Friday Update

My shortest post ever:

  • work = a lot which is good but I need time to paint to prep for art show next week. The paint is definitely going to be wet during the shows.
  • yard = total disaster after all the rain we got. Weeds EVERYWHERE.
  • garden = radishes EVERYWHERE. OMG we better start eating them. I’m going to start mailing them to random people I don’t know.
  • house = not too bad. I MUST get my studio shelves built, enough is enough. I need organization, even if it means I go on welfare. Rest of house is usual “gravel pit” looking self with toys, clothes and crap everywhere
  • art = did I mention I NEED TIME TO PAINT….painting at 10 o’clock after working 12 hours is not an option.
  • animals = we saw baby deer, and yesterday while I sat working at my drafting table a family of turkeys – mom, dad and 5 babies – visited our garden fence area. I took photos but don’t have time to post tonight.
  • flowers = wildflowers are blooming: sun flowers, cone flowers, black eyed susans and more.  Interesting how different flowers bloom at different times of year. I should draw up a chart next year.  Daisies are on their way out, bloom wise.

Night folks. As usual thank god you are not me – it is NOT fun.

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Tuesday Evening Quicky

From my phone: though I don’t have photographic proof I saw the first fawn of the season as I was driving down the driveway today! As soon as I snap a pic I’ll share with you.

Elsewhere it’s a two nutter butter and glass of wine night for the wife. I’m drinking lemonade as we watch the Bachelorette on ABC. I successfully made it into my studio to paint between dinner and tv down time. I’ll be back in there shortly. I’ve got about a week to paint my ass off for my upcoming art show.

Outside is a disaster area – no rain and animals are taking their toll but I raise resilient plants and fertilize them with tough love. You want to be in my garden you better learn to fend for yourself, lest you test what I value in life. Hint: don’t pit yourself against sleep, beer and playing xBox when it comes to vying for my attention.

That’s it for now, catch you all later.

A Summit County Summer Weekend.

Should you find yourself halfway between Cleveland and Akron on a warm summer weekend in the future, here are a couple of things I did this weekend that you may want to check out. I’ve grown up in the area but hadn’t checked out either place until now.

Friday night found me making the not so long drive into “downtown” Peninsula, Ohio and parking at Boston Township hall. Last summer tried to paint a picture of the historic hall during a plein air contest but never finished the piece. It still sits in my studio. But at the time I did read about the John Eisenmann designed building, and found the history of the nondescript old building to be interesting. But no time for history on a warm Friday night. I crossed the road to the equally historic G.A.R. Hall. On Friday nights the Peninsula Foundation hosts “Voices In The Valley”, which is a night of free live music. This particular “Voices” event headlined a friend of friend, renowned local musical artist Brent Kirby.

Entering the historic old hall I was warmly greeted and given the run down regarding where to get a drink (wine and beer available in the back) or a bite to eat (they feature a food truck out front for events). I grabbed a beer, but skipped the food as I had eaten dinner at home already. Seating is open so you pretty much grab a chair at a table wherever you can find one. There was one open table at the foot of the sloped stage, in a corner so I sat. The inside of the hall is covered in greyish robin’s egg blue bead-board that presumably dates back to its construction around 1850.  I’m not sure how old the chandeliers are but they add a nice touch, especially the cast iron on over the stage.

June 21, 2013 Brent Kirby on stage with Chris "Elmer" Hanna, G.A.R. Hall, Peninsula, Ohio

June 21, 2013 Brent Kirby on stage with Chris “Elmer” Hanna, G.A.R. Hall, Peninsula, Ohio

As I sat, a nice young lady was finishing up her opening set.  After catching a song or two she retired to applause. And while I hadn’t really heard Brent  play in person, my friend obviously was a fan of his music and, from what I knew, the mix of rock, folk and country would be right up my alley so to speak. Brent, who played the acoustic guitar, was joined on stage by fellow musician Chris “Elmer” Hanna on keyboard. They rolled right into several songs, none of which I really remember the titles of as they were all new to me; Brent is an extraordinary lyricist who writes most of the songs he sings. So it’s not like some cover band touching on songs you know by heart. Elmer’s keyboard poured a steady foundation of emotionally tangible music, punctuated often times by musical solos by the duo. Upon this canvas Brent’s thoughtful lyrics, guitar play and soulful voice applied the color and texture to make a warm summer Friday night into something memorable. All of this framed perfectly by a venue that would be akin to having these guys swing by your house after work and set up shop in your living room or back porch. You can just imagine any musician would love the chance to sing their heart and soul out on that intimate stage. And anyone in the “audience” would know they were lucky to be hearing it first hand. More so than a bar, or amphitheater or concert hall, a small informal venue such as the G.A.R. Hall invites the listener to be part of the experience without feeling distant or overpowered (by loud speakers and bright lights for example). And the venue allows the artist to perform in a more personal and humanistic way. As if they are singing to themselves, or the person they wrote the song for, or time itself. If anything I would amp up the intimate vibe in the venue, for instance I couldn’t help but notice the old piano with a candelabra on it or the funky little organ next to it. But it’s hard to argue with a nearly 200-year-old building and songs being performed that were just as timeless. Brent finished the night with his unique rendition of “Thunder Road” which was a great way to wrap up a small venue, small town America “concert”. We hung out and visited afterwards, and my friend even bought me a CD copy of Brent’s album ‘Coming Back To Life’. What a great way to kick off the summer.

I spent Saturday and part of Sunday working on work projects and not much else. The yard is a mess but that’ll have to wait. I do not like my new work lifestyle as I’m either stressed out when I don’t have work or feel guilty if I take a break when I do have work. If this is how it’s going to be the rest of my life then here’s hoping I get hit by a train in the next year or two.

Sunday I worked a couple of hours in the morning then decided that we were going for a hike in the afternoon. Work, artwork, house work and yard work be damned. After lunch we headed down to the F.A. Seiberling Nature Center, the main visitor center for the Summit County Metroparks. The center was renovated in the last five years and boasts a phenomenal native species garden walkway between the parking lot and visitors center building. We spotted a mother duck and her ducklings paddling their way through one of the small wetland pot hole ponds just off the walkway.

Duck and ducklings at the nature center.

Duck and ducklings at the nature center.

The gardens feature many of the same plants and wild flowers we have in our yard, but I was jealous by how well-grown in and dimensional the park garden was. And I fell in love with the three little pot hole ponds they had at different elevations in the garden. I later learned from a ranger that these were for filtering rain water from the parking lot, which itself was paved with pervious cement to ease rainwater run off.  You should visit the visitor center to see the garden if nothing else. But we walked on to the front doors, tucked under an earthen roofed, domed structure that looked more natural than out of the ordinary. One cool feature of the entry was the art made from recycled drinking bottles. The brightly colored “flowers” were made from caps and cut bottles. I could even recognize many of the cap types as being ones in our own fridge at home…an idea for a fun project at our house.

 

Flowers made from recycled drinking bottles.

Flowers made from recycled drinking bottles.

Once inside the cool air conditioned building, and out of the 90 degree heat, we were greeted by a ranger with a live turtle in her hand. The boys got to see and touch the turtle which was so-so on their interest scale. Of more interest was the opportunity to see more turtles, snakes and toads in a wall of terrariums, and the chance to color some pictures in a little kids table near the entrance.  The visitor center boasts a series of really nice educational displays, and a small but comprehensive gift shop. As I wandered through the still new looking space I picked up on a lot of the green building techniques they employed during renovation including LED lighting and solar power.  Sure enough the building had a LEED platinum badge at the entrance, denoting the top-level of green building in the U.S.

Stepping back outside we wandered over to the deck to see a live wood carving demonstration and gaze at the pond behind the center where I spotted a turtle sunning itself in the water. We then embarked on our hike. We chose the “cherry” trail because it was only about a 1/2 mile long. With two little boys in tow, one of which was already complaining about the heat, a short hike was all we’d muster this day. The trail soon dropped us into the cool shade of the forest. Featured along the way were informative plaques highlighting the various trees, once again many of which we have in our own yard at home, so it was interesting to learn more about them as we walked. I spotted several birds including a woodpecker, and the boys enjoyed climbing rocks and running on the path…..”boys, not too far ahead now” we’d call after them.

It was a nice trip to a local jewel that we had not been to before, even though both myself and the wife had grown up in the area.  She liked it because she could get a lot of flower pictures for her art. I liked that we were just able to get out and get away from work and the stress and guilt that comes with work.

Back home she watered her bees and she harvested our first crop of radishes from the garden. I picked some lettuce for our grilled turkey burgers. It was a nice end to a really nice weekend. I’m glad we carved out some time to do some things that typically get put off by busy families such as ours. Hopefully this gives you some ideas for things to do if you’re ever in the area, or just as good – go check out what’s hiding in plain sight in your area.  I bet you’ll be surprised.

Our first radish crop of the year. We sliced them up and put them in our coleslaw.

Our first radish crop of the year. We sliced them up and put them in our coleslaw.

Spring Flowers

Well this week is incredibly busy. After a nice weekend visiting with family here and there, the work week has been out of control. Two straight 10 hour days of work is great for the bottom line though, but there is no rest for the weary. Tomorrow looks to be one more 10 hour day so I’ll keep tonight’s post to mostly photos.

The garden is doing great. I fenced in the tea plants because I think bunnies are getting to them. No photo but the service berry plants are bouncing back. The bees look great, we added our first honey “super” on so we should have honey for ourselves starting in July. And I even snuck out on the 15th to take some wild flower photos and I’ll share some of those with you here.

Not sure when I’ll be back to post. Just assume my yard is going to hell in a hand basket. By the way the reason my old mower died was because it spit out its oil drain plug. I know this because ALL the oil leaked out onto my garage floor. I need to get a new plug and clean up the mess, then that mower is going bye-bye (curbside for free or try and pawn it off for money. It’ll work, just needs some TLC).

 

Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

The weather isn’t that great here and the boys are off to play at their grandmother’s house so we’ll have a few hours to work on art in the studio. I actually have a pretty busy work schedule coming up this week so the weekends are slowly reverting back to meaning something like they did in the old days: two days to get done everything that was neglected during the week like art and yard work. Though the feeling that every day is the same really never goes away when you “work” from home.  Even a day like Sunday, or Father’s Day is basically just another day. I’m with the kids and wife every day so the idea of doing something “special” on this particular day is kind of unrealistic and impractical. If we want to do something we go out and do it. For example on a typical “work day” while everyone else is slaving away in some office you might find me in the yard explaining first hand what slugs and centipedes are to the boys. I know it sounds strange but that’s the reality of the world our little family now lives in. Trust me, for several reasons, I wish things were like the way it was, where I had some 40 hour a week job to go to (with healthcare and benefits) and then I could try to jam a lifetime with the kids into 7-9pm and weekends. People who have steady work get to do cool things like go on vacation, send their kids to college, and retire.  Life for us is pretty much one continuous grind to survive with our sanity and livers intact. Granted I did just buy myself a new lawn mower, so not all is lost just yet.

Yesterday I freshened up the garden adding new stakes to the tomato plants and re-stringing up the pea plants with wood stakes instead of the little bamboo stakes. I tied fresh twine from stake to stake for the peas to train themselves on as well. I thinned out the radishes. Not having the heart to throw out the little baby radish plants I put them in little pots and will offer them free to whomever wants them. Maybe they won’t survive but it’s worth a shot.

We’ve got a second round of birds making nests on top of our porch columns so we’ll see what comes of that. I was going to clean the front column outside my office window but now I see birds coming and going occasionally so maybe they are making a nest or raiding the old nest for spare parts.

A quick thanks to my dad and all the dads out there.

I’d be completely lost without my dad’s years of guidance and advice. It would have been a lot easier if I would have gotten his gene for financial acumen, but the next best thing has been his never-ending patience for my never-ending list of questions when it comes to money and life matters. He’s saved me from financial, and personal ruin countless times, despite my best efforts to piss away every red cent I’ve ever earned, borrowed or found in the couch cushions. I’m pretty sure that once he wise-s up and stops taking my phone calls, I’ll sink like a stone.

But maybe that’s the funny thing about dads, and the guys in all of our lives that play the role of “dad”. They spend a life time teaching us stuff, and we look up to them in awe (when we’re not too busy thinking we know more than them). Then we get ourselves in some tight situation where “dad” is not around. And after we get past the “holy crap I’m going to a) die, b) get arrested, or c) get arrested and die” stage we realize that, almost by osmosis, dad taught us a lot of really awesome things that generally prevent really bad things from happening to us. Dad taught us to be strong, smart, stylish, and funny. Dad taught us about how to fix stuff with a wrench, or logic, or a kind honest word. Dad taught us how to treat people with respect and kindness.

Most importantly he taught us to believe in ourselves. That when faced with adversity or opportunity we can honestly say “I’ve got this. No problem.” to ourselves and mean it. Courage, persistence, and strength were invented by a father I believe. Dad’s teach us to stand up for what we believe in, even if it’s at odds with what they themselves believe in some of the time. They teach you to lay it out on the line and to take calculated risks, if it’s the right thing to do.  Letting fear keep us from doing something worthwhile isn’t a viable option for Dads. In my opinion stubbornness and challenging of authority is borne of fathers too, much to the ironic chagrin of dad in their children’s teen years.

Being a dad has a lot to do with testing patience. A fathers job lacks the fanfare of being a mother. It’s harder to articulate, and even harder to appreciate. And I suspect that is just the way dads prefer it to be. When you’re a dad you have to leave a lot of the piss and vinegar of your youth behind and replace it with a sense of cool, calm and collected-ness. You bite your lip a lot when you have a kids that are depending on you. His whole means of providing may be in the hands of someone he wouldn’t let bag groceries for fear that they’d screw it up. But fathers take the high road.  They say “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir“, with no one the wiser for it. There’s no way to say for sure how often this happens, but I ‘m certain it does all the time. We learn about responsibility and sacrifice from our dads; we learn when to speak up and when to keep our mouths shut.

Thanks to all the dads out there. The ones that are around, and the ones that stuck around even when things didn’t always work out the way they were supposed to. Thanks to the dads who fill in throughout our lives…teachers, coaches, friends and family….even the wonderful ladies who fill in when dad’s not around. Thanks to those fathers that went off to make the world a better place for the next generation and never came back. And thanks for the ones we’ve lost back here at home. You’ve taught us well. The all a lot better off because of you. We will pass on your wisdom, humor and love to our children, have no doubt.

Thanks to all the dads in my life. My dad of course for his patience, love and for taking me fishing. Eternal optimism is born of fishing I believe.  Thanks dad for giving me the knowledge and tools to be a provider and loving father in my own right. Also my brothers and brothers-in-law who gave me text-book examples on how to be an awesome dad. These guys make it look easy, each in their own unique way. I’m not that great yet but give me time. To my friends who are fathers and treat my kids with kindness and understanding as if they were their own. And to my father-in-law who shares his passion for life and the game of golf with me; teaching me how much there is to learn about life from chasing a little white ball around a course.

Well back to work for me.  Enjoy your day dads.

Me and dad c.1973.

Me and dad c.1974.

Lawn Mower Review

As promised I’m going to tell you about my Father’s Day present.  Yesterday we picked up a new GreenWorks 40V 19″ cordless electric lawn mower at Lowes. As soon as our old Troy-Bilt mower kind of gave up the ghost, and coinciding with a comparison test in The Family Handyman magazine, I started researching a new mower.  Our old one was gas powered, and was giving me quite a few problems as of late. It would guzzle gas, belch out smoke and had a tough time maneuvering over the rough terrain of our yard.  Even though I’d just changed the oil it sputtered to a slow intermediate death earlier this week.  I could get it fixed up again but thought maybe it was time to rethink the mower situation. After all, I had previously reattached the front wheel axle when it fell off last year, but the axle still flopped around. And just this week I took off the front safety shield so the mower could clear the rough terrain.  Maybe after 9 years it was time for a new mower. Christine was never a fan of the old mower because the “self propelled” feature never even worked very well which meant she couldn’t mow the lawn.

I was intrigued by the idea of an electric mower after reading the comparison in the magazine. So I went online to Lowe’s and Home Depot’s websites to see what they had to offer. Pretty much all the mowers in the article could be bought at one or the other store. I focused in on the 19″ models, as opposed to 14″. This would mean fewer passes back and forth when cutting our 4,200 sq. ft. front lawn. I also keyed in on lithium ion batteries as opposed to lead acid; both are rechargeable. The lithium batteries are like the ones you use in your cordless power equipment.  In fact you can use the lithium ion batteries in the mower and also other power tools. They are interchangeable. The weight savings is 20-40 lbs. by going lithium vs. lead battery.  The lithium batteries also charge in and hour or two vs. 12 hours for a lead acid battery. I’m not sure what the advantage of a lead acid battery is other than it’s tried and true technology.

I was leaning to the GreenWorks 19″ mower from the get go because of it’s size, light weight and battery type. And remember, I was not a fan of the GreenWorks tiller, as the wheels literally fell off when I used it, but since then I’ve come to terms with that unit, and am wiling to give GreenWorks another shot based on my research. When I read the reviews on Lowe’s website (Lowe’s is the only place that sells them locally as far as I could tell, plus we had a $25 coupon), the mower got 4.2 out of 5 stars.  Many of the reviews spoke highly of its performance and I was willing to risk any of the negative reviews which focused on a few minor quality problems with the ignition. The magazine listed the price as $449, but Lowe’s listed it at $349…plus our coupon and it was available at a local store. All and all I was satisfied and went to the store to pick one up. Now the one in the store is model 25223, which includes two batteries, one regular capacity and one half the capacity of the other. Model 25312 includes two regular batteries, but that isn’t offered at Lowes. Based on the reviews I was fine getting the one and a half battery set. I like the idea of two batteries regardless of size so I can charge one while I use the other. I can always buy another battery, especially if I purchase an electric trimmer to replace my gas trimmer someday.

At the store I examined the mower and its construction. I know where all the weak spot are on a lawn  mower – handle where it connects to the body (same on this unit but more on that later), the metal frame which is good and a rarity on electric mowers. I even picked it up to see how much it weighed (not a one hand task but lighter than a gas mower, it’s specs say 49 lbs.).  The height adjustment lever was head and shoulders in terms of ease of operation compared to my gas mower.  One other nice feature is the large back wheel, much better than regular mowers with small back wheels for going over rough terrain, which we have plenty of in our young yard.

So we loaded up the box and took our new friend home with us. It was to late to do anything last night so this mooring was “go time” to test out the new mower. I unpacked the batteries and charger, read the manual briefly and started charging the big battery. An hour or two later I switched and charged the smaller battery. Then it was time to give it a go. I unpacked the mower and lifted it out (it has a handle on top), it was light and new and oh so awesome.  Happiness.  Set up was a breeze, just unfold the handle and slide in the battery and insert the red key to complete the circuit.  With the wife watching and taking photos I depressed the button and pulled back the bail.  With a subtle “whirr” my little green machine came to life. I quickly mowed the tall grass in the walkway eliminating the chances that ticks could hide there while we got in and out of the car. I then pushed the mower to the front yard to finish what my gas mower didn’t.

Several of the reviews online commented that this electric mower actually made mowing “fun” and “enjoyable”.  After ten minutes of back and forth I was beginning to agree. The mower is so lightweight and quiet that it’s essentially like vacuuming your living room in terms of ease. And there is no belching grey smoke or loud noise like a gas lawn mower. The large wheels and light weight also allowed the mower to get over ruts and obstacles easily compared to my lumbering “self-propelled” gas mower. This mower is not self-propelled, but there is no need because it’s so easy to push with very little effort. One cool trick with an electric mower is you can flip it over to inspect the underside. I ran over some bird netting and got it all tangled up. I removed the key, literally flipped it over and extracted the netting, no problem and no worries that gas would come pouring out of the top of the mower or that the heavy mower would flop back onto my foot.

I had mentioned the handle attachment is the same as on other mowers. This area broke multiple times on my old mower. When you go to turn the mower at the end of a pass, so much torque is applied that eventually the handle snaps. I’ll spare you the details but take it from me, it’s a bad design, driven by cost savings. Well, with my new mower it’s so easy to turn because it’s light weight, there isn’t nearly the torque on this part of the handle so it should last for some time. My only complaint on the handle is the length isn’t quite long enough for my 6′-1″ frame, but I would have that issue with almost any mower I suspect.

I always cut in mulching “mode” and this mower mulched very well. It comes with a side chute and bag attachment but I rarely if ever use those.  Both looked easy to install though. The mower starts with a buildup “whir” then settles into it’s cutting rhythm. It will seemingly adjust the power if it starts to get bogged down. I did not get it to bog down so much that it stopped. Though when the battery runs out, it stops automatically, no perceivable wind down of power.

The great thing about the electric mower for our new yard is that is does not pick up rocks or branches. The old mower would just destroy it’s blade on picked up rocks and tree branches that I would “forget” to move. This electric one isn’t powerful enough to lift up the debris and rattle it around, which is actually a good thing. And if you do have to stop, you just release the bail to shut it off, move a stick or whatever and then just press the button and pull the bail back to start it whirring again. No cord to pull, or starter key to turn. This eager mower owned our uneven yard.  It cut even the gnarliest weeds and tall grass. For fun I even blazed a trial to the septic field and back with it; I just didn’t want to stop mowing plants, it was that much fun.  It did leave the occasional grass or weed sticking up but our grass was super long.  The regular mower did the same under these conditions. The damp grass proved no hindrance to our new green mower either. And I could even mow our mulch covered “paths” without throwing mulch everywhere. Awesome.

The sound was amazing. The mower becomes more of an appliance instead of this loud thing you have to fight around the yard. I mowed right around the bee hives (with my suit on just in case) and the bees didn’t bother me one bit. You could run this thing at 7am on Saturday morning and your neighbors wouldn’t mind a bit I bet. Heck you could have guests hanging out in your yard and be like “Hey, I gotta mow this grass real fast, carry on about your business” and you wouldn’t bother them in the least, other than them thinking you were weird for mowing the grass during a party.

I did go through both batteries, and had to take a lunch break to recharge one of them to finish the bee area. No big deal.  I wasn’t nearly as tired as I would have been pushing the gas mower and the forced break was good for my heart health too I suspect.  If I had two large batteries I would be fine. Plus with the gas mower I have to stop at least once to refill it with gas, so changing a battery out midway is no big deal. At the end of the day the handle flips down and you could store this thing on a shelf if you were so inclined.

Overall I can’t get over how much I like my new electric mower. No more messing with gas, and oil changes. It’s light weight provides it with several advantages and makes it perform better than the old mower on our lawn, which I have to say, our lawn is probably a harsher environment than any suburban lawn out there. We have weeds and ruts everywhere and the mower was perfect.  I’m pretty sure my four-year-old or mother could use this mower, it’s so easy to push. I don’t see any viable reason why I would ever go back to a gas mower.  Maintenance wise all I’ll have to do is replace the batteries every few years and sharpen the blade. This is the future of lawn care in my (virtually professional) opinion. It’s already great and only going to get better. I’m really happy with the mower, granted I’ve only used it once.  I’ll keep you posted if I have any issues but so far so good.

(Note: I have a video showing how quiet the mower is but I can’t post it on WordPress without paying $60 to post videos. If I post the video to YouTube (presumably for free) I’ll let you know.)

Deer World

Today was pretty typical around the house…wake up, work, take a break repeat.  The storm never materialized last night and the morning greeted us with overcast skies and a hyper saturated green canvas outside our windows.  The combination of rain, a little sun, and a lot of humidity over the last week or two means the plants are all growing as if on steroids. For example the service berry plants are rebounding, now that I’ve fenced them off from the deer. Little velvety, light green, leaf-lets (my word) are sprouting all over their woody brown branches.  The apple trees are sprouting leaves at an urgent pace as well, staying ahead of their blight. Weeds, clover and tall grass have all but taken over virtually the entire landscape, saturating it in every shade of green imaginable and dotting it with white and yellow flowering punctuation.

It doesn’t take much to conjure the Summers of our youth by simply stepping outside on a dew coated morning. I guess maybe we notice these sort of things more so when we’re young….we have more time to open our eyes. Like a siren, the land beckons one to be enveloped in its beauty and timelessness, tugging at something primitive inside of man, calling to order that fundamental quality that makes us human. The sort of secret landscape that renders poets and painters defenseless. Its calling realization that we are living in a temporary state of awe that precludes us from going about our day’s work of destroying everything as fast as we can. Were I to have the benefit of time and a less jaded early morning outlook, I’d surely be lost in it’s calling embrace I have no doubt.

To balance all the green, mother nature blessed us with an onslaught of white-tailed deer all day long. Their brown bodies could be seen out of every window at one point or another. I think because I haven’t cut the grass in two weeks, they’re enjoying all of the clover growing in the yard and around the garden.  The meadows are all tall grass and wet lands, devoid of tasty clover flowers and leaves.  I counted at least five different bucks today, each growing his own unique set of velvety brownish-grey antlers.  Early June  presides over who the standouts will be in the Fall, large racks start to distance themselves from the also rans. I saw “my” buck in the front yard. You can tell he’s big by his body size but now you can really see his rack is forking off…at least six nodes by now….will be eight or ten by the end of June. I have not seen our fawns yet but I bet that is only a matter of time.  In the back yard we saw a bachelor party of three bucks holding court with a single doe, around the vegetable garden. I also witnessed black birds out smarting my bird netting and taking their share of un-ripened blueberries. The one bird would land right on top of the bush and eat the berries through the netting.  He then hopped to the ground and flew up into the bush, under the netting, snagged some berries and then reversed his way out and away. Suffice to say I put more netting around the bottom of the bush.

One note, I’m amazed by the amount of wildlife we can observe directly from the house. We didn’t necessarily design the house in a weird shape or have wildlife bridges jutting into the woods. Joe just put a wall of large windows up front, for solar gain with the added benefit of great views. I’m amazed by how many times I get up from the couch and see what appears to be a deer in our dining room almost…standing just feet from the windows. It also helps that we have so much natural landscaping, and try not to scare away the deer. But also it’s not like we avoid them either…I was cutting the grass yesterday and a deer calmly crossed the drive 40′ away from me, ignoring me basically. One side effect of living here is I’ve gotten very used to observing deer in the wild so to speak. I used to hunt, spending hours in the woods, watching deer. Then for a decade I haven’t really seen them too much, but now I probably see more deer, acting more naturally than I ever have. I see how they move, how the react, what they eat….given the time I’d venture out in my hunting gear and a camera and probably get some crazy good photos….maybe later this summer. I shudder to think how many ticks I’d get but it’d probably be worth it. Now granted these are deer that will never see the working end of a rifle or shotgun, so they may act differently, but when it comes seeing deer up close I can’t think of a more comfortable and informative observatory than our home.  Add that to the “green” features of the house.  Not to mention the added childhood experience for the boys.  Pretty cool stuff.

Tip: don’t wear a white shirt when shooting photos out the window, you can see white reflections in my pictures.  But when I see a deer I don’t have time to do a wardrobe change.

For now though I’ll leave you with deer pics. Tomorrow is a special day, I’m going to pull out my Father’s Day present and address the front yard, much to the dietary dismay of our deer friends.  Check back here and find out more, I think you’re going to like, even if you’re not a tree hugger.