The Sanctuary at Wild Rose Acres, a lovely retreat in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is situated on an old horse farm, in a beautiful rural setting, with gardens, brook, pond, trees, and fields.

Create your own “Fortress of Solitude”.  If you are looking for a secluded, private place to be, a serene haven, in a tranquil setting, where you can write, read, paint, create anything, even peace, maybe this is the sanctuary you’ve been seeking.  Treat yourself and relax in a spacious, luxurious room with lovely pastoral views of pond, garden and fields.

Stroll around the lawns and fields, linger by the brook, under a tree, by the pond.

Lots of light and beauty!

Wildlife Notes and Other Ramblings

June 22, 2022  The Tree Frogs seem to be all over the back yard and have been putting up quite a chorus for about two weeks now. It is lovely to fall asleep to the sound of their chorus. Also, the fire flies have been putting on an incredible display, a lovely lightshow of sparkles that extends way up above the Walnut. These late night visual and audio delights bring me out of ruminating about daytime activities and chores and back to simple admiration of nature’s loveliness. 

May 22, 2022! I just had to had a personal touch to today’s notes. It’s my Birthday! My first message was from a guest who left very early this morning, they left a gift (didn’t know it was my B-day). What a nice surprise.

It’s a cool, wet day. Across the pond the Black Locusts are blooming. Clouds of white and incredibly fragrant!

May 8, 2022 I was sitting in the East Bedroom window looking out at Spring and happily watched a Yellow Warbler in the Magnolia blooming just below my window. So close I could easily see its stripes. Wild Crabs blooming all around, billowing in the wind.

May 2, 2022 What kind of Beauty is it when you are “trapped” in a room because looking out the east window you see a Rose Breasted Grosbeak on the bird feeder and know if you move you will spook him and he’ll fly, while simultaneously looking out the west window you see a Red Headed Woodpecker, who will do the same.

Today I saw the first Oriole and Yellowthroat of the year within minutes of each other on the south side of my home. Then, less than an hour later, I heard a Phoebe, walked out to the West Woods and heard a Wood Thrush call, so ethereal.

April 24, 2022 A Bald Eagle glided in circles for about 5 minutes over the north pasture. The Toads have been trilling for the past 3 days, so loudly at night you can hear them inside the house with the windows shut. An intensely beautiful symphony.

April 16, 2022  Three pairs of Blue Wing Teal, a pair of Wood Ducks and a lone male Wood Duck were swimming around the pond this evening. The geese pair nesting have finally accepted the little ones. They drove out the Mallards and did their best to intimidate the Teals last week, but it seems the ducks fly in and out now with impertinence and impunity.

Two weeks ago, April 1 through April 3 it dropped below freezing at night and there was a thin layer of ice on the pond in the mornings. I saw Tree Swallows swooping low over the water looking for insects, hated that. They are gone now though the weather is much warmer. The daffodils, hyacinths and anemones are blooming now and all the Lenten Roses are out. They are splendid this year, colors ranging from whites and pinks to rose and deep maroon, against a backdrop of Blue Scylla.

Toads began trilling about 3 days ago. They are the most splendid of song makers. A chorus of various notes, high and low, simultaneously trilling, what a thrill, that trill. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

The Peepers and Chorus Frogs; Wood Frogs have ceased and still haven’t heard the Tree Frogs.

So windy these past nights as the weather fluctuates, “wild nights” indeed.

March 28, 2028 Temperatures have dropped to mid twenties. The tiny start of Aconite grew to a large patch, bright yellow now faded. White spreads of luminous Snowdrops bloom near the Lenten Roses, more subtle in their beauty. Royal purple Crocuses are glorious, the vibrant yellow of Daffodils just beginning, though a bit wilted from the cold.  Fragile blue Wind Anemone are still to come.

March 20, 2022 Spring is wildly beautiful here. Working outside by the light of the almost full moon, listening to the spring night noises, the various frog songs from the vernal pools, overpowering in volume up close, the lone wood cock buzzing; the sound of splashing from the pond, turn to see the ripples of a muskrat swimming, the reflection of trees in the water moving in his wake.

March 6, 2022 The Salamander Crossing was last night. It rained around 4 am, this afternoon I heard Wood Frogs and Peepers in the vernal pool and that confirmed it. We missed it but the good thing is that it was a safe crossing. Very little traffic at 4 am on a Sunday morning. Whoever didn’t cross last night will definitely cross tonight. The rain is supposed to  start around 1 am. I saw two Killdeer this afternoon, and the Robins were singing. Ha, there was a Robin here when the icey snow was still on the ground from the last storm. I could see him from my office window eating crabapples. 

March 3, 2022 Today there is a male Hooded Merganser, a diving duck, on the pond; so handsome, and he loves flashing his hood.

Very exciting news! For many years, since we first moved here, I would hear Great Horned Owls calling back and forth to each other in the woods far across the fields. I stopped hearing them about twenty years ago. Barred Owls moved in to the Beech at the end of the drive. And, occasionally a Screech Owl can be heard, even seen.

On February 27th, at 2 am I heard a Great Horned Owl in the big Ash outside my bedroom window. I haven’t heard him since, but still, they are in the neighborhood. Winter Aconite is just starting now.

January 22, 2022 This morning I woke a little after 7, just before dawn. The horizon was rosy, the sky bright blue. Venus was rising, I could see her, large and bright through the tree branches, growing smaller as she moved upward. The window panes were partially frosted over with feather patterns of ice. When the morning sun shines full on the frost fronds, tiny prisms sparkle rainbow colors.

 A few nights ago, on the 17th, the moon was full and shone through the frost, highlighting ghostly, feathery plumes. It has been quite cold these past few weeks, single digits, more to come.

January 1, 2022  The roads lined with the blues and whites of Cornflowers and Queen Anne’s Lace slipped into the golden and purples of Goldenrod and Asters. Then flocks of leaves scuttling across the road heralded the rich colors of Autumn. Now, intricate varied  traceries of different trees weave patterns against the fields and sky.

Last night, New Years Eve, a far off neighbor set off fireworks, booming like thunder, blues, reds and greens, so very pretty.

Today is a rainy day, one of  my favorite days. Beads of water like glass on the birch outside my window. Rain blowing patterns on the pond. All the winter colors deepened with the wet. 


March 27, 2021. I must honor Jefe the gray Andalusian/Thoroughbred horse, my giant buddy, giant in heart and stature, and also Charlie the cat, our beloved Official Ambassador here. They both died in December. Both of them were only 13 years old. They were the epitome of love, loving and generous in their affection and also loving to be loved. Both were and are much loved and missed. 

February 2021 was the best winter month we’ve had in over a decade. Very cold and two great snowstorms. Well, one was an ice storm that laid a mound of ice 3 feet deep over my steps. Fun climbing over that.

Last year we had ducks migrating through, but none this year. Hmmm. Last summer we had bird nests all around the house. Robin, House Wren, Carolina Wren and Swallow. The Swallows are one of my favorite birds, but they do leave a pile of poo. Hopefully they will stay in the barn this year. Oh yeah, a Killdeer had a little nest on the gravel leading from the barn to the manure pile. I would pass it every day, and the parents would do their little fake wounded performance each time I went out. The horses never stepped on the nest and I have a cool photo of a freshly hatched chick I will post. Two years ago I spotted a Wood Cock while mowing, I heard it the other night. Also, there is a pair of Kestrels hanging around. My neighbor says the Barred Owls are nesting in a hollow Beech in the pasture near the end of the drive. He said the Red Tailed Hawks I see in the opposite corner of the pasture are nesting in his woods. I spotted a fox crossing the field there. I throw the mice I catch traps out in the field for whoever gets them first. Yesterday I saw a giant mink loping around the pond. There is a muskrat den, very obvious. We had a Fall Inversion, and I don’t know yet what that did to the fish.

This year’s Salamander Crossing (March 11) was outstanding! We were expecting it a week in advance and hoping the ground would thaw in time for the warm rain. It did, and they crossed in great numbers, very quickly. So quickly it was hard to keep up with them. We assist them in crossing from the woods to the pasture’s vernal pools, because cars are unaware of them and squish them. Not a happy sight to see. They start at dusk always, and usually keep going strong for three hours. Stragglers continue to cross well after that. This year we helped over 350 cross. Most of them between 7 pm and 9 pm. It slowed down at 9 but they were still crossing. Luckily traffic was minimal this year. Besides the Yellow Spotted Salamanders, there were 4 Jefferson. Some were confused by my neighbors lights and were hung up under their bushes for a bit, they said they saw an orange small one also. I missed it. There were also lots of Wood Frogs crossing and they could already be heard making a racket. A few Toads, a Tree Frog and a Chorus Frog. The Peepers were also in residence. It was an excellent night, but tiring.

Today it is Spring. I’d forgotten how lovely Spring is. Snowbells, Winter Aconite and Lenten Roses first, then Crocus, Blue Anemone, Star Flowers and early Daffodils. We had a big wind come through two nights ago, lost power for 5 hours. Lots of limbs and even trees down. Yard work yay!

May 3, 2019 Forgot to say that the Tree Frogs are calling like crazy. From everywhere, even in the woods across the street.

Out May 2, 2019, early. Misty morning, inhaled deeply the cool, moist air. Daffodils almost over, jonquils out now, along hyacinths and tulips. Woods are full of Spring flowers, so many kinds, 5 species of Trillium. Difficult to walk without stepping on flowers. Heard Wood Cock, Pileated Woodpecker (Boy, do they make a racket, kind of like they want you to know they are there and it’s their woods!) and birds I couldn’t ID. Not Thrushes or Vireos, maybe warblers? Wild Crabapples, in shades of pink and white,  in full glory in the fields. Dark red cultivars intoxicating around the house. Lilacs so very fragrant.

A male Rose Breasted Grosbeak showed up at the feeder 3 days ago. Juncos are gone now. Heard an Oriole yesterday and saw Bluebird. Phoebes accidentally get in the barn if I run the horses through after dark. The horses go right under where the birds are nesting, and the birds fly towards the lighted barn. Takes time to get them out.

On April 18 and 19 there were at least a couple hundred toads on this side of the pond. Chased away Blue Herons 8 times, no kidding. The toads are now trilling in the vernal pools and heard them again last night on the pond.

April 14, 2019

Spotted three Flickers on and below the Black Walnut tree by the pond.

Masses of Salmander eggs in West Vernal Pool, some have hatched and you can see tiny little salamanders edging out a bit and then back in. Many small black Tadpoles in East Vernal Pool.

Scenario: April 2, 2019. Sitting at my workspace, near window, looked out, in between calls, saw within a minute, a Thrasher, Towhee, White Crowned Sparrow, Blue Jay, Junco and heard a Phoebe. I throw seed on the drive and a Birch tree plus red Crabapple with finch feeder hanging from it, so I see Mourning Doves, Cardinals, Chipping Sparrows etc. on the drive. The birch is where I first spotted the Blue-Gray Gnat Catcher. Raining now, and the trees are in their first flush of varying Spring colors. Lovely.

I put out bread on top of a gatepost for the Crows, and an occasional mouse. Scatter corn on the drive for them near there. Hoping that they would be sentinels against the Cooper’s Hawks.

Scenario: A Mourning Dove is sitting quite still on the drive. A minute goes by, she takes flight and a Cooper’s Hawk swoops by. Soon after I see 3 Crows mobbing the Hawk, in Spruce trees across the yard. Cooper’s Hawk leaves. Haven’t seen it since.

Water Fowl Sightings:

April 4, 2019: Four female, 2 male Hooded Mergansers. Three females spotted twice later/April

April 13, 2019: Pair of Blue Winged Teal

Solitary male Ring-Necked Duck, March 21, 22, 23

March 15, 2019: five male Wood Ducks, one female. Spotted one male and female occasionally throughout the rest of March and April.

Other birds: March 1, 2019, Killdeer back for good. March 278, male Towhee at feeder, the next day a female showed up. Unusual, they typically only come in when ground is snow covered.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

As I write this there are two male and two female Wood Ducks on the pond. This morning, I saw a male and female Hooded Merganser. For three days, last week, there was a single male Ring Necked Duck.

On the night of the Salamander Crossing, (3/14/19) and since then, I’ve heard a Wood Cock. The peepers have been calling every night. And Chorus Frogs. The Chorus Frogs were drowned out by since the 20th by the Wood Frogs, who sound like a Thousand Ducks. Though I do hear the Chorus Frogs, and Peepers, during the day. Chorus Frogs sound like a fingernail drawn across a comb. Sort of. That kind of staccato timing, low to high.

Two nights ago, out late, feeding horses, I watched the moon rise over the clouds. It was two nights after the Full Moon, so big. It was still amazing.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Last Thursday’s night, conditions were perfect for an en masse 8 Spotted Mole Salamander crossing : Warm spring rain, warm conditions (70°F), pouring rain at times, with thunder and lightning in the distance. I went out about 8:45 pm and found the neighbors from across the street already out. Their friends (the Millers) came with their children about an hour later. All together we helped 140 Spotted salamanders (and one Jefferson)  from the woods to the pasture side, where the vernal pools are.  We also helped toads, peepers, wood frogs and a leopard frog.

It was very uplifting. Literally, for the salamanders, and frogs, as we would toss them across the torrent of ditch water to the field.

It was a very healthy population of salamanders, with very large, medium and very young.

The neighbors are the Crows, and they have a figure of a crow stuck in the ground near the road. We walked by it and Dave pointed it out to the kids. About 3 minutes later, we heard a crow cawing! Pretty neat. Also, about half hour earlier, Robyn and I heard a Barred Owl couple calling to each other. Also pretty neat! At one point, around 9:30 pm, we could see ahead of us, about 10 salamanders on the road. We walked back and forth on a stretch of road about 290 yards and would spot a salamander or two or three about every 15 feet. We probably missed a bunch because they moved pretty fast. A couple of cars stopped to see if we needed help. I waved a salamander at one lady and she said , “Eek!” and drove off quickly. The Crows and Millers quit about 10 pm. I was out until about 10:30 pm that night, and there were still occasional stragglers.

It is good to see the early spring flowers. The Winter Aconite has been blooming, the Snowdrops just began, and also the crocuses are in bud.

September 23, 2018

Well, it’s officially Fall, and the days are finally cooling down. We’ve gotten a lot of rain throughout August; it was tough for the hay farmers to get hay down and dried. Today the first load of hay was delivered. Usually hay mow is filled by now.

There are still many Monarch caterpillars all around the house. Every day for the past month, a Monarch would “hatch”. They have devoured most of the milkweed around the house. On one mostly eaten plant I counted 8 caterpillars and had to move them to other plants. I have been doing that for a while, if I find one on devoured plant. I think this place has become an official destination for Monarchs, as I now find them, not only around the house, but down by the pond and even out in the field. I discovered that I have Swamp Milkweed out in the fields, with Monarch caterpillars on them, of course. Swamp Milkweed is really beautiful, a lovely pink. Not as fragrant as regular Milkweed, but a delight to the eyes.

I planted Fennel this year again and found 3 Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars on it. Also, I spotted Question Mark caterpillars on the milkweed near the Stinging Nettle, which they eat, and saw one hanging from the Milkweed. Should have photographed it before it turned into a chrysalis, but I did get a shot of that.  I also confirmed that we have lots of Red-spotted Purple Butterflies here, by getting a look at a dead one.

I’ve been seeing a lot of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, flitting about, flicking his tail, in the birch in outside my work window. In fact, one day, he was right there on the roof but I couldn’t get my phone camera to work quick enough. Figures.

A couple of Sharp-shinned Hawks have been hanging around, terrorizing the birds that come into the feeders. They give themselves away by calling, though. Sillies.

I heard the Chimney Swift chicks flapping around in the chimney on August 15, but they’re out now.

Toads of varying sizes have been congregating outside the barn door, under the light, catching bugs. One night I counted 7. 3 large, a couple of medium sized and 2 small.

July 28, 2018, 2:10 am

The moon is high in the sky, almost at it’s zenith. Shining so brightly, it dims the stars’ light. Mars, though, is very bright, as well.

July 27th, 2018

Tonight’s the night of the Full Moon Total Eclipse, and it’s a clear night. This is a perfect place to view the night sky, no city lights. When I rode my bike down to get the mail  – long driveway – about an hour ago, the moon was lower and very large. And, as my Special Guest-Star pointed out yesterday, Mars was very red. As I type this, I can peer out my window and see them both and Mars is large but not quite so red.

My Special Guest-Star spotted a De Kay’s snake yesterday on the walk going into the B&B entrance. I saw it this evening. Pretty neat, they are small and very delicate looking, though I did see one, once, all puffed up, when surprised by an old friend of mine, who yelped upon finding the snake when he lifted the lid of an old electric box, filled with vines.

I’ve been seeing butterflies for the past month, Spicebush Swallowtails,  Tiger Swallowtails, Red Admirals and Monarchs. I spotted a Monarch caterpillar in early June. Today I counted 4 Monarch caterpillars, on the Milkweed near the B&B entrance, and one on a pot with Rosemary, Kent’s Oregano and Scented Geranium. It was attached to the Rosemary and was quivering. I left it alone, because it looked like it was about to go into the crysalis stage.

We got a lovely large rain last night, nice because the drought had intensified.  Instead of tree frogs, which were very noisy up until a few weeks ago, Katydids have taken over. There are some crickets and  a cicada here and there.

I think we heard a fox last night behind the pond. Usually they are on the west side, near the woods. The female fox liked to scream at night in the spring. Unearthly, but if you know it’s a fox, it’s quite attractive. Ha. Some time I will tell the story of when I was surprised, no, scared out of my wits, by a screech owl. If owls could grin, that one did.

June 11, 2018

The toadlets are here! About 1.5 weeks ago, I noticed teeny tiny little toads, where I water one group of horses outside, and consequently empty their buckets there. They are only about 3/8 inches long. I only saw about 10 then. A week ago there were at least 100. Plus, I started seeing them everywhere on the property. Apparently, they migrate en masse from the vernal pools they lived in as tadpoles. How such little creatures survive, I don’t know.

Saturday I was bush hogging and spotted a Wood Cock! Very exciting. They are not common in this area. I was able to get a photo of it and will put it up.

Yesterday we had a lot of rain, after a prolonged dry period. The tree frogs were crazy loud around the vernal pool pasture area. Sounded like hundreds of them.

Today my neighbor found a box turtle crossing the drive from one field to another. That is another very exciting sight.  Haven’t seen one here, ever. Lot’s of painted turtles and snappers, but a box turtle?

April 2, 2018, 1:30am

Snow falling, 30 degrees Fahrenheit, about 2 inches on the ground, bushes and trees. Daffodils blooming, snowdrops,  crocuses, blue stars, lenten roses. Buds on magnolias and lilacs. At 1opm, last night, a lone Peeper was making some noise as I fed the horses. By the time I was finished the frog was quiet. Yesterday afternoon, as I looked out over the pond from my bedroom window, in the space of 1o minutes, I saw 2 flickers on the walnut tree, then on the lawn, a female wood duck fly across the pond, also 4 tree swallows swooping over the pond, and the big gold koi, of course, in the pond. Now I wonder where the swallows are. Also, where do the killdeer and robins go when we have warm weather, like yesterday, when it was in the 50’s and then, dropping to 20 -25 degrees F tonight?

March 4, 2018

I walked down to get the mail on February 23, around 11:40pm. Heard the Wood Frogs singing like crazy. Went back to the house to get the camera and headlamp. It was marvelous! I just looked at the first pond, furthest from the woods, and could see at least a 100 pairs of bright eyes, lit up by the headlamp’s light. The noise, of course, was deafening. And you know, sounds like a thousand ducks from far away. The frogs quieted a bit when I first arrived, then resumed their cries. They seemed to be attracted to the light and swam toward it as I shown it on the pool, trying to film what showed up in the circle of light. My next door neighbor said they were in both pools, so that means there are about 200 total. I texted my other neighbor a couple of days later and she said the salamanders crossed on the 24th, and that it was a good year. She said there were lots of them,  and even though they(the neighbors) were only out for a short period, they helped at least 30 over the road. (One year, they helped over 100 across). So, it was an en masse crossing, a spectacular event.

I heard a single Chorus Frog about 2 weeks ago, but last night they took over and the Wood Frogs are finished.

Last week, early morning, I walked into the living room and spotted 5 Cedar Waxwings,  gobbling crab apples from the tree just outside the window. Last week was very warm in the early part of the week, with temperatures in the 60’s and even 70 degrees F. I heard Killdeers and Robins. That reminds me, when I walked out to the vernal pool to film the frogs (I had to make a couple of trips, because my camera chip ran out of space) I got some really good looks at Night Crawlers. Sometimes you could just see tips of them as they dissapeared into the soil, other times, a much better view, but those worms were everywhere. Today I spotted a Mockingbird eating crabapples in the field at the edge of the property. The Winter Aconite are blooming, as are the Crocuses, Lenten Roses and Snowdrops.

The last two nights the temperatures dropped into the twenties. December was the coldest it’s been in years. I had to put out the heated horse trough in early December, and kept it going through January and into February. Unplugged, now, the streams have thawed and won’t freeze again. So, record cold temps, sub zero, and now unseasonally warm temps. Yahoo! I hope the fruit and flowering trees stay dormant. Tons of outdoor pruning to do.

September 24, 2015
Suddenly it’s September. Sounds at night have transitioned from peepers and robins to cicadas and crickets. During the day the trees are loud with flocks of black bird’s crys. The Praying Mantises are huge. Monarchs have been hatching for more than a month. There are chrysalis and caterpillars everywhere. Including some very odd places, like up under a roof eve, on a box on the porch and in the Chinese Chesnut tree. The rose breasted grosbeaks disappeared from the feeders about a month ago. The orioles came back to drink from the hummingbird feeder and emptied it daily for a week or so, mostly because the liquid slopped out when the birds flew off. They quit about three weeks ago, so I imagine they migrated. The male hummingbird that defended the feeder is gone but there were still immatures out there yesterday.
I found a Dekay’s snake this year, about 10 inches long. We have treefrogs on the windows at night, one very large one and a couple of teeny ones. They still sing when it rains. Toads on the driveway at night, big and small, lots this year, along with the treefrogs, who I’d find in different spots and different colors depending on the spot. Green when on plants, grayish on the white barn and brown in pots. Chameleons. It was very wet in June, the pond overflowed 3 times but July and August were normal so the vernal pools were dry by August. Didn’t have to water them as I did a couple of years ago. I hated watching them dry up with a second batch of tadpoles helplessly losing water.
I quit putting suet out because the starlings devoured it, I put up another sunflower feeder. I still get some wood peckers but as often as before. Maybe later in the late Fall I’ll put the suet feeder back up. I still carried the feeders in at night because the raccoons didn’t let up pulling them down. I’d bring them out around dawn and then go back to bed. But, for about a week now, I left them out and they’ve not been touched. I have a thistle feeder, hummingbird feeder, sunflower feeder and a little water tray hanging from same tree. Today I counted over 20 gold finches and about 5 purple finches. They make a lot of noise and I leave the windows open as much as possible to hear it. I see a couple of skunks at night under the feeders. We have big one that has quite a bit of white on it, very little black. And a young one with normal markings, it is so cute and makes a very different noise, a tiny cry, when it’s scared.
The stars are so bright at night. I saw a couple of falling stars, they are magical, like Angel signs and always make me smile.

June 6
This entry won’t be in order since I haven’t written anything for a while and I had a lot to say about the spring we had. I felt it was spring when I heard the robin’s first dusk call (April 1). They are so loud and beautiful. Also that evening I heard the phoebe and the day before watched a bluebird mark off its box by literally fight off a group of house sparrows. I know it’s nesting in that box because I went by with a cat and it showed up making angry noises.
I can see it from my window. There is a birch tree out there and a few minutes ago, two rose-breasted grosbeaks, male and female landed on the tree. Last year I spotted a blue-gray gnat catcher there which I saw later in a mulberry tree outside The Sanctuary. Two days ago, at 5:30 am, I saw a couple of cedar waxwings on that same tree.
Back upstairs from having lunch. While filling a glass of water I saw a cedar waxwing on the service-berry bush outside the kitchen window. I can’t imagine how they find those berries. Just now I saw a female oriole on the suet; we have a female cat-bird that comes every day to the suet, along with thrashers, hairy, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, nuthatches, blue jays and starlings, of course. A red bellied woodpecker likes the oranges I put out there, he devours them. The orioles sip at the hummingbird feeder, along with hummers, who fight each other. On the same tree there’s a thistle feeder with house finches and gold finches. The bright lemon yellow of the gold finches also means spring.
The problem with having those feeders on the tree is the raccoons. Last night I put the suet feeders away but those buggers ripped off the hummingbird feeder and the thistle feeder. So, I go back to the necessity of putting all of them away. Also last night, I heard a noise on the kitchen side roof, then a scramble and a thump. Looked out and saw a raccoon kit through the window. They’re literally all over the place. Isn’t it thrilling? Ha.
About two weeks ago we had a lot of rain, and I found three tree frogs on that same window.
Fragrances carry far. The Privet is blooming now and you can smell it from 100 yards away. Multiflora roses may be invasive, but they have a most bewitching odor.

March 20, 2015

Today is the First Day of Spring. On March 1st, there was about 10 inches of snow on the ground. I made a nice  sliding track down to the pond. Hard  work, pulling myself through the snow by hand. Takes about 3 times before the snow is packed  enough. I stopped after that because the snow was so deep at the pond, the sled stopped. No fun. The next days were  warmer, with melting and freezing rain. A nice layer of ice had formed on the track. I went down just after dark. The moon was almost full, over the pond with a very bright star to its lower left. The ride was  fast, scary fast, and I couldn’t help but whoop with surprise. Only went down once. That was enough.  The rain and melt down continued.  The snow layer disappeared on the pond,  leaving behind a lovely, slick surface. We went sledding on the fifth, and slid clear across the pond. Terrific! Though the track wasn’t scary fast, it was fast and fun. The best part is that it’s a short hike to the top of the hill. Short and sweet.

The Juncos are still here, though the Robins,  Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbirds and Buzzards are back.  We had  a flicker that came and ate from the feeder for the first time this winter. Only saw the Towhee a few times. Last year, as soon as the ground was snow covered, we would have a couple of Towhees come in consistently.

The Chorus frogs and  Peepers started their songs on March 17th. Winter Aconite is blooming and also  the snowdrops. The Lenten rose got pretty beat up by snow mixed with chainsaw droppings plowed on to it. So, no blooms yet.

This past fall I spotted a red fox on the property and my neighbor saw a gray fox down the street. This is good news because we have had so many coyotes here I thought the foxes would never come back. Two years  ago we had a coyote den on the other side of the pond. I was hauling weeds from the garden  and  saw 5 pups playing on the lawn. I had seen the mother, briefly, a few days before. She was huge and red, thought she was a deer but she trotted like a dog. Later that summer I spotted the male, a huge black. When I say huge, I mean it. They were bigger than  German  Shepherds. The neighbors to the north confirmed the coyote’s existence, as they would watch them trot down their field lane. There was quite a bit of brush running along the stream bank that they could use as a travel route and a nice little ground hog hill they could den. So, the hill was pushed down  and the brush cleared. Haven’t seen  them or heard them for a while.

Update on birds. Last year and the year before I saw we had a Blue-gray Gnat Catcher flitting around, and  also an Indigo Bunting. Last year we had daily appearances of  Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, including an adult male, female and immature  Grosbeaks.

September 30, 2014                                              Today I took photographs of a  tree frog on the Rootbeer plant outside Mom’s bedroom window.  Yesterday there was a huge Preying (Praying?) Mantis on the same plant. The Rootbeer plant is tropical but it surivives the winter here because its roots are up against the south foundation. It had a hard time last winter and is only half its size. Normally it reaches a height of about 10 feet and extends out into the flower bed. Not so this year.  It’s 83 degrees F outside and  we haven’t had rain for the about 3 weeks. The warm weather is good for the Monarch larvae and chrysalis. We have plenty of them. I let the milkweed  plants grow wherever they wanted to, we have quite a few. The Monarch butterfly will only lay eggs on milkweed, which the larvae feed on. One day last week I counted 19 larvae in 3 different areas and 5 chrysalis. Seems to be a new butterfly every day, so I know I’m not including all of them. Some chrysalis are in easy viewing spots, I try to catch the transitions while they are occurring but the timing  is  always off a little.

May 1, 2012

I’ve just brought the horses in, a thunderstorm is approaching.  As I sit here, at my desk by the window, I can hear tree frogs and peepers in the background.  At dusk, the toads will begin their lovely trilling.  I haven’t checked the vernal pools yet this week, but I’ve been watching wood frog tadpoles and other tadpoles develop, and also yellow-spotted salamanders.  The salamanders are just teeny things, still in clusters of green balls.  Though we were for weeks without rain, there has been enough coming in lately that they’ll make it to maturity.

Flowers and Trees

There are four late deep pink tulips still lingering.  We still have fragrant late season white daffodils or are they narcissus, blooming.  All the spring flowers, crocus, hyacinth, anemone, daffodils etc. were about a month early this year. Winter aconite and Lenten rose are always early.  The crab apples and peach trees were gorgeous.  The iris, columbine and lilacs are coming on.  We’ve had the mail ordered tomatoes, peppers and some little perennials, already arrived and waiting on the drive.


I can see and hear the goldfinches, as they sit in the birch tree by the finch feeder.  I heard a yellow throat the other day and a towhee and saw two thrashers on the ground by the main feeder.  The yellow-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers have been coming in sporadically to the suet, I haven’t seen the red headed yet, or the pileated, which never comes to the feeder, but sometimes to the walnut tree by the pond.  Yesterday morning and today I saw a Killdeer and her single chick out by the manure pile, she would cry out her alarm and fake injury, as her little baby looking like a tiny adult, ignored her, and didn’t hide, though it did last evening, couldn’t see it anyway.

Pond Tales

About a month ago I spotted a mink galloping around the pond, disappearing every once in a while.  I think it was raiding muskrat holes, because I found a dead one on the pond bank.  I’ve seen the three giant Koi a lot this year, they come to the surface and skim it a little, one gold one even breeched when Neighbor Ted was putting up a second duck box.  That was something, it was very windy and the tree was swaying and he was screwing in the heavy box on the pond side while precariously balanced at the top of the ladder on the land side.  That was wild.

We had a lot of migrating ducks pass through, ring-necked, green winged teal, even a coot.  A grebe hung around for a few weeks, I wish he’d stay longer.  We have wood ducks flying in and out, never seem to linger long.  Had a pair of geese, she was on her nest long enough for her brood to hatch, and I hope they did.  She usually disappears with them, and the next time we see them, they aren’t goslings but little geese.  I hope that’s what happened this year.

The coolest thing is that for the first time we have a hooded merganser nesting in the duck box.  She’d lay an egg at a time, with the male circling below the box, then they’d both leave.  She came back for good April 5th.  The male came back for a visit a couple of times, she’d come out of the box for a few minutes then go back in.  This past week I noticed her leaving or returning early morning around 8:30 A.M.  Her ducklings should be hatching any day, I hope we don’t miss it.  In the past, the wood duck ducklings would drop out of the box and the mother would take them off the pond somewhere.