Thursday, September 30, 2010

Peckers, of Wood

While outside feeding our rabbits and chickens the other morning I heard the familiar sound of a woodpecker knock knock knocking away. It didn't take me long to find where the noise was coming from. Of course I would have guessed it to be a dead tree or branch, however, that's not the case, nope. This little lady, no really this is a female woodpecker - a Downy Woodpecker, was pounding away on the neighbors house, hehehe!

As you can see she's done quite a bit of damage too. Apparently, there are several possible reasons why woodpeckers peck at houses:
  1. Searching for (drilling) bugs (rare) but consider it if occurring during the winter
  2. Building (drilling) a home (rare) but if it happens it'll be done in the spring
  3. Marking territory (common) a phenomenon called "drumming"
  4. They're attracted to the buzz of electrical wires and appliances in a house, which may mimic the rustling of insects in the wood
Whatever the reason they can do quite a bit of damage in a short amount of time. I just hope this little lady doesn't come a knocking on our house.

Welcome Guest, Finally Back

Can you find the critter in the below picture? Also, to make this a little more challenging name the plant that the critter is dining on!

Well, it's been a couple of years since we've seen a praying mantis at the ole Lincoln Street homestead, so it was a very pleasant surprise when I came across this lovely lady while watering the flowers around the pool.

I would watch her for a while, then continue with my chores, then back again to watch her. On one of my visits she had caught a bee and was contently devouring it, every last piece! Once the Sedum starts to bloom it's loaded with ALL sorts of nectar feeding insects. I'm sure this bee was out enjoying the afternoon trying to put a full days work in when, BAM, he became diner. Ah, the circle of life.

At about this point Madonna's song "Vogue" came on the radio and clearly this mantis could hear it. About the time of "Strike a pose, Strike a pose, Vogue, vogue, vogue, Vogue, vogue, vogue", this lady did as instructed. I know, weird huh?!?!

Anyway, she was gone from the sedum the next day, which was disappointing since Emilie wasn't home to see her. We checked the other flowers in the area but couldn't find her. I hope she sticks around and lays her eggs here so we have oodles next year!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hummingbird Moth

Here are a couple pictures I took of a Hummingbird moth, otherwise known as the Common Clearwing of the Sphinx moth family, one of many, that would visit and spend time dining on the nectar of our butterfly bushes this past summer.

The fast beating wings might lead some to believe that this is a hummingbird. However, there are a couple characteristics that will help to distinguish between the two. The moth lacks the long beak and the wings are usually transparent (like a fly), which is an indicator that this is not a true bird.

Either way, the bird or the moth, they're both cool to watch!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Another fun filled commute into the office again this morning!

As usual it didn't take long once I jumped into the passing lane that I had a vehicle come up on me and start riding my ass. I've come to expect this type of behavior and often do what I can to irate the knuckle-head even more. However, this morning I was relaxed and enjoying the topic of discussion on the radio, so I pulled over when I had the chance.

As the vehicle passed I noticed several things: #1 - it was a BMW SUV - well, pardon me, #2 - it was a woman - who by the way was very homely, which just might explain her need to over compensate with the pretty BMW SUV, #3 - that she was smoking a cigarette - nasty habit and #4 - she had the audacity to have a "
Save the ta tas" sticker on the rear of her SUV!

Is that not the epitome of a hypocrite? I can only assume that it makes her feel good and allows her to plod along her merry way like she's this wonderful and supportive person to the cause. She's trying to sell herself as a do-gooder from a perception perspective. However, in the end, and if she truly believed in the cause wouldn't she quite smoking?! What a douche!

Go figure.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Coleman Stove Mice

Came across these mice this past weekend while rummaging and collecting metal items from in and around my dads place to be recycled. This mother and (3) babies were inside an old metal Coleman camping stove that was tucked away in some dark corner of the shed.

There wasn't much of an opening for the little lady to get through but clearly it was big enough. She had a pretty nice looking nest, if you consider a mouse nest nice, and this family was hidden within. Interestingly, when I shook them out into a plastic tub, the three babies were clamped on to the mother's teats and were being dragged as she scooted around the tub. She made a couple attempts to jump up trying to escape but with the young'n attached that just wasn't gonna happen.

Since I knew JoAnne and Emilie would be stopping by later that day I decided to postpone 'dealing' with these varmint until after their departure. So, I went about my business and continued schlepping metal items to my truck. Upon one of my returns I could hear the babies crying, so I peaked in the tub to have a look see and wouldn't you know it the mother mouse was gone, escaped. Apparently, once the babies let go of their teats, or perhaps the mother instructed them to let go, she was able to jump out of the tub to safety.

Kinda like the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza is at a kids birthday party when all of a sudden the fire alarm goes off and the room begins to fill with smoke. George basically pushes the kids aside as he run for the door and bolts from the building saving only himself.

I wonder what the mother mouse told her babies before abandoning them?

Anyway, when Emilie saw them she was all upset and worried sick about how they were going to survive. I told her that she should be more worried with how they're gonna swim but that didn't go over too well. In the end we deposited them near the base of the shed where I assume the mother ran to. Emilie's hope was that once we left and it was safe the mother would come back for them. With the lion's share of the 'stuff' gone from the shed, these types of rodents no longer have places to hide. Boy, the recession is hitting them too...

Interesting contrast to the mother mouse saving her own ass - we stumbled upon a PBS special the other night called, "The Natural History of the Chicken". One of the stories that was told was how a Japanese Silkie bantam hen named Liza risked her life to protect her six chicks from an attacking hawk. She ran back to them, as the hawk was closing in, and quickly used her own body to cover and protect them. She survived the attack but took the brunt of the hawks attack.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stop the Presses! This Just In...

Extra extra, read all about it! My posting, dated August 01, 2010 and titled 'Scrap Metal Recycling, Trip #4 - The End', was incorrect! As it turns out it wasn't the end. It wasn't the last trip after all, no sir!

After spending the last month or so sorting, tossing, donating and organizing I realized that there was much more scrap metal to be dealt with, so I made another trip to the recycle yard yesterday. Of course this isn't the last it, nope. There are more metal items that will eventually need to be dealt with, however, my dad wasn't ready to part with them for some reason. Some of the items - a four drawer file cabinet that has sat in a wet basement and with a couple drawers that do not stay latched shut, a couple desks, a couple lovely rusted lawn chairs and a gas grill that has been used like twice in the last five years, alas...

Now before you read the next couple of lines I would like you to say the following out loud, "You might be a redneck if you have the following items in your shed", #1 - a 5-gallon bucket full of rusty railroad spikes and #2 - a 2' piece of railroad track and #3 (although not metal, it's fits the redneck persona) a copier paper box FULL of wine bottle corks. Good Lord!

The total weight of this scrap metal load was 700 LBS!

Which brings the new grand total weight for all five trips to: 3840 LBS!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Phyciodes tharos on Rudbeckia, maybe

I snapped this photo of what I believe to be a Pearl Crescent butterfly resting on one of our Black-eye Susan's. These rudbeckia are in the same flower garden as our butterfly bushes, which draw oodles and oodles of insects; butterflies, bees and a so much more. Sadly, the season is winding down and most of our flowers are on their last legs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tomater Canning, Batch #2 2010

JoAnne banged out another batch of canned tomatoes this week!

When all was said and done she had canned (21) quarts and (10) pints

That brings the 2010 totals to (37) quarts and (20) pints, with more to come!

Of course we all know picking the tomatoes is the hardest part and boy was I tuckered out after that tasks, pheeew!

1st Batch of Silver Queen

Here is our first, and sadly only, batch of corn this year - (7) delicious ears of Silver Queen corn!!

Perhaps, due to the lack of rain but the majority of the seeds planted didn't do as well as I had hoped in terms of producing ears. However, we'll have plenty of stalks for our fall decorations around the yard. A victory is a victory, right!

Broccoli and Kale Killers

Well, it's that time of the year again when you can spot the Cabbage Moths fluttering around on sunny days, chasing one another and having what looks like a good time, and at our place, landing on the broccoli and kale plants to lay their dreaded eggs, UGGGGH!

The last couple of weeks there have been oodles of them and there's plenty of evidence that these pest have been enjoying themselves and boinking their little brains out!

The kale is being hit the hardest, however, not from the cabbage moth caterpillars alone. Their partners in crime are the Zebra caterpillars and this year these dude are doing way more damage then the aforementioned caterpillars.

Now the good news is that we don't eat the kale, so I'm not as upset as I might typically be. We actually plant the kale to feed our rabbits and they LOVE it!! You can get these plants in the ground earlier than most seedlings come Spring time here in New England and they often last well into the fall, which gives us some nice greens for the buns for a long stretch.

What we typically do now is pick enough to give the bunnies a treat each day but before tossing them into their cages Emilie and I search through each leaf picking out the caterpillars and hand feeding them to the chickens. To be honest it's a pain in the buttsky but required, plus the ladies absolutely love them. We've caught, and in some cases squashed, literally hundreds of these dudes to date and to give you an idea we only have (7) kale plants and (5) broccoli plants. The kale plants are definitely taking the brunt of the destruction, which I am chalking up to their curly leaves, which provide some nice hiding places. The broccoli leaves are smooth, so it's easier to spot the pests when I do my daily inspections, hence the squashing.

Here is a picture of one of our kale plants and as you can see (you may need to expand the picture to get a better view) there is substantial damage. Also, note the green turds left behind from the feeding caterpillars, yuck! I'm just glad I'm not a rabbit eating this _hit...

This picture shows one of each caterpillar. The small green dude is the Cabbage Moth caterpillar, and the two yellowish ones are the Zebra caterpillars - all three demised.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wrought Iron Patio Furniture Refurbished

JoAnne and I joined forces and have refurbished the above wrought iron patio furniture.

They had been tucked away in the back of my folks shed for years. Since we're in the process of cleaning out the old shed these three pieces have found a new home here at the ole Lincoln Street homestead.

Since we're such prim and proper folk, we simply could not have dirty, rusty wrought iron patio furniture gracing our abode, hehehe...yeah right!

They've been sanded to remove the rust and blisters, then hit with a coat of RustOleum primer and finally two coats of RustOleum's Universal Black Hammered spay.

Looks good yeah!?!?

One of the chairs had a plywood seat that was cut to fit just right, however, it's in pretty rough condition. My plan is to use this seat as a pattern to make two new ones. What the final look we'll be, well, I'm gonna leave that up to JoAnne.

Wish my mom was around to see them all cleaned up. If I remember correctly, she had planned of doing the same but in the hustle and bustle she never got to it. Knowing that, and now being able to see just how nice they look all cleaned up it brings a smile to my face when I look at them - miss you mom!

Monday, September 13, 2010

ARC - "Day of Remembrance"

OK, I changed things up a little bit and did something nice this past weekend - surprise surprise!

American Red Cross had a "Day of Remembrance" (Remember those lost so that others may survive) blood drive this past Saturday September 11, 2010 that was held at Fenway Park - home to our Boston Red Sox!

So, I signed up to donate, scheduled a 9:15AM appointment and JoAnne, Emilie and I went in. I did the
Double Red Cell donation, which is similar to Whole blood donation, except a machine is used to allow you to safely donate two units of red blood cells while returning your plasma and platelets back to you. This process takes 20 - 30 minutes longer but very much worth it. Also, double red donaters get special treatment. For example, I was moved to the head of the line during the checkin process, then shuffled off to a special area for the donation. At this event the special area was one of six highly priced sky box suites that over looked the ball field on the right field line and each with their own balcony, kitchen, seating area with 50+" flat screen TV and bathroom, WOW! Gives you some insight on how the other half live.

The ball park was a beehive of activity with what looked like a tremendous turnout. The American Red Cross was looking to break the record by collecting 1,000 units of blood - not sure how many units were collected but I'd guess the record was broken.

It was nice to be in the ball park without the chaos of the game day crowds and get to take it all in. It's a beautiful park and the day was picture perfect as you can see below.

Here are the Red Sox (2) world series trophies -

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

No, Not Bees, Wasps!

This here dead Yellow jacket is, well dead. "They" say "payback's a bitch". My vengeance was spurred by the simple and painful fact that this dude stung me! Got me good on the back of my left hand and smack dab on a vein.

Now, typically if left along these buggers won't bother with you, which is what I was doing at the time I got stung. However, at some point prior there may have been some teasing if you will.

You see I discovered these wasps coming and going from outside, what amounts to our second story window, and up against the house. As it turns out these stinging fiends had made their way into the wall of our family room and had setup shop. Somehow they entered where the brick chimney butts up against the house.

Fortunately, for me (I think) and unfortunate for them (definitely) their hole was just outside the crank out Anderson window and about shoulder high. This was perfect, as I could battle them from solid footing and not 15' high while balancing on a ladder.

Interestingly, it was only a couple years ago that we had the same situation in the same wall. I blocked the hole that colony had been using but clearly this wall is prime, upper class Yellow jacket realestate, i.e. Wellesley, MA. However, this new colony was not to be denied and made a new entryway just 2" higher.

Anyway, I opened the window to scope out the area to see what I was faced with and to plan my attack. When all of a sudden a couple of the crazy sumbitches came at me. This one got into the house before I got the window shut and initially landed on my chest but fortunately I was wearing a sweatshirt at the time, which I'm pretty sure saved me from sporting a third nipple. My mistake was shooing it away...with my left hand when all of a sudden OUCHY STING STING occurred. However, the shooing worked in sync with the sting, alas, and the dude was knocked off onto the ledge of the widows where he met his demise.

Naturally, after that incident I tweaked my plan of attack and waited until after dark to seek my revenge/eviction. Once they went to bed and were settled I opened the window and sprayed wasp spray into the hole. I then soaked a cotton ball with the wasp spray and stuffed it into the hole with a small screw driver in the hopes of getting the poison inside the wall for maximum killing effect and finally took a second cotton ball and plugged the hole to prevent anyone from exiting or entering whilst containing the poision inside the wall. Interestingly enough when you placed an ear against the wall or just close to you could hear the bees and they were NOT happy, no sir! You could feel the wall vibrating as they carried on.

We had a few that somehow made their way into the house but they appeared pretty doped up and easily dealt with. In the end, and with the exception of a bee sting, my end goal was accomplished and the Vespidae were eradicated. Once the weather changes I will pull out the ladder for a closer inspection and caulk where necessary to prevent this from happening again.

FYI - the bee sting is now really, really itchy :-)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Tomater Canning, Batch #1 2010

Take a gander at the mess of tomatoes that we picked yesterday morning in preparation for our first canning session of the 2010 season. Quite the haul for the first picking with oodles more on the verge. JoAnne had mixed emotions as she knew what lied ahead and how much work and how long a day she was facing.

When all was said and done, she finished some time after dark.

Totals: (16) quarts and (10) pints!


Taters Done Dug

Emilie and I dug our potatoes, and as you can see we got a pretty good haul.

We planted Yukon Gold, my favorites, and Red Norland. Can you tell which is which?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Summer and Zucchini Squash, Yum!

OK, folks I learned me something new once again this gardening year, not that I proclaim to know everything mind you. Plus learning good!

Can you identify the above worm, hmmm?

Well, before I reveal the answer let me start this here posting by recounting some of the events leading up to the discovery -

I was a perdy July afternoon and I just finished building our new veggie bed to grow our summer and zucchini squash, see below, and getting the plants in the ground.

Well, about a month later (mid August-ish), after we'd picked some wonderful, tasty squash, the plants started to wilt and didn't look too good. We also noticed that some of the smaller, yet ripe squash was rotting from the ends, hmmmm. I thought perhaps that it was due to and a result of the crazy hot and humid weather we were having at the time and that I wasn't watering them enough, nope.

We did get some additional squash but something was wrong and it wasn't the weather or lack of watering. It wasn't until the end of the month when I made the decision to yank the plants that the mystery was solved.

When I pulled the first plant out, of course I grabbed it by the stem at the base of the plant, it was rotted and well yucky. Upon closer inspection when I slit the stem along the rotted, yucky area with a knife (keep in mind squash plants, pumpkin plants, etc are somewhat hollow), and WHA-LA the above worm and several others were inside.

Turns out this little guy is known as a
Squash Vine Borer. Interestingly, often the first symptom of a borer attack is the wilting of affected plants. Wilting may occur only in strong sun at first. This is exactly what we were seeing. These pests were in most of the plants I pulled. I gathered as many of the worms as I could find and feed them to the chickens and as always they devoured them. I then bagged the plants and disposed of in our trash. I didn't want to take any chances and risk mixing these plants in the compost for fear of having missed some of the worm and having them hang around. Not quite sure how to handle this problem next year, as it sounds like these pests are difficult to deal with and rid but I have all winter to ponder my approach.

Till next year, happy tilling...