Thursday, November 15, 2018

Its Been a Long Time

Today, with sleet and snow softly falling, I was spending time working on photos and occasionally surfing the web.  It was when I visited this blog that I realized that nearly eleven months had passed since my last post.  Much of what I said in the closing lines of the last post concerning my disillusionment with social media still stands and has made me more reluctant than ever to share my opinions on issues of the day. 

Here in south-central Pennsylvania the white-tailed deer run is in full swing.  Bucks, that for months were seldom spotted, are now pursuing does with wild abandonment.  I spotted a high six point buck tending a doe this morning as the winter storm was just beginning. 


A couple of days early I caught this little six posing nicely.


This buck, again from this morning, was watching a doe standing nearby.  As they so often do, he stood motionless for many minutes until she suddenly bounded off.  He was right on her heels as they rushed out of sight.


And during those times when no whitetail activity is occurring, photos ops still abound.  I suppose that this squirrel couldn't find room in the knot-hole for himself and his tail but it certainly made for a unique pose. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wrapping up 2017, Down on the Farm

As 2017 draws to a close new life arrived on the Hill Farm



This calving cycle began badly when the first calf died shortly after what seemed to be a perfectly normal delivery.  A week later, when doing the morning check of two cows that were due, I found the one to have gone into labor during the night with the calf turned backwards with one leg bent inside, a half breech.  With a little work I was able to clear the blockage and was able to pull the calf.  I thought I was working with a dead calf but was surprised when it was alive at delivery.   Apparently the delivery had been too difficult; for the calf was unable to stand and died during the following night.  So with that recent past and the very cold temperatures I was concerned with keeping close watch on Fairy who was running 11 days over due.


Fairy went into labor around noon yesterday.  As the afternoon wore on I became concerned that she wasn't progressing well and a check revealed that she was attempting to birth a very large calf.  Again it was time for the chains and after perhaps  half an hour of assisting her through her contractions Frosty arrived!


He was slow getting up and with the nasty cold I was concerned.  Fairy was diligently cleaning him and to help keep him warm I blow-dried him.  Still not able to stand I milked two quarts of colostrum from Fairy and tubed it into his stomach and left him on a pile of fresh dry bedding.  This morning he was bright-eyed and strong!  Mission accomplished!


Of course I cannot forget Heinz, the baby we reared on the bottle this past summer.  He still comes in each morning for his scoop of chop.


And Baby Jane is wintering well also.

During the past two years I have withdrawn considerably from posting my writing on social media.  It is not that I have lost interest in wildlife photography and the issues that surround it but rather that the poisoning of social media by the past election has left me disgusted.  I have watched as people have posted and shared obvious false hoods that undoubtedly came  from professional propaganda mills, fought with their "friends" labeling them as Libtards, Snowflakes, Conservaturds, etc etc etc.

As if politics isn't bad enough I have seen the social media fighting between the bird watchers, hunters, and wildlife photographers.  If a photographer get too close to an animal or bird that it moves the photographer is roundly condemned by all and even regulation may be proposed.  However, for an archer to get 7 yards from a "trophy" and dart it with an arrow; Oh that's something to brag about!  Even if the hit isn't quickly fatal and leaves the animal to suffer. Yes, to say it mildly, I'm disgusted.  While I will continue to share some of my photos both here and on Facebook I will try to keep away from controversy and try to enjoy my life in the wilds and down on the farm.

I sincerely hope that Social Media and our country can become a much friendlier environment in 2018.  Thank you for reading and a Happy New Year to All!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Assateague Birdlife

No visit to Chincoteague would be complete without spending some time observing the vast numbers of birds.  The following are some of the better photographs that I was able to capture during our short visit this year.


Double-crested Cormorant

 Great Egret

 Great Egret

 Great Egret

 Great Egret

 Blue Heron with Snowy Egrets

 Gull with Crab

 Blue Heron and Snowy Egret

 Sanderlings

 Sanderlings

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Chincoteague, Dusk and Dawn

My wife and I just returned from spending a few days on Virginia's beautiful Chincoteague Island. 

Our short vacation was marred as news of Sunday night's massacre in Las Vegas rocked the nation.  However mass killings have become the norm here in the land of the free and the home of the brave while we as a nation struggle with balancing the Constitutional second amendment against the inalienable right of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness set forth in our Declaration of Independence.  





Monday, July 31, 2017

Deer Morning

What could possible be better than a cool summer morning spent photographing does and fawns?  Watching the interaction between animals reminds me of the similarities between the actions of animals and humans at times.





Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cleaning Up

I have been gathering scrap metal around the farm for the past three years.  Finally tiring of waiting for scrap prices to rise, I arranged with a local scrap dealer to deliver dumpsters last week.  Using our small JD tractor loader filling the hoppers wasn't that bad of a chore.  Now the eyesore is only photographs and memories.





Tuesday, July 18, 2017

All's Well That Ends Well

According to my records Cow #21 was due to calve about June 29th.  I was concerned for her for when she delivered her first calf last year, as a two year old, she had gone into labor during the night after last herd check. When I checked her in the morning she could barely stand and the calf was stillborn.  Now this year she was going overdue raising the possibilities of a very large calf.

Sunday evening she left the herd so I knew that the onset of labor was imminent.  Not wanting a repeat of last year or worse, I checked her frequently and at 8 PM her water broke.  Two hours later, while obviously in labor, she had not progressed in birthing; it was time to call a Vet.  The answering service told me to call them back in thirty minutes if I did not hear from the vet on call, but in less than ten minutes Dr. Beidel was on the phone.  Discussing the situation he felt that his services were needed.  

My wife and I herded #21 in from the pasture and had her in the stable by the time Dr. Biedel arrived.  A quick examination determined that she had a live, very large calf, and that it hadn't entered the birth canal.  The next step was trying to pull the calf.  After using ropes and chains and doing all that two strong men could muster the calf's head was through but its shoulders were too large.  Dr. Biedel thought that any further effort would be futile so he moved on to performing a c-section.  By 2 AM the surgery was done, the calf, slow to wake was still struggling occasionally to sit up, and the mother was resting upright.

By morning 21 was standing but the calf was having problems standing, possible caused by the pulling of its front feet during the attempted delivery.  It seemed most likely that the calf had not nursed so milked 21 and bottle fed the baby.

Checking on them this morning, the calf is walking much better.  It is now able to take five or six steps before its weak ankle buckles.  Again, I milked mama and bottle fed the baby but I expect that he will soon be able to stand and nurse all on his own.

And as for Dr Biedel and Mid-Maryland Dairy Veterinarians I cannot say enough good!  This is the second time this year that Dr. Biedel has came to the farm on the weekend and made the best of a bad birthing situation.  The first time the the calf was already dead and he saved the life of the cow, this time he brought both through.  With a little TLC from me, I'm confident that both will do fine.






Friday, July 14, 2017

The Gray Fox Den

Photographing the gray fox pups is pretty much a hit or miss proposition.  The times that they decide to spend above ground seem not to have much rhyme or reason other than they do like to sleep late into the morning and become active as darkness arrives.  Since they are primarily a nocturnal creature its understandable that they would need a nap after being active throughout the night.  With that being said they do often appear toward noon, the time when the first four photos posted here were taken, and occasionally during the afternoon.  The remaining photos were taken when they became active after sundown.  While two pups are pictured in most of my captures, the litter consist of three.  

I hope you enjoy viewing these cute little canines as they go about their daily business.










Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hay Making and a Wildlife Surprise

As the summer rolls along my summer's hay making is now in the past.  In years past our entire family pitched in to bale, haul, and store the square bales away in the barn.  With our small acreage not warranting the investment in round baling equipment, the cutting, raking, and baling are now accomplished through custom hire.  Below are a few scenes from this years haying.

The bonus came when the mower uncovered a den of gray foxes.  Knowing that they probably wouldn't stay long with their cover gone I worked aggressively, using the truck as a blind, to photograph the cute little canines.  The next post will be a selection of the better shots from the three photo sessions. 






Monday, July 03, 2017

Summer Morning Photos

With summer here, the opportunities for wildlife photos abound.  Wildlife is activity peaks in early morning before the heat and insects drive them to seek shelter.