Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Crops Update #4 - Other Grains

While the winter wheat has been mostly harvested now, other grain crops planted this spring continue to mature, some of them starting to turn golden brown like the winter wheat did 6 weeks ago.  Our rain has helped the growth, but I'm not sure we've had the heat to bring on a high yield of grain.  Here they are in early August.

The corn crop is looking really good, towering over your head, and starting to tassel.  You can see the early stages of the developing corncobs too.  Each of those thin strings leads to a single kernel of corn.

This field that I couldn't identify early in the season, turned out to be barley, with it's very long 'awns' distinguishing it from wheat.  This field is starting to turn golden.

This field is mixed grain, both barley and oats, and starting to mature too, but still showing a lot of green.

And this is the field of spring wheat I found, also starting to turn golden.

The beans are looking a rich green, and have started to form beans,  The little tiny seeds inside those beans will be the final harvest.

And finally the canola fields have lost their yellow blooms, and started to form seed pods as well.  The product here is the oil made from the tiny seeds in these pods.

And now you're up to date, except for one more post on 'Hay Bales - when is a Hay Bale not a Hay Bale?'  I'm working on getting photos to illustrate that one.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Crops Update #4 - Wheat Harvest

One of the big season-marking events I notice in our rural community is the winter wheat harvest, usually in early August.  Winter wheat, planted last fall, has matured and turned golden brown.  Among our big grain crops, it's the first to be harvested.  Others will follow right through to late fall.

This year it's been a real challenge to get that dry sunny window of weather for the harvest.  I've kept an eye on several winter wheat fields nearby waiting for this to start.

I spotted the start of the harvest on the way into town nearly two weeks ago.  This is a spot I've stopped to get several pictures over the season so far.

When I went by, there was a big combine sitting waiting for people to arrive to continue the work.

As well as a tractor  pulling a grain wagon for transferring the grain to the big trucks that haul it away.

A week or two later I spotted this very similar combine hard at work, taking down a long wide band of wheat.

The combine takes heads of grain, and leaves the straw stems lying in swaths for baling.

At the end of the field was a tractor and baler, waiting to start baling, while a grain truck is parked in the background.
And the next day when I went by, the entire field of straw had been baled.  A lot of hours put in, and a lot of both grain and straw ready for market.  One of the big turning points of our entire summer season.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Perseids

I almost forgot that last night was the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, created by fragmented debris of the Swift-Tuttle Comet.  Depending entirely on the weather and cloud cover, this is usually the brightest meteor shower of the year.

Visibility was threatened by the moonlight, but at 11 p.m. we remembered and discovered that the moon hadn't risen yet.  So we went out and sat on the deck for 10 minutes until our eyes got used to the darkness, and the stars started appearing.  I put the camera on the tripod and tried some exposures to see if I could remember how to do it.  These exposures are taken on a manual setting, with the ISO set to 6400, and a 30 second exposure

I pointed the camera toward the corner of the sky where the Perseids are centred, and waited for action!  I aimed just below the constellation Cassiopeia, the 'Big W' (albeit distorted a bit).  It's a little hard to pick out in this exposure.  The camera is picking up FAR more stars than our eyes saw.

By reducing the ISO to 3200, the photo is darker, fewer stars show up, and Cassiopeia shows up much more easily.

Then I sat there and took 45 pictures of this part of the sky, hoping for meteors to appear.  Quite a few did, but not in this part of the sky!  We each saw about a dozen white streaks across the heavens in 30 minutes of watching, but the camera didn't catch a single one!

This was a passing plane, heading into Toronto.

This is the Northern Cross, part of the constellation Cygnus.  My dad always referred to this one when he was teaching navigation (with the stars) during WWII.

And here's the Big Dipper, part of the constellation Ursa Major.  It's a handy one to know because the right hand two stars point to the North Star, which unfortunately I missed.  It's just off the picture to the upper right.

Then the moon rose, and washed out the entire show.  I may try again tonight.

Just for good measure, here are two photos from last year, the first showing a bit of the Milky Way, and the second showing a Perseid Meteor!  It really is possible to photograph them - if you get lucky!

Go sit in the dark outside on a clear night and wait til your eyes get used to the dark.  The sky puts on quite a show!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday's Critters

Again, I'm a day late for Saturday's Critters, but I've encountered a number of different interesting critters over the past two weeks, so here they are.

The Alpaca farm up the road shipped off its mature animals that we'd seen for a few years, and started this year with a group of young ones.  The other day they were in a paddock near the road and easy to photograph.

This sculpture of a crow sits on a stone wall at Keppel Croft Gardens.

On the paddling expedition I wrote about the other day I saw this Bullfrog, sitting still on a log only about two feet from me.

And this is the only damselfly that I see regularly, an Ebony Jewellwing.  We encounter them along the streams we paddle all the time.  They flutter very close, sometimes landing right on the canoe, but they don't sit still long!

I've been watching a farm down the road that has a herd of Scottish Shorthorns, very good for beef apparently.  Today they were in the field beside the road, right beside the fence so I could finally get a photo.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Summer Skies

Would you believe I forgot what day it is!  I thought today was Thursday, yesterday was Wednesday.  So I'm a little late for posting some shots for Skywatch Friday.  But here they are anyway, a few from yesterday's paddle, and a few around the countryside.  I'll alternate them to give you the right impression of Grey County weather - rain/sun/rain/sun/....

This afternoon was like this here with severe thunderstorm warnings.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Canoeing Adventure

Two weeks ago we paddled the Robson Lakes, two small lakes with only a few cottages, so if you look the other direction you could convince yourself you're in northern Ontario!  But it's normally a pretty easy-going paddle, and not very long.  This time we made it into an adventure!

There's a wide creek draining down into the Robson Lakes, and we made this trip into an adventure by heading up the creek.  It added a lot of distance, and we felt like the early explorers, threading our way between fallen trees along a very wild waterway.

The lakes themselves are partly surrounded by wetland, which really does look like northern forest.

In the shallower spots there are large rafts of waterlilies, both white and yellow.

But once we headed up the creek we quickly realized that we had taken on a challenging paddle.  It was more like a slow wiggle among and between the fallen trees and branches.  We made it, quite a long distance, and the trip turned into 3 hours, and quite an adventure!

So a week later, we decided to go back, taking our bush saws, to try and trim up some of this route, enabling us to get through and go further up the creek.  I let my canoe buddy, who was feeling like a lumberjack that day, do most of the work!

This was the biggest group of logs we tackled, too big to saw through, but we moved them enough to slide the canoe through between the logs.

But a short distance further, we ran out of luck.  About three big logs overlapping each other crossed the entire creek.  We will have to go back with larger saws.  (And more snacks).

The highlight of the paddle for me was this pair of Cardinal Flowers, growing right out of one of the log jams.  Such a brilliant red.  And I sat and enjoyed them while the lumberjack worked!

So what would normally be an easy-going one hour paddle, turned into two 2-3 hours canoeing adventures.  And I don't expect we're finished yet.