Friday, October 22, 2021

The October Garden

It's long past the time I should have updated you on our garden.  It has remained remarkably colourful right into the third week of October, thanks in part to the fact that we STILL haven't had any frost!  Don't remember it ever being so late, and there's no sign of frost yet.  The Zinnias are the best, bright red and orange, and straight outside the window I sit at.

On the other hand the planters were cleaned out a few days ago, and they're now looking terribly empty.  Compare to the photo below.

Yes, the bright yellow Marigolds in the foreground were there until just a few days ago,  Note that the only flowers still in bloom in the background are those red Zinnias.   

There are two schools of thought among gardeners about cleaning up in the garden in the fall.  One adheres to the principle of leaving it to winter and letting the birds feast on any seeds, the other believes in having it all neat and tidy and ready for winter.  Before we moved here I was the chief undergardener (the one who did all the work), so it didn't matter.  I have learned in the past few weeks that Mrs. F.G. strongly believes in the latter position.  It will be a fight to even get her to leave the Zinnias until first frost.  Everything else has been completely trimmed and tidied up.

Our Lavender plants have done extremely well this summer, growing from small plants in pots to this once planted out.

This pink Echinacea is a new purchase earlier this fall.

And we still have blooms on the yellow Rose.

Mrs. F.G. (who has to do all the work now, so I owe the beauty of the garden entirely to her), has a nice display by the front door.

And she's been experimenting again with tuffa pots of various sorts.  She hasn't done this for 20 years.

P.S.  The cows we're seeing around here are all beef cattle, not dairy.  Most of them will have access to a barn during the winter, but cows get over-heated easily and benefit from being outdoors most of the time, even in cold weather.  And they do have built in fur coats.  

I'm not sure about why farmers who raise calves apparently sell them in the fall and bring in others.  Maybe they just keep in their own and bring in extra.  I'm going to have to do some research.  I do know the cattle they bring in will start out at 600-900 lbs. and will reach market weight of about 1500 lbs. when they're sold the next year.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Lots of Cattle, and Wetlands Too

As we drove around looking for Sandhill Cranes we saw a great many cattle out in the pastures.  Here in Grey-Bruce, this is the time of year when farmers have sold on the calves they raised this summer and purchased young cattle to graze over the fall and feed over the winter to bring them up to a market weight of about 1500 lb.  Right now they're making use of any available pastures, the most readily available way to feed the young cattle.

Our route took us through Kilsyth, the village where both my grandparents lived, and my own parents met.  Lots of happy memories of times spent here, including the summer Mrs. F.G. and I lived here after my last living aunt died.

By this point the rain was covering the windshield, but we drove through it and it cleared up by the time we reached Elsinore.

Just one example of many, this a small herd out grazing.

These are 'Black Baldies', a crossbreed between a Hereford (with the white face) and an Aberdeen Angus (all black cattle).  

Lots of cattle barns too, many of them large and modern, in spite of farmers complaining about the price of beef..

Just another field, right?  This is winter wheat coming up and this is what Mrs. F.G.'s sharp eyes spot.  Can you see them?

Lots of wetlands too.  Sandhill Cranes typically nest in secluded spots around the edges of wetlands, building a nest 3-4' across.  They mate for life.

This small branch covered in fungi looked neat to me.

As did this old drainage ditch, now turned into an almost-natural wetland.  Water levels are very high after all the rain we've had.

Just one more shot to show you Mrs. F.G.'s sharp eyes.  There are about 10 Sandhill Cranes in the left half of this picture, just before the end of the first field.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Sandhill Cranes

We headed out for a drive yesterday to see if we could find some Sandhill Cranes.  Until a decade ago they were rarely seen here, but now they seem almost common; you may remember we have seen 1000 or more in a huge migratory flock, feeding on corn left behind after harvest.  That happened in early November two years ago.  This time Mrs. F.G. had seen a Facebook post showing Sandhill Cranes 'near Elsinore'.  So off we went.

When we got to Elsinore (west of Owen Sound on the highway to Southampton) we headed north on a sideroad, and before long discovered this group of four marching across a winter wheat field.  The Cranes separate into pairs and nest in the many wetlands around here during the summer, largely out of sight, then start gathering as family groups in the fall to be ready for migration.

This is a typical stance of the cranes as they walk across a field searching for food.  They basically eat anything, from plants and seeds to invertebrates and small animals or birds.

Although all these shots are cropped down dramatically from shots with my Nikon 200 mm. zoom and are therefore a little blurry, this shot does show the red patch of feathers on their head.

This was my favourite shot of that first group.

We drove back to Highway 21 and took the first south concession road where we saw three more groups, one in the far distance where I counted 19 individuals.  But I enjoyed this group of four walking steadily across another field in the distance.  Compare the background in the shots to see their steady progress.

And these three were in a flock of 8 when they lifted off and headed further away.  They have up to a six foot sing span and look very graceful when flying.  All in all we saw nearly 40 Sandhill Cranes in all, and I got what I think are my best photos of them ever.

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Black History Memorial

 Mrs. F.G. was still busy checking for seeds, so I got time for a quick run down the Freedom Trail to the Black History Cairn.  I've shared this before but I enjoy seeing it at least once a year.

It's another paved trail with some 'forest' at one end, but in the developed part of the park it's quite open.

At the risk of repeating myself we start by passing this gorgeous orange Sugar Maple right at the start.

It's built to look like the ruined corner of a church, with a patio of tiles in front, the river in the background.

There are several information signs, this one providing background on the symbolism of the cairn.  The picture on the left is of the original black church in Owen Sound.

The patio features nine tiles made in the shape of quilt blocks.

And this sign provides information on the meaning of the symbols, used surreptitiously to indicate the route of the 'Underground Railway'.  

The window frames are modelled after those in the original black church in the area.

The Emancipation Day picnic is held here every August 1st, but last year it had to be held virtually.  Just by chance the day we visited was the day they were filming the role of the town crier.  You've seen these three pictures before.

We had a nice chat with the friendly couple in their period costumes before they were called back for more filming.

It was interesting to see how many people they needed for the filming.

Emancipation Day celebrates the day the Slavery Abolition Act came into force in the British Empire, on Aug. 1st, 1834.  With Canada then a British Colony this led to a large influx of black settlers to southern Ontario in the next three decades, until the end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865.  Emancipation Day has been a local festival here in Owen Sound since 1862, but in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement the federal government made this a national holiday in 2020.  Much like Juneteenth in the U.S., the national designation emerged from local promotions.

Friday, October 15, 2021

One Mile Trail, Harrison Park

 While we were in Harrison Park last week I got another chance to ride the One-Mile Trail.  Now paved, it's a wonderful meditative trail for me, through a forest with a number of really big old trees.

We stopped at the bridge first, to check out the fish.  It seems we have missed the salmon run; we need to be here in later September for that.

We did see one big fish. though it's probably a steelhead rather than a salmon.

There were a number of dead salmon though, probably finished their battle upstream and starting the next generation, so now they're simply done.

There were lots of leaves looking colourful right there at the bridge, but...

Mrs. F.G. saw the flowers and decided that she would deadhead and search for seeds rather than walk in the woods.  I was on my own!

I headed down the wooded trail following these two women.  I saw a lot of people out walking on the trail that afternoon.

Immediately I stopped to get a picture of this giant old Sugar Maple.  It's bigger than it looks in the picture.

And these two a little further down the trail.

Rode under these tall sentinels above me on the steep slope.

And found a few more colourful leaves at the far end of the trail.

I like the views of the trail disappearing around the bend.

Passed right beside the massive trunk of this old Hemlock.

And looked up at some more colourful leaves.  All in all a very memorable half hour for me!