Deck Progress and Yard Visitors…….

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This lovely eyesore is the deck/screen porch that came with the house when we bought it.  We wanted to remodel our kitchen first but from the day we looked at the house, before even purchasing it, we felt this deck was built incorrectly and unsafe.

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Not to mention, when I sit on the deck I want to enjoy the outdoors, not be cooped in this dark, gloomy room.  We felt pretty confident there were no concrete footers under this deck at all.  We knew when the snow melted in the spring, it leaked really badly between where the porch roof and the house roof came together. It was carpeted inside so to have the heavy leakage, the floor had to be rotted and moldy under that carpet. 

What we didn’t know, until we hired someone to tear it off, is just how dangerous it really was.  We had been looking for someone we could trust to do the work for us as we just weren’t sure about detaching it from the house and knowing what we were doing, it was more than just building a deck.  We were at the range one day and they were trying to talk us into buying yet another gun…. we said, sorry, at this point we need a deck first.

Sometimes things just work out in conversation like this…. it turns out the owner of Lakes Trading Gun range used to do construction before opening a range.  One of his employees at the range also worked with him in construction.  They still do jobs like remodels or decks on the side for extra income. We felt we could trust them and they are good guys so we asked them for a bid. 

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They came out and started working on the deck a couple Mondays ago, Monday is the only day the range is closed.  It rained all day on them but they worked hard and had it looking like this by the end of day one.  James was home with them for the day because we weren’t sure how Ares would act.  He said when they pulled the first post out, not only was it not set in concrete at all but it was only about 18 inches into the ground.  They just pulled it out for the most part.  One of the posts was completely rotted.  James made the comment to Ben, I told Ann the roof was the only thing holding this deck up anymore.  Ben replied…. about the roof, it was never tied into the house roof correctly.  It was basically just screwed to the roof board.  James was shocked and commented back, so I am lucky to be alive….. Ben replied, with a chuckle… well, it is a short fall. 

Needless to say, this re insured my feeling that the kitchen could wait another year or two, we need to do the deck first……

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We now have 6×6 treated timber posts that are on concrete footings buried 50 inches deep to go below the frost level.

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This is the end of day two for the deck, they have the main frame up and it is sturdy. My husband tried to give me a hard time, he emails me at work what a terrible job they are doing. I get home and he says look at the mess they left, and how can I use this deck, you can’t walk on it without falling through…..

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The frame looks pretty secure to me, even though anything would after the old deck.  They have three support beams on top of the 6×6 posts.  The frame will be all in treated timbers.

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The top of the deck will be all cedar.  It smells wonderful in my garage right now with all the cedar sitting in there.  Hopefully it will help keep the mosquitoes at bay when we sit out there in the summer. 

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The end of day three, they have made some pretty good progress, they had the holes to dig for the staircase which took some time.  They built this platform for partway down the stairs.  We have this dog that gets a little too excited to play ball in the yard so he runs down the first 5 or 6 steps and then jumps the rest of the way.  He keeps hurting his leg and having to rest for several days.  We thought if we had them put this platform with a railing and a 45 degree turn, put the final 2 steps after he has to stop and turn, he would no longer jump and hurt himself.  I hope it works…. cost extra and slowed things down but saves on vet bills down the line if he seriously hurts himself.

They will be back tomorrow and hopefully finish or come close to finishing.  It is getting tiring walking the dogs at 4:00am in the dark because we can’t just let them out the back door to the fenced area right now.  We knew it would take longer higher these guys on a side job but I would rather wait and deal with this than chance someone coming in and doing it wrong again. You don’t always know who you are getting when you hire someone.

I am excited to have it finished for my photography as well, will be nice to be able to sit out there and catch my many pets and visitors to the yard.  It is tough trying to sneak outside after they are already there.

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This group of deer come several times a day to pick and eat the apples on our tree.  It would have been easier to sneak out on the deck through the back and get some photos of them.  I tried to sneak out the front but she saw me and stopped eating and headed to the neighbors.  She was up on her hind legs picking the apples and I would have loved to catch her doing that on camera.

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She had the babies with again too, they were playing some but this time when I came out they left right away. They are cute little buggers to watch.

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You can see the apples on the tree, plenty of apples for them to pick and eat.  They are pretty tart, I tried one when I was out there earlier this morning. If you click on a photo in this blog, it will enlarge and you can see these details better.

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This is the second baby, he/she realized the others were leaving and ran to catch up.

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There are two adults and two babies, this is the final deer to leave the apples.

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This is the first one that left when I initially walked out the door and she spotted me.

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Yes, that deck will be nice, I can sit out there in the evening and see all kinds of friendly critters and hopefully they get used to seeing me there and not running away. 

 

 

 

Play Time for the Fawns

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Since it was a gloomy, rainy day today we were relaxing watching an afternoon movie.  The dog went and looked out the window and started barking.  I pulled aside the curtains to see what he was looking at and found these little fawns at play. 

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They would stop to graze a bit and one of them would sneak up on the one grazing and pounce, just like my dogs do when they play.  I never expected or thought of deer playing like this.  It was really fun to watch.

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I went and grabbed the camera and quietly snuck out the front door to see if I could get some photos.  My camera wasn’t set perfectly for the cloudy weather and the action so some of the shots are blurry but still show the fun the babies were having.  Besides,  blurry can be neat in action at times too….. :)

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I was just excited to have caught this moment, seems like this would be a rare thing to witness.  They played for a good 5 minutes or more while I watched and clicked.

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You can see how they literally bend down and pounce, at one point one pounced a little too hard and fell on his butt….. was funny to see his stunned expression.  That photo was too blurry to post but I still laugh when I look at it. :)

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Two adult deer were hanging out nearby grazing peacefully and completely ignoring me and letting the babies have their fun. 

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I stopped to adjust the settings on my camera again, kept changing them trying to get the ideal setting for the dark day, when I heard a loud crashing sound.  A very large branch came down off a tree on the other side of the yard…. that was all it took.  The babies turned tail and ran with the adults close behind them.  No more photos for me and no more fun for them for the time being.  It was too bad as it was really a special moment and a lot of fun.

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Dinner time…. at least not my roses this time…

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I took the day off to get some work done around the yard, it has been a hectic summer so far and the yard work just hasn’t had the time it needs.  Before starting in on the yard, I took my dogs for a walk.  As I was walking up my driveway with my 100 pound white shepherd at my side, I spotted this deer grazing in the yard.  She looked up at us and she and the dog stared each other down for a bit.  I really thought she would run away but I took my chances.  I brought the dog in the house, got my camera and went quietly back out to the yard.  She was grazing peacefully as though we had never encountered her.

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Oops, I started taking my pictures and I think she heard the camera, we have been spotted.  She still didn’t run, she was alert and watchful but she went right back to her grazing. Must have been hungry….. :)

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She did keep a very close eye on my every action, you can see she dropped her food here while checking on me.

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Didn’t stop her from going back for another bite though.  She finally had enough of me and decided to wander on her way.

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At least she is finally leaving my roses alone, they are coming along pretty well out there.  I bet I have a good 30-40 roses on the bushes and plenty of buds to open.  Early in the spring the deer ate all the roses off and their saliva killed back some of the bushes.  It was just too rainy to keep the Milorganite working for long.  Once we lost all the rain, they made a wonderful comeback.

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Now I just need more time to get out there and photograph them.

 

The Twins are growing up….

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Last night I was doing my coding at home when my husband called me to the kitchen to show me we had some visitors.  Momma was in the front yard so I wasn’t able to get out and take photos of her but the twins were in the back yard. I snuck out quietly onto the back deck to take some photos.  They are growing up so fast, hard to believe they are the little spotted fawns I was photographing so recently. 

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It appears we have a buck and a doe baby.  He is going to be a big feller in time too. :)   You can see they were watching me pretty close, just look at the eye I am being given….

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They come right into the yard where we have been working to put in more fencing for the dogs to run.  I am guessing they won’t be so happy once the fence is done.

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It is really neat to watch them grow, they come to visit almost every night now. I think they are eating the branches we cut out and put through the wood chipper as they weren’t coming in this close before this pile of chips/branches was in the yard. 

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They look so skinny and gangly yet….

 

Just having fun..

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Just having a little fun.  Took the camera around the yard to see what I could find to shoot that was different.  This is a oar in the fishing boat we have.

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The remains from a brake job and an old sofa, waiting to be taking for recycling.  Played with the colors for a little special interest effects.

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Our faucet and garden hose, I turned it all to black and white and turned the handle blue.  It is fun experimenting with the colors to see what effects one can come up with and how you can change the tone/mood of simple objects.

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Again with the color play, I turned just the one leaf green and part of the red rose I turned more purple.

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I found a few critters posing nicely for me so I tossed them into my mix for the day.

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I had a beautiful deer posing perfectly in my yard last night, she was eating the brush and chips we had left after working all day.  By the time I had gone for the camera, the dog had scared her into the trees a little way.  I wish I had seen her before the going to put the dogs out. I still did manage this shot of her though.deer  She was this close too, I didn’t zoom/crop this photo at all.  We are expanding the fence area for the dogs to have room to run and we cleaning out brush, she was eating the freshly chipped trees/branches I had put through the wood chipper just hours before this photo. Better she eat this then my roses, she has been eating the roses far too much lately.

 

Memories of a fun day with a fun gal…..

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Thinking back to a day JoVonna and I spent at a place called Fawn Doe Rosa in Wisconsin.  JoVonna started as my Kinship friend when she was a young gal of 10.  She is now an adult but we are still friends. 

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Fawn Doe Rosa is a petting zoo we went to for the day and had a lot of fun.  I think she was enjoying feeding the deer even though there was one special deer that had a bad cold.  He had snot all over his face and gave a nice sneeze all over JoVonna while she was feeding him.  I laughed pretty hard, I am not so sure she enjoyed it as much though.  It was pretty gross…..

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These deer really wanted that corn she had and couldn’t get pretty pesky for it.  Sometimes they would literally corner her and take it from her… 

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It is pretty cool to be able to get that close to a wild animal like this, they are free to roam and come and go from the farm at will.  I think I liked that the best, that they weren’t caged up at all.

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This little guy was in a pen but it was a very large pen.  I believe he/she was an orphan they were taking care of though.

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Then there was this really goofy looking duck, I swear someone made a little old fashioned bonnet for it to wear…. it sure looks like it is wearing a hat of some sort. 

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Doesn’t she remind you of old Aunt Hilda from the 50′s???? :)

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They had some neat old buildings around the property that I enjoyed shooting.  I wish I had the camera I have now back then, this day was all shot with my old Rebel XT.  It was a really good camera for starting out but nothing like my current camera. 

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This is the one disturbing photo I took at the park that day.  I didn’t like that they caged up this poor bear and a cage to small for him to possibly be happy.  Not sure what the story was behind the bear but all the other animals had a pretty good home with room to roam.  Just not this poor guy, maybe he had been hurt and needed to be there but he paced and paced and didn’t look happy to me.  I wished I could let him go.

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JoVonna made another friend this day, this llama took a real liking to her.

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I love the expression on her face here, she looks at this llama like “watch it there mister”….

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JoVonna thought she was going to sit and relax a bit….. Mr. Llama had a different thought here. 

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It was pretty funny when she noticed him….

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All Right, enough is enough, I am out of here……

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This guy wanted some of the food too…. I think he was trying to escape…

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One really cute pig that came to say hi…

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Some other cute critters that came to visit, this was a little Shetland Pony baby.

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And a little calf wanted in on the eats as well.  All in all I think we had a fun day. 

 

 

 

It’s Twins……

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So, once again I headed out for my walk with Camie. I debated carrying the camera but it had been raining all day and I was worried more rain would move in while I was out.  As I was headed home, I saw a cute little fawn standing in the swamp again.  I don’t know if it was the same one I saw a week or two ago, it had grown a lot if it was.  I went home and switched dogs to give Ares his walk and decided to go the opposite direction and take the camera, see if maybe the fawn was still there.

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It was further into the swamp now and I couldn’t get a clear shot but took a few photos anyway.  At this point I had to try, right?

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I took Ares up around the corner and turned around and came back, the fawn had now moved to where I could get a better shot of it.  I started shooting and received a nice surprise…..

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Another fawn moved into my picture…. twins… no sign of momma anywhere but I was okay taking photos of these two while they politely posed for me.

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I thought maybe momma had alerted them and they were going to leave me, they look about ready to run.  The one did back away out of the pictures after this but I took a few more of the single baby.

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I need to always carry the camera along on my walks I learned, I seem to miss a lot when I don’t.  It can be a handful with the dogs and all but can be worth it as well. You just never know what you will see when you get out there….

Hummingbirds….. facts I find interesting and didn’t know

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So, every time I went to the window today, this little guy was just sitting perched on a branch.  He would be resting but he would remind me of a dog panting he was breathing so hard.  He had a little tongue going in and out too.  I had never seen a hummingbird sit perched for so long like this one was doing.  I was wondering if this was normal or not.

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I went on line to do some research and found a lot of interesting things I was unaware of about the hummingbird.

Hummingbirds drink nectar, we all knew this.  Did you know they are able to detect the amount of sugar in the nectar of flowers?  They will reject flowers where the nectar is less then 10% sugar.  Nectar doesn’t provide the nutrients they need so they get their protein, vitamins and minerals by eating insects and spiders.  This had me wondering if this little guy above wasn’t maybe perched and eating the mosquitoes and gnats flying around us. 

Hummingbirds do not spend their whole day flying, they actually spend the majority of their day perching. That explains why this guy was sitting every time I looked out….. :)

Hummingbirds eat many small meals and consume half their weight in pure sugar.  Hummingbirds will starve easily so they keep attuned to their food sources. They will actually spend 10-15% of their day feeding and 75-80% just sitting perched and digesting what they ate. They will actually slow down their metabolism at night or when food isn’t readily available and go into a hibernation of sorts called torpor.

Based on this, I guess it was completely normal for this little guy to just sit in my vine all day.  He sat for a while in one of my ash trees too.  Because I usually only see them fluttering in to feed, I thought this was abnormal behavior, I was wrong. :)   Very interesting, the little hummingbird.

Return of the Hummingbirds

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The Hummingbirds returned to my Trumpet Vine this weekend.  They are supposed to be attracted to Weigela as well and would be on my Weigela bushes at the old house.  At this house I have yet to see them there, only on my Trumpet Vine and once on the roses.

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I have been looking out for them since the flowers started to open and last night I finally saw them return.  I knew they were in the area as I had seen them a couple weeks ago by the pond.

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And to be able to catch the male this time as well.  He is a lot shyer and more suspicious of me.  Last year I could get the female to keep approaching while I was out there but never the male.

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It was overcast so his color didn’t get shown off as it should, I was hoping to get out there for more photos this morning but the rain moved in.  It wasn’t predicted until late afternoon into evening but moved in early.

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Since it is raining, seemed a good time to do a blog on the photos I did manage to capture of them yesterday.  It takes some patience but it is worth it. I set up my lawn chair against the garage and sit quietly, you don’t even have to open your eyes to know when they arrive.  You hear the thrumming of the wings and you just know they are there.  They will come up and look right into the camera and check me out periodically.  I haven’t managed to capture a shot of them doing that yet as they move so quickly.

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I will keep trying until I do though. :)   They move in and flutter around drinking for maybe a minute and are gone for about 20 minutes before fluttering in again.

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I can hear them around me though before they come in, they make a unique chirping sound that I will hear for the time they are away from sight.  I really like these little guys. 

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They are a lot of fun to watch and capture in photos.  We have to be careful to keep the porch doors shut as they have gotten themselves trapped in the porch more than once and I had to help them find their way back out.  Man they can move fast…. :)

I really look forward to their return every year and was happy to see them yesterday.

Critters of the back yard…..

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So I was mowing the lawn the other day when this little guy went slithering away from me.  He had legs but slithered like a snake instead of using the legs.  I had never seen one in real life before but this is what they call a Skink. 

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Of course I had to immediately stop the lawn mowing and run in the house for the camera.  Can’t miss a shot of this cute little guy.  Who knows when he might come around again.

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Once  I saw this guy, I got a little sidetracked with the camera and it took a bit before the lawn was finished being mowed, it did get done though eventually.

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I found a couple cute little toads hopping around the garden beds and posing nicely for the camera.

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And I found this turtle that I am wondering if she was laying her eggs for the season.  She was up in the yard and had a patch of loose dirt under her back end that looked recently dug up and patted down.  I don’t think she cared for me being around very much but I took a few shots before leaving her alone anyway.

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Heading down to the pond, I found a pair of Mallards waiting to be photographed.

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Momma appeared to have a bad itch…. haha… she modeled for me for quite a while.

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Hubby was left hanging around waiting for her to get done and head out with him to other waters.  He was a little more nervous of me being there with a camera.

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I headed out for my walk with the dogs and found this sparrow posing on a post for me.  Very kind of him to sit for the camera.

Back down to our pond, there are all kinds of birds catching bugs off the water.

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out for a walk

This female Red Winged Blackbird decided to take a walk when she saw the camera.

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But not until after she posed for a few shots and dove a the water for food for a while.

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A few other birds that were down around the pond, various finches and sparrows can usually be found down there.

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It has been an ideal spring for those wonderful mosquitoes. I think they are about the size of a horsefly this year.  Thankfully, we have an abundance of my friends the dragonfly.  I really like dragonflies a lot, really unique critter.  And, they love to eat all my mosquitoes for me, feast away guys, please…..

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The Blandings Turtles have also been making a regular appearance on the pond.  I am always happy to see these guys.

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These are just some mushrooms that appeared in my garden and I thought were kind of cool.

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And my Iris finally opened, this is the first flower of the year on these.  I now have quite a few open.  Kind of late with the late spring but better late then never.

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I don’t know what this little green bug is, cute though isn’t he?   Sort of…..

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That is my explorations of the yard for this week, feels good to be getting back out there.

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The fence post in our front yard, why not right?

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And while I was out there hanging out with my buggy friends, this plane flew over so, of course, I had to photograph it too. You never know what you will find when you walk out your front door with a camera in hand.  You often find things you would have never seen if you weren’t looking through a macro or zoom lens.  Give it a try…. it is a whole new world.