Saturday, July 4, 2009

Leak Resolved

The good news is that the problem has been fixed and it could have been worse. By cutting into the water line at intervals we were able to narrow down the leak to a portion of our water line. Rather than try to find the leak and repair it, we decided to dig and place a new line for that portion. Because of property lines and geographic issues - did you know that Blount County has a lot of rock? - we couldn't do a simple straight line. A lot of trench digging (no, not manually, thank goodness!) and laying just under 300 feet of PVC pipe later, the work was completed and we had water again. Whoohoo!

I hope everyone is enjoying their 4th of July festivities. We are taking it easy, lol.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

There is a lot of work required in food gardening without chemicals. There is a lot of work required trying to get a flock of chickens started and building them a coop. The list of projects seems never-ending so it's with some chagrin that we've now realized that there is yet another project that must go to the head of the list immediately.

We have a water leak somewhere. Somewhere underground. Somewhere among a lot of pipe. Underground. We're not even sure of the exact route the pipe takes to get from the road to the house. Did I mention underground? As in digging is required to find it?

We have been able to narrow the leak's location down to maybe just over half of the total amount of pipe we have; the leak stops in front of the house, so at least we know it isn't under the house or past the house. So it's between our house and the road; that sounds better until I look out the front door and realize how far it is to the road. Wow. That distance takes on a completely new dimension now.

There are a couple of different options in such a situation. One would be to focus on finding and repairing the leak. That could take a lot of digging, especially since we aren't sure of the water line's route through the property. The second option would be to go ahead and dig a new trench and lay a new water line through the property, at least to the house. PVC is relatively cheap and, if there is a problem with the current water line in one place, it is possible that another problem will pop up eventually as it all was laid at the same time.

Ah, decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fuzzbutt Pictures

Here are pictures of the fuzzbutts the day they arrived:

A tired Golden Comet falling asleep in co-worker's hand

Learning Curve--We did see the difficulty the chicks were having reaching the food so we took the lid off the trough, after we took a picture. :) I couldn't resist. (And yes, the blur at the end of the trough on the right is a small chick who was able to fit through the feeder.)

I wanna see the babies! He is so maternal, he really wanted to love on them. He LOVES babies. Baby dogs, baby cats, baby chicks, doesn't matter. He loves and protects them all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We Have Fuzzbutts!

All is quiet on the TCE front because 1) I had to finish this riveting series I'd been reading and could not make myself put down and 2) we have fuzzbutts!!! We got a delivery of chicks Monday and have been in chick nirvana with the soft down and sometimes soft (sometimes loud) peeping and cheeping. Now they're pretty happy so the cheeping isn't that loud anymore.

Their cute little faces and bodies aren't turning out very well in photographs. The majority of the chicks we got are black, and I've noticed our black dog's pictures don't turn out well either. I'll keep working on it, though, maybe I'll get a lucky shot.

They hatched Saturday so by the time they reached us they were 2 days old. Now they are 4 days old and they still seem so little--but they are perky and are busy eating, drinking, and sleeping.

There isn't quite anything like healthy, happy little chickies to perk up a mood!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Properly Named Wildlife

A few weeks ago I saw a woman who had stopped her car and was using a piece of cardboard box to push a turtle to the side of the road. Now I know a reason why that is a good idea.

Today we saw a large turtle in the middle of our side of the road. It was very large. Naively I got out of the car and picked up its hefty self with both hands, holding it at the mid-point of its shell. Turtles are harmless creatures that simply hide in their shell when they feel threatened, right? There is nothing to be afraid of.


Was I ever startled when the turtle in one quick motion launched its long neck and tried to bite me! Fortunately I had only lifted it about 6 inches off the ground at this point so it didn't have far to fall when I dropped it in shock. WTH? Did it just try to bite me with that big beak? The "snap" I heard when its mouth slammed shut brought to mind the phrase "snapping turtle." Oh. It continued to extend its neck an impressive amount while it repeatedly snapped its curved beak at me to make sure that I didn't miss its meaning. It was clearly in a "bite first, ask questions later" mode. This is their standard mode, I have now read. It's a result of being too big to hide in its shell so it is a very defensive creature when it's not in the water.

Okay, so I realized I wasn't picking up the big beast and carrying it to the roadside. What to do? We had a fan still in the box in the back of the vehicle so hubby used the box to encourage (nudge) the turtle across the road--in the direction in which it was trying to go, of course, so it wouldn't be trying to cross the road again. It kept snapping at the cardboard and at one point had such a hold on it that it wouldn't let go. It had long claws that it was using to grab on to the gravel in the road, as if that would anchor it to the ground so we couldn't pick it up again. As if that ever crossed our minds!

Eventually my husband was able to figure out that if he kept the box a few inches behind the turtle it would stop trying to bite and would start heading away. In turtle speed it was moving quickly. It reached the edge of the road and started crawling down to the creek. Due to the angle of the ground, it ended up rolling down the bank, rolling over and over much of the descent, and landed on its back in the creek. Oh crap. I started looking for a long branch to use to turn it over. But wait--his long neck stretched out and he used his head to push off the ground and flip himself upright. That is a very strong neck because he was not a small turtle! Then he continued along in the creek, happily back in the water he knows best.

So Mr. (or Ms.) Snapping Turtle made it safely across the road, I learned that not all turtles retreat into their shells when they feel threatened, and I was glad that I still had all ten fingers attached to my hands. All in all, it was a good morning.

(I did not take the above picture, it came from an informational site.)

Here Comes the Rain Again

The sound of thunder started this Eurythmics song going through my head. It's appropriate. It's slightly vexing because the garden plants seem to be screaming, "Enough!" and showing signs from overwatering, but I wouldn't mind if the rain washed away some of this pollen. We worked outside yesterday and both of us are sniffly. Correction: he's sniffly, I'm miserable. Neti pot, here I come!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Murder Most Fowl

I'm not a happy camper. Something managed to get into our chicken coop and killed all 9 of our chickens. We had to bury 8 of them; there wasn't anything left of the ninth but feathers.

We have seen where we can make improvements to the coop. I'd also put in a very high roost, as the low one was knocked down but the higher one wasn't high enough to keep them safe.

All the time and energy and socializing we put into them--gone. It's hard to believe.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


In a little over a week, this flowering bush went from this:

to this

thanks to the caterpillar-like stage of some sort of sawfly. I haven't found an image on the web of the exact one I found on this bush, but I can tell it definitely isn't a true caterpillar (as in a creature that will turn into a butterfly) because it has too many legs.

There are many different kinds of sawflies, apparently, and they are quite a pest. There are birch sawflies, rose sawflies, cedar sawflies, pine sawflies, and many more. They can be controlled organically by hand-picking or by using a soap and water mixture. I went for the hand-picking method this morning and picked many of them off this bush, despite the recent rain that probably knocked some to the ground. I also was able to spot many of them on the ground and on the grass, as well as finding them on our grapevine. This afternoon I'll have to go check on some of our other trees and bushes in an effort to stop this pest.

I think the bush is a cherokee rose. If you think otherwise, let me know, as it is a tentative ID and I'd like to know for sure what it is. Hopefully it will recover from being completely stripped. The little bit of green in the bush on the picture's lower right-hand side is a volunteer oak. So far they are (were) crawling all over it but haven't been eating it.

*The title of the post is a song by Christina Aguilera, in a nod to Annie of Edifice Rex and her post naming method.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Countrypeapie, my answers aren't very interesting but here goes:

What are your current obsessions? Privet eradication, plotting poison ivy assassination, genealogy, trying to figure out where to plant what, trying to come up with a cheap coop idea for the roosters' bachelor pad.

Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? My favorite pair of p.j.'s.

What's for dinner? Spaghetti.

What are you listening to? TV.

If you were a goddess what would you be? Limitless.

What are you reading right now? "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards. I hate it. The only reason I'm trying so hard to finish it is because I keep waiting for it to be "good" like all the reviews swear it is. I do not agree with them so far.

Who or what makes you laugh? My husband and pets.

What is your favourite spring thing to do? Look at the plant growth.

Where are you planning to travel next? To bed.

What is the best thing you ate or drank lately? My husband's birthday cake was awesome.

When was the last time you were tipsy? So long ago I can't even tell you.

What is your favourite ever film? "A Christmas Story." It's more of a tradition than a favorite, maybe, but that is the closest I can think of.

What song can't you get out of your head? There are two right now. One is Lily Allen's "Never Gonna Happen." And the other is the highbrow classic, Saturday Night Live's "D**** in a Box" from the Justin Timberlake-Andy Samberg skit. I don't even like Justin Timberlake and the skit wasn't even funny, but the tune was catchy.

What book do you know you should read but refuse to? I can't think of any.

What is your favourite colour? It depends on the thing.

Monday, May 4, 2009


This is Dinner. Here he is about 6 weeks old. Part of his beakiness is fear, I think, as it was worse when I didn't know about approaching him with my hands from the underside. However, no matter what way my hubby approaches him, he doesn't nip, peck or bite him--I guess he isn't all dumb, since hubby is the one who feeds him the most.
I've been carrying him around with me as I walk sometimes, setting him in the crook of my arm. He doesn't seem to hate it and I start to feel all soft and sentimental towards him when he makes his soft "cheep"ing noise. Of course, the next time he doesn't want me to pick him up and he pecks at me that soft, sentimental, warm feeling goes completely out the window and I wonder if he will make it to maturity before I decide to have him for dinner. It is definitely a like-hate relationship.
I remind myself that I don't have to make a pet out of every animal, but I like to be able to handle any animal in my care. What if he is injured and I have to grab him?
It's a guess at this point but, if he were injured, I dare say I wouldn't be grabbing him.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Invigorating Rain

We have had quite a lot of rain in the past few days. Everything is growing quickly. The iris have been blooming and I love them dearly. I've never had an established stand of them before and am enjoying them. The wild blackberry bushes are flowering, enabling me to try to learn to tell the difference between them and poison ivy. Eradicating the poison ivy is one of my projects to begin this year.

Today on a walk I saw young dragonflies and saw a very young praying mantis not far from an egg case. I watched blue birds bring nesting materials to one of the boxes that are out for them. I saw and smelled a lot of blooming honeysuckle.

One of my older tea roses is still alive, I was thrilled to discover. It has been growing in a 5-gallon bucket for 7 years yet has flourished and its blooms have increased in size each year. When it was slow to come back this spring I was concerned--for no reason, as it turns out. I will plant it in the ground in the next few weeks.

We've been growing an apple tree in a garbage can for a few years, knowing we were hoping to move and take it with us. This is the first time it has produced little fruits, although most of them blew off in the recent storms. Still it's good to know that it will fruit and it also will be planted in the ground, although we may hold off on that until it goes dormant again. It's interesting that it fruited despite the limitations of growing in a garbage can.

The garden is growing rapidly and loving all the recent rain. In it we have planted cucumbers, sunflowers, purple hull peas, butterbeans, okra, pole beans, tomatoes, peppers, corn, and potatoes. There is more to be planted one of these weekends. The broccoli was a little disappointing in that a couple of the plants went to flower before producing a head but it's been suggested we try another variety next year. It wasn't a complete dud, though. The cauliflower is growing. It's too soon for it to be harvested. Hubby is impatient for it and can't wait to pickle it.

That's the latest on our happenings. It doesn't sound like a lot when I write it all down but it sure has kept us busy. We're loving it, though.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Did Someone Say, "Chicken Fingers"?

Tonight we went to check on the chickies in their new 'luxe digs. (They were moved to the outdoor coop over the weekend.) I talk to them as I approach to let them know it's me and not a predator. I petted them some, much to their dismay. "Just hand the food over!", they said non-verbally. Not one to be a pushover I continued to pet them. One of the three white chicks decided s/he would show me: s/he bit me! The surprise hurt more than the chick's grip but, as I reassured my husband that it didn't hurt, the little bugger kept on biting me and grabbed on really hard to pinch my finger. Okay, now that hurt!

Quickly I grabbed some crumbles in my other hand and the other chicks gathered around. The Biter realized s/he was missing out and ran to join the feasters. My standard routine is to feed them with one hand while petting them with the other in order to get them more used to human contact. Apparently the Biter was still riled up because s/he resumed nipping me! When I held my arm up so it couldn't reach it, it started going for my leg. Okay, now that does it!

I searched my mind for the appropriate response to a misbehaving chick and came up with a big goose (pardon the pun) egg. Nada. Grasping for the worst chick punishment I could think of, I told my husband, "Its name is Dinner!"

So, pretty white chickie, they name is Dinner, and you had best be hoping that we don't run out of chicken fingers any time soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deluxe Accomodations

With spring we have been so busy that I haven't been able to keep up with posting about the chicks' growth. This is a post I've been working on and have downloaded the accompanying pictures.

April 7th:
We expanded the cardboard box accommodations to a second cardboard box by cutting a doorway connecting the two. In this picture hubby is trying to coax the chicks out of the corner with some food.

Finally the chicks begin to wander over toward the open doorway. This one looks in but doesn't want to be the first to walk in.

One of the three suspected leghorns is the first to go into the new room. (Excuse the shredded paper in the water tray. We had dumped shredded paper into the box in an effort to quickly fill it before the chicks went in the open doorway. Little did we know they would have to be coaxed! )

The picture below was taken April 10th. The chicks mostly run back into the original box when we come to see them. This one does not. Look at those long feathers at its tail. Is it going to be a rooster?

For size reference, that is a quart jar being used in the waterer. They are growing so quickly. We still have no idea how many of the 9 chicks are hens and how many are cockerels. Anticipation is mounting as we care for them without knowing how many will become our egg layers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Flush

I'll bet you're wondering what this post could be about with a title like that. Actually I was wondering too, since I had saved the title and subject on Sunday as a reminder to myself of what I wanted to write.

One of our dogs is a beautiful runner. To watch her run is to see poetry in motion, and the absolute joy on her face when she runs is beautiful to behold. I think I enjoy watching her run as much as she enjoys the activity of running. When she is finished she comes back to me and is so happy, both for the run and for the praise she knows she is going to get for returning to me.

So where does the flush come in? This weekend I took her out for a run (remember, she does the running, I merely watch) and she took off. She disappeared into a grove of trees and I admired the beauty of nature while waiting. Suddenly something moved out of the trees and I was stunned. It was a very large white-tailed deer! Molly had flushed out a deer! It happened so quickly I couldn't even get the camera out of my pocket. Molly's white head popped up over the (rather high) grass and she looked at me as if to say, "Do you see that?? What in the heck is that??!! Can you believe that??!"

No, I couldn't believe it. I don't know how many hours my husband spent out there "hunting", aka waiting for a deer to cross his path. All he needed the whole time was to take Miss Molly with him and let her run. She'd flush out any deer, lol.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber

I've been cleaning out a shed and have taken down a number of old mud dauber nests. They don't cause any harm so normally I'd leave the nests alone but I'm trying to clean out the shed to turn it into a chicken coop. The nests have always been interesting to me because of their shape, and they are even more so now that I have seen what they look like from the back.

From the front:

These are called pipe organ mud daubers because of the shape of their nests. There are other types of mud daubers, I have learned, and their nests do not look like this. (This picture is actually not from the shed because I'd already knocked them down. We have the nests all over the place so I was able to find another one to photograph for this post.)

From the back:

The individual cases look like black capsules.

Below is what the capsules look like after they have been released from the nest. Okay, they looked like black capsules once I got over the initial, "Where did the scat come from? It wasn't here a minute ago" reaction, lol. I'm breaking it down and changing the order of the pics for this post. One minute the nests were on the wall, the next they were on the ground and I saw what looked like scat. How had I not noticed that in the shed before now? Then I looked for the source of the scat/capsules and slowly broke open another nest. Understanding dawned.

The unbroken one must not have hatched. Pretty neat, huh?

It's fun not having to go to a museum to learn this kind of information. Science 101 in my backyard!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Learning the Hard Way

This is our first spring in the country so we are learning a lot. Sometimes we are learning the hard way. The recent freeze after planting some of the garden is one example.

We knew the freeze was coming so I hit the thrift stores and bought sheets in preparation. We covered the plants and anchored the sheets with bricks. We were good to go, right?

Not quite.

The weight of the sheets appears to have been too much for the young plants. Apparently we needed to put something out to keep the weight of the sheets off the plants. Oops. Next time we will put something out to support the plants. Lesson learned.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Found Another Praying Mantis Egg Case

Whenever I'm walking around now I am usually scanning for more praying mantis egg cases. It is becoming more difficult to find them because the trees have leafed out but I found this one last weekend. In reading about praying mantis on the internet, I have learned some interesting facts. A single egg case can hold anywhere from 50 to 200 nymphs(young). They cannot distinguish between beneficial and harmful insects; they see all of them as prey. They also will eat other praying mantis. They have two compound eyes, and then three smaller single eyes between their antenna. They are certainly interesting creatures.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Monk" Much?

Tonight my husband asked me in a serious tone: "I wonder if the cat has OCD. She licks herself three times every time."

My serious reply, "But if she doesn't know how to count, how does she know it's three times?"

His next question was, "Is that a requirement?" and then we burst out laughing.

Clearly we have watched "Monk" a few too many times.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Feline Face of Pleading

"Please, please, please let me investigate those peeping, cheeping creatures. I won't eat them all, not in one sitting. I promise!"

Yeah, that's what we thought too. :)

P.S.--She has crystal blue eyes but they always show up with red eye. One of these days I'll have to learn to photoshop them out or something.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

MMM, Good Eatin'

Looks appetizing, doesn't it? There is nothing quite like the taste of armadillo on the half shell, apparently, as far as some animal is concerned.

My dogs had so much fun finding this and rolling all over it. It added an extra element of fun to the pasture play for them. The loving creatures that they are, they then wanted to share the joy and rub it on me. Can you say, "Ewwww"?!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Little Chickie Pics

Pic of some of the chicks at the store Saturday:

We picked the minimum, six, then picked two more. We put our chicks in a box and left all the others. (I didn't show all the tubs of chicks, just the part of the one.) There was quite a crowd. We walked by again a few minutes later and saw this:

One lonely, scared chick peeping for its peeps. Awwww.....

Here are our peeps after we arrived home with them. Yes, we brought home the last lonely chick. You didn't think we could leave it, did you?

The food dish did not stay in the box for long. It was to tide them over until we'd washed the new feeder and water dish. The temporary water dish was removed from the box so I could get a better picture of them. It was a tad crowded in there while we were all trying to get situated.

There are nine chicks. Anyone care to guess how many will be female, the gender we want for its eggs?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

He Said It, Not Me

I have not shared this story because mainly I prefer to live in denial. The very idea of snakes makes me shudder, so relaying that my husband and dog have seen more than one snake....Well, I believe my eyes might have rolled back in my head and caused my husband to wonder if we had any smelling salts. That or I might have set a new world record for "haulin' a##."

We had only just moved in last year when my husband went for a walk to take in the beauty of our surroundings. He took one of our dogs with him. Man and dog walked along in silence.

Rustling leaves intruded on my husband's thoughts. He looked around and saw it--no, saw THEM. There was not one, no, there were TWO snakes writhing on the ground intertwined. Husband stopped walking suddenly, the snakes turned their heads and looked at him, the snakes quickly scooted off, man and dog turned as one and walked away in the opposite direction.

Your first question probably is the same as mine was: what kind of snakes were they? Fortunately they were only (a term I don't normally use with snakes of any kind other than the small green garden snakes) black racers. It was mating season, according to websites. ::shudder:: That means that they probably reproduced. Ugh. Yes, I know black racers are not dangerous. It's something I understand on a cerebral level. Instinctively, though, there isn't anything I like about snakes except a great amount of distance away from me.

Hubby has been noticing mice at the barn recently. This is not acceptable, especially because our root cellar is there. His statement was that the snakes need to come out of hibernation and take care of the problem. Personally I would not call out the snakes for such a trifle when mouse traps could work, but he likes to live dangerously. He said it. Not me. I simply couldn't wish for snakes to come visit.

Hoping to keep the snakes away, I have been out at the barn setting out plenty of mouse traps left over from earlier mouse adventure. I would much rather we have to throw away the dead mouse bodies than have snakes slithering around in our midst. ::shudder::

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Warning: Viewer Discretion is Advised

This could get ugly. I may be in need of an intervention. It is that bad. It's shameful. I wasn't sure about revealing it here for people to read about, but I have a probem and I am adult enough to admit that.

It is barely officially spring yet I start drooling just thinking about little potted plants that might be for sale at the local stores, the little packets of joy (seed) that they might have. I won't even tell you how I look through mail-order catalogs or the websites with desire in my heart. They'll sell me whatever I need, but even in my frenzied state I can tell that my wish list is far too long to be reasonable. This could be a problem. No, it is a problem and I know it. Help!

Which in true plant addict parlance means, "Hand me the shovel, quick, so I can get these planted before my husband gets home and sees them!"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Couple that Plays Together

My husband and I have been through life's trials together for a number of years now and know each other pretty well. There aren't too many surprises left between us any more. There is a comfort in that although maybe some people would label it as possibly boring.

Today he was telling me about some guys at work. One co-worker is constantly looking for sex, to put it bluntly, he is a veritable chick hound. Another co-worker suggested church to him for something else but all this man had to say was, "Hey, you're right! I'll bet I could get plenty of women there!"

I believe I did surprise hubby this afternoon when I suggested after that story, "Let's go pick up some chicks!" He had just finished telling me about the co-worker and I don't think he knew what to think when I suggested that. Was I suggesting that we go cruising for women??

What he didn't know was that I had checked my e-mail while he was talking and learned from Rurality that Tractor Supply was selling chicks. We've been talking about wanting chickens to lay eggs. When I told him about the store selling them it was a race to see how quickly we could make it to the door.

Because after all, the couple that plays together, stays together. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Marketing Didn't Think This Through

We have satellite tv. Apparently there is a free-Encore channel weekend going on to promote the premium Encore channels. I don't know that there was any kind of advertising done on it, which I would think would be counterproductive, but there could have been and I didn't see it. From my perspective all I saw was that, when scrolling through the viewing possibilities for our Friday night viewing pleasure, the Encore channels could be selected. Immediately I was excited at the idea of something new to watch and started looking through the programming for this weekend.

I shouldn't have been so quick to be excited about it. One of the things Marketing forgot to consider was the scheduling for this weekend. It sucks. I mean, come on. Soul Man? Maybe it was cute back in the day with the cute guy in it, but that day was over 20 years ago. Big Trouble in Little China with Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone? It was amusing--also over 20 years ago. Hm, I guess there is a reason it's called "Encore."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Let's Try Some Raspberry Plants

Finally there are signs of life on the raspberry plant!
I bought two raspberry plants earlier this year, two different varieties because I couldn't remember which was better for our area.

Unfortunately the variety doing so well is the variety that I had decided to take back. Darn. I won't be taking it back now. It wants to live! And I want its luscious fruit. Grow, baby, grow!

Monday, March 16, 2009

How Was Your Day?

It needs no explanation, does it?
No, it isn't fun, but if it can save lives by screening for cervical cancer then it's worth it.
This is my public service announcement for the month.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

First Frog of the Season!

Last night was a big night for us: hubby saw the first frog of the season!

We didn't used to have frogs where we lived in the city. All those years and not a single one. We were excited to see frogs here last year and enjoyed it every time. The recent high temperatures (hubby's vehicle said it was 80 degrees today) have apparently coaxed the frogs back out. Last night hubby saw one hopping through the still-dormant hosta bed.

Let spring commence!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Great News: The Cats Adjusted Quickly To DST

It came early this year, but we set our clocks back an hour yesterday. It's the change most of us dread because we lose an hour of our precious weekend.

The good news is that our cats took the change in stride. They kept to their regular schedule and didn't miss a beat. It's difficult for them to be upset when they did what they always do: sleep. Oh, and eat. That's very important. They were quite happy when dinner hour came an hour earlier.

So even though we had to awaken an entire hour earlier this morning and dragged all day because of it, we can fear not because our cats are not traumatized.

;) As if!

I Thought It Was Merely a Plot Device

Have you seen the movie Failure to Launch? It has Matthew McConaughy and Sarah Jessica Parker, with Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw as Matthew McConaughy's character's parents. It was pretty good.

In the movie Sarah Jessica's character has a roommate who is quite glum, something about she hasn't slept in so long because of a stupid bird that has been singing all night long outside her bedroom window. I watched the movie while multi-tasking so I didn't pay a lot of attention to the roommate's bird dilemma; I figured it was merely a plot device. I try not to base real-world information on plot devices since, as we all know, television and reality are worlds apart. With the advent of reality shows that line is becoming blurred for a lot of people, but that is a topic for another post. So I did not come away from the movie with any new bird-knowledge.

The past couple of nights I have heard what sounded like a bird singing, despite the darkness. I did not know birds would do that. In looking it up, I have learned that some do. This particular bird of torture is a mockingbird. I have listened to its call on a website and confirmed the species, although the website ran through a number of different types of call for the mockingbird. This mockingbird must be a little different because it sings the same single note over and over and over, all night long. No variation for our feathered little friend. Suddenly I can understand why Sarah Jessica's character's roommate was contemplating shooting the bird outside her bedroom window!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What Is It?

The above picture is of something I saw in a tree. It's about the size of a quarter so, despite looking somewhat like a hornet's nest, it's too small for that. It was the only one of its kind in the tree. However, nearby there were more of them in privet. The ones hidden in the privet (until we cut back the privet, exposing them) were closer to ground level than in the air.

I have googled it and don't like the answer I kept coming across, so I am putting this out there for identification. Surely I am missing something else that it could be. Any ideas?

We Had Snow--and I Missed Most of It!

I am in shock that the weather forecasts were correct for a change and we actually did have some snow Sunday. It came down quite heavily and looked quite pretty--for about half an hour. The one day I was finally able to sleep late in an effort to recover from a challenging week and feeling sick was the one day this year it snowed!

So by the time I woke up enough to stumble outside in the strong winds, it had already started melting. The light (off the snow, maybe?) was blinding and the wind was so fierce it was difficult to see, much less take a picture.

We had been going to use this as an opportunity to check for tracks outside the groundhog hole but the snow had already melted out of the pasture. It was so darned cold that our feelings were not hurt by not having to go all the way out there, lol. We went back inside and thoroughly enjoyed the heater.

At least we can say that we did see snow this year, if only for a little while.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mousecapades, The Sequel

First I have to make a confession: we may have been wasteful from a practical standpoint. We did not reuse the trap after it was successful. Hubby drew the short straw and had to dispose of the first success so he simply threw the entire trap away with the dead mouse. The traps are cheap enough and he figured the smell of death might be on that one. It sounded good anyway, and it sounded more hygienic to me. I certainly didn't want to mess with prying the trap open, removing the body, etc. Let that quarter go! It was worth it.

Having caught the first mouse, we set another trap and went to bed. Upon getting up the next morning I went into the kitchen and peeked into the cabinet. Yes, we had another victim. I opened the cabinet door wider slowly--as if it was going to come back to life--and waited for it to scamper off. It didn't. It was awfully small and, darn it, kind of cute. Of course, it was also dead so that helped the "aw" factor, as opposed to something looking around with beady eyes and running around, leaving behind feces. That was two down, x to go. We set another trap.

That evening the scrabbling in the wall began again. The cats assumed their positions, staring at the walls with their tails twitching. A little while later, snap! Three down, whoohoo! We threw it away and put out another trap.

It has been a few months now and that fourth trap is still under the sink, waiting. There has not been any more scrabbling in the wall. The cats no longer sit and stare at the wall, waiting for a chance to catch whatever is in there. Life was good again.

And then it dawned on me why we had suddenly had mice: it had gotten colder so the snakes had gone into hibernation, leaving these mice free to wander under our house in search of warm shelter. OMG. Did somebody say, "Snake"? !!!!

And that is another story.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Mousecapades

Mice are something I've only seen in pictures or in movies like Stewart Little. Or cartoons like Tom and Jerry, now that I think about it. In the movies and cartoons they are portrayed as cute little creatures but I was less than thrilled one evening when I heard something scurrying in the wall.

On the alert, I started looking in the kitchen cabinets for signs of the scurrier. Sure enough, I found tiny little signs that it had been under the sink. There was a small gap by the plumbing that apparently allowed access. Immediately I had visions of an infestion and ran to the store the next day to buy mousetraps. I bought a lot of mousetraps. We set one that evening and within minutes we heard a "snap!" We looked at each other, trying to decide if we really wanted to look in the cabinet.

I'll interrupt the story to say that, yes, we do have three cats. They went ape when they heard the scrabbling in the wall so I considered leaving the cabinet door open to let the mouse/mice entertain the cats, but then I thought of whatever illness/disease a mouse might carry and thought about walking into the kitchen in the morning to find a bloody mess or being brought a "gift" in bed in the middle of the night and decided to stick with the mousetrap method of capture.

Hubby drew the short straw so he went and looked in the cabinet. Sure enough, there was a dead mouse caught in the trap. One down, x to go.

To be continued...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Permanent Valentine

In the vein of once you open your eyes you see things you haven't noticed before, this is more than just some moss I saw on a recent walk. Can you see the heart shape in it?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Funky Fungus?

These funky little flower look-alikes were abundant in a small area. Are they a fungus?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here's the Entrance

This is the entrance to the suspected tunnel in the pasture. We don't know for sure that it is a tunnel, it could be a burrow. We can't see a wall inside to one direction and there is another entrance many feet away in that direction in the pasture, so we suspect that they are linked.

That is my shoe in the picture, to show scale. It's a size 8 woman's shoe. It isn't as far from the entrance as it looks in this picture, it's how the ground is rounded. The entrance really is almost as big as my shoe!

Here's a look inside:

All it needs is a little "Home Sweet Home" sign over it, eh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We Take a Break from our Regularly

..scheduled topics to bring you this interesting story straight from today's headlines. Seriously. I have to post about this. Otherwise the story may get lost in the revolving door of today's news and not be noticed, but it's too good to miss.

In checking the news pages on-line this morning, I saw a headline about robbers with facemasks--but not just any old facemasks. No, this daring duo apparently had something against the tried-and-true robber mask of pantyhose over the head. Maybe they prefer cotton, maybe it's what was handy or easy to find after a long night of drinking, whatever their reasoning or lack thereof, these brainiacs wore thongs as their facemasks.

Yes, let that sink in. Thongs. On their faces. Can't quite picture it? Me either. So I had to search for a picture, because frankly I was thinking of a string of floss and, well, why bother?



Go ahead, look at it again. Think about the thought process that might have (or might not have) gone into making this decision. Undergarment selection has probably never been so life-altering.

You know what I see here? A cautionary tale and a great advertisement for the old-fashioned undergarments known affectionately as "granny panties." Take a large pair of them, cut out some eye holes in them, you're good to go. They are cotton for easier air flow--important when you have to breathe--and can cover all facial features. What's not to love?

Underwear. It's not only under your clothes anymore. But if you're going to wear it on your face, you may need to give the idea a second and even a third thought. Just a suggestion.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pasture Tunneling

Not only do we have an armadillo (or several) running amok on our property, we have now discovered a full-blown, well-formed tunnel in the pasture. The pictures didn't turn out well, but it was amazing how smooth the tunnel walls were. (And no, I didn't put my hand in there to feel them, lol, although it was tempting.) At first we didn't know if it was a burrow or a tunnel, but then we found another entrance -- about 50 feet away! --so that made it a tunnel. Hubby said he later found a third entrance even further away.

In looking around on the web for what might be doing the digging, a gopher appears to be the most likely culprit. Even the southeastern pocket gopher, despite its small size, can dig extensive tunnels.

Does anyone have any other ideas of what might be making the tunnels?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I'm in the Doghouse

One of the cats did not get her way so I am in the doghouse as far as she is concerned. She is totally ignoring me. It is amazing how such a small creature can make her feelings known so loudly.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Harbinger of Spring

This weekend I noticed a visitor in our new (to us) yard: a daffodil. A single daffodil had opened and there are others not far behind him, waiting to open too.

Not all daffodils open this early in the year. Some are early daffodils, like this one. Some are late, not blooming until after you've given up on them for the year.

Not all daffodils are yellow on yellow like this one. There is an amazing variety of color combinations in daffodils. I'm looking forward to planting them here, after I've seen what is already here and blooms this year.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Making Laundry Soap

In trying to cut our grocery bills, I've looked at the highest-priced goods that we purchase regularly or fairly regularly. In reading about being thrifty and cutting costs I've seen plenty of references to making your own laundry soap and goodness knows the stuff isn't cheap at the store so, being the thrifty individual I am, I thought I'd give it a try.

The recipe I used can be found at . There may be other recipes on the internet, too. I'd wanted to use Fels-Naptha soap just because I haven't seen it before but, not being able to find it easily, I ended up using Ivory and used the 3.1-oz sized bar. We try to not use antibacterial products and it can really limit your soap options at the store. Try to use something without perfumes and it limits your options even more.

Making the soap wasn't bad at all. I'd read that it enabled a person to make a mess and it be okay, but I didn't find it messy. And normally I can make a mess out of anything, it's one of my gifts. In fact, it was astonishingly easy to make this stuff. I kept thinking, "When is the hard part?" but there wasn't one, except maybe the letting it sit overnight. Waiting to see the final result was difficult for me.

The end product was more liquid than I had expected since it sat overnight to thicken but it seems to work well for its purpose. There isn't any smell to it but I tend to dislike strongly perfumed detergents anyway. However, I've realized that the light, fresh scent of newly cleaned laundry is something I miss so I am going to try adding some essential oil one of these days. But even without scent it is getting our clothes and towels and even the dogs' beds clean so I'd call it a success. Better yet, it means we can skip the stinky detergent aisle in the grocery store and not spend that extra $10. She shoots, she scores, lol.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Latest Frugal (& Food) Interest: Trying to Decide

Okay, I've learned how to make bread so that is one frugal goal accomplished. It isn't perfected yet, of course, but it's progress so I'm off and thinking about the next one.

Continuing along on the subject of food (hmmmm, interesting coincidence)... This weekend I saw a small display of young plants--lettuce, broccoli, and other assorted staples--for purchase so now I am wondering whether to try to start from seed or to go ahead and spend the $3.50 or so for a pack of young transplants of each. I'm planning on growing them (whether they are grown via seed or via purchased transplants) in containers, so either form can be protected by being placed somewhere protected from any freezes.

I like the frugality of growing from seed, but my one venture at growing ornamentals from seed was unsuccessful. Gauging the necessary level of moisture was difficult and then I lost what few were still living to damping off, I believe it's called. So I'm not terribly optimistic about the odds of success from seed, but I'm willing to try. So what do you think? Should I start with some transplants (is that the proper term?) or go with the cost-saving seed?

Monday, February 2, 2009

I Made Bread!

and it tastes good!

Okay, for the more culinarily advanced individual, this may not be a big accomplishment. For me, however--not super-skilled at cooking and certainly not cooking from scratch--this is a big deal.

Note to self: next time start making the bread in the afternoon, not at night after a late dinner. I was up more than half the night with all the punching it down and letting it rise again before baking it, but it was worth the effort in the end. It smelled wonderful and tasted even better. Better yet, I knew exactly what ingredients were in it.

I was concerned that I might not have been kneading it properly but it turned out to look fairly normal so I must have done it correctly--or at least close enough to pass muster.

Now that I've made bread from scratch, I feel like a new door has been opened to me. Whoohoo! What to make next? :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Deer and Coyotes and Squirrels, Oh My!

Hubby is thrilled--the game cam finally caught some animals in pictures.

There were a couple of pictures of deer, but I'll share the one that had two deer in the frame:

Here the animal was walking away by the time the camera took the picture, but you can still make out what it is--a coyote.

We also had some footage of squirrels foraging for acorns and nuts. That wasn't a surprise, but at least they weren't ripping bark off of limbs. (Yes, I'm going to carry a grudge over that for a while.)

Now the question is going to be if he leaves the game cam there or tries to move it. He's been hearing what he thinks are coyote pups playing in another spot. We'll see.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bad Squirrel!

This is a picture of the branch that has been peeled of its bark by a squirrel. You can also see in the background that a woodpecker has taken a liking to this tree at some point in its lifetime, as well. It's an old tree and is probably on its way out according to the former owners, but it frustrates me that a squirrel may be hastening its demise. Bad squirrel! It's not like there isn't enough food around here. Grrrrr.

From what I've found on the internet, no one really knows why squirrels sometimes do this. There are theories but they are all supposition. Squirrels can choose a certain type of tree or they can just like one particular tree for this activity. So far it looks like it's just this one tree. Yesterday when I took this picture I looked at the other trees in the area but didn't see any others like this, thank goodness. The stripped branch gleams in the sunlight so it's pretty easy to spot once you have seen what you are looking for.

We're probably going to go ahead and cut off that branch to try to save the tree. Bad squirrel, bad!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bark Peeled Off - Anyone Else?

Today I noticed that our apple tree has a limb that has been stripped almost completely bare of its bark. It was too late in the day to get a photograph of it, but it was quite a nude branch.

Google search results indicate that it is probably squirrels. The other possibilities would involve damage lower on the tree trunk. The bark had been stripped off of a horizontal limb. The only bark still on the limb was around a knot on the underside of the limb, which told me that the offender was on top of the limb.

Has anyone else has any such marauding squirrels?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


They were so quiet that I didn't even hear them at first. I was deep in thought and didn't notice them until they started chatting among themselves. Quietly I came over the hill in the effort to catch a picture of them. I'm surprised to see that I did get a clear picture because they quickly took off.

(I believe you can make the picture larger by clicking on it in order to see the ducks better.)
Aren't they gorgeous? I'm going to have to look it up and see if the ratio of 5 males to 2 females is a common flock composition or if that's just who happened to be at the pond at the time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Tribute to Our Tractor

My husband has been seeing another woman. It's been going on since last summer. He'll pretend he's going out to do an odious chore, but the sparkle of glee in his eyes gives him away. I know that means he's going to see "Her."

Was I jealous? No. I knew he would be coming back to me when he was through with her. Hey, if it made him happy, it made me happy, but I have to confess that she didn't do much for me.

Until recently. Now I must confess that I am enamored of her.

When we were in our darkest hour (okay, not really, but it was pretty ugly) she came through for us. We were merely going up a slight hill in our truck to drop something off at the barn. It was only supposed to take a few minutes at the most so we could go on about our day. Unfortunately the ground was still so water-saturated that we couldn't get up the hill. The truck tires spun and spun, uselessly. We tried to get the truck out, to no avail. We were in a hurry so we decided to take my car instead. Oops, there was a problem there too, which maybe I'll tell you about another day. It's still too fresh to discuss.

So there we were, stuck with a truck stuck in the mud. Hubby looked at me, wondering if he should even mention her. He decided to go for it. "Let's see if the tractor can pull it out."

He woke her up and drove her over, hooking the truck to her drawbar. She slowly pulled the truck out of the ruts in the mud and up the hill. Whoohoo--she did it! I love this girl!

This was the point at which we had our whirlwind ride down the hill. Wheeeeeee!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Yes, I Asked for It

Yesterday was a challenging morning for us. We thought we needed to get materials A to point B so we could make use of the truck bed again. We didn't want to leave them sitting out on the ground to get wet and muddy so we wanted to put them in the shed. However, reaching the shed involved crossing a very muddy terrain. In hindsight we should never have tried to make it through the mud but....we did try, and we did get stuck. Oh, did we get stuck. We spent a while trying to get out, to no avail.

Finally we were able to get out by using a tractor. Bless the workhorse tractor! So we were now on terra firma on a hill and unloaded the bed, but then we had to get back across the muddy marsh to get out. Oh boy. There were 2 big trees that we needed to go between with utter mud-mass in between them. To the right of the path (and the right tree) was more mud-mass. No hope there. No hope to the left-side tree either as it is not a clear area. So between the trees it had to be, over mud that has already been churned up.

Pausing at the top of the hill, we looked at each other. My husband said, "You have gotten the country experience this morning, haven't you? When was the last time you got stuck in the mud?" He mimed putting on goggles, I started laughing, he gunned the engine, and away down the hill we went. He didn't let up on the gas and fortunately we didn't get stuck this time. It was definitely a wild ride.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Last summer we would have paid money for rain of any kind, much less this much rain. We've been getting rain regularly for weeks now. The ground can't absorb any more so now there are a few new ponds at our house. This boat might be handy to have to get around. Hopefully it comes with some really big paddles!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Beauty and The Beast

We all know the fairy tale about the beauty and the beast, but this isn't about them. This story is about one entity being both the beauty and the beast.

The following picture is one I took. The slant to it is because the horizontal post isn't really horizontal but is slanted, but the focus of this post is at its center: the plant.

I was looking at this picture and analyzing the composition when I remembered that I wanted to know what kind of plant it is. It has all these black berries that are quite pretty and that I'm sure birds just love. There are a lot of those plants around here. I showed the picture to a friend and received the prompt response of, "Run! Run for your life!" It is privet, her long-standing nemesis of which I have heard more than a few tirades. Crestfallen, I double-checked and, sure enough, privet it is. I have seen the beauty and the beast, and privet is its name.