Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Ain't From Around These Parts

This morning the visibility to the barn was quite poor.  An autumn fog had settled over everything.

Perhaps you can appreciate the size of this horse from this photo.  He makes Wally look like a pony!

I may have to move away if the population explosion in Jaketown continues unabated!

Rush hour on Jaketown Road.

The view from Jaketown toward my house.  (I live east of the end of the road.)

Nothing is as beautiful as the yellow cottonwoods against the autumn sky.

Crimson Maple leaves are another seasonal delight.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Mighty Kansas Man... Dedicated to CyberKit

Johnny Kaw - Stalwart and Kansas Proud in the Manhattan City Park

He is a manly man  - with his mighty... ummmmm... scythe?

And why we always call him Johnny Kawk

My daughter, Masters Degree and all, on the pole....
Oh, Kit, I miss you mightily!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why I Do Not Visit the Barn After Dark in the Summer

Why, Jackie?  Why not visit the barn at night in warm weather?

I might cross paths with one of these fellows...

Good thing Kit is already gone, because this photo would kill him!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I Grudgingly Admit a City Can Be Beautiful

Tulsa Skyline

Just After Sunset

If I were a better photographer, you would be admiring the beautiful super moon rising amid the buildings of downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma right now. The placement of the moon was unfortunate because no matter what I did, I also photographed the flash - or my own reflection - in the hotel window. At the time the review of the photographs could only be done from the 2" screen on the back of the camera, I did not realize that the television behind me was also reflecting in the photos. I have 24 photographs of a beautifully lit downtown cityscape with a glowing television screen strategically placed in the intersection of streets. It looks like a hologram magically hanging in midair for the good citizens and visitors of Tulsa. (Good thing my paycheck isn't dependent on my photography skills.)

Downtown Tulsa sits next to the Arkansas River, and the view from the downtown buildings toward the river is beautiful. The only trouble is the enormous refinery that sits on the opposite bank. In its own way, that is beautiful, too, with it's strange industrial geometries.

The mystery of our human evolution amazes me. A mere 200,000 years ago, the blink of an eye in the 4.5 billion years of the earth's existence, we were huddled by the fire, hoping to avoid being eaten by a cave bear. We were wearing skins and stone tools were our highest technology. Now we build big clean cities, awash in light and noise and energy 24 hours a day. Anyone can fly through the air if they have the price of the ticket. There are so many of us that few humans have to worry they will be eaten by a bear. In fact, there is a higher probability of being eaten by a psycho human cannibal than by a bear. Our human consciousness expresses itself so differently than the nature consciousness that ruled the planet for all those long epochs of time before the noise of man was ever heard.

Maybe there are too many of us on the planet now. Or, maybe this is our destiny - to reach a point of saturation so our collective consciousness will ignite. Perhaps together we will make the jump to light, becoming wise in the flash of blinding moment. And maybe we will then be at least smart enough not to destroy the Monarch butterfly, or poison the oceans, or slaughter the great sentient beings living there. If we are not smart enough, perhaps the bears will win the long evolutionary battle after all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Are You Dreaming Or Are You Driving to Work?

But, soft!  What light through yonder window breaks?

Oh, it is East, and ... it's a giant cow?!


Laughing now - look at the size of that udder!

I am taking bad photos at 65 mph - like everyone else!

I passed, but a mile later, the cow blew past me in a big hurry, only to hit the brakes.

Travel safely, ol' Bossy (name of countless family milk cows).

My exit.  I had to turn off and go to work.  I could not follow the giant cow to her destination, darn it.
Notice in photos 2 and 3, the red and black cars are too far left because they are taking photos with their phones. I happened to have my digital camera with me. I pointed and clicked, hoping for the best. I knew I would tell people about this, but truly, 8 photos are worth eight thousand words.

I miss my good friend Cyberkit. He would have been delighted with this minor absurdity. He would have posted several puns. Try as I might, I can think of none...

I found the Turkey Hill Giant Cow web site: Giant Cows.  She is 13 feet and weighs two tons. She has three sisters, and you can win a visit from one for your birthday! They apparently hail from the Pennsylvania area. I read on their web page that whenever the giant cow travels past a pasture containing cows, they invariably follow along. They must think it is the Supreme Cow arrived at last to lead them to the Promised Pasture.

Post script:  I woke up this morning with a message from Cyberkit:  "She's on the moooooove!"
And from my nephew:  "That's a mooving violation!"

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Turtle Presents Conundrum

Little Turtle eating in the center of the road, facing south!
Making a mad "dash" toward cover!
Leaving in a slow motion huff after being accosted by a human.  
I do not often see turtles in the road this time of year, but the other day I came upon an ornate turtle stopped in the tire tracks of a county road. She was likely safe from any traffic from the south because she could be seen in time to avoid crushing her. If she had been in the west tire track, she might have been in danger of getting hit by someone coming from the north.

Of course I had to stop to get a photo, and to move her safely out of the road. She was not technically crossing the road like 99% of the turtles I have ever seen. She was facing due south, preoccupied with eating a bug or something. It meant I did not know which side of the road to move her to! It was a conundrum. When I stepped out of the car to take pictures, she began "running" toward the west. Conditions on that side of the road were not good turtle terrain, in my decidedly uneducated assessment of what constitutes good turtle terrain. There was a very narrow and steep (for a 4" tall turtle) ditch. If she could even climb out of it in that vicinity, she would then encounter the face of an almost vertical hillside. I moved her to the other side of the road. If she walked at a steady pace, she could reach the pond on that side of the road by the next morning. I do not know enough about turtles to know if they need to live by a body of water to survive.

I am sorry to terrify these quiet, gentle creatures, but I simply cannot leave them to be crushed by a tire, or worse yet, cracked by a glancing blow and left to die a slow death, or even worse than that: kidnapped by an unscrupulous pet trader. In the wild, these creatures can live about one hundred years. In captivity they die easily. Even with the best of care, they will only live a few decades.

I have lived in Kansas my entire life but have only seen a baby ornate box turtle once. My mother was a Girl Scout leader when I was a Brownie (the neophyte stage of a Girl Scout). We were at day camp when one of the girls found a baby turtle in the grass. Everyone was delighted to see such a tiny turtle! We kept him for a few hours and then he was placed back in the place he was found. I have always hoped to see a baby turtle again. So far, no luck.

Addendum:  September 2, 2014 - Another turtle terrorized crossing country road!  
Minding his own business, heading south.

Heading into Ginger's pasture after having the pee scared out of him!  (But he was safe!)
Post Script:  A few days after the last photo was taken, I found another turtle not far from where this guy was found.  That turtle had a seriously cracked shell.  He could still close into his shell - still walk perfectly.  The crack appeared to not be immediately recent.  I debated a long time whether I should take that turtle into a wild life rehabilitation center, or leave it alone.  I opted to leave it alone.  At one time in Kansas, the public was invited into all wild life rehabilitation centers, but no longer.  No one knows what happens to the animals, how they are treated, handled or confined.  I am not even sure if they are regulated by any form of government.  So, I no longer trust that a wildlife rehabilitation is a good thing.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Relatively Speaking...

You get a little better idea of this guy's size...

This big white horse recently moved into the neighborhood. I first noticed him when he was in a pasture next to the road. I so much wanted to stop and pet him but I did not. He is enormous! He is spending the summer in a very large pasture, and I only got these pictures because I have a telephoto lens. The photos do not convey the true size of this guy. I wish I knew more about him. He is beautiful!

Going from a local giant down to one of the tiny frogs that live in my front yard:  I had to stalk this little dude with my camera for a long time before I got a good photo. He is about the size of a fingernail. He and his kin spring about a foot into the air - an enormous jump, considering how small they are! I make the effort to avoid stepping on them.

I do not know what species of frog he is - if he is full grown - why he lives around the house rather than at the edge of the creek - why I never saw anything like this around the other house? I wonder if he is one of the peepers I hear all night long. So many questions, and no where to find the answers!

The toads that live in the dirt under the porch and hang out at the dog water tub are quickly growing large. The dogs completely ignore the toads, and the toads do not seem to care that they have to share a significant portion of real estate and resources the with canines. At some point, I am sure Duke sampled a toad and knows to leave them all alone. Jake surely discovered the same bitter truth. Otherwise, there would not be a single toad living around the front steps.

Yesterday I witnessed a horrific accident when Duke mindlessly stepped on a toad right in front of me. The poor toad was laying belly up in the grass and I thought he was either dead or mortally wounded. After I got both dogs occupied elsewhere, I came back to check on the unfortunate toad. He was still belly up and motionless. Using the machete, I gently and carefully prodded the poor guy, and he came to life enough to at least right himself. His color had gone from the usual black, brown and tan to a greenish yellow. Either he was dying or toads have certain chameleon-like abilities. As I watched, he hopped to safety under the steps. I hope he was unhurt, but getting stepped on by an 80 pound dog cannot be too healthy.

It is amazing the useless things I learn simply by walking to the car every morning. A small toad produces an enormous amount of fecal matter. I see scat on the sidewalk almost every morning, and the toads are the most likely donors! I cannot imagine how many insects they have to eat in order to leave that much manure behind. The foremost question in my mind is why do they have to poop on the sidewalk? You can bet I avoid stepping on that, too.