Strange Spore Shows Its Innards

September 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

Remember the strange spore pod I ran into six years ago? (Sidenote: SIX years! Wow. Time sure flies.)

Well, now I know what it is and what’s inside:

Spore Pod Fall 2016

I found this pod in the yard, more or less in the same spot where I found the previous one. It looks a little like a chestnut inside.

However, it’s not a nut or a seed pod at all. It’s the nursery (or gall) of a type of wasp. Oak apple gall wasp looks the likeliest, but I don’t properly care to find out for sure. We definitely do have oaks around, as well as many types of wasps, even I can tell that. The solid spot in the middle is where the (one) larva lives – this one looks like it was opened and eaten by a predator.

Brrr! I hate wasps.

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Summer 2016 Recap

September 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

Whoo boy, what a summer we had! Mr. E, especially, was incredibly busy with a book project, but mostly it was the weather that we were dealing with. It was sunny and dry. Very sunny, very hot, and very dry. It felt like I was barely outside all summer from staying away from the worst of the heat so often.

Apparently both July and August broke heat records around here, and there was so little rain that we got three (or four? I’ve lost track) town notifications about first curbing and then forbidding outdoor water use. In our seven years in this town I can’t remember that many restrictions. Already in July, the grass was brown and the rest of the plants droopy, and the August proceeded to be equally bad. I’m so glad it’s fall now, both for cooler temps and (hopefully!) more rain.

Mr. E did careful early morning hand-watering (which was still allowed by our town) in his garden, and we were lucky to get decent crops, considering. The very first handful of potato, below, wasn’t big, but we got more afterwards.

Very First Potato Handful 2016

The tomatoes still continue to produce nicely:

September Tomato Vine w Fruit and Flower

Yum! There’s not only green tomatoes ripening, there are more flowers!

The non-homegrown food was good, too, with a lot of homemade dishes from local ingredients both sweet and savory:

Summer Strawberry Cake 2016

This summer we’ve had three to four turkey hens hanging around on and off. Here are two of them perching on the high-bush blueberry enclosures:

Two Turkeys on Blueberry Enclosure 2016

The really funny thing about the turkeys is that this summer they seemed to have had something against the potato patch. We saw more than once a turkey go to the patch and start pecking and pulling a potato plant until she got it all the way out of the ground. And then they’d just leave it there! We’ve never seen or heard of this kind of turkey behavior. We started shooing them off away from the patch after a few potato attacks, and that did the trick. Phew.

In other mysterious but great news, the ant colony that’s been pestering us for the past few years seems finally to have moved elsewhere. WO-HOO!

In not so great news, I suffered a fatal computer crash with all the headache that entails. I’ve been back up and running for just over two months now (let’s hear it for regular data backups!) and have more or less learned the basics of the replacement software I didn’t have before.

We also rearranged our basement in a big way (following the installation of the new lolly post) which affected the kitchen, and built a bit more storage. I’ll post about that later, though.

A Ground Woodpecker Sighted

June 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

The other day, we saw a medium-sized bird sitting on our lawn and industriously pecking away at something on the ground. The shape was very woodpecker-like, and the coloring was a little similar, too, but on the ground…? Out came the bird book.

Flickr Rodney Campbell Northern Flicker

Northern flicker by Rodney Campbell.

(The photo above by Rodney Campbell.)

Lo and behold. It is indeed a kind of woodpecker, a northern flicker to be exact (Colaptes auratus; Fin kultatikka). It’s unquestionably the bird we saw. The distinctive chest marking and the little red neck decoration plus the spots on the sides match.

Apparently they eat ants and other insects. We surely have more than enough ants to go round; feel free to stay, friend!

Stopped by a Chipmunk Doorstop

October 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

World Market sells this cast iron doorstop as a squirrel…

World Market Cast Iron Squirrel Doorstop

World Market.

…but to me it’s clearly a chipmunk. (Chippies hold their tails straight & low to the ground, while squirrels hold ’em curved & high. Although the tail does look thicker than a typical chipmunk tail. Ohwell.)

Darn, does it have to be out of stock online. It’s so cute. πŸ™‚

Bye, Summer 2015

September 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Summer was, on the whole, good. We were surprisingly busy, so the blog break was very welcome.

The weather was sunny and dry, at times a little too sunny and dry! In the beginning of September, up until the end of last week when we finally got some rain, the grass started to get brown and the rest of the plants to droop. Mr. E’s garden did flourish, with for example cucumbers…

1st Cucunger

…and potatoes…

1st Potatoes

…and other yummies. We visited out-of-state friends who were cat-sitting a gorgeous Cornish Rex who looooved Mr. E from the start…

Cat Love

…and worked on projects, large and small…

MagPages Recycled into Envelopes

…like these envelopes made out of recycled magazine pages. (Thank you, K, for the template! I’ve been using it so much.)

Now that we seem to be done with the last errant heat wave of September, I’m looking forward to fall weather.

Chatty Tom Turkey

May 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

Last summer and previous winter (i.e., winter 2013-2014), we had a big wild turkey flock hanging around the neighborhood on and off. This past winter (of the dreadful snows), there really haven’t been any turkeys around to speak of. About a month ago, though, a we sporadically saw a lonely hen. About two weeks ago, a tom came wondering in after her, displaying like the end of days were near:

Turkey Mating Dance 2015

First the hen didn’t pay any attention to the tom. Later, we saw the two standing side by side, heads in different directions, twirling around once, after which he stepped away a little ways diagonally and to the side, all puffed up. It looked very dance-like. Sometimes she would then sit down in the grass, as if sitting on a nest of eggs. We were speculating that that was a part of their mating dance, but since that was the extent of the activity we saw, it’s only a guess. Later that same afternoon, a second hen appeared from somewhere and hung around the pair (shown in the photo above).

The three turkeys wandered off at some point, and we didn’t see them together for days. The tom passed through a few times on its way to the neighbor’s birdfeeder in the past week or so. This week, he came and actually spent pretty much two whole days on our back yard.

Tom Resting

This tom seems to be very chatty (compared to the turkey β€œbrothers” that visited us last spring). He keeps gobbling! It doesn’t seem he’s trying to chase other toms away, nor to call hens ’cause there’s no-one else around. We’re wondering whether he might be protesting the construction noise next door.

July Wild Turkey Update

July 22, 2014 § 1 Comment

Turns out that our wild turkey mama has been joined by another! We’ve named them Nina and Simone (or Sybil – kinda vacillating between the two still). Both have sizeable broods – Nina has nine, and Simone seven or eight. They’re also difficult to keep track of and/or photograph.

Two Turkey Mamas w Chicks

One time when they were on their way through our yard, I thought I counted 16 chicks in all, but that may have been a fluke. We don’t see them very often, but whenever they’re here, we’re delighted to catch up, so to speak. πŸ™‚ Just yesterday they were back, briefly. There was the huge flock of chicks (on the left side of the photo below) and three adults, two of whom were engaged in a fight (on the right):

Turkey Fight

We’ve been seeing a lone turkey on and off apart from the two mamas. My guess is that one of the hens fought the lone turkey, maybe over priority to use our neighbor’s bird feeder. It was eerily silent – no squawking or clucking, just the two birds pushing back and forth for a few minutes, attempting to grab each other. Talk about drama mamas!

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