My morning started with a walk through the feedlot where nervous calves bolted as they heard me traipsing by (I am not a light walker) and saw the dogs trotting along beside me. My goal this fall and winter is to walk down the alley every day to gentle them and to look for sickness or any distress. I see innocence, contentment, watchful eyes.
At the end of the alley is a gate that leads into a large pasture with a stock pond that is always loaded with waterfowl. Now it is mostly bare, but my eyes caught hold of something unusual. A large bird. Perhaps a goose or a swan. I walked home for the camera to see if I might be able to capture an image of this lovely bird to identify it. My photography went from careful, distant shots so as not to disturb it to close-up shots right at the water's edge. This creature did not mind my curiosity one bit. It kept on feeding, dipping it's long neck and head down to graze the bottoms of the pond. I kept on slowly walking closer and closer and spent some time just watching it graze -- focused, hungry, unaware. After my return home, I consulted the bird guide and decided it was either an immature Tundra Swan or Trumpeter Swan. The more I searched images online, the more I was convinced it's a Trumpeter. I'm so excited for I don't think I've ever seen a Trumpeter Swan in the wild, and rarely have I seen a tame one in the parks. It appeared to be all alone. It is surely migrating, but why it is not with others, I don't know. I said a prayer that it might find other swans to migrate with.
In the mud beside the water, you can see imprinted tracks. All the wild things nearby come here to drink at night. The hand-like prints are raccoon and the others are duck or goose or swan prints. It's fun for me to think about a raccoon family all trailing down to the pond to drink. Soon the raccoons will decide to hibernate for the winter. It hasn't been cold enough yet, but this week promises much colder weather.
Since we are expecting snows tonight and tomorrow, I chose to spend my time deliberately enjoying the outdoors all afternoon. I dug the rest of the potatoes and came up with two 5 gallon buckets full. The purple potatoes made an impressive showing this year. There were several of them the size of a small roast beef! I sorted out the spuds that I accidentally sliced with the shovel and brought those in the house to use up first; the rest I will store in a dark place in the garage. I also dug up more of the carrots, ate three, but left quite a few in the garden to dig up later. They tend to get sweeter the longer they stay underground. The trick though is getting them before the ground freezes and turns the carrots to rubbery mush. I'm thinking of a hearty potato soup for tomorrow's lunch. Food from the garden is best!
I've been slowly collecting pine and spruce cones. The pine cones came from the golf course and the spruce cones came from underneath my parents' huge spruce tree that towers over their house in the backyard. I collected some spruce cones with Only Daughter one afternoon from underneath the Lutheran Church's spruce. The president of the church council drove up as we were picking cones and asked us what we were up to. I told him, "Community service." He smiled and said we could have all we wanted since it would be less for him to rake up. I'm thinking of many ideas to use my cones. Here are some of the ideas: pine cone garland and another garland, fireplace starters, pine cone bird feeders. I think cones are lovely sitting in bowls and in clear jars all about the house too.
After shutting the chicken coop, I walked home and noticed how perfectly God hung the moon over our house -- somewhere, out in the middle of nowhere. Simple pleasures.