We went to Jane and Paul's Farm in Norfolk. Although, Jane and Paul retired at the end of last season, they're keeping some elements of the farm open. Blueberries being one, apple picking, delicious corn, a corn maze and eggs.
Picked this mess of tomatoes from our garden this past Saturday!
JoAnne canned them on Sunday and produced: 25-pints & 10-quarts!
There are oodles and oodles more out there all on the cusp of ripening. It looks like we have way more than we can handle this year. The tomato fairy will be delivering some to the neighbors for their enjoyment.
Emilie and I went fishing the other afternoon. As you can see it was a beautiful day and we essentially had the whole pond to ourselves! By the time we were wrapping things up Emilie had perfected her casting! This allowed me to be able to sit back and watch her having fun.
She caught ~15 Bluegill, some tiny and some good sized but all went back in.
Emilie and I hit the trails again yesterday, this time we visited Rocky Woods, in Medfield, MA.
We chose to hike the yellow trail, which was 1.5 miles. It was so nice and peaceful! Outside of passing just two people on the trail we had the woods all to ourselves!
We even found some delicious blueberries along the way, YUMMY!
We ate our packed lunch on a bench along the waters edge at Chickering Pond just the two of us - and the Catbird who was eating elderberries nearby.
I remember visiting Rocky Woods many, many times growing up but hadn't been there in quite some time. It was very special to be able to visit there once again, this time with my daughter, to relive and revive some old memories while creating new ones!
Although the place is the same in many respects, it's also changed quite a bit too. For example, the bridge across Echo Lake, where we spent SO much time, now has wired/fenced sides. No more sitting and dangling your feet in the water. Also, back in the day (way back) you could rent paddle boats; well, the building that operated the rentals has been taken down and the parking lot in that area is now a field with chest high grasses, milkweed, Joe Pye weed and more.
Emilie and I took off yesterday morning and headed to the Blue Hills and the Trailside Museum in Canton, MA.
The museum really hasn't changed too much since I was Emilie's age. Some of the animal enclosures have been updated, a couple new ones built but about the same. The foxes and bobcats are no longer there and have been replaced with owls and turkey vultures.
We then checked the posted map, chose the red (moderate from a difficulty perspective) trail and off we went. It wasn't long before Emilie attention turned to my wellbeing, perhaps due to the fact that I told her if I had a heart attach my cell phone was in my back pocket. for the next ~5 minutes she checked on my constantly, the worry-wart that she is.
We made it to the top in short order, then climbed the old rock castle and took a bunch of pictures. In the picture above you can clearly see the city of Boston.
We then made our way over to the ski slope, stopped for break some cookies and water then headed down the steep slope.
We had a great time! I fondly remember my dad taking us there when we were kids and hiking the mountain. It was wonderful to be able to relive those memory and at the same time create new ones with my daughter. I am a lucky father!
Driving through the Blue Hill Reservation yesterday afternoon when Emilie spotted this handsome 8-point buck just off the road - DAD DEER!! I banged a quick U-turn, pulled over to the side of the road and began snapping pictures.
You can see the felt covering his antlers, cool!
It's my understanding that during the summer months bucks typically restrict their movements to prevent damage to their antlers. Injury to the velvet can cause bleeding and deformity. However, as the fall approaches and the rut nears this is less of a concern and bucks becomes more active.
For the right price Emilie is available as a hunting guide!
Here's a beautiful specimen - a Polyphemus Moth (Giant Silk Moth).
Just look at the "eyes" on handsome young man!
We found this guy one morning clinging to the wall of the school down the street. I had just dropped Emilie off at summer camp and he caught my attention as I was leaving. We missed it on our way into the school; walked right past him. He's beat up some, as you can see on his wings but regardless what a beauty!
The flowers throughout are yard are blooming like crazy now! The colors are awesome and play host to a seemingly endless amount and variety of insects from bees to butterflies to yellow jacks and wasps - I can't get enough!
Here a Black-Eye Susan is poking through the pool gate. Apparently, the view of the front yard is more appealing to this flower than the back yard...
I am happy to report that we have oodles and oodles or praying mantis' this year! Although, they're great at blending into their surroundings I'm spotting them, especially now that they're growing and getting BIG. Just imagine all the ones that I pass by and don't see.
This dude was hanging out atop a Sedum and was there all day long. At one point he had a skipper moth in his grasp and was contently dining.
Kinda eerie how he looked right at the camera, as if to say I know you're there and I'm watching you too!
Here is one of many Hummingbird moths that flock to our many flowers.
This dude is dinning on Phlox and enjoying it. Their favorite seems to be the Butterfly bush flowers. They'll spend all day coming and going from flower to flower to flower, never minding the need to share a bud or two with Bumble Bees or Honey Bees or Hornets or moths or butterflies, one great BIG happy family.
It's a great time to be able to sit back and watch all these critters enjoying the hard work we put in - makes it all worth while.
Check out this basketball sized North American Hornets nest Emilie and I came across, YIKES!
This abode is hanging over the driveway entrance to the park! If you were ~8 or 9 feet tall you'd bump into it with you head. Perhaps, this was a "first build" for the little wasp engineer who designed it. I don't believe size and weight, as the casa grew, was taken into consideration otherwise they would have chosen a larger branch.
I pity the fool that unknowingly disturbs these dudes. With any luck it will be one of the inconsiderate people that visit the park and treat it as if it was there very own.
So, we visited a local farm stand, Tangerini's Spring Street Farm, a couple towns over this past weekend; stopped in with my two girls for ice creams and to see the animals.
Emilie has been there before with JoAnne and was aware of a hay maze that was built for the brave to venture into. This maze was built under a rickety old barn. By under I mean that the front entrance to the barn is on level ground but due to the slope of the ground the back side is at ground level also, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, like the fool and apparently new found claustrophobic, panty-waste that I am or have become, I gave in to Emilie's "come on dad, follow me" and in I went behind her...
Once around the first bend it looked like the below picture - PITCH BLACK! Oh, let me also say that this maze was built with kids in mind, NOT grown (tall and wide) adults! So, right outta the gate I knew I was in trouble - bent over and walking/crawling sideways in a super tight space is NOT my idea of a good time, HELP ME!
THANK goodness Emilie was with me, leading the way. Also, she had her smart phone with her and had previously installed the handy-dandy flashlight app, YEAH! Of course she thought it was hilarious when she turned it off. The twists and turns were terrible, I could hardly move, plus the sobbing and sweating wasn't helping either.
When I had the chance I grabbed her by the back of her pants and held on for dear life until we emerged, AMEN!
Of course Emilie proceeded to take off and run through it again multiple times like it was nothing.
Phew, anyway please don't tell anyone about this! This is between you and I.
Following last years lead and success, and in the hope of attracting more butterflies, I planted additional Parsley plants this year. However, instead of planting them all in the same general area, as I've done in the past, I planted them in various gardens throughout the yard.
This particular Parsley plant was planted amongst the squash plants. It's doing very well, close to 3' tall and about to flowering.
And WALLAH! Low and behold what did my little eye spy the other day, well it's a handsome young Black Swallowtail caterpillar!!
This is EXACTLY what I was hoping to accomplish and very happy to see it worked. Hopefully, there will be others too. Rest assured that we'll be waiting and watching.
Much to my surprise for a couple of reasons: (1) in all the years that we've lived here this is like maybe the ~8th snake I've seen and (2) he was at the bottom of the deck stairs on the walkway, perhaps soaking in it's warmth, as it's overcast this morning.
As much as I loves snakes I have mixed emotions seeing this one and he was a pretty good size for a Garter Snake. If push came to shove I think I'd rather have the toads and frogs we so often see through out yard and gardens and even the pool. Jake here dines on toads and frogs, among other things, so you can understand my concerns.
Just the other day Emilie pulled a small frog from the pool and placed it pretty much in the same area as where this dude slithered off to, as well as a plump toad too.
Emilie and I planted a row or radishes and a row of carrots this past Saturday.
As of this morning (Thursday) the radish plants were already poking through the soil.
The radishes take 22-days and the carrots 66-days, so they'll be done with plenty of time for me to get another batch of fall garlic planted - which reminds me, I need to get this ordered ASAP before they're all sold out.
I removed this 1" Squash Vine Borer from one of our zucchini squash plants: one of our severally wilted squash plants.
This pests are devastating to squash plants. Sadly, there really isn't too much you can do about it (from what I've been able to dig up). By the time you notice the problem (wilting plants), it's too late. The borer(s) are already inside the plants stems eating it alive from the inside out.
One of the things I will try next year is planting our zucchini and summer squash in another garden location all together and as far away from the garden I have been planting them in. Time will tell how that goes. In the meantime one of the chickens enjoyed this borer!
Our Harlequin Glorybower is in full bloom and absolutely magnificent! It smells SO good too, which just might explain why the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are attractive to it and spend so much time visiting and taking their fill of nectar.