Sunday, August 28, 2016

Planting Potatoes Now

The appeal of gardening defies rational explanation.  Hours of effort are required to produce a handful of fresh vegetables.  An entire season of work can be destroyed in a moment by forces beyond control.  This year we had a long dry spell early in the gardening year.  We plant potatoes in the garden near the back woods with nothing nearby.  Water was trucked in a few gallons at a time.  We were able to keep the newly emerging plants alive but their crop was impacted by the shortage of moisture.

Purple Vikings are a old favorite here based in part on their bizarre coloration.  To us they look like some holdover from the psychedelic 60's.  Related to the standard Red Vikings, these are a good eating potato in addition to their visual appeal.

In a normal year, this variety produces lunkers of incredible size.  We ask for single drops when ordering our seed potatoes.  Four monsters more than filled our two pound order.  Two were planted whole and two were cut.  The resulting six plants yielded thirty potatoes of modest proportions.  Each plant holds its potatoes close in a tight cluster.  Hand digging them is like finding buried treasure.

Fall planting potatoes means clearing a planting bed.  This area remained fallow this year, resting under a thick layer of leaves.  Planting holes were dug before the potatoes were harvested.  Seed potatoes immediately went into a separate bucket tucked under a layer of soil.  We did not want to expose them to sunlight or drying air prior to planting.

When additional varieties are harvested, this bed will hold twenty-four seed potatoes of three different types.  Inspired by the behaviors of occasional potatoes left behind at harvest, we expect these fall planted potatoes to emerge after the last killing frost and to give us a satisfactory harvest.  We do limit our own seed to a single generation so that disease does not become a problem.

Colorado Rose were harvested the next day.  Here again the potatoes were in a tight cluster just above the seed potato.  The return was about five new potatoes for each one planted.  Individual size was not impressive while their taste was.  Weather related scab marked the surface of the entire harvest.

Canela were harvested next.  These russets have become our favorites as they size up uniformly and bake great.  Here the harvest was limited to just over one large potato per hill.  Instead of having baked potatoes well into winter, we will enjoy just a single meal as most were too small to bake.

When the rest of the seed is planted, we will cover this bed with a thick layer of leaves to control weeds and to stabilize the passage of winter cold into this ground.  Next spring the remaining leaves will be removed well ahead of the first appearance of new potato growth.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Monarch And The Giant

The Monarch caterpillar is growing fast.  The red milkweed bug is gone.  Here he is cutting the vein of the leaf to reduce the amount of white poisonous sap in the leaf that is next on the menu.  A little milkweed sap makes it so he doesn't get eaten.  Too much is deadly.  Fortunately his instincts tell him what to do.

It takes a sharp eye to notice a monarch caterpillar.  They often eat from under the leaves.  Check out the shaded leaf that is nearly gone and you might see him munching away.  At the left edge just below the center line of the photo, a small bit of the eating end of the caterpillar can be seen.

Ed and I had another fun morning in the garden.  Before we went inside for lunch we sat on the bench with a cold drink. We watched the hummingbird feeding on the cardinal flower flowers, perch on the moonflower wire support and eventually zoom up and away at breakneck speed.  A monarch butterfly fluttered across the stone wall and landed on the white phlox.  These days it is a joy to see a monarch, but a huge black and yellow butterfly chased him away.  It was moving fast but was so big and brightly marked, I wondered what it might be.  I knew I had never seen a butterfly like that here before.  I wished out loud that we could have gotten a closer look and then the butterfly landed on this Liatris plant just to the left of where we were sitting.  He spread his wings and ate for a considerable time.  I did not have the camera, but we both had time to memorize the markings of this stranger. After he flew away, we described aloud to each other exactly what we thought we had seen.   With our mental images clearly fixed, a check of our books revealed the name of this never before seen here butterfly.  The position of the wings has a dramatic impact on the placement of the bands of  bright yellow, but we are certain that we were looking at a Giant Swallowtail.  They do venture into southern Canada but are more commonly seen where citrus trees grow.  Citrus growers consider their caterpillars a pest and call them Orange Dogs.  Here the large bright yellow and black butterfly was a once in a lifetime event.    As we age it is natural to think that we have seen it all.  We have spent more than two decades here in close contact with what is going on around us.  Then along comes a stranger who gives us an extremely good look at him and we experience the wonder of seeing something for the very first time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Garden Treasure, Part II

This morning I prepared myself and headed into the garden to search again for lost treasure.  This time I was not alone.  Although Ed and I could only occasionally get a glimpse of each other because of the lush growth, we could hear each other working and it was nice to be out there together!   I found weeding the stone path tough going, but when I got working on the bed with the sunflowers everything was great.  I moved to the west side of the bed and was working in partial shade until I pulled the tall grass complete with  its nasty seed heads. When it was gone I was back in the bright sun.   I spent some time watching the bees on the sunflowers. There was a lot of activity and the bee's knees were fat and yellow with sunflower pollen. The air was filled with the pleasant scent of the spearmint that got crushed when my garden cart ran over it in the path.  I had to cut off some milkweed that already had seed pods and yellowing leaves to free a wire cage in the garden bed.    Suddenly another garden treasure was within my sight. I could see my parsley plants just a few feet away.   Having found my parsley, I was sure I could rescue it from the weeds, but something far more rare and wonderful than parsley caught my eye!

There right next to my Italian and  curly-leaf parsley was a nice new milkweed plant.  Something had been eating the leaves.  I was filled with the excitement of discovery and when I checked under the leaves, I found the treasure I was hoping for.  It was a yellow, black and white striped caterpillar, a Monarch!

Our first Monarch caterpillar of 2016 was happily munching away.  I left the red milkweed beetle there even though he also eats the milkweed leaf.  This caterpillar has already been through several molts and is big enough to take care of himself.   Needless to say all weeding disturbance in this area will stop for now.  The parsley will just have to deal with it!

Nearby under my butterfly bush I discovered what remained of a well traveled Monarch butterfly.  What you see is the under side of an upper wing.  The colored scales are on the other side.  Many scales were missing or damaged.  From the thinner black  markings it appears that this butterfly was a male.  We are so glad he made it!  Ed mows the meadow to make sure that there are are lots of nice green  milkweed plants here.  We hope this caterpillar is just the first of many!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Indiana Jones And The Garden Treasure

No!  Harrison Ford has not been has not been hanging around in my garden. He might enjoy flying over it in a small plane. Others seem to find that fun.  My garden is much too wild to enter without the benefit of a native guide.  August has been steamy and tropical here.  Everything has disappeared in the rampant growth.  I guess I am as close to a native guide as can be found.  First I must make sure I have the essentials to survive my trip into the underbrush.  Many dangers lurk there.  I dress in my white Solumbra clothes, carefully tuck my pants into my socks and apply insect repellent to my socks and hat.  I make sure I have water for the trip into the bush.  Protected from the heat of the sun and whatever insects I might encounter, I bravely begin going after the weeds that are going to seed first.

 After I have worked for some time I begin to see things I recognize.  Sometime in the not so distant past I may have seen a map of this area that tells me where some of the hidden treasure has been  planted  buried,  I can see signs of a stone path that  must lead somewhere.  I do not have a machete in my garden cart.  Besides the idea here is to find the buried treasure and restore the ancient stonework to its original condition. I am armed with my Cobrahead weeder.  I work carefully with my hook uprooting the tall grass. The sweet aroma of lemons let me know that  the lemon verbena was just to my right.  Mmmm...treasure!  Just a little farther on I found onions.  Whoever planted this treasure left stone markers with names like Red Cippolini, Copra, Red Wing and Walla Walla.  Wow! Organic onions at today's prices are really an treasure!!! I had to tie back a gigantic catnip plant to my left.  It is covered with seeds for the irresistible catnip that has always grown wild here.  I've made quite a few bucks stuffing catnip mice with that garden treasure.  I left a Nicotiana plant that was growing in the onion bed.  I'm curious to see exactly what kind it is, although they are all pretty much classed as poisonous.  I know Ed recognizes it so it's not that dangerous!  Organic dill seed is the last exotic treasure I will find on this expedition.  If you see the price per pound for this in the store, you will know it is  like finding the mother lode!

However, I can see the house in the distance and lunch is calling!  Perhaps tomorrow I will find my parsley or a beautiful tropical flower. I know I saw a beautiful white lily with red spots here somewhere.  Maybe I will go in search of the strawberry plants or the lemon grass or  ...

Friday, August 19, 2016


At this time of year weeds are taking over and it is easy to lose sight of the beauty that is still all around.  This is an altered form of Summersweet but it does have its charm.  Smaller than the white flowered native plant and later to bloom, it does shine.  We chose to move runner plants of this variety to the garden down by the road rather than the native form.  Color was felt necessary to catch the eyes of the people speeding by.  Now a huge Siberian Iris has all but hidden the Clethra from road view.

Ruby Spice remains a primarily white flowered plant with less prominent brown pollen.  Some feel that the brown detracts from the impression created by so many white flowers in the natural plant.  Here the ruby pink softens the impact of the pollen.  Since we have both there is no need to limit ourselves to just one.  Natural has its appeal but this modified version certainly stands out.

Marque Moon is new to us this year.  Colored ruffled edges, fragrance and a yellow throat certainly catch and hold the eye.  Most of our daylilies have finished flowering by now.  We will watch to see if this one remains a late bloomer after it settles in to its new home here.

Spring Fling is in its second year here.  Becky finds the smooth transition from yellow to peach elegant.  The modest pie crust petal edges only add to the classy presentation.  Biting insects drove me away before a scent check could be completed.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Impressive Squash Vines

The current status of our two hills of squash and pumpkins is impressive.  A single hill of  Waltham Butternut squash containing three or four plants is growing through the fence and across the center path.  We claim no responsibility for the vigorous growth as it is entirely weather related.  Planted during the first week in June, dry weather necessitated carrying water to keep the seedlings alive.  Growth was stalled but the plants did cling to life.  Then the rains and hot daytime temperatures ruled.  Fruit is just now beginning to form and we enjoyed our first meals featuring stuffed squash blossoms.  Actually it was stuffed pumpkin blossoms.  Pumpkin blossoms are a deep appealing orange while the squash blossoms are a weak anemic yellow color.

The view from the opposite corner shows the state of the potatoes and next season's garlic bed.  What appears to be bare ground is actually heavily covered with emerging weeds.  This would have been where the corn grew but we did not bother to plant in light of the grossly unfavorable dry weather.  The missed potatoes have been dug and screened compost has been spread.  We will continue to stir the soil intending to kill the new weeds.

Our grand plan is easy to see now.  Planting beds are five feet wide and eighteen feet long.  Stone filled paths are three feet wide and end five feet short of the end fence.  The reground bark mulch filled central path is four feet wide.  Path stones are so few in number here that we were forced to use bark mulch.  This great difference in soil components between this garden and the garden near the house points to glacial deposition at slightly different times under different conditions.  Soil here contains more clay and far fewer stones than the main garden.  There sand and broken stone chips are dominant soil components.  An advantage of the clay soil is that it holds water longer between rainstorms.  Our house would have been built into the bank between the garden and the pines if money had been limitless.  Here electric power is far away and the driveway more than one half of a mile long.  Still, an earth bermed solar heated house here would have been a wonderful place to live.  When age related decline forces us to live elsewhere, we may retain ownership of this land near the ridge and use it as a camp.

Water Bar Maintainence

Anyone that has hiked trails in the Catskills has seen the impact of human traffic on the forest floor.  Heavy traffic kills the plants.  With nothing but dead roots to hold the soil, rain water or snow melt   soon move it downhill.  Deep stony channels result.  This former farm road to a field at the top of the hill does not see heavy traffic but there is enough to for water to slowly work its way deeper than the adjacent ground.  When a house was built just downhill from this spot, storm debris was washing onto their lawn.  With their permission, gravel was hauled in to build a high spot across the lane.  This diverted the water into my woods.  Over time the water bar filled in as small stones held fine woods dirt and the water flow returned to our neighbor's lawn.

This is where the diverted water enters the woods.  A fallen tree blocks the flow and the water spreads out dropping its load of fine woods dirt.  I harvest this black gold for use in my natural gardens.  The depression between the standing tree trunk and the fallen one marks the location of my earlier harvest this year.

A channel to carry runoff away from the lane has been restored.  Additional work needs to be done here as heavy storms result in raging torrents of water racing down the lane.  The combination of small stones and fine top soil created an unbelievably hard surface.  My painstakingly slow maddock work will restore function here.

Newly placed leaves cover the soil removed from the water bar.  We have been deliberately slow in filling this bed because we did not want to kill the tree.  Little shade falls from a dead tree.  The combination of a raised bed and a thirsty tree resulted in a dry planting area.  We did manage to keep blood root alive here for several years.  New plants from seed actually grew and flowered.  One recent hard summer drought ended these plants.  A snow saucer was placed several inches beneath the top of the new soil.  Our thinking is that the saucer will retain some moisture deep beneath the blood root.  We will purchase new plants next spring and try again.  The two cardinal flower plants somehow grew here from seed despite the dry conditions.  Not all of the seeds follow the rules. They grow and bloom where they fell.   These rebels are more than welcome here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Eye Of The Beholder

This Italian parsley plant is not having a very good year.  It is small and now it is being eaten by a parsley worm.  On the other hand this caterpillar will turn that parsley into a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly. I have a passion for black swallowtail butterflies

The pink hibiscus has been frosted , dried out, then drenched and skeletonized by bugs. I think the Japanese beetles did it, but I didn't actually see them and I won't since there are no leaves left for them to eat  Pressing on regardless the large pink flowers open to show off their beauty just the same.  It is quite magnificent for this plant to put on such a display under these conditions.  The large pink flowers with pleated petals flowers look perfect!  To give credit where credit is due, we borrowed the expression "press on regardless" from Sue Hubble.  She used that expression as the name of her old pickup truck.  We read her books when we were trying to define what our retirement life would look like.

Things being what they are this year the garden has gotten away from us.  There are plenty of weeds in this picture.  In this case Ed's stone wall and the red cardinal flowers look so sensational it's difficult for almost anyone to see weeds.  I have always loved the lush overgrown look anyway!

By now I hope you are seeing beauty in the garden and feeling serene! WARNING: If you really get freaked out by snakes STOP reading here.  If you are looking for a different kind of beauty and some excitement in your life, read on!

We have more tools than the shed will hold.  As a result the three wheelbarrows remain outside.  Stored up side down and propped up on large stones or an abandoned bale of hay, we know that creatures live under them. I went to get a wheelbarrow and let out a piercing scream when I righted it.  This was no ordinary scream.  I was still making noise when the sound returned after echoing off of the ridge. Ed knew that I had uncovered an impressive snake, one worth seeing!  When the snake straightened out to slither away, it displayed more than three feet in length.  That is about as large as milk snakes get here.  This one had recently shed its skin.  That is apparent because of the sharp lines of separation between the colors.  The skin is also blemish free.

Later in the day the serenity of the garden was broken with another of my snake shrieks, but it wasn't nearly as intense.  After all these years, Ed could tell it was  only a garter snake and less than a foot long.  He didn't bother to come to see it and the snake was long gone anyway!

One of our lawn tractors must also be parked out of doors.  It has been transported to the dealer twice this year to try and repair the damage done by nesting rodents.  We now park that tractor near a stone wall where we know milk snakes gather.  We are counting on these beautiful constrictors to decrease the number rodents living in the immediate area.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Super Sweet Scents Of Summer

Daylilies hold a great deal of space in our gardens now and are likely to expand their holdings next year.  Fragrant flowers with ruffled edges are personal favorites.  Mid morning walks focused on snapping off yesterday's spent flowers are made pleasant by the sweet scents of the newly opened flowers.  The first round of blossoms are coming to an end.  We will enjoy some re-blooming but those flowers will be few in number here.

The plant in the portrait is an unnamed variety that was included as a free gift.  It has so many favorable characteristics that it is hard to understand why it remains a cast off.  Its white petals are tinged in yellow near the green throat but the plant is tall, hardy, scented and produces many flowers over a long period of time.  Divisions of the original plant have been placed in the garden down by the road.  This remains high among our favorites despite its humble origin.

Oriental lilies still hold places in our garden despite their preference for warmer climates.  Pollen stains and a petal knocked free by the weeder mar the visual presentation of this Muscadet but its scent fills the area.  Working near this plant is incredibly pleasant even when the wind blows from the neighboring cow barn!.  This is its first year in our garden.  We hope that next year the blossoms will be closer to the height of our noses.  We can still bend over but going down on one knee is now an issue.

Casa Blanca's are also in their first year here.  Simplons had held this spot for several seasons but disappeared after I separated their huge bulbs.  They were also a white flowered lily that had exceeded six feet in height.  We hope that the new variety attains taller growth next year.  These flowers are also huge and sweetly scented but we would like the plants to be taller.

The nearby purple Heliotrope also features a pleasant aroma.  The only negative is its nearness to the ground.  One must assume the position of a prayerful bow to enjoy this beauty.

Summer sweet continues to fill the area around the garden with its aroma and cover the wall with spent flowers.  Out early this morning to try and get some work done before the heat knocked me out, I found a honey bee sleeping among its flowers.  I know that she was sleeping rather than dead since she moved when another bee already at work walked across her.  That was when she awakened, moved and started to work the flowers.

A summer sweet sucker plant is visible on the near side of the stone wall.  All that can be done is to cut off the new growth year after year.  These suckers will continue to appear long after I am no longer working here.  The nearby milkweeds are another testimony to my inability to ruthlessly garden.  Milkweed roots run deep and long.  They are impossible to remove so why do I allow them to grow in the garden?  Someone's fascination with butterflies and caterpillars is at the root of this dilemma!

Speaking of milkweed, I do mow a large area of wild given over to this important plant.  The plants continue to regrow after each mowing.  My purpose in repeated mowing is to supply tender new leaves favored by Monarch butterfly caterpillars.  The wild leaves are tough and falling now but the Monarchs need them as a food source.  Another bonus to me is late milkweed flowers.  Their scent is sweet beyond description and I get a second chance to enjoy them.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

August Meteor Shower

We have a long family history with the Perseid meteor shower.  Starting when our children were of early elementary school age, the four of us spent many happy evenings gazing skyward.  At that time I owned an old beat International Harvester  pickup truck.  We threw a foam mattress, a couple of sleeping bags and the two children into the bed of the truck.  Our plan was to drive to the top of the ridge away from village lights and find a spot with huge sky.  Safely off the road, mom and dad climbed into the back of the truck and the four of us found a way to lie flat on our backs.  Sky events are never easy.  Long periods of nothing but stars were briefly interrupted by quickly disappearing flashes of light as a meteor streaked across the sky.  An occasional satellite or airplane provided us with something different to see.  Oriented in different directions, someone always missed a meteor that others saw.  Trying to keep the eyes focused on nothing is not easy.  There are so many stars and groups of stars to draw your eyes into sharp focus.  Sighting a meteor is not common since they usually fall just outside of the place that has captured one gaze.

Tonight two elderly parents ventured out into the yard following the customary nighttime bathroom call.   Following our flushes, we were delighted to find starry skies. With an old sleeping bag on the ground to give us a dry place to lie down, we faced the problem of safely placing creaky bodies on the sleeping bag.  My move might have resembled a controlled fall and I was soon flat on my back looking skyward.

One of the problems with August nights in New York is the valley fog that forms.  Early morning hours are the best time to see meteors as that is when the atmosphere is moving into the path of the meteors.  Moonset also dictated early morning viewing this year.  As we watched and saw many meteors, the forming fog slowly blocked out the stars nearer to the horizon.  The meteors were originating from nearly directly overhead so the shrinking view spot was not a problem.  The eastern sky did begin to brighten as sunrise drew nearer.

After a rather long and pleasant lying together under the stars, the forming fog made it obvious that we needed to get up and go inside.  The getting up did present some problems.  Oh, the things that the young simply take for granted.  After rolling over to a face down position, hands were pushed back and the rear end raised.  I have heard of a yoga position named downward facing dog and suppose that I used something like that position to ready myself for the next move.  Ever so slowly hands were pushed away from the ground.  Creaking to a fully upright position, I stood motionless as blood returned to my head and balance firmed. With the aid of a flashlight we both  found our way safely back inside.

It was pleasant to recall really great moments from our past.  We did see many meteors tonight and each missed some that the other saw.  No deer snorted at our presence and the scent of skunk was absent from the night air.  The past two hours were an unqualified success.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Evening Walk About

At this time of year the scent of summer sweet fills the garden.  Gentle breezes carry the understated aroma for great distances.  One never knows when they will walk into an unexpected cloud of sweet aroma.  Diluted by the wind, the smell is unmistakable and pleasant.  It might be overpowering if brought into the house as a cut flower.  We prefer to enjoy it where it grows.  Even this close to sunset the bees were furiously working the flowers. These two were so intent that they did not respond as I brought the camera close.  Despite their calm demeanor, we look twice before bringing our noses close to the flowers.

The eye sees the dill as different in color than the grass.  The camera does not record this difference.  The dill marks the location of our new asparagus bed.  Self seeded, the dill was simply too splendid to weed out.  We will watch to see if these two plants will grow together without harm to the other.  Dill is usually scattered around the garden.  We have long wanted a dill patch but we also want an asparagus bed.  The smart thing would be to prepare soil for a dill bed now and cut the seed heads moving them to the new ground.

Late Morning is new to us this year.  Despite the challenges of covering lilies to protect them from late frosts, I cannot stop myself from buying more bulbs.  Spring planted, this variety should bloom earlier next year.  We also hope it grows taller.  We would like to sample its fragrance, but cannot get our noses this close to the ground.

Princeton Silky has been with us for several years.  Many other varieties of day lilies present tattered flowers this late in the day but this one is presently perfect.  Slow to open, this flower will still look good tomorrow morning.  We need to have more days when the tools are put away early and we take the time to savor the beauty that is all around us.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Early August Arbutus Buds

This is how our oldest transplants looked today.  Bright green new leaves obscure the older darker growth.  One of my unanswered questions is the life span of an arbutus leaf.  Seldom is a dead leaf seen and the plant is evergreen but there has to be a point where leaf death happens.  The unbroken canopy of new leaves my hide the dying old leaves from my prying eyes.

We knew that arbutus forms its blossom buds ahead of winter.  We had no idea that buds formed this early.  The season of the moment is summer not fall.  Bud clusters form at the joint between the stem and a new leaf.  Many buds form at the end of the new growth bud they also occur well short of the end of the new stem.  It may be safe to say that flowers will appear only on new growth.

This is our wild patch that is more than one quarter of a century old.  We are in agreement that this is the largest appearance that these plants have ever made during our ownership of this land.  This is only two summers of regrowth following decimation by a hungry rabbit.  It appears that pruned to the crown is a frequent occurrence for wild arbutus.  This likely explains many reported failures with arbutus as a garden plant.  I am tempted to brew up some arbutus leaf tea and discover for myself the popular taste.  Apparently there is nothing toxic in an arbutus leaf but the human body produces a poison from the components of the leaf tea.  We will leave the tasting to the rabbits.

We had many incompletely formed bud clusters earlier this year.  Last year's fall drought and my inability to carry water to the plants then were identified as the cause.  This bald tan bud cluster might be the remains of buds incompletely formed one year ago.  They may also be the remains of unfertilized female blossoms from this year.  New buds can be seen on the new growth pushing out from the end of the old stem.

Our more recent transplants have made contact with the stones intended to support the wire cage.  New growth will likely surround all of the stones next year.  Reaching the edge of the protective cage will soon follow.  When that happens, we will remove the edge stones that prevent predators from slipping under the cage and allow the arbutus to grow at will.  Growth outside of the wire will likely be eaten but we cannot expand the size of the protected area.  We did intend to introduce this wild plant to a natural environment.  There may be more rabbits per acre now but that is out of our control.

This young female plant receives no direct sunlight planted under a huge white pine tree.  Her growth habit is totally different from our other plants.  Dark green centered leaves mark the extent of the plant as it was when winter ended.  Light green leaves at the ends of long stems are this year's new growth.  We will be able to see what happens to the older leaves as more time passes.  The leftmost stem in the nine o'clock position sports new buds.

Our drought is over for the moment and everything is growing at a reckless pace.  These arbutus plants should be well ready for fall.  Thoughts of extensive sweet flowers are hard to deny.  They are half a year away but we are looking forward to their appearance.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Rainy Day Visitors

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I'm not sure this picture qualifies for quite that many.  Still over the last two days, I have had a wonderful time watching the wild turkeys with their babies and the deer with theirs.

During yesterday morning's light rain, the turkeys arrived first.  Four hens in a line walked slowly across Ed's newly mowed grass. I have often seen turkeys walk in single file, but not this time.  Behind them were the five babies also in a line.  They traveled from east to west eating whatever popped up in their path.  When they reached the area behind the shade garden, they stopped.  The adults flapped their wings and shook like wet dogs and the babies followed suit.  Next they lined up again, but with the babies in front this time.  I thought for sure they would disappear into the tall grass, but they stayed in the short grass.  One hen stayed with the babies and the others wandered off on their own.  The five babies followed what I assume is their mom in a fascinating game of follow the leader.  When she ate, they ate.  When she hopped up on Ed's stone wall they all managed to climb up there to join her.  She flapped her wings and they flapped theirs.  She sat up there preened her feathers and they preened too.  I got a great look at the babies through my binoculars.  Not everyone would say that wild turkeys have a pretty face, but these babies are still cute!  When mom took a big hop down to the ground, the babies flew to join her.  I enjoyed all this turkey activity so much, but  just when I though I should be doing something more productive, a mother deer and her two fawns entered the mowed area from beneath the trees.  For a time the deer and turkeys seemed to ignore each other, however one of those twin fawns is rambunctious.  He ran at top speed skidding on the wet grass, narrowly missing his mom and the other fawn and jumped, landing right behind one of the turkey hens goosing her with his nose and front feet and making her hop  out of the way.  This caused all of the turkeys to gather back in a group and the Mother deer seemed to take a dim view of the fawn's behavior herding her family in the other direction away from the turkeys.  This was all wonderful fun and I thought the show was over.

After a night of rain, this  morning everything in the garden was wet.  Ed headed out to the inside of the garden square to try a little weeding.  When I looked outside I was surprised to see the turkeys right back here again. The fact that Ed was out there weeding seemed to make no difference to the turkeys.  Before I could join him a loud clap of thunder sent Ed inside.  It was followed by a period of heavy rain.  We could not see the garden for a time, let alone the turkeys.  As soon as the rain let up a little the turkeys were back behaving much the same as yesterday. This time they were really wet and when the sun came out all of the turkeys made their way to the top of Ed's  stone wall.  They flapped and preened.  A couple of the babies sat right down there on top of the wall. They were there for some time.  One of the hens was facing the woods and it was at that moment that Mother deer and her two fawns emerged from beneath the trees.  Remembering yesterday's fun the  rambunctious fawn streaked toward the turkeys.  As he got close to the birds he realized that they were towering over his head.  A turkey hen is a very large bird and is a lot more intimidating when it is facing you.  The fawn skidded to a stop just short of the stone wall.  He abruptly turned flashing his white tail and headed back to the safety of  Mom and the rest of the deer family.   The turkeys took their own sweet time getting down from the wall. The hens did not fly!

All during this morning's light drizzle, the turkeys and the deer wandered around in separate groups enjoying the short grass.  If any of them went into the garden I never caught them.  By this afternoon the drizzle remained, but the visitors were gone.  It had been quite a show!  I wonder id they will be back for an encore?