Sunday, February 4, 2024

02.04.2024 February - one cool month

 Spring by far is my favorite time of year. I love the singing birds, the flowers blooming and the trees n blossom. But February is a really special month. The days are appreciably longer, the skies blue and you can feel Spring is just around the corner, even if it is really, really cold! Our Carolina wren is back and sleeps in the Christmas wreath on the front door, so I have to be careful when I go outside at night. The dogs do not bother her, but when I go onto the porch, she gets herself into a flutter and flies off the wreath. I'll leave the wreath there as she is getting better each year with her nest design. Maybe she will build another one this year. I also moved the bluebird nesting boxes to two trees where I can see them from the door - maybe we will have bluebirds nesting again this year. Oh, yes, Spring is in the air!

Our big excitement was having a large pine tree removed. Three strikes and you are out is the saying and three times a large branch has fallen from this tree and hit my car. While the damage has always been minimal with only one needed trip to the autobody shop for repairs, I cannot chance it anymore. Every day I looked at the tree and watched a hanging branch and thought - no chance I am letting it hit my car. So it was New England Tree Masters again and they removed this tree and all of the dead branches and another dead tree and my very disease apple tree. Yes, I had my apple tree cut down. Every year I look at this poor thing and plot on how I can cut her down. She has some type of fungus that had spread to other trees. But while I trimmed branches and treated her with Antifungal solutions, nothing worked. Then Spring would arrive and she would have pretty apple blossoms and apples in the summer and I did not have the heart to remove it. And the longer I delayed the inevitable, the larger she grew and the more difficult it became to cut branches. So I decided not to wait unto Spring when she flowers and just remove her when the crew was in the yard. It was the right decision, but I will miss that apple tree. It was here longer than I lived in this house - 30 years. But the apples were really bitter. I will find a new flowering tree to replace her this Spring. 

The tree removal technology is fascinating, and I wish I could have watched the whole process. I did get to see the tree suspended above the driveway and yard.  

The tall pine tree with her precarious branches leaning toward the house. 


 

This is just the top third of the tree! I asked if only the bifurcated trunk closest to the house could be removed but was advised the tree would not survive. It came from a line of pine and hemlock trees and won't really be missed. It opens up the area a bit and maybe the rhododendron will grow a bit more in that direction with more sunlight. And there are still plenty of trees for the birds. But the house and car and fence are now safe from falling branches.


Nice sunlight and hard to really notice the tree is gone. And look at that beautiful blue February sky!


  We still have a lot of snow in the yard and the dogs are really have a great time. With the sunshine, blue sky and white ground, it is quite beautiful. The boys roll around, run and chase each other and generally have a great time. They also line up really well when the camera is out. Shorty loves the camera!

  


Sweaters are worn when it is cold. Gunnarr wanted to be chased in the worst way and Fionnegan was not up for it. Gunnarr tried pulling him along to chase him and even pulled his sweater over his heard. 

 




Fionnegan just wanted to roll around in the snow. He was not interested in running and I was wondering if the packed snow was hard for him. He sprained his left front leg earlier and he may just want to do things that would not put any stress on his legs. He did have Lyme disease and his joints do bother him. While I understand that, no doubt Gunnarr hasn't any concept of this and he just wants to run and play and wrestle. He ran all around the yard by himself and it was obvious he missed the company of his brother chasing him. Shorty only chases when they find a squirrel or rabbit to chase or a deer outside the fence.

 



 After an afternoon playing outside, dinner time is much anticipated! They are patiently waiting for me to cook their dinner. They are having meatballs and carrots and an apple. A real treat and worth the wait.  Have you cooked dinner with six eyes glued to your every move?

 


Hope you all are well. It has been a good start to the year for us. I am hoping you all also have a very good February and year.

 

Until next time......................

 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

01.07.2024 No Time Like the Present

 As soon as I signed off on the blog earlier in the day, we all dressed up again for another winter adventure outside. The boys wore their puffer vests (Shorty green, Fionnegan blue and Gunnarr red, no new pictures, sorry) and we were off to assess the damage to the fence and possible damage to the car. The boys ran and entertained themselves as I sawed with my trusty hand saw the branches into pieces that I could drag over the hill to the brush pile. 

I made sure the gates were all secured as two years ago Shorty escaped through an open one while I was shoveling. I will never forget that and I don't think he has either as he checks the gate every time it snows! He still has a roaming spirit. 

So I worked for a couple of hours sawing branches, dragging them over the hill until I had sawed the fallen branch as close to the fence as I could. I was hoping that with a shorter branch sticking out from the fence that there would be no more damage from the heavy falling snow. I made a plan to call my lawn company to see if they might be able to remove the rest of the branch and possibly repair the fence. 

So we went inside to have lunch and watch the Patriots game on TV. There was now no time to clear off the car and drive to the game and it was snowing really hard. The good news is that the car was not damaged, just brushed with the branches. The branches were on the back of the car but they did not dent anything. The fence took the brunt of the hit and spared the car.  We really need the car to get to work and the fence can be mended at some point.



After the game, we all dressed back up in our winter gear and I decided to try to saw the branch from the other side of the fence. It was still snowing and the boys were having a fun time chasing each other and something they found in the snowbank. They also saw a deer in the back yard and went crazy barking at it. 

The branch turned out to be too thick for the hand saw - it was sawed over halfway through but kept getting stuck - but gave me enough maneuverability to pull the branch from the fence. Success!  The branch was really heavy but with much effort I was able to pull it out of the rhododendron that it damaged and drag it along the place where the snow is plowed. The smaller branches were carried over the hill to the debris pile.

While I could not bend the bar back into place, I was able to pull up some of the chain links to secure most of them to the bar. My greatest concern was that the boys would try to climb the open fence and check out the neighborhood. They all have had a little taste of freedom at one time or another, hence the fence, and it is incredibly unsafe for them to leave the yard. So I do my best to make sure they are secure. Snowstorm or not, we were getting that tree moved and fence secured!

The issue of where to park my car is troubling as I have no garage. This is the third time a branch from a tree has hit the car. Once the car was hit while it was outside the gate, and twice inside the gate. I don't really want to cut down the trees as they are a home for the birds and squirrels and chipmunks provide a screen from the neighbors. We had the dead branches of the trees cut down a couple of years ago and the one the broke was a healthy one. Just bad luck, I guess. But I do keep an eye on the pine trees. 

Well, at least our day was better than the Patriots. They lost yet another game this season. I was sad I did not get to the game to see the last one of the year, but things happen. Next year as they say.

I hope you all were safe during the snowstorm for those of you who live in the snow belt. 

Until next time.......




















01.07.2024. First Winter Snow!!

 We had a few days to prepare for this storm and I did take advantage of the warnings. First thigs first, dog food and treats were delivered, and puppy dog water bowls filled to the brims. All of our water bottles were filled as were the tea pots and kettles. Not going to be caught short handed this time! When we lost power in the summer I had not prepared for a storm, and we were hit by lightning, and we were without power or water for five days. Not going to happen again! Dog coats and sweaters were also brought out. shovels and ice melt brought down from the tool shed and the car filled with gas. We are ready! The only thing I cannot prepare is to keep the power, but we have plenty of battery-operated candles to see. We will have to cuddle in sleeping bags and blankets if we lose power and it gets cold. And hope there is no bursting of pipes. We have had pipes burst twice in the winter and once this summer. What a house.

I was hoping for a late start to the day, but Shorty had other ideas. He heard the plow trucks on the road and then one in the lower drive and off he went. Barking to alert me that someone was here. So I quickly got dressed as it did not seem like too much snow on the trees. But so far we have a respectable 6 inches. 

Shorty in particular loves the snow. Hard to believe he was born in Yap, Micronesia. He has developed a few thick coat since he arrived so no doubt, he stays toasty warm.  And he is my companion when I need to do chores, like shoveling the upper driveway, walkway and porches. He watches me form his hemlock tunnel when I use the roof rake - he knows to stay far away otherwise he'll get pelted by falling snow!

Fionnegan and Gunnarr seem to enjoy the snow as they like to run through the powdery bliss. They also run under the hemlock tunnel and chase each other and sniff out most likely the chipmunks and squirrels. They are good companions while I work but the little ones seem to get cold and so I let them inside the house to stay warm while Shorty and I keep working.

The hemlock trees tip their branches to reach the ground. They are beautiful and form a fun tunnel for the boys to run. I do make the rounds with a broom and knock off as much snow as I can so the branches do not break.  The very tips of the branches once impeded into the ground snow do not release easily and may break if not released carefully.


A hemlock snow tunnel! Fionnegan, Gunnarr and Shorty run under the trees - less snow and some interesting scents!


Our yard with the tree branches and willow shrub branches touching the ground.  There were quite a few broken branches from the willow - nature's way of pruning them I guess!


First out the door with the lights still on as it is still a bit early! Fionnegan and Gunnarr push past Shorty to get outside first!

Off they go!


Shorty follows closely!


We open the gate to let them run in the yard. Shorty heads for the hemlock tunnel. I wonder if her remembers this from previous years with snow.


Fionnegan and Gunnarr shake off the snow. They had noses in the fresh soft snow and rolled in it too. 




Gunnarr peeping out from the hemlocks.


Plowing through the snow. You can find Gunnarr by his red bow.


My Gunnarr. Just finished running under many shrub branches and a couple had stuck to him.


Gunnarr always seems to love this part of the garden in any weather. Not sure why as there is a thorny rose bush in there but also other flowering shrubs. The bunny also likes to hide in there so maybe he is just checking on any prey he can find. 


Yes, Fionnegan and Gunnarr are sniffing something as Shorty is running the fence in another part of the garden. They are getting much needed exercise.

Also sniffing in between the rocks. I hope they don't get a bite on a nose!



My Fionnegan. Just finished running under the shrubs and it is time to shake off the snow. While I was shoveling, he just stood and watched the snow fall from the sky. He seems to enjoy these winter adventures.



Fionnegan and Gunnarr are never really far apart. They chase each other, wrestle and cuddle together. Good brothers. 



Shorty just finished his tour of the fence and now came back to the hemlock tunnel.



My Shorty. He is such a good boy - most of the time!



Shorty just starting barking really loud after hearing a sound outside. He is a good watch dog and has very acute hearing. I went out to see and this is what I found. 

A tree has fallen and broke our fence and hit the back of the car. At first glance it looks like the car will be fine. But I need to cut the blog short and get my handy saw and remove what I can. O, winter! Guess I will not be going to the last Patriot game of the season. 








Hope you all are safe and warm!

Until next time!
















Monday, January 1, 2024

01.01.2024. Happy New Year

Happy New Year! 


What a beautiful day. Thought it was a day for an adventure, so I fed my pups and let them run for a while and took off for Maine. Had stopped at the famous Maine Diner and had lunch and then off to my favorite stops in the area. My first stop was at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. She was a famous conservationist and I always enjoy a walk along the trial. It borders on an estuary and not directly the sea, but you can see the sea from the lookout posts.




Love the curved handrails! Was also thinking about how nice it was to be walking without being eaten alive by mosquitoes!


The next stop was to what is now called Parson's Beach - it was Parson's Cove all those many years ago when I first started going there. This is generally a hit or miss opportunity as it has become very popular destination and there are only spaces to park about 10 to 12 cars. But I thought it was worth a try and luck was with me. One car pulled out giving me enough space to follow the rules and park between signs and no tires on the road! One thing has changed - the number of large print signs letting us all know that this is a private beach. In Maine, beaches can be owned by individuals, so I guess we are fortunate we can walk there at all. 

I walked for 2 hours - it was cold but there was no wind, so it was really very comfortable when all bundled up like kid! There were dark clouds with the sun peeping through at times, which then made it feel comfortably warm. Maybe someone living along the beach might consider adopting me. Yes, I joke.



This sign made me chuckle. Does this mean no skipping, jumping or running???? What if someone wanted to dance along the shore?  Frolic in the sea? No to all of those? Guess we all shall just walk.



There were a lot of open shells along the beach and it looks like the seabirds were doing very well feeding.





There were also a few noteworthy birds. Saw a pair of eider ducks.





There was a flock of sanderlings feeding and flying. These are fast moving birds!







And of course, seagulls.








The real treat was watching a common loon crabbing. She was far away but you can see the details of the crab legs in her bill. I could have watched this pair all day.







Then I was off to the Kennebunkport beach. A place where only locals and those with parking sticker can park during the summer months. Yes, it is nice to have good weather to enjoy these places.






Then it was time to head home and check on my boys. No doubt they missed me! This is their 2024 New Year portrait. Shorty wanted to stand in front, and he looks pretty handsome there. All three were wagging their tails - very happy boys.



O, by the way. We have a black squirrel at the feeder. He is a bit shy and twitches at the first click of a camera and runs when the first door is opened. So I had to quickly take these pictures of him through 2 glass doors. 




Nice bushy rail. And a fast climber!



I do hope you all had a nice holiday week - that went by all too quickly - and that you will have a Happy and Healthy New Year. 




Until next time..........