Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Everybody's going south...

except me! LOL

Fall has definitely arrived here in southwest Minnesota. Sitting outside on the morning of Sept 9th Prairiewind (youngest daughter) and I noticed a Monarch butterfly fluttering through the yard. Then another one. And another one. Then a few more. We grabbed cameras and went looking for the tree they must have overnighted in hoping to catch some of them before they flew off, but no luck. The farm here has a good grove which blocks most winds from the north and west, so the yard is fairly calm. Once we walked around the end of the grove to search for them the wind hit us. It was that typical prairie wind blowing about 20 mph, and after searching the west side of the grove we figured the butterflies had taken shelter in the trees inside the grove. As the morning warmed up they started heading south, through the yard, around (never over) the shop building and out over the pasture. We got a couple decent photos of them, but they're hard to capture in focus when they're flittering about. There are at least 6 in this shot...

Prairiewind caught this one in flight, and shot the majority of the photos.

30 years ago I was fortunate enough to live on a farm where the Monarchs stopped each fall on their migration to Mexico. There were often thousands of them hanging on the west side of the grove overnight, and in the early morning they would start to warm up and prepare for the continuation of their trip. They hung motionless with their wings folded, and were very difficult to see even though there were so many of them, they blended in with the leaves extremely well. One would flip it's wings open, and it would set off a chain reaction, first one, then a dozen, then hundreds and soon thousands of butterflies would be hanging on the trees and fluttering their wings, and it looked like the trees were alive. Eventually they would start to fly off, just a few at first, then in mass numbers, swirling about in the yard before lifting upward and heading south. These days I consider myself very lucky if I see a few hundred of them in the fall.

There have been some geese and ducks making their way south as well and stopping over at the pond for the night, like this small flock of Blue Winged Teal.

The morning of September 9th started out with dense fog. The barn swallows started coming out of the granary where they sleep, and circling around the yard. I figure somewhere around 300 are born in the granary and the other outbuildings here each summer. I leave all the buildings open so they can get in to nest, and they have an amply food supply between the pasture and the pond. Swallows are one of my favorite birds. They are such accomplished and graceful fliers, zooming through the yard and doing aerial acrobatics, skimming over the pond, and eating mosquitos and other bugs by the billions.

The old saying around here is "One swallow doesn't make a Spring, but too many make a Fall." Sure enough, this was the last day the swallows were here, by the time the fog burned off they were gone. We had frost that night. There were smaller groups of migrants that would show up around 4:30 in the afternoon, swooping around the yard and pond eating, and feeding again in the morning before heading on. The transients never go into the buildings though, and they sit on the wire that goes out over the pasture, never on the ones in the yard. I haven't seen any swallows at all now for over a week.

I've been doing pretty well on the "cleanout" projects around here. I've sold the washer and dryer, and one of the old "barn-bike" parts motorcycles. I've hauled an antique wardrobe to my older daughter's, and she's also getting the floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall book shelves as soon as I get all my books off them and boxed up. I've nearly filled the huge dumpster, but luckily it looks like most of the junk from the shop is out now. I may have to rent a smaller one next year for the last of the stuff that's being thrown away as I go through things again. I've also burned 8 or 10 trailer loads of stuff.

I reconnected with some friends that I've known for 30 years who are currently raising their 6 (!) grandchildren, so I had them come over and see if they could use anything I'm trying to get rid of. So far they've gotten a horse trailer full along with 2 truck loads.  Everything from the on-demand hot water heater out of the house, an antique metal bed frame, a wooden desk, a 60,000 BTU hanging propane barn heater, hog pens, feed pans and buckets, all my chicken equipment, a bunch of dog crates to use as duck and goose nests, automotive stuff, household cleaners, weed spray and bug spray and plant food (you can't put any "hazardous waste" in the dumpster), insulation and weatherproofing supplies (they have a 130 year old farm house), a wood stove that I think he's going to put in his shop, a couple kerosene heaters and TONS of misc stuff. She keeps asking how much I want for it, and I keep saying I'm just glad it's out of here and someone can use it!

The only problem is, the first time I stopped at their farm the first thing I saw was an old travel trailer sitting by the hog barn. I said "I want the trailer!" She said I could have it, they had been using it as a chicken house. He said he planned to make a car hauler out of it. Some discussion followed, along with them getting all the "stuff" from my place, and now I'm the proud (and crazy) owner of a 1968 Holiday Rambler Trav'ler trailer. At least it actually has a title, which is more than I can say for the Caboose or the Shasta. The only leak is where the a/c is mounted, and he's had it covered so hopefully there's not a lot of water damage in the walls. He bought it from the company he worked for who had basically gutted it and used it as a mobile office so all the appliances are gone. The bathroom is still there, sort of. 
I will definitely have to do something about the paint on the rear though.  LOL