Big bucks

Big bucks

Big bucks

No, not that kind.  The deery kind.  I was looking out the front garden window at the kitchen sink and saw some does go past the driveway in the upper field.  I hadn’t taken any wildlife photos to post recently, so I thought, what the heck and headed down to the studio to get the camera and put on the telephoto lens.  When I glanced out the rear windows, I saw SIX bucks down by the lake, at least three of which had very large antler racks.

Plans changed in a hurry as I decided to photograph them instead.  I haven’t seen any large bucks at all over the last few years and here was a large herd right before my eyes.  This is the best of the 15 photos I took.  Late afternoon light, a telephoto lens and a bunch of moving animals conspired against me, but this one is not too bad.  I think you can see how big these guys are and how huge their racks look.  I sure would like to find some of those antlers when they are shed in the spring.  Wouldn’t you?

Oh, deer!

New fawn

New fawn

I went to my kitchen sink this evening with supper dishes in hand and in a sweet surprise, I saw a very young fawn walking through the front flower beds. It was dwarfed by the cone flowers, black eyed Susan’s, and even the bird bath as it meandered through the flowers, checking everything carefully before skittering out.

Mom and baby

Mom and baby

Fortunately, I had heard this morning that a doe was wandering around with a new baby and I had brought up my camera with the telephoto lens already attached. I ran to the living room to get it and when I got back, the fawn had rejoined its mother.  It skipped about the yard, more I think from the gnats and flies circling it than from playfulness or fear.  I could see quite the swarm flying around both of them.  Mom finally edged her baby back into the woods and I went back to the dishes.

Backyard buck

The pen and ink is not quite ready to show yet. As with the pencil up, the going is slower than I expected and presents its own difficulties. So instead, I will share with you the 7 pointed buck that strolled though the back yard last week. I managed to take quite a few pictures of him in an effort to be able to count his points and I think I see seven.

Seven point buck

I saw him come up from the shallow end of the lake and he nicely stayed around long enough for me to get the camera lens switched out to the telephoto.  I tried to get a lot of head shots and grazing shots so perhaps at some point I can use one to draw.  The unfortunate thing is that he was limping on his right foreleg.  I couldn’t see anything wrong with the leg – no apparent blood or injury, but he was obviously in pain and unable to do anything except walk.  He headed off into the woods next to the house and we haven’t seen him since.  I think I will be able to identify him from the downward tine on the right antler.  Here’s to hoping it wasn’t a serious injury and he recovers soon.

Drought

The droughts of the last 3 summers are finally starting to affect us I’m afraid. In the summer of 2010, the drought started in August and ran on into September. I could kind of keep ahead of it, watering mostly the new plants of the year.  Last summer it began in early July and lasted on into the fall.  I had to water quite a bit more but still was able to concentrate mostly on the newer plants.  I confess I did start to water of the Japanese maple that I love at the corner of the house as well as the hydrangea trees and the dogwood.  Most of the flowers were doing okay with an occasional bath, but except for the glorious wave petunias, I didn’t water much else.

My poor vinca

This year is bad.  There has been no real rain since some time in April.  My well established vinca is getting brown and actually dying back in places.  I have begun to water it.  The inner leaves of the hydrangea tree are dying back as if it were already September.  I have begun to water it.  My beloved Japanese maple, already hard hit by a late frost and struggling with half sized leaves of reduced numbers, is feeling stressed.  I have begun to water it.  The Black-eyed Susans  are drooping for heavens sake! I have begun to water them.  Only the petunias look decent.  I have begun to water them too.

Easy fishing for the heron

There are no butterflies around my butterfly bush, although there seem to be some honey bees, bumble bees, and wasps flying about.  The lake is down many feet.  The fishing for the Great Blue heron is easy these days even if the bigger fish have gone  deeper for cooler water.  The shallows are much extended.  The deer are hiding out most of the time.  The coyotes are missing and I only see a few squirrels and rabbits.  Mr. Turtle is missing. The only proliferation we seem to be having is that of raccoons and I think they are just attracted by the easy pickings in the gardens.

Drooping Black-eyed Susans

I cannot sustain watering everything for the whole summer.  We may just have to concentrate on the more valuable trees and shrubs and let some of the other things fend for themselves.  It is frightening to think that this is still June and there seems to be no respite in sight.  I wish it would rain…….  today, tomorrow, Tuesday………..

Watching the wildlife

Looking for lunch

I finished the inking on the next picture but I didn’t feel that it was different enough to post, so I thought I’d put up a few of the wildlife photos I mentioned earlier instead.  Here is the coyote hunting for his lunch.  He was quite a big guy and rather blonde and in fact, until I saw his face, I thought he might have been a dog.  He spent quite a bit of time over there looking for mice, voles, moles,  or whatever and finally caught something.

Dining out

He pounced and then lay down with his catch.  I couldn’t tell what he had, but he grabbed at it, tossing his head to get rid of fur it seemed, and then swallowed whatever it was.  He spent about half an hour hunting over the same area, but I didn’t see him catching anything else.  I didn’t see any other coyotes at the time, but we certainly have heard them a lot over the last few weeks.  It is breeding season now so they are singing to themselves, I think.  I am keeping my fingers crossed to see puppies again.

Resting does

A few days earlier I saw several deer out in the back yard and just in the  woods.  The does were resting among the trees and then I saw the young buck move out into the open.  I wonder how he managed to break his antler.  Was he trying to play with the big boys a little to early?  Did he find out who the big boss really was?  I am sure that next year he will be much more skillful.  He was on the large side, so I think he might end up with a nice rack in a few years and join the big boys herd.

Young buck

Welcome to the New Year

On this, the second day of the new year, I’d like to wish everyone a 2012 filled with wonder, joy and new challenges successfully met.  Today we are getting alternating sun and flurries with quite cold wind chills.  I am happy to be snug inside my studio and looking at it out of the window.  We have started to see the deer reappear with the end of gun hunting season.  I have seen a quite a few does and a couple of bucks, some with the larger racks.  My sister and brother-in-law have long put out a lot a bird feeders and have attracted quite a few birds.  Unfortunately for the birds and the bird watchers, this year we have had 3 hawks move in with an eye to whatever wants to eat at the feeders.  They saw the juvenile actually perch on one of the feeder poles for the best view possible.  Needless to say, the smaller bird feeding population has radically reduced itself at least for the time being.  Personally, I am rooting for the hawks going after the mice and squirrels that seem to abound out here.

The little red barn

We had a rather quiet holiday without a lot of company so I was able to get into the studio and paint some.  I enjoyed doing the ink/watercolor animals and decided to  branch out and try a landscape.  It is a little larger than the animals were so it took a bit more time, but not inordinately so.  These paintings take a lot less time overall than the pastels do which is somewhat understandable given the detail and size involved.  It is kind of nice to be able to finish something in only a day or two versus close to a week.

I like the way that the sky and the barbed wire fence turned out.and some of the foliage, but on the whole, I don’t think it is one of my better paintings.  It is okay but seems to lack enough pop to my eye.  I had hoped that the red barn would provide a more significant focal point without being garish and I do like the vee the pasture forms around it but it is still lacking something yet.  In the animal portraits I was able to say, there I’m done, but this still seems to need some work.  I think I will play around with the pen a little and try to balance the positive/negative space a little more.  Also, I was very messy doing this and ended up with dirty white borders.  I may have to mat it to hide them.  And the view with a mat does change the look of a picture.  It is probably worth a try.

Fall frosts and pre winter scenes

The last of the flowers and herbs have finally succumbed to the fall frosts.  The reblooming irises managed to open about half of the buds that developed before dying back and made for some wonderful fall colors..  The petunia flowers are also gone but surprisingly the plants themselves are still hanging on and actually look quite good. I hope this bodes well for them to come back next year.  I love how their iridescent purple, pink, and striped blossoms have spread all over the hillside.  In fact I am seeing some variations that I never bought because of the cross-pollination.  I even got a few pure white ones – which I never would have bought because as you know I don’t like white as a main theme.   I never was much of a petunia fan before this, but I have decided I like the way they spread and I have to plant fewer to get coverage in an area where it is hard to dig very deep.  Plus they are volunteering to return on their own.

Two weekends ago deer hunting season started with a 7 AM blast and I was a little worried about the bucks that live around here – particularly the 8+ pointer.  We don’t hunt ourselves but many of the surrounding neighbors do and I knew he would be considered a prize.  Still, he didn’t get to live to have 8-10 points without being pretty smart and yesterday as I was coming down the last fifty yards of the driveway to the house, there he was.  He stopped and I stopped.  We looked at each other for about a minute before I started to edge the car on and he bounded away.   I got one last glimpse of him as he turned back to watch me briefly.  Of course  I didn’t think to get my phone out and try to snap his picture.  One of these days I will see him close up in the yard and manage to get the telephoto lens so I can actually count the times on him.  I’m betting on at least 10.

Rosemary and oregano

And finally, for the last month, my studio table has been the has been doing double duty as a drying rack for the herbs I grew and picked.  I got around to stripping the dried leaves from the stems yesterday.  Who knew the rosemary could be so pungent after it was dry.  It actually had a piney smell to it and my fingers have had the aroma of herbs for half of the day.  I managed to dry over a cup of the rosemary and 1/2 cup of oregano which I will use in my cooking over the winter.  I particularly like to use the oregano in the artichoke spaghetti and the rosemary on the baked sweet and red potato fries.  Yum.

What’s up next?

Fall on the lake

It is very windy outside today with wind gusts 30 to 40 mph.  If you look closely you can see the wind across the pond making little “whitecaps”.  Fortunately the temps are getting into the 70’s so it is not a cold day, at least when you’re in the sun.  I’m sure it will cool quickly as the sun goes down though.  The recent rains and winds have blown many of the leaves off of the trees so I don’t know how much longer we will have the fall colors.  At least some color developed after the rains finally came.  For a while it looked as though everything would just turn brown.  I am not, not, not looking forward to winter.  We saw a herd of deer last evening on our side of the lake, the first in quite a while.  It was too dark to tell if their coats had lost the ragged whiteness we had previously seen or if the buck was with them.  I hope it is just a temporary condition that the coming of the winter coats will resolve.

Today my workspace is covered with streetscape photos from Key West FL, Park City UT, and southern Indiana.  I pulled out everything I had to search for inspiration and have almost decided on what to do next.  I ordered some new watercolors this week , so the gourd still life will have to wait a little bit. With any luck the paints will get here quickly. I’m glad fall gourds are sturdy and should last quite a while. I plan to create a variety of the still lives from them, interspersed with architecturals.  I have found that I need a little variety in the subject matter to stay fresh and inspired.  I swear it’s the deciding what to do that is the hardest part of it all.  Once I get started on a piece, I can work it through to completion with little difficulty, but those initial choices can be quite trying.

Holiday aceos

I have been working on a few new aceos lately.  I thought I might do a set for holiday and Halloween use and make some digital copies.  I should just run up another watercolor blank that has blues and greens predominating so that there will be little more color variety.  It would be a good project when I am letting the architectural set.  It doesn’t take a lot of  time at each step, but the overall process is several days because of the drying time.

First signs of fall

As I sit here writing this post, I can here the long-awaited rains hitting the roof above me. Today felt like the coming of fall. Yesterday was in the 90’s and today’s high was barely 70, with low flying cloud cover.  I washed off my horse’s rain sheet and winter blanket in the heat of the day and set them in the sun to dry.  Truth is, I should have done that in the spring when I brought them home, but you know how that goes.  At least I did it before today’s cooler wetter weather set in.  It has been a busy few days with a quick trip to see our son who travelled to Purdue for business.  Four hours of driving for a three hour visit, but well worth it. 

Aceos

I did manage to sneak into the studio for a few hours today.  I didn’t have the time to lay out a new architectural so far this week, so I decided that since I hadn’t done any new aceos in quite a while, I would spend the limited time available doing a few.  I wanted to try a few abstract compositions and the other backgrounds seemed to lend themselves to a floral motif.  These watercolor blanks had a lot of orange and yellow ocher in them and were interesting to work with.  Many of the previous pieces were more red and green in tone.  I may do a few more this week and then list some in my store on Etsy.

Some does and the big buckAnd here is the photo 0f the oddly colored deer that I promised a few posts back.  They are actually that white.  I’m thinking it must be some coat/skin condition.  Even the more normally colored ones had splotches of white on them.  I hope it clears up before winter and is not an indication of some more serious health issue.  And, as you can see, the buck is getting quite a set of antlers.  I’d like to find those in the spring.  Wouldn’t you?

Summer surprise

For the last few weeks I have been seeing quite a few golden finches flying around the front yard. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why they were suddenly appearing. I haven’t put out bird feeders in quite a while after the squirrel-induced truck burning driveway disaster. I have felt bad about that but the vehicle destruction costs and inconveniences made me not what to entice more squirrels close to the house.

Snacking on the cone flowers

I kept an eye out for them and suddenly realized that a number of them were eating the seeds of the coneflowers.  These are the very same flower beds where I picked a few to paint.  As you can see, they have all pretty much died back.  I am sure that there will be plenty of seeds dispersed for next year’s flowers.  It has been so nice to see the finches right up next to the house.  I know the picture could have been a little more attractively done, but it was hard to get a clear shot through all of the plants from inside the house and this was the best of the lot. 

The other thing I have seen lately is that some of the deer seem to be having an issue with their coats. One time I saw them down at the lake and about half of them looked distinctly grey compared to the normal reddish brown.  Some also had white patches.  I don’t know what the problem is with the fur, but it isn’t very good looking. And one day the flies must have been biting them pretty seriously.  One would be grazing on the shore line or in the water and suddenly jump up and dance around furiously.  It was comical at times, but I sympathize with the discomfort.  I have a photo of them but wordpress isn’t letting me post it correctly.  When I get it fixed, I will add it.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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