Wednesday, April 27, 2011


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.
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"
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.
 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


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


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. 
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"
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


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".
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

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.  


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.

 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.

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

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.

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

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.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This could almost be considered an impulse purchase, except for the fact we knew we would probably get some new chicks soon.  We had not contemplated that it would be this soon.  Hunny had to run to the license bureau for the truck and trailers this morning.  On the way back he stopped at the farm supply store to see when they would be getting chickens in and what kinds.
Behold, Baby chicks were there and in a couple of the varieties we love.  

He called me about them and I said come home and we will get set up for them first and go back and get them.  We needed to:
1.  Get down the large dog cage from the attic in the barn. 
2.  Gather and clean the baby chick feeders and waterers.  
3.  Find a trouble light to hang in the dog cage for warming the chicks. 
4.  Round up a couple of blankets to cover the cage with to keep out the drafts.
5.  Find newspapers to use for bedding

After gathering all the items, we needed to assembled the cage and outfit it for the chicks.
We headed to the store and picked out our chicks.  We settled on the Silver Laced Wyandottes and the Buff Orpingtons.   The chicks were put in cute little boxes.  I don't think they were 8 inches square. Twelve chicks barely fit in them.    We decided to take all the Wyandottes they had (17) and 7 Orpingtons.  We've had Orpingtons for the last 4 years and I bet it was 40 years since we had the Wyandottes. Home we ran with our tiny parcels filled with precious chicks.

These are the two boxes of babies.

This is is their new home.  you can see the hand on the left putting a little chick's beak into the water.  To make sure each chick knows where the water is and will readily drink from it.  Little chicks don't automatically know how to find water.  They have to be taught.  Some people put marbles in the water dish to make the chickens peck at them and get a drink.



It is said watching a fish tank is relaxing, watching baby chicks is fun and relaxing.  The little chicks establishing who's who in the pecking order.  Delighting over the tiniest little thing.  If a moth comes in you see all of the charge after it and the one that catches it has to run continuously around because all the others are trying to grab it from his mouth. 

 Next week I will post new pictures of the chicks so you can see their progress.  By nightfall last night the chicks had already grown the beginnings of wing feathers.  This morning they had grown even more.  It's like stop motion photography.  We are well on our way to our organic source of nitrogen.  

To our delight!

Thanks for visiting. You can also 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.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I grabbed my camera and decided to walk around the house.  We have a circle drive (it completely circles the house).  I wondered if there was anything new in the yard.  I was thrilled when I came across the "Green Dragons".  This is what I have always called them. They are technically BELLWORT,
in the lily family.
Uvularia grandiflora

Not too many feet away I spied the first violets of the season.  Spring violets are my favorite flower.  Did you realize all of the above ground plant is edible.  Violet flowers have a peppery taste.  The leaves taste like a great spinach, but have more texture than spinach.  There isn't the "fur growing" on your teeth aspect of greens like lambs quarters and spinach.  If you forage violets please remember to only take a leaf or two from each plant.  If it is a very dense plant you can harvest more.  Eat all the blossoms you want.  They are far superior to pansies in taste. 
Wild violets that are different colors have different tastes.  The lighter their color the less taste they have.  I also have yellow violets in the yard. 
Viola sororia

The dogwoods are starting to bloom but they hadn't opened enough to get a good picture.  My redbuds are open and mostly tight budded.  The redbud flowers are edible.  They have a lingering flavor of peas with a little spiciness.  The Redbud is referred to as the Judas Tree.  I imagine it is because it blooms just before the dogwood.  The redbud is in the pea family. 
Cercis canadensis
Today the clouds are drifting over the sun.  Making a mostly cloudy day.  It is trying to decide if it will rain or not.  When the sun comes out, the shadows form on the ground from the leaves that are trying to spring out of their restraints.  April in Missouri lets you know it was worth all the icy, snowy, days this past winter.

Rock formation along the drive the grandkids call their "Treasure Rock"

Thanks for visiting with me.  I share more of what's happening on the farm here:

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 6, 2011


April 6, 2011 is today in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.  It is a gloriously warm windy day.  I debated whether to write this in my garden blog or my everyday blog, .  I was at the barn on a mission to retrieve the covers before they either blew away or they ripped the rose bushes out of the beds.  The last two nights in our valley, we have had heavy frosts.  The only thing I covered were my roses.  I had drastically cut them back, two of them had been moved to new locations over the weekend so I was very afraid their foliage would be damaged.   We were very fortunate we didn't loose all of them this winter.

Last year was extremely hard on the roses, the Japanese beetles ravaging them and fighting the blackspot from all the moisture we had (October was the wettest October ever). They were defoliated so many times.  Spraying with baking soda didn't help because the rain and heavy dews continually washed it off.  It never had a chance to change the PH on the plants.
I only lost two of my bushes. Hooray.  That isn't the the reason why I am quickly composing this blog.  I am writing this blog in praise of the Wind and the Sun.  On impulse I decided to take my bed sheet wash down with me and dry it on the line.  It is a make do set up which has given me many moments of sighing blissfully.

For years I had been telling my husband to set me poles in the ground and string me some hanging lines.  I love to hang clothes.  It is a very relaxing job (unless you are fighting and cussing the wind or if it is too cold to be hanging out).  Today is the perfect hanging day.  There is a medium wind that is steadily blowing, not gusting.  The sun is out only covered by light fluffy clouds.  What do I use to hang on since Hunny hasn't done the deed.  I did the deed.

There was an 8ft x 8ft set up of scaffolding next to the garden fence.  It had been set up to discourage the deer from charging down the pasture hill and vaulting into the enclosed garden.  I wiggled, pushed, heaved and drug the scaffolding away from the fence and went to retrieve the rope I had bought (years ago) from the garden shed.  I strung that rope back and forth across the scaffolding.  The only problem is it is only about 5 feet off the ground.  I have to fold things which are long to keep them from dragging on the ground.  Sheets I just fold in half and hang the short edge on one line and then hang the other short edge on annother line. 

I hung the sheets before I started uncovering the roses and doing the barn chores.  Barn chores are feeding the cats and chickens.  By the time I finished every thing the sheets were ready to be folded.  They smelled so heavenly.  Did you ever notice how different sheets smell in the different seasons?  Sheets dried in the spring smell soft and cool.  Summer sheets have a warm hot clean smell (cotton kissed by the sun has a very distinctive smell.  Ask Yankee candles, they have a candle in that scent that is wonderful).  Winter sheets have an icy smell, like the air just before it snows.  Then there are fall sheets.  According to the day you will have a miriad of smells.  The sharp smell of damp leaves, the crisp smells of a frost coming on, the bright smells of an over warm day on the fallen leaves, if you have recently had a rain, those autumn smells change even more.  Whatever the season, what ever the smells, it all translates to a sighing experience to lay down on those sheets which have been dried by nature. 

If you have never put clothes on the line to dry, try it, it is a life altering experience.  Not to mention the money you are saving on the electric bill.

Thanks for sharing time with me.
  I share more of what's happening on the farm here:

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.