Monday, September 28, 2009

The last hurrah

We have a frost warning for tonight, the first of the season. So today I harvested the last of the peppers and tomatoes.

I had a good crop of both this year, especially the peppers. I always plant too many peppers because I like the look of the plants. Anyway, you can't have too many peppers.

Tomatoes are always late ripening. I didn't have edible ones (aside form fried green ones, that is) until late in August. But since returning from Ireland I have pigging out on delicious, sweet, vine ripened tomatoes as good as any I've ever had.

I hate to see the garden go. But I guess it's time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's really fall

A neighbor moved stock across the place this afternoon, from his summer to his winter range. That's a sure sign.

More trench warfare

The coming of autumn has apparently energized my resident population of pocket gophers. My front area (which I sometimes humorously refer to as a 'lawn') looks like a deranged treasure hunter has been digging test holes. I won't use poison because of my dogs, but have tried the chewing gum method, which seems to work. But the only certain method I have found is to shoot the little miscreants. This is difficult because they only surface to offload their tunnel diggings for a very brief time every day or so and seeing them in action is iffy at best. Plus, when they are working you only have a second or less to get off a shot at a small target. This one made the mistake of doing his excavating very close to my front deck and suffered the consequences. The Gopher Nation and I would get along just fine if they would confine their mining activities to the greater prairie and leave my compound alone. This fellow is certain to comply.

(The prescription in this particular case was an iron-sighted Ruger 10/22.)

Big-boppers slowing down

These cool mornings have really slowed down the 'hoppers. It's about time, too. This has been a helluva year for the grasshoppers out here. Until a few days ago, when it began to cool off, I couldn't walk anywhere without raising a cloud of the things. I suspect that next year we won't see nearly as many of them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The plains gone sere

Almost overnight the prairie has donned its winter mantle. Gone is the lush green overgrowth of summer. Sunflowers are a thing of the past. Their stalks have withered, and with the first snow they will be broken down to the ground.

A clumsy paraphrase of a famous line: Ou sont les fleurs de printemps?

The Meadow of the Colt

Here's your correspondent at a Stone Age alignment in the shadow of Mount Brandon, Ireland's second highest mountain.

The three standing stones are aligned on the summer solstice. Originally there were at least four and probably five stones in the alignment. This was almost certainly a sacrificial site.

The Irish name for this site, translated is, "the meadow of the colt." I have been here many times, but this was the first time that there actually was a colt there. And a very friendly one, too, who wanted to come up and nuzzle our faces. A nice welcome to a very old place by a new soul.

The Fogs of Autumn

Cold air + warm ground = fog. Our mornings are now often tinged with thick fog, sometimes cutting visibility to less than a few yards.

The weather is cooling at a rapid pace on the prairie. Fall often comes to us as if a definite line in the sand (of which we have plenty) has been drawn. As in— 9/22: autumn officially begins. 9/23: blizzard arrives) I'm hoping for nothing so dramatic but it wouldn't be unusual.

I still have tomatoes and peppers in the garden and must endure the ordeal of vine-ripened tomatoes sliced and drenched in balsamic vinegar, slathered in sweet vidalia onion salad dressing, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and coarse ground pepper. Up to twice a day I suffer this abomination. O, the horror!

Last night I went to town for a meeting and when I left to come home I found that it had rained all during the meeting. The normal hour's drive home became two hours, with white knuckles throughout. We have a kind of mud here that makes traction almost impossible, even for a heavy 4WD vehicle like mine. There were places on the ride where stopping or losing momentum would have meant an overnight stay.

But I made it, much to the delight of the dogs not to mention my own. We are entering the season of being sure of the status of your supplies and vittles. Access to the outside won't be assured for quite a while now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back from the Land of Saints & Scholars

And sheep, too. Can't forget the sheep.

I got in Monday night and made the mistake of driving straight home from the airport. Driving for four hours, at night, after already traveling for twenty hours is not a good idea. I won't be doing that again. Hereafter, it's 'motel-time' after arriving back from Erin's Green Land.

Great trip. My guests were pleased and complimentary and that makes it worth while. I also got to visit with many local friends and catch up on the gossip of which there was much, as always.

Still in 'recovery mode' but all is well since I once again have my dogs with me and we are all happy to be reunited. They forgive me for having abandoned them and I forgive them for teasing me about wanting to stay with the ranch family who kept them for me. They were only kidding about that. (I hope!)

I'll be posting a few pics and some commentary about the trip in the next few days.