Saturday, October 26, 2013

Colors of the prairie

I took a drive yesterday up into the sand hills of SW Nebraska as it was necessary to take a trip to North Platte for a few things.  I was surprised at the number of trees yet to turn from their summer green and it got me thinking about fall colors and the pictures you get to see on the TV of the New England fall colors with all the brilliant reds and purples, golds and yellows; so picturesque.

Out here on the prairie, you have to look closely to see more than the yellow gold that predominately invades the trees along the creeks and the side of the roads.  Granted it looks stunning against the dark green of the cedar and evergreen trees we also have growing about the prairie.  But where are those other fall colors?

They are lower to the ground.  The grasses that grow in the ditches go from green to rust with their taupe frosted tops.  The sumac that grows along the creeks and where water tends to pool is a bright red.  Every so often you might see the red of a maple tree.  Orange is mostly found around mailboxes and along the steps of farm houses where pumpkins are placed to greet friends as they visit.

There is a shade of red seen in the fields as long as the milo has not been cut.  Even that seems to be less brilliant this year, probably from lack of moisture which we can continue to blame on the drought.  The milo though is a lovely contrast to the brown that it sits atop as the stalks dry and become that taupe color. 

At my house there is a lovely lavendar and a burnt orange that greet me when I walk outside, the mums I have planted by the steps of the deck always look completely beautiful this time of year.  I guess it is my attempt to bring some of those other colors missing from the trees to the prairie.

But the color you see the most is the golden yellow.  So then the challenge is to see shades of gold or yellow, make it more than just one basic color.  That is relatively easy to do because each type of tree has its own unique color of gold/yellow.  The cottonwood is a bright yellow.  The elm tends to be a bit darker like it is trying to turn orange with all its might but just can't muster up enough pigment to pull that color out.  There is also the darkest shade of yellow which looks more brown, it is when the leaves dry so quickly that they lose their fall coat and become the color of the ground which is where they are destined to "fall."

We do get a lovely color of purples, pinks and reds each evening as the sun sets but that is only in the sky and only seen at sunset time.

So wherever you are, find your fall colors, look high, look low and appreciate your fall colors in your neck of the woods or prairie.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wind blowing my thoughts right out of my head.

It is that time of year where the wind blows, howls, pushing the ghosts and kicking up the dirt.  A day with little to no wind is but a distant memory.  Couple that with the cooler temperatures and we get what the scientists call the wind chill factor.  We just call it danged COLD!!!  Today is just another prime example of such a windy day.  In fact the wind is blowing so hard it didn't even take a break last night and kept on howling through the night. 

The Halloween House decorations are doing their best to hang on for dear life outside and in fact I have had to park my car right next to the graveyard a couple times now because of the direction the wind is blowing from keeps knocking my grave digger right over and almost into the casket that houses Marcus Z. Karciss (or Marcus the carcass).  

The ghosts on the deck hang on the best they can with the staples in their ends and their heads hanging from the designated hook.  Sometimes the wind make the ghosts fly so hard that they lose their grip and the staple comes out and there goes the ghost's hold onto whatever rafter or 2x6 it is attached too.  Even the spider webbing gets tugged and pulled at by the wind. 

The ghosts down the driveway have fared pretty well.  Although I have had to pull 2 up - one was bent over by the wind with such force it bent the steel pole below ground level.  So far I have not had to go driving around the countryside to retrieve a ghost and prefer to keep it that way. 

The cats prefer to stay inside and nap where it is warm and out of the wind.  Sometimes they try to go outside but are begging at the door to come right back in within just a few minutes.  Kind of like kids.

Tonight we have our first real freeze/frost warning set.  Will be taking care of wrapping the tomato plants with sheets and trying to protect them for another week or so.  I think the garden is officially done but why the tomatoes have to wait so long to mature and ripen is beyond me, so I protect the best I can until as many ripen as possible.  I picked zucchini yesterday in between rain showers.  I think they are essentially done, found a half dozen more monsters so Jim and I will be working on making more mock apple crunch.

So as you can see there is not much happening on the farm this time of the year.  We are in the wind down of the gardens, the wood piling will be starting very soon and then it will be just a wait until deer season and then wait until spring.  Watch the wheat grow and hope it gets covered in a lot of snow between Dec 1 and March 31 so that we can look forward to a bountiful harvest.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thank you for International readers!

Just a quick note to say I am so excited to see that I continue to have international readers to my blog.

The last influx from Indonesia and Germany.  I have had readers from Russia, Hong Kong, Netherlands, among others.

Keep telling your friends if you find my stories fun to read.

Thanks to my United States readers, many of which are family and close friends.  Your constant support gives me hope and keeps me trying to be creative in sharing funny stories.

As a final note for today, I did a much needed garden walk.  I am preparing a story about the monsters in the squash patch and will begin to take pictures of the Halloween transformation on the farm and posting those as soon as this weekend.

Thanks again everyone! - Nancy


Fall means drilling and harvest all at the same time.

I took a drive yesterday to the next county over and there were combines in the corn and milo fields putting their fall income into the hopper, transferring it to the semi-trailer so it could get hauled off to the grain bin or the elevator for sale. 

There was even the occasional tractor with a drill behind it, kicking up dust as it drilled its hopes for a bountiful wheat harvest next summer.  It was interesting to see which fields had already been drilled with wheat because some where already showing signs of young, tender shoots up above the ground.  As you drive down the road and can line up your line of sight with rows of drilled wheat it looks like someone took a little green pencil in the dirt.  Some of the wheat was up high enough that it looked like the farmer had laid down a green shag carpet. 

Dad's wheat has been no-tilled this year and is in the field that is directly east and north of my house.  What I call the north half of our quarter.  I suppose technically it would be the northeast fourth of our quarter, but that is just getting too technical.  Yesterday I was prepping ghosts next to the newly drilled wheat field and noticed that we had wheat poking through, maybe 2 inches tall.  The young man who drilled it for dad finished putting it in the ground only 1 week ago.  That is a pretty quick growth spurt as usually it is 2 weeks before we see much.  I don't suppose the 3/4 inch of rain the very next day after the tractor pulled out last week had anything to do with the speedy growth, well maybe it did.

So to top of my drive to the next county and back was this:  As I was driving and looking at the fields with tractors in them or combines, I noticed a recently cut field of corn and out in the middle was a small group of deer, sort of standing in a circle, obviously had stopped to admire the farmer's corn cutting but I had to giggle to myself because just beyond the group of deer was the very same combine still cutting the corn.  The deer almost looked like they were having a conversation about this corn field and it was as if they were saying to each other, "Dude, they cut down our dinner and our hiding spots.  Now what do we do?"  The must have figured out what to do because on my way back to the farm I checked that field and they were no where to be found.  No doubt they headed north to where they could jump the fence and find a secluded draw away from farm machinery and prying eyes.