Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nope, It's Not Barney...

Walked right into my picture, UGH.

You know how the saying goes - "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".

So, I will leave you with that piece of wisdom...

Crazy Northshore Gulls

Of course you can't swing a stick without hitting a seagull when visiting the coast. Gloucester and Rockport are no different.

Here are some of the more interesting pictures we took. Personally, I view seagulls as I do squirrels and not too impressed, which surprises me why I'm even dedicating a post to them. However, the pics are kinda cool, so enjoy -

Gloucester & Rockport Road Trip

With the end of summer coming to a close and Emilie's summer camp ending a couple weeks before school starts, JoAnne and I took some vacation time mid August.

One of the first things we did was to take a road trip to Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. It was a Thursday, so we waited for the morning commute to die down and then took off. We arrived in Gloucester a little before lunch time, so the priority was finding a place to eat; a fish restaurant for me.

After lunch we stated driving North along the cost. We took our time and stopped numerous times along the way to sight see, take pictures and to let Emilie swim in the ocean. Once we arrived in Rockport, we found a parking spot and started hoofing it. What a beautiful little ocean town with tons of shops and stores to browse it.

We had a great time, some good food and some excellent scenery

Here are just a couple of the many pictures we took -

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"What I Call, Livin' "

Emilie, JoAnne and I did a little fishin' the other day.

Emilie caught and released about a dozen bluegill.

Here's a picture of her "holdin' that pink rod and reel"...

"And she think we're just fishin' on the riverside"...

Trace Adkins - Just Fishin'

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene Storm Prep

In anticipation of Irene's arrival JoAnne and I spent the day yesterday getting the house and yard storm ready. We broke down, packed up and moved most of our "stuff" indoors. The end result is that we're ready for what Mother Nature has to offer but it's also opened our eye's to the fact that we have a lot, actually too much, "stuff"!!

We also hit the gardens and picked what we could - dozens of cucumbers, a half dozen ears of delicious Silver Queen corn and ~280 red, ripe tomatoes! The chickens enjoyed gorging on the over ripe and rotted ones. Of course, this bounty lead to the first canning of the 2011 season.

JoAnne worked her butt off and at the end of the day we had a total of 30 jars canned; 12 quarts and 18 pints, yummy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 Red Onions

I dug some of our Red Onions the other day. I was curious to see what surprises were stored underground and to be honest I was a little disappointed. Since these onions have been in the ground for about a year now I guess I was expecting the onions to be BIG; big like softball big but nope. They're rather small and unimpressive, however, I need take much of the blame. I'm sure letting them flower like I did had a negative effect on their size, as all there energy went to the 3' tall flowering stalk. They were cool looking and the bees certainly liked them. Taste will be the next test...

2011 Silver Queen Corn, Ready!

I picked our first (5) ears of Silver Queen corn this past weekend!

They were perfect in look, size and taste, YUMMY!

Everyone at the ole homestead got to enjoy. The rabbits enjoyed the husks, the human folk enjoyed the corn and the chickens enjoyed the corn cobs and picked them clean! A win-win-win I'd say.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend Harvesting, Yummy!

Dug 12 of our 16 feet of potatoes yesterday. Our haul is pictured below; Red Norland and Russet, with Yukon Gold to be dug soon - the plants are still green and alive. I'm thinking Red Norland mashed potatoes with the skin on or perhaps cooked like home fries, yum. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

The tomatoes are starting to come in like gang-busters. Here is a sampling of what we picked yesterday. Tomato canning is just around the corner. Watching JoAnne can reminds me SO much of my mother and brings me back...

How bout these (2) beautiful head of broccoli!! Softball sized and kept from the dreaded woodchucks. Hmm, hmm good! How to cook? Suggestions anyone?!?! Something delicious and challenging, don't want to make it too easy for JoAnne, hehehe!

We also picked more cucumbers which are coming out of our ears, a couple small and rather pathetic Vidalia onions, and a two zucchini squash.

Martin Seamus "Marty" McFly

We welcomed Emilie's new critter, Martin Seamus "Marty" McFly, to the ole homestead yesterday.

In case you were wondering the name comes from the movie trilogy "Back To The Future", which Emilie has taken a liking to.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

MOBY Dickheads I'd Call Them!

So, what's the deal with these motorcycle and hot rod "gear-heads"?! I will be affectionately referring to folks as "MOBY Dickheads" or MD's moving forward!!

Is there some missing jean or chromosome that has these MD's needing to peel-out, spin their tires, supper rev their engines or ride/drive with glass shattering mufflers?! Does this excite them? Do you think the MD's sitting in their homes that hear this give thumbs up when this occurs? Do they cheer, yell ROT ROT ROT and pump their fists? I for one am NOT impressed, not in the slightest!

10:15PM when the MD on the motorcycle decides to punch it up the road - is that really necessary? Do you think they have any idea or clue, even a remote one, how that sounds to everyone in the area? Clearly they don't care how frustrating and annoying it is.

When one of these MD's drive by, especially in the evening when the kids are in bed, I cross my fingers and hope to hear a God awful CRASH up the road but no luck yet.

Of course this would be a very good opportunity to point out, and remind those who don't know, that we're forbidden to own a rooster in my town (town by-law) due to their noisiness, REALLY?!?! Ironic too that our town is/was a farming community.

Can You Hear Me Now?

I got myself a good old fashioned bee sting yesterday. First one in a couple of years I'd guess. A doozie too, on the top of my right ear. The stinger and the back-end of the bee was still in place when I got home a couple hours later.

It's nice and swollen and BIG this morning. You'd think I could hear a pin drop from across the room but no such luck. It just looks funny, especially compared to my left ear. Kept me tossing and turning most of the night but now it's beginning to itch.

Actually, I'm lucky to have received the one sting. I was cutting my dad's neighbors lawn yesterday (of course after cutting my dad's lawn) - that's what I do, I spend my Saturday's after a long work week, cutting grass for everyone. Anyway, I was mowing a section I had yet to do in the 7 previous cuttings of this yard, and stirred up one of them in-the-ground-plum-mean-yellow-jacket nests. You know the one's where a gazillion mad-as-heck bees come out swarming and just attacking. I was backing up at the time of the attacked, so perhaps this helped because once I got stung I kept backing up as you can imagine.

Upon further investigating it looks like they've chosen to base of a dead arborvitae for a nest. That's good for them because if I had ability to get the lawn tractor over top of them I would have and done me some bee mulching...

Oh well, one of the risks I suppose.

Friday, August 12, 2011


This just in...

FINALLY, our first visiting Monarch butterfly of the season and not just horray but a hip-hip hooray!

This male Monarch looked in great shape and appeared right at home bouncing from Butterfly bush flower to flower to flower. I'm hoping this is a good sign and others will be visiting soon too.


Enough said!

A First Here At The Ole Homestead

Looked out the winda the other morning and was VERY surprised to see the above creature swimming in our pool - this is a first for us. Actually, we've been in the house for about 12 years now and in that time I've only come across maybe 10 snakes. However, when I cut my dads lawn I see a snake almost every time.

This dude is an Eastern Garter Snake and they're pretty common around these parts. They are harmless, unless you're a: worm, slug, toad, frog, salamander, fish or tadpole. Also, be forewarned that you'll get pooped on if you were to pick one of these snakes up and man-o-man does it stink! Perhaps, one of their defense mechanisms.

This dude was sporting a big bulge in his belly, which typically means it recently ate something. Let's hope it wasn't one of Emilie's toads that she's been catching and releasing around the pool - please don't tell her...

I pulled him from the water and placed him on the pool deck where he proceeded to slither away.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are!

Have you noticed the absence of the Monarch Butterfly this summer? I sure have. At this time of the summer last year we had oodles of them visiting and dining on our Butterfly bushes. This year none, NOT a single one.

A couple of years ago a single lone Milkweed plant popped up in one of our flower beds. Today, that single plants has produced approximately a dozen others. A couple have actually worked their way into the lawn but that's okay, they're still there. I've left them and now mow around them. Last year we found 4 Monarch caterpillars on these plants, this year NONE, alas.

The Tiger Swallowtail and Black Swallowtail are here and loving our plants just need to see some Monarch's too.

Here is an article I found, "Where Have All the Monarch Butterfly's Gone?". Although from May 2010 there are several theory listed, all dire for this beauty.

Another Pest Has Returned

I've come across two Tomato Hornworm caterpillars helping themselves to diner on my tomato plants. I'm sure there are others but since the plants are so overgrown I'm unable to make my way through to give a through inspection. Needless to say these dudes are NOT wanted here at the ole homestead.

Now, the good news is that both were covered with the white cocoons of the predatory Braconid Wasp. This means that the hornworm is doomed as the Wasp eggs have already been laid inside them. Even if I'm unable to locate all the caterpillars, it's unlikely they'll escape the wasps and eventually be killed.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Back To School Fall 2011, Child #1

I just received (8:23am) a text message from my oldest daughter that read, "Left like 15 minutes ago".

Summer's over! She's off and driving herself back to college - Sacred Heart University (SHU) in Fairfield, CT., soon to begin her sophomore year.

It seems like only yesterday, with curly locks and a new back pack in place, that we were taking first day of school pictures while waiting for the elementary bus to arrive. Where has the time gone?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Hatch, Bite and Release

Here is the Cicada that we hatched just before she flew off. When I was taking this picture she lowered her proboscis and proceeded to drive it into my finger just like a mosquito. You can see it in the above picture. I felt a tingle type sensation but didn't pay any attention to it until it was too late. Perhaps, she was giving me a goodbye "peck".

Friday, August 05, 2011

A Single 3-Year Old Glad

Check out the flower arrangement I threw together the other afternoon. Nothing too fancy but they all came from our own gardens.

Interestingly, is that this Gladiola is now in it's third summer. I don't dig up the bulb in the fall as we're supposed to in these parts and never have. Apparently, this one is happy right where it is and is protected from our cold, harsh winters. In the end it has rewarded us with these awesome yellow flowers to enjoy.

I Bet You're Gonna Be Jealous!

How bout this sunset we had the other night!

Right off the back deck!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Sedum Crime Scene, Perhaps...

The predator has fallen victim and become the prey.

I'm pleased to have both of these insects making my homestead their homestead. We've worked very hard to create a haven for all kinds of insects. They're more than welcome to do as they please, so long as they earn their keep. Sadly, that is taking place in the above photo. Of course I would prefer if both of these dudes would join forces and go after the bad insects but that isn't always the case.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Hello Down There...

What an awesome day today!

Enjoy it!

Not So Little Any More...

Well, not so little a boy any more, rather a little man.

I know I'm pushing my luck keeping this fella around and only asking for trouble. Fortunately, he's yet to give crowing a try, at least I've not heard him. He needs to go BEFORE he starts, so I may be taking a drive to Marshfield this weekend to visit my farmer friend, which is long over due, but to also bring this little man along for the ride too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Snowberry Clearwing

or what we refer to as the Bumble Bee Hummingbird Moth

These little fellas, like the Goldfinch, are right on time to enjoy the elegant dining of our stunning looking and sweet smelling Butterfly bushes! The butterflies, moths and bees also are enjoying these flowering bushes, along with the Phlox, Black-eyed Susan's and Coneflowers.

We also have oodles of the Hummingbird Hawk-moth too, which are an orange/burnt orange color and equally as cool looking. Emilie is enjoying the challenge of seeing how many times she can net these fast beauties - and she's doing pretty good so far.

Ah, it's a great time to get outside, sit and watch the birds and insects do their thing!

Abuzz Over Cicadas

It's a first for me - I came across a live Cicada nymph yesterday evening (pictured to the far left)! I'm guessing that this dude had just emerged from it's LONG stay underground.

I often come across the exoskeleton remains, some of them in the weirdest places too (pictured center). The one above was hanging on a post I have out besides our chicken pen. It's been hanging there for weeks now but I removed for this photo shot.

The adult Cicada (pictured to the far right), which is dead, was lying in our driveway yesterday afternoon.

We caged up the nymph and provided some branches for it to climb on and secure itself to before transforming. Low and behold in less then 2 hours the dude was busting out of it's shell with the transformation process well underway - SO cool! It's now a lovely, fully formed adult cicada. I'm hoping it's a male so we can experience the cicada song up close and personal. We'll give it a couple days and then let it loose to complete it's LONG odyssey.

Going To The Birds

We have oodles of Hummingbirds visiting our yard this year. They spend most of their time dining on the Cleome, and Honeysuckle (pictured below) but their favorite by far is our unique Harlequin Glorybower shrubs.

The Goldfinches are right on time too. Their arrival coincides with the flowering of our Purple Coneflowers. These dudes will visit on and off all day long dining on the cone flower seeds. Here is a male resting on one of our citronella candles poolside. Almost looks like he's a part of the design.