31 October 2014

Happy Halloween

A photo of our son Brad's Halloween Jack-O'-Lantern.

Happy Halloween

29 October 2014


This Saturday is the start of the state wild turkey hunting season and these birds have been taunting me for the last week. If they follow the same game plan they used last year, I'll won't see them at all on Saturday.

26 October 2014

Sunset fron the top of the hill

After a week of dark, cloudy days, a colorful sunset was a beautiful sight. Timing is everything when trying to photograph a sunset. The first problem is being in the right location at the right time. Having a good viewing location doesn't help if there aren't some clouds on the horizon to reflect the sunlight. The next timing issue with sunsets is the duration. They don't last very long and the colors are continually changing along with the cloud formations.

I was very lucky to get a photograph of this sunset. By the time I noticed the pinkish/orange glow in the sky and drove to my favorite sunset location, I only had a few seconds to enjoy and photograph the sunset.

24 October 2014


The bright colors of fall leaves and berries make some plants stand out and are highlighted from their normal surroundings. Several of the barberry bushes on our property are showing their fall colors and I now realize this plant is popping up all over. The native species, American barberry (Berberis canadensis), is being crowded out by Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and European barberry (Berberis vulgaris) which are non-native and introduced for landscaping and hedges. Both species are dense, spiny shrubs that produce bright red berries.

Barberry forms dense stands and once established, it displaces native plants. Unlike American barberry, white tailed deer will not eat the non-native Japanese and European barberry. Because barberry has sharp spines, it acts as a nursery for small animals which carry deer ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease.

18 October 2014

Rose Hips

As the wildflowers of summer are disappearing from plants, the flowers are replaced with fruits and seeds to propagate another generation of the plant. The fruits of the multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) are know as "hips". Rose hips are particularly high in vitamin C and can be used to make jam, jelly and marmalade.

The rose hips of the multiflora rose are small, but what they lack in size they make up with numbers. The multiflora rose hips are a favorite winter food for birds, which in turn distribute the seeds.

12 October 2014

Fog and Fall Foliage

It was another cold frosty morning and the valleys were full of fog as the bright sun came out and started burning off the fog. I was able to get this photo of fog and fall foliage from our cabin property. Click on image to enlarge.

10 October 2014

Where have the wildflower gone ...

There have been a few frosty mornings this week and many of the wildflowers have wilted. I found 5 bumblebees (the fifth bee is on the backside on the right) busy gathering nectar from a small goldenrod bloom.

06 October 2014

Working the Roads

As the daylight hours are getting shorter, the Rome Township road crew is busy grading some of the 50 plus miles of township roads.

Grading a section of Joyce Road to fill in potholes and re-establish a proper road crown for drainage.

03 October 2014

Fall Colors

The maple trees are turning bright red and for a brief time we can enjoy the colorful fall foliage.

With a bright red maple tree in the background, a flock of wild turkeys have a meal of grasshoppers.

A view of our barn.

The woods at our cabin property.

Enjoy the leave now, they will soon be gone for another year.

25 September 2014


While wandering around our property I came across a small patch of Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens). The name Wintergreen commonly refers to plants that remain green (continue photosynthesis) throughout the winter. In North America, the name Wintergreen generally refers to Eastern Teaberry which is also known as American mountain tea, boxberry, Canada tea, canterberry, checkerberry, chickenberry, chinks, creeping wintergreen, deerberry, drunkards, gingerberry, ground berry, ground tea, grouseberry, hillberry, mountain tea, one-berry, partridge berry, procalm, red pollom, spice berry, squaw vine, star berry, spiceberry, spicy wintergreen, spring wintergreen, teaberry, wax cluster, youngsters.

The fruits of Wintergreen, "teaberries," are edible, with a minty flavor.

23 September 2014

Wildflower - New York Ironweed

The New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is still blooming in our neighborhood. This member of the Aster family starts blooming in early summer and reaches its peak around the end of July. Butterflies, bees and other insects are attracted to the brightly colored flowers and its nectar..

Once New York Ironweed is established it can take over fields. One of our hay fields is over-run by New York Ironweed since the haymaking process tends to spread the seeds.

20 September 2014

Bald-faced Hornet

The goldenrod is in full bloom in the neighborhood and buzzing with insects looking for nectar. While photographing some honey bees at work in the goldenrod, I cam across this Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) covered with goldenrod pollen.

The North American bald-faced hornet goes by several common names, such as bald hornet, white-faced hornet, white-tailed hornet, blackjacket or bull wasp, but actualy belongs to a genus of yellowjackets.

Bald-faced hornets are known for their large "paper" nests and their defensive behavior to protect the nest.

19 September 2014

Road Work

The Rome Township road crew was busy on Joyce Road this week correcting some drainage issues. The ditches in this section of Joyce Road were contently full of stagnant water, even during dry summers. The poor drainage in the ditches caused the road base to soften and thereby cause perpetual potholes.

Some of the drainage problems were cause by a plugged driveway culvert which blocked the ditch from draining.

With the plugged culvert replaced, the ditches on both sides were deepened and 4 inch drain lines installed below several feet of crushed stone. While the surface structure of the ditch will carry away the quick/large volume of water created by heavy rains and spring thaw, the 4 inch drain line and stone base will dry up the road base and straighten the road.

The finished drainage improvements. Great job by the township road crew.

18 September 2014

Autumn Olive

The Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) berries are starting to turn a bright red and it will soon be time to make some Autumn Olive Jam. It's still too early to pick the berries since they get sweeter with time.

Some of the bushes on our property are loaded this year. The deer and turkeys are already feeding on the berries, but I'm still doing quality control checks while looking for the sweetest bushes.

We used the following recipe from "dreams and bones" web blog to make our jam.

Autumn Olive Jam

Autumn Olive Jam ~ the Saga

8 cups of ripe autumn olive berries
1 cup of water
3 ½ cups of sugar
1 package of no-sugar-needed Sure Jell

Gather 8 cups of ripe autumn olive berries. (Be sure to taste test the berries as you pick. I've found the bright red berries to be more tart than the dull red berries.)

Add 1 cup of water to the 8 cups of berries and bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Run the mash through a sieve and you will have about 5 cups of pressed fruit.

Measure out 3 ½ cups of sugar. Take ¼ cup of the measured sugar and mix it with the contents of a package of no-sugar-needed Sure Jell. Mix it in with the pressed fruit and bring to a rolling boil. Add the remainder of the sugar to the boiling liquid and return to a rolling boil and let it boil for one minute.

Then can according to canning directions and cool.

This will make about six 8 oz. jars of well set jam. Nice and tart.

17 September 2014

Wildflower - White Wood Aster

The White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata) is a short plant with very small blossoms.  The center of the flower will appear yellow when the blossom first opens and changes to reddish as the  stamens open.

The flowers are less than an inch across. but what the flowers lack in size, they make up with numbers. This perennial plant is native to eastern North America and over time will create dense clumps of flowers that bloom in the late summer and early fall.