Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Black Swallowtail Instars

Can you find the critters in the below photos?

We planted (4) Italian Parsley plants this past Spring and they did fantastic.  As a matter of fact, with the mild weather we've been having the plants are still doing fine.  Since we have more than we'll ever use I've begun feeding it to our rabbits, who seem to enjoy it too.

Yesterday afternoon I went to do just that, pick some parsley for the bun-buns, and was pleasantly surprised to find (5) Black Swallowtail caterpillars in their various stages (instar) of growth/development.

Needless to say the rabbits didn't get to dine on parsley.

From what I can tell, keeping in mind that I'm no expert, the top and the bottom pictures show caterpillars that are in their Third Instar Stage.  The two pics in the middle show them in their Second Instar Stage.

Honestly, I think these dudes are a little behind in their development.  However, soon they will spin their chrysalis and remain in that state throughout the long, cold winter for ~8 to 9 months until they emerge as beautiful Black Swallowtail butterflies!

Truth be told, we plant the Parsley and sometimes Fennel and Dill, for one main reason - in the hopes of attracting these caterpillars, honest!  We do not use these herbs to cook with at all.

So, what I plan on doing next planting season it to plant more parsley and to spread their locations out throughout the yard.  These four are all planted side by side.  However, it worked just the same!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

We're Ready! Bring It On!

The hatches have been battened down!
We spent the day putting all the outside "stuff" into storage and securing what remained.
And I thought we had too much crap in the garage before today, geesh!  Now, we have a single path from the driveway, through one garage bay and into the basement.  If we had to climb on and over stuff we just might fall into the "hoarding" category.
Fired up the generator - check
Additional gas - check
Bought several bags of ice - check
Plenty of food & necessities - check
Flashlight batteries have been changed - check
Cell phones fully charged - check
In any event we're ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store for us.

It's A Lonely Position...

Just try an get a field hockey ball past this goalie, I dare you!
Emilie just finished her first stint at Field Hockey.  She had a great time and enjoys playing the game.
The girls rotated positions to give them all a feel for what's expected and how to play each position.  This game Emilie played net, as you can see above, and did well.
Now onto basketball!

Bumper Shot

1973 vintage Bumper Shot game by Ideal

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What a Lovely Lady - UPDATE!

Here's an update to the "What a Lovely Lady" post from last week.
As I suspected the Praying Mantis was a female.  This has been confirmed. And that she had one more chore to do before passing on.  This has also been confirmed.
I poked around the area were we noticed her hanging out, which is a tangled mess of Honeysuckle vines growing in and out of a lattice trellis, and sure enough I found her egg sack.
It's hard to spot in the first photo, as the egg sack looks very much like the dried/drying leaves of the Honeysuckle.  The second photo gives you a much better look just what her egg sack looks like.  It's a hard crusted shell, which protects the eggs inside from the wind and rain and snow that it will surely be subjected to this coming Fall, Winter and Spring.
If all goes well, the young'n will emerge come Spring and hopefully will stick around and help rid our gardens of pesky, unwanted insects.

German White Garlic, Planted!

I bought my German White Garlic, 1-pound from Merry Meadow Farming out of New York.

The garlic arrived on the 18th.

I planted on the 20th.
1-pound came to 36 individual cloves (eventual plants) - (3) rows of 12.
Watered and mulched = DONE!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vintage Game Pieces Menagerie

So, with winter fast approaching, I'm under the gun to get, at least, one garage bay cleared out so that we can get JoAnne's vehicle inside.

In order to accomplish this "stuff" has to go!  Unfortunately, the vintage board games I've been storing for over a year now drew the short straw. I spent a couple hours this past rainy Saturday morning going through them and culling.  When I was done our 65-gallon recycling barrel was choke full right to the top.

I was somewhat selective on what I kept but at the end of the day many, many a board game is now gone.  The good news is that I recycled almost everything, not too much went into the regular trash.

In order to ensure the small game pieces didn't end up all over the place, like in the street, I bagged them all up.  The picture above contains said pieces, which came from 10 to 12 board games.  Kinda cool I guess.

Sad to have had to dispose of them in this manner but I was unsuccessful in finding homes for them.  I desperately need the space and tired of moving these games around.

More space needs cleaning and more work needs to be done, so more "stuff" will be going.  Actually, feels pretty good!

What a Hoe!

and I'm not talking about Eliot Spitzer's Ashley Alexandra Dupré or the Maine Zumba instructor Alexis Wright kinda hoe, nope!  I'm talking about a till-the-soil hoe.

I used my new hoe for the first time on Saturday to plant my garlic!

This is a special hoe and was given to me by my mother-in-law who recently passed away.

So, I'm betting this garlic planting will be a bountiful, if for no other reason than I used my new hoe to ready the ground for planting.

Don't no one touch my hoe but me!!

Sofa Queen!

Shh, the sofa queen is on her thrown, please do not disturb her!

What a spoiled dog for sure!

She likes sitting up there for a couple reasons: (1) it's comfy, and (2) she's up high and can actually see out the windows and keep an eye on things.

So, don't anyone try breaking into our house, as this ferocious, little guard dog will, well, she'll pee all over the floor in excitement...alas

Sunday, October 21, 2012


1975 (100th anniversary edition) vintage Parcheesi game by Selchow & Righter

Pure Gold

Check out the awesome color on our neighbors Hickory tree!
The picture just doesn't do it justice, you really need to be standing in our driveway looking up at it to really appreciate it!  The gold color of the leaves against the dark, almost black of the trunk is impressive for sure.

Friday, October 19, 2012


As "Gomer Pyle: USMC" would say, SHAZAM!
Is this not a stunning sunset?!
As viewed and photo'd from our back deck.

Find The Critter

Can you find the critter in the above picture?!

What a Lovely Lady!

Emilie came across this beautiful Praying Mantis this past weekend just hanging out on the fence.  She is also the one who took this, and some other, great pictures!
I was somewhat surprised to see this lady but very happy just the same.  It's been a couple years since we've seen any on our property and although I realize that just because we don't notice them doesn't mean they're not there.  However, I do spend quite a bit of time working and puttering around the yard I'd like to think I would have spotted her much earlier than we did but not worries.
She was BIG and beautiful, which means that she had very good summer bulking up on insects.
I suspect, based on her size, that she'll be looking for a place to lay her eggs soon, real soon especially with the colder weather moving in.  I'm also guessing that she's too big to fly off very far if at all, so chances are she'll be laying her eggs somewhere close by.  This is perfect and means we'll have more, many more, little Praying Mantises her come next Spring/Summer!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Mild Winter Ahead...Maybe?

Came across this Woolly Bear Caterpillar on my way out to feed the animals.  Although, not the first one I've seen this year, it is the first one I've seen this fall.  What struck me about this particular dude is that he was mostly brown.  In years past I've see some that are mostly black or the two colors are more proportionate but not this fella.
As you may know Woolly Bears are known for predicting winter weather, which made the Woolly Bear one of the most recognizable caterpillars in North America.
So, what is this dude predicting for this upcoming winter?!?!
Well, according to The Farmer's Almanac -
According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is (i.e., the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter.
Certainly hope this is true but only time will tell.

The Last Gardening Step of The Season

Stopped in at our local Agway this past Saturday to pick up some chicken feed and rabbit feed - 50lbs bags.
While I was there I also bought 5lbs of Winter Rye, which I will be planting in our vegetable gardens in the coming weeks.
I can't recall when I started this annual ritual but it's safe to say years now.  Of course it helps to fertilize the soil once I till the growth in but, and I think more importantly, it helps to hold the soil in place so it doesn't wash away or blow away.  Plus it displays a nice summer green throughout the long, cold New England winters.  That is so long as it's not all covered in snow, UGH.
Once this has been planted, my gardening is done for the season.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Freeze - Frost Kill Already

Alas, this is what happens when Mother Nature turns on the deep freeze!
We had a heavy freeze Friday night, not a frost a freeze, and it did a number on the plants.
We brought in all the plants that we wanted to save on Friday night, and the others, well we enjoyed them all summer long but their time had come.  I'll compost the plants and reuse the soil again next year.
Just can't believe we're already in mid-October already with the holiday's and long cold New England ahead of us.

Phew, Glad That's Done!

A post-hole digger is your friend!  Well, yesterday it was my friend.
I dug (3) 12" diameter holes that are 4' deep in preparation for a new deck support system that we're installing. 
Hole digging here in New England is typically a huge undertaking with Murphy's Law always playing  role.  Inevitably, the location one chooses to dig is exactly where that monstrous rock is always hiding.  When this occurs and if you're lucky the rock is movable, however, a 12" diameter hole is now a 24+" diameter hole.  If your not lucky, well then you SOL!
In my case I was SUPER lucky, and with the exception of the large rock (soccer ball sized) in the above picture, I had NO problems.  I had all three holes dug and ready their for sonar tubes and concrete in under and hour.

Friday, October 12, 2012

More Storage Space

So, we've had this weird phone booth type nook in our upstairs hallway, which I believe was originally intended to be used as a phone booth.  You can see in the photo above a phone jack smack dabs in the center of the back wall, and it was a working jack too when we first moved in.  Weird right...
Anyway, this has always been wasted space for us and not too much that we could do to take advantage of it...until now!!
At the coaxing of JoAnne I installed four shelves, as you can see above.  I believe the goal is to use this as a linen closet for towels, sheets, blankets, etc. 
Phase II of the project, which can be see on my "list", is to install a door with trim an all and to match all other upstairs doors.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sleep Tight!

Put a fork in it, she's done!
Closed our pool for the season yesterday.  Can't tell you how much of a relief it is to have this task done and behind us.  It's not that difficult, it just a full day and takes two people.  Thankfully, my neighbor always lends a hand and this year was no different.
We'll spend the next couple of weeks putting up the rest of the summer "stuff", like the table and chairs in the foreground.  Once done, the yard will be ready for the long New England winter.
Bring on the Advil!

Red Eft Visitor

I found this Red Spotted Newt, also referred to as a Red Eft, floating in our pool yesterday.  In the twelve years that we've been here at the ole homestead this is only the second time we've found one of these shy amphibians in our pool.
Emilie wasn't home at the time, so I put him in the above container, and held onto him until she returned.  We then took some pictures and let set him free.

2012 Bell Peppers Harvest

We also picked some of our Bell Peppers.  The ones pictured above came from only three of our plants.  We still have four more plants and they're loaded with oodles more.  Plus, we've already picked and enjoyed a bunch!
JoAnne has a crock-pot of chili simmering on the counter and it smells fantastic!  She also added some of these fresh peppers to it and it taste Heavenly!

2012 Butternut Squash Harvest

We picked our Butternut Squash.  So, from four squash plants, which I started indoors, we were rewarded with 15 big, beautiful Butternut Squash!