Sunday, May 31, 2009

Killdeer Nest

My husband found spotted this killdeer nest in a field near the barn.

I took a video of the mother killdeer feigning a broken wing to distract me into moving away from her precious nest. That's her instinctual response when she perceives danger.


I may not blog for a few days. I'm just really busy and tired, that's all. Take care. (P.S. - I appreciate all your kind comments of the past few days and hope to respond to them soon.)


Another Iris & A Guest

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By yesterday morning, another type of Iris had opened, gaily tempting me to snap a photo of it in pristine condition, which won’t last long.  I dug this Iris up at my other grandmother’s house many years ago.

As I was walking away from the Iris……a buzzing critter whizzed by my ear.  I ducked, thinking it was a big bumble bee, but instead---to my delight---discovered it was a hummingbird!  Its a bit difficult to see, but the hummingbird is feeding on a bleeding heart to the right in this next photo.

30th010 (2) Here’s a closer view:

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Have a great Sunday!


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Iris Moods


Its Iris season! I have mixed feelings about Iris….for they often look rather mixed up themselves! The above photo is shown sideways because the awkward blossom looks better that way, in my opinion. The gangly, fragile petals of large Iris blooms---these are 6” or more in length---tend to flop around every which way, as if struggling to find their proper positions in life.


Don’t come to the incorrect assumption that I know much about Iris. I do not. Here’s an anatomical diagram with parts labeled. I wondered what those veil-like coverings over the fuzzy parts are called……they are “style crests”, I believe. Large Iris are very fragrant…..these bluish-purple ones seem to have a grape-like scent.

29th009 Can’t say that I’ve ever looked this closely at an Iris before. These large ones came from my grandmother’s back yard years ago.

29th011 We also have a patch of much smaller (4” across) yellow/gold/dark red Iris which have been here since my husband was a kid, and probably before that, even. We shifted them to a new spot due to a remodeling project a few years ago and somehow they managed to survive. Lemony is how I would describe the scent of these particular Iris.


What color and type of Iris do you have in your yard?


Have a pleasant Saturday!


Friday, May 29, 2009

SkyWatch #46

100_2939 Welcome! Haha……you were expecting skies over our Iowa farm, perhaps?! Surprise, surprise……my college daughter just got home from a whirlwind trip to Colorado! Even I did not know she had gone there!

The above photo is of Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park……taken two days ago. And, the second photo is from somewhere in the Park, too.


Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit to find the many other links.

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Pulling the Pump


I’ve heard of it, but never seen it done……pulling the pump out of the well, which became necessary late yesterday afternoon when our water faucets and livestock fountains suddenly ran dry!

The rust-covered pipe was pulled out in 20-ft. sections. 

28th014 (2) A new pump and plastic piping was installed.  The whole process---from loss of water to its restoration---took several hours.  The cows had no water to drink during milking time and they were mighty thirsty by the time their drinking bowls filled back up again. 


Hmm……this will add a substantial bill to next month’s pile…..hooray for that.

In the midst of the pipe and pump removal, an oriole sweetly serenaded us from high in a maple tree…..

28th003 (2) While I was trying to get a decent camera angle on the oriole, this red maple leaf meandered into the viewfinder.  The evening sun was hitting it just right to provide a surprising glow of red.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Daughter’s Birthday


I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.

----Charles Dickens


Today is my eldest child’s 28th birthday! (Her "golden" birthday......28 on the 28th!) This photo is from around the time of her first birthday. She looks just like her dad in this picture.

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And, this next photo was taken right on her birthday. Can you believe it……I made that dress she’s wearing! (Good grief.....see that bread bag in the background.....I used to save them!)

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These last two photos were taken in the Twin Cities around the time of my 24th birthday in June. Daughter was beginning to master the fine art of balancing in order to walk on her own.

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Here’s two weary ones---a mom and a thumbsucker---sitting at a Twins baseball game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. (I recall my kids sucking their thumbs and rubbing their clothing or a blanket when they were tired.) That stadium was rather new then and the word now is that its to be torn down in the near future. Tsk, tsk. Seems like a waste.


Sure wish I could go back and spend a day with that little one-year-old girl again.....not to mention a return to being young and slim!


Happy Birthday and God’s Blessings, Dear Daughter!!!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dirt Road Flower Finds


The dirt road pictured above is in my neighborhood. It isn’t difficult to envision a horse and buggy coming along, wooden wheels a-whirring and harnesses jingling, with dust flying from hooves pounding the dirt.

I wonder if buggy drivers ever pulled the reigns and hollered “WHOA, Nelly” because of a wildflower sighting? Perhaps the sunbonneted female occupants of the rig would point and exclaim, “Oh, let’s stop……please, pretty please!”

Well, a buggy was not my conveyance last Sunday, and no bonnet adorned my head, but I pressed my vehicle’s brake pedal.….WHOA…..when wildflowers caught my eye alongside this dirt road.

Initially, this very noticeable patch of Ragwort---senecio plattensis, a member of the Aster family---brought me to a halt.


“Squaw Weed” is another name for this plant, which reportedly was used by Native American women for female health matters. Early white settlers used Ragwort in folk remedies, even though it reportedly is poisonous to humans and livestock. Yikes……but it surely is a bright and showy spring wildflower, regardless.

23rdDirtRoad001 (2) Next we have Starry False Solomon’s Seal. It certainly looks like a real plant, though. Its stem and leafing look similar to true Solomon’s Seal; though the flowers are not alike at all. Evidently, true Solomon’s Seal got its name from early settlers who noticed a Star of David design left when the stem is broken off at the root. I’ll have to check that out sometime. I have noticed a tiny Star of David design up inside the dangling flowers of true Solomon’s Seal.


Meadow Anenome……used by native peoples for treating wounds.


The remaining photos in this post are of flowers I had never seen before. They’ve most likely been growing here along this dirt road for many, many years.

This first one is Yellow Star Grass. It looks like grass with a 3/4” wide yellow flower attached at the top……what a pleasant surprise to find this! When I was searching for Star Grass online I stumbled upon a nice photo taken by a professional nature photographer in my area.

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Growing near the Star Grass was another tiny flower which again looked like grass topped by dainty flower blossom. This one, I believe, is a type of Blue-Eyed Grass. What a lovely name, though they are actually a member of the Iris family. My Runkel & Roosa flower book states: Although called Blue-Eyed Grass, the color can vary from white to pale blue to darker blue. These seemed to have a very pale blue tone.

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There were a few patches which looked truly white……

23rdDirtRoad018Here’s another tiny yellow flower that I almost overlooked, thinking it was Star Grass. I’m not sure what it is……its not in any of my wildflower books. It sort of resembles a Cinquefoil, which have five-petaled blossoms…..but this one has six. Whatever its name may be, its a darling little flower, that’s for sure.


In these final two flower photos, we have Dewberry… least I think that’s what it might be.

24thDirtRoad045 Sorry……I don’t have a macro lens…..

24thDirtRoad030 (2) One end of the mile-long dirt road was rather rutty. Local yokels who are thus inclined sometimes use this tired old dirt road for “mudding”. My husband’s nephew took a couple of our kids along for such a ride here several years ago……his pickup was coated with mud when they returned. Great fun, yeah!



Have a great day!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Leftovers

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There are more wildflower photos to post, but I’m too tired for that and didn’t find the time on Memorial Day to look up info in the flower books, anyway. Most of the day was spent mowing lawn, planting garden, fixing meals, catching up on laundry. Don’t fret, I didn’t work THAT hard---but found little time to sit at the computer, that’s all, plus I’m worn out from spending most of the last three days outdoors in the sun and wind. Must be getting old… Most of all, I’d would love to sit down and read a book, but can’t seem to fit that in, either.

The above photo was taken on Sunday night. My husband’s parents are buried next to that old church. One would expect it to be a peaceful, quiet place, but it really is not, because it sits practically on top of a very busy highway. In fact, a person was killed on Saturday in a traffic accident right in front of this church, in a head-on collision of a car and semi-truck. Seeing the black tire marks on the pavement gave me the shivers.

This next photo shows a nice idea I’d not seen done before…….laminated family photos strung around a gravestone.

24th005 Recently, while using old census records to do research on my husband’s family tree, we discovered that his grandfather had a sister who died in 1907 at the age of three. Her name was Lucinda. None of the older folks had ever mentioned her. After examining the cemetery map in the church basement we were able to determine the location of her grave in one of the childrens’ rows, though no marker is there.


I might possibly know why this child was never mentioned. My father-in-law told me once that the great-grandparents “had to get married”…….which was somewhat of a scandal back in the early 1900’s. (And, to keep things balanced here: one of MY grandmothers was conceived out-of-wedlock, too. People have always been human, evidently.) Anyhow, I was rather mystified by the information/gossip that my FIL had told me because in family records the first child was listed as being born several years after the great-grandparents married. Finding evidence of this little girl solves that particular mystery. The couple ended up with two sons and no more daughters.


I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of cemeteries for awhile. They’re starting to get me down.


Have a great day!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Hey, a happy Memorial Day to you! (Sorry---in case you stopped by here early this morning and saw only the photos: I had uploaded them yesterday afternoon, intending to add the text in the evening, but my husband whisked me off for a drive to his parents' grave and a stop at Dairy Queen. So, you see, it was all his fault!)

5-24-09 Lester Cem (17) This next Civil War soldier died in 1864. If he had been killed in battle, wouldn't he be buried where that took place? Or, did they ship the bodies home? Otherwise, I wondered if maybe he was sent home wounded and then died.

5-24-09 Lester Cem (14) Next is a photo taken last year on May 19, six days before the devastating tornado storm swept through the area:

IMG_4162(1) Most of the grove behind the cemetery met its demise in the wind last year. This gravestone in a far corner belongs to a 19-year-old woman---"Sada, Wife of Royal Wirth"---who may have died in childbirth. I think my aunt is the one who places flowers there every year, as well as by a few other old stones. Obviously, I inherited my tendency towards sappy sentimentalism.....

5-24-09 Lester Cem (24) Here's another photo from last year.......a tall pine tree guarding over a metal headstone embossed with the clinging-to-the-Cross motif.

IMG_4151 Now the tree is gone. I counted approximately 130 rings on the stump.

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It was one year ago today---May 25---that the F5 tornado churned across the landscape from Parkersburg to Stanley, Iowa. On May 19 last year, after I left the cemetery, I stopped and took a quick photo of the farm where I grew up, with its landmark round barn.


Here’s a photo taken from the same spot---at sunset a little over a year later---on the evening the tornado came through. The barn’s profile appears a bit altered.

IMG_4686(1) Here's a shot from the day after the storm. Yup, the barn roof was blown away, revealing the silo standing in the center. my whole life, I never thought to take a photo of the inside view of the barn's roof, which was quite an amazing sight to see.....darn.


Just for remembrance sake, here are a few hailstones that fell at our farm as the tornado was enacting its destruction a couple miles to the south.

IMG_4694(1) Ok, you can exit through the old cemetery’s gate (don’t trip over the waving flag’s shadow) to take your leave of today’s blogpost……

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Thanks for stopping by! Here’s an article written by an editor at the Waterloo Courier. He and his family live about a mile away from the old cemetery……they lost their house and outbuildings in last year’s Memorial Weekend storm. [Update: The same Courier editor/reporter has a front-page article in today's paper: Feeling Gravity's Pull......about how tornadoes form and gain may involve something called "gravity waves".]


Have a fun a safe holiday!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Roadside Flower Patrol

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I took a walk yesterday morning and found out first hand what a difference a few days can make! Lots of bloomin’ wildflowers have suddenly made their debut for the season, including the Prairie Phlox decked out in their various color tones---whitish to pale pink to lavender to fuchsia.

22nd015 The name phlox comes from the Greek word for “flame”. Their habitat is in dryish, rocky or sandy prairies and open oak savannas---and roadsides---throughout the tallgrass prairie region. The Meskwaki made a tea of the leaves and used it as a wash to treat eczema. The root was used as part of a love potion……so says Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie by Sylvan Runkel and Dean Roosa. Phlox varieties for home gardens have been adapted from these native species.


Next we have Golden Alexanders, also called Golden Meadow Parsnip. Early settlers thought this plant would cure syphilis, so says the above-mentioned book and Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers by Doug Ladd and Frank Oberle. The Meskwaki used the root to reduce fever and ground the flower parts into a snuff used to treat “illness in the head”.

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I stumbled upon this nest which appears to be is use by two different birds. Is that possible? Or else a nest hijacking has occurred. I think the bluish eggs belong to Redwing Blackbirds, but the brownish one must belong to someone else. There was a Bobolink hanging around on the fence nearby, but I don’t know what their eggs look like. [Update: The brownish egg may have been left there by a Cowbird, as that is their about them here.]

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I don’t know what this next one is yet, but am working on it. If you recognize it, please let me know what it is.

22nd025 (2) This is some type of Mustard or Cress, I think.....


Wild Strawberry is next. What is that pencil shaped plant behind it? I’ve seen those all my life, but am not sure of the name. As kids, we called it “snake-grass” and we played with it, pulling apart the sections and putting them back together again. [Update: It is Horsetail..........a living fossil, so they say....]

22nd047 (2)Not sure what this grass is that appears to be shedding seeds already:


On the way back, I decided to get down to ground level to catch the dandelions from a different angle, and wouldn’t you know, my daughter and her friends came driving along and saw me. What a weirdo they must think I am. Can you spot Betsy, too? She almost blends right in with the fluffy white seed heads.


You may have been bored to death by this post, but I had a great time with it……taking the photos and looking up the flowers in the reference books. As I wandered out there along the roadside, searching for wildflowers, it felt as if I had finally returned home again after a long absence.


We don't usually do anything special over the Memorial Day weeked......just the usual farm stuff, lawnmowing, etc. My son will get home from Des Moines tomorrow.......he ran in the shuttle hurdle relay at the state track meet on Thursday. (I did not attend.) The boys ran their best time of the year, but did not make the finals. That's ok.....they were excited simply to get the chance to run in Drake Stadium.


Have a fun and safe Memorial Day holiday! Then summer will be off and running......