Sunday, 29 October 2017

October Bush Excursion

Our property is privileged to include approximately eighteen acres of hardwood bush. It's native trees have supplied our family with lumber, firewood, delicious butternuts and of course a retreat to enjoy nature and drink in the fragrant, clean air.

The nose of our tractor, as we head towards our property's bush lot.

Leaves of many native tree species decorate the ground.

The distinctive criss-cross pattern of a mature Butternut tree's bark.

Wildlife (and myself) enjoy the sweetness of Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) fruit.

This summer a dead Butternut tree (juglans cinerea) had fallen down beside a field. A tidy up was called for. As well, I envisioned rounds cut from it's trunk and used for footpaths through my flower beds.

My brother skillfully cuts 'stepping stone' rounds from a fallen Butternut tree.

He cut thirty-six of them. They will make dandy garden footpaths.

After we cleared away the expired old Butternut tree my brother discovered a fallen White Ash tree (Fraxinus americana) just a short walk away. In it's younger life, a vine had climbed it, making the trunk grow wiggly. That tree has now been added to my firewood stash.
A vine had climbed this now fallen White Ash tree, making the trunk grow wiggly.

Easy to split and with a low moisture content, White Ash makes excellent firewood.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Fall Treats

This time of year always brings Cluster Flies (pollenia rudis) to my rural area. They buzz about the sunny side of the house, in search of protected over-wintering sites. The flies are only a minor nuisance and easily subdued by my trusty vacuum cleaner. But one of my cutest visitors finds them delightful. Yellow-rumped warblers (Setophaga coronata) are now in winter plumage and making their way south. But first, they are fattening up on cluster flies. These cute-as-buttons little birds seem to be almost constantly on the move, darting and fluttering to capture the flies. Focused only on the fly bonanza, they are unconcerned by my picture taking.

A Yellow-rumped warbler scans her surroundings for insects.

The droopy wings give a fatigued look as she pauses her frenzied hunt.

It's easy to see where the name "Yellow-rumped" comes from.

Last week, a nephew was surprised and delighted to see a wolf pup eating apples on the ground of his cottage-country backyard. That very same morning I watched my own version of 'The Littlest Hobo' here. A coyote was mousing in a hay field, leaping up in the air and pouncing down in a fox-like manner. There is an abundance of mice here so I'm sure this handsome guy makes a very good living.

Pausing to check for danger before resuming his mouse hunt.

One of my fondness memories is that of my mother's maple cream fudge. (We had our own dairy cream and our own nuts.) Some years, the butternut trees in our wood lot produced bumper crops. Cracked with a hammer on a good granite stone, butternuts were the gourmet ingredient of Mom's fudge. Lucky me, friends recently gave me a bag of butternuts. And yes, I have delicious plans for those walnut cousins!

Green butternuts dry and mature on a bed of newspapers.

With a little hammer skill, the nut meats can be winkled out whole from their hard shells.

These two remind me of Audrey II begging, "Feed Me, Seymour!"