Small But Mighty on Pigeon Hill

The rain let up for one glorious day this week. After what seemed like a week’s worth of chores, Hannah and I headed to Pigeon Hill. We debated taking Gidget with us. Although our destination was just 15 minutes away, Gidget doesn’t do well in the car. Her nerves send her into gastrointestinal distress. In the end, she came along – although Hannah insisted on driving home so she wouldn’t have to deal with Gidge – as cute as she is.

Twas a mucky, muddy hike following all fo the rain we’ve had.

Little Gidget raced to keep up with us.

She often scurried off in the wrong direction, turning to follow when she realized we were leaving her behind. When she didn’t follow as expected, just the mention of a cookie brought her running.

She scrambled over rocks and hopped up almost vertical inclines as if she were a rabbit. Only once on the way to the top did I have to carry her over a particularly sharp outcropping of rocks.

It was a beautiful afternoon from the top. See those clouds to the right? A wall of clouds with the next rain front moving in.

It didn’t take long for the clouds to cast a haze over the landscape.

The wind was whipping and we could see (and hear!) the waves crashing against the islands.

As we plotted our path down the hill, Hannah said, “Wait – we didn’t take our selfie!” I think I’m rubbing off on her.

This Pigeon Hill trip of the year strikes me as another “first last” – our first trip of the year before Hannah heads to college.

This little dog amazes me. She may be small, but she’s mighty. I think she’s got the heart of a Great Dane!

Save

Save

Save

Posted in

Read 3 Comments

Happiness on a Rainy Day

I woke last night to the sound of pouring rain. Torrential rain. As I lay there listening, I dreaded morning. I organized the annual Elaine Hill Love a Nurse 5K scheduled for today – rain or shine. Ugh.

 

We had 73 folks pre-registered as of yesterday. I anticipated that all of 6 people would show up given the forecast. Feeling less than enthusiastic, my family dug out the rain jackets, Sloggers, and Muck boots and joined a crew of other volunteers. There was a light drizzle as we set up our tents, but the precipitation steadily increased until we had solid rain. And then, runners and walkers arrived. 100+ ended up registering for the event. I was amazed, thankful, and so happy!

And then, in the lull of the race, I became distracted by the activity in the boggy field behind the registration tent. There was a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds. I sent Hannah back to the house for my camera.

And I started snapping pictures.

I had very willing subjects.

They didn’t seem to mind the unusual activity around their patch of cattails.

Nor did they seem to mind the rain.

So I stood there in the rain getting even more drenched.

I was so happy to have the chance to watch these birds with their colorful epaulets.

And the females are so subtly sweet.

So depsite the wildly crazy weather,

It was a wonderfully happy day.

You can find my design for a Red-winged Blackbird here!

:~*~:

The Elaine Hill Love a Nurse 5K event honors Elaine Hill, a legend of a nurse in our community who died from breast cancer. We honor her memory with scholarships for students going into the nursing profession. If this is a program that you’d like to support – you can do so here.

Save

Save

Save

Posted in

Read 1 Comment

Happy to be Home

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve spent any time here at Downeast Thunder Farm. Life has been a little too crazy.

Hannah and I spent a week on the road visiting colleges she’d been admitted to but hadn’t yet visited. Denison University in Ohio was her top choice given their reputation, programs and the generous scholarship and financial package. They even interviewed her via Skype in the fall. Although she liked everything she’d learned about Denison, she was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to her expectations. Well, it did. Before we left campus, she bought the sweatshirt. In less than two months she’ll be heading back to Ohio for an orientation program – this time with her father in tow. It’s Paul’s turn to make the 17 ½ hour trip.

I love that happy smile. Watching her discover Ohio and get excited about her college home was gratifying. She told me that I’m rubbing off on her after she pointed out a particularly large webbed bird flying above.

Finding the beauty in my surroundings wherever I am has always been easy, but returning to Maine makes my heart happy. The further north on I95, the sparser the traffic becomes until we’re back in familiar territory.

I hit the ground running this week with little time to enjoy being home. It seems there’s always a price to taking time off from work. Life moved on in my absence.

My garlic is growing. The Phoebes are back under my lean-to sprucing up two old nests.

The Osprey have returned to their nest along the stream in Whiting.

And, the critters have returned to my lap.

Life is good.

Posted in

Read 3 Comments

Coming Alive with Spring

It was a glorious Easter Sunday here – rare 74 degrees and sunny for April. Since my partner in crime (Hannah) is off on a trip to New York, I recruited Paul and Gidget for this afternoon’s walk by the river.

The water was high, roaring past the railroad trestle.

We walked the Sunrise Trail for a ways enjoying the sunshine.

Gidget, not used to the heat, was panting – her little legs working hard to keep up.

On the edge of the damn, I saw a flash of white and started snapping pictures.

Strong wings launched the bird off the edge of the damn.

It flew like a bullet across the river.

Gliding seamlessly.

Once I studied the pictures on my computer, I realized the bird was a Belted Kingfisher. I need a bigger camera lens!

 

There are signs of spring everywhere. My garlic is peeking through the straw in the veggie garden. Crocus are blooming. The peepers are peeping in the woods.

The frogs around the pond are barking. The ducks – only three now – are sunning themselves on the bank.

My day lilies are poking through – forcing their way up even before the last of the snow on top of them melted away.

The hoot owl is vocal day and night lately, most likely nesting nearby.

My world is coming alive after a winter’s rest.

Posted in
Tagged , ,
Read 3 Comments

Dilly – A Good Duck

Today is a sad day. It started out lovely with ice out on the sunny side of the pond. The ducks, Dilly, Quackers, Peep and Squeak enjoyed a first spring dip in the pond while I enjoyed the view from my chair in the shade.

Yet, when it was time to bring the ducks in this evening, there was no Dilly to be found. I discovered her body on the edge of the pond. While six years seems like a long life for a physically challenged duck, losing her hit me hard.

Dilly Duck in the Lillies

Dilly has always held a special place in our hearts. Because of her deformed legs, walking was very laborious for her and she always brought up the ducky rear. The pond was her favorite place – she would complain loudly when the other ducks left her behind. She was our best broody duck, working so hard at sitting on her nest every summer, never with any luck. Dilly got a little extra TLC, like picking her up to put her in the motar box for a winter bath or allowing her nest in the lavendar or wherever she wanted.

Dilly the Duck

It’s an end of an era here at Downeast Thunder Farm. We’re going to miss Dilly.

Dilly Posts

Posted in ,
Tagged
Read 9 Comments

The Handsome Hooded Merganser

You had to know that there was a Hooded Merganser duck pattern coming after my photos of a pair at the beaver pond last week. The male is so distinctive looking that he’s almost cartoonish. Their arrival on is a wonderful sign of spring as we gear up for 2-3 inches of late snow tomorrow! Enjoy!

Right-click here and select “save target/link as” to save this printable merganser pattern to your computer.

Posted in , ,
Tagged
Read 1 Comment

Hooded Merganser’s on the Beaver Pond

On the tail of writing about beavers, I spotted a most unusual couple on the beaver pond today.

 

I first thought they were bufflehead.

Once loaded on my computer, I discovered that it was a hooded merganser pair. The male and female are so vastly different that they don’t look like they belong together. She looks like she’s having a bad hair day and he looks just a little too dapper.

Since they reportedly don’t winter in Maine, I’ll take their arrival as another sign of spring – despite the forecast for more snow!

Save

Save

Posted in
Tagged ,
Comments Off on Hooded Merganser’s on the Beaver Pond

The Joke’s on Me

Many mornings I take a short detour through Columbia Falls to study the river. It’s a beautiful spot. This morning I spotted a juvenile bald eagle chilling on the ice. As I looked around, I saw a large bird sitting atop a chimney. You can imagine my excitement when I realized it was an owl! I pulled over, grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures.

A couple of dozen shots later it occurred to me that he wasn’t moving; not even a feather. My distance vision isn’t great, so I pulled up the image in my camera viewfinder and zoomed in.

fake owls

He was a fake! Who does that?

The joke was on me. 😉

Save

Save

Posted in

Read 1 Comment

Sunny Sunday Snapshots

Yesterday was a beautiful, mild day. I was quite lazy, spending much of the day on the sofa reading – something I rarely do.

nuthatches

My vantage point from the sofa gives me a bird’s eye view of three feeders. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Nuthatches at one time.

goldfinches and chickadee

This Chickadee in flight evokes the feeling of such joy.

winter lavender

Despite what the 153 bird pics I didn’t post implies, I didn’t lounge on the sofa all day. I forced myself outside and pruned my winter weary lavender. Some winters the snow has been so deep that I couldn’t get to the lavender until May.

greenhouse beds

I tackled the clean-up of two of my four greenhouse garden beds. The spent straw used as mulch last year went into the chicken run making for some happy hens.

farm fresh eggs

And I collected eggs. Last year’s four new girls are finally producing on an almost daily basis. Aren’t the eggs pretty?

Posted in
Tagged , , ,
Read 1 Comment

On the First Day of Spring

greenhouse in winter

This was my greenhouse at the height of winter. The snow on the roof makes it look a bit lopsided, but the greenhouse stood strong to February’s heavy snow. It scares me to think of what little beings were taking refuge in there.

Yesterday, on the first day of Spring, the snow was not nearly as high. I slogged through and shoveled the snow away from the door.

greenhouse ready for spring cleanup

I had forgotten that at the end of the season I’d  walked out without doing much cleaning up. Bummer.

warm spring greenhouse

It was pleasantly above freezing outside. Inside the temp was an almost balmy 80 degrees. I stripped off my coat and spent a little time yanking out the spent, dried, up tomato plants, and did a little dreaming.

 

 

Save

Posted in ,
Tagged
Read 1 Comment

Full-circle with Beauty and the Beast

The movie Beauty and the Beast has a special place in my heart and in our family. Hannah has never been an over the top girly-girl.

As a kid, she enjoyed Legos more than dolls. She was never into princesses but rather thought she’d be a firefighter. Yet there was that one Disney movie that fascinated her – Beauty and the Beast. She watched that movie until the DVD wouldn’t play anymore. She had all of the characters and would line them up on the window sill and sing the theme song at the top of her lungs. Just last Christmas we replaced that DVD and at age 17, I still find her watching it now and again.

You can imagine her enthusiasm with the release of the new Beauty and the Beast movie this past week.

Hannah's First Movie

Hannah’s First Movie

On Thursday night Hannah learned that she wasn’t admitted to one of her favorite colleges, and she was feeling quite low. So, we had an impromptu girls day and went to see the new movie on Friday. For two hours we were captivated. Neither of us checked the time wondering when it was going to end (which I often do during movies – I’m not good at sitting for that long).

The movie was magic and lifted Hannah out of a sad place. She’s a movie geek – fascinated with the whole of the movie – the script, music score, production, computer graphics, etc. She said that Disney fleshed out the story in this movie and filled in the plot gaps from the animated version. She particularly liked that Belle was portrayed as strong, smart, take-charge woman.

Looking back, I feel like we’ve come full circle with Beauty and the Beast. It was such a memorable part of Hannah’s childhood and the movie has “grown up” to be part of her adult life, continuing to bring her joy.

The movie and our mother/daughter day lightened Hannah’s spirits. As did the late-day email from Denison University with an offer of admission. All-in-all, a perfect day!

Save

Save

Posted in ,
Tagged
Read 3 Comments

The Bodacious Beaver

During my travels Downeast I’ve seen many beaver lodges – the pile of sticks peeking out of an estuary, pond or marsh. On occasion, I watched a beaver swim along, but I’ve never seen one actively working on their home. Yet it’s clear that they’ve been busy, I’ll spot new branches on top of a snow-covered lodge proving they’ve been at work. I know they’re often considered pests, but I always find myself watching for them as I travel by their homes. Enjoy!

Right-click here and select “save target/link as” to save this printable beaver pattern to your computer.

printable beaver pattern

Save

Posted in ,

Comments Off on The Bodacious Beaver

The Downeast Thunder Farm European Robin

This one is for you folks across the pond – a European robin to help welcome spring. It wasn’t until Nancy from the Netherlands shared a picture of her robin did I appreciate that the American and European robin varieties differ so much. The trick here is having just the right colors of felt – which I did not. I feel a felt order in my future.

The trick here is having just the right colors of felt – which I did not. I feel a felt order in my future. Enjoy!

European Robin printable pattern

Right-click here and select “save target/link as” to save this PDF pattern to your computer.

robin redbreast pattern europeak

 

Posted in , ,
Tagged , ,
Read 2 Comments

The First Robin of Spring

Enjoying my first cup of coffee while watching the flurry of activity at the bird feeders is a lovely way to start the day.

I just about spilled said coffee scrambling for my camera when I spied this newcomer.

My first robin sighting of the season sparked a bit of joy that stayed with me all day.

Posted in ,
Tagged , ,
Read 2 Comments

The Bonny Budgie

Although spring is all but around the corner, it was entirely too windy and bitter cold today to venture outside for long. I opted to play with a pattern and thought I’d try something that brings warmer climates to mind. This little Budgie pattern is simple, but getting the stitches just right is a bit more challenging. I used two strands of black floss for the decorative stitching throughout this bird. I think he would have turned out better if I’d used one strand at the head, increasing to two and then three strands as I worked my way down the back and wing. Play with the colors and patterns to create your own Budgie. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Right-click here and select “save target/link as” to save this printable PDF Budgie pattern to your computer.

Save

Save

Posted in , ,
Tagged
Read 3 Comments

In Search of Serenity

In a week overloaded with challenges, stress, and entirely too much work, where the ordinary suddenly goes off track, I’ve been in search of a bit of serenity.

Thankfully, I’ve found it in stolen moments.

The sun rising over ice shacks on a quiet river.

The meandering path for snow melt working its way into the sea.

Contemplation on a spring-like February day.

The shadow of Cadillac Mountain through the stark frame of winter trees.

Stolen moments with my daughter – the best balm for my soul.

Posted in

Read 4 Comments

Who’s Walking in my Woods?

I hadn’t thought much about who’s walking in my woods lately. Until I took out the garbage this afternoon and found this.

There were two sets of tracks running side-by-side down the drive, bypassing the duck and chicken coups without a pause. Too large for a fox, I suspect they’re coyote tracks.

I followed the tracks backward and found where they came out of the woods. At night we often hear the yip-yipping of coyotes in the distance, but this is as close as I’ve seen them recently. What I find curious is that they didn’t show any interest in the chickens and ducks. Although Paul spied what he thought were fox tracks in the snow earlier in the day.

We have experience with fox, deer, mink, skunk, squirrel, and bear, but for the most part, our woodland predators keep to themselves. Unless they spot an easy meal!

Posted in
Tagged
Comments Off on Who’s Walking in my Woods?

A Winter Beach Walk

I’ve got a case of cabin fever. I felt the need to get out and about today, but with all of this snow, there aren’t many places to hike. Pondering where to go where I’d have some space to move, I thought of the beach.

Roque Bluffs in the Snow

Hannah and I headed to Roque Bluffs. I hadn’t thought how we’d get to the beach – or where we’d park! You can just see the top of the stair rails peeking out of the snow here.

atlantic ocean winter

Thankfully, some kind soul had shovelled a path to the shore.

downeast maine beach winter

We’d almost expected a beach full of ice, but there was plenty of space to walk where the tide had removed the snow.

ocean in winter

There was a slight breeze, but the temps were above freezing; it wasn’t a bad day for a beach walk considering it was February.

camera winter beach

I enjoyed watching Hannah take over the camera. She survived in a couple light jacket layers.

bundled up for winter on the beach

I, on the other hand, was bundled from head to toe. And, with my Muck boots, I was able to stroll along in the surf.

hannah at roque bluffs

Ultimately, Hannah did complain about the cold. I offered to treat her to a Dunkin Donuts coffee after our walk. What did she get? Iced coffee. Go figure.

mother and daughter selfie

I love these weekend walks with my girl!

snowy tree

Save

Posted in

Read 3 Comments

Downeast Thunder Farm “Honey Do” List

I know I’ve mentioned before how fortunate I am to have such a handy husband. Paul, a marine engineer by training, describes himself as an engineer, designer, fabricator, and maker. We joke that he’s the idea guy. I, however, have veto power.

I always seem to be the one with the camera around the house, but lately, he’s begun to document his projects over at his site Downeast Thunder Creations. Here are a few of the videos he’s created from photos

wrought iron pot rackRecently, I shared the pot rack he fabricated for me. Here’s a quick video he put together showing the basics of how he created it.

mobile computer deskThis fall, Paul designed and built a standing, mobile computer desk for his laptop. It’s built for his height and comfort and he can easily move it to where he’s working.  You can see his images of building this here.

Paul designed my greenhouse a couple of years ago – which still stands strong even with the crazy 40 inches of snow we got this last week. He’s put together a quick look at the building process here.

These are just a few of the pictorials/videos he’s put together on his projects and he’s got many other plans on the drawing board.

My concern is where my projects fall on the “Honey Do” list. So, let me take this moment to record my list for posterity.

  1. Turn my 6″ baking sheet cabinet into a pullout spice shelf.
  2. Build a new duck coop with a concrete floor.
  3. Finish the windows in the revamped hen house.
  4. Dig a new garden bed just for garlic.
  5. Put the door casing and trim on our office door.
  6. Install the screen doors on the French doors leading to the porch.
  7. Finish the trim in our bedroom.
  8. Help me put new kitchen tile in – once I finally figure out what I want!
Paul Bennett's Downeast Thunder Creations

Paul’s Downeast Thunder Creations

Not to worry, honey. You’ll note that this list is taped to the fridge, too!

Stop on over to Downeast Thunder Creations and see what Paul’s been up to!

Save

Save

Save

Posted in ,

Read 1 Comment

Snowy Morning Visitors

Storm three of the week was still going strong this morning. I spent a couple of hours on the sofa with my coffee contemplating the real world. Today was Hannah’s third snow day of the week. I had to decide if it was going to by my third snow day as well. All I wanted to do was hibernate, yet guilt set in, so I headed into the office.

It was a very slow and slippery four miles to town, but worth it in the end. By the time I arrived home tonight, Paul and Hannah had the whole place plowed and shoveled out. Happy day!

Here are a few of the visitors I enjoyed watching over my coffee this morning.

Save

Posted in ,
Tagged , , , ,
Read 3 Comments

You might enjoy these other recent posts...

Small But Mighty on Pigeon Hill

The rain let up for one glorious day this week. After what seemed like a week’s worth of chores, Hannah and I headed to Pigeon Hill. We debated taking Gidget … Continue reading

Happiness on a Rainy Day

I woke last night to the sound of pouring rain. Torrential rain. As I lay there listening, I dreaded morning. I organized the annual Elaine Hill Love a Nurse 5K … Continue reading

Happy to be Home

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve spent any time here at Downeast Thunder Farm. Life has been a little too crazy. Hannah and I spent a week on … Continue reading

Coming Alive with Spring

It was a glorious Easter Sunday here – rare 74 degrees and sunny for April. Since my partner in crime (Hannah) is off on a trip to New York, I … Continue reading

Dilly the Duck Dilly – A Good Duck

Today is a sad day. It started out lovely with ice out on the sunny side of the pond. The ducks, Dilly, Quackers, Peep and Squeak enjoyed a first spring … Continue reading

The Handsome Hooded Merganser

You had to know that there was a Hooded Merganser duck pattern coming after my photos of a pair at the beaver pond last week. The male is so distinctive … Continue reading