Creek Jots ~ 2012-06-18

Gandy and Jessie: They love their creek!

Morning chore: pile rocks at the corner of the chicken pen to keep the groundhog out. We’ve seen evidence of digging from the outside, but yesterday, the very large groundhog (we see fleetingly as it runs under the barn) found an opening through the barn’s stacked-stone foundation and was inside the pen yesterday when Gandy and I went over to shut up Ann’s cussed birds for the night. I have no doubt the whistlepig would eat any eggs he might find, so between the black snakes and the ground hogs, we have to buy puny white eggs at Slaughters and keep two old hens as her pets.

Gandy: she’s a keeper after all. And though this one will most likely be our last dog, I pass along the lesson to others. As readers know, there have been numerous occasions during this pup’s first six months when we thought we’d have to find another home for her. She was too unpredictable, too aggressive and too high energy for us. At 7 months, things took a turn. At 8 months this week, she is a different dog altogether, and a joy to be around (mostly.) So puppy owners, take note. Let them evolve past their obnoxious period. There may just be a great dog and companion on the other side.

Garden: While I dread the heat and humidity of the second half of June and especially July, for the garden’s sake, the warmer nights and hot days do wonders to make tomatoes fruit and beans to start climbing up the 8-foot fence and set flowers. So far, no potato bugs or bean beetles, cucumber beetles or flea beetles, and the weeds are mulched and under control. If the rains peter out, the creek for now is good for drawing water. We’ll see what the rest of the summer give us, and hope for beans and tomatoes for the canner.

Reptiles: The black snake with the egg-shaped mass that was hiding under the black plastic on the woodpile two months ago has taken up residence on the garden shed potting table for the past several days. The lump remains, even more abraded than it was when I first saw this very distinctive snake, but apparently, the mass is not fatal. It is not an egg. Seen: the corn snake–of the three this summer, the intermediate sized specimen, maybe 20 inches long, that I turned up while string trimming along the garden wall of railroad ties.

Tech tools: I’m considering the purchase of a “real” video camera. The iPhone is handy, but awkward and limited for videos. In addition to the camera (maybe this Sony DX260) I’d need video editing software–starting with iMovie but ultimately probably needing something more powerful. I’ve heard that Vimeo might be the way to go for display, and that would require a annual subscription. Can I justify this on the basis of ROI? Of course not. But in terms of telling the story: maybe. It would make me look for peoples-and-places cameos that I don’t “see” when using written narratives alone, or the still camera’s unblinking eye.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. So good to hear of Gandy’s evolution into a “great dog and companion.” On another topic, Allen just bought the tiny Sony HX30V camera, and it is just as good for videos as it is for stills. His DSLR is so heavy that he wanted a real small pocket camera to have with him all the time, and after much research, bought this one. It can take 30 minutes of video at a time, and of course you can start another video if you need more time. Check it out! Less than $400.

  2. Fred, Vimeo is the preferred service for those who are serious about video. You can have a free account but it has limitations. The Plus account ($59 a year) allows unlimited embeds and plays and has a host of good features. The Pro account ($199 a year) is for those who are into serious marketing of their work. I use a Plus account and currently have 83 videos on display.

    As for editing, I’d start out with iMovie and/or Adobe Premiere Elements. Each approaches editing differently but provide an upgrade path to Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro CS6. Final Cut Pro X changes the traditional linear editing paradigm and that’s a problem for those used to traditional editing software. For someone just getting into editing it is probably faster to learn.

    Video requires patience to master and produce. The general rule of thumb is that every minute of final product represents 60 minutes of production and editing time.