into the grasses. Ma and I watch ….
” Mama you better go take a look at your brat ..”
The doe looks up from the water at the sound seeing her kid bounding away. She begins to bleat which in turn slows the brattybunnie . The fawn replies and apparently the doe was not best please as she took off after her kid ,who , once again , takes off …towards the woods that the coyote kids were calling from .
“Dangedable Brat! Wait till I catch up to you! Coyotes are in the woods ahead! “
“Catch me if you can !”
“Billijean ! You jist be a cooling your jets and getting your hiney back over here !”
………………………………….. My what big teeth you have ! AAAEEEWWWWWHHHHHHH !!”
” Damn kid ! I am going to beat your rear! AND THEN I am going to beat yours too !”
” Wait! What!?! I was just talking to my cousin Phil . You know Phil , walks with a limp… I wasn’t chasing your kid ..I was just shoooing her back to you..Yeah…. WAAAWHHHHHH!!!”
Ma and I watch as the doe sets off after the coyote kid , fawn in tow..
” Get him Mama! Get him !”
I sit back in my chair as we watch the poor coyote running for his life. I call out :
“Run Forest Ruuunnnn! “
The hummies buzz past my head again and down to strafe along the floor of the deck only to swing up along Ma’s form and over the roof….. It look’s like it is going to be
Just another day on Zen Mountain