Category Archives: Nature

Maynooth Wildlife

So occasionally we manage to take pictures of things that are alive that aren’t plants. The following is a small collection of critters that we have come upon this year, so far. I will warn you right now, if you don’t like things that have more than four legs you might want to bypass this post.

Let’s start with the ant colony I discovered while sorting through my wood pile. They had carved up several pieces of lumber to create themselves a cozy little home. It also created a rather fascinating set of fins in the wood.

Perhaps some artistic wood person can find a use for something like that.

Remember that post about us having a new door installed on the trailer? Well while we were working on that this guy came to visit.

It kinda looks like a giant house fly, but actually it’s a cicada. It would fly around us any time we used a power tool, like the skill saw or drill. I’m guessing it was attracted to the noise and vibration, thinking we were a mate. I’m not sure I have seen one that close up before so this was a rather unique experience. We didn’t have much cicada noise this summer, what with it being so cool.

Next up, we have Mr. Dragonfly. This particular one was sunning himself on a fir tree. His wing span probably would exceed that of a hummingbird. We love these guys as they really help to keep down the biting insect populations during the summer.

Following that, we have Rita. She’s a big ass spider. If you know how big a dock spider gets, she’s about the same size.

And then there is Ben. He’s the same type of spider as Rita. They share the space inside where we keep the batteries for the solar panels.

I don’t know what kind of spiders they are, but I can say we have quite a few of them. Usually we find them in or near wood, especially in the fire wood pile. If you think the pictures of them are creepy, try doing an image search on the internet for “large brown spider”. That will make these guys look benign. The closest I found was a dark fishing spider, but these guys are no where near water so that isn’t right.

If you’re tired of bugs, we can move on to other things.

This, for instance, is a blue spotted salamander.

That’s Kat’s palm he’s resting on. You usually find them in warm wet places, like under a pile of decomposing straw bales, or perhaps your compost pile.

To top it all off, today as I was heading into town, I hadn’t gone half a kilometer before I came upon this girl.

She was just lazily wandering down the middle of our road. I stopped quite a ways back to take her picture and it took her a few seconds to realize I was there. After we stared at each other for a few more seconds, she turned and trotted down the road, after having moved to the right side. I was wondering if she had moved over to let me pass.

I followed her at a fair distance for a bit and then I just stopped and let her do her thing. She continued down the road and then scooted into the forest.

If you’re not from around here and you have no idea what that is, it is a female moose.

That’s all the time we have for wild life today. I wonder what will happen tomorrow.

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Autumn 2017, part 2

I was driving home today from visiting family during Thanksgiving (yes, that was today, if you’re Canadian) and it started out rainy, but as I got closer to home it cleared up and was a really nice sunny day. I also noticed that we have pretty much reached the peak of the second round of autumn colours so I decided to take a walk around our property and shoot some pictures to share with all of you nice folks.

Actually, this first one is from last Thursday (Oct 5th). It’s the standard view looking over the trailer roof. You can compare it to the other pictures I from my previous Autumn 2017 post.

Now we move on to today’s batch. There are some real doozy’s in here that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. All pictures can be clicked on for larger versions.

As I said, it was a really nice sunny day and we’re big into the golds and bright oranges now. There are still some reds around here and there, but most of the reds happened earlier.

I also happened to be up at the family cottage during the last week of September and I snagged this awesome sunset picture over the lake. It also has the extra added bonus of having a flock of geese flying through it. You will most likely need to click on the picture for the larger version to see them, though.

Autumn 2017

According to my calendar, today was the autumn equinox (at 16:02 EDT if you want to be precise). Early autumn is a great time of year here because its usually still fairly warm and there aren’t any bugs so you can really enjoy the outdoors. Of course, every year is a little different and this year has been very wet.

We didn’t have much summer at all. It wasn’t all that hot and we had a lot of rain. We never needed to water our garden at all. Nights were often cool and by the time the start of September arrived we had been hit by sub freezing temperatures overnight three times. The garden really didn’t like the frost either.

With all of that cool weather, the trees started showing signs of autumn colours as far back as mid August. I know that might sound crazy, but it’s true. Of course, autumn being very colourful, I have pictures.

This first set I took on August 31st. All of these I took on our property, and some of them are just barely showing signs of changing. Traveling around the area there were lots of other trees showing more colouring that I didn’t take pictures of.

Next, I took this picture on September the 8th. I had been watching this little tree that is located out at the boarding facility where we have our horses for a while and it had been slowly changing in to the colours you see here for some weeks.

A few days later (September 12th) I took this one of the big maples behind the trailer to the north-east. You can compare this one to the second one from the Aug 31st set above as they are the same trees.

Last Friday (Sep 15th), I decided to get a little more serious with the picture taking. Here is one looking down the road we live on.

All of the rest of these were taken on our property, right near the trailer. Some you will recognize from earlier versions posted above.

This next one deserves a special mention. It’s a maple tree that is easily viewable from inside the trailer. The picture was pretty optimal in timing because that tree no longer has any of its leaves; they have all dropped just one week later.

Finally, one last shot over the roof of the trailer, once again. This one from September 17th.

After we had that bout of frost, it warmed up dramatically. We have been enjoying very summer like weather for the last two weeks. Humidex ratings over 30C (86+ in F). This, I’m sure, is causing all sorts of weirdness with the trees and other plants. They were getting ready for colder weather, and all of a sudden it’s warm again. Those trees already having moved into their fall colours just kept going. Some trees that had only just barely started changing seem to have halted and other trees are still completely green. So we have everything from completely bare to completely green. It’s turning out to be an autumn where we aren’t getting a huge riot of colours all at once, just patches here and there.

I’ll do my best to take some more pictures as things progress. If we continue to have these small patches of colours, autumn might get stretched out for some time. This is not a bad thing.

Getting back outside

It’s the start of May now and things have warmed up considerably since my last post. April was all over the place in terms of the weather. The last you heard from us we had just had a big snow storm. I took those pictures on a Friday morning as we were clearing the fallen trees from our driveway.

The next day we woke up to full sunshine and it was quite warm. Everything started to melt. This is what it looked like in the morning.

By 16:00 that day, there wasn’t a tree left that had any snow on it. Sunday was nice a sunny too and by the end of that day, the driveway was clear of snow, though still mushy. The following day, on Monday, we hit 24C (75F) and it was really humid. We had a huge thunderstorm in the afternoon too, with some really loud thunder and close lightning strikes. So in the space of five days, we went from heavy snow fall to serious thunderstorm.

With all of that snow and rain, things have not been dry around here. In fact, all sources of water in the area have exceeded their banks and there is a lot of flooding. Fortunately, most of it is flooding the forest. There are a few cases of people who are near the York river who are having difficulties.

This reminds us of spring 2014 when we first came to look at the property. The other pond we have at the top of the hill was over flowing. Don’t remember the picture? Well, here is what it looked like back then.

As a way of comparison, here is what it looked like on April 26th.

That’s really close to the 2014 level. I should add that we just had a huge rain storm that lasted two days straight. We haven’t been back up to the top of the hill, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the upper pond has now exceeded the 2014 level. I say this because, despite having a drain pipe under the driveway for the pond we have beside it, we had enough rain to wash out part of our driveway.

The drain pipe couldn’t keep up fast enough and the water just rushed over the driveway. I’m sure there will be another load of gravel in our near future.

Going back a bit to April 18th, it had dropped below freezing the previous night and the pond beside the driveway had a thin layer of ice on it. It looked pretty spectacular so, of course, we had to take some pictures.

Needless to say, we have had some really nice weather, and some really wet weather in April. We have been trying to get out as much as we can to work on important projects outside before the bugs arrive. The project with the highest priority right now is firewood processing for next winter.

Last week we had a good run of clear weather so we were able to get out many days in a row. Unfortunately, a bunch of our time was spent clearing fallen saplings from the roadway up to the top of the hill. We did get some trees cut for firewood though.

We started off with that small pile. Anything big I buck up on site and the smaller branches we just haul back and use the saw buck I made last year to make it easier to cut. It sure saves the back using the saw buck.

Another day, and more wood. I split some of it by hand. The cherry is pretty easy, but I leave most of the elm as it is painful to split by hand. All of it is dead already, which makes splitting it much easier than if we were trying to split live wood by hand.

We cleared out the middle section of our wood storage at the back of the trailer and this is where we are piling the newly harvested wood.

It’s not a lot yet, but it’s better than nothing. We’re hoping that things will dry up this week so we can get back out and do some more.

When we aren’t processing firewood or working on other projects, Kat and I like to take walks down our road. Kat uses this opportunity to pick up all of the dang garbage that people throw out their vehicle windows. We live on a very quiet road, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from polluting it. We’ve gathered several large garbage bags worth of things people have tossed away, most of it is beer cans.

There are some nice things to see while we’re out walking too. Like some pussy willows we found growing beside the road.

You have to take advantage of pussy willows pretty quickly as they turn into fuzzy tree buds soon after they appear. Yes the buds are all out on the trees now and some are even starting to sprout a few tiny leaves.

Soon everything will be exploding with colours. The leaves will be out in full force and the flowers will be in bloom. Heck, even Kat is looking really awesome in her spring colours.

She doesn’t tweet as nicely as some of the birds we have hanging around our place, but she sure is nice to look at.

It’s always good to end with a smile 😀