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.