Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturday Critters

Here are a few critters we've seen the past few weeks.  On Thanksgiving weekend we headed out for a walk at a pick-your-own orchard.  This orchard keeps a few animals around to help amuse the families who visit, and a LOT of families do visit on Thanksgiving weekend.  We took the lazy way out this year though, and just bought our apples instead of picking them.

There were a couple of friendly goats in pens.

All of these were close enough that the kids could pet them, or feed them.  And you can bet that gramma made sure hands were washed afterwards!

There were a couple of friendly donkeys.

And some chickens of various breeds, though they were protected somewhat from the visiting kids.

Another day, while out gathering pictures of fall colours, I drove by Hope Haven, a farm that provides riding for people with disabilities.  Most of their horses were out grazing.

These two just seemed to stand there while I watched.  Beautiful horses.=!

And at least one came over to the fence to say hello.

This little fella on the other hand was climbing up the wall of our house.  In early fall we always see a Praying Mantis or two around here.


Another cool gray day here, and rain has started this evening.  The rest of the weekend will be wet.  I did get out to inspect the Bruce Trail property that I'm Land Steward for, both yesterday and today, so I'll have some pictures of that sometime.  But it was hard going off the trail, slogging through tall grass and weeds, and over jumbles of logs from the plantation thinning two years ago.  Just have to write up my reports now.

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Friday, October 30, 2015


It's been the month of watching sunrises.  The sun hasn't been rising until nearly 8 a.m., so I'm usually actually up to see it, though that's going to end Sunday night with Daylight Savings Time arriving.

Earlier this week I told myself that there might be a good sunrise, but then I ignored it while I was sipping coffee and reading.  I turned around to see this through the window.

I grabbed my camera and started getting a few shots.  It was mostly a dark gray sky, but on the horizon where the sun would eventually appear, it was brilliant red.

Soon the red began spreading up onto the higher clouds.

It just got brighter and brighter.

Can't recall a sunrise this bright.

But gradually it faded away until the sky was all gray again.

And finally the sun itself came up, just cracking the horizon before it disappeared under the bank of clouds.  Forty-five fleeting minutes of ethereal beauty.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

John Muir

Did you know that John Muir, the famous American conservationist, spent a couple of years here near Meaford in 1864-66?   He was exploring and botanizing, in between working at the Trout Hollow sawmill on the Bighead River.  There's a historic plaque commemorating his time here overlooking the valley in a small park just north of the old Epping church corner.

Muir is widely known as a staunch advocate of protecting wilderness in the western United States and a leader in developing the U.S. National Park system.  He is especially identified with Yosemite National Park.  But actually 3 countries claim him - Scotland where he was born, this tiny region of Canada where he spent a year or two, and the U.S.A.

This is the location of the plaque, overlooking the valley.  Can you see the fence?  Just right of centre at the bottom of the photo are two blue blazes, marking a Bruce Trail Side Trail - they're painted on a fencepost.

The information sign provides one quote written by Muir while he was here in the valley, in late May of 1865:

"We live in a retired and romantic hollow.  
Our tall, tall forest trees are now alive, 
and the mingled ocean of blossom and leaves, 
wave and curl, and rise in rounded swells further and further away.  
Freshness and beauty are everywhere - 
flowers are born every hour - 
living sunlight is poured over all, 
and every thing and every creature is glad - 
our world is indeed a beautiful one..."

You can almost see the dip of Blue Mountain on the left where it drops down to Georgian Bay.

Here's another fence, built by a farmer to keep his cattle in, along the boundary of a Bruce Trail property I had to go out and check.

And this is our own meadow.  The light snowfall two weeks ago outlined the trails I mow quite effectively.  And there's a bit more fence.

Caught this view across the fields a couple of weeks ago too, on one of my drives around the rural roads.


A second dull, grey, windy rainy day here; hoping to get back to sunshine soon!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Georgian Bay

I never seem to tire of seeing the blue waters of Georgian Bay (on those sunny days when the waters are blue).  And with a little breeze blowing, so the waves are rolling in, all the better.

I was in Meaford on that snowy day we had two weeks ago.  You get this great view of the bay as you come down the hill into town.

A day or two later I was there again, and stopped to get some pictures along the shoreline.  I find it repetitious going back to the same place for pictures, but it's one of the only places with public access.  The clouds, the sky and the water make the difference in pictures more than the place.

There are a number of nice benches where you can sit and enjoy the view, but there's often enough breeze that you don't want to sit long!

The waves were rolling a bit this day, and I took several pictures of this view, but never did get a good shot of the waves crashing on the rocks they way I'd like them to!

But I'll keep going back here 'cause it's just so scenic.

That distant headland in the photo above (apart from the line of cottages along the shore) is the Land Force Central Area Training Centre, a huge 17,000 acre + land area originally expropriated during WWII for training tank operators.  There was considerable confusion about the original expropriation, and some continuing resentment, but when others were losing their lives in the war, giving up a farm and moving was accepted in comparison.  Although it fell silent and the tanks disappeared during the 1960's, it was reactivated, and is now the largest training centre for Ontario's regular and reserve army staff.  There is a 2000 metre restricted area extending out into Georgian Bay for gunnery practice.  Today you can visit and get a tour of the facilities and operation; it's an important local employer.  And it's still widely known locally as the 'Meaford Tank Range'.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Life in Late October

We enjoyed a nice sunny, dry late October day, and got all the leaf mulching done, even though it was a little cool.  It's the 'brown' month of the year, at least until snow arrives and changes it to white.  Just a few leaves left on some trees.

The clouds were rolling over all day, but the sun was out a lot.

The cluster of Oak trees on the neighbours lawn are the last bright trees still holding on to their leaves here.

I focused my day on getting the leaves mulched and spread on the garden beds.  I use a small lawnmower with a bag attachment to mow the trails we have along the fencerow, which tend to collect the leaves.  Then I dump the bag into the trailer until I have a load to take to the garden.

This is the garlic bed, already planted for next year, now mostly mulched.  I mulch leaves more to put on the garden than to take off the lawn, but on our shaded trails they do kill off the grass if I leave them.  By the end of the day, I had all four garden beds thickly mulched.

Elsewhere the farmers have been busy too.  The last crop of the season, the corn, is now mostly off the fields, and on many fields farmers have been busy spreading manure.

Squirrels have been busy too, stashing apples where they can retrieve them later.

The small clump of Tamarack I planted on the side of the meadow are now turning golden yellow.  I planted that patch deliberately, just for these few days of late fall colour.


Good day for working, but just a little tired tonight!  And off to one of those dreaded medical appointments in the morning, while leaving one car to get the snow tires installed.  It's that time of year; we try to be ready for snow on the roads by Nov. 1st.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Walter's Falls

I stopped by Walter's Falls on the way back from Owen Sound one day recently, in late afternoon of a day with sunny skies and rolling clouds.  I was determined to climb down below the falls and get a picture.

The one remaining building of the old mill, and the mill dam above the falls make a great picture themselves at this time of year, one of my favourite scenes around here.

And this is the usual view of the falls that visitors can get, taken from the terrace outside the hotel.  It's facing north, and out of the way for a good view from the top.

I had been down the trail below once before, so I knew where to go.  Apart from being rather steep and slick with mud at this time of year, it's not a difficult trail to get down to the stream below the falls.  But the last time we tried, the falls was flowing with so much water we couldn't get a picture for the spray!

This time, I got my picture!  The sun was down below the top of the cliff, though it was still sunny above, and it was dark enough in the ravine that I could use a slow exposure, about 1/6 of a second.  I was pleased that it turned out so well even though it was just hand-held.

I like playing around with these 'slow' pictures of waterfalls, and partial waterfalls.  Now that I've figured this out, I must take my tripod and visit all the local waterfalls when the lighting is right!  The trick is being there when both the water flow over the falls and the lighting are right for your picture!


Not enjoying life much at the moment, with this cold, but I'm determined to get out and mulch some leaves.  Tomorrow looks like the day to do it.  I do that not so much to get them off the grass as to use them for mulch on the garden beds.  We lay it on thickly now, and it will stay there all next summer.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Meaford Scarecrow Invasion

Each year from mid-September to mid-October, Meaford, the town on Georgian Bay directly north of us (where I get most of my pictures of Georgian Bay), is invaded by numerous scarecrows.  It started in 1996, with some businesses creating scarecrows to decorate the main street, during the annual Apple Harvest Craft Show weekend.  Now it's a month of scarecrows everywhere!

The scarecrows, made by a great many citizen volunteers, are all over town, particularly up and down the main street.

I just captured a few near the centre of town, on a grey day that was slightly drizzly, all just outside the Meaford Hall - the former town hall, now a concert theatre.

They were even hanging from the lamposts up and down the street.

This group was lined up on the front steps of the hall.  The theme this year was celebrating sport, so all of these are in ski boots and winter outfits.  The Blue Mountain ski clubs are just a few miles to the east.

Gave me lots of memories of downhill skiing, though I've now give that up for cross-country.

And of course, occasionally there's an injury!  I tore my own knee ligaments skiing about 20 years ago!

There's even a statue in honour of Meaford's scarecrows.  It's called 'Schubird', and the best explanation I've found for the name is that it stands for 'shoo bird'.  You see Meaford is the apple capital of Canada, and has lots of berry farms as well, so they want to shoo the birds away!  It all makes for a colourful month in Meaford anyway!


Went 'down south' (two hours south that is), to a family wedding - but I've caught a cold and don't really feel very well now.  It's a race here between the rainy days, the sunny days, and the end of October, 'cause I still need to mulch the leaves.  I know from the past that I can't count on good weather past the end of October, so I'm hoping for a sunny and dry week!