Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Five Things

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

Claire of Claire’s Garden tagged me to do this meme back in December and I’m just now getting around to it. I’m not good at thinking of answers for memes!
So finally……here are 5 things you may not know about me (plus a few pictures!!).

Monday morning, looking out our back door

1. Growing up in sunny Australia, I didn’t see snow until I was 18 years old! That was in the southern part of NSW, on a skiing holiday at Perisher Valley.
Living here in NY since the age of 23, I’ve seen enough snow to last me a good long time. It was late arriving this winter, but it seems to be here to stay for a while now. The big chill has set in for a while.

Pete walked with me in the snow yesterday morning.

2. During my growing up years, when I wasn’t reading or sewing, I was drawing. It’s still something I love to do, but I very rarely take the time to do it these days.

A Pink and gray galah was one of my favorite pets during the pet shop years. It talked!

3. My parents owned a pet shop while I was growing up, and consequently I had all kinds of pets….cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, fish…..nothing big like horses or cows though. I added cows to the list when I married my husband and moved here to the farm in NY :)

Jasmine came with me to the mail box...January 18th

4. My mind wanders easily, making me not a very good listener sometimes, but I do try hard to stay focused! I really am interested in what you’re telling me….honest! :)

1980 in Australia

5. I consider raising our 3 children to be the most interesting, enjoyable and rewarding job I’ve ever had, with never a dull moment. That’s not to say it’s always been a piece of cake, but the joy has far outweighed the few rough spots, and I’m forever thankful for the continued blessings they bring me.

Our 3 kids at our son's wedding

And as a reward we now have grandchildren!!! (The ultimate joy!) I highly recommend them!

(picture taken last year by my DIL or son)

I’m not going to tag anyone specifically, but please feel free to do this if you want to. Let me know if you do, because I’d love to read your answers.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Two Beautiful Blooms!

Sunday, January 21st. Almost there.....

As you can see, the Amaryllis turned out to be a beautiful soft pink, with a touch of white.
Unfortunately, last Saturday, 2 of the buds were broken off ...and now there's only one left.
At first I thought Jasmine had done the dreadful deed, and was feeling more than a wee bit angry with her. She sometimes plays with the plants while she's watching the birds...and she gets a bit wild and crazy. I'm surprised I have any plants left at all!
But then Ross realized that he had probably done it....and she was saved from my wrath!
Earlier, when I was out on the porch refilling the suet feeder, I'd asked him to open the sliding door and hand me something. He had to get in between the plants and the door in order to pull it open, because it tends to stick in the cold weather. He thinks he probably bumped the Amaryllis and broke it.
We felt very sad about it, but at least we still had one bloom left!

I put the biggest of the broken buds in water and it opened the very next day! The other bud was too small to bother with.

By Monday afternoon we had our glorious (and still attached) bloom!

Here it is, looking bright and beautiful Posted by Picasa

Beauty inside and out

How lovely it is as we look out at the birds and wintery view, to see the Amaryllis offering its beauty to brighten our days and add its wonderful color to the snowy landscape.

It even has a very delicate perfume

This picture was taken tonight. I hope the bloom lasts for a good while longer.
The broken bloom was spent today, but I was happy that it bloomed at all......and it gave us a whole week! Posted by Picasa

I hope you all had a lovely Saturday!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Enjoying The Birds

Hungry Blue Jay.

Since the snow arrived we've had a significant increase in the number of birds coming to our feeders.
There are large groups of blue jays and mourning doves coming now, instead of just the usual one or two.....

.....and plenty of juncos. I think they're so cute, with their coats of grey, white bellies and plump little bodies.

Some of the mourning doves are quite friendly and don't mind posing for a few pictures.

This is the first time they've come in large groups. I don't remember seeing more than about 4 at a time previously. Mostly they come in pairs.

The gold finches are still in their olive drab colors, but the males will begin to turn bright yellow as we get closer to spring. They were noticeably absent when the ground was still bare, as were the juncos and mourning doves. Notice the woodpecker is busy at the suet.Posted by Picasa

American gold finches

We're lucky to have quite a few downy woodpeckers that come regularly. I love to watch them move around in their erratic manner, heads jerking to and little clowns. I saw a hairy the other day. They look almost identical, but bigger, and more timid, so it's very difficult to get a photo of them.

The sparrows are always around...leaving their trademarks all over our porch, messy little birds! A bird's gotta do what a bird's gotta do. I just wish they'd choose another place to do it. I enjoy their cheerful songs though, so I can forgive their messes.

The perky little chickadees are always friendly and will come to the feeders while I'm standing close by. They chatter at me as if to say, "Hurry up with that seed, will you please!"Posted by Picasa

Ross built this feeder tray that fits over the porch rail, to bring the birds closer for me to photograph. It works well!

I always know when the blue jays shows up for breakfast. They have an unmistakable shriek that you can't miss. If I need to fill the feeders, they'll let me know :)

Here's another mourning dove and junco.

I notice the doves will peck at the sparrows to chase them away, but seem to be compatible with the juncos. I wonder if there's such a thing as avian prejudice :)

There's a woodpecker at the tube feeder. They love sunflower seeds.Posted by Picasa

We've seen a very large red tailed hawk flying over the hedgerow across the road. Last week it sat in a tree for a long time so I was able to get a good look at it. I wonder if it's the one that hung around the farm this past summer. The crows chase it all the time, but it doesn't seem to be phased by them.

I also saw a kestrel last week (they used to be called a sparrow hawk).

The birds keep us well entertained during these snowy days of January. I hope we get to see a cardinal or two soon.

I hope all our European friends are safe and warm after the storms we've been hearing about. The weather seems to have been wild everywhere....dreadful winds in the UK, snow in Southern California, frigid temperatures in Northern CA, ice in Texas. Some areas here in upstate New York were without power because of ice storms earlier in the week, but we were lucky and didn't have much ice at all. We finally have plenty of snow and I'm remembering now how much I dislike the cold. Yesterday the winds were frigid!

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Amaryllis, december 6th, '06

I'm eagerly awaiting the blooms of this Amaryllis, which will add some color to the small jungle that sits by our sliding glass doors.

January 11th '07 (note the long-awaited snow on the porch)

An Amaryllis shoots up so fast, it seems you can almost see it growing!

January 14th

I don't know if these blooms will be pink or red. I have both, but one isn't doing anything. I doubt it will offer to bloom at all this season, probably due to improper treatment and neglect.
At the end of last summer I read an article on how to properly care for these lovely plants after they bloom, so as to carry them over the summer and get them to rebloom the following winter. I've had both plants for several years and they've rebloomed several times, but only through dumb luck, and not always when expected. The pink one bloomed again in June in 2003!

Here's what the article said: Cut off the flower stem a few inches above the bulb after the flowers are spent. Don't remove the leaves. Water regularly and fertilize once a month. You can move the plant outside (in its pot) to a partly sunny location once the warm weather returns. Before the first frost bring it inside. Stop watering and fertilizing around September 1st. Let rest in a cool location for three months. On December 1st unpot the bulb, clean it up and repot in fresh potting soil. The top 2 inches of the bulb should be above the soil line. Water well and place in a cool, yet sunny spot. Water as needed until the first green shoots appear from the top of the bulb, which should happen in 2 or 3 weeks.
In 4 to 6 weeks, you should have several magnificent, velvety flowers.

New baby December 6th, '06

I was amazed and excited to see this new growth emerging beside the old stem of this Dracaena. For months I've been debating what to do with this plant because the leaves have been turning brown and shriveling up. It looks a bit like a palm tree with a very skinny trunk....not very attractive at all. The top of the plant looks very healthy and keeps growing taller, but the lower leaves are still turning brown.

January 6th

But now here comes a new baby! Perhaps I'll cut off the old trunk when the new one grows a couple of feet tall. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Tall & Skinny

Jasmine birdwatching

One of
Jasmine's favorite passtimes is to watch the birds.
While I was at work on Wednesday, Ross said she was watching a couple of mourning doves cleaning up dropped seed on the porch. She began throwing herself against the door trying to get at them. After She'd done this several times the doves started buzzing her. Ross thought they looked like they were teasing her.
He finally stopped her and chased the birds away because he was afraid she'd hurt herself. Of course he was highly amused by the whole show :) I wish I'd seen it.

And finally we have last year's Paperwhites. I did a post about them here. It was a bit of a funny story :)
I didn't expect to see them growing because I neglected them and let them sit on the enclosed side porch in the pot all summer with very little water (I usually just pop them in the ground somewhere outside and forget about them). Apparently they didn't mind the neglect, because not too long ago I noticed new growth on the bulbs so I began watering them. I brought them into the dining room just last week and they've grown very quickly since then. It remains to be seen whether or not they'll produce flowers. It's a mystery to me. I've never tried to get more than one season's bloom out of paperwhites before. Have any of you tried
that and had success?

Dreaming...... Posted by Picasa

Winter has truly arrived in NY this week! Last Monday we were a balmy 45º while Sue in California was freezing! That's a switch! But then the cold hit us and the temperatures plummeted.
The ice storm on Tuesday affected some of the surrounding areas, but here on the farm it wasn't bad at all. We had a little on the trees, but it had melted by 10:00AM. Annie in Austin, Texas, was inundated with ice, and has posted some pictures of the sights she woke up to. Her friend Pam at Digging has some wonderful ice pictures too, that you'll really enjoy.
I hope all my blog friends in cold areas are staying warm, and the ones in hot places (all you Aussies) are staying cool!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sharing the Cats

Rain! Posted by Picasa

January 14th is my one year blog anniverary! It's been a fun year getting to know so many wonderful friends all over this big wide world. Blogging sure makes the world seem smaller!

Our beautiful snow has all disappeared again, washed away by rain and warmer temperatures (45ºF today/7ºC). This picture was actually taken last Saturday, during a really heavy downpour. We had steady rain during night, but only a little today. They're predicting freezing rain for later in the week. That means ice, and we hate ice (unless it's soothing a sore muscle)! Snow is preferable to ice any day.

Tuxedo jr.

Yesterday we gave away 3 of our beloved cats. Tux Jr., his handsome brother, Max, and Abigail, one of Zoey's daughters. If you click the link you'll see Zoey with her babies.
One of our neighbors, Danny, called and asked if we still had any cats we wanted to 'share'. He boards cows and raises some heifers, and had recently noticed a very large rat in his barn, along with the usual mice. Now he could live with the mice, but the rat offended him! There's only one cat in his barn and he had mentioned last summer that he could use a few more. Sometimes it takes a fellow a while to get around to things :)
He actually had his eye on Jasmine and her siblings, but we were completely attached to them by that time and were not about to give them away. In fact, we had trouble deciding which cats we could actually bear to part with, so a few weeks later when Sophie brought her litter of 3 into the barn we designated them as "Danny's kittens". That way, we could get used to the idea of giving them away right from the start.
They were about 5 weeks old at the time and pretty wild so we set about taming them. Sophie always hides her kittens until they're several weeks old. Lily was the little female calico in that litter.
If you've been visiting recently you'll have read that she was one of the two cats killed by that nasty raccoon. After much deliberation we decided to give away Abigail in place of poor Lily.

Max on a frosty morning in October

Sweet Abigail

Tux again being cute and cuddly

Chloe, Sophie & Olivia

Sophie is the middle cat in this picture. She's one of the two cats who had a leg bitten by the raccoon (Toby was the other). Penicillin shots had them healing very quickly but then Sophie began holding her leg up close to her body and limping. She had developed an absess. Ross gave her another series of shots which healed the infection, but she still holds the leg up and it seems she's going to have a 'gimpy' leg for ever after, poor old girl.

Tuxedo the 1st Posted by Picasa

This is our original Tux who, sad to say, made a bad judgement while crossing the road out front last May, so he's no longer with us. He was a lovely boy. Tux Jr. sure looks like his dad, doesn't he? But neither he or Max have the extra toes like their dad.
If you click Tuxedo's name you'll see him being a bad cat last April.
Danny stopped by today and said the kitties are doing well. Abigail follows Danny's youngest boy (I think he's about 10) around the barn. She loves him to pieces because he cuddles her all the time, and like Zoey, she's a real cuddle cat. Max and Tux are taking a little longer to get used to their new surroundings and have been a bit timid. They'll come around I'm sure, because that young man just loves cats and he'll win their hearts before too long.
Meanwhile, we're down to 13 barn kitties!
We miss those 3 of course. I'll have to go and visit them :)

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Snow At Last!

Snow in December and January is just something we expect! Our NY winter weather has been so unusual for most of this season, with mild temperatures, rain, and sometimes sunny skies, that some of us were actually missing the snow. This is Rather a strange phenomenom for me, since I'm not a winter person. I never thought I'd be so happy to see snow! Waking up to a winter wonderland this morning gave me such a feeling of contentment. The white flakes were a welcome and beautiful sight as they fell from the skies, covering the drab landscape with a soft, clean blanket of white.

I didn't even mind the cold when I walked up to the barn to feed the cats.

The outdoor furnace was chugging away, keeping us cozy and warm in the house.

We have an enormous woodpile, thanks to our friend Leo and his sidekick, Will, who cut our wood on halves...meaning they cut some for us and take some for themselves. This is a wonderul help to us since Ross's health won't allow him to do this strenuous job without aid. The neat part is that Leo and Will love to cut wood, for the exercise it gives them, and they're more than generous in their efforts. I don't know what we'd do without them.

Leo is also a trapper and the same friend who helped us try to catch the raccoon. Thankfully, we've had no sign of it lately. Leo said when he stopped in today that it's probably hibernating now. It could be snoozing in the top part of our machinery shed behind the barn (shortly after the attack I saw its tracks going up the ramp leading into the shed), but hopefully it's further away, denned in a tree up in our woods.

Our resident sparrows were out in full force today, along with lots of other birds eager to fill their tummies. We haven't seen much bird activity around the feeders until now because they've been able to find enough to eat without handouts. The sparrows are regular visitors, along with a few others, but today we saw a few that have been staying away. I took photos (of course!), which I'll post another day.

The Cut Leaf Maple looks stark, but still has an interesting shape against the winter landscape.Posted by Picasa

Last night I drove to a budget meeting at church in my car and came home with this fancy truck! How did that come about you may ask? Well, I got brave and drove my car at night to see if the lights would go out again. I had a theory to test.
My good blogfriend, Apple, mentioned that her car sometimes does the same thing when her lights are on high beam, and when she switches them to low they work.
I got to exactly the same spot it happened before (2 miles down the road) and sure enough, pitch black again! Eek! Flashers on! My first thought was to go right back home, but I tried the dimmer switch, and presto, lights! Aha! So I kept going, tried putting them on high beam again just to test and yep, black back to dim.
Our mechanic friend, Dave, was at the meeting and he's the guy I needed to see! He said, "You take my truck home, and I'll take your car". So that's how I came to arrive home in that nice big truck. Ross was very impressed and wondered just what went on at that meeting! I told him it's not who you know, it's what you know (I'm the treasurer, you see) ;)
So the good news is, we think we've found the problem. The bad news is, you can't just buy a simple dimmer switch, you have to buy the entire turn signal stem and it costs almost $4oo. With labor, this is going to be an expensive fix. Oh dear, oh dear!
Well, as Malcolm Frazier (one of Australia's past Prime Ministers) said, "Life wasn't meant to be easy". Profound words indeed...yep.
It'll be so nice to have the problem's been a worry. So I'm counting it among our blessings this week.
And rejoicing in the snow!
Go figure.