25 August 2015

Early Apples

We have a Yellow Transparent apple tree near our barn and the local deer can be found gathering apples as they drop from the tree. The deer will start to appear during the daytime as soon as the apples start to drop and the deer aren't easily scared out of the lawn.

I was mowing the lawn yesterday as a doe and two fawns staged their attacks as I mowed the far side of the lawn. Each time I got within 30 yards of the tree they would retreat to the field and then return as I mowed away from the tree.

The Yellow Transparent is a very early maturing apple that is ready to harvest around Labor Day.

The Yellow Transparent was imported from Russia in 1870 and is a favorite for homemade applesauce and pies. Our tree is loaded this year and I can hardly wait for the first apple pie of the season.

23 August 2015

The Moon

After doing some posting this month on a "Blue Moon" and meteors, I decided to try my luck with more astrophotography. I already have a Meade ETX-80 telescope and a digital camera, so the next step was to combine the two. With a couple of adapters to attach the camera to the telescope and a few test shots, here's my first attempt at photographing the first quarter moon.

A close-up view shows detail in the craters.

19 August 2015

Baby Bumble Beebe

For the last 9 months she was referred to as "Baby Bumble Beebe" and on Aug. 18th Chuck & Nikki Beebe announced the arrival of Myra Elizabeth Beebe. Weighing in at 7lbs 13oz; she is perfectly healthy, has good set of lungs and full head of hair.

Myra with her Bumble Bee.

The new parents.

More Turkeys

As reported in my prior blog posting, I've had a drought of turkey sightings for the past month and the turkeys are now back in the neighborhood. I encountered some turkeys today while driving into one of our fields. We spotted these turkeys as we approached the entrance to the field, but didn't know how many more were in the field.

As we entered the field the sky became full of flying turkeys.

The turkeys made a short flight across the field and landed in a food plot.

Shortly after landing in the food plot it started raining and turkeys started walking back across the field to seek shelter in the hedgerow where we first sighted them.

17 August 2015


The turkey sightings this summer have been somewhat spotty. In past summers I'd be able to find some turkeys in the neighborhood every couple of days. It had been a week or two since my last sighting of any turkeys and then multiple sightings of different flocks on the same day.

These are just a few birds out of a much larger flock. This years turkeys may be traveling in fewer, larger flocks this summer.

15 August 2015

Star Gazing - Part 2

Another night of clear skies and I was out trying my luck with photographing meteors from the Perseid meteor shower.

This time I pointed my camera a little more to the north and was able to photograph a few faint meteors. After reviewing the images for meteors I started to notice that one star appeared larger and "fuzzy". The "fuzzy" star was the Andromeda Galaxy, about 2.5 million light-years away.

The Andromeda Galaxy is the closest galaxy to the Milky Way (our galaxy) and is one of a few galaxies that can be seen unaided from the Earth.

The Andromeda Galaxy is located to the right of the constellation Cassiopeia. Also visible in the photo is a faint meteor.

14 August 2015

Star Gazing

For the past couple of nights I have been star gazing the Perseid meteor shower.

The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year between July 17 and August 24, with the peak around August 9-13.

Made of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus, because the shower seems to come from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

I saw about 2 dozen meteors and after several attempts to photograph a meteor, success. I pointed my camera to the northeast horizon and took a long exposure. The meteor is the vertical line in the lower left corner.

A close-up view of the meteor. Due to the Earth's rotation during the long exposure, the stars are shown as short lines pointing in the same direction. This meteor is a vertical line that originated from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

The long straight line on the right of the photo was an airplane. A close-up shows the line as a series dots caused by the planes flashing marker lights.

13 August 2015


Gardening and seed catalogs may refer to this flower as Rudbeckia, Rebeccia or Rebecca, but when it grows wild it is known by its more common name of Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta).

The black-eyed-susan is native to Eastern North America and is widely cultivated in parks and gardens. Our mass planting of Rudbeckia along Joyce Road is in full bloom.

11 August 2015


The Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) in our neighborhood are starting to ripen and turn a dark purple. The ripe berries are edible and can be used to make pies, wine and jelly, but the unripe berries and other parts of the plant are toxic.

The berries are a favorite food for birds and bears. As a child, I remember picking elderberries for local winemakers. The picking of elderberries also signaled the end of the summer school vacation.

09 August 2015


A colorful sunset from the top of the hill this evening while watching the deer.

07 August 2015


It's always fun to watch fawns this time of year. The different families of fawns will form social groups like neighborhood kids and just like human kids, run and play together.

We drove to one of my food plots this evening and found 6 to 8 fawns, along with does and a buck, playing in the food plot. It was hard to count the fawns since they wouldn't stop moving. Some of the deer ran from the field, but these 4 fawns liked the taste of buckwheat and continued feeding.

When these two fawns got close to each other they crossed their necks and started to kiss (maybe clean) each other on the the neck.

"You wash my neck and I'll wash yours"

06 August 2015


Each year I plant some food plots for the wildlife, mainly deer, as a way to keep them from eating my wife's hostas and day lilies. This year I planted some of the food plots with buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) which the deer consider as a salad or appetizer before the main course in my wife's flower garden.

I would like to show some pictures of the buckwheat plant, but the deer have trimmed the plants of most of their leaves and mowed the stalks to a height of 8 to 10 inches.

Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, instead it is related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb.

Buckwheat is a short season crop that can grow in 10 to 12 weeks and does not like frost. Buckwheat was a common crop in the 18th and 19th centuries, but declined sharply in the 20th century and was replaced with corn and wheat. Buckwheat is still grown for flour used in pancakes and to produce a dark-colored honey.

05 August 2015

Return of the Monarch butterflies

The Monarch butterflies are starting to return to the neighborhood on their annual migration from Mexico. I've only seen a few so far, less than a dozen. The Monarch butterflies born after mid-August will be the generation that starts the southward migration to Mexico. While most people associate Monarchs with milkweed, the Monarch butterfly needs nectar from flowers, such as this New York Ironweed, for energy and the Monarch caterpillars are born and live on milkweed plants.

04 August 2015

Bucks, Does and Fawns

While fawns are seen all over the neighborhood, the bucks are more reclusive and secluded. The bucks antlers are still developing and covered with velvet. The velvet will be shed soon to reveal the bone-like antler.

The does are spending "quality time" with their fawns and teaching them the food sources of the neighborhood. This doe and fawn stayed in the bushes for over and hour as I mowed a hay field next to them. Within minutes after I finished mowing, these two popped out of the bushes and started grazing.

After a quick snack, the doe and fawn had to check out my mowing.

This pair of curious fawns spent several minutes checking me out as I took pictures of them.

One of the curious fawns.

03 August 2015


The Pennsylvania law on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is clear that ATVs are not allowed on public roads, but we still have some ATVs cruise through our neighborhood.

In the past we had damage done to our property when ATVs leave the roads and go "Off-Roading". Some ATV ownes  are now using the natural gas pipeline right-of-ways as trails without the land owner's permission, which is also illegal.

I suspect this ATV owner was looking for access to the pipelines in our neighborhood since this same ATV was later found on another pipeline right-of-way in the next township.

A photo of the pipeline right-of-ways this ATV used. Please note the damage to the pipeline right-of-way and the sign that reads:

Wildlife Habitat Enhancement
Please Stay Off
Sensitive Vegetation

02 August 2015

"Blue Moon"

On Friday, July 31st, there was a rare event known as a "Blue Moon". While sometimes the moon does appear to be blue due to dust in the atmosphere, this time the moon appeared the same color as normal.

The term "Blue Moon" for this event refers to a second full moon in the same calendar month.

Next Blue Moon:

(Second full Moon in a month)
  • 31 January, 2018
  • 31 March, 2018
  • 31 October, 2020

A view of the July 31st "Blue Moon"

I wasn't the only one waiting for the "Blue Moon" to appear on the horizon. These two came to the hill top early and selected a good spot for viewing. I think they only stayed for the all-you-can-eat buffet.

01 August 2015


We have a bumper crop of blueberries this year and the race is on between us and the birds as to who can pick the most.

Since the berries don't all ripen at the same time we need to check the bushes every couple of days.

With the temperature in the 90's and high humidly this week, the picking has been uncomfortable. Today's haul was three coffee cans and there are still more berries to ripen.

Ahh ... Blueberry pie, blueberry pancakes, blueberry cobbler, blueberry crumb cake, blueberry muffins, blueberry crisp, blueberry smoothie, blueberries with milk, blueberry scones, blueberry coffee cake, blueberry buckle, blueberry turnovers, blueberry bread, blueberry dumplings, blueberry tarts, blueberry shortcake ...