Saturday, December 18, 2010

Iced

Three days and still no sunshine. Temperatures in the twenties and every step a crunch. The good news is, most of the roads are clear. Driveways can be different stories.
 I have been scattering the sunflower seed on the ground as most of the feeder tops are frozen hard. A good variety of birds are here for the feeding. Two of the ducks have gone missing at the pond and I am hoping they are sheltered somewhere close by. The rabbits are active as their tracks are seen all over the place and yes, the coyote tracks are out there as well.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Grey Icy World

 This grey icy world we are in today will be transformed into the sparkle of magic land if tomorrow brings us the sunshine that is forecast. I can't get into the barn so some of the sunflower feeders are running low. I am glad to have thistle sacks for the finches and other small birds even though I replaced them today for they were ice covered, too. The boughs of the pines are all drooping down, every blade of grass is ice covered and it is a crunchy and slippery time to be treading about.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hawk


The hawk is back. I love to see these beautiful raptors. They sail high in the bright blue sky with vision that can spot a small mouse or vole that becomes a quick snack. I know they are called 'chicken hawk' by many people and I am certain they could carry one away. They are a protected species and I hope they will remain so. This wonderful photo was shot by sdgritton.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Buckeye Butterfly

Even though the temperatures have dropped an occasional butterfly can still be seen floating about on  sun filled days.
This buckeye was taking a siesta during the days of September. A frightening face to see if you were a bird considering it for a meal. Yes, a part of it's wing has been torn away but the beauty of it is not diminished.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Smoke Sunset

Smoke from fires at Fort Knox gave us this sunset  over the pond today. We are approximately forty to fifty miles away and it is evidently a good size fire. A slight breeze is moving the smoke toward us and the smoke can be seen all around.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Red Admiral Butterfly

The insects, bugs and butterflies are disappearing from the fields but this Red Admiral butterfly was catching a few late afternoon rays several days ago.
One interesting thing about this butterfly is that the males are territorial and will chase other males from the area that they claim. The caterpillars will use silk to help fold and hold a leaf together and then feed alone inside this nest. Red Admiral butterflies can be seen throughout most of North America.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Green Pony

The 'green pony' getting a break during the mowing last Saturday.  I call this time, green meditation, as it is time spent pondering, thinking and sometimes just checking out. Getting away from it all, free so to speak.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mistflower


Another beautiful weed in bloom during August and September. This plant is showing off purplish blue flower heads but can sometimes be seen with white flowers. It is a member of the aster family and can do well in perennial flower beds, just remember that it is spread by seed and underground creeping.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Goldenrod

Goldenrod is a very showy plant that blooms late summer and can be seen in bloom past frost. It grows three to four feet tall. For many years people believed that it was a cause of allergies, but it has been given a reprieve on that sentence. The very name of this plant describes it, golden flowers atop a rod of green. There are roughly one hundred species of goldenrod and thirty of them are known to grow in Kentucky, it is also the state flower for Kentucky. Placing it in a wild garden with wild blue asters would present a beautiful display. Look for them growing along the roadsides.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

iPhone Art

A few months ago I took the plunge and bought an iphone. I have had a great time learning to use it and so much more awaits me. I have been playing Scrabble, Sudoku and 'Angry Birds' for a few weeks. I added a flashlight and am impressed with the amount of light it gives. I purchased Star Walk, a program that shows and tells me everything about the night sky in infrared, just amazing! This morning I down loaded an app that is going to change a lot of my photos. I have only done a couple but can't wait to get to more. I've also been back in the Apple Store for a few more photo programs. It's great to be having so much fun. The dust can wait and wait and wait.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tachina Fly

A fly not to swat is this member of the tachinid family.You might even want to plant dill, parsley, clover or other herbs to have it nearby. It is beneficial in the  control of squash bugs, stick bugs, and other plant bugs. The larvae of the tachinid family are internal parasites of other insects and moth caterpillars. This is not a fly that transmits disease or contaminates food. The fly members of this family can be quite large, reaching up to 3/4 inch in size and some sport hairy bodies. I think this one is rather pretty.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Ragweeds, Common and Giant

The pollen of ragweed drifting on the breeze can cause sneezing fits and allergy woes for those that suffer from hay fever. Common ragweed is the more compact of the two and can be recognized by the 'toothy' lobes of it's leaves. Giant ragweed can reach heights of twelve feet and has palm-like lobed leaves. Both plants sport spikes of greenish yellow flower heads that contain male and female flowers that bloom August through September.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ironweed Flowers

The flowers of the Ironweed are small and bloom in clusters that sit atop the plant. Blooming progresses from the center of the cluster to the edges. Even though the blooms themselves are somewhat small, when seen close up they have an exotic look to them.  Flower color ranges from lavender to purple and white flowers are considered rare. Classified as a wildflower and perennial herb it is recommended to grow alongside stream edges, to naturalize meadows and to grow as a border in flower gardens. It provides color from late August to October and is a majestic plant.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Swamp Milkweed

Swamp milkweed is a show-off with it clusters of rose colored flowers, it's spiky willow like leaves and and a stem just kissed with the color of wine. None of this is missed by the beautiful visitor in this photo. Milkweed varieties are beloved by butterflies and Monarch caterpillars can only feed on milkweed or they die. The swamp milkweed is listed as a wildflower and is grown in many gardens.  I like it best just growing wild surrounded by other beautiful weeds.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bashful Volunteer



A scattering of sunflower volunteers sprang up around the arbors where the bird feeders hang. None of them have been large or showy but this little one impressed me with its look of bashfulness.
This photo is also one of the first I took with my new iphone.  I am learning about the many things it can do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Crab Apple


The crab apple tree has branches loaded and drooping to the ground. I did not intend for this tree to be, an ornamental crab apple was planted and a few suckers came up that I neglected and overnight  (it seems) there was a tree bearing fruit. Much fruit! These small fruits make a delicious jelly that is good served with cold meats during the holidays. The critters enjoy eating them as well. The difference between a crab apple and an apple? Any apple with less than a two inch diameter is considered a crab apple.
     

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Moisture Update


My previous post was of this plant in dire need of moisture. One and a half inches of rain fell the day following that post. The results show us what a good drink of water can do.  It can do marvelous things for humans too. Drinking water every day is good for your body and your skin. Sometimes when you think you are hungry your body is really asking for a drink of water or you feel a little 'tired' and the body is in need of hydration. Everyone seems to be carrying a water bottle this days but how many times during the day is it being refilled.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Haiku


Seeing the leaves of this plant curled to conserve moisture prompted me to a first attempt at haiku



plants beg their mother
send us rain, shower or storm
a quenching for thirst

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Teasel, Teazle In Bloom


The first flower buds are appearing on the teasel. A beautiful bluish purple bud that starts in the center of the flower head.

Blooming will progress up, down and around the flower head. As the buds unfold the white stamens seem to burst from their centers.











This small patch of teasel is capable of producing thousands of teasel plants so corrective action will begin soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Teasel, Teazle

I have allowed a small patch of Teasel to grow this year, I may regret it next year. The old english name Teazle means to tease cloth and the heads of teasel were used to raise the nap on woolen cloth. It has medicinal properties and even the water that collects in the leaves have been used in cosmetics and to soothe inflammation of the eyes. The teasel plant can grow to heights of seven feet and the tap root can grow to depths of more than two feet. A single plant can produce over two thousand seeds. Today teasel is used in horticultural plantings and dried flower arrangements. The flowers when they appear will be purple and I will try to do a post of them again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bunny Babies

Do you know that a mama rabbits milk is so rich that the babies only nurse about five minutes a day, that they can see behind them but have a blind spot in front of their face? We think of them with those two large front teeth but they actually have twenty eight teeth and those front teeth, they never stop growing. I have watched them doing a 'binky' which is jumping and twisting three or more feet into the air, it is said they do this when they are happy. I seem to have a lot of happy rabbits here. This mama and kitten, yes they are called kittens, are sharing a moment that has made a great shot for the photographer.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Faces At Weedy Acres

"Mama" and one of her babies. Groundhog, woodchuck, marmot are some of the names used to identify the largest member of the squirrel family. They dig burrows up to forty six feet in length and will have up to five entrance/exit holes. Grasses, plants and fruits make up most of their diet. Climbing trees and swimming are activities to be enjoyed or for escape if needed. If provoked they make a whistling noise and this has earned them the nickname whistle-pig in some areas. Not usually welcomed by humans as they can undermine the foundations of buildings and ponds with their burrowing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wild Sweet Pea

I find it amazing that after sixteen years of living here at Weedy Acres new items are constantly appearing. In early spring I noticed these purple flowers in the fence row and at the edge of the mowed area of the field. They are exquisite and small reaching only a few inches in height. They are also called everlasting pea and perennial pea. The most interesting fact about the wild sweet pea is that the structure of the flower allows only one type of insect to pollinate it, the bee.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meet the Finches

What a delight to look out the kitchen window and see an Indigo Bunting at the thistle socks.  I think of them as the bluebird of happiness. They are normally a private bird and not seen often in this area but this is migration season and I am hoping they will nest near by and not move on. They are members of the finch family and are sharing this meal with a gold finch in it's beautiful summer yellow feathers and tucked down into the lower right hand corner is a house finch with it's dabbing of red. I didn't see the female finch until I down loaded from the camera. I believe she is a female Indigo Bunting. It does put some happiness in your heart to see all these beautiful creatures feeding together.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Feed Me

As you can see from this photo taken on May 5th, the little ones are getting pretty well feathered and space in the nest is disappearing. An open mouth assures survival, as the strongest and fittest will have the best chances. Any slight movement around the nest will make all the little mouths open wide for the steady diet of bugs and worms that mom and dad bring. Flying lessons will be coming up soon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Robin Babies

The little ones have not opened their eyes in this photo taken on May 2. They have the beginnings of feathers but will the keep the 'fluff' on the head for a while. There are four babies in this nest and it is already crowded and will become more so as they grow.  The photo that I have placed in the header is of one of the parents. It is perched on a bird house but robins do not nest in bird houses but build their nest of mud and grasses and are known to place them in precarious places such as low in a Nandina bush or on the top of an automobile tire while the car is parked.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Eight Spotted Forester Moth

This lovely creature joined me on the porch a few days ago and getting a picture was a real challenge as the flying dance it was executing just kept me pressing camera buttons until for a nano second she/he stopped. This is an eight spotted Forester moth and usually mistaken for a butterfly as they fly during the day instead of at night. They have two yellow spots on the fore wing and two white spots on the hind wing, the body looks like it is made of velvet and take a look at the orange leg wear. During the caterpillar stage it will feed on virginia creeper and I will be looking for them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Birth Announcement

First picture of the new 'babies' born to the Robins family that constructed their home in the Nandina bush. This photo was taken on April 28th and the babies are so new, just pink skin and a fluff of hair. I was so afraid that they would not make it through all the rain that we have had, bird babies can drown in the nest you know. Mama bird must have been setting pretty tight for a couple of days as the young ones are doing fine and updated photos will be posted.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ground Ivy

Clusters of purplish-blue flowers hang from the greenery of ground ivy. It's growing close to the foundation of the house and I am stunned by the beauty of these tiny flowers and with the square stem. Were you aware that some plants have square stems? It is a member of the mint family and considered an aromatic herb, although it does not smell 'minty'. It has been called ale hoof and was used as a seasoning in the brewing of ale in Germany. Gill-Over-The-Ground is the french name for this plant, gill meaning fermented ale in french. I think that stripped of their greenery they could masquerade as orchids.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Take a Closer Look

When you look at a dandelion are you seeing one bright yellow flower? Get closer, because each yellow petal is a flower. About two hundred of these flowers make up the head of the dandelion. When you click on this picture you will see the curled tips that are the actual flowers. To see for yourself just pick a dandelion and gently pull one petal loose and you will see the curled flower and the bit of fluff at the base that will eventually become the parachute to carry the seed on the breeze.
Do you know that the dandelion was brought to this country for it's medicinal purposes and that there was a time when gardeners pulled out the grass to give more growing space to the dandelion.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Housing Starts Are Up

Location....Location....Location...the mantra of real estate professionals and builders. It seems the plentiful supply of construction materials have led some new home builders to make poor site selections. This newly constructed home, already occupied, is situated less than three feet from the ground in an ailing Bamboo Nandina bush. One can only hope that good fortune will smile on this young couple and give them the happy ending they believe awaits them. More on this story to follow.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Birdseye Speedwell

Birdseye Speedwell named for St Veronica and sometimes called persian wildflower has bright blue flowers with dark blue veining, a white center and one of the four petals is always smaller. The ones in this picture are about one quarter inch across. It is often used as an ornamental ground cover and blooms early spring to early summer. I think it is beautiful.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wild Onion/Garlic

Wild onions are members of the lily family and are known by many onion/garlic names. The flowers are white, sometimes pink or purple. I never see the blooms as the mower is in operation before bloom time in this area. They are edible but first things first, do not eat any wild onion/garlic that has been sprayed with any chemicals and do take a stem and break it and smell, it should smell like onion. They can be used on baked potatoes , in soups and salads, try cooking them in a skillet with a small amount of water and a little bacon grease then add beaten eggs and scramble. They can also be frozen for later use. Another word of caution, do not overeat wild onion/garlic as it will send you to the "throne room". On the plus side they give a boost to your immune system and mosquitoes and gnats will leave you alone.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bitter Cress




There are many species of bitter cress. They are members of the mustard family. This one is Hairy Bitter Cress. Considered a spring wildflower as well as a weed, it blooms from early spring to early summer and is familiar to most of North America. In the spring it is a very petite plant with blooms that are about one eighth of an inch in size, they are very pretty and delicate looking.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rock Art

Be Different...Act Normal has some interesting heart shaped rock art on their blog today and I remembered this piece I put together a few years back. These pieces were found when the pond was being done. The two fossils were found fairly deep in the digging and the portion of the arrow head found after the work was completed. I thought it interesting that when placed together they formed a fish which of course was going to be stocked in the pond.

Friday, March 12, 2010

For Wrent

This small home would be perfect for a young couple wanting to start a family. A plentiful supply of home furnishing materials are already on the property. It is situated at a desirable location in the country with several bird feeder buffets near by and worms available for the early bird, but only if he is ahead of the mole. A bird bath is in the vicinity and filled with fresh water daily. There are lots of line free air space for flight training lessons. Applicants need only arrive in feather.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Red Fox ?

A Red Fox ? The size is larger than an average fox and I have not seen one with this much grey coloring in it's fur. It has been seen hunting here for several days now and I have no complaint with that as we are overrun with voles and moles. Foxes are found in most of the U.S. and Canada. They are omnivores, eating fruits, berries, grasses, insects and small mammals. They mate between January and March and usually give birth to a litter of two to ten kits. Except for breeding they do not usually use a den and sometimes will sleep in the open with their tails wrapped around their nose for warmth. Photo compliment of SDG.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lesser Scaup

A lone duck very different in color from other ducks that frequent this area. I am judging it to be a Lesser Scaup there is also a Greater Scaup and the differences are in the head shape and neck coloring. The Lesser Scaup having a purple color and the Greater Scaup more green. I feel certain it is migrating to it's home in the north after a winter vacation in Mexico or northern South America. For more information visit ducks.org. Thanks to SDG for getting the shot.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thinking Green

I am thinking green. Green and spring and warm breezes, blue skies with fluffy white clouds. This winter seems to me a long one and I am ready for the greening of the land and trees. Rebirth, new life and blessings for us all. The small baby robin in the picture was receiving flying lessons from his parents last year. Both parents do participate in this endeavor and will let you know if you are too close to the precious one.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine, Be Mine

A Valentine from a wonderful friend in North Carolina. The art work on my card is by JK, a student at Arthur Edwards Elementary.The inside of the card gives me this information, an art gallery provides the card stock and envelopes to participating schools for the kids to make valentines. The gallery then displays and sells the cards and gives the money back to the schools to purchase art supplies. Is this not just wonderful!! I have a unique card with a hand written note from my friend and more art supplies are being purchased for the students. A real winning situation.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Small Gourds

If you have only a small space to grow gourds you could consider the ornamental variety. These are the colorful small gourds you see in the stores and markets as fall approaches. They have yellow blossoms that open during the day and they require only ninety days to maturity. They could be grown in a large pot, half barrel or small area with a trellis to climb. The small ornamental gourds are known as soft shell gourds and once cured and placed in water they will soften. Some crafters use this as a way to cut the gourds with scissors and craft knives to make flowers and other crafted creations.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Champion Gourd

The Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville had sponsored a state wide Biggest Gourd Contest for many years. I didn't consider checking to see what the measurements of other gourd winners were, I just read the requirements for entry. There was only one, you had to share seed with every one that requested them. I sent in my entry and a short time later received a call from Byron Crawford, the man responsible for the contest. He visited and took this photo and wrote an article for the paper. The gourd was the third largest in the contests history at seventy four inches in circumference. That seems small in comparison to the ninety and hundred plus inches that later winners had and maybe one of them was a descendant from my gourd. I received close to fifteen hundred requests for seeds. The counter employees at the post office were kind enough to work with me on the mailings. I took in several envelopes of seed each day for hand canceling. The big gourd cured and was taken with me to craft shows where many people had no idea what it was. I do still have it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gourd Twins

The twins were an oddity, they grew from one stem and they measured ninety nine and one half inches around. I really had my fingers crossed and breath held waiting for them to cure. All the gourds on your vines are not going to cure. Usually they have not had enough time on the vine before a hard frost. And remember, the frost is not going to kill a gourd that has matured. Hard shelled gourds needs one hundred and twenty days on the vine to reach maturity. I always planned on losing about twenty five percent of my gourds. I do not worry about cutting gourds from the vine before a frost, they can cure in the field and people that raise acres of gourds allow them to do so. If you have only a few gourds, you can harvest them and place them on pallets for air circulation and leave them outside or inside a barn or shed. The gourd is ninety percent water, as the water evaporates through the shell it hardens and the gourd becomes light in weight and the seeds inside are released and the gourd acquires it's rattle. Sometimes gourds will have a thunk thunk sound when you shake them and this is the result of a seed ball. During the curing process the seed pods inside the gourd pull together and dry into a hard ball. I always cut these gourds and if the shell is thick they can be used as bowls or other containers. I did move the twins to a pallet and waited but they did not cure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In And Outs of the Patch

When the gourds are first setting on your vines it is fairly easy to get in and out of the patch as you can see where the vines are growing. You will want to get in and sit up as many gourds as you can so they can grow with a good flat bottom. As time and vines take over this will not be feasible as you can kill a vine by stepping on it and in turn destroy your gourds. The vines will be producing blooms and gourds right up to frost time. Any that don't manage to have a flat bottom will just give a creative burst to some artist or crafter.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Birds n' Bees About Gourds

Gourds have male and female flowers, getting to know them is just part of the fun of growing gourds. The male flowers will arrive on your plants first and sometimes you think there will be no female flowers at all and then one day, viola' there they are. The male flowers are on tall shafts and have small yellow stamen, the female flower will have fat yellow pistils. You can let insects do the pollination or you can help. There is more than one way of course. Some folks take a small soft brush and gently wipe it over the stamen of the male flower and then wipe it over the pistils of the female flower. You can also snap off the male flower, turn it upside down and place it onto the female flower and gently thump the male flower to release the pollen onto the female pistils. If you look closely at the flowers in the photo you will see that under the top center flower is the actual little gourd. This way you will know what your gourd plant is producing as gourds are notorious for cross pollination. Hard shell gourds such as the ones in the photo have white flowers and open their blooms mostly at night and you cannot rely on the bees to pollinate for you. I have seen hummingbird moths at the gourds in the evening and I have never tried to kill all the bugs that are wanting to feed on the gourds, I need some of them in order to have a harvest.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Piddlin' Patch

A photo showing one half of the piddlin' patch. There are ten gourd plants in this part of the patch. They were planted ten feet apart and given ten feet on each side, yes they do need that much room and would take more if available. Each gourd plant will produce a main vine, you want to pinch this off at the end when it reaches a length of ten feet, this will force the plant to produce lateral vines which in turn will produce more gourds for you. I had a boundary and any vine that went beyond that became fodder for the mower.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Arbor 3

A different angle of the arbors and you can see the gourds are on the outside as well as the inside of the arbors. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you will see that each gourd is sitting on a small platform. These were scrap pieces of particle board from a construction site and I used some old cord to attach them to the arbors. Gourds are ninety percent water and they can be heavy hanging from any structure and risk falling without support, the wire fencing that is supporting them can also cut through the vine. The boards insure that the gourds will have a nice flat bottom for sitting as well.