Aerial snow

We recently had a couple days of light snow… a bit unusual for March, but not unheard of.

I always enjoy taking pictures of snow, but now that I have a nice drone, I was able to take some aerial photos of it, too.  The only downside was I needed to wait for the snow to stop falling, since the drone isn’t waterproof.

I’m looking forward to next winter if we get several inches of snow, for even better pics, but this is a nice start.

Let’s begin with an angled view of the snow on the flowerbeds, pond, back lawn, and chicken runs:

Back lawn etc

A top-down view of the field, flowerbeds, and pond:

Field and flowerbeds

A bunch of snowy trees in the mist:

Snowy trees

Just below the cloud layer:

Cloud layer

More snow-tipped trees:

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Our tallest tree with the double trunk (as featured in a recent post):

Snowy trees

From lower down:

Snowy trees

Not from the drone, the gazebo and grove (I love that you can’t tell a difference in quality between the drone and iPhone cameras):

Gazebo

The next day, it snowed a bit more, about an inch, so I flew again to capture that:

Snowy aerial

Snowy aerial

Snowy trees:

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

Back on the ground, walking to the duck house:

Snowy bridge

Snowy trees

Snow

Ducks in the pond

The daffodils weren’t enjoying the snow:

Snowy daffodils

Snowy daffodils

I hope you enjoyed those snowy pics as much as I did.

A stroll through the woods

The east side of our property is a slope down to a valley, mostly covered in trees, about an acre in size. Yesterday I hiked down the hill, and took a bunch of pictures of the trees. I typically only go down there around this time of year, as it gets a bit overgrown in the summer, plus there are a lot of blackberry brambles, which aren’t much fun when wearing shorts in the warm weather.

This first picture gives a pretty good indication of the slope; not super-steep, but fairly significant:

Trees

A bunch more pictures of trees, with occasional comments; won’t you join me for a stroll?  You’ll just have to imagine the birdsong:

Trees

Trees

Looking across the valley at the bottom of the property:

Valley

Trees

Trees

Looking up towards the potting shelter near the beehives:

Trees

Trees

Trees

Trees

Trees

Trees

Trees

Private property sign:

Private property sign

Trees

Base of the tallest tree on our property:

Tree

Looking up at that tree, which forks to two trunks. I haven’t measured how tall it is, but I’d estimate somewhere around 100 feet — certainly not the tallest tree near us, but the tallest on our property:

Tallest tree

Trees

Blackberry brambles, which cover a sizable portion of the hill; quite the menace:

Blackberries

Trees

Trees

Trees

Trees

A moss-covered fallen tree branch:

Fallen tree

There are lots of ferns enjoying the shade, too:

Trees

Trees

A somewhat recently fallen tree:

Fallen tree

It landed on the boundary fence:

Fallen tree

Looking along the length of the fallen tree:

Fallen tree

Trees

Trees

Trees

Part of the slope is covered with grass, which we used to mow, but in recent years have left wild. Looking up the hill to seedlings I transplanted a few years ago; the pond is beyond the top of the hill:

Transplanted trees

On the edge of the trees is a nursery of seedlings:

Tree nursery

Tree nursery

Which is slowly spreading up the hill, including a pine tree seedling:

Pine tree seedling

And a bunch of fir tree seedlings:

Fir tree seedlings

I hope you enjoyed joining me on this small hike.

No doubt the first of many posts of aerial photos

As mentioned on my personal blog, I recently bought a new drone: a DJI Mavic Mini. It’s a huge improvement over the old Parrot one I’ve had for years, and a couple of smaller toy ones I’ve tried. I haven’t really wanted to use those, as they lack a GPS to help navigation, so tend to drift away without actively managing the positioning, and the cameras are low resolution and fixed in place, so photos and video are poor quality.

While this new drone is very lightweight and lacks more pro features like course plotting, following, object avoidance, etc, the Mavic Mini does have a GPS to anchor it in the sky and let it return to the takeoff location, a gimbal for the camera to keep it straight and steady, and a camera resolution (4000×2250) comparable to modern iPhones (4032×3024).

See that Dejus post for pictures of the drone while setting it up. Here are a couple of pictures of it in the sky:

Drone

Drone

I probably won’t keep the blade guards on long-term, but thought that they’d be helpful “training wheels” while I practice flying it.

Anyway, the drone will be fun when we go on trips, where drone flight is allowed (which is quite restricted). But I expect I’ll mostly use it to take aerial photos of our homestead.

So you can expect more posts like this one over time. Let’s take off, starting with a top-down view of our fenced veggie garden and berry cage:

Veggie garden

From a lower angle:

Veggie garden

The old chicken run (you can see some chickens by the hole in the fence between the veggie garden and their run; I don’t think they were fans of the strange noisy bird hovering above; it sounds like an angry swarm of bees):

Chicken runs

Turning a little to the right, the new chicken run and coop:

Veggie garden, chicken run, coop

Top-down to both chicken runs:

Chicken runs

The pond:

Pond

Another shot of the pond, with the pond deck in the foreground, and duck house on the right:

Pond

Another angle of the pond:

Pond

Flowerbeds on the left, back lawn on the right, pond in the background:

Flowerbeds and pond

Flowerbeds, with the white and brown gazebos visible:

Flowerbeds

Flowerbeds and white gazebo:

Flowerbeds and white gazebo

Closer to the gazebo:

White gazebo

A top-down view of the flowerbeds (could be useful for planning planting):

Flowerbeds

I hope you enjoyed seeing this unusual perspective on some of the homestead. I’m sure I’ll show other angles and changing seasons in future posts. Let me know if you liked this!

February snow

We woke up to about an inch of snow this morning, with a little continuing in the early morning. It’ll likely be all gone by end of day, but let’s take a walk around the property.

Cat footprints on the driveway:

Cat footprints

Trees and bees:

Trees and bees

Greenhouse (more on the shelving project probably tomorrow):

Greenhouse

Chickens (more pictures of them in the snow on Friday):

Chickens

Gazebo and grove:

Gazebo and grove

Path to the duck house:

Path to duck house

Heathers:

Heathers

East-side trees fading into the distance:

Trees

North-east trees:

Trees

From the pond deck — the ducks, pond, and snowy trees:

Ducks and pond

Reflection on the pond:

Reflection

Gazebo and dormant flowerbeds, with the pond deck in the background:

Gazebo and flowerbeds

Finally, the cat house, with more cat prints (more of this on Caturday, of course):

Cat house

Recent dusting of snow

Now that the snow has all melted, and we’re probably not getting any more this season (though might), I thought I’d post some pictures of the light dusting of snow during the past week. The weather forecast was suggesting we might get several inches, but it was more like half an inch. A little disappointing, not enough to break out the snow shovel, but at least it didn’t outstay its welcome.

Here’s the brown gazebo, tree grove, and new chicken coop:

Brown gazebo and chicken coop

The mostly frozen pond, with duck paths through the thin ice:

Pond

Beyond the pond, with snowy trees down the bank:

Beyond the pond

Our back lawn, with the pond off to the left, and brown gazebo in the background:

Back lawn

From a little farther back, the path to the pond deck:

Path to pond

The stream (behind the shrubs, and currently off) and cat house:

Cat house

Fountain garden, with the white gazebo in the background:

Fountain garden

A bonus cat picture of Pumpkin drinking from the heated water dish:

Pumpkin

In front of the cat house, with Pumpkin by the dish:

By cat house

The fully frozen pond, with snow drifts on top of the ice:

Frozen pond

Our front steps and driveway circle, looking towards the veggie garden, hoop house, and beehives in the distance:

Driveway circle

The beehives; the melting in the center of the roof of each hive indicates that the bees are still alive, at least as of now; still got a few months before they’ll be able to resume operations:

Beehives

Flock Friday for December 13

Some excitement with the chickens this week.

One of the chickens, Lola, was still outside when the pop door was closing:

Chicken outside when the door is closing

You may remember me describing her as the introverted chicken. She often hangs back, and on this occasion hung back too long, and got stuck outside.

I noticed her perching on the waterer when I checked the cams after I got in bed, so I got dressed again, put on a head-mounted light, and went out there to take her inside:

Lola on the waterer

Here’s me picking her up. I carried her out of the run and into the coop:

David picking up Lola

Another bit of excitement was that I opened the gate to the veggie garden, enabling the new girls to access that:

Opened gate to veggie garden

I also opened the hole in the fence between the two runs, so the old and new chickens can now mingle:

Opened fence hole

They are still laying eggs and roosting for the night in their own coops, though eventually I expect some will swap coops. Chickens are very slow to change.

A bunch of pictures of the chickens all together:

Chicken

Chickens by gate

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Let’s take a look at the ducks, too:

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

But we’re not done with the chickens: a few days later, Lola did it again, outside when the door was closing:

Chickens outside when the door is closing

Actually it turned out that there were three chickens outside this time:

Chickens outside

Chickens outside

I realized that the pop door controller was closing the door too early, before it was dark, due to low hanging branches of the tree by the coop shading the light sensor. So I trimmed some branches:

David trimming branches

The tree fought back, whacking me in the face; fortunately only lightly bruising me:

David

As usual, I left the cut branches in the run for the chickens to play with:

Cut branches

So far the chickens haven’t been caught outside again.  I have a daily reminder to check as it gets dark, just in case.

Misty pond, with the ducks heading into the house for dinner:

Misty pond

Finally, some shots of the hungry hummingbirds on the feeders:

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds

Measuring tree heights

Every year at around this time I wander around the property measuring the heights of select trees, to see how much each has grown. Here’s a post about this last year.

Once again, the incremental growth throughout the year becomes more obvious when compared with measured heights from the previous year.

Here’s my spreadsheet recording the heights (in inches); I’ve added columns to also indicate the change from the previous year, e.g. the “18 ▸ 19 Δ” column shows the number of inches of growth between 2018 and 2019:

Tree heights spreadsheet

This year I used a new tool to measure the heights of trees taller than I can reach with the tape measure. Using this simple tool, I can stand near the tree to be measured, look at the top of the tree through the two sight rings, and use the mirror to see the bubble level, then measure the distance from the tree to myself, and add the height from the ground to my eyes. This gives the height of the tree:

Height tool

As I recorded each measurement (in the spreadsheet on my iPad), I took a picture of each tree, as a visual record. This time, I thought I’d post all of the photos. They are in the same order as the spreadsheet, above.

No doubt this is only of interest to me, but maybe others might enjoy seeing other areas of the homestead that I don’t normally show with the more common animal-focused posts. (There is a bonus glimpse of the ducks in one picture, though!)

A new addition to the measurements this year, the Monkey Puzzle tree (by our bedroom closet). I wish I had measured it before, though I couldn’t until I got the new tool; I think it’s tripled in size since we’ve been here. It’s also the only tree being measured that we didn’t plant:

Monkey puzzle (by closet)

Coral bark maple (by front of shop):

Coral bark maple (by front of shop)

Dogwood by pool (by dog yard NW corner):

Dogwood by pool E (by dog yard NW corner)

October Glory red maple (by dog yard SW corner):

October Glory red maple (by dog yard SW corner)

Field Leyland SE1 (nearest flagpole):

Field Leyland SE1 (nearest flagpole)

Field Leyland SE3 (east of road gate):

Field Leyland SE3 (east of road gate)

Field Leyland SE4 (west of road gate):

Field Leyland SE4 (west of road gate)

Field Leyland SW (corner):

Field Leyland SW (corner)

Field Leyland NW (corner):

Field Leyland NW (corner)

Field fir outside gate (to N property):

Field fir outside gate (to N property)

Field Leyland NE/tall (last tall going E):

Field Leyland NE/tall (last tall going E)

Field Leyland NE (by wooden pole for old fence):

Field Leyland NE (by wooden pole for old fence)

Field dawn redwood (second row):

Field dawn redwood (second row)

Field tulip (replacement) (second row):

Field tulip (replacement) (second row)

Field scarlet willow (second row):

Field scarlet willow (second row)

Field Leyland feature (second row):

Field Leyland feature (second row)

Field apple NE (4th from S); a rather sad specimen, broken by deer and elk, but hanging on:

Field apple NE (4th from S)

Field apple NW (4th from S):

Field apple NE (4th from S)

Field oak (replacement) (“Thorin 2”, center of field):

Field oak (replacement) (“Thorin 2”, center of field)

Behind white gazebo fir (N of gazebo):

Behind white gazebo fir (N of gazebo)

Behind pond fir (middle between orchard & pond), with bonus ducks:

Behind pond fir (middle between orchard & pond)

Next to stream fir (next to pond stream):

Next to stream fir  (next to pond stream)

Weeping willow (beyond pond, by cat graveyard):

Weeping willow (beyond pond, by cat graveyard)

Apple honey crisp (next to old coop):

Apple honey crisp (next to bantam coop)

Apple gala (next to old coop):

Apple gala (next to bantam coop)

Apple braeburn (next to old coop):

Apple braeburn (next to bantam coop)

Sweet gum in flowerbeds (replacement tree, center of central path):

Sweet gum in flowerbeds (replacement tree, center of central path)

Weeping cherry (in fountain garden):

Weeping cherry (in fountain garden)

That’s it!

Transplanting fir trees

Last Sunday I transplanted five volunteer fir trees in various places around the property.

This one self-sprouted in the southwest corner of the property, in the middle of a shrub-sized tree, so I dug it up and moved it to a grove of leyland cypress trees in that corner of the field, where it’ll eventually do more good:

Transplanted fir tree

This one sprouted next to a rock by the pond, which would have been fine, except it’d eventually block the view of our weeping willow. So I dug it up:

Dug up fir tree

And transplanted it to a better location a little further from the pond:

Transplanted fir tree

I then headed down the slope on the east side, which is left wild. There are a bunch of tall and not-so-tall trees there; a nursery of baby fir trees amongst the weeds:

Trees

I was pleased to see many little seedlings sprouting up in the uncut grass; I’ve been hoping for that, both to fill out the wilderness with more trees, and provide a supply of more young trees to transplant to useful places in the future:

Seedlings

You win some, you lose some; further down the hill, I saw a fallen tree that took out a section of fence:

Fallen tree

Plus some fallen tree limbs, though many of those have been there for years.  You can also see the road below our east boundary:

Fallen tree limbs

They came from this tall tree:

Tall tree

Back up the hill, I dug up three decent-sized young trees. Here’s the first in the cart:

Tree in cart

I transplanted that one behind the white gazebo. It’s currently next to another mostly dead tree that we’ll cut down… once our chainsaw is done being serviced:

Transplanted fir tree

The final two fir trees I transplanted to the bank behind the pond; you can also see a portion of the north fence:

Transplanted fir trees

Sunny snow

We haven’t had any more snow for a couple of days, but it’s been below freezing most of the time, so what’s here isn’t significantly melting. The forecast calls for more snow this weekend, so the current stuff will solidify into a layer of ice, with fresh snow on top.

Here are a few more snowy pictures, from yesterday and today.

Gobs of snow on a dogwood tree:

Snow on dogwood tree

Snow on the beehives, with icicles hanging off the roof. The snow is melting above the brown one in the foreground, which is a good sign of warm bees inside. It isn’t melting as much on the other hive, which may mean they aren’t doing so well, or the roof might just be a better insulator:

Snow on beehives

Looking up at the ceiling of the berry cage. It’s holding up nicely so far, though I worry about its capacity to cope with lots more snow. But I’m not going to try cleaning it off; I want to see what it can handle, and will repair later if needed:

Snow on berry cage

A close-up:

Snow on berry cage

Some interesting graupel patterns on the frozen pond:

Pond

The pond and snow-covered trees beyond:

Pond & trees

Me shoveling the snow from the driveway, so Jenn could go out (the car is parked inside the shop, for now, though she’ll start parking it in the breezeway next to the shop, so I can work on the duck house in there):

Clearing driveway

Snow shovel:

Clearing driveway

Icebergs sliding off the hoop house:

Snow sliding off hoop house

Morning sun through the trees:

Sun

Sparkly snow:

Sparkly snow

Frozen garden ornament, with the brown gazebo in the background:

Garden ornament

Interesting morning light, with sparkly snow, and snow-covered trees beyond the field:

Sparkly snow

Frozen small pond:

Frozen small pond

Measuring tree heights

Every year at this time I wander around the property measuring the heights of select trees, to see how much each has grown. Here’s a post about this last year.

Once again, the incremental growth throughout the year becomes more obvious when compared with measured heights from the previous year.

Here’s my spreadsheet recording the heights (in inches):

As you can see, some trees didn’t survive, and some got shorter (due to damage by deer), but many grew quite significantly.

Here are a few examples, in the same order as last year’s post; compare to last time to see the growth.

Firstly, the Sweet Gum:

The “behind white gazebo fir”:

The weeping willow is looking really good:

A field leyland:

The coral bark maple: