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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WAITING TO EXHALE

AN OOH OOOH OOOOH, AAAAHH MOMENT

Christmas has past and the New Year faces us.  In a couple of days we can all have a big sigh of relief we made it through the past year.  I will be exhaling when I return home on New Year's Eve.  I ran to Denver as a surprise. Christmas eve I showed up at my parents house.  No one knew I was coming.  In fact I didn't know for sure until 36 hours before.   I took a deep breath and threw everything in bags and into the Car.  Left at 7 in the morning and arrived at 7:30 in the evening. 
Since the weather had been so bad on the plains I took a different route when I entered Colorado.  I normally take 86 down through Kiowa to 25.  This is a narrow back highway that is like a roller coaster.  I knew it was probably snow packed and icy so I decided to take 70 all the way to Denver and south on 425.  I had never been that way and by the time I past familiar 86 it was pitch dark.  Since it was Christmas eve and everyone was at their destination I had the road to myself.  It is a very dark road with no one on it.  and there was a wind at times.  Needless to say I felt like I didn't let my breath out till I arrived at the end of my journey.

Hunny has been left home alone to feed and care for 12 cats (8 house cats, 2 shop cats, 2 wild barn cats), 2 African gray parrots, and one little abandoned dog named "Honey". (We also feed the wild birds and the neighborhood raccoons and possums.)  Everyday I get a report on our egg production.  The young layers are laying up a storm.  We've been getting (16) 2.5 ounce eggs from 17 chickens almost everyday.  The older layers are "laid" back now and have decided to give us eggs when they please.  They really should be stew but in our old age and with being so busy with the holidays the last two months we haven't gotten around to it.  Last night the hens who normally lay nice large eggs decided one of them would go all out.  One of our Americauna ladies laid the enormous egg in the picture.  The other eggs are considered extra large, I think this one ranks in the ginormous category. 

I think she definitely exhaled loudly, gasping for breath.

Have an eggseptional day!

For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own, if not credit will be given to the contributor. Please do not use without permission.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LIGHT AS AIR

It's cold and windy out today. I am not going to be out in it.  So I decided to go through papers, notes I had jotted down this past summer.   I came across this poem I wrote about an experience with a feathered friend who had ventured indoors.

Have you ever held air in your hand?
I have, the feeling is, oh so grand,
Today in my kitchen, it was a surprise,
On the floor, right before my eyes.

Was the smallest of earth's flying machines,
Of the prettiest colors found in dreams,
Its fragility, its fright, I was certain of,
I picked her up with gentle love.

She nestled in the warmth of my hand,
I rescued her from where she did land,
From the way she acted I think she was hit,
The ceiling fan knocked her around a bit.

After awhile she showed signs of flight,
I ran to release her while it was still light,
I opened my hand, her wings did spread,
With out a thank you, to the tree she fled.

To the feeder came one, was it the one who fled?
Is approaching the house something she dreads?
Or was it another, taking a sip of sweet,
Dining at our feeder filled with hummers treat.

She was not even as big as a joint and a half on my thumb and not as fat either.  It was an amazing and awesome experience for me.

For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
 
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
 
As always, any pictures or writings are my own,
if not credit will be given to the contributor.
Please do not use without permission.




Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CHICKEN EGGS


We keep chickens, or is it raise chickens.  It is technically just a "hobby".  It is for our own consumption and for a couple of people who drop by for a dozen or two.  We only have 16 young pullets (pullets are female chickens until they begin to lay, then they are called hens), and 13 older, past their prime, hens.  A hen becomes past her prime when she doesn't lay an egg every other day (at least in my opinion).  She is not profitable, because she eats more than she produces. 

We are small potatoes and have reached our "past our prime percentage", lol.  We have not had the energy to put them or their fellow roosters in our freezer.  The weather has finally cooled down and I expect after the Thanksgiving holiday we will have a going away party for them.  Our little pullets are now producing to their potential and the eggs are now approaching large status.  Which brings me to the purpose of this blog.
Regular size egg                        2 eggs from a pullet
(her friends are laying a small to medium egg)

Technically chickens are not garden/plant related, but at our "farm" they are.  They are a source of extremely high nitrogen fertilizer for us.  Albeit we have to wait a year to use it.  It is too "hot" to use without composting it.  At this time of year we spread it on the garden areas to break down through the winter.

I had to share these eggs gigantus with you.  This was definitely an oooh aaahhh situation for the little, almost a hen, chicken. 

The two eggs being fried for breakfast. Yes they were double yolked eggs. 
The skillet is a 10 inch iron pan.

Have an eggseptional day!

For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening,
"new" prose tribute to my mother on her birthday
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own, if not credit will be given to the contributor.
Please do not use without permission.


Friday, November 4, 2011

SPARTAN ARROW BEANS

This row of beans is not Spartan Arrow beans.  It is probably Contender or Provider.  That was what we planted in 2010.  They were decent in taste but tended to be on the not tender side. I can't say enough for the Spartan Arrow beans.  We feel so fortunate to have found a distributor of the seed, for five years we have been looking for the seed.  This company is where we acquired the seed:
http://www.rispensseeds.com/

(Received our seeds November 8, 2011.  It was only 5 days after ordering.  They were packaged excellently.  
Thank you Rispen for your great customer service.)

Today we called the company and they have a few pounds left from this years inventory.  They will not be handling it in 2012.  I have not found any other source for the seed.

 We will be planting the seed spring 2012.  I have garden area reserved for seed, which is not organic (the seed is treated).  We will be planting rows for harvest fresh and rows that will be saved for seed.  The beans will be raised organic even though they are treated seed. We are fortunate to have plenty of garden spaces. 

Pluses we discovered about this incredible bean:
Productivity to the extreme; it produced under adverse conditions
(in the extreme heat and when the weather turned too cold)
It was not susceptible to any the diseases in our area. 
Storm damage was minimal, the plants are very strong.
The beans were held high on the plants in large bunches, not down at the base of the plant.
The flavor of the bean was superior to any bean we ever had, including the great long bean taste.
They stayed on the plant with out getting tough, longer than other beans we've tried.
Just like their name says they are very straight and seemed to stay straight during periods of uneven watering.

Right now I can't think of more accolades for the variety, but just remembering them is making me drool.  I can't wait to take pictures and share with you.  Saving this variety is at the top of our gardening agenda. 


February 1, 2013 Update addition
I found these articles which adds more pluses to the pluses for Spartan Arrow Bush Beans:

Under the "management" section of the article they specify spartan Arrow Beans. 

 http://ipm-dd.orst.edu/potato/wcucumbeetle.pdf
Resistant to the adult cucumber beetle damage

Spartan Arrow (MSU 303) - Breeder: Michigan Agric. Expt. Sta., East Lansing. Vendor: Northrup, King and Co., Minneapolis, Joseph Harris, Rochester, New York and others. Parentage: selection of a cross Tenderbest x Contender. Characteristics: concentrated pod set, good holding quality; pods heavy, straight, separate easily from plant, slow seed and fiber development. Resistance: common mosaic virus strains 1 and 15. Similar: Bountiful, Contender. Michigan Quart. Bulletin 45, 608, 1963.

The above info is from  an article Edited by James Nienhuis and Michell E. Sass,  Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706 and James R. Myers, Department of Horticulture, 
Oregon State University. 


Corvallis, OR 97331-7304

This Seed deserves to have a place in our gardens.
I hope I have encouraged you to save seed.

For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening
 blog about the making of a Ninja Halloween costume

Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
As always, any pictures or writings are my own, if not credit will be given to the contributor.
Please do not use without permission.

http://pitbulladog.blogspot.com/
Chronicling our adventures with a dumped Pit Bull Pup,
 who has become a hidden treasure.

All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .
Please do not copy without permission

Monday, September 5, 2011

SEARCHING FOR SPARTAN ARROW GREEN BEANS

Over the years we have found varieties of vegetables we love to grow.  Vegetables which are full flavored,  prolific, disease resistant, quick to harvest, excellent to either freeze or can; rise to the top of the list.  They do not have to be heirloom varieties. 

The very top of our list is a bean called "Spartan Arrow".  Our garden was never without this bean.  I became ill and we did not have a garden for 5 years.  When we began gardening again, we determined the company we would order most of our seeds from would be the one with "Spartan Arrow" seed..  For two years we have been searching for the seed.  Originally we ordered the seed from "Harris Seeds".  They said they weren't handling it any more and suggested we use "Espada" (I think is the spelling).  It was a comparable bean.  NOT!

Spartan Arrow is just what it's name implies. Straight as an arrow, no matter what the conditions.  If conditions were right you had to pick beans twice a day.  Another plus with the plant, It stuck its beans right up on the top of the plant, not camouflaging  the beans under the leaves (making picking a breeze).  They were the "greenest" tasting bean we've ever had.  Freezing, there was no loss of flavor and they seemed to be not as susceptible to freezer burn.  The bean seemed to be impervious to rust and other bean diseases.  It produced in hot weather as well as in the extreme cold.  We religiously covered the bean rows when there was frost.  We knew we would be rewarded with beans till cold became a daily thing.

If you know of where we can procure this seed please let us know. 
We have googled but have not found a source.


For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening

Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
 
As always, any pictures or writings are my own, if not credit will be given to the contributor.
Please do not use without permission.

 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH

I haven't written all summer, I have been visiting the grands and last week I made the trip to Colorado to visit my parents.  I haven't driven for several years because of the steep gas prices.  They dropped to the point it was cheaper to drive than to fly.  I also had access to my son's new car.  It gets very good gas mileage. I will have to preface this by saying, I love to drive.  (it also lets me take with me things I wouldn't be allowed to take on a plane.  Like an Apple pie for my father, made the evening before.)

I was very lax in taking pictures.  I wish I was younger and could drive long distances with leisure, but alas I can't.  I had to zoom out there before my driving stamina ran out.  I left St. Louis at 6:30 AM and arrived in the Western Denver Area at 8:00 PM St. Louis time. 

I have no idea why people say they get bored driving across Kansas.  When I make the drive I see the familiar, the sites I saw when I was 12 on my first trip west.  I find myself wondering what happened to the neat little motels and homes I saw on old highway 40.  It is surprising how much you can remember when you were young. 

Then I see new things.  The delight I felt seeing the wind farms west of Salina.  In Missouri there have been arguments windmills destroy the environment, polluting the visual.  All I could see was the energy being
 saved and the happy feeling it gave me seeing them turning in the breezes.  They looked like a giant had plopped pinwheels all over the prairie.  It was more like a modern art sculpture not an abomination to the senses.  It certainly wasn't like the visual assault of the power lines.

Several years ago when crossing Kansas I went under an overpass on the highway, when I came out on the other side, a field covered, for what seemed miles, with sunflowers in peek bloom.  I had no camera at that time.  It was an awesome sight stretching to the horizon. Other trips out have not rewarded me with the view.
This year the sun flowers were past their prime, seeing them brought back the Van Gogh moment.

The Flint Hills in Kansas.  If I could take an ideal road trip it would take me a week to get to Denver.  I would want to stop in the Flint Hills area and see the homes and fences, everything, even the museums.  I am not a lover of museums, but would love to see everything the area has to offer. Maybe it is because I was so enamored with the Laura Engals Wilder books when I was little.  I anxiously look forward to seeing the first Fence Post  I can spy on the trip.  The thoughts of how hard the people worked to survive, how they made a life for themselves, entertain me while I am driving.  Boredom has no room to invade.

Then there is Hays, Kansas.  It is a dusty cow town sitting in the middle of the prairie, but I found little treasures there.  First I fill up with gas, going to the Mc Donalds across the street.  For some reason The double Cheese Burgers there are better than any other Mc Donalds in the Nation.  Maybe it is because I am so tired at that point.  Then (and only once) did I take time to run a mile down the main street to a little strip mall.  In that strip mall was the most fabulous quilt/fabric store.  I know the people in the area must cherish her.  She was stuffed to the rafters with fabric.  There was the most fabulous collection of flannel fabrics. 

As you are getting close to the western border of Kansas there is a town where they have collected old buildings and reconstructed them.  You can see the display from the highway.  I have always wanted to stop there and see them. 

Another disappointment I have when I travel by car is I can't take time to stop and visit cemeteries. I am not a morbid person, but I love to see and read head stones.  I wish I could have photographed some of the wonderful stones I have seen.

Kansas has a wealth of unusual old farm houses which can be seen from the road.  Some have now fallen to disrepair to the point they will eventually be torn down, but there is one which fascinates me.  It is boarded up now.  It is perfectly square and two stories.  It is made of perfectly square blocks.  I can't tell if it is limestone or sandstone or flint rock.  It sits lonely in the middle of a field with it's out buildings.

I think it is when entering Colorado there is a touristy thing that I always wanted to do.  There is a "light house" type of building which advertises you can see 7 states from their windows.  I first saw it when I was 12 from the highway 40 side.  It is still there.  I wonder each time if I were to stop if it would be open.  It is very downtrodden looking.

After arriving in Denver I headed up the mountains to a "little village" called Evergreen.  I can remember 47 years ago when my husband and I toured the west, Highway 40 was only two lanes.  Your mind raced with the fantasies of what it was like to be a pioneer.  The area was still uninhabited, except for the occasional mine poking its head out from the side of the mountain.  The roads barely scared the surface and the trees and rocks were so close you could touch them.

Now Evergreen is a budding metropolis for tourist.  My sister lives on the hills above it.  she has a cabin with hardwood floors and a stone fireplace.  It is about 900 square feet.  she has electric and gas, but there is no plumbing.  The following pictures were taken the evening I visited.

I have no idea the flowers names, and I had no way to edit the pictures while I was there to make sure I had decent ones, and re-take them if necessary.


A small purple ASTER past it's prime.

A yellow daisy type

An unknown white flower

These I would know anywhere.  They are a wild snap dragon.  They could easily become my favorite flower.  The were so delicate.  The blossoms were only as big as the nail on my baby finger.

Last but not least, just as I was leaving, This pair popped up outside the back door next to the snap dragons.


I wish I had more to share and I should have taken time to literally smell the roses.  I need to plan an extra day each trip so I can take pictures of the sights I see.  Memories I can share with you.

If anyone knows the names of the flowers, please share.

Thank you for visiting.  I hope to be posting more often with pictures of fall in Missouri. (Maybe even pictures of a garden being reclaimed.)


For more blogs by me visit at:
A blog mostly about quilting, but cooking, poetry, prose and a little gardening

Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.
 
As always, any pictures or writings are my own, if not credit will be given to the contributor.
Please do not use without permission.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

AT THE END OF THE DRIVE


THE GATE TRIANGLE BEFORE WEEDING
Outside our gate we have a triangle piece of ground.  It is technically the county's ground.  The most they ever do with it is mow by the road.  The rest grows up in Virginia creeper and poison ivy and various other weeds.  This year with gardening on my back burner I hadn't tackled the triangle (last year I planted perennials.)  the weeds are trying to take them over.  The rain this year has made it difficult for me.  It has been too wet to walk in the garden. 

Yesterday it was finally dry enough to mow. I mowed about 4 acres, spotting a nice large black snake.  Thank goodness there were no copperheads, last week's foray with one was enough. There was also several little snakes running away from the mower.  They looked like ring necks but I wasn't going to get down and examine them closer.  In the grass at the edge of the woods, I lost count of how many box turtles there were.

This morning I decided I should jump-start my gardening with straightening out the triangle by the gate.  I drove my little red rooster, loaded with my tools and the most important item, my purple disposable plastic gloves, down to the gate.  Poison ivy is rampant there.  I knew the first order of business was to pull every vine I saw.  Look closely and you can see this specimen is already blooming. All parts of the poison ivy plant cause contact dermatitis in some people.  I am one of those people. When I came in I washed all exposed skin with our favorite preventative, Safeguard soap.  I don't know if it is a proven method, but I do know it works for us.
POISON IVY IN BLOOM
On the way to the gate my nose was assailed with fragrances which were heavenly.  The knee deep clover was in full bloom and so was the vining honeysuckle. I arrived at the gate and my nose was assaulted.  The odor of rotting flesh was everywhere.  I looked for what may have died (it is a dangerous corner and I thought perhaps there was an animal killed).  Nothing, but when I started pulling the weeds I spied this phallic looking mushroom which was a psychedelic orange.  It definitely was emitting the smell accosting my nose and the entire area of the triangle.  It is not that big (notice the flies on it).  Being it was so powerful I looked for more of them and it was the only one.
STINK HORN
You would think with the stiff wind blowing it would dissipate quickly.  It has its own production facility! 
It was quite a job pulling all the vines.  They enjoyed all the rain this spring and were rampant, even climbing up into the lilac bushes I planted last year.  Last year we left a couple of native shrubs.  We didn't know what they were.  One of them looks like a privet hedge.  This year it bloomed.  It is very fragrant and the blooms are minuscule.  This is a branch of the shrub with a few left over blossoms (it's bloom time is almost over).  All three of these blooms take up less space than the face of a penny. 
The other shrub, we thought was a dog wood which had gotten mowed off and had come up with several trunks.  This is the leaves of the shrub.
And a surprise bloom this morning.  The wind was blowing hard and the stench of the stink horn was making it difficult to discern if there was a fragrance to the blooms.
I haven't finished weeding the area.  Will keep you posted on my progress.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

BIRD FEEDER VISITOR

We watch the birds and the birds watch us.  They watch to see when we refill the feeder, then they mob it.  We have our standard visitors, and occasionally we'll have some fly bys who grab a bite and run to better feeding grounds.  Today we have had a fly by one who was acting like they wanted to stay.  We have not been able to identify this new visitor.  Here are some pics.  I hope someone can tell us who our visitor is.

The pics were taken through a double pane glass.  He/she is about the size of a cardinal.  She is a very curious bird and doesn't seem to be afraid of us in the window.  She is not shy
The brownish gray top not she fluffs like the phoebes do. 

In 50 years of bird watching all over the country, my hunny and I have never seen this bird.  Can anyone tell us where we should look?  We've looked under fly catchers and orioles and have found none with the totally gray throat.


Possible Identification:
I went to look up several similar types of birds.  I think this is a Western Kingbird.  The following is a range map:

You can go to this website to see pictures of them:

If this is my bird, he/she is a little off course.  Another article said that spring sitings where they shouldn't be are rare, but they can be sited in off areas in the fall.  Another internet article said they had been moving their territories eastward for the last 100 years. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

BLUEBIRDS, FOR KIDS

One of the things as grandparents we enjoy is bird watching.  We want to share our love of the outdoors and the local birds.  We built a humongous bird feeder 2X6 feet, which the kids seem to enjoy.  It is covered and the kids have enjoyed watching the birds since they were very little. 
Even the furry feathered ones (the squirrels) who steal the seed. 

ZACK AND ZEDA READY TO HANG THE BIRD HOUSE,
THE HERB GARDEN CLOSED SO WE WON'T BE INTERUPTED.

Last summer the grands came to visit and the weather was nice for once.  It seems it's either unbearably cold or pouring down rain or snowing when they show up.  Our Grandson decided he would help Zeda build and hang some bluebird houses. 

We needed to find the proper location for the house.  Blue birds like to be on the edge of a field where they can see anyone coming in all directions.  They don't want anyone or anything to sneak up on them.  They want to be about 6 feet in the air.  You want to make sure it is uncomfortable for snakes to climb up.

We found a great place, a post from an old fence line.
FIRST THING WE NEED TO DO IS SECURE THE BOTTOM OF THE HOUSE.  WE DON'T NEED IT COMING LOOSE AND THE BABY BIRDS FALLING OUT.
Zeda has a cordless drill for the job.

ZACK PUTS IN THE TOP SCREW FIRST

IT'S A HARD REACH, AND THE DRILL IS HEAVY.  IT TAKES ZACK'S CONCENTRATION.

ZEDA, I DID IT, THE SCREW IS SET.


PUTTING THE LAST SCREW IN.  THE JOB IS FINISHED. 
LOOKS LIKE THEY HAVE ATTRACTED SOME EXTRA HELP. 
With supervision, children can use power tools.  They enjoy the challenge. 
 You can find directions on making a bluebird house here:


You can visit me at my other blogs:


and

New blog on challah baking and cinnamon roll baking.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RAIN, FLOODS, FLOWERS

The last year it seems there has been no end to the rain.  People joke they need to build an ark.  In the eastern United States and the states along the lower half of the Mississippi River this is not just a joke.  In my small town in south west St. Louis, Missouri, my neighbors are experiencing flooding.  I'm lucky, we are on a small hill (an old mountain).  We do have flooding.  The water in the Creek was at the  bottom of the bridge with each of the last three rains. 
Water fall which is normally a small stream on the far right side. 
The muddy pool behind it is the bowl my children splashed in when they were little. 
It is about 20 inches deep. 
The water was over the bridge(which I am standing on) during the night.  The bridge is about 8 feet above the surface of the current water.  I had to wait till the rain stopped to take any pictures.  This is junction where the north south arm drains into the east west leg.  We are standing over the north south arm looking south.  The water fall is about thirty feet to the left.  Normally the water is so clear you can see the gravel bed.  When the sun flickers on it, it is very inviting.
Even with the rain I get wonderful surprises.
POKEWEED
Phytolacca americana
In the pasture grass I find a favorite for foraging.  It's less than 12 inches tall.  The perfect size for dinner.  Remember it can be poisonous.  I do not consume it when it is mature.  Never eat the purple berries or mature plant parts. When the stalks have become bright red it is definitely poisonous.

The May apple finally bloomed.  I thought it was going to be beat down by the torrential rains.  It is unbelieveable how strong those spindly looking stalks are.

MAY APPLE (Mandrake)
"the Witch's Umbrella"
Bereridaceae
Barberry Family
 
Heading back up to the house I have to pass the pasture.  There, right in front of me, were the Hyacinths in all their glory.  They may have been out yesterday, in my rush going up and down the hill I didn't notice them.
WILD HYACINTH
Camassia
 Quamash, Indian name, the bulb is said to be edible
Why would you want to eat them when they dot the pasture so beautifully?  They are so delicate.  When the sun is coming up in the morning they look like little puffs of smoke laying on the grass.

Not twenty feet from them, we have Iris growing.  Were their seeds dropped by some bird, how did the rhizomes grow there?  We have several unknown varieties which bloom through the middle of June.  There are even some dwarf varieties.  We joke we have a wood fairy who plants them for us.

Thank you for joining me on this dreary day.  The respite from the rain is over. It is raining heavy and steady right now.  It is a cold rain.  I wonder what it will bring me tomorrow.?

Join me at my other blogs:
Containing articles on cooking, crafts, quilting, stories, ect.
New article on "The Wedding quilt"
 
 
New articles: "Catstrophe Update" and "Kittens Cats Catastrophes"
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A WALK IN THE PARK

Not any park, my park. A wonderful creek travels along one side of our property.  It runs east to west.  It begins on the hill behind our house and runs all the way to town.  It is dry a lot during the year.  The last couple of years the rain that has terrorized our garden has kept it running almost continually.   It joins with another creek which crosses the property from north to south.  Dead ending in the east west creek.  I have never heard if these creeks have names.  We have been here since 1975, you would've thought we would have named them. 
You are looking up the west leg of the creek.
I turned around to walk back to the road, in front of me was the base of a sycamore tree.  Something had caused decay and there was a nice hole to hide things.  I know, if I was 9 years old again, I would be hiding secret messages for a friend.  We'd be pretending we were pioneers. 
A little past the tree, the east leg of the creek starts.  The creek is not traveling down hill at this point.  The force of the water has carved small and large pools in the rock layers. 

A reflecting pool in the east leg.
It's deeper than it looks.
When my children were little they swam and splashed in the creek.  Lower down, there are two very nice wading pools.  The nicest one is now filled in with sand and gravel because it hasn't had small hands with buckets cleaning out the depression in the huge rock shelf every year.  The water swirls around and around eroding away the rock.  It is about 18 inches deep and about 10 ft wide.  Like a big bowl dug in the rock. 

I never thought to worry about anything when they played  there.  They were warned to watch for copperheads, rattlesnakes and poison ivy.  I told them to keep a watchful eye for the snakes because they liked to sun and swim, too.  It never occurred to me the danger of the slippery rocks.  All I heard was the happy squeals coming up the hill.

Walking around the property is always full of surprises. Today isn't any different.  The dog woods are still in full bloom.  Did you ever notice the center of the flower is the true flower?  At least that is what it looks like to me.  There are little greenish yellow flowers blooming out in the center.
This dogwood blossom is on a little slip of a tree to the left of this small cave which is located in the side of the hill right next to the drive.  It goes back about 6 feet and then turns to the right.  We have thought we'd dig it out sometime to see if it opened up larger.  But, best laid plans of mice and men.  Hunny used to be 115 and 25...but now he is 175 and 71.  He used to be a spelunker.  Now he is a want-to-be farmer outstanding in his field.
Is it inhabited?  Occasionally we have seen my arch nemesis run into it.  Who would that be?  A 40 lb ginormous ground hog who terrorizes my garden.  He has been around for at least 4 years.  He is very smart about our live traps.  He learned he could steal the bait as long as he didn't let his fat posterior let the door close.  He could back-out at his leisure.  We have caught plenty of his relatives. 

Walking around the drive usually presents me with lots of blooming plants.  Today was no exception, except for the fact they were all preparing to bloom.  All I found were buds.  I saw monarda and solomon seal.  With this chill we are having it will probably be the weekend before they bloom.  There was one pretty surprise, my wild geraniums are starting to bloom.
This is the first year they are blooming.  Four years ago I transplanted them from a gravel area along the main road.  It was a very hot dry year.  I had to take water to them every day.  I planted them in a gravely place like they came from, but there was more shade.  I didn't know if they would acclimate.  Each year they returned but never bloomed.  I thought this past year they had rotted out from all the fall moisture we had.  They have come back, denser and more luxurious.  We'll have to see if they have more blooms.  Right now there are only 5 Blooms.

When you take a walk in your park don't forget to look up.  There is art in the sky.


Does this old man qualify for an Ent?

On my walks as I leave the house one of the first sights I see is a Maple.  It is just starting to leaf out.  It is one of the trees I can't wait till Autumn.  This tree is filled with orange, yellow and scarlet leaves.  It can be observed, while laying in bed, the morning sun highlighting each leaf.  All you can see is the beautiful crown.
Take time to take a walk,
Take time to share a talk,
With the plants and animals there,
Planted by Mother Nature with care.

Today I saw a bluebird sitting on the bird house.  Our red tail hawk was patrolling his territory.  The barn swallows are sitting on their nest.   Our raccoons must have had their babies, the mommas are begging at the back door each night.

Thank you for walking with me.
you can visit me also at:

Containing articles on cooking, crafts, quilting, stories, ect.
New article on "The Wedding quilt"
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

HIDDEN IN THE GRASS

Last night our mower came back from the repair shop (the mower had a spindle failure).  I try to keep the areas along the drive neat and the upper pasture mowed.  I like the look of a park like setting (Our house is in the woods and there is no lawn).  We don't have sheep anymore so I have to substitute the mower.  As I mow, I now look down watching for holes and bumps and broken branches.  Ever since I dumped the mower over on top of myself.  I am very vigilant and observant. 
This is the mower.  April 11, 2009, I was under the steering wheel with the emergency brake embedded in my thigh and the mower deck smashing my calf (today is April 12, 2011).  My Hunny was on the big tractor and couldn't hear me call him.  It is true what they say about adrenalin.  I was able to lift the tractor off my thigh and start extracting my leg but alas my arms aren't long enough so I had to drop it back on me.  It ended on my ankle.  If I had worn my work boots like I usually do I would still be under the mower.  Luckily I had on tennis shoes and when I pulled my foot out the shoe and sock came off.  I had to walk up to the barn to find my husband.  The only thing I thought about on the trip up was, thank goodness my leg isn't broken. 

The reason for the accident,  HIDDEN IN THE GRASS, when I backed up was a groundhog hole.  The mower became unbalanced and started going over.  Did you know you can't jump off a riding mower.  Why, because the steering wheel sits in your lap, Trapping you.  The gear shift and other arms are on your right, further trapping you in.  Please be careful.  Riding mowers can be dangerous on level ground.

There are great and good things HIDDEN IN THE GRASS.  While mowing today.  I saw lots of spring beauties and Blue wood violets.  Then there were the surprises. 
VIOLET WOOD SORREL
Oxalis violacea
All the parts of this plant are edible.  I wouldn't recommend it though.  It is named for the oxalic acid content in it.  These can cause kidney problems in people predisposed to kidney problems.

FALSE GARLIC (crowpoison)
Nothoscordum bivalve
Lily family
Our pasture is covered with these.  I do not mow where they are hoping they will propagate further, they are not a nuisance.  For a couple of weeks in the spring they greet us.  The only time they are truly visible is in the early morning when the sun coming up, it highlights them (they're on a slope which faces east.)  When dew is on them they glisten like jewels.  Each year they get frosted.  This year will not be different, a frost is expected this weekend.  The petals are a creamier yellow than they appear in the picture.

MAY APPLE (Mandrake)
"the Witch's Umbrella"
Bereridaceae
Barberry Family

It's just budded up. I wonder how long it will take to bloom out?  Wonder if the extreme cold this weekend will harm it?  May Apple is fragrant with a strange but nice flavor. May Apple seeds and rind, poisonous. The resin of May Apple obtained from the root, is used in the treatment of warts. In England it is called Manroot (mandrake) believed to be alive and it screams when pulled from the ground and can make a man permanently insane.

I have read (never tried to) that you can peel and deseed the ripe fruit and use to make jelly. It is said the fruit is good fresh but should be used in moderation.  All parts of the plant except the fruit are POISON!  We have a lot of the plants, I may try them this year.  I am a big forager of what nature provides.

It's exciting, not knowing, each day what I might find HIDDEN IN THE GRASS. 

Hope your day is beautiful.

Other blogs by me to visit:

Containing articles on cooking, crafts, quilting, stories, ect.
New article on "The Wedding quilt"
 
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SPRING BEAUTY

Sunday, April 10, I didn't have time for a walk in the woods.  We were  working hard weeding in the garden.  When we pre-weed before planting we put on a cover mulch to keep emerging weeds down to a minimum.  If the weeds make it up through the mulch we give a tug and they are easily removed.  Our mulch of choice in the spring is Wood Chips, in the fall we prefer a deep cover of straw.  Yes, straw adds weed seeds but it also mats down to provide a very thick dense cover.  It is easy remove to allow the ground to warm in the spring (taking the wind born seeds with them).  It goes straight to the compost pile.  Chips in the spring are nice because when we decide to use the bed we can till the chips in.  They help with the drainage in our clay.  

It was over 85, and the humidity made it miserable.  Including the fact we have not had the gradual introduction to this type of weather.  We headed down to the chip piles with our "Rooster".
The "ROOSTER"
On the seat is our dog, "Honey".  She loves to ride in the rooster.  She sits up like a firehouse dog, fearless as we drive head long down the steep drive.  Her story is here:

 The Rooster, got his name for the obvious reason he is red.  What is not so obvious he is a real scrapper, always running around.  It is a small dump bed truck similar to a golf cart;  eleven horsepower, not four wheel drive.  I can't use it in long grass, the grass will wrap around the crank shaft.  I love using it.  It's small enough to go into garden areas my diesel truck won't.  I can take it across the pasture without putting ruts into the ground.  It uses less gas than my car or truck, running up and down the hill to the house is "greener" using the Rooster.  Of course the greenest way and healthier way would be for me to walk.  It would be a 1/2 mile round trip.  I usually have my hands full or have to retrieve something from the house which would require the dump bed to carry it.  At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  LOL

TOOLS FOR CHIP RETRIEVAL:
Long handled round point shovel (so you won't get a back ache stooping over)
Kitty litter buckets (twelve fit perfectly in the back of the rooster).  The rooster has a dump bed but if you fill the bed you have to empty it and take the contents to their destination.  Filling the buckets accomplishes that. (Plus they are 5 inches taller than the bed giving you more room for more chips)


Garden Rake, not a leaf rake, to rake the chips back in the pile when finished.
Spading fork, I don't know if it's its name but it is a 4 tined flat bladed fork.
Bucket containing: Drinking water, brown jersey gloves, camera, clippers
Mantis Tiller:  Needed, the piles had not been disturbed since fall and the elements caused it to be packed and difficult to break up with the fork.  

  THE MANTIS

Our very used Tiller.
This is not a commercial.  We have no association with the company except for the fact we have owned 3 of them.  Not three at one time, but replaced the first one, two times.  The company has a great replacement policy.  If you return your "past repair" broken machine back to them you can get a refund towards the purchase of a new or reconditioned machine.

Our first mantis was purchased at an auction for 60 dollars.  It worked fabulously till we learned a lesson the hard way.  We loaned our machine to a "friend".  We have no idea what happened to it but it was returned with the motor frozen.  We were heart broken and started to inquire what it would cost for a new one.  That is when we found out about the money back policy and the reconditioned units.  Our "New" machine (we purchased a re conditioned one) arrived and we used it for years and it was falling apart.  Screws wouldn't hold together and the cover for the air filter was broken.  We knew we would have to plan on getting a new one.  This all happened when the bottom fell out of the economy. 

We must have a guardian angel.  We have a farm gate by the mail box.  When Hunny came home from work he stopped to open the gate and he called me. "Why did you leave the tiller down here by the gate?"  I said, "I haven't been to the gate much less leave the tiller there."  He said, "I'll be bringing the mantis up with me."

When he got out of the car he did indeed have a tiller in his hands.  It was a very new looking tiller and it had no tiller blades on it.  We gassed it up and tried to start it and it was frozen solid.  Someone left it knowing we garden and thought maybe we could fix it. We couldn't fix it but we did scavenge it.  We took our engine and exchanged it with the other engine.  Gassed it up and voila  a "new" mantis for us.  It has been two years and the only thing I can say is I wish I had two of these at one time.  Then Hunny could be tilling too.

TIME TO RETRIEVE THE CHIPS
 Before we arrived at the chip piles there were surprises on the drive.  The first plant I spied I was disappointed.  I had almost missed it's blooming.  We don't have a large population on the property.  We were greeted by Sweet Williams.

SWEET WILLIAM 
Woodland Phlox Phlox divaricata
I hadn't thought about transplanting these to another area (I have done it with wild geraniums).  Being there are so few I'm thinking about heading to the waste areas along the road and potting some to relocate them to our woods.  I have seen them growing in other places in the same place as May apples (which we have in profusion).  Their requirements are: part shade,  average to moist conditions.  This fact puzzles me because they are located in the gravel along side of our driveway and at the steep edge of the creek in the very dry clay and rock "soil".

Across the drive from the Sweet Williams was a patch of tiny white flowers with pink tones.  Upon closer inspection there were two different plants. This is very poor soil.  I don't think you could even scrape up soil.  The clay and the rocks were covered with leaves but no soil to speak of.  Nestled among the leaf litter on the ground were Spring Beauties and False Rue Anemones

SPRING BEAUTY
Claytonia virginica
Purslane family (Portulacaceae)
Wow,in the purslane family.  Who would have thought.  The leaves have nothing in common with the purslane I pick in the summer.   That puslane is delectable steamed or leaves stripped from it and put in cream cheese with chives for a great cracker spread.  Spring beauty corms are edible but there is not enough there to warrant the destruction of such delightful spring surprises.

EASTERN FALSE RUE ANEMONE 
Enemion biternatum
 False rue always has 5 petals while rue has a variable number from 6 to 12. The leaves of false rue are much more deeply divided. The leaves are compound and are divided into 3 groups. Each group has 3 leaflets and each leaflet has 3 lobes. Flower stems divide with each branch having a flower. False Rue blooms about the same time as Rue, and sometimes in the same area .

Living rurally has many advantages but I know from when I lived in a suburban area that each of you can find little vignettes (microcosms of returning wild growth).  Just look where you walk

http://organicinstlouis.blogspot.com/2010/11/beauty-underfoot.html

Thanks for taking a walk with me.


You can visit me at:

Containing articles on cooking, crafts, quilting, stories, ect.
New article on "The Wedding quilt"
 
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.