30 June 2015

Wildflowers - Roses

There are two wild roses in our neighborhood, multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) and the Carolina rose (Rosa carolina).

Multiflora rose is a small-leaved shrub with sprays of one-inch white single roses in June. This rose is native to Japan and Korea, but was introduced in the U.S. as a "living fence." It has become an invasive pest that is beautiful in bloom, but a real problem to contain.

A close up view of a Multiflora rose blossom.

The Carolina rose is a small, scrambling shrub with 2" wide-open single blooms with five bright pink petals and stems with straight, needle-like thorns.

A third type of wild rose in the neighborhood may be a hybrid of the Multiflora and Carolina roses. The flower of this rose is a light pink single bloom with the same size and shape as the Carolina rose, but grows on a large upright bush with large hooked thorns similar to the Multiflora rose

A close up of a neighborhood hybrid rose.

A close up of Multiflora rose thorns. The Multiflora rose bush is very friendly. Every time I get near one, it will reach out, grab me, give me a big hug and not want to let go. (Ouch!)

29 June 2015

Wildflowers - St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a perennial herb that grows up to 32 inches tall and is found in many parts of the world (including the Joyce Road neighborhood). The yellow flowers appear from June to September.

St. John’s Wort is a medicinal herb with antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties, but commonly reported adverse effects include gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhea), dizziness, confusion, fatigue, sedation, dry mouth, restlessness, and headache.

St. John’s Wort gets its name from the tradition of harvesting it on St. John’s Day (June 24).

28 June 2015

Summertime Deer

The harsh days of winter have faded away into the warm days of summer and the local deer are enjoying the change. The deer are enjoying the summer grazing and the bucks are developing a new set of antlers.

At first glance I thought this deer was cooling its feet in the pond next to our cabin ...

but it appears the deer is after some vegetation under the water since the deer has its head in the water up to its eyes.

27 June 2015

Bats in the barn

Earlier this spring I posted a photo of some bats that were living in our barn, I decided it was time to check on the bats again and get some better photos.First I need to mention that the bats live in a mortise (a hole cut into a beam) on the underside of a barn beam. The bats in the photos are hanging up side down.

This time I counted at least 6 bats, including at least one young one, seen on the bottom right in the photo. It was hard counting the bats since they were moving around trying to avoid my light.

Another shot of the young bat on the bottom right.

26 June 2015

Bears in the Neighborhood

For the past week our neighbor's bird feeder has been visited by a bear. The neighbor started putting the bird feeder in his garage at night and out during the day, the bear changed its schedule to daytime visits. The neighbor then only put the feeder out while he was home and the bear then came to visit in the evening. My neighbor sent me this photo of last evening's bear visit.

This morning I found the bear's calling card ("dump") in our lawn a few feet from our front door!

Around 11:30AM I drove to our cabin property and found two bears crossing the gas pipeline right-of-way and got a photo of one of the bears.

The neighbor, with the bear problem, took a half days vacation and stopped at my barn around 12:30. He stated that the bear must know his truck since shortly after he arrived home the bear walked up his driveway looking for the feeder but his dog chased the bear away.

The two bears I saw were a half mile from the neighbors house and heading away from it. There's at least 2 or 3 bears in the neighborhood.

25 June 2015

Project Fergy (Ferguson)

A year ago we purchased a 1955 Ferguson TO-35 tractor at a neighbor's estate sale. The tractor had a front end loader, which the neighbor used to plow snow and gather firewood. I never knew much about the tractor's history, but it had been painted several times with different colors.

The front end loader on this tractor was big and bulky and since I already have a tractor with a front end loader, my first job was to remove the loader from the Ferguson. With the loader removed the tractor handled much better, but I noticed some problems with the engine and hydraulics.

I started out working on the hydraulic lift system and then the engine. Before long I had removed a lot of the parts from the tractor.

The engine had broken piston rings on 3 of the 4 cylinders. Even though the tractor is 60 years old I was able to find all the engine parts I needed and I ordered an engine rebuild kit.

The engine rebuild require the removal and replacement of the cylinder sleeves. With the cylinder sleeves removed I found the engine water jacket for the number 4 cylinder to be packed with scale and rust. Which needed to be removed.

With the inside of the water jacket cleaned I was able to start reassembling the engine. A view of an old cylinder sleeve on the left and a new cylinder sleeve on the right.

With the engine rebuild complete a new coat of gray paint was applied.

A new coat of red paint was applied to the sheet metal and missing parts replaced. The restored Ferguson TO-35 was displayed at the tractor show in Rome, PA this past weekend.

24 June 2015

Milkweed - Part 3

This is part #3 of some of the butterflies, bees and other insects attracted to milkweed flowers.

The milkweed patch was buzzing with honey bees ...

and other insects ...


23 June 2015

Milkweed - Part 2

This is part #2 of some of the butterflies and bees attracted to milkweed flowers

22 June 2015

Milkweed - Part 1

A patch of milkweed on our property is starting to blossom and insects of all type are swarming around as the flowers bloom.

It's easy to spot the many Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) butteries on the milkweed. A dozen or more Fritillary butterflies were activity working on this patch. When most people think of butterflies and milkweed, they think of Monarch butterflies. Since the Monarchs migrate up from the south each year they won't be here until later in the summer.

Along with the butteries there were countless bees buzzing around the milkweed flowers.

Not all insects are after the milkweed flowers, the Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis) eat the leaves of the milkweed.

20 June 2015

Wildflower - Beardtongue

With this spring's weather being a hot/dry May and a cool/wet June, the neighborhood wildflowers are reacting differently than in past years. This year there is an abundance of Beardtongue (Penstamon digitalis) in the fields. Beardtongue grows 2-4 feet tall in fields and the white stalks of flowers stand out against the background of green grass.

The Beardtongue flowers are named for the tuft of hairs on one of the stamens that lies on the bottom of the inside of the tubular flower, and looks a bit like a hairy tongue.

18 June 2015

Young Turkeys

I got my first glimpse of some of this year's young turkey poults (chicks). I happened to see an adult hen turkey try to hide in some short grass and after a few minutes she started to walk away and revealed some very small poults.

As the turkeys approached some brush, many of the small poults (about the size of a robin) took to flight and landed in the bushes. The hen remained in the field and continued to walk along the edge of the field softly calling to the poults.

I was able stand 20 to 30 yards from the hen for about 20 minutes as she gathered the young poults. At one point one of the poults flew out of the bushes and flew within 15 feet of me before landing in the field. Eventually the hen collected her young ones and calmly walked over a knoll and out of sight.

16 June 2015

Fawns, they grow so quick

I found this pair of fawns behind our barn. The wobbly legged fawns of a couple of weeks ago are now seen out in the open fields with their mothers and bouncing around like coiled springs. The mother calmly grazes as the fawns kick up their heels (hooves) and test their legs.

After a strenuous workout it's time for a quick drink.

14 June 2015


While driving to our cabin I found group of turkey buzzards (Cathartes aura), also known as turkey vultures, perched on fence posts along the driveway. Groups of perched vultures are called a wake. In flight, a flock of vultures is a kettle.

Turkey buzzards are very often seen perched with their wings spread after rain storms and dewy mornings to dry their wings and hereby gain lift for take offs.

This guy stayed around after his friends left to watch me. We have a few buzzards that return each year and hang around our barn to use the silo as a perch.

12 June 2015

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar

While looking in the fields near our cabin for fawns, I found my first Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillar for this year. This caterpillar may look mean, but it is harmless. This caterpillar will soon turn into the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, the state butterfly of Maryland, and hopefully I'll be able to get some photos of it.

11 June 2015

Feed Me !!!

A few days ago, this huge mouth was just one of four blue eggs in a nest.

Today the small nest is full of hungry redwing blackbird chicks.

The parents of the chicks weren't happy that I found the nest and "dive bombed" me several times while I was taking the family photo.