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A Century Farm

Central Massachusetts boasts well over forty apple orchards. Sagatabscot is among the oldest.

Sagatabscot Orchards in Sterling, MA was established in the 1740s. This historic farm has been owned by only two families; the present family has been operating it since 1912.
A self-serve stand offers many apple varieties, including heirloom, as well as cider.
The antique cider press has been preserved in the farm barn along with other historical relics. Note the World War I helmet, worn by an ancestor of the present owner.
In the Algonquin Indian language sagatabscot means “place of the hard rock”.
Since the 1700’s the owners have built numerous additions to the original buildings on the rocky hillside.
The farmhouse is painted in the original 1700s color.
The “six over six” windows and side entry are appealing details for colonial architecture enthusiasts.
Lucky and Lucky, the chickens, were named as a consequence of being the last chickens left after a fox found the hen house.
The barn is a treasure trove of antique farm implements, historical items and family lore.
Cart wheels and traditional Ojibwa Indian snowshoes are displayed in the barn rafters.
This bobsled was used to deliver milk when roads were impassable in the winter.
The present owner created this replica of the barn for his young daughters.
Generations of cousins have gathered at the farm for family festivities.
Small rooms carved out from the larger structure include historical items and family heirlooms.

Wetland Colors

The vegetation surrounding the Beaver Wetlands is bursting with gold, orange and crimson this week.

Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Princeton, Massachusetts

Heron Hike 2

The foliage in Central Massachusetts is becoming more brilliant each day. Swamp maples surrounding the beaver lodge at Wachusett Wildlife Sanctuary are nearly at peak color.

Meanwhile, the juvenile Great Blue Heron featured in the previous post is still roaming the sanctuary. It seems in no rush to migrate, perhaps because of the warm weather this week.

Beaver Lodge, Wildlife Pond, Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary
Juvenile Great Blue Heron, South Meadow

Heron Hike

Vibrant ponds and the sight of a Great Blue Heron stepping out across the meadow combined to make a memorable fall hike at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary.

Rock Fire Pond
Great Blue Heron
Wildlife Pond

Pumpkin Puzzle

The clever combination of pumpkins and corn perplexes and delights in this inventive architectural seasonal “home” design.

Bemis Farms Nursery, North Brookfield, MA

An Appealing Orchard

Brookfield Orchards has served generations of Central Massachusetts residents during its one hundred and two year history.

Brookfield Orchards in North Brookfield, MA is one of New England’s oldest orchards, and a perfect setting for a fall picnic.

Corn, Clouds and Crows

Early fall in Central Massachusetts is the perfect time to explore and photograph the beauty of the region’s local farmlands.

Jordan Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts is a fifth generation farm. In addition to its long history, it is highly regarded as one of the first farms in Massachusetts to produce clean energy.
This is only a small section of the cornfields that provide food for their 375 cows.
On this early fall day, fast moving cloud formations lent a constantly changing counterpoint to the landscape.
The windswept tassels on top of the corn were elegantly silhouetted against the clouds.
I was startled by what appeared to be a rising moon behind the corn.
It is actually a receptacle for storing corn silage (corn used to feed the cows in Winter).
The corn is sown and harvested with mechanical precision, resulting in perfectly neat rhythmic rows.
Corn loving crows are almost always found in undulating groups, creating fascinating patterns in the sky.

A group of crows is often called a murder, but I prefer a less frequently used collective noun for these intelligent and social creatures– a parcel.
Crows aren’t fussy. They will eat corn on or off the cob, as well as seeds and seedlings.
The proud old farmstead sits at the edge of a country road, at the very top of a long hill.
The classic New England red barn across the street stands as a testament to a beloved bygone era.
This historic and progressive farm is only ten miles away from Worcester, MA, New England’s second largest city.

Lunch Break

From apples to zinnias: visitors can choose from a wide variety of tasty treats in my garden this week.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit/ Scarlet Emperor Greens
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird/Scarlet Emperor Bean Blossoms
Eastern Chipmunk/Acorns
Downy Woodpecker/Baldwin Apple
Monarch Butterfly/ California Giant Zinnia

Painted (Turtle) Portrait Redux

Out with the old, and in with the new: a turtle sheds its shell.

Last June, I photographed a turtle on this exact log at Mass Audubon Wachusett Meadow. Yesterday, the turtle I saw there was shedding its shell. As a turtle grows larger, the outer portion of the shell, called the scutes, must fall off to make way for the newer, larger scutes.

Heron Celebration With Bonuses

Statuary from a local yard sale celebrates the recent surprising visit of a Great Blue Heron to our Zen garden.

A few weeks ago, a Great Blue Heron graced our Zen garden for a few moments before flying into the nearby woods. We began hunting for a heron statue to commemorate that event.
Serendipitously, a friend spied a pair of small heron statues at a yard sale shortly after the extraordinary visit.
In pride of place, the first heron now stands patiently in the “reeds” of the white stone river .
The second heron found a home in the zinnia garden.
As another bonus, a pair of wandering ducks was also found at the sale.
They are energetic and curious.
We never know where the ducks will wander. Hurrah for yard sales!

Iridescence

Glistening Ruby-throated hummingbirds will be heading south for the winter soon.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary iridescence is:

1 : a lustrous rainbowlike play of color caused by differential refraction of light waves (as from an oil slick, soap bubble, or fish scales) that tends to change as the angle of view changes
2 : a lustrous or attractive quality or effect
The Ruby-throated hummingbird is found throughout Massachusetts during the warm months. This female paused on the branch of a nearby apple tree recently, providing me with a close-up of her luminous feathers.

Meadow Magic Hour

Late August meadows in New England foretell the bold autumn tree colors yet to come.

On a late August evening, Wachusett Meadow in Princeton is awash in gold tones and green shadows. The top of the boathouse rises up mysteriously behind tall wildflowers.
Looking across the stone wall to the North Meadow, raking light accentuates patches of green mown grass that contrast with alternating waves of white asters and goldenrod.
In storybook fashion, a shady path descends into the South Meadow.
Autumnal reds and yellows carpet the landscape.
Corridors of Joe Pye Weed capture the eye.
Wild asters surprise with their spiky yellow globes.
Unsurprisingly, I am not alone in admiring this magical habitat.

Digging for Gold

How fortunate that many of nature’s treasures are edible.

What’s in the bag?
Let’s see. . .
Looks promising. . .
Keep digging. . .
All is revealed!
Edible treasure:
Yukon Gold potatoes!

Now and Then

The transformation of a garden in just three months is delightful to consider.

Even though it’s been a summer of extreme weather here in Central Massachusetts, most parts of the garden have thrived. Below, recent pictures are paired with those from late May, when the garden was first planted.

The pole beans are luxurious. The squash is holding its own, despite not being in full sun and hosting a mole that samples ground level fruits nightly.
Squash seedlings were barely visible in late May. Beans had yet to sprout.

Hard working Scarlet Emperor beans are on double duty attracting hummingbirds with jewel-like red blossoms and providing a screen from the road beyond. Additionally, the beans are tasty if picked when they are small.
The beans were planted in high planters as protection from hungry rabbits. Fortunately, rabbits have been few and far between during the past weeks.
The “Christmas tree” look of the heirloom Boston Pickling cucumber lends visual interest to the garden with its height and large leaves. A prolific grower, it is sprawling out on the ground in back of the “tree” as well.
Growing cucumbers vertically on bamboo canes makes harvesting produce much easier.
Eggplants that are ready to harvest are surrounded by marigolds for support. The plants cover the blue bucket they are growing in.
Marigold seedlings are barely visible in this picture. They bloomed so prolifically around the eggplant, I had to remove one to give the eggplant more room.
Kale has been continually harvested throughout the summer. Nasturtium and marigolds make good companion plants, as well as surrounding it with spots of edible color.
Lettuce (that had not germinated when this photograph was taken) was planted in between the kale. The kale provided shade for the lettuce during the hot July days.

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