Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Do You Recognize This Crop?

Today, a few more crops from my drive south to London last week, well south of the valley.  Do you recognize this first one?

Although I've seen smaller plots of this crop, I've only ever seen one farm growing it, here on fairly heavy clay soil.  The open row was a line of short stunted corn, apparently planted to catch blowing snow in the winter, but knocked down more recently. We drive past this farm every time we head south.

It's a crop that sometimes needs irrigation, at least on these soils.  It's grown in rotation, and from what we've seen it requires manual harvesting and then has to be dried.

Not guessed yet?  It's the bulb at the base that is harvested, and the Head Gardener here has a reputation in our community for the delicious varieties of this that she grows right here in our garden.  Yes, it's Garlic!  You can see the curlicue ends of the scapes (or what would become flower stalks), which need to be cut off to keep all the growth going to the bulb at the base.  These are the only big fields of Garlic we've ever seen.

There were also fields of wheat, a lot more mature than any I've seen here in the valley.  I thought I detected a hint of golden colour in this field, quite close to London.

You can see the grain at the top of the stalks quite easily; this will turn golden yellow before harvest in July.

And of course there was lots of corn; this field was shoulder-high!  Around the valley it's only 2 feet yet at the most.  Heat units make a big difference to corn.

And this field in front of the windmills just north of Arthur really surprised me.  We have lots of hayfields around the valley; it's our single most common crop.  But I have never before seen a field of hay where the bales have been wrapped individually and left sitting on their ends while still in the field.  But it did make an interesting picture!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

A Beautiful Crop

I always think that Canola in bloom, spreading its brilliant yellow blossoms across a field, is the most beautiful crop we have here in southern Ontario.  It's blooming time is quite variable; as a cold weather crop it can be planted early, or it can survive into the fall.  But whenever it blooms, it is striking.

This is well south of the valley, seen on my trip to London the other day (when it was sunny, unlike the past two days!).

And the sky was just as beautiful as the Canola!

The field was across the road from a nice looking dairy farm in the far distance.  Canola is an oilseed crop, the oil pressed from its tiny seeds.  And the oil is both nutritious and low in saturated fats, so it's considered a healthy choice for consumers.

Canada is one of the world's top Canola producers, ranking far ahead of the United States, because Canola likes the cooler climate of the Canadian prairies.

I've thought for years that this dairy barn would make a nice picture; the yellow Canola sets it off perfectly.

Driving by, seeing just the blooms, you might think Canola was like a grain, but it's very different, a member of the Brassica family, like Cabbage, Cauliflower and Broccoli, with quite large leaves at the base.  Quite a distinctive crop when you see it growing, and a great contribution to our rural landscape when it's in bloom!

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The Barn Collective


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Late June Flowers

I think it's time for an update featuring what's blooming in our garden, if I can get all the names straight.  We've changed from mostly green through a white period of the early peonies and white iris, to some vibrant colours, and it's just going to get more colourful over the coming weeks.

First were the large bright pink Peonies, here being visited by a bee.

We've got several shades of these, but now that we've had several days of heavy rain, they're looking bedraggled, as Peonies do.

And our very first Day Lily of the season bloomed, a simple colour pattern, but a bright one.

We've had this very pretty and delicate little Lily growing for several years, but this is the first time it has bloomed, with several blooms on the plant.

Our tall orange Foxtail Lilies are halfway through there blooming period, providing tall bright orange exclamation marks around the garden.

They bloom slowly from the bottom up; only a short section of the flower stem opens at a time.

And of course there are a few Sweet Williams tucked away in a corner, now getting overgrown by taller plants around it.

And one of my personal favourites, a contrasting purple and white Bachelors Buttons.

This is a new one for us, a Rodgersia.  We've had these distinctive very large leaves for several years, but never a bloom.  This year it sent up a tall flower spike and burst into tiny white florets.

Very delicate tiny flowers for such a large plant, and we're glad to see it blooming!

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Draining the Beaver Pond!

We've been noticing a small pond where we saw a beaver last year, that has grown into quite a substantial pond, with much higher water levels, over the past few months.  We saw no sign of a dam at the end of the pond where we drove by, but presumed the beavers had been hard at work somewhere nearby.

Had to drive to parts south yesterday, and in the early morning light I stopped for a quick picture or 3. The sun was sparkling off the water, and the mist was rising along the shore.  Note the flooded pine tree on the left; the water level has been rising fast the past few weeks.

I hid the sun behind the leaves of the trees, and  was able to get a couple of nice shots of the pond and reflections.

The water level actually looks like it's getting fairly close to the road over there on the far side.  Just beyond the road is a branch of the Saugeen River.

Returning some 9 hours later I noticed some muddy water pouring into the Saugeen and stopped for a picture.  There was quite a loud roar of rushing water.

So I stopped again by the pond, and it looked to me like the water was draining away.  Notice the dark bottom foot of all the shrubs around the shore.

So I backed up, turned down the other sideroad, and found this.  The township had brought in a backhoe, and cleaned out a pile of mud and branches that was blocking the culvert.  Notice the whirlpool on the left of the picture where the water was being sucked down fast!

Taking a close look, I could see the culvert, deep under the surface of the water.  Those beaver hadn't wasted their efforts building a dam; they'd just blocked the culvert!

On the other side of the road the water was absolutely roaring toward the river, where normally there would be a tiny trickle.

And the result was this muddy torrent stirring up the waters of the Saugeen.  I'm not sure whether to feel sorry for the beaver; indeed, this may just be the beginning of a long term battle with the township works crew.  But even when the water subsides to culvert level, we know that there will still be a substantial pond; the big rodents won't be totally done out of house and home.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Waiting for Summer!

The marina at Meaford was full of sailboats when I visited, all back in the water and ready for summer sailing.  They're just waiting for holiday weekends or longer vacations on the part of their owners, and they'll be out on the bay with sails hoisted.

The marina part of the harbour was filled with masts, all protected by the big stone breakwater that you can just make out in the background.

I have to admit that I've never sailed, and would not know where to start, but boats always seem to fascinate me.

Lots of interesting patterns as there were three long docks sticking out from the main walkway, with boats all down each side.

Even the masts themselves form interesting patterns.  And there were signs warning 'No Swimming', due to risk of electrocution!  I guess they have power running out to all these boats.

I'd never walked all the way out to the breakwater; in the winter this walk would be like the Arctic in a blizzard!  But someday I'll walk all the way down to that small outer light at the end.

The water here was just as clear as yesterday's photos, but the rocks appeared to be large chunks of concrete rather than boulders.
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Skies over Georgian Bay

I was in Meaford for coffee the other day, and took a few minutes to walk down by the harbour.  I was amazed at how clear the water was, especially with a polarizing filter on.  I think this is typical of Georgian Bay when the waves aren't crashing in.

 I started by exploring the east breakwater, the main sailboat harbour.  I may post some pictures of that too soon.  This view looks west from the breakwater, which you can easily walk along the top of, the Niagara Escarpment in the distance.

Then I headed over west of the harbour, to the small public park, where I went several times this winter (in snow 18" deep).  Looking a different direction in relation to the sun gives the water a different hue.

In between there's a small nearly enclosed bay that's popular with fishermen.  This is where I saw the ice fishing huts this winter.

But what amazed me was how clearly you could see the rocks on the bottom. I could have taken many more pictures.

One hundred miles that-a-way and you'd hit land again, someplace on the North Shore.

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