Rain, rain, go away—come again another day. This time last year we we’re all wondering when we would get some rain, now we’re wondering when it’s going to stop. Saturday night it rained 3 to 4 inches, enough to cause gully washers in our area. Thirty miles to the south, the bottom really dropped out of the rain barrel to the tune of 14 inches, flooding the streets of Boscobel, Wisconsin.

I spent two hours digging rocks out of the pool where I dip my water from the spring creek. Several more inches of rain on Monday night caused another rock-moving gully washer that filled in the pool again. This time it took me three hours to make a place to dip water with a pail.

 

The second time I cleared out my "dipping" pool in the creek after two torrential rains filled it with boulders.

The second time I cleared out my “dipping” pool in the creek after two torrential rains filled it with boulders.

Some of the rocks and boulders washed downstream

Some of the rocks and boulders washed downstream

It’s no doubt the garden isn’t doing so well in this valley, there is standing water around the plants much of the time and I’m kind of hoping the rain will go away for a while. There is more rain in the forecast but not sure how much; just take it a day at a time I guess.

It was good to see a little sunshine on Tuesday, should dry things out a little. The little hummingbirds were busy in the sunshine, zipping around from flower to flower. I think the barn swallows are happy to see a hatch of flying insects. They are making lots of trips to their mud nests in the barn with food for their nestlings. They feed the babies every three or four minutes, all day long. The swallows are safe and dry in the barn and seem to be doing fine, even though they got a late start at their nesting duties.

 

Pete the peacock, front view

Pete the peacock, front view

Pete the peacock is strutting his stuff and why not, he’s arguably the most beautiful bird in the world. He even puts on a great feather show when he turns his back to you. Everything about the peacock is bold and beautiful, even his piercing call which can be heard a mile away.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the cliff swallows who nest under the small bridge along the river road. It’s a small country bridge and a home for over 100 pairs of nesting swallows. After Saturday night’s heavy rain, the Kickapoo River had risen to within a foot of the Cliff Swallow’s mud nests under the bridge. Sadly, the deluge that came on Monday night was the worst possible fate for the swallow nests and the high water washed them all away. The flood waters carried away four to five hundred baby Swallows. It was a tough day for the adult swallows but by Tuesday afternoon many of them had already started collecting mud on the riverbank to start rebuilding their nests under the bridge. Oh, the power of nature’s urge to reproduce and get on with life!

 

Milk snake

Milk snake

Wednesday afternoon, while pulling weeds in the garden, I startled a nice milk snake who had been hanging out near the strawberry bed. I had no trouble catching him, so I could take his picture. Milk snakes are the most colorful snakes who live in the valley and are very good at eating mice, frogs, large insects and other small snakes.

The warm weather brought with it a good number of dragonflies and damselflies, always a treat to see. One of my favorites is the butterfly-like ebony jewelwing. These small damselflies flutter around over the lush grass like butterflies, and if I am patient I can get a picture of them. Damselflies, unlike dragonflies, can fold their wings over their backs while resting. A large double winged dragonfly known as a common whitetail spreads his pretty black and white wings as he rests on the blacktop near the driveway. I’ve seen quite a few of these large mosquito-eating skimmers.

It was also a good day for butterflies and I enjoyed watching dozens of checkerspots and fritillaries for the first time this summer. If the sunshine brings butterflies, then let it shine every day! That night, after dark, the meadow grass was alive with the twinkling of thousands of fireflies. It’s an event I look forward to every summer and always puts me in a peaceful, dreamy mood before bedtime.

The sandhill cranes have finally molted their feathers to cinnamon for the summer. I’ve seen hardly any young cranes this year, which are usually hatched the first week of June. I have seen many single adult cranes standing alone in the fields, and pairs without any chicks. Not sure why, but it doesn’t seem to be a good nesting season for these spectacular birds.

I know the brown thrashers have hatched because I picked up a dead one on the gravel road—he’d been hit by a car. I’ve noticed several young birds dead along the highway this week. Lives stopped short.

Mama raccoon at my window bird-feeder

Mama raccoon at my window bird-feeder

The rain Monday night didn’t keep mother raccoon from bringing her four babies to the bird feeders. The little coons weren’t big enough to eat the bird seed but they made quite a ruckus as they followed their mother in the rain where ever she went. If they stay close to mom and keep begging she will eventually stop long enough to nurse them.

The little house wrens have been carrying insects into the wren house at the corner of the porch. There must be mouths to feed—it’s a full-time job to satisfy the baby wrens’ hunger. One of the parents somehow found himself inside the screen porch. Good thing I saw him and I quickly grabbed him up and turned him loose outside. He was pretty mad and chattered at me for a while before going back to his job of feeding the babies inside the wren house.

The woodchuck family has outgrown its den under the brush pile, and has moved into the shed under a pile of old lumber. The little woodchucks are about half grown and are venturing out into the yard to eat grass. Usually a young chuck will give out an alarm when it sees me. It’s a loud whistle, warning the others to run for cover, but this year they have been quiet when they see me. Woodchucks were once known as whistle pigs because of their ability to whistle so loudly.

Having trouble sleeping? Too much on your mind from the daily activities and demands? Take a half-hour walk in the cool night air, breath deep and smell the world around you. Watch the fireflies in the darkness and listen to the crickets sing their soothing songs. I guarantee, you’ll feel relaxed when your head hits the old pillow to dream of the peaceful things that only a summer night can bring.

Naturally yours,

Dan