SandhillsEverywhere my husband and I have lived, there have been Sandhill Cranes. We saw them in Montana, in southern Arizona, and in huge numbers while in Colorado, at the annual Monte Vista Crane Festival. I had the great fun of working at and speaking at this festival several years in a row while I was with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife). The festival almost always fell on my birthday, which was a great way to celebrate. (There’s also a huge crane festival in Nebraska every year. If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of these festivals – do go!)

If you’ve ever heard a sandhill, you know them forever after when you hear them again. They have this very distinctive trilling call that can be heard even when they are flying overhead at such a height that you can barely see them. They have become somewhat of a touchstone species for my husband and I.

Sandhills migrate from their overwintering range in the southern United States and Mexico to their breeding grounds, sometimes as far north as Alaska, and back again every year. Last fall, I heard a group fly over (I never did see them), and said to the sky, “safe travels, my friends”. I’ve heard them a couple of times in the last few days, as the flocks migrate north. Some may even be the ones I saw in Monte Vista. I like to think so. This afternoon, a large flock flew overhead in several large “V”s. It’s always good to see my friends again, even if my camera was having a hard time focusing.

Meanwhile, things are blooming and sprouting all over.


These were JUST transplanted to bigger pots, so look leggy. But they will fatten up now that they have more light.


The two crab apples in our yard have looked like this for about a week. Waiting…waiting. And a good thing too, as we had a 26 degree night on Tuesday. They should be in full bloom by this weekend.


This is a larch. A larch is a deciduous conifer. That means that it is a tree with needles and cones that loses its needles and looks dead every winter. This is what it looks like when it starts to leaf out again in the spring. They are native to the Pacific Northwest, over into Montana, and turn a beautiful yellow in the fall. We’re lucky enough to have one in our yard.


Hops just peaking their head above ground. Hard to kill a hop once you get one going. These are Willamette.

Can you find the turkey in this picture?


What? I’m gray. This weird plastic siding thing along the fence line is gray. Can’t see me. Can’t see me. Sorry baby, but we can, and so can the dogs, because you are outside the poultry yard.

Poor Gracie Mae. The hormones have hit. She SO SO wants to make a nest and sit on it. But the places she picks don’t work. The dogs or some other predator finds the nest and eggs. There’s not enough cover. Her girlfriend Peggy Sue took over the duck’s nesting area, and is sitting on some turkey eggs and a lot of duck eggs that I slipped under her. I put a dog kennel with a bunch of straw in there next to her for Gracie, but she’ll have none of it. She flew over the property fence and went on walk about for 2 days. We thought we’d lost her. Poor girl.


Mostly, we’re just enjoying the sunshine and green growing things!

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2013, where we’re miles away from being frost free yet, but more days than not, its above 40 degrees at night and the baby ducks are growing like, well, grass.