Friday, May 30, 2014

Crawling King Snake


Yes, that title is an actual song by none other than John Lee Hooker.  We had a odd little occurrence the other day that I thought was interesting.  Snakes are fairly common around here but I've rarely seen 2 at one time, especially of 2 different types, but we apparently had a little confrontation of some sort in the yard.  I had noticed that the chickens were all grouped up looking really interested in something but didn't pay in much mind until Chigger started really growling at something on the ground nearby.  As I approached I saw a king snake and what I think was a gray rat snake about twice the size of the king.  They were heading in opposite directions by the time I got there but had obviously been together at some point.


 Now, I also just recently found out that a king snake will actually eat other snakes, including poisonous ones.  Seems they are immune to the venom of copperheads and rattlesnakes.
 I don't know if the king snake thought he had found a good lunch or what but must have ultimately decided that taking on the rat snake would have been biting off more than it could chew, so to speak. 


 The rat snake meandered off slowly to a large boulder in the yard but the king snake made a couple of quick laps around and finally headed off to the woods.  I guess the chickens decided both were too big for them but I have seen them, to my dismay, gobble down baby snakes in a heartbeat.  And no, they weren't big worms; I checked.


I have some more gratuitous flower photos for you.  The spirea is especially pretty this year.  These bushes are filling out nicely. 
I've had a lot going on around here but not a lot to write much about.  It's just kinda bits and pieces of half-started projects and such.  I get so far and then have to wait on something or whatever.  Not enough of one thing to make a good post.  But I am accomplishing things.


I got a new camera that I've been experimenting with and I'll tell ya'll about that soon.  You may have noticed a slight difference in some of my photos lately.  Or not.  Haha!




We've also had a lot of on and off again thunderstorms lately.  It's a crappy photo but you can see where the chickens camp out during the heavy rain.


I thought this was sort of a neat view of the garden and chicken coop from a higher elevation.  You can see better how everything is related.
You can also see how my patch of oats is doing great!  Until one night this big patch of flattened oats opened up.  It spread more today dammit.  I don't know what's causing it, if it's the rain or what.  No animals can get to it and there are no tracks in the area.  Jack said we have our own mini-crop circle.

The rains and dropping barometric pressure have also brought the stiff neck and bad headaches back to me, so that's probably the main reason I haven't posted much lately.  My head feels like it's stuffed with cotton again.  Hopefully the weather will improve and I'll have some halfway coherent thoughts soon.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Silent Sunday (for the most part)


Old-timey peonies.
This is also the "word" post for "lovely". 


Iris ensata "Imperial Magic"

Spirea

Honeybee!! on catmint

Ms. BeaBea

Ms. BeaBea redux

Thursday, May 22, 2014

In The Meantime


 Thankfully the garden has not taken a vacation and I was pleased to see some major growth in things when we returned.  Some things are doing really well and some things, not so well this year.  I think we will still get a decent harvest out of most of the crops though.  It just got pretty warm fairly quickly, and then cooled off again, so it kinda put a unwelcome spurt of growth in the cool weather crops when they did not need it.  This photo doesn't show the rows of potatoes over to the right and they look like they are going to do well this year.  A lot of people say they have trouble with potatoes but we are lucky in that they grow really well for us with virtually no pests; knock on wood!  I hill them up every so often and keep them weeded and that's about it.
The tomatoes in the foreground are doing well.  Can't wait for those babies to start coming in.



See how my broccoli did?  I was hoping the heads would get just a little bigger before I cut them and I messed up.  I should have cut them before we left because I suspected they were on the edge of bolting but my greed got the better of me.  I did harvest 2 good heads and will probably get a good mess of side shoots off these but for the most part they are chicken feed.  Oh well, at least they will still serve some purpose.


The cauliflower is growing like gangbusters but no heads!  I've never been successful growing this stuff so I have no idea if it should be heading up by now or not but I suspect it should have long ago.  Chickens may get a bunch more greens!
The cabbage is heading up good so maybe I'll at least get enough to make a good batch of sauerkraut this year.


But the peas are a great success and they love the string trellis!  I picked half a gallon yesterday in no time and made a great beef/ snow pea stir fry tonight.  It was quite tasty.  I'm leaving some of the peas on the vines to mature and experiment with using them for chicken feed.  Of course, these vines are not enough to produce a substantial amount of feed but it has been an experiment for me and for them.  I didn't know if either one of us would enjoy eating them!  I have found you can produce a good bit in a small area though, due to them growing mostly vertical.


The strawberries and lettuce are still going good and the green onions are coming in now, so I got a decently assorted harvest yesterday at any rate.  Jack said he saw a very plump squirrel run out of the garden yesterday, with one of my very plump strawberries, so it looks like we are not the only ones enjoying them!  I can't blame them; the berries are very tasty.  I'm glad I ordered these varieties, rather than what they carry around here.  Has made all the difference in the world.  We give all the strawberry discards, trimmings etc. to the chickens and they really love them too.


I transplanted these iris up here from the creek last year and they are really taking off.  They do much better in more sun.  This composition always makes me think of VanGogh's iris paintings.


Of course, these are not the same iris he painted but they are one of my favorites.  I love the vibrant color.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shores Of White Sand


The blog has been quiet because Jack and I slipped off for a short vacation down at the Gulf.  This time it was the Ft. Pickens area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  This park was recommended by several friends and was a first for me and Jack.  After staying there I would also highly recommend it.  Old Ft. Pickens is way down at the tip of the peninsula, as a lot of forts are, and the photo above was taken there.  The place would be a bird watcher's heaven, in my opinion, as it's just covered up in all kinds of sea birds.


This must also be one of the ospreys' favorite breeding grounds because the trees were full of nests.  My camera was no good for getting up close but as we watched this nest we would occasionally see the little baby pop it's head up for a look around.  lol!
Camping at the beach was on my bucket list, since I've camped just about everywhere else, so that was one other reason we chose this area.  We had a little trouble getting in though, due only to the recent bad weather in the Pensacola area.  This is a barrier island and the elevation is basically sea level.  Flooded roads closed the park twice before we finally got in to stay.  We also were going to stay 3 nights but had to settle for 2 in order to get in before the end of May.  That's okay though.  We still had a very nice time. 


Jack's brother and sister-in-law met us down there in their RV and we finally used the tent Jack has had for ages and that we have set up in the yard several times!  It was very enjoyable and so relaxing. 
For the life of me I will never, ever understand why people want to go to crowded, nasty public beaches when they can drive down the road to this.  Maybe I'm just anti-social.  Haha!
This was also the frugal way to vacation.  Because of Jack's Old Geezer National Park card, we got in for free and the camping fee was half price.  I guess the biggest cost was gas to get down there.  But, we saved enough money to indulge our appetite for seafood!  And boy, did I!  Raw oysters, shrimp, clams....mmmm!


This was the nice boardwalk from the camping area over to the beaches. 


This is looking back towards the camping area.  You can see a few trees in the distance so yes, our camp site did have some shade.  It was also a full moon while we were down there too and that was nice.


I do have to say though, that only one camping loop was open, due to rain etc., so there was not as many people as there could have been.  However, anyone can come into the park, even if you are not camping.


The first and second days the water was a little cloudy due to the storms but by the third day the water had cleared to a pretty light green.  It was a little chilly for swimming but certainly doable and I swam a fair amount.  As I always say, salt water cures everything, whether it's the sea, sweat or tears.


While walking along the edge I saw 4 large sting rays cruise past, quite close to the shore, and then 2 more a little later.  I decided the water was kinda cold and maybe I had swam enough! lol!


So, we had a great time and then spent a couple of days in Mobile, which is Jack's hometown and where his brother and family still lives.  I'll have more about that in another post.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's A Shame About Ramona

 Haven't had a lot to write about lately.  Garden is doing well.  Still trying to get caught up on pottery and gets some time again to work on the house.  Been a little out of sorts for a week or so too.  Just drifting here and there in my mind.


Ramona was sick for a couple weeks also.  I could tell she had been slowing down quite a bit over the past months but wasn't sure what the problem was.  She wasn't that old; about 3.  She had gotten rather heavy, so her feet hurt her some.  We would help her down from the roost and nesting boxes.  She would call out for somebody when she was finished laying and I would go down and set her on the floor.  This past week she started swelling in her legs and under one wing.  I tried a couple meds but it didn't do any good.  I think it was her heart.  She acted a lot like Goober did before she died.


Anyway, we when to spend Mother's Day with my Mom and when we got home Ramona had passed.  I'm pretty sure she had a heart attack.  Ramona was a good ol' girl.  It's hard not to get attached to some animals, even chickens.  We drank a toast to her memory.

I'll be back soon and hopefully have some stuff to show on the house....or something.  Seems like I've just hit one of those periods where everything is kinda blah.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Mix It Up



Since Erin had asked about the birdbath thingy a couple posts ago, and someone else gave me the word "eclectic" in the word post (I'm on a roll, huh?), I thought I'd combine the two ideas for a post.
Some of my favorite schools of thought in design or art would be Japanese and Craftsman but when it comes to decor, indoor or out, it winds up a very eclectic mix.  You can see traces of those influences though, in what I end up dragging home.
The birdbath above is actually a large platter made during my college years.  One of the few surviving pieces from then.  If you look closely you can see it's warped pretty fair but the birds and bees don't seem to mind.
I like to keep some of the stumps from trees we cut because I think they make the perfect pedestals for display.


The object here on top of the post is an old handmade anchor, from the days when some of my land was a lake.  We plowed it up at some point; I can't remember if it was when we were putting in the drive or the garden or what.  I've found a number of peculiar objects like that.  Old leg traps, fishing lures, horse ties and shoes.


Many of the objects are cast-offs from jobs I worked on.  I especially like old stonework.


I don't normally buy mass produced, slicky yard art but I though this was kinda cute.  Allen has always accused me of being an old crow too, because I like shiny things.  Plus, it moves, so I like that.


I have a few remains from the little farm I grew up on.  I actually remember using this old grinding stone to sharpen an axe once when I was young.  The barn burned down years ago and I tried to salvage what I could of the old plows and such.  Maybe turn them into sculpture one day.


Another job cast off.  Suns are a recurring motif around here. 


Job cast-off turned art.  This is one of my very favorites.  I like the simplicity of it.


More sun.  I need to add more colored glass beads.


This is a new antique/ junk store acquisition.  I must remove the hideous paint some ding-dong decided it needed.  Then it will be good.  I would really like to make a mold of this one so I could produce more but the undercuts in it are troublesome.  I do have some rubber mold making compound but not sure it's enough to do this, as it's about a foot square.  Hhhmm, I have to think on that.


I have a number of these of various species.  I need to group them all somewhere as a collection.


Various things picked up on travels.


One of the best thrift store finds I ever made.  She's a favorite.


Fat little bunny.  I like any kind of animal statuary.  Unless it's real cutesy crap.  And oddly enough I don't have any chickens.  I do have an idea for a chicken sculpture though, so maybe I'll do that.


Homage to the dragonflies.  I try to make them feel welcome you know.

There are actually a few more pieces and I'm always on the look out for new finds at garage sales and thrift stores.  People get rid of some of the coolest things.  I love to decorate in the gardens as much as in the house and it's always a fun game to me to try to find new and unusual treasures from odd places.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Rebirthing

All of you that have come here for some time, and who have good memories, will know that on Wednesday I turn 46.  These days I'm okay with admitting my age and with being my age.  That came about the same time I quit coloring my hair.  I've had some real struggles over the past few years, so getting bent over being a year older is kinda silly to me now. 
If we remember back to the "word" posts, one reader gave me the word 'peace' and I think this post would draw on that idea a great deal.  My initial thought, when it came to writing about peace, was to expound on my valley here.  The environment, the woods, the flowing creek.  But then I realized, I write about that all the time.  Or at least show photos.  I don't know that my clumsy wordsmithing could properly convey the tranquil air of this little holler anyway.  Everybody knows however, the peace of place does not always mean peace of person, and vice versa and I've wrestled with a few things over the past couple of years.  Struggles often teach us things about ourselves though, if we'll pay attention, and I think maybe I'm finally getting a grip on some things.
I accept that I was born with some messed up parts and that some of the parts hurt me badly at times, despite the doctors saying they shouldn't.  (I don't think the parts listen to the doctors)  I will probably never find out exactly what's wrong in some areas but I hope they do make discoveries for the people yet to come.  I'm also grateful the stick I drew isn't any shorter than it already is.  I have it a lot better than some folks. 
I accept that some people are just not going to support or believe you when you have a rare medical problem.  Some people are going to laugh or ignore you.  But some people are wonderful and will always be there for you.
I accept that it's going to take me a while yet to finish this house.  I think I was 38 when we first started digging the footings.  That's a long time to build a house less than 1,000 square feet and I have, theoretically, another half to go.  This used to bother me a great deal and it apparently bothers a number of other people too.  Thankfully, most people have quit giving me advice on how to finish it.  But then one day I realized, well, if I wasn't building my house I'd just be building something else.  It's the process I enjoy.  Now, that's not to say I don't want to be done with the majority of it.  I do.  And I understand why it has taken me so long.  Working full (over)time, sometimes out of town.  Illness.  Life.  I have made a pledge to finish both halves before I turn 51 though.  Ya'll remember that.  I made my 40 year pledge of living in my own house, so I can do this one too!
I accept that most people are not going to agree with me on the way I live my life or my philosophies.  I have always been odd, so I should have accepted this a long time ago.  I hope that one day people care much less about STUFF and giant houses and crap and more about enjoying life and our short time here. Until then I get to be the quintessential southern "eccentric" and have a great time not keeping up with the Joneses.  I will admit though that I need to accept my inner freak just a little more.  Maybe I'll dread my hair with chicken feathers or something. 

So, that's just a few things I came up with for now.  I'm gettin' kinda sleepy and don't feel like writing anymore tonight.  For my birthday though, ya'll have to tell me what YOU have been up to lately!  What's going on in your world?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Month Of May


The hulless oats are doing very well.  I sowed a pound of seed so I'll be anxious to see how much I actually harvest.  This didn't take hardly any effort but not sure that it's going to be worth doing again.  Fun experiment though.


The herbs are doing really well this year.  The thyme that I gave the good haircut is closest in the foreground there.  You can see how full it's already gotten. 


The rest in that row are (left to right) oregano, catnip and sage.  Blueberry bushes interspersed between.


The baby broccoli have appeared.  No baby cauliflower yet but hopefully they will not be far behind.  The plants look good.


The snow peas hold hands and begin their ascent of the string trellis.


Lots of salads and hopefully the green onions will be ready soon.  I think the old cold frame is going to need rebuilding soon, but I expected that.  When I rebuild it I think I want to use block (cmu) but at least I found out it needs to go closer to the fence before I make it more permanent. 


We've been having some beautiful, actual spring-like weather since those last storms.  Nature's way of making up I guess.


Zuzu and another one of the hens had developed a right nasty behind, so they got baths yesterday.  The theory of warm water calming a chicken is hypothetical at best and an outright lie at worst.  Her theory was that if she had to take a bath, so did I.  At any rate, we both got clean and feel much better now.