Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Merry Christmas from the Studio!

Well the web site had been fully revised and launched! 

My website has been in need of updating for longer than I care to admit, so nearly this entire Fall has been devoted singularly to that. The address is the same -

The web site will now automatically format properly for desk top, lap top, tablet and mobile device viewing, and be enabled for SSL - making it a secure site from here on out; all big steps I needed to take. It will also be much easier for me to update in the future - no longer doing html the old way will be a joy after doing it "manually" the past 25 years!

Surprisingly the studio sales have been fairly robust during all my chaos this year - the "originals" (paintings and drawings) have sold so well I have a lot of work ahead of me to fill empty spots on the gallery walls this winter!!! A lot to be grateful for! Thank you "Everyone" for your interest and support!


Merry Christmas!

I would like to sign off here in thanking everyone that has visited the studio this and in past years.

I hope each one of you and your families were able to celebrate your Christmas in a special and cherished way.

ALL my Best Wishes to you in the New Year!



Saturday, November 27, 2021

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving Out There!


"View from Brian's Overlook, Sunrise No.1"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
4 months!  Good grief, what has happened to me?!  Well..."Life" I guess.  It's been a late summer and fall full of work, family and those other things that crop up I suppose. 
One thing I decided to finally take up, while working with creating a web site for a local private non-profit organization, is to update and upgrade my own business web site...this has been so involved, with my own site, that its taken most of my "free" time since September.  There is more involved in replacing an existing site these days than to just build a new one!  I have just finished this upgrade but will not be able to launch until I finish backing up the more important e-mails from the past 20 years on my older business web mail.  Once I launch - everything from the old "legacy" web mail will be gone - period.  So much of it can be gone as far as I'm concerned but as I work through it, I'm finding so many important things I don't want to lose track of!  Hopefully these will be backed up in the next couple weeks or sooner.
Below Bluffy, Upper Falls on the Wenesaga River
oil painting - © Bruce A. Morrison
One thing I snuck in during the summer months was some personal painting time...I wanted to take a break from the requests I've had, the commissioned work and just the neighborhood artwork and do some painting just for myself.  I hadn't really done that for a long, long time and there were images of the northwoods Georgie and I had loved so many years ago that I wanted on canvas.  A person has to shake out those cobwebs and get them worked out, or they'll stay stuck in those far corners of the mind - besides I really wanted to paint them and not allow those memories to be lost.  
These are personal but I'll show one memory that I was very pleased with in recreating something precious.  The "Upper Falls" as we always referred to it, is on the Wenesaga River of the Red Lake District in NW Ontario, Canada.  My wife's family spent decades of summers up there and when I became part of their family, I spent several years visiting with Georgie.  
This scene was several miles up stream from the family cabin but was a favorite wild in character and a great fishing hole to boot!  There was a trail on the east side I loved walking and photographing along.  The left side of the painting has a darkened space in the shoreline that represents an old Chippewa Indian's "Line Cabin".  The Indian that trapped this system of river and lakes, had several small cabins along the trapline that he would take refuge in should he be caught out in bad weather, or need to make a stop for shelter for the night.  The forest has since claimed these small one room cabins and the spruce bough bed frames he constructed for a day or night's respite.

Now back to work on other things here in the studio and back on the acreage.

"Back Water Autumn"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
The Fall here in the valley was surprisingly nice, despite the second severely dry year in a row.  But we had some surprising little gifts of rainfall this Fall...too late for the gardens or the orchard...or the neighbor's crops but very appreciated!  The small ox-bow back water nearby (seen above) actually raised an inch or so, staving off a complete dry down.  It's going to freeze to the bottom this winter I'm afraid though...its barely 2-3 inches deep all the way across now.
We've spent quite a bit of time this Fall picking seed on the part of our north pasture that has done well despite the drought.  This went on for about 6 weeks - waiting for many late fall forbs and grasses to finish.  And we've both spent a good deal of time mapping out a remaining section in the northwest corner to seed this winter.  We haven't done a winter seeding in some time...its not always easy getting a good burn in the fall; the brome can be a nuisance when it refuses to dry down enough for a burn.  And then it snows before you're able to get anything done!  Seeding must find some good ground contact and burning is the only way to do this on sloped and uneven ground.  We tried seeding the South pasture a few years back, in the Spring after a burn, but the success was not what we needed.  Every Fall burn I've ever been involved in were the most successful in germination.  That long period blanketed in snow...the freezing and thawing, is the natural way things happen anyway - why not embrace it!  Now we just hope most of the seed is viable.  We had so many plants that didn't even break dormancy this past summer because of the absence of rain.
Now its a waiting game...we want to broadcast seed just prior to a good snow event and cold front to set the proper stage of conditions.  In the meantime its back to the studio and working on more ideas in my head than I have time left on this Earth to possibly execute.  
But hey, that's a lot to be grateful for. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving - and a grateful Winter ahead!


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

It's Been Worse...Throw a Bit of Fun Into the Mix!

It's getting on into the end of July and a lot has transpired in the pasture.  Its still very dry and warm...especially this week...temps in the mid 90's and a dew point that's nearly subtropical!  We got lucky about 2 weeks back and received  a little over one and a half inches of rain.  VERY grateful for that!  But still hauling water to the gardens and several smaller/newer trees that are showing stress.

I got a new toy a couple weeks back older electric golf cart!  I am breaking speed records for water hauling now.  It is everything I thought it'd be - useful AND fun!


I call it the Prairie Schooner...been "sailing" all over the place in it and does it ever climb hills well!  Both Georgie and I take it for a spin daily. carries 4 buckets of water in the back and a short filled one on the floor in front...when there's no well, and hoses don't reach 100's of feet, this is the next best thing and the ride cools you off too!

Even though its been quite dry (still in a "severe" drought) the pasture's plants have been doing their best.  We're finding things are shorter in stature than "normal" years...and some plants have actually not bloomed and may not this summer now.

But here's a few that have been showing up since the last posting...


Wild Four-O'Clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea) with a nectaring Common Looper Moth (Autographa-precationis), along the road fence line on our native pasture. These almost always get past me (the Four-O'clocks), and when I seem to remember to look - they're about spent! I also see these Common Loopers often here...I guess their larvae feed on many things here like the asters and the verbena, as well as many other forbs. Plus I see the Eastern Bluebirds feed on the larvae frequently - everybody benefits! (photograph © Bruce A. Morrison)


The Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) has bloomed all over the pasture but now going to seed. When we first moved here 20 years back it was the only purple coneflower I could find in the entire county "and" in adjoining counties...Waterman Prairie here had only E. angustifolia. But now we're seeing E. pallida everywhere in the roadsides - even in our ditches since the county planted them about 12 years back. The inset shows a native bee collecting pollen...and I'm still trying to figure out what type it is. Although its nearly impossible to see in this image, there are 4 insects on the inset image blossom...the bee, two fly species and a very large ominous looking insect (beetle?) hidden underneath the bee. Didn't see it until I was processing images! (photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)


Lots of milkweeds blooming in the pasture here, this one often overlooked as its fairly diminutive...but the White-lined Sphinx Moth finds it just fine. This is also likely the most numerous "Asclepias" out here...they pack themselves in tightly together in large numbers, but blend into the undergrowth well. Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) SE O'Brien County (photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)

A few more from the pasture...(top left to right) Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea), Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens) and White Prairie Clover (Dalea candida)...things are going to seed fast. (photographs - © Bruce A. Morrison)


Top left - then clockwise - Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium), Ox-eye Daisy (Heliopsis helianthoides) with Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), Grey-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), and last -  Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).  Because of the current drought, the Rattlesnake Master has mostly gone dormant...out of the entire pasture only one has bloomed this summer so far.  The Culver's Root, the Bergamot and the coneflowers are doing fine...the plants are shorter but still blooming well.  (photographs - © Bruce A. Morrison)


Its been and dry, but we're still fortunate compared to others - and we're making the best of it!

Wishing you a safe and peaceful summer out there!  Be good to one another. 


Friday, June 11, 2021

Busy Days...

 Prairie Spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

June has been more akin to July or August I think...not necessarily humid but definitely hot and dry for us.  This has kept us fairly busy on the acreage.  We don't have working wells and the gardens are both a fair distance from the house...our early mornings are spent hauling buckets of water in a little wagon behind an old mower that still "moves" but that's about the extent of it!  Ha!  Hey, everyone makes due with what they've got , right?

 Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium campestre)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

The pastures got a boost a couple weeks back with some badly needed rain but we've about tapped that out now...I'm waiting to see if we have a repeat of last summer and things go dormant once more.  In the meantime though we've had some nice forbs and grasses return, and some even showing some good signs of spreading some.


Fringed Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison 
Every year the Fringed Puccoon seems to move some distance...I suspect ants help the cause...however it has shown up on the south pasture now!  I suppose it may have always been there, but with the sheep grazing so closely there 15 years back, they may have just barely survived and are now attempting to recover?  Or perhaps birds moved it?  I'm sure it's seed would be a perfectly fine meal!  

Ground Plum (Astragalus crassicarpus)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Our north slope on the gravel hillside has a small compliment of Ground Plum...I get a kick out of some other common names like "Buffalo Plum" or "Buffalo Berry"...either way its a forb I've run into on other hillsides and pastures in the area...the rabbits and deer in an isolated location like this (small acreage surrounded by mostly crop ground) can decimate or even eliminate tempting tid bits like the Ground Plum...I also find voles a real issue when the resource is so limited!  Last spring I cut some hardware cloth and tried placing some small barriers around these to help dissuade the constant pruning.  This spring I was surprised how well they responded...more robust branching has so far escaped becoming a rodent salad bar. 

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
Large-flowered Penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Prairie Ragwort (Packera plattensis)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison 

Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Prairie Garlic (Allium canadense)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Many, many others have had a good showing...including the Prairie Garlic (Allium canadense)...I first noticed this allium back in the NE corner of the north pasture...had always seen the Prairie Onions (Allium stellatum) here in the fall but this one was a surprise bonus.  This allium has since appeared in several other location - all are on the lower mesic ground - likely the preferred soil type.  The Prairie Onion is always on the gravel hillside - haven't seen it mix with this allium.


Prairie Grasses of June
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

The warm season native grasses are back and showing I type this I'm thinking I've forgotten to look for the Western Wheat Grass, which we do have a small stand...shame on me!  Oh well.  I did manage photos of the June Grass, Porcupine Grass and the Scribner's Panic Grass.  

I admit I'm the reason we have so much Porcupine Grass in the north pasture.  I was finding it in the ditches adjacent to the acreage but hadn't seen it in our pastures...thought it odd.  One June, when I noticed the Porcupine going to seed I picked a few and dispersed them here and there...they immediately took - had them showing up the very next year.  Now I pick from the pasture and try and seed the ditch cuts made by the county back in 2008 - a major source of erosion that the county created on their own, much to our disgust!  I keep trying to introduce things that can get a foothold there and hopefully its helping.

We've had a week straight of mid to high 90's and this morning as I'm writing, it tried to rain...rather paltry amount - maybe a couple 100ths of an inch.  Pretty nasty winds too though; hope we don't have chain saw work ahead of us!  That's never good. 

With today our last chance of rain for the next week or two, I guess we'll be hauling water to the garden and a few select trees this afternoon.  But there'll be a slight reprieve in the temperature today and maybe tomorrow before were back into the oven.  Grateful for those small blessings!

I'll insert a small plug for something I believe is worth your time.  It is something that we all must wake up to and seriously give thought to.  We should all be more proactive than most of us have been (myself included) when it comes to our home planet.  It's the only one we have, why are we treating it like its not?!  I watched a good program a couple days back.  It's the latest film produced by David Attenborough (and likely the "last" film he will do - he's 93 after all!) "A Life on Our Planet". 

This is a MUST watch and listen. We've over stepped the climate/biodiversity/deforestation boundary - are we listening? Or should we say "Who's Listening"? Attenborough is not trying to make us feel better, but to shake us from our complacency. Do we want to hang onto our personal "life styles", or close our eyes to what we're doing? Are we growing numb to the mantra that science has been trying to impress upon us? There is a chance...but will we embrace it...there is a chance. Are we listening?  Try and give "A Life on Our Planet" a is not a waste of time.

Have a good Summer ahead and be good to one another!