Friday, October 30, 2009

Grebe

This cute little critter showed up on the pond a week or so ago. Getting a picture has not been easy. As soon as it was aware of your presence, it would sink below the water and show up at the other end of the pond. We thought it was a duck and it is considered a water bird. When you click on the picture for a larger look you'll see that it has more of a beak than a bill. They are pigeon sized and found around marshes and ponds and eat small fish, insects and they especially like crayfish. It looks really small on the pond and I said it seemed more suited for the bath tub.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mini Pearl, The Story

On November 19, 2008, this small Australian Shepherd came running down the drive way and into our lives. Ten days later when I let her out to "do her business" she was still doing it as she came back into the house. I grabbed her up and rushed to the bathroom with her, her body started to contort and I wasn't sure what was happening and then I saw what was happening. She was having puppies!!! Four little puppies, three of them made it. After eight weeks of constant care I called the Humane Society and homes were found for all the puppies. Mini Pearl was adopted by my son and is now an official grandoggie and has time with me every day. She is also a contestant at cutestdogcompetition.com you can vote for her there, if you like.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Metaphid Jumping Spider

This is a small Metaphid jumping spider, they are usually 1/8 to 1/4 inch in size. Their color ranges from brown to yellow and they look gray due to the dense covering of hair over their body and legs. They get their name from the huge leaps they make when pouncing on their prey. They have eight eyes, the largest pair faces forward which gives them binocular vision. Jumping spiders have the sharpest vision of all spiders and are excellent hunters. They do not spin webs as other spiders do but make small silk like shelters under leaves and rocks. Click on the picture for a closer look.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seed Pod of Honeyvine Milkweed


This seed pod is a real beauty. I have always thought the seeds look like small dolls in silk dresses. They burst from the pod and will float on a breeze to new destinations, and if there is no breeze they float to the ground to start next years crop. The insects are large milkweed bugs. The adults will overwinter and next spring the young will hatch from small, bright red, elongated eggs. They feed mainly on the milkweed and may sometimes sip nectar from other plants but are not known for doing any damage. They are vibrant in their bright red and black bodies.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wooly Bear Caterpillar Moth

This fuzzy little critter is seen a lot during the warm days of fall, usually crawling across paved roads. In this part of the country we call them wooly worms. They are black with a band of red-brown bristles. Superstition says the amount of black indicates the severity of the coming winter but in reality the more black you see is an indicator of how close to full growth it is. As you can tell from the photo this one is fairly young. As the weather cools it will seek a winter shelter. In it's moth stage it will have yellow-brown wings with a series of black dots. This one fell off the weed and rolled into it's protective position, so I just picked it up, laid it on my hand and snapped it's picture.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Frost

This red honeysuckle is coated with beautiful ice crystals, also known as frost, and most everything else on the property was as well early Sunday morning. Even though frost is beautiful, it signals the end of the growing season for most plants. The honeysuckle bush had actually stopped blooming several weeks ago. Just a couple of these clusters were making an attempt to bloom on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wild Rose

I had planned to show only a picture of the berries the wild rose bushes are putting out. Of course, I then had to do a little investigative work on the roses. I was surprised to learn that most people don't really know what the wild rose is or even the look of it. The wild rose is not the fluffy rose that was at grandmothers' house nor is any multi-petaled rose. The true wild rose has only five petals, never more or less. Almost all wild roses are pink with a few whites and reds and even more rare are the ones that tend toward yellow. The wild rose blooms for only about two a weeks a year. Not enough bloom time for flower lovers, so enter the new "Nearly Wild Rose". It offers all the beauty of the wild rose and the low maintenance of the wild rose plus you get repeat bloom. Look for them in wildflower nurseries or catalogs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is back! They range in height from eighteen to twenty five inches and can have a wing span of forty eight inches. Other members of this family include the Red-shouldered Hawk and Swainson's Hawk. They soar over the fields in search of their prey and I have watched them set motionless and then swoop to capture a field mouse or vole. They feed mainly on small rodents and rarely take poultry even though they are called "chicken hawk" by many people. They have a high pitched descending scream which I love to hear. And that is the sound used in movies for an eagles' scream. I read that it is because the eagle has a wimpy scream. I hope I will get to decide for myself someday. Photo by Shannon Gritton.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mimosa Tree, Silk Tree

Look what I found growing in the fence line, a mimosa or silk tree. There are none close by that I am aware of, but no matter, a decision has to be made. This tree is loved by many with it's fern like leaves and showy fragrant flowers. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It is a rapid growing and brittle tree and usually short lived. It is hated by many as it produces a large seed crop and reproduces when damaged. This one is barely three feet in height and fetches sixty dollars on line. Do I plant it in a bucket and sell it or take my chances on replanting it somewhere else on the property?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Velvetleaf, Butter Print, Pie Maker

Velvetleaf is one of the first plants I wrote about. The leaves do have the feel of soft velvet. Here is a picture of a velvetleaf seed pod. Inside the pod are several dark, flat, kidney shaped seeds. The names of butter print and pie maker have also been used for this plant as it was believed that cooks would use the seed pod to decorate their churned butter and pie crust.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall's Gold

The beautiful colors of this plant are amazing. Burnished gold, red gold, golden glow and what is it?
It creeps
It climbs
It's a bush
It's a Vine
Leaves of three
Let it be
Poison oak, poison ivy which ever you call it, can bring great discomfort to a great many of us. I now keep Zanfel in my medicine cabinet, it works! You can purchase it at your local drug store and even Walmart has it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall Beauty

Even though bloom time has ended for this queen anne's lace it still offers up beauty in the fall landscape. The grey-whiteness of it stand in stark contrast to the reds and golds of the surrounding weeds and grasses. Most times we never observe what we are seeing. Life is rushing by with a pace that is continually increasing and we see only a fleeting glimpse and do not take in the beauty of what is before us. A pause of sixty seconds can change the tone of the day, change the way you see and perhaps change your life. This pause to see applies to all things. Try it now.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Great Blue Heron

Another one of the "fishermen" at the pond. This great blue heron and I can just about see eye to eye. I think he has been fishing at the pond for several years now. I read that the oldest known blue heron was twenty three. If they survive their first year they can live to the age of fifteen. Fish is their main diet but they also eat frogs, insects and small mammals. They have been known to choke by trying to swallow prey that is too large. They are solitary hunters and we rarely see more than one at a time at the pond. He will be headed south soon for more good fishing in the sun.
Photo by Shannon Gritton

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grandoggie Angel

Angel was a puppy that needed surgery. The couple that originally had Angel started a campaign to raise the funds for her to have heart surgery. Do you know any animal that has had heart surgery? When they had to return to California and could not take Angel with them they started interviewing to find her a new home. My son took Angel in and she has had several years of running the fields and having a grand time. Today is her birthday. She is thirteen years old.
Happy Birthday, Angel.