29 September 2013

A Country Day

The weather has been superb for more than a week with one needed rain and otherwise, clear and still. The smell of the air itself has changed and the north sky is deep azure. The dogwoods have entirely shifted their leaves to reds and near purples; the gums are mostly bright red and the maples are turning.

The cooler temperatures (46F this fine morn) have preserved flowers already in bloom. The potted flowers on the patio might lead one to think it was early August rather than the very end of September. But then the two reddish dog woods in the background correct that misimpression.

Many flowers bloomed very late this year. The constant dampness encouraged every weed seed in the pastures to germinate. Last year it seemed that after three years of labouring with a hoe, the nasty horse thistles were finally under control. This year, alas, they were worse than ever and Mr. Fuzzy thought all was lost. They should have bloomed nearly six weeks ago yet most plants still have no flowers or even buds. Perhaps the scourge will not be as severe as it once looked.

With the onset of the cooler and drier weather, Mr. Fuzzy has desperately been cutting firewood, a task best completed by mid-June. The nearly daily rains and Mr. Fuzzy's slow recovery from a lung infection prevented the optimal period from possibility. Four of the last seven days saw Mr. Fuzzy waltzing the chain saw over downed oak trees. With much luck and continued dry days, this wood may be seasoned enough to burn well by January. Yesterday an odd movement of a severed tree limb pinched the chain saw bar and it could not be extracted. The wood on each side was too large for Mr. Fuzzy to move. Eventually a call to a neighbor yielded a long crow bar with enough length for leverage and the chain saw was freed at last.

Today saw another pass at the downed oak until the chain saw gas tank was exhausted. And so was Mr. Fuzzy who thought better of loading, transporting and stacking a load of wood right then. Lunch sounded the better idea. Driving down the gravel county road, there was one of the neighbors working on his fences. It would be considered rude to simply wave and drive past thus the car was pulled over and a conversation ensued. After about ten minutes, the neighbor inquired whether Mr. Fuzzy was in a hurry? If not, he could have a guided tour around the neighbor's large holdings. Although hungry, this was too auspicious to deny and an hour's exploration resulted - a very, very enjoyable experience. At the outset. topping a rise gave a fine view of Stratheden II, forty-one acres not attached to the main body of the farm. Here it is below - the bright green in the distance. Mr. Fuzzy had never seen it so clearly before.

Near the end of the tour, a superb view to the northwest showed itself as you may see:

Eventually Mr. Fuzzy was bound for Tuggle's Gap and and received a call from a friend who had not yet consumed his lunch either; we shared a most enjoyable hour over good grub. On the way home, it was the opportune time to return the large crowbar borrowed the day before - and its owner insisted I pull up a chair and visit a while with him on this nice day.

Thus Mr. Fuzzy passed several hours of his afternoon in unplanned pleasant conversation with friends. Such is the way of life here. One dear neighbor died two weeks ago and served as a reminder that tomorrow may not arrive - don't pass opportunities to visit with those you cherish.

22 September 2013

Autumnal Equinox

Fair readers, today was the autumnal equinox and the weather was gorgeous on the farm. Almost no clouds, gentlest of breezes, and a high of 64F. The five day forecast indicates similar days. This was ushered in by a huge cold front, spanning from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico which roared through yesterday with an attendant 6/10ths of an inch of rain, much needed.

Saturday was largely dismal, ranging from fog to heavy clouds, driving Mr. Fuzzy to devour huevos rancheros for lunch at Tuggles Gap; the fog there almost too dense for driving. Nonetheless, the lower elevations rather than being blanketed by impenetrable fog, were lightly draped in a diaphanous fog which ebbed and flowed like a tide. Here is the view at noon:

Perhaps twenty minutes before sunset, Old Sol emerged from below a layer of dissipating clouds, low on the horizon, just as misty ground fog began to rise. The view, dear readers, was truly sublime. This image is straight from the camera with no manipulation whatsoever except to reduce the size for posting here. This is precisely what the eye perceived: the Creator's glory.

As the sun bowed below the horizon, Mr. Fuzzy and Rufus the Dog took their pre-darkness soiree to the front of the farm. Although the sun was just below the horizon and light was fading with each heart beat, a superb rainbow occupied the eastern sky. Mr. Fuzzy apologizes for the lack of quality, it was taken with an iPhone, but the reader can interpolate the details.

The Creator was generous with beauty this day, for which all of us here on the farm are thankful. May your day have been at least equally splendid, if not better.

05 September 2013

Tales of Tails and more-

As is normal, there's good news and bad news - but finally the good news has begun to outweigh the bad. Fred the Red who was interred in the soon-to-be office last month because he was being treated for a cold fully recovered. He soon thereafter developed a limp, it did not improve over several days and an appointment with his doctor was made. Dr. Meredith McGrath quickly diagnosed his problem and an X-ray confirmed it; Fred had a broken pelvis. If you examine his x-ray, right above the blue star's top point, you will see the rather large break. Fred was either hit by a car or kicked very hard; in either, case, he and Mr. Fuzzy are deeply thankful there was no other damage. Today marked the fourteenth day of his incarceration in the office-to-be and he was freed to roam Stratheden Farm once more.

Mr. Fuzzy defines 'introvert' and rarely attends social occasions but the annual fund raising dinner for the local humane society is always an exception because the cause is so worthy. The stalwarts of the humane society save hundreds of cats and dogs from certain death by finding them new homes and work to reduce the population with a spay & neuter program. The weekly newspaper in the county published several photographs of the event - one containing Mr. Fuzzy's visage. The food was fabulous, the company good, and Mr. Fuzzy was the successful bidder on several local items including an exquisite basket. The person pictured with Mr. Fuzzy was Rufus' nurse when he was being treated at the Virginia Tech Vet School hospital and is a exceptional person with deep commitment to the improvement of conditions for both animals and humans.

Today was a check up on Rufus at the Vet School - they have been closely monitored his electrolytes to determine the appropriate level of steroid supplement. The blood chemistry result today was, for the first time since his crisis, normal. He will, for the remainder of his days, require steroid injections and pills but his life will be normal.

Rufus would like to thank his emergency doctor who quickly diagnosed Addison's Disease and intervened appropriately, Dr. Honius and Ms. Macon (DVM-to-be), thereby saving his life. He also sends wet licks to Drs. Disney and Ziglioli and final year students Ryan Walczak, Phd, and Eric ________, PhD,  (my apologies, Eric, but I cannot spell your last name and don't want to murder it). Ryan & Eric hold doctorates in chemistry but discovered their dedication was to veterinary science, not the industry or laboratory. Chemistry's loss is the animal's gain as they are both outstanding people, brilliant, affable, professional and profoundly caring. Their care and treatment is so exemplary that Rufus looks forward to the 50 minute ride to the school.

Doctors, and doctors-to-be, Mr. Fuzzy is forever in your debt for saving his buddy. A special thanks to Ms. Macon for reassuring him that everything was going to be alright on that anxiety ridden night of emergency admission.

There surely is a special reward in the next world for these compassionate people.

02 September 2013

Garden glories

This post is long overdue and Mr. Fuzzy offers his apologies to the three devoted readers of this blog. No good excuses and fortunately, no illness.

Tomorrow brings the first Canadian air this far south for some time and proffer the first really cool autumn-like nights with temperatures in the fifties. It will be a welcome relief and should induce fine, deep slumber. Undoubtedly the felines will be delighted and their rambunctious sides will emerge.

The summer garden is essentially finished. The food production portion was an unmitigated disaster with little production for much labour. The lack of sun, unprecedented precipitation and commensurate explosion of weeds combined in an exponential manner to devastate the gardens. Oddly, the flowers suffered far less and some performed quite nicely. Below is the most recent daily drizzle, from yesterday.

The sunflowers, although blooming several weeks alter than normal, reached 8 feet or more in height and shown through the cloudiest of days like small suns themselves. They are now just past their peak.

The zinnias have also prospered, both in pots on the patio and in the smaller garden.The colours and shapes were superb and although slightly past their peak, some new buds develop yet with hope for revealing their hidden charms soon.

Reagan is a dear friend of many, many years; we worked together in the late 1970s and have always kept in touch. Within the confines of his Christmas card was an envelope of cosmos seeds, which he promised would grow into the largest cosmos ever beheld by Mr. Fuzzy's eyes. Never known to exaggerate, his promise was true - the plants are full and bushy, reaching about three feet in height. The colour is unusual as well. Thank you, kind Sir, for the thoughtful gift.