Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Lovely Evening

I decided that before the heat becomes a reality for this weekend, I had to take advantage of the perfect, high 70's temperature and tackle something I do each year after the back open space either gets mown by humans or by weed wacker sheep. 
I go out with a few garbage bags to pick up some of the trash left behind by people who 'enjoy' themselves out under the stars and then leave their trash behind.
Just a touch of reality. 

Well, I did not get too far.

I was about a half a garbage bag into it when I got to the end of the road and looked over into the ravine...
and guess who I saw!



I dropped my bag of garbage, ran a very long block back to my place, ran up the stairs to grab my camera, ran all the way back and he was still there. 
So I was very happy to be able to take a couple of very long distance, telephoto shots. 

Tried to get closer by a round about route, but no go.  
By the time I got to a spot I thought I could take a much better photo, he had disappeared into the brambles.

Oh well.  He is a challenge. 
But then again...if I was able to easily take a beautiful photo of him as in a wildlife park, would I enjoy myself so much?
Nope.

So after he disappeared, I had my camera over one arm and a garbage bag in another and ended up hustling up about one and a half garbage bags full of bottles before I realized...it was just too beautiful an evening to be picking up garbage.


So I took a walk.












An evening like this is why they call California...Golden.


                                                              photos copyright Stepka 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Gang's All Here


My office window looks out onto a public walking path.  It has stopped raining and so people are back out walking their dogs....
or in this case....the whole family.







Hard to see, but that is calico kitty in leaping, running mode on right.

I had seen the woman's husband taking the puppy out for a walk and the calico following behind some time back, but first time I saw the black kitty following too.
I was able to converse with the owner.  She said the mother kitty had started following along on walks first when they got this new pup.  And now the mom's kitten has joined in.

What more is there to say?

Darn Tooting Cute!!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28, 2011 RAIN

I am finding that this little blog has become a diary of sorts, so because of this momentous occasion, I had to place a quick post.

It is raining.  June 28, 2011.

Yes, that is alot of water on patio.

...and streaks of rain descending down from the skies.


and one disappointed and confused kitty sitting at the office window.

I read once in a book about a pseudo scientific study that states..."cats don't have expressive faces".
Yeah, sure. 

This cat even sighs....loudly and 'dramactically'.

To non Northern Californians, just bear with me. 
But to be wearing a turtleneck for warmth, and hearing the rain pattering outside my window is a wonderful thing.

Especially when the weekend forecast calls for 100 degrees.

Yuck.
                                                         


                                                                                                copyright 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sonoma Marin County Fair Time

The last, so many years I have worked in retail, and always ended up on weekend duty, so it is so nice now to be able to enjoy a real weekend ...and a down home fair.




The first stop....free ice cream cones from Clover.



Of course, the cattle and the goat barns were the highlight of the fair to me.
Saw alot of cows (mainly holsteins) that totally looked like Spot, whom my brother as a teenager exhibited...and my Binky, whom I think had won a 3rd place ribbon with many, many, many, many years ago in our local rural 4-H fair, and whom, when nervous little me, fell down on my face while I was taking him into the ring...just stood there looking down at me.  Stupid human.

It was quiet in the barns, the judging having been done a couple of days ago.  The pigs just laid there stretched out... as well as the rabbits.


and it wasn't even hot...but I think they had had enough of the humans peering into their cages, expounding on the softness and luxuriousness of their fur.

 The cows just stood there... and the sheep looked catatonic. 

But the goats, well, they were still putting on a good show.



Heck if they were going to miss any excitement.


Or any chance at a possible ice cream cone coming too near their greedy little mouths.



The cute ones of course do not need to do anything but stand there.




And as we wandered down the fairway...the corny sideshows were unique, if not appealing.


Ham Bone Express was having a show in 10 minutes, so settled in to watch.
It was free.

No pigs were harmed in the running of the swine.  In fact, the local newspaper made a point of letting public know that these little piggies travel in cool, air conditioned comfort.

No wonder that as soon as they ran around the track, they just bounded right back up the ramp into the trailer.
Their reward for running the race was an oreo cookie.

I think they had even better treats in the trailer.

I could picture them all lined up on a couch in the front room... watching tv.


and they are coming down the track...

They had about 4 sets of the little ones for us to cheer on.



And as part of the fair admission, you got free rides!

...If you can fit your adult sized butt into a ride's seats made for teeny boppers and kids.
Most of us adults succeeded quite well.
Not the best action shot.

At least my little camera did not fly out into space and flatten a bystander!


All in all, a very nice day at the fair.


Oh... and of course, this fair is famous for the World's Ugliest Dog contest.
I did not attend, but here is the link to who's little face won.
Her name is Yoda.



                                                                                                  copyright 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Organic Weed Wacking... Part 2

I have had my fill of photographing sheep right outside my window the last two days.  Just wonderful!
The same people who brought in goats to weed wack the hills above me are now right in my backyard open space area with about 200 sheep doing their duty.





The 3 foot high golden grasses, 5 foot high thistles and 6 foot high wild licorice are now history.
I will miss the blooming of the licorice plants.  Last year, the plants were left to bloom to their hearts delight and the golden blossoms were really something to behold.


The sheep were eatting it up....literally.



The shepherds use mobile electric fencing, solar powered.
Did not deter some young ones.
Grass is always greener...


Apparently there was some buzz in the fence, but like a fly... not like a nasty hornet.
This little one finally crawled totally out and was transported back to the home farm that night.
They are given no second chances.


I took some really lovely portraits...some wonderful characters out there.
Here's just a couple.







But by far, No. 76 was my favorite. 
....or as I called her...Wrinkle Nose.


Thank you Shepherds and Weed Wackers for doing a great job!



I will miss my cascades of yellow licorice blossoms though.


                                                               all copyrighted 2011 Stepka

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Deer Neighbor

Well, no sign of fox last night.  Spent an hour waiting, but no show.

But the neighborhood doe was munching down.

 Sometimes I wonder if this doe was the fawn Fitz touched noses with a few years back.
I was able to stand 8 feet away from her last night taking photos and she didn't bolt.




                                                                   copyright Stepka 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

There be foxes!

I was just up the road basking in the warmth of the sun the other day.
Gazing into the ravine, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye, so I placed my full attention on that area...and sure enough, a quick movement shot from the wood and then into the huge blackberry bramble. 
Just enough of a glance to know I had just seen the long body of a fox with it's bushy tail trailing behind.
I was ecstatic!

When I had lived on the farm, if you saw a wild animal near the house, you avoided that area.  It was just a given that something was wrong with that animal because it wandered near humans...and sure enough, I do remember a diseased fox stumbling onto the back lawn and other assorted creatures like raccoons and skunks.

Where I live now...well, I think I mentioned before about finding 45 wild turkeys filling up my driveway one morning.  Can definitely live without that... BUT A FOX!?

Even though I have seen very few and from a long distance away (once heading through a harvested field, once on a marshy beach) there is something about them, that just fascinates me.  The English country manor, Fairy Tales and Tasha Tudor comes to mind.

I was actually on my cell phone also when I had seen the vision, and I asked the person on the other end what time it was.  After 6:30 pm.
I have always noticed that animals have routines, an ingrain sense of time.  So last night I went again to the spot and sat down with a book... and my camera.
                                                                  

                                                                        6:40 pm
                                                                 
There he was. 
 Definitely not the best photo in the world, but proof of existence!
For me, it is a wonder just to see him.

He sat there for a few minutes and I finally realized that the neighbors dog was barking behind a nearby fence.   I am pretty sure that fox was just sitting there enjoying the dog's frustration.
Then in a flash he was gone.

Tonight....I will try to stake out a spot closer downwind and see if he appears again.

       
                                                                                               copyright 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cute Chicken Story and The Trials and Tribulations of Appliance Repair

So my Kenmore washer broke down last week. 
Silly me, I thought that Kenmore and washer and dryers in general were to last at least 10-15 years.
Nope.  Not the way they are made anymore.
Boy, I feel old and awnry about that.
Mine broke down on the 7 year mark and my appliance repair man was packing up his tools and saying that was that.  New washer.

New washer?!
It just bugged the heck out of me.  So I said, well...how much would it be to repair it? 
As much as a new washer.

I most likely should have just gone out and bought a new one, but the idea of having to go down to a mall to a Sears store and buy a new one, throw out this one, and the whole hassle of it all....and then my washer and dryer would not match....well, I said buy the part.  A new motor.

Enough of the negatives.

The good part of all this is the story my appliance repair man told me about his chicken, Sarah.

A couple of years back, he and his family decided to buy a few chickens. Well, the 3 chickens they bought now have expanded to 45 chickens and he took a quick call while he was here from his daughter telling her to be sure all the chickens were in the coop because someone was stopping by to hopefully buy a few. 
However, he stressed, be sure that Sarah was separated from the group.

Ok ...I had to ask.  Sarah?
Sarah was one of their first 3 chickens and at the time of purchase, they had already been full grown chickens.
They tolerated basic handling from their new owners, but otherwise....forget about it.  They were just chickens.  They had not even named the chickens.
Well, after a few weeks, they experienced what new chicken owners all too often face.  Raccoons had gotten into the structure that they had placed the chickens and for sure, 2 of them had succumbed to becoming raccoon food.

After cleaning up the mess and ready to accept the fact that Sarah was most likely dragged off...here comes Sarah at a run towards him.

She took flight right in front of him and landed on his shoulder and stayed there.

Smart chicken!
Sarah will always have a place in that family's heart and a forever home.

Back to the washer.
Rick ended up on the second try figuring out what was wrong.  Not the motor...it was the timer. 
And that part was just as expensive.
Oh well.....I have a working machine and no needed trip to the ghastly mall.

Note:  I had asked him early in the process, what washer he would recommend.  He said to go on Craig's List and look for a 5 year old Whirlpool with very few extra dials on it.  That those do seem to still last a long time.  Probably should have just done that myself, but did not want to go thru that rigamarole either...

Anyhow.  I would not have heard about Sarah.


                                                 Nope. This is not Sarah.  But she's a cutey!

                                                                                                               copyright 2011 Stepka

Saturday, June 4, 2011

One of the Mysteries of Farming

Was talking with my brother about the book by Catherine Friend, "Hit by a Farm.
So inevitably, the discussion brings up some memory or another.


Upside Down Sheep

Finding an upside down sheep on a totally flat stretch of pasture, flat on her back, feet up in the air, is just a little bit unnerving.

Not just because it does not take long for that sheep to breathe her last, her lungs not able to function in that position, but also….

How the hell did she end up this way?

Did a tornado just go past when you weren’t looking, flipped her up and set her back, upside down in the same place?

Did a space ship fly over, see the ewe, thought what a good piece of mutton she would be and in mid transport, decided…nope, steak sounds better tonight, and dropped her?

And you would think that the sheep next to her would be upset , and upon seeing the human guardian, would run over to you, and baa like the sheep version of Lassie…”Baa! Baa! Sara has fallen down on her back and baa can’t get up!  Help her!  Baa! Baa!”, while others of her kind would be nudging the fallen sister, like the noble elephants, trying to get their fallen comrade back up on her feet.

Nope…they just stand there, right next to her, chewing their cud, a glazed look in their eyes.

Ho hum.

So you run over, see if she is still alive and start grabbing a leg to piston her 200 pounds back over. 

Sometimes you are in time…and sometimes, not.

Just one of the mysteries of farming.


                                                                                                                     story and photo copyright 2011 Stepka