Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Too Darn Hot

I know it's hard to tell, but that's a Carolina chickadee in the birdbath. I've had all sorts of birds fly in and out of the small garden Monday to use the birdbath as the temperature climbed from 72F when I got up this morning at 8 a.m. to 94F late in the afternoon. No relief this week as we will watch it go past 96F. We generally don't see heat like this until late August. Looks like another long hot summer again this year.

Or, as Ella Fitzgerald sang, "It's Too Darn Hot."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stunning Sunday Skies

We had a series of thunderstorms come through the area on Friday with the most severe to the east and the north of my house. Despite these clouds, I just got a few brief episodes of rain and that was it.

I'm doing this as an ongoing project with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine. Go over and see how the skies are in Vancouver, Canada.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rose Thistle

When our newest branch library, Kathleen Clay Edwards Library, was built back in 2004, it was designed with the local environment and ecology in mind. It is set on 90+ acres with wallking trails, a reading garden and in front, two and a half acres are set aside as a natural meadow to attract birds and butterflies.

I went over after supper yesterday to see what had started blooming and bird watch. I could hear the towhees, cardinals and red-winged blackbirds and took some not-so-good pictures of Eastern bluebirds and a cowbird (too much haze in the air to get a good snapshot).

The spring flowers are gone by, the summer flowers are full of buds but no blooms yet, and then there is the rose thistle showing pink by the path. Some think of it as a noxious weed, ready to prick you if you come too close. I think it is just trying to defend itself from greedy hands that want to pick it for its color.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Out the Back Gate

Sometimes I get so focused on the big things - clouds, pastures, sunsets - I forget to look for the small things.

A dandelion outside the back gate.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Franklinville Manufacturing Company

Franklinville is a tiny little village about 25 miles south of Greensboro and the home of  the second textile mill to be chartered by the state of North Carolina Legislature. The Franklinville Manufacturing Company received this charter in 1838. The picture of the mill is probably from the 1890's when it was at the height of its manufacturing capabilities.

The textile industry has long left North Carolina and the South for overseas locations. I took pictures of the former Proximity Mill here in Greensboro which stands empty and abandoned since the late 1970's. Franklinville Manufacturing Company went out of business with the death of the owner, John Clark, in 1969. The property was bought with the intention of turning it into a museum tracing the history of the industry in the North Carolina Piedmont, specifically along the Deep River corridor. Unfortunately it was never brought to fruition and most of the mill was torched by arsonists last year. Today it looks like this:

A really good history of this mill can be read here. More of our history now lost forever.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunset Sunday

Finally the weather has cleared and we are now getting those sunny days. Of course, for Greensboro in May that means we skip the rest of the spring and go straight into summer with 90 degree days forecasted for all next week.

This snapshot was taken behind Canterbury School on Old Lake Jeanette Road. Canterbury School is one of our many private schools here in Guilford County and is under the auspices of the Episcopal Church. It has a chapel that dwarfs all the other buildings around it. Someday I must take a picture of the chapel's faux Gothic architecture to show how it sticks out like a sore thumb in relation to the other buildings on campus.

You can find Sunset Sundays over at Scott Law Photography. I'm doing this with Anyes at Faraway in the Sunshine as an ongoing project.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Black and White Starling

One thing these overcast skies will do is drain all the color out of your color photographs so you have a black and white snapshot without even converting it in PhotoShop.

This an European Starling on a power line, a better snapshot to post than the one I took yesterday of the Turkey Vulture that sat on a light pole at the entrance of my townhouse cul de sac. Now that was an unusual sight as vultures generally don't venture into our urban area, but perhaps there was a dead deer nearby that enticed him over to my home (yuck). Plus, I think I've done the vultures to death - so to speak.

Anyway, if the sun was out you would see that his feathers are now a glossy brown with  green and purplish iridescence. The white spots that he had back in January have long since worn off.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Will We Ever See the Sun Shine Again?

Going on a week and a half of rainy weather. This is from a snapshot taken last month when we actually had days that were sunshiny. I'm despairing of ever seeing sunshine again this month. The weather prediction is for more rain tomorrow, then Thursday and Friday partly sunny and then back to rain.

If we do get a break on Thursday and Friday, then I'll pack a lunch and head out to walk the trails and try for some interesting pictures after supper. I'm running out of good snapshots to post.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Along the Edge of the Road

My garden is betwixt and between right now - only the Stella del Oro daylilies are blooming. So it is just a mass of green leaves before the rest start to bloom in June. Nothing really interesting.

But if you look just along the edges of any road out in the country where it hasn't been sprayed for weeds or mown to the nubbins, you can find all sorts of blooms. I wish I knew the names (outside of the purple clover) so that I could tell you what they are. Guess I'm going to have to go to Amazon and buy a wildflower book.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Under the Influence of John Constable

I now understand what they mean by the golden light of sunset. I was in the northwest part of the county, an hour before sunset and was struck by the way the sun turned everything gold. It occurs infrequently (at least for me) and so I try to take advantage of it when I can.

And if a snapshot can said to be influenced by an artist, I have to say that this snapshot reminds me of John Constable's landscape paintings.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunset Sunday

It has been gray and overcast all week long. I'm grateful for the rain, but it makes it difficult to get a good sunset. And Blogger has been extremely uncooperative the end of the week . . .

I took this back the end of April. Near where I live is a large upscale neighborhood built around the banks of Lake Jeanette. The developers put in walking trails, gazebos and boat docks that as far as I could discern are not used by any of the people who live there. I stood on a boat dock one sunny evening and took this picture. It doesn't have the strong reds and yellows of other sunsets, but is colored with calming pastels.

I'm doing this as an ongoin project with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Goat Lady Dairy, Part II

Here is the dinner we had at the dairy with a snapshot of each course:

On the Porch
Creamy Salmon Spread with Dill on Homemade Olive Oil Crackers
Cheese and Wine
Goat Lady Dairy Artisan Cheeses
Accompanied By Select Regional Wines

Ginger Sweet Potato with Citrus and Yogurt

Mixed Green Salad with Herbed Goat Milk Dressing

Whey-Fed Pork and Pasture Raised Beef Meatloaf
Stuffed with Smoked Goat Cheese and Greens
on Creamy Thyme and Turnip Puree

Fresh Strawberry and Balsamic Napoleons
with Sweet Wonton Skins and Mascarpone Cream

Dinner was served family-style and as there was just the two of us, we were seated at a table with a group of eight who were a family of doctors and dentists from Winston-Salem (I didn't feel comfortable to ask to take pictures of people whom I didn't know, so no pictures of our dinner mates).

Before every course Steve would stand up and give a little talk as to what they were serving for that particular course and where the ingredients came from - mostly from the farm. The meat - pork and beef - came from the neighborhood farms and the salmon for the appetizer was the only portion that was not local.

We had a wonderful evening and I came away wishing I could do what Ginnie Tate did, but I realize that I don't have the vision or even the energy to make a hobby into something that will remain long after I've gone. I wish that I could have met her; she must have been a hell of a woman.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Goat Lady Dairy, Part I

Back in the early 1980's, Ginnie Tate, a nurse who worked at our largest hospital here in Greensboro was driving around the back roads of northern Randolph county looking for property where she could raise her two pet Nubian goats and have a small garden. She was certainly a sight to behold as her two goats were not in the bed of her truck, but sitting up front with her in the passenger seat. As she drove by the farms looking for that perfect piece of property, the people started talking about the goat lady.

When Ginnie found her farm, which was just going to be a hobby farm, she decided that the perfect name for it would be the Goat Lady Farm which later on evolved into the Goat Lady Dairy. The farm and dairy pride themselves as being a sustainable agricultural business.

I have been trying for several years to snag tickets to the dinners that the Goat Lady Dairy serves for six weeks in the spring and summer and then again for six weeks in the fall. They are difficult to get as so many people vie for them. As soon as the link on their website came up back in March to get reservations, I jumped on it immediately. This year I actually got tickets and TB and I went last Friday.

Ginnie died three years ago from ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, but her brother, Steve, along with his wife, Lee, and son, Nathan, continue Ginnie's vision of providing local food to the area.

Steve certainly is the disciple of sustainable farming. Before the dinner, he takes all the participants on a guided tour of the farm. They maintain a small herd of goats - 50 to 70 at a time - and hand raise those kids who will stay with the herd. This makes the goats so friendly that you feel that if allowed, they will sit in your lap like a dog.

More about the dairy and dinner tomorrow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chickens at the Dairy

I was going to write a long post about our dinner on Friday night at a local award-winning goat dairy, but Blogger and my Internet provider are conspiring against me. I'll try again Tuesday.

For today, a picture of the farm's chickens that help the owners by eating the bugs in the huge garden, aerate the soil while doing so, and they also supply eggs for the dinners and to sell at the farmers' market in Greensboro.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stunning Sunday Skies

Another sky shot from my office parking lot this past Friday at noon. I think my co-workers are getting used to seeing me taking these snapshots whenever the sky looks interesting. I'll even go out during the workday if it looks like we will be getting another storm coming in and the clouds are starting to gather.

I'm doing this as an ongoing blogging project with Anyes over at Far Away in the Sunshine. We alternate Sundays doing sunsets and then fascinating sky snapshots. It is a lot of fun taking these photos.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Rose

I'm a day late and a dollar short . . .

This is a Cinco de Mayo rose which I should have posted yesterday and then posted Kimesville Dam today. Cinco de Mayo completely fell off my radar until I walked into the office yesterday and saw that some of the cubicles in a near office had Cinco de Mayo ballons and posters.

The Cinco de Mayo was the 2009 All-American Rose Society winner. It was hybridized from Julia Child (a bright yellow rose) crossed with Topsy Turvey (bright red rose). I wish I could get a better picture of the reverse as the red fades to a bright yellow where the flower meets the stem.

I bought this at the seed and feed store at the end of the summer where they were practically giving away plants for free.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Dam at Kimesville

The place where the Kimesville dam is located has the coolest name ever - the South Prong of Stinking Quarter Creek. It's about 25 miles south of Greensboro.

It was built in the late 1790's to provide water for Stafford Mill. The Centennial History of Alamance County says "Fire in 1947 destroyed the 150-year-old Stafford Mill at Kimesville, but it was reconstructed with the lumber from the first Alamance Cotton Mill which was more recently dismantled on Alamance Creek. A steel overshot wheel is used by the Stafford Mill to generate about twelve horsepower for the grinding of grain for local farmers."

I found a Wiki page (no, not Wikipedia, but a standalone page that someone set up about four years ago. If you aren't familiar with the term, Wiki stands for What I Know Is) of all the mills and dams that once stood along the lower Haw River and its tributaries which includes Stinking Quarter Creek. There were more than fifty mills in less than 75 miles which provided milling for grain, power for cotton and wool looms and even a couple which turned sugar cane into sugar for cooking. All the mills have since disappeared (although I did take some not-so-good snapshots of the remains of one near Cane Creek), but some of the dams still remain. Most of these are just ruins or a few stones.

Stafford Mill no longer stands, but the area is used by the locals as a park. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Venue

No, not a huge flock of turkeys. Rather, a huge flock of . . .

. . . Black vultures.

While we were on our day trip this past Saturday, I noticed a small group of people on the side of a back country road staring over at a large farm pond. As I drove by the pond, I saw that there were a huge flock of black vultures gathered along the edges of the pond.

Being the curious birding person, I turned around and pulled off the side of the road to see what had caused them to gather in such a huge group. What brought them all there was a large fish kill (fertilizer run-off from our past storms perhaps?). Absolutely stunk to high heavens, so I just jumped out of the car to snap a few pictures and then we left to find something a little more appetizing, like wildflowers.

Oh, a venue is what you call this large gathering of black vultures, just like a clowder of cats, murders of crows, etc.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

For Purple Martins Majesty

About four years ago, I found a blogger by the name of Julie Zickefoose who was writing about birding and her life in southeast Ohio. Her blog (which was once daily, but due to life, kids and her writing has become three times a week) became the first thing that I read each morning.

Mostly I wanted to live her type of life; walking down dirt roads in Appalachian Ohio and writing about the plants, animals and birds that she saw along the way. It would have made a terrific change from working as a project coordinator for a national real estate developer (which is what I was doing four years ago).

And then the light bulb came on. I could do the exact same thing, although it would be after work or on the weekends when I had free time. There was tons of nature and fascinating sights all around; I just had to look a little more closely.

Down at Lake Brandt Marina, where I go to take pictures of sunsets or interesting cloud formations, are two poles hung with Purple Martin houses. These birds wouldn't be the type that would show up in my small garden as they require a large open area and nesting gourds on a 20-foot tall pole which I can't provide. They are quite used to humans and swirled overhead as I was taking pictures, singing what is called the "croak song".

Purple Martins are the largest of the North American swallows and nest only in human-supplied housing. In fact, scientists believe that if we stopped supplying their nests that they would soon disappear as a species.

The solid colored birds are the males and the ones with the gray bellies are, of course, the females. I need to go back early in the morning when the light is a little better to get snapshots that show the purple iridescence of the male.

(For my friends overseas, the title is a take-off on the stanza in America the Beautiful - "For purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plain.")

Also, yesterday's blog was eaten by Blogger again, so I had to reconstitute it for today.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunset Sunday

This was the leading edge of that monster storm that killed more than 340 people in the Deep South - Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. I took this last Tuesday evening in the parking lot of the asphalt plant on Burgess Road, just east of the airport.

Reading over the reports of what happened, especially in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I see how fortunate that we were here in Greensboro.

You can find Sunset Sundays over at Finding Another View. I'm doing this with Anyes at Far away in the Sunshine as an ongoing project.