Exploring Starlight

Our sleeping-on-the-porch experiment has now turned into our regular practice.  For about a month now, we’ve been enjoying the night air and sleeping under the stars.  On nights when rain is likely we sleep on our covered front porch, but we can still see the stars from there.

When we go to bed on the back porch we’re facing north and the Big Dipper hangs above us, while to the west we see Jupiter and Venus, drawing a line to Regulus and the rest of Leo.  When I was a boy I knew the night sky very well and could name and identify dozens of stars and constellations. I’ve forgotten most of them, but I’m enjoying becoming reacquainted.

I hope we’ll continue sleeping outside as long as the weather permits it.  I’m just sorry we waited so long to do it. The night air is cool and refreshing and the sky, of course, is magnificent.

I’ve been surprised at the sounds of wildlife in the middle of the night.  The whippoorwills, crickets and frogs I expected.  But not the coyotes.  I didn’t realize there were so many of them here.  They come through in packs, yipping and howling.  The deer and goats must be terrified at night by those sounds.

On the subject of deer, they’ve decimated our squash and cucumbers.  With the cukes I knew better and I should have taken precautions.  But I had no reason to think they’d eat the leaves off of squash plants.  Why??  It’s not as if they’re hungry and have nothing else to eat.  It’s summer (almost) and nature is providing more than they could possibly eat.  Very frustrating, to say the least.

We don’t have enough net fencing to fence in every one of our 21 gardens.  It’s expensive and, danggit, we ought not have to fence in crops that deer don’t normally eat.  As it is, we spend more money and time protecting our crops from deer than from any other pest or threat.  Deer are by far the greatest obstacle to success on this farm.  Even though we grow our crops without using any pesticides or herbicides, it is deer, not insects or weeds, that drag down our production and threaten our viability.  But enough of that whining.

So I took down the fence around the spring brassicas, surrendering the rest of our broccoli and cabbage, in order to protect the summer squash. For now I’m relying on deer repellent to try to save the winter squash, cantaloupes and okra.  Experience says that won’t keep them back very long.  I’m still trying to decide what our next step will be.

But back to the joys of sleeping outside, here’s a post I enjoyed on that subject. We too are exploring starlight and finding deep space quiet (even if the nocturnal critters aren’t).

These days, the sun is up early and sets late.  We’re given plenty of time to work and we’re using it.  But nature is doing her thing with all that sunlight too and it’s hard to keep up.  There is much to do today and I’m anxious to get to it. Today’s forecast high is 99.  Ninety nine.  Ninety. Nine.  That’s bound to be a record.  And it will be humid to boot.  But there’s a lot to do and I’m ready to get started.

I’ll be without a computer for the next few days, so no blogging till it returns. May you all enjoy whatever weather nature is giving you.  And, if possible, I hope you’re able to explore some starlight.

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32 comments on “Exploring Starlight

  1. shoreacres says:

    Nature’s giving us — Bill! tropical storm Bill, that is. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, sorry to hear about the deer garden decimation. yes, one would think with all the lush summer foliage that they would be totally satisfied to eat to their content in the wooded areas. Will you replace the squash or just start planning the fall crops. I still having had a dry enough day to work on my garden fence. During this rainy weather a post hole of about 24 inches will have six to eight inches of ground water in the bottom. It makes it difficult to cement in a post when there’s too much water in the ground. Terra Nova Gardens is on top of a network of natural springs that have a constant water supply about two feet under the ground. It’s really an awesome place for a garden but the down side is, it’s really and awesome place for weed growth as well. 😦

    The last couple days have been filled with rainy weather here. A total of five and a half inches in five days fell from two rains. I’m really struggling to keep the weeds down and the lawns mowed this year. I’ve been designing a gravity feed drip system to water the garden but haven’t really needed to water anything this year. Every year throws some thing different at gardeners just to make us tougher and more determined to find a solution to the challenges.

    I hope and pray that whatever your computer issues are they would be resolved quickly and efficiently.

    Have a great time getting reacquainted with the night sky and sounds.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      It’s strange how some parts of the country are getting so much rain while others (like us) are way below normal. I’ve been irrigating today.

      After all the remedial measures I took to try to salvage a squash crop, I went out this morning to discover that they’d eaten the tops out of our tomato plants. I was literally nauseated at the sight. We were close to them producing and I put in so much work (and expense) to get them to this point. And we count on them for farm revenue. Nightshades are supposed to be poisonous. I can only shake my head in disgust. It’s just becoming impossible to grow vegetables here anymore.

      Sigh. When I think of how productive we could be if there were no deer here, it makes my stomach turn.

      But we’ve had a great spring. Maybe our summer luck will change soon.

      Like

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Well, no worries, this’ll keep until you’re back… Perhaps your Guest House/ B&B thing should extend into the Fall Deer Season? ‘Cause, if you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em – and maybe that’ll put “the fear of God” back into them while you’re at it… ? I mean, it’s not like they’re hungry, right… Or ARE they coming (to eat things that they normally don’t) because of the drought?
    Good luck

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    • Bill says:

      Everything is lush and green now. They do not need to eat squash and tomato plants (this morning I was sickened to discover they’d eaten lots of our tomato plants–not the fruit, the plants!).

      I eat lots of venison. It is the only red meat I eat. But 2 deer are enough for me for a year and there are probably hundreds of them on this farm. A neighboring farm got an off-season kill permit and they killed over 200 of them, without making any noticeable dent in the population. It’s just crazy.

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  4. avwalters says:

    Oh no! Not Bambi! My condolences. If it’s any solace, our little munched-on fruit trees are starting to sprout leaves. I think that they can be saved. The fence extension seems to be working, but it has Rick worried that we shouldn’t seed the clover in the garden. Too much of an attractant is the theory. I’m bucking that trend, but if I put clover in there and the deer come over the top (almost six feet) there’ll be hell to pay!
    Too bad. They look so beautiful. We got an early start on defending from deer, since we knew. Even then, our first efforts were inadequate. I sympathize, as our largest garden expense to date has been fencing.

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    • Bill says:

      We use cover cropping to maintain soil fertility but the deer just keep mowing down the cover crops before they can reach maturity. And this morning I discovered that they’ve ruined much of our tomato crop, by eating plants that are supposedly not edible. On days like this I’m ready to just buy a travel trailer and go hiking. The sad part is that if it weren’t for the deer we’d be doing great. They are our biggest challenge, by far.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Joanna says:

    I sympathise. We don’t seem to have much problem with deer, which I find odd since the forest is right next door to our fields, but we daren’t mulch anything for fear of the wild boar coming to turn it over looking for tasty grubs and then trampling their heavy footed way through everything else and turning it over. One night is all it takes. We are thinking of how to fence in our land as well, not just for the wild boar but also against the foxes. It will be a work in progress, but we are going to connect it to the mains with a powerful enough energiser to work the whole land eventually and then add to it yearly as Ian makes fence posts. Our priorities will be veg plots and grazing areas for our alpacas.

    Not sure we would get much sleep outside at the moment, it is still really cold at nights here about 3C (37F) tonight is forecast and I am not sure we will see many stars either unless we wake up in the middle of the night. We are not quite in the land of the everlasting summer days, but not far off. It is still reasonably light at 11:30pm and there is a strip of light even in the night. Sunset tonight is 10:20pm and Sunrise was 4:29am. Just reading a fascinating page on sunset and sunrise. Apparently in a few days time the day length will be 11 hours and 9 minutes longer than the winter solstice – that is a big difference (http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/latvia/riga)

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    • Bill says:

      Here it stays light to a little past 9 now, and that seems very late. Makes for long days outside. But light at 11:30? With day lengths like that, I think I’d die of exhaustion trying to keep up with nature!

      Like

      • Joanna says:

        We make up for it in the middle of the day. We have been inadvertently sleeping for a couple of hours since we do not set alarms. Then again we can easily wake at 5:30am or even 4:30am at this time of the year, although not always and we don’t often get up at that time. It is kind of tiring

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My grandmother used to tell of their sleeping porch when she was a girl. It was off their attic bedroom under a deep gable, and they moved the bed out there for the summer, and she and her sister slept there behind netting every night, rain or not, well protected by the gable roof. It was a brilliant design solution on her father’s part. They built that house in 1903 here on the Island, out in the woods, and I gather even in the woods the summers back then were very warm (there was an extreme weather pattern here through the first 2 decades of the 20th century, so that’s likely true).

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    • Bill says:

      That sounds very nice. I think it used to be pretty common to sleep on sleeping porches in the summer, back in the pre-A/C days. Of course it must be pretty rare nowadays.

      Good to hear from you. Hoping your not being worked too hard this summer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your summer sleeping arrangements sound wonderful. I regularly hear the coyotes moving through … amazing sounds at night … hope the next few days go well for you.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I’d heard the coyotes before, but never as clearly or as often as we have over the last few weeks. I’ve still never seen one.

      I didn’t get the computer swap done today. Maybe tomorrow. 🙂

      Like

  8. daphnegould says:

    When I was growing up my mom’s worst garden enemy was the deer. There were a lot of them and sometimes they would sleep outside the living room door (the room had two walls of sliding doors, but only one that we used, so you could see them there easily). She had an 11′ fence. Sometimes they would jump it. Then of course they would trash the garden trying to get out, but they can’t jump over an 11′ fence without a good running start. So my mom would find a deer in there and have to open the door so it could find its way out.

    I used to love sleeping under the stars as a kid. I grew up in the Colorado mountains with a national forest as my back yard. So there was no light pollution and not much air to block the starlight. It was so beautiful. Even without the moon up you could walk without a flashlight at night which I often did at least on the roads. Now I live near Boston in the city so even in the depths of night you don’t see many stars. It is kind of sad. But on the bright side of things no deer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      That sounds like a wonderful place to grow up. One of the things I liked best about moving back to the country was the beauty of the night sky.

      I read once that the only fence that will keep deer out has a top on it. We’ve been very lucky that they haven’t started jumping our net fences (even though they’re only 5 feet tall). My guess is that they’re scared of them. But if they ever lose that fear, then we’re out of business.

      Like

  9. Do coyotes take down deer? If so, I say bring ’em on!

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    • Bill says:

      My understanding is that coyotes eat fawns, but I’m not sure about adults. I’m guessing that our coyote population explosion is a result at least in part of the deer population explosion. We also have had an exponential increase in ticks, and tick-borne diseases, thanks to our surging deer population. As you know, it makes it very hard to grow food.

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  10. EllaDee says:

    Reading your delight in sleeping outside makes me want to pack up and sleep out under the stars, but the oh deer issue would be aggravating enough to make me lose sleep (and to think a few days ago you were rescuing the little darlings). I’m sure there are many solutions that all would work for a while but you’d be spending more time dealing with deer than productive farming. It seems you’re doing the best you can in a reactive way, and sometimes that has to be enough when there’s no understanding, anticipating the circumstances.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      That’s exactly right. I spent part of every day reacting and trying to anticipate what their next move will be. Time I’d much rather spend growing food.

      Like

  11. ain't for city gals says:

    This would be so discouraging for me….it would be like us building a house and then overnight someone came in and destroyed it. I would do whatever I needed to do …or I wouldn’t build any more houses…..which may be the case anyway. I just sold our 1954 Bellwood that we restored….only because we have a 1955 waiting in the garage….join us!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      You get it. Imagine if a herd of elephants tore down the houses as you built them, just before you were able to sell them. And people responded, “But the elephants are so cute.” Meanwhile they all live in houses and wouldn’t (of course) give them up for the cute elephants.

      Cherie really wants a vintage travel trailer like that. We’re very tentatively planning to take a year off sometime in the future and travel around. It would be very cool to be pulling a beauty like that. 🙂

      Like

  12. Sorry the deer are being so obnoxious, Bill. Sounds like you could use a cougar or two. I am glad the areas we have to fence in are small. –Curt

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Obnoxious is the perfect word Curt. I would hold no ill-feelings if they were starving and reduced to eating tomato plants and squash leaves to stay alive. But destroying crops they don’t even like? That’s just obnoxious.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Aggie says:

    Oh, we have a wooden platform, maybe 12′ high, that Lou built for high tunnel construction. It’s out in the middle of the pasture, and I’ve been wanting to start sleeping out there. It needed a couple more boards to be long enough, and we haven’t gotten around to it. So, you beat me to it! It’s wonderful sleeping outside… 99 degrees – where are you located?

    Like

    • Bill says:

      We’re in south central Virginia. Just north of the Carolina border. It’s been blistering hot here all week.

      Sounds like you have an excellent place for nights under the stars! I’d just recommend making sure you check the weather carefully. Sounds like it wouldn’t be a comfortable place to be caught in the rain. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I always here that about deer and that no homemade or storebought deterrent truly works beyond very high fencing. Total bummer on the cukes! Here in the city it’s a battle with scrub jays, crows and squirrels…ugh!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Our never-ending battle with the deer can be frustrating at times, to say the least. Anything that works tends to only work for a little while. They are crafty adversaries.

      Like

  15. I’ve taken a renewed interest in astronomy too. I’d forgotten most of the basics I’d learned in school — that was a long time ago! 🙂 But I’ve gotten a few books and videos from the library. I only wish I could see more of the night sky here but the city lights obscure all but the brightest stars and planets. It must be fantastic viewing in your neck of the woods.

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  16. Bill says:

    The night sky here is usually awesome. We’re fortunate not to have any light pollution. A friend just told me about a smart phone app called “Google Sky Map.” You can point your phone at the night sky and it will display a map with the names of the stars, planets and constellations. Pretty handy compared to old the old stargazer books I used to have. We don’t have high speed internet out here so I haven’t been able to download it yet, but I plan to do that as soon as I can.

    Like

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