Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's over Johnny. It's over!

2011 Tomato and Pickle (Cucumber) canning is over!

Here are our 2011 canning totals:

Tomatoes - (34) quarts & (31) pints
Pickles Dill -(4) quarts & (18) pints
Pickles Bread & Butter - (1) quart & (20) pints

R.I.P. Jack

Jack, our lovable male rabbit passed away yesterday.

He'd been slowly getting worse these last couple of weeks, so it wasn't a complete surprise. However, and of course, Emilie was devastated when we told her. He was a fantastic little man with a wonderful, friendly disposition. He leaves behind many, many, many, many sons and daughters, so his presence will last for quite a while. As a matter of fact our two remaining rabbits are his daughters.

Emilie named him "Jack" after her day-care friend, at the time, Jack Kelly - it was that long ago! Best we can remember we got him somewhere between 8 to 10 years ago. Whenever any of us would go out to the animals, Jack would come up to the front of his cage and be there to greet us.

We buried him out back after diner last night, in a box that Emilie decorated. Already, it's just not the same out there without him bouncing around.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Danger, Danger, Danger Will Robinson!


The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has found bird-biting mosquitoes infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis in the Broad Street area of Medway. Triple-E is a serious virus with a very high mortality rate. Although no EEE has been found in Franklin yet this season, residents in North Franklin along the Medway border should take all steps necessary to avoid mosquito bites. If you have questions regarding this alert, please contact the Franklin Health Department.

So, we need to be careful when out in our yard, as the infected area/town isn't too far from us. As you can see, I am already doing my part to help eradicate the potential carriers.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, from the movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day, said -

"Hasta la vista, baby!"

Keep on Keeping On...

So, the Summer is officially over and Autumn has begun here in New England. However, and although, looking somewhat pathetic and beat up from a long hot summer, our Clematis is still producing some flowers. Five, smaller than usual from this old timer, purple flowers doing the best they can. Of course at this time of year any and all flowers are welcome by us, as well as the butterflies and bees.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Archie Bunker's Card Game

I thought I'd start a new series of posting, which I will refer to as, "Attic Toys". These attic toys are the games and toys that my brother and I grew up playing with back when we were kids. They've been stored in my folks house since we were knee high to a grasshopper. With my dad looking to sell the house, my brother and I cleaned out the attic and as luck would have, the games and toys ended up in my garage and basement.

I've begun sorting and inventorying them all and will post various pictures from time to time. Some are quite interesting and a sign of how things were back then. Many just would NOT be acceptable in today's world, as political correctness is out of control (in my opinion)!

Here's the first one -

1972 "All In The Family" Archie Bunker's card game by Milton Bradley

Awesomely Stunning, Yes!

Back in early August our Hibiscus bloomed for the first time in 2011. The blooms were stunning and BIG, as we've come accustomed to (this plant has us spoiled) the last couple of three or four years now.

We planted it and have left it alone and do not bring indoors come the fall. It's planted against the back of the house and I'm guessing the foundation keeps it protected enough from our harsh New England winters, as it happily reappears each summer.

And each year, along with the awesome flowers, the damaging Hibiscus Sawfly arrives too. You can see the damage that the larva inflict if left alone and uncontrolled, they'll decimate the foliage in short order.

Here is what the Hibiscus Sawfly larva looks like. With the exception of fertilizing our lawn, we do NOT use chemicals to control the bad insects that arrive each year and attack our vegetables and flowers. Instead, I hand pick or squash the offenders. Perhaps, it's not the most effective but it's certainly much safer. The chickens also win as they often times get to reap what I collect.

But alas with Fall upon us this beauty is shutting down and will soon be closing shop until next Spring, sleep tight.

P.S. Did you all notice the lovely bracelet in the first picture above, HMM?!?! If interested and you'd would like to see others, please let me know! We have many, many more available. They make excellent gifts!

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Floor for A Door

I got a little creative with our old deck's floor boards. Our front pool deck gate was in terrible disrepair. So much so that it was very difficult to open and we decided to lock it shut and not use it. Of course this just wasn't convenient, especially being summer time and needing ready access to the pool.

So, I removed the old one and built a brandy new one; well sort of in that it's a new gate, just used old wood to construct it. It's not the prettiest, and perhaps not the best workmanship but it does work and we can use it once again whenever we want/need so there!

Front view from the driveway -

Rear view from inside the pool area -

After all what was I gonna do with all this old decking? Our weekly curbside trash pickup does not take this type of material! However, the town my dad lives in will take this stuff, BUT I didn't want to take it there for fear he'd pull it out and keep it. This in itself is a long story...

A Local Great Blue Heron, Impressive!

Here is a Great Blue Heron that spotted when we were releasing our bullfrog. Actually, we see them quite often around these parts the last couple of four years or so. They're easy to identify when flying too, odd looking yet impressive to see such a larger bird flying with such ease.

Check out the size of this dudes foot, as well as his gullet - HUGH right! I can't see him getting stuck in the mud with those paws. He's no pelican but I bet he can fit some fairly large critters in that oesophagus!

Also, present in this pond was this beaver house. Looks like it might be an older one, with the grass growing on top but impressive just the same.

We need to take our canoe to this pond, so we can check it out more. Perhaps, this fall.

Froggy Went a Courtin...

Earlier this month Emilie and I took a drive to a local ponds and released our bullfrog. I caught this boy is early August, so we had him for about a month and enjoyed having him around. However, with winter approaching we wanted to let him go with plenty of time to fatten up and locate a good hibernating spot.

Off we go, Shaquille O'Neal and I, through the woods and down the path to the pond -

And here's Mr. Froggy. He had something going on with his mouth area when I caught him that didn't really get much better under our watch. Perhaps, getting back into a pond and wallowing in mud will help it heal.

Just hope he's smart enough to steer clear of the Great Blue Heron we saw when we arrived.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm Changing Things Up Garlic Wise

I decided to change things up regarding this fall's garlic planting since our summer harvest was less then good. For several years now I've been planting California Softneck garlic, which I would buy from our local Agway store. All in all we've been pleased and have had success but...

This year I ordered via the Internet from
Seven Acre Seeds and went with their German White garlic. I paid a bit more, especially when you add in shipping but I wanted to try something different.

One pound ended up being (5) beautiful bulbs, see below.

So, from the five bulbs I was able to plant (3) rows each with 10 cloves this past Saturday! They're in, now it's a waiting game and I have my fingers crossed for a bountiful harvest come nest summer.

The other change I made was location! I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone, and decided to swap the location I've always planted our garlic in with the location I've always planted our Kale and Broccoli in. The main thought behind this decision was to relocate the Kale and Broccoli closer to the house and much farther away from the temptation and reach of the woodchucks. I just hope that don't like garlic.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pickle Canning?! Who Knew...

JoAnne has raised her game this year when it comes to canning! She banged out another batch of tomatoes - (16) quarts and (13) pints, bringing out 2011 tomato canning totals to a whopping- (28) quarts and (31) pints, OH BABY BABY!

She also did some cucumber (pickle) canning too! We had HUGH success with our cucumbers this year! They just kept growing and producing more and more. As you can see in the photo above her first attempt at pickle canning was a success. She did a batch of Dill that yielded (4) quarts and (11) pints and a batch of Bread & Butter that yielded (14) pints, BOOYAH!

There are still more tomatoes to be picked that begs the question, does JoAnne have it in her to can another batch?!?! Stay tuned...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Patients and persistence have paid off!

Finally trapped one of my archenemy's yesterday! Weirdest thing too, it was in the middle of the afternoon with me working in the yard. I guess this is the price to pay for getting too cocky.

It's ironic that this gardening season began with a woodchuck eating this years first head of broccoli out of our garden and the dude above was lured into this trap with a piece of broccoli.

This dude is a young'n, I'm guessing a baby from this season. Too bad we weren't fishing so I could throw this one back in the hope of catching a bigger one, like the momma, but NO need to do that. I will catch the momma eventually too.

Find The Critter

Can you find the critter in the above picture?

It's the first (adult) one we've seen all year and we're tickled to know they're still around!

As Good As New, Yes?!

We just had our driveway tended to in preparation for this coming winter and to help us extend it's life, hopefully for years to come. They filled all the cracks, of which there were MANY, and then sealed. They, or rather, he did an excellent job. It really needs to be replaced and I'd like to be 6" taller too, it's just not in our budget today or the foreseeable future...

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Few Nectar-Feeding Insects

Although, we've not see too many Monarch butterflies this summer, some did eventually arrive for a visit and something to nibble on. We did have many other butterflies and moths visiting all summer long and still do today. Here are just a few:

Here is a picture of a Yellow Sulfur perched atop a Joe-Pye weed flower -

Here is a beautiful Great Spangled Fritilary butterfly atop a butterfly bush flower -

Here is another stunning beauty, a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail atop our Harlequin Glory Bower bush -

Huff, Puff and Blow Down

Hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Irene did some tree damage in my dad's yard. The top of and a large branch from this maple (pictured below) came crashing down on top of the shed roof. Surprisingly, there was NO damage to the shed or the roof.

So, last Saturday following the mowing of (3) lawns I got to spend an additional hour + cutting and hauling (with dad's help) these damaged limbs, branches, etc. into the woods. Good times...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

New Oak Roost For The Ladies

Now that we have (10) chickens rooming together I installed a second roost in the coop. This roost was delivered onto us by hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Irene, so why not use a perfectly good piece of oak! This will give the newbies another place too flee to when being chased by the older hens as they set the pecking order, as well as another option for the ladies to spread out for their evening night nights.

The photo above shows the first user of said roost. A perdy four+ month old Buff Orpington pullet. Can't wait till they start laying!

My Archenemy

Emilie spotted my adversary, Mr. Woodchuck, in the neighbors front yard the other afternoon. He was cautiously making his way around eating grass and weeds. So long as he stays over there things will be fine. However, I located a new woodchuck hole in the woods behind our old woodpile. Sadly, that just means there are more of these invaders in our immediate area than I thought. I've taken a vow to not let theses bandits do any more destruction to our plants and veggies, so bring it on you saboteur!

Back To School Fall 2011, Child #2

After a weeks delay due to Hurricane turned tropical storm Irene, Emilie starts 4th grade today!

She surprised me this morning and came downstairs half asleep to see me off to work and give me a hug. She was SO adorable. She has NO idea how that hug alone made my whole day. I am a VERY luck dad!

Again I ask you where has the time gone?! It wasn't too long ago that she was just learning how to crawl. Can she really be 9 (going on 16!) already?!

Have a good first day of school Em!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Hurricane Breakfast

JoAnne whipped up this delicious breakfast while hurricane Irene was visiting. Once done she named it, "Hurricane Irene", appropriate named if I do say so myself. An item to note, the potatoes and eggs are from the ole homestead, yummmmy!

Stop in anytime and join me in a hurricane breakfast!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

What's That Noise?

A common little insect around here these days is the Red-headed Bush Cricket, also called the Handsome Trig and a few other names. In Latin it's PHYLLOPALPUS PULCHELLUS.

At first, with its rusty head and thorax, and golden legs, I didn't even recognize this handsome little critter as a cricket because it is so unlike the much larger, totally black field crickets with which I'm more familiar.

This dude above was walking down our kitchen wall. Must have come inside on the plants we brought in prior to Irene's arrival. He's been singing too, which I enjoy but others not so much.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Summer 2011 Deck Repair

Dear Diary -

Timothy "Tim the Tool Man" Taylor I am not but I'm holding my own and tackling some homestead deck upgrades. Frye Brother's Construction started the project back in June, but soon thereafter one of the dynamic duo's hopped a plane back down south - go figure. A few minor set backs slowed progress, however, with those behind me now things are looking up and have been progressing nicely these last couple of weeks.

The rail spindles need to be cut and installed. Once done, the deck top will be completed. All that will remain, and I use the word "all" loosely, is the stairs.

One of the set backs was that the (3) 12' 4x4 supporting posts needed to be replaced. After consulting with neighbors and friends I opted to go with the suggestion my Uncle gave and that was to replace them with 6x6 posts. Now that they're in place I am SO pleased. They look fantastic, however, 14' 6x6 posts are a tad heavy. The extra post heights use remains to be determined, although, we do have a couple ideas. After lugging those bad boys around you can now consider me a polyorchidsm man.

View of the deck top looking West -

Hello Up There! Hello Down There!

Last week we headed North again, this time to Westford, Massachusetts to visit Kimball Farm. Kimball Farm in Westford offers a variety of fun activities. The farmhouse from 1939 still sits in the same place.

Here Emilie (#12) and I (#14) battle it out on the high seas in the bumper boat pond What a blast! Emilie did VERY well and held her own. Gave me a run for my money.

And here's another one of Emilie's ideas, an AreoBallon adventure ride, yikes! This dude is tethered to the ground (thank goodness) and soars up 300 feet high. Since it was an absolutely beautiful day we could see forever. The city of Boston in one direction to Wachusett mountain in another.

Looking Up -

Petrified and looking down -

It was quite the experience but I prefer my feet on solid ground and was glad when we touched down. After all, no one wants to see a grown man wet himself...