Monday, September 30, 2013

The End of A Long Weekend

So, after all my weekend chores were completed, included mowing the neighbors lawn, I got to sit back, relax and enjoy a frost wobblie-pop (or three) yesterday afternoon.

Sadly, I had to drink alone as my brother's visit came to an end.  Well, I was alone until my neighbor came over and joined me...

What a beautiful Sunday afternoon it was!

Aphids Congregation!

Check out the aphid mass congregated on one of our broccoli plants.  There's gotta be a thousand little pest amassed there.  Boy the chickens sure enjoyed them when I cut the stem and dropped it in their coop.

Oodles of Bird House Gourds

Check out our birdhouse gourds!

I believe there are about a dozen gourds that grew from a single plant and they're getting super big too.

Need to do a little research to determine when to pick and how to dry so they don't rot.  If all goes well we'll have one or two make it as true birdhouses for Spring 2014.

New Fans Installed, Finally...

Muchas gracias to my brother for his encouragement and assistance in installing two replacement light/fan kits in our upstairs bathrooms during his visit up.

Seems to be a pattern where visitors are put to work on Frye "ToDo" and/or "HoneyDo" type projects.  Perhaps, that's why we don't have as many visitors as we'd like.

Whatever the reason finally getting these two units installed was tremendous!  What a difference they make with both providing additional light and with venting.  Plus two less boxes cluttering up the basement...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Insect Pests - GO AWAY!

A Green Imported Cabbageworm and Cross-striped Cabbageworm is a common pest of cabbage family members and both VERY bad and damaging.  They will do a number on broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, turnip, etc.
Although, we've had oodles of Cabbage Moths this past Summer these pests didn't appear until the Fall.  They've done a number on the radish greens and now doing the same to the Kale.
The good news is that the chickens love them, but there are just too many and too small to pick all.

Another Praying Mantis First For Me!

Another Praying Mantis first for me!
We've been watching this female mantis for a couple weeks now.  She took up residence in the Autumn Joy sedum at the bottom of our deck stairs.  She'd come out and be more visible during the day while she stocked her prey but then retreat down into the plant in the evening.
Well yesterday afternoon when I peeked in to check on her low and behold she was in the middle of laying her eggs, AMAZING!
I also came across two other Mantis eggs cases when working in the yard.  I can only imagine, and hope, there will be more based on the number of Mantis I saw over the Summer.  Perhaps, we'll have another bumper year for these interesting insects next Summer.  Time will tell... 

Closed For The Season!

With mixed emotions I inform you that we closed our pool for the season yesterday.
Closing it up is another sign that the Summer is over and the cold New England winter is just around the corner.  On the flip side, once it's covered and put to bed, there's no maintenance or upkeep required.
Now, we just need to figure out how to keep Trixie dog off the cover.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Snap Caps...

Well, it's that time of year again - acorn season!

Is it just me or do others enjoy stepping on acorn caps when out and about?!

Perhaps, just another one of my OCD-type idiosyncrasies...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Fall Beauty...

Here's an unusual sight for September, an Easter Lily in full, stunning bloom!
This was our Easter 2013 Easter Lily that I planted once the weather allowed and although it was bought in full bloom, it's blooming again.
I can only guess that it approves of it's location and happy with the compost we spoiled it with.

Our Infamous Yard Sale of 2013

Well, we finally did it and had our yard sale yesterday, yippee!
Intended to have it back in the Spring of 2012 but that didn't happen; then in the Fall of 2012 but that didn't happen; then the Spring of 2013 but that didn't happen.  However, the Fall of 2013 the stars aligned and we had our long awaited yard sale!
Ironically, there was almost no pre-planning, nope.  We decided Friday afternoon that it was a go, spent a couple hours Friday night prepping then up early Saturday to setup and all things considered it was a whopping success!
We made a few bucks, which is always welcome and helpful, but more importantly A LOT of "stuff" went and is gone!

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Spy With My Little Eye...

I spotted this rather unique looking beetle the other afternoon hanging out on a Joe Pye weed of ours.  I don't recall seeing this type of insect before but thought it was cool.
It turns out that this is an American Carrion Beetle.  It lays its eggs in, and its larvae consume, raw flesh (particularly that of dead animals) and fungi.  Hmm, I'm not aware of any dead animals but have my fingers crossed that perhaps it's a woodchuck!

SPLASH, Pool Time Fun!

The pool / swimming season is coming to an end here in New England but sure was enjoyed during the hot, humid summer months that's for sure.
We need to give some thought as to when we'll be shutting her down and getting her winterized.  Although, we've improved over the years on this weekend long project, it's always sad to close her up.

Our Sun...Flowers!

A sampling of just some of the sunflowers we have adorning our yard this year!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More Greens Veggies!

The peppers are doing FANTSTIC this year; a bumper crop!

The broccoli also did very good.  Although, being eaten by a wild rabbit down to just their stems shortly after I planted them, they bounced back nicely and produced some tasty florets.  The rabbits (our rabbits) are now enjoying them, as they're all done.


It's tiny Emilie!

More Garden Goodies Coming In!

The radishes Emilie planted back in early August are ready!  They're delicious and the rabbits are enjoying the greens too.
The carrots are coming along nicely too and should be ready in early to mid October.
The carrots are also covered with Black Swallowtail caterpillars.  Emilie and I counted 8 last night.  They're tiny yet but will grow fast.  An outstanding year for drawing these critters to our yard.

2013 - Tomato Picking and Canning #3

One more time - I picked another mess of tomatoes this past Saturday and JoAnne wasted no time in getting them canned.  This third time around we got 9-pints and 25 quarts!!
This has been a bumper year for tomatoes!  From a canning perspective we have plenty; more than enough, plus we're run out of canning jars, so looks like 2013 tomato canning has come to a close. There's still a boat load of tomatoes out there too, so we'll be eating tomatoes till the frost comes a calling.
If my math is correct here are the 2013 canning totals:
- 46 pints
- 60 quarts

Friday, September 06, 2013

Whatcha Thinking About?!

Emilie's turned another page and set to begin yet another chapter in her life, middle school (6th grade), yippee!
Where has the time gone?  Seems like only yesterday she would sit in my lap as I cut the lawn, now she drives the lawn tractor all by herself
She's getting too big and growing too fast and fresh too!

Edible Juicy Fruit Tree

When we bought our house the previous owners planted a peach tree.  For years now it's been producing peaches come late Summer, see above from this season.  However, the tree has some sort of a bacterial canker to which sadly there is no cure.
This bacterial canker produces a jelly-like ooze that seeps from tree/limbs.  This problem existed from day one but back then the ooze was limited to a couple spots.  The first couple of years, and before I realized there is no cure for this canker, I sprayed the tree each Spring before the blooms in the hope of eliminating it.
Today, the ooze has spread and is throughout the tree, yet it's still fighting on and producing fruit.  The fruit however is hurting also. Very few are edible, as they're spotted, rot on the limbs and/or contain the ooze themselves.  The rabbits love them just the same and eagerly look forward to getting them.  Frustratingly, the woodchucks love them too and they venture out of their safety zone to dine.
Since there is no cure the tree really needs to come down.  I'm postponing this task because this is the tree we hang our winter bird feeders from and it's where the birds perch and rest when waiting their turn or working up the courage to grab a bite.  Taking this dude down will then leave the birds with no comfort zone, alas...

Just Turned 4...Months

 Here's a peek at the three breeds of chickens we now have.  From left to right: Black Sex-Link, Buff Sex-Link and Barred Rock.
They turned 4-months old on August 26.
We're anxiously waiting for them to start laying, which should begin in about another month.  Since I found a home for the older Buff Orpingtons, we're not getting any fresh eggs at the moment.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Find The Critter

Can you find the critter in the above picture?
She paid a visit this past Sunday morning.  All alone, no babies in tow this year, which I am okay with.  My Hosta's are too...

The "Mantis", Praying Mantis

Took this picture first thing in the morning using my iPhone.  If you look close enough you can see the morning dew drops beaded up along her back -
We watched this brown male, over the course of a couple hours, hanging upside down as it shed it's skin.  This was a first to observe and very cool!

This lady is the biggest of the ones I've spotted in our yard this Summer.  She has staked out a corner that has Golden Rod and a purple Butterfly bush.  She's always there.

Another first below, a mating pair of Praying Mantis!  This is the same female as in the first picture above later that same day.  Much to my surprise I spotted the smaller male approaching and mount her.  They stayed that way, in the same spot, for over an hour, then slowly worked their way back into the ornamental grass and out of site.  I was hoping to watch her devour him but didn't want to disturb them during coitus.

With the scads of Praying Mantis we have this year, I can only hope next will be the same.  Boy I hope so, as having such predators around to eat the insects is welcome!

Caterpillars Galore!

So, I planted a number of Parsley plants around the yard with the end goal being to attract Black Swallowtail butterflies.  Well, once again it worked.  There are at least 8 caterpillars on said Parsley plants and these are the ones that we've been able to spot.  There very well could be others too.
A couple have fallen victim to some predator.  I suspect it was the Wrens, as they raised to clutches of eggs this Spring and Summer.  They seem very keen at spotting and finding insects for their young.
Black Swallowtails caterpillars have a four stage life cycle referred to as "Instar".

The picture above shows a caterpillar in the first instar stage -
The picture above here shows one in the third instar stage -
Once full grown the caterpillar disappears, or so it seems.  Rather, it moves on to find a safe, desirable place to spin into a chrysalis (the pupa stage) where it will remain throughout the Winter.  It will hatch and emerge come Spring.

Since we're on the subject and talking about caterpillars, here the sole Tomato Hornworm caterpillar of the year.  We found this dude on one of our Brandywine tomato plants.  He's been there a while based on it's size.  I had been checking our main tomato garden for these dudes whenever I was out there and I am happy to report that there are none.  I am pretty confident too that there are none.  In years past I've detected them by their droppings, which are dark pellet like and easy to spot.  If you try and look for them in the plants themselves, you'll be there a while and I'm betting with little success.
Anyway, this dude has been picked, like a tomato, and is now housed in one of Emilie's bug containers.  She wants to see if we can get it pupate and then hatch some Spring.  Stay tuned...

Red-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

One of the most common and most beautiful of the Massachusetts salamanders.
We found this Red-Spotted Newt in our swimming pool the other morning.
Over the years we've found a couple here and there the same way, in our pool, but they've been much smaller - this one is about 3".

They're almost iridescent in the sun light. 

Homestead Sunsets!

Here are a couple examples of the awesome sunsets we see most nights off our back deck!
A bat was caught in the bottom picture.  It's nice to report that they're still around and can be seen most nights shortly after the sun goes down.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Garden Vegetable Green!

It hasn't been the best year for cucumbers, but the broccoli and peppers are doing GREAT!
This summer JoAnne has been cooking my mothers recipe of hamburger and rice stuffing which she then stuffs into peppers and tomatoes!  Oh my God, they are out of these world!
Not only are they delicious but it reminds me so much of my mom, even down to using the same pan to bake them in that my mother used to use.
Both :-)  and :-( at the same time.

A Newport Appetizer!

This my friends is spicy and delicious Wharf Pub Oyster shooter!
It contains a 4 oz Featured New England draft beer and spicy cocktail shooter with a fresh RI Matunick Oyster.
Out of this world good!

Newport Day Trip

Welcome to Emilie's new crib!
And this is the back yard, you should see the front, youza!

We hit Newport, RI the other day.
Stopped at a winery (Greenvale Vineyard) did a little wine tasting and bought a bottle, a farm stand (Sweet Berry) and bought some exotic berry jams (Raspberry Peach and Blackberry Peach) , walked downtown Newport, grabbed some lunch at The Wharf Pub & Restaurant then took in the sites, drove through the mansions and took a tour (from the outside) of the Rosecliff, and finally to end the day we stopped at Newport's 1st Beach and relaxed in the sand, as Emilie hit the ocean and enjoyed the waves.
All in all it was a great day!!

2013 - Tomato Picking and Canning #2

 Pick another mess of tomatoes last Saturday.  JoAnne wasted no time in getting them canned.  This second time around we got 12-pints and 25 quarts!!
This has been a bumper year for tomatoes!  We've given scads away to friends and neighbors and there's oodles more out there too.
The batch of Brandywine tomatoes will be arriving soon, as there are a couple that are starting to show some color.
The BLT's are delicious!!