Falling Leaves, Conservation Thoughts

November 7th, 2008

Windy and cold!  The weather has turned, and it’s surely November.  The leaves are blowing off the trees and changing the previously green landscape to brown everywhere.  A literal carpet of leaves.  Soon it will be time to rake and mulch, and the leaves will disappear.  But first there’s a really big pile of leaves to be made out there waiting for people to jump into it!

Carpet of leaves in November

And the leaves are blowing into the water too… I am always amazed how many leaves accumulate in the pond.  How long do they take to decompose?  Do they pile up on the bottom year after year?  Who knows… but they seem to disappear in a matter of weeks.

Leaves in the pond

But weeks is all we have to really work on outside projects before the winter cold sets in.  Not that I don’t work outside in winter, but it’s a little harder to work with metal, tools and other such things in 20 degree temperatures.  I’ll admit it, I think it’s just more fun (and comfortable) to work on things when the weather’s nice.  I think the real issue is that I love being outside.  So when it’s really cold, I don’t get out as much.   Which is a bit of a contradiction, because I just love the snow.  Or maybe I love looking at the snow.  Well the boy won’t let me off the hook so easily this year, and I’m sure I’ll be out tromping around with him soon!

Deer and duck season have arrived in Missouri, and it’s time to think about putting some meat in the freezer.  I only went out a couple times last year and the freezer stayed empty, at least of wild game.  Contrary to popular belief, hunting wild deer is not easy for most people, especially if you don’t have private land to hunt on.  Most of us hunt public lands, along with a lot of other folks of course.   Also it’s not really a shooting gallery out there, again contrary to that portrayed in the media.  I’ve only seen one or two other hunters when I hike back on public lands, and most of the time you only catch a glimpse of a deer or deer sign such as tracks, etc.  I’ve taken one deer in three years; poor hunting by some standards perhaps. 

Those hunting on private lands usually have more success simply due to less competition. It helps to scout early and by placing deer stands or blinds in strategic locations.   In most states there are strict regulations for what sex of deer may be taken, usually by county, and other strict regulations for the type of hunting method used such as archery, blackpowder or modern rifle.  Bow hunting season is the longest, and it’s the most challenging method of hunting because your effective range is limited to about 30 yards.  It’s very difficult to stay quiet enough, still enough, and not “smelly” so that a deer comes within 30 yards! 

Blackpowder or muzzleloader hunting is also a little longer of a season since you manually load your powder and shot, and have just one chance to shoot accurately.  It’s like musket hunting in the era of Daniel Boone.   Rifle season offers perhaps the best chance to take a deer at farther ranges of course, but the season itself is only 10 days long each year.  Most hunters try their luck during that 10 day period, and that is also when the most deer are taken each year.

Do I hunt here at Fox Haven?  I would, but we only have a few acres of “huntable” land really.   Deer transit our properly usually at night when you’re not allowed to hunt (hunting after dark or with lights is called “poaching”!).  I do have my eyes open for a transient deer that loves to rub his antlers on my trees.  One of our last remaining maple trees- planted two years ago with the young boy, was stripped of it’s bark last week.  I should have covered or protected it earlier- as I’m trying to do with the apple trees.  But I put up a little wire around it for now, and we’ll see if it can still grow with half it’s bark missing.  I’d like to find that deer though…

Maple tree bark stripped by deer antlers

I’m a little more determined this year, and maybe I’ll be more successful on the public lands I hunt.  If I do well I know a couple of families that really could use the food.   We have a wonderful “Share the Harvest” program in Missouri where deer meat (venison) is donated to many charitable organizations that need the food.  In 2007 over 5,500 hunters donated more than 260,000 pounds of venison!  This is not only helpful for the charities that receive the food, but it’s also a vital management tool:

“The Share the Harvest Program is extremely useful in the Conservation Department™s management of Missouri™s deer population.  The Department works with the Conservation Federation to target areas with high deer numbers by increasing local processing-cost incentives and Share the Harvest promotional campaigns. This results in an increased harvest in areas where deer populations are high.”

So why manage deer populations?  Primarily for health and safety- both of the deer and especially for people!   In the late 1990’s statistics showed more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in more than 29,000 injuries and over $1 billion dollars of insurance claims.  I’m sure it’s higher today.   And where there are deer, there are deer ticks which may carry Lyme (or other) disease, a rapidly growing and debilitating disease in the nation.  The damage to agriculture from deer is also in the billions of dollars, and many urban communities are struggling to balance public appreciation for deer as wildlife with the damage and risk that is also present to the community.  

On balance, hunting is one of the best methods for controlling deer populations, and offers benefits in many different ways.  Harvesting deer not only provides food for many purposes, but the money from licensing and training requirements benefits many different conservation and natural resource programs.  In the duck hunting arena, the nation has benefitted immensely from wild land preservation and conservation initiatives to help waterfowl populations.  Too successful in some areas as we’ve seen with Canada and other geese populations.  But as the interface between human populations and wildlife grows closer through the years, we’ll need to ensure sound conservation practices are in place to manage the inevitable conflicting resource needs.

Chores and More for November

November 3rd, 2008

Such a busy weekend!  We’re still recovering from our sugar highs after a fun Halloween week.  After trick or treating we stopped by a local community center where many little games and tables were set up for the kids.  It was silly, goofy, dopey and just plain fun.  The young one loved it, and all the kids won prizes.  Nice lead in to the weekend to get a lot of chores accomplished. 

The peak of the leaf color change was a few days ago, and as quickly as the colors peaked, they are fading quickly to browns.  But it was just beautiful this past week- here’s a shot of the oak trees on the north side of the pond.

Oak trees in Autumn at Fox Haven

The big agenda was servicing the tractor- it was due for a complete service of the engine and transmission systems.  I’d never really done a lot of servicing except for oil before, but after talking with the dealer I realized I could save over $350 by doing it myself!  So after getting gallons of fluids and filters, I spent the better part of Saturday on my back turning wrenches.  It was kind of fun really, especially with the boy to help and learn too. 

I never realized how nice it is to have someone helping, especially when you need that one particular wrench that’s just out of reach.   We talked a lot about safety and why certain parts were connected like they were, and about the PTO shafts and other moving parts. I don’t know that he enjoyed it as much as I did, but hopefully he learned something.  We finished up, and it felt pretty good to save so much money.  I was dreading the cost, but learning a little how-to can go a long way.  

It was also time to remove the mower deck from the tractor, and get it cleaned up and put away for the year.   These things do a great job, but if you just let them sit they’ll rust out in a few years. 

John Deere 62D Mower Deck

After cleaning the top side, it was time to go underneath with the scraper.  After a couple of hours most of the chunks of grass, old paint and a little rust came off.  Blades will need sharpened again too.

Cleaning underside of mower deck

 Then it was time for a fresh coat of paint to protect from rust, and voila! Almost good as new.   Here’s my two helpers… one of whom figured out that after sweeping the floor it was a great place to scoot around on a skateboard!

62D mower deck after repainting it green

While sitting there scraping away, I realized that it was a better job for the winter if I could heat the barn.  Well, our “barn” is really more like a big equipment shed with a concrete floor, but we still call it the barn.   I’ve got an old wood stove and I’m thinking of buying stove pipe and such to go through the metal roof.  It’s not something you change your mind about half-way through (or after the hole is in the roof!) so I’m still mulling it over.  Whatever I do I want to make sure the roof doesn’t leak…   But I may just get all the materials this week while the weather’s still nice and try to get it done.  Wouldn’t it be great to be out there on a cold, snowy day with a toasty-warm wood stove!?

Not to be outdone for Autumn, here’s my little bonsai maple tree.  This little guy is over 4 years old now believe it or not, and that’s a petunia flower growing in the pot.  My goal is to shape it like a mature tree eventually, but to keep it about this size.  I had two of them, but the other one grew too fast and I didn’t keep up with it.  But it’s neat to see how small some of the leaves become (they’re about the size of a nickel), and I enjoy watching it change colors in the fall.  We’ll see how long I can keep it growing! 

Bonsai Maple tree in Autumn

Autumn Change

October 31st, 2008

Beacon of color,
A Maple, standing alone-
Change in the forest.

Maple in Autumn in Missouri

Autumn Days of Color and Light

October 28th, 2008

Well let me just try this again.  After losing an almost finished post (don’t ask…) I’m feeling a little less creative today!  Mostly because I’ve been a little under the weather.  Turned the corner though and we had a cold one last night.  Scrambled to finish up some chores and winterizing.  Tractor battery went dead in the middle of moving a pile of bark…. half a day later it was back in the barn.  Down to less than 29 degrees for half the night and it snapped all the tomatoes and other annuals.   But the darn flies and grasshoppers are still around.  They must have some type of short-term antifreeze in their blood or something.  But the sun came out and the day warmed up nicely, especially with a wood fire in the stove.

Just after sunrise on the way back from school- the Autumn color is highlighted over the Oaks, Maples and Hickories.

Colorful Autumn in Missouri

The landscape is beautiful and the temperatures just right for getting things taken care of outdoors. It’s even supposed to be 70 degrees F on Thursday.   We’re right about at the peak of the fall leaf color changes this week.  Even though the wind has been very strong and lots of leaves are flying around, most of them are still on the trees.  Not for long… Soon it will be time for our annual Leaf Pile Party!  

 But yesterday I discovered that if the boy and I are sitting on the ground collecting hickory nuts, the yellow lab wants to find some too…  Ooof!

Yellow Labrador Retriever playing

Of course, after he knocked me over it was much easier to look up into the canopy of the Oak tree above.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Looking up at Oak Tree in Autumn

Then the Basset Hound comes along and wonders what all the fuss is about… and he’s looking for a little attention too.  Watch out, that nose is dangerous!

Basset Hound nosing around

But {sigh…} afternoons in Autumn are wonderful. 

Sunlight on the water in Autumn

Life Happens, Seasons Change

October 25th, 2008

Time for taking care of outdoor chores with colder temperatures on the way.  The warmer weather has been nice this month, and the annuals and garden plants have grown longer than usual.   There are still green tomatoes to pick and bring indoors until they ripen up.    And the eggplant has been flowering again!  There’s even a little eggplant growing… wonder if I dug it up, if it would grow indoors?

Green tomatoes growing in October before frost arrives

The fall season seems so busy with conflicting goals and desires… getting outdoors, family time, holidays, school, sports, cub scouts, homework, hobbies and more. But I love it… and it gives us the chance to be involved and to embrace life.  And not to forget  that even among the confusion and frustrations, it’s all part of living.   “Life happens while you’re busy making other plans…”  Remember who said that?  It reminds me to live in the present too.

Colorful Fun in the Fall Season

October 18th, 2008

We spent a nice day enjoying the fall weather and visiting a local pumpkin farm.  The kids love the activities, while the adults enjoy watching the kids.  Some sweet funnel cake was very nice, but if you see a sign for home-made rootbeer or something, don’t do it!  It sounded good, but it was really awful.  Their “rootbeer” tasted like soapy water without carbonation… and they probably didn’t clean the bottles properly, blech!  We stopped somewhere else later on and I had to drink a real rootbeer so that it didn’t ruin my appreciation of a good one.  I think that first one is embeded in my taste memory though.  But it was good to see folks out driving around the countryside (and lower gas prices certainly helped). 

Bought a bottle of BBQ sauce from a young entreprenuer who had a booth set up.  He said it’s a little tougher this year, but sales are going fine.  He was very upbeat about his prospects and said that when people talk about the economy and the hard times we’re having he said, “If this is bad, I’d sure like to see what good is!”  I thought that was great perspective in light of the emotions flying around these days. 

It was nice to see some Autumn color too. We’re still probably a week away from the peak of the season here, but the leaves are beautiful.   

Colorful Autumn sunset in Missouri 

And the roses are blooming again!  We’ve been fortunate that the frost has not arrived yet- apparently much of the eastern U.S. will see frost in the next couple of days.  We still have a few outdoor projects to take care of with winterizing equipment and protecting various plants.  Even the tomatoes and beans are still producing, but not for much longer.  For now we can enjoy the weather and the beauty of the flowers and leaves.

Roses blooming in Autumn

We were working outside the other day and the boy yelled, “Daddy, Come here!” He said he had a surprise for me, and showed me his discovery of this wild mushroom in a place we never expected.  We see so many different types of mushrooms and fungi that it’s hard to identify them all.  They only come up for a day or two and are gone.

Wild Mushroom

But the Woolly Bear caterpillars are everywhere right now! These caterpillars are the larval stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth, and are seen crossing roads in October.  Folklore says the width of the middle brown band can forecast winter weather.  A wide brown band means it’ll be a cold one…  I’m not sure if this is very wide but it feels like we’ll have a cold winter this year for some reason.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Bucking a Tree and Chain Saw Safety – Part II

October 16th, 2008

The wood cutting theme has continued over the past few days, and between cutting grass and fixing machinery, my bones are feeling the effects.  Good to get the exercise but it’s more of a psychological relief to clean up a couple of downed trees and get the wood ready for winter.  The young boy has been a big help too, but on weekdays we have breakfast together and then I get him off to school before heading outside.  The dogs are company of sorts, but not much help!  There’s so much more that would be nice to do, but you make progress where you can and come to some type of balance with nature’s energy and all the other stuff on the list inside and outside the house.

I was putting on my safety chaps the other day and I got to thinking (yes, it happens sometimes).  I realized that if I’m going to write about cutting firewood and using a chainsaw (see part I here), then I should probably talk about a few safety issues.

Bucking, or cutting up an oak log

While mulling this over and bucking that log pulled out from the pond, I managed to pinch the saw.  Meaning that the chainsaw was stuck in the cut I was making (that’s why it’s sticking out from the log in the picture above).  Those cuts do not go all the way through the log.  They’re about 80% through, then the log is turned, and the final cuts are made to free the sections. Part of the log is under compression because of the slope of the land.

When cutting, you have to watch carefully for movement, be patient and not try to do everything at once.  Sometimes you have to pull the saw out a little faster when you sense or notice changes.  But sometimes the wood pinches the saw very quickly.  If the saw gets hung or stuck, the best thing to do is nothing!  Shut it off, step back and look at the situation.  Better a broken saw than a broken something else.

Log peavey to roll over oak log

In this case, I used a log peavey and rolled the log enough to free the saw blade.   If I had been a little smarter, I would have used the peavey earlier, and shortened the log to prevent such compression and pinching.  But everyone does it their own way.

Oak log cut in rounds

So I’m not going to talk about how to use a chainsaw, since there’s many sites that talk about using one safely.  OSHA has some excellent information about logging operations, and this site shows how to fell a tree using a chainsaw.  And if you read this site, you may never want to try using a chain saw at all:

“If you place your hands on a chain saw, you must keep in mind that it is like grabbing a hand grenade without a pin in it. It is very likely to go off in your face. From the moment that you take it out of storage to the time that it goes back to the same place, you can be hurt by either it, or by whatever you will be cutting.”

“The chain saw is the most dangerous hand tool that can be purchased on the open market. It requires no license and no training to own or operate it. “Most chain saw accidents are preventable. The only answer to reducing these accidents is proper training and knowledge with a lot of time using a saw – which is experience. You can gain experience the hard way and have the scars to prove it or you can do a little preventative reading.” –  Carl Smith, fifth generation logger and chain saw expert.

What I do want to mention involves the basic safety gear.  I strongly believe in the “accidents are preventable” mantra, and reading whatever I can to learn.  A chainsaw is one of those things that takes practice and as cited most folks learn by experience.

The way I see it, using a chainsaw could be a little like driving a motorcycle naked… It gathers your full attention (and everyone elses), you better not make a mistake, and you feel every bump along the way.   And no, I haven’t learned that by experience.

 Chain saw safety gear

I have learned that when using a chainsaw, you need to stay focused and very deliberate or a moment’s inattention can really hurt something.   So what do I do before I start the motor?  I always check to make sure I’m properly dressed, no loose clothing and that I’m phyically prepared for the work. Most importantly, the chainsaw must be in good working condition, with a sharp and correctly fitted chain.    Here’s my safety gear list:

  • Gloves:  Non-slip and cut resistant preferred.  Gloves are important to help grip and avoid the wear and tear, splinters and pinching that happens frequently when cutting wood.  They shouldn’t be too thick because you still need to “feel” the chainsaw properly when using it.
  • Steel-toed Boots:  Essential.  I can’t tell you how many times a large chunk of wood has fallen or rolled on my foot.  Those steel toes are worth every penny, especially if the chainsaw blade hits your toe.
  • Safety Chaps or Bibs:  Also essential.  These fit like leather chaps but are there in case the chainsaw blade slips and cuts toward your leg.  If the chainsaw blade hits the chaps, the material is designed to stop the blade, or at least slow it down greatly. It tangles up the chain blade with some type of fiber, but meanwhile the blade doesn’t cut through into your leg.  I’ve never cut into my chaps before, but sometimes the chainsaw seems close- and I’m glad to be wearing them.
  • Safety glasses:  Also essential.  When you use a chainsaw the wood chips and dust fly everywhere.  Never know if something’s going to hit your eye, so it’s another thing that I’m glad to wear.
  • Hearing protection:  Chainsaws are loud!  Foam earplugs help a lot, but should also be worn with some good “mouse ears” to cover your ears.
  • Hard hat/Integrated face mask:  Depending upon the type of use for your chainsaw, a hard hat and facemask may be necessary.  Branches swing and fall from many directions, and a hard hat can save your life.
  • Log Peavey or Cant Hook:  This tool is like a big hook on a wooden pole.  It is very helpful to move and roll over logs and cut sections.  I think it’s a safety item as well because it allows you to safely roll a larger log, and to brace it for cutting or on slopes.
  • Pre-mixed fuel and chain lubricant:  Chainsaw gas tanks are small, and require frequent filling- which helps keep the saw light when using it.  But plan to have extra fuel on hand so you won’t need to take shortcuts or try to hurry.  Don’t fill the tank when they’re hot!  Needing to refill the tank actually gives you time to catch your breath and take a 15 minute break.  And when you fill the gas tank, you can also top off the chain lubricant which is essential for smooth operation.  Check the chain tension at the same time. Sometimes they work very loose and you don’t even realize it.

One other big point:  Take your time and be aware of your surroundings.  As you go along cutting or delimbing a tree, and work towards “bucking” the larger parts into sections, it’s very easy to have a huge mess of branches and cut logs laying around.  What’s the biggest safety hazard now?   That’s right… your work area.

You may think everything is going just fine, but then you step on a little round branch and your foot goes out from under you.  Don’t want that to happen.  So when you take breaks to fill the gas tank on the saw, use that time to clean up the work area around the place you’ll be cutting.  It’s peace of mind and a good habit to get into.   Otherwise, read and heed the safety intructions for using the chainsaw!

 Moving oak tree rounds in tractor loader bucket

Those are the core essentials for safety…  Did I miss anything else?   Oh… all the cut wood needs to be moved somewhere else right?  You’ll be doing a lot of lifting and a tractor or truck bed helps a lot.  Lift with the legs and not the back ’cause “The job ain’t over ’till it’s over.”   Eventually you’ll have a nice pile of wood ready to split.

Pile of oak tree rounds ready for splitting

Then it’s time for the axe, maul and wedges, or a good hydraulic splitter.    If firewood is an important part of your home heating in winter, then investing in a hydraulic splitter could be helpful.  After using one this year I’ve found it works about four times faster than I can with a maul.  Not only that, it splits the really difficult joints much more easily than possible by hand.  This angle joint was split in half, and then into four good-sized pieces of firewood.

Splitting oak rounds

But the splitter is no picnic either; you still have to lift and position a lot of wood.  You’ll get a good workout either way, but the hydraulic splitter makes it a much faster process.

For now there’s a few other trees that need cut down and cut up. This hickory tree blew over in another windstorm, and it blocks a small area of grass I like to keep cut (actually it’s  on the way to the boy’s secret spot, so I need to do something about it!).  I haven’t decided quite how to “buck” it yet, and the fact that it sits higher makes it a little more dangerous.  Any ideas?

Hickory tree blown over in windstorm

And just so you don’t think I go around cutting up all the trees here’s a couple of other pictures.  This little oak tree is a Mossy Cup or Overcup Oak.  The young boy and I found the acorns under an enormous, very old tree in the county and brought them here to plant on our property two or three years ago.  Two of them sprouted and this little tree is doing well!  Who knows, maybe when the boy grows up he’ll see a beautiful oak tree, or someone else will be sitting under this tree a hundred years from now.

Mossy cup or Overcup oak tree growing from acorn

And at the end of the day it helps to look at the landscape and appreciate the beauty of the living trees around us.  I hope these continue to stand strong and tall for generations to come.

Autumn evening at Fox Haven Pond

Cool Rain and Green in July

July 25th, 2008

This year is so different from the last, especially in the amount of rainfall we’ve had.  Even with a cooler, wet spring we expected the summer to become very dry as in previous years.   And for a while it was, but now we’re actually going on for a third day of rain and cool temperatures in the last week of July. 

A Canna leaf is covered by drops of rain.

Potted Canna leaf in the rain

The cool is so refreshing and the ground is saturated once again in mid-summer.  And unlike years past, the pond is actually full!  In most years at this time the water is nearly five feet down.  I wonder if this will increase the populations of fish and other aquatic life?

In late afternoon the summer landscape is often painted in light and shadow.

Fox Haven pond on a summer afternoon

 The plants and trees also benefit greatly from the moisture. We’ve probably lost 5-6 smaller oak trees in recent years from drought stress and insect damage.  Yet perhaps this year’s rainfall will help many of the rest.   And usually by this time of summer we don’t need to cut the grass nearly as much as it dries out and turns brown.  Now it’s still green and growing.  

With the moisture fostering grass and flower growth, I think the bees will find more pollen and nectar available throughout summer and early fall.   We haven’t seen such an abundance of wild blackberries before, due both to the bees as well as the rainfall this year.  They’re not very large as blackberries go, but “they make good eatin!”

Wild Blackberry patch

Summer Bumbles and Bees

July 8th, 2008

The month of July in Missouri is a lot of things.  Good things like tomatoes, barbeques, cooler mornings and maybe a few rainstorms if we’re lucky.  And then there’s the other things… the heat and humidity, weeds and trimming, and tons of insect critters that find their way into everything, usually leaving us itchy reminders to deal with.

I guess the bees fit that insect category, but they’re pretty neat to have around.   Unlike a few other critters such as ticks and chiggers.  Now I’m sure the peskier bugs serve some functional purpose for the web of life in our evironment.  But there’s times I wish they would serve that purpose somewhere else!  If you’re going to live in the country however, you have to take the good with the bad, and I’m learning that the good far outweighs the bad over the course of time.  

It’s not hard to appreciate our pollinators though.  Those amazing bees that go buzzing around and help us grow our fruits and vegetables.   Isn’t this a cool looking bumblebee?  This one is working a lavender plant, darting from flower to flower. 

Bumblebee and lavender © Fox Haven Media

And did you know that bumblebees are the primary pollinators of our tomato plants?  I’ve seen them all over our tomatoes, but I didn’t realize until recently that the way bumblebees pollinate tomato plants is through sonification.  The bumblebee pulls the tomato flower down to a vertical position, and vibrates their wing muscles at a certain frequency after which the tomato flower pollen falls out of pores in the anthers.  When the pollen falls down, it sticks to the bumblebees fuzzy body and, oh by the way, the bumble just happens to be rubbing that same fuzzy pollinated body against the tomato flower stigma, and because of his fuzzy little travels, voila! pollination from one flower to another occurs.   I think of bumblebees with appreciation every time I eat a tomato!

Here’s another important pollinator below, but it’s not a bumblebee.  Instead this is a Carpenter bee about to dive headfirst into a hydrangea flower head.  Carpenter bees are not thought of very highly because of the tunneling damage they can do to wooden beams, decking and the wood in houses and barns.  Yes, they actually bore holes and tunnels in wood!  We see them around here, but I’m not sure where they are nesting. Sometimes you see the male buzzing up and down in a certain area, seemingly harassing you if you try to walk by.  That’s just his way of protecting his territory or a nest nearby, but he’s actually harmless and can’t sting.  Not very fun to have a big buzzing critter zoom at you however.

Carpenter bee and hydrangea flower © Fox Haven Media

But our other favorite pollinators are the honeybees of course.  Our two hives appear to be doing just fine, although one is a lot stronger than the other in terms of the number of bees around the hive.   And yesterday there were hundreds of bees clustered outside the hive.  Are they getting ready to swarm?  Fanning to cool the hive?  Just new bees getting outside for some fresh air!?  I don’t really know, but with lots of space in two relatively new hive body supers, I think they’re just staying cool.  They have quite a bit of shade under some oak trees, but it has been very hot and humid lately.

Honeybees clustered outside the hive on a hot day

The other hive which is weaker didn’t have many bees hanging around outside however.  In both hives, the bees were coming and going just the same, and working flowers around the property.  It’s interesting to see the differences though, and I’ll be opening the hives up sometime the next week to see what else I can find out.

Leaves of Green

May 8th, 2008

Watching spring unfold is engaging in a subtle yet exciting way. Each day there are new plants, colors and scents that we forgot about from the year before, or stare in wonder at how fast they are growing. I was amazed to see how fast the oak tree leaves grew last week, and really appreciate the bright green colors. A couple of weeks ago there was so much sky and sun reaching the ground, and now we have shade everywhere.

New Red Oak tree leaves in spring

Here’s another plant with new grown leaves. The leaves are are pretty and the plant will soon have little white berries. But it’s not my favorite by a long shot. Can you guess what this is?

Poison Ivy leaves in spring

It’s still raining out after two days, but my little boulders of rocks everywhere seem to be working well. Instead of flowing muddy water, the runoff from the rain cascades gently over the rocks almost like a stream, pooling at the bottom and draining steadily out.

Gambion rocks used to design pond drainage

It’s not finished yet, but is slowly taking shape.  I’ll be so glad not to worry about the heavy rain as much as before.  The pond has quite a bit of accumulated mud and silt, and maybe I can shovel some of that out this summer.  But the fish and other critters seem to like it just fine the way it is…

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