I'm happy to say that the weather cooperated for my big trip to Big Valley, though the birds were a little sparse and shy. We had temps in the upper 30s/lower 40s, but the wind was biting. At least it was sunny. I did see two lifers--a pine siskin (in the backyard at the trip leader's house, not really in Big Valley):
and a horned lark, one of my goal-birds for the trip:
This was the best picture I got of a horned lark, but we saw a lot of them and I got to study them a bit and see their little horny eyelashes--cool. I just wish the birds out there had been a little more cooperative, like they are for Mary at Mary's View--they pose out in her yard, and they even come into her house sometimes! Oh well, I guess we can't all be bird-charmers, right, Mary?
We drove all over Big Valley, which is about thirty miles from my little village. I winced at the thought of my commitment to BIGBY, but I'm hoping to take a birding walk tomorrow to cover that. Anyway, we didn't see too many birds, though--only 30 species, and nothing to write home about other than the horned larks. We saw small flocks of them, and sometimes even just a couple of individuals; I'm told they're usually found in big flocks of a hundred or more. We didn't get that lucky, nor were these larks hanging around with any snow buntings (we checked every flock we saw).
To give you a little more local flavor, here's a little photo essay I put together to give you an idea of what I saw pretty much all morning:
We also drove by a property that our trip leader said was popular with woodpeckers, but what caught my eye was this sign on the property:
The other highlight of the trip was a stop at the famous Peachey's Market:
Note the pig on the sign; does he look a little funny to you? Let's take a closer look:
Look at that happy little guy and his...furry body? I didn't know pigs had coats, like a dog. Must be some weird Amish pig, or a very confused artist. I kept thinking about that line in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Ron tells Hermione that her cat Crookshanks "looks like a pig with hair!" when he thinks that Crookshanks has eaten his rat, Scabbers.
Turns out that Peachey's is a lot like my Mennonite store down the road; the store itself is much smaller, but they do have a larger selection of candy and some really. rotten. coffee. (Imagine you re-used your coffee grounds a couple of times, then burned the whole pot for a few hours. Yeah. Mmmmm, right?)
They also had nyjer seed in bulk for only $1.59/lb (Burkholder's doesn't have that!), which is about fifty cents cheaper than it is at Wiscoy, my usual bird and bunny feed store. I got about four pounds, plus a sock feeder. The pine siskin I'd seen earlier was on a nyjer sock, so I'm hoping to attract some out here, though the trip leader's house in nearer to wooded areas than mine. Still--the goldfinches and house finches ought to go insane for it. Who knows? Maybe I'll even get a purple finch; they're still around this area, according to our local birding listserv.
Back to Peachey's. First, I got to see "scrapple" for the first time in my life:
Be glad the ingredients list is blurry, folks. I read it, and believe me: you don't want to know. Let's just say that if that furry pig knew, he wouldn't be smiling. They also had a (ahem) "vegetarian" version called "mush," which was cornmeal and some other scary ingredients. I didn't think Kat would forgive me if I bought any home, so I passed on that.
Here's some Amish-abilia:
Kinda creepy, no?
The money machine at Peachey's:
Who knew Mennonites had their own bank?
Oh, and in case you're wondering, the answer is yes:
They are buying deer hides now.