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What Does September 27th Look Like in Maine?

Filed in Nature, Weather by on September 27, 2014 0 Comments

Well, I’ll tell you that it’s about 70 degrees out there right now. For some strange reason, things warmed up and are fairly humid. I’m not complaining because there are no bugs. Summer with no bugs is a wonderful thing, as long as it doesn’t get any warmer. I complain when it gets too warm.

The leaves are changing like nuts. The oranges and yellows light things up – it looks like I’m in another world when I stand under them. No wonder people come to northern New England to see the leaves change – there are so many maple trees to give them what they’re looking for. It’s crazy.

Changing Leaves Along Dirt Road in Maine

New England Autumn Colors

Yellow and Orange Maple Leaves

Maple Trees Changing Colors

I decided to get off my duff yesterday and start preparing for next winter in earnest. I know I’ve got a good amount of firewood still standing in the form of trees in the back, but I’m sure I could use more. With that in mind, I asked Sam and his father to drop off a pickup truck load of word for me. I think what they gave me measures about a half cord (12’x4’x16″). Not bad for $85. As the year goes on, I’m going to continue to accumulate. The wood they gave me was just cut this morning, so it’s got a lot of seasoning to do. It’s wet and very heavy maple.

Firewood

And yesterday, I ran out to pick up a ton of pellets, but not before I called Tractor Supply and haggled them down from the price of $249 a ton to $215 a ton. Basically, I threatened to go straight to the plant if they didn’t lower their price. They did and I picked up my first ton of, most likely, four.

One Ton of Tractor Supply Wood Pellets

I plan on burning more firewood this winter than wood pellets, but it’s still nice to have a bunch on hand just in case. It’s not like they go bad or anything and I happen to have the storage space.

I also pounded some metal and wooden posts into the ground this morning. I did this for two reasons, 1. To force people to stop driving on the grass because I’m starting to plant small pine trees, and, 2. To assist me in locating the driveway when we get dumped on with snow this winter.

Metal Stakes in Ground

Metal Stakes Along Driveway

Lastly, I figured I’d give you an update picture of the back yard. This is what it looks like on September 27th in Maine.

Autumn in Maine

First Maine Autumn Update

Filed in Pets & Animals, Weather by on September 25, 2014 4 Comments

We’ve got some changing leaves out there. Right now, the maples and birches are turning bright yellow and orange. Throw some red in there and you’re looking out my back window. As far as poplar, basswood and the rest – nothing. It’s all maple and birch. And that’s what’s going to make this autumn crazy with color.

Laura and I took a walk up the road yesterday and were surprised at how much had changed from the day before. It’s happening so quickly. At this rate, we’ll have no leaves come mid-October. Very little has fallen, but I think that’s right around the corner.

I tried to take a few pictures during our walk yesterday, just as some sort of status update. Here are the lousy ones I got of some of the trees.

Yellow Maple Leaves

Green and Red Maple Leaf

Autumn in Maine

Changing Maple Trees

Maple Tree in Autumn

And here’s a picture of our neighbor’s cabin. Pretty cool, huh? What someone wouldn’t give for a nice cabin like this up in the woods.

Cabin in Maine

While we were at the top of the road, of course we had to take some pictures of a sexy bull. Here’s Brownie looking as debonair as ever.

Brown Bull

Brown Bull

Brown Bull

Brown Bull

I couldn’t decide which one to post. They all look good.

As we were taking pictures of the cow and bull, Dave came out with some hamburger rolls to feed them. He shared with us and made our walk even more exciting. It’s the little things…

Feeding a Cow

Feeding a Cow

Feeding a Cow

Feeding a Cow

New Animals Up the Road

Filed in Pets & Animals by on September 22, 2014 4 Comments

This is very exciting for us. We’ve got a whole new cluster of animals up the road and I’ll tell you, our walks just got a bunch more exciting.

Luckily for us, Laura decided to bring her camera during our last trip to Don’s. Don’s is the end of the road, so I like to call our walks “Going to Don’s.” When I want to go for a walk, I yell out, “Hey, do you want to go to Don’s?” Laura yells back, “Sure Jay. I’d love to go to Don’s.” She knows what I’m talking about because a long time ago, I explained to her how I see things, and how I see the road in particular. I told her outright – “Don’s is at the end of the road, so that’s where we’re going.” I heard no complaint and it’s been Don’s ever since.

I’ll go through our walk chronologically. That’s probably the best way to do things here because the animals go from fairly boring to very thrilling. Let’s go.

First, Sam’s family picked up a few ganders from the auction about a week ago. They purchased four ganders in all, but only three remain. They already ate one of them. I suppose that’s what they’re for, if you do that. I prefer seafood, but I hear duck is tasty. The only time I tried duck was during a trip to a French restaurant in New York with my 7th grade French class in middle school. I don’t remember caring for it all too much. If memory serves, it tasted like tough chicken. But still, people like their duck, especially when four of them cost only five bucks at an animal auction.

Here are the three ganders that are left.

Ganders in Pond

And here are the three ganders, along with the other ducks and Henry, the big gander who may be yelling at them. I don’t remember.

Ducks in Pond

Next up is the cow and the bull. The cow’s name is Daisy and the bull’s is Brownie.

Here is Daisy in all her glory.

Black Cow in Maine

And here is Brownie. He didn’t even look at us when we called him. He was too busy eating grass and laying around like a lazy bull.

Brown Bull

Now we get to the exciting part of this post. The cat pictures – or should I say, the kitten pictures.

Ever since we began walking to Don’s, we’ve been seeing a multitude of cats and kittens at one particular house. At one time, we saw about five white cats that look just like this one:

White Cat

For some reason, we don’t see many like that one anymore. Perhaps the others were picked off by predators, such as coyotes and fishers. Fishers are especially vicious and could easily eat a house cat in one sitting.

But what we did see was a few kittens. I forget the calico’s name, but here’s a picture of her:

Calico Cat

There was another kitten – an orange one – that was inside. His name was “Target” because it looked like there were targets on his back. The orange cat we did see is named, “Rusty.” I want to steal Rusty, but I don’t want another vet bill. I love him already and while we were up the road walking to Don’s, I held Rusty in my arms, if just for a few seconds. He has mites in his ears, but he’s as cute as all get-out. Take a look for yourself. I bet he’d be a good match for Voleman. He looks just like him.

Orange Cat Hiding

Orange Cat Walking in Grass

Orange Cat Ready to Pounce

Orange Cat Playing

Cute Orange Cat

Indoor Firewood Rack

Filed in Firewood by on September 22, 2014 2 Comments

I have been going back and forth in my mind for weeks about what type of firewood rack I want. Should I build one? Should I buy one? Should I buy one and then build it? Up until this morning, I had no idea what to do.

You might think this is a trivial matter and that I way over-think things, but let me tell you something – I didn’t move to the middle of nowhere to purchase items from Home Depot that I could easily make at home. The problem was, in this case, I wasn’t all too confident in my capabilities. Throughout my life, I haven’t been the best of woodworkers and, for this project, I was truly trying to avoid picking up some lumber, cutting it all wrong and then having to head out to get some metal “wood hoop.” And actually, this morning, that was the plan – to just break down and get a hoop. I used a hoop when I was a kid and I suppose I was ready to do it again. Thing is – I really didn’t want a hoop. I wanted to build something. I know it seems strange, but trust me when I tell you that I need to build things. I feel like a waste of space if I don’t.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with. I didn’t even have to buy any wood. I had some leftover cedar in the garage and used that. And oddly enough, the rack is straight, square and very strong.

Indoor Wood Rack

Firewood Rack

Firewood Rack Construction

Indoor Firewood Rack

I bet you’re curious how I get the firewood in the house. Well, here’s your answer. It’s so easy.

Firewood Cart

That’s right, I just use my hand truck and a tie down. I wish I thought of this when I was a kid. Sure would have saved some time. My new firewood rack holds two full carts of firewood.

How much did this project cost? About $1. I bought some 3 inch screws a while back so I suppose I should account for them. Pretty good, I’d say.

18 Degrees at Sugarloaf

Filed in Weather by on September 19, 2014 0 Comments

Apparently, snow making has begun up at Sugarloaf Mountain here in Maine. As reported on the Sugarloaf website, the temperatures dropped to 18 degrees last night and since the time was ripe, they went ahead to test their snow making equipment.

Sugarloaf Homepage

According the Boston.com ski blog, both Sunday River and Sugarloaf had a cash infusion that allowed both mountains to upgrade their snow making setup. Now that things are working better than ever, I’d say I need to begin looking for another snowboard. I do have a long history of snowboarding you know. Out of a two man club I once formed, I was the champion.

How was this exciting news brought to my attention? Steve, of course. He’s my man on the ground. My roving reporter. Thanks Steve!

Summer is Over

Filed in Weather by on September 16, 2014 0 Comments

Well, here we have it. Summer has apparently come to an end.

Laura’s been murmuring recently about the pool water getting just a tad on the cool side. Strange, because she’s quite dolphin like – arctic dolphin like. If she tells me the water is getting cold, her lips must be on the brink of turning blue. I honestly thought we’d leave the pool open until December. Guess not.

Covered Pool

Guess what we did on Saturday – yep, we closed the pool. It’s been falling to the low 40s at night and that was doing a number on the water temperature. While there were some days the thermometer told us the top layer of water was around 70 degrees, the lower levels were much cooler. And that’s just no fun when it comes to swimming.

Closing the pool is sad. I’ve never had a pool before, but I will tell you that the whole ordeal oddly reminded me of the feeling that a new school year is coming in just a few days. It represents a stark shift in seasons. A quick change. I try not to look at the pool, even though I’m not a fan of summer. I must not be a fan of change either.

We had our first frost two nights ago. Steve asked me if we had any as he was driving over to Vermont. He reported that New Hampshire was full of it. When I looked out the window in the morning, I was surprised to see a white haze covering much of the grass. I quickly went outside for some pictures. I had to act fast because the frost was melting.

Frost on Grass

Frost

Can you believe it? Frost in September?

I’ve had a fire in the wood stove for the past few nights as well. I’ll tell you there’s nothing like it. I absolutely love a cozy fire. And to put all that wood I collected to good use is wonderful as well. Although, at this rate, I’ll never have enough to get to December, but at least I’ll know the wood stove works well. I’ve gotten the log cabin room up to 80 degrees.

The Dragonfly

Filed in Insects by on September 12, 2014 2 Comments

Just so you know, the bug season in Maine starts around July 1 and continues until August 1. Before July 1, things are still fairly cool outside and you can do what you want. When July rolls around, you have to go hide inside. The bugs, coupled with the humidity will make you want to visit Iceland for the month. But when August arrives and you get your first glimpse of the zillion or so dragonflies, you can rest assured that the good times are right around the corner.

A few weeks ago, I’d stand outside in the pool area, and lean up against the fence to watch the dragonflies do their work. I have no idea how many there were zigging and zagging up and across the back yard, but I can tell you they were in the hundreds. They start flying around in the hunt for food (flies) around dusk and continue into the night. When it gets really dark, they go to sleep. It’s amazing to watch the dragonflies do such a wonderful job at getting rid of all those other bugs out there.

It’s not terribly noticeable when you don’t have to swat flies from swarming your face, but when you do realize there aren’t as many as there used to be, you start to wonder why. It’s the dragonfly, my friend. They eat everything. And if you watch them fly around, you’ll see that they travel in rows and columns with almost perfect precision. It’s the 90 degree turns that get me.

Laura just took this picture. She doesn’t know I stole it from her camera. Nothing is sacred around here.

Dragonfly

Location of Our Septic Tank

Filed in Home Improvement by on September 12, 2014 0 Comments

This is the last thing I’m going to say about the whole septic tank issue and really, the only reason I’m writing this post is for our own records. We thought it would be a good idea to, instead of marking the lawn where the tank is, measure things out and post it here. Since I’ll likely have this blog for the rest of my life, I’ll just refer back to it when I need to dig the lawn up again for the tank’s next cleaning.

Okay, here it is. The tank is exactly 38 feet away from the front of the house.

Septic Tank Distance

I know the tape measure says 18, but I had to stop at 20 and then continue on because my measure is only 25 feet long. So, 20+18=38.

The tank is straight out from the front window. I put the tape measure butt up against the wall and walked straight out. Nuff said. Case closed.

Septic Tank Covers

The Hummingbird Moth and the Beautiful Pink Phlox

Filed in Flowers, Insects by on September 11, 2014 1 Comment

You’re in for a real treat with this post. If this doesn’t make you smile, I’m not sure what will.

Since this spring rolled around and plants and flowers began growing, we’ve been splendidly surprised at what’s been left behind for us to marvel at. If you’re curious as to what I’m referring, take a look at my Flowers category. That category will give you a taste of what we’ve got growing here around the property.

A late bloomer to the party, but in no way any less relevant or beautiful, is our many shades of pink Phlox bushes. It seems that these guys have grown up in a wide variety of places – next to the pool fence, at the front of the house, in the small garden in the back yard. And wow. I’ll tell you that – what a sight they are for a striking September flower. They range from light to dark pink and are a real attraction for the ultra-interesting Hummingbird Moth. If you’ve never seen a Hummingbird Moth, just think Hummingbird, but not. It’s an insect that acts just like the bird. Strange, I know.

You’re going to like these pictures – I just know it. When I took them off Laura’s camera, I instantly became excited to post them. First, I’ll show you the Hummingbird Moth.

Hummingbird Moth and Pink Phlox

(Do you know how lucky – or patient – or good – you have to be to get a picture like this?)

Hummingbird Moth and Pink Phlox

Hummingbird Moth and Pink Phlox

And now, I’ll show you some pictures of our pink Phlox. What a flower.

Pink Phlox

Pink Phlox

Pink Phlox

Pink Phlox

Pink Phlox

Grasshopper on the Fence

Filed in Insects by on September 11, 2014 0 Comments

There was a month or so during the summer when we had to save between 5 and 10 grasshoppers per day from drowning in the pool. I’m not sure why we chose the grasshopper as a more valuable creature over the japanese beetle (we find these in the pool as well), but we did. Perhaps it’s because we hate the japanese beetle. Yeah, that could be it.

Anyway, when we pull a grasshopper from the pool, we tend to enjoy looking at their workings – you know, their big eyes, their long legs, their folded wings. They truly are magnificent creatures and many of them are seemingly unique. The colors and sizes change between almost all of them.

During one of Laura’s rescues yesterday, she was able to remove a grasshopper from the pool skimmer to allow it to dry on top of one of the fence posts. This, of course, was followed by a photo shoot, where I suggested she start playing with my magnifying lenses. Basically, these lenses, or filters, give you the option of closing in on your focal range, instead of being bound by what your current lens offers. You really can get close up.

It was fun to watch Laura experience these lenses. She took a whole bunch of pictures, almost all of which I had to discard because I simply can’t post them all. I kept the one I liked and will post it below. Take a look at it. Click the picture for a large view. I have a funny feeling we’re going to start seeing a lot of macro-photography on this blog.

Grasshopper