Saturday, May 31, 2008

Heavenly bodies

We had rain and a mild thunderstorm on Thursday, and a rainbow!

Flowers after the rain...

Heartleaf Arnica

This morning the bumblebees were buzzing around it. We will have lots of crabapples.

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my three score years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
--A.E. Housman, from A Shropshire Lad

It's 70 degrees at 2:15 pm, clouds and sun.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The box mystery

Yesterday morning I found the box like this. Something had moved the blanket, rocks and all and dug two holes. The prints point to a cat or dog culprit. The box smelled like a musky wild animal too. Rusty investigates...

Tons of these flies were on the underside of the blanket, keeping warm. Coconut had about five of them and then he was full. The bugs have come out in force now, and that means the mosquitoes are back. Someone told me to use Listerine as a repellent. I tried it last night and it worked a bit, but I think I need to spray on a lot more. Those skeeters are hungry. There are a lot of mosquito hawks around too, so that must be helping.

This young Crossbill was sitting in the box (what is it about that box?) We thought he was a Rusty victim, but after being picked up, he flew into the tree. Jr. fed him some sunflower seeds, then he couldn't resist...he had to hold it. After that it flew away.This morning at 5:30 I walked around outside the house and saw a young moose. It walked off when it saw me, but not far. I saw it eating Saskatoon (Service) berry in the forest. I wonder where mom is.

Yesterday was beautiful again, warm and sunny. I finally planted the tomatoes and some lettuce, herbs and flowers. Those wall-o-waters are a pain unless you have someone helping you. I was having quite a time, water spilling out, tomatoes getting mangled. Jr. came to my rescue and held them open so I could put the maters in. It was really hot inside those things, I can see why they work. I ran out of places for the tomatoes, so I put two in hanging baskets. Maybe they'll be safe up there.

Kiki the cat is missing. Where are you Kiki? Rusty misses you.

It's 57 degrees at 8:00 am, cloudy, looks like rain.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Perfect day

I went on a nice bike ride in the forest today with one of my very best friends. I got this bike at a yard sale last summer and it works well. Never did get around to planting, it was too nice of a day to worry about that. Read my book on the lawn chair for a bit...

The weather is perfect, low 70s. The grass is green, the flowers are blooming, it's spring! And the birds are singing. This is why we live here, why we put up with all that snow, all those grey skies, all that cold...for spring, and these two...

Western bluebird on last year's mullein.

Mountain bluebird in grand fir by his nest box.It's 67 degrees at 7:20 pm.

Monday, May 26, 2008


The rains have made the flowers happy. What's blooming now...
Wild strawberry
Oregon grape
Arrowleaf balsamroot...did you spot the crab spider?

Saskatoon berry Violet
? These are tiny.
Toadstools are popping up.I don't know what this is, but it smells like gardenia.Bird activity...
Bath time! I saw this beauty from the kitchen and grabbed the camera, but had to take the pictures through the window so I wouldn't scare it. I've only caught brief glimpses of these before, but not at home. I had to look in the bird book to identify it as a Western Tanager. Stokes says if you put out halved oranges they may come to feeders. I'll try that.
Uhhh, someone just took a bath in that water you're drinking...the grosbeaks have been around a lot. They like the critter food. The hummingbirds like to perch in the willow.
Crossbills are regular visitors.The bluebirds are in the box on the garage, this is one of their lookout spots.

The Mountain bluebirds are in the box by the garden and the Tree swallows are in the old nestbox down by the fir tree.

I left the plants outside last night! It was only 38 degrees, so they survived.

It's 57 degrees at 8:00 am, sunny. It looks like it's going to be a very nice day. The weather forecast says "isolated thunderstorms and a 30 percent chance of rain."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Keeping the plants warm and safe

Kiki investigates the plant blanket...

I went up north to the Co-op yesterday. They had small packs of the floating row cover and told me that a nursery in town sells it in bulk. They were very helpful and showed me how to build a hoop house out of cattle panels or PVC. In case I forget, here's what you do:

The hoop greenhouse
Materials: 2- 16' x 4' cattle panels; rebar; 2- 8' 2x4s; metal clips; plastic; staples.

Sink 4 pieces of rebar in the ground a couple feet and leave just a bit above ground. Bend cattle panels over with rebar inside and centered. Attach rebar to panels with twine. Attach 2x4s to the panels with clips, then staple the plastic to them. This makes an 8' x 5' structure, approximately.

Or with PVC, use 4- 1 and 1/4" 20' pieces. Put rebar in the ground at 5' intervals and then put the PVC pipe over it and bend to the other side. Reinforce with PVC pipe down the center, attach with screws. Attach plastic the same as before. This structure is 20' x 5', about.

With these things I could grow melons! Maybe. Gordo and Gordetta would like it for sure, eh Slammy?

The tomatoes need to be transplanted. Three will go into the wall-o-waters, and a couple will go into pots.

I went to the nursery up north also, and got some cilantro, parsley, and marjoram. Plus a 2008 garden almanac to keep track of the moon signs. Today, we're in the dark of the moon and the sign of Capricorn, which is "earthy and productive." So it's a good time to repot houseplants and plant perennials and biennials. Aha! that's parsley. I better not be a slacker today. Tomorrow is Aquarius, barren and dry, so then I can relax. By pulling weeds. From now on I'll list the moon phase and sign over there on the right, and tell what gardening chores are best done in it.

The poll is done, and there is no clear winner. Which just proves, with herbs, there are no losers. Ha ha ha. Except Tarragon. I hate it. Does anyone really like it? French chefs use it murder chicken, but I don't know of anyone else using it.

This morning the tree swallows were making a nest in the old box with grass from the compost pile. Looks like the bluebirds lost that one.

Can you see the bluebirds on the right? And the tree swallow is sticking his head out of the box. You snooze, you lose.

Oh well, maybe we'll put up another box or two.

In other news, our mail was stolen on Tuesday, and across the street there was a mailbox explosion. The neighborhood is really going to the dogs, woof woof. Looks like a P.O. box is in our future.
Speaking of neighborhood villains, I was a little late with the pepper spray. The tulips have all but disappeared, vanished into thin air. They must be like candy to the deer. That's what happens when you feed and water the critters. They come every night and then they tell their friends. Pretty soon, party's gone outa bounds!

But we do have some good neighbors, like the little Calliope hummingbird, the smallest bird in North America. The book (Stokes) says he can go into a "state of torpor" on cold nights, lowering his body temp by 50 degrees. He needs to around here, last night it was 36. The weather is back to cool and windy, mostly cloudy, a wee bit of sun.

It's 64 degrees at 11:00 am.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rainy days

A puddle. Summer was here for a few days, but now it is spring again, with rain and cooler temperatures. The plants are happy and so am I. Everything is green.On Monday we set up the wall-o-waters and I planted the rest of the potatoes under straw.
Carrots finally came up in the box. The other plants in the box are doing ok, but something is eating stuff and walking in it. I need to cover it up with a floating row cover or a plastic hoop thing. I'll have to order it because I haven't found any around here. and have row covers plus lots of other good stuff, like those wall-o-waters. The Co-op Country Store is advertising that they now sell Irish Eyes heirloom seeds. Maybe it's worth the trip up north to see what else they have. A row cover is the low-tech way of protecting the crops, but around here most people use the plastic hoop house. I might try setting one up if I can figure out how.

The bluebirds were out this morning, I think they may stay this year...I hope!
Crabapple blossoms and others are getting ready to open.

The tulips too, which means it is time for hot pepper spray. Deer beware, these tulips are hot.
2-5 Tablespoons Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper or any hot pepper substance you have.
1 gallon of water
1 Tablespoon oil
Mix it up, strain through cheesecloth, and spray on your tulips.

Note: It's hot! Not responsible for eye injury, property or other damage resulting from misuse of pepper spray. Spray on test area first before spraying the whole garden.

Speaking of pests, the cats left another remnant on the doormat this morning. The whole scene was perplexing. There were two bunches of grass and one mouse foot on the mat, placed just so. Then there were various entrails scattered about, surrounding the mat. What does it mean? Is it a cat luck charm? They're probably shaking their heads at me for cleaning it up and yelling at them. Poor human, doesn't understand, we're only trying to help.

One of my favorite wildflowers, Arrowleaf balsamroot, is blooming. Every year we are here, there are more of them.

I saw a very interesting book yesterday. It's called The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell. I'll have to read more, but it was clear from a brief look that it talks about the connection between consumption of animal protein and diseases like cancer. Plant proteins, according to the study, do not promote disease. You're way ahead of us, Slammy. Lentil stew for dinner.