Sunday, July 16, 2017

The beauty around us...

Swallowtail Butterflies drive me nuts.  They just flutter through the yard on their way to somewhere more important.  Not today.  Today one was a camera hog and hung around for a photo shoot.  I really had fun following him around the yard.

 Despite the heat and thanks to my husbands routine watering schedule the rose bed is an absolute riot of color.

 These clouds didn't provide rain, but did give us a spectacular sunset.

One of my favorite quotes is by Rabindranath Tagore..."Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."  I have found it to be so true.  I hope everyone is enjoying their sunset skies.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Butterflies, Bumblebees, Berries, and a Project Review...

I made a butterfly house.  Not because I think a butterfly will use it, but because my husband gave me a square table leg that he had made an error on.  He knew I would come with something to use it for.  I made a roof, a bottom, and cut entry holes.  I  read it needs a branch inside for them to sit on, so I stuffed one in there before I nailed it shut.  I'm using stain leftover from our picnic table project.  I am pretty certain it will be like the butterfly feeder that has yet to be touched by any insect, much less a butterfly.  Still it is better than just gathering dust in the barn.

My poor husband never knows what I am up to.  Today I got everything set and then asked him to come hold a ladder.  Before he knew what was happening, I was shimmying up the ladder with a very awkward and heavy bat house and juggling his lovely power drill.  I managed to prop everything into place and voila..... a bat house.   I love to sit outside in the evenings and watch my one bat eat insects.  There used to be two, but now I'm down to one.  I cannot see inside the bat house to know if it is working, but hopefully I will see an increase in bats.

I also tried my square foot stamps and am extremely pleased with them.  I used them to replant my lettuce, spinach, and carrots.  To make the indents I stood on it and that worked perfectly.  I am very happy to report that everything I planted is coming up.  I did take some yellow paint and labeled the templates.  Not the nicest handwriting, but at least I don't have to look up what template for what plants.
I had every intention of replacing the bird house in my red yellow bed.  It only had birds once in the 15 years we have been here.  It has big gaps and isn't well made.   I don't remember where I got it.   As I was removing the screw that holds the house down, I heard a buzzing.  It seems my old bird house has tenants.  A family of bumblebees.  Yikes... I was out of there.  After things calmed down, I tried to put the screw back in.  This has proven unsuccessful as they were quite agitated.  I tried to get my husband to do it, but he is smarter than I am.

I didn't just spend the weekend trying to evict bees.  I did some serious berry picking.  I found lots of wildlife from friendly caterpillars to not so friendly robins.  I picked gooseberries, wild strawberries, Juneberries, currents,  and nanking cherries.  I love picking berries.  It is my way of meditating.  I did pretty good with the Juneberries and gooseberries.  Unfortunately, it will take years before I get enough wild strawberries to make jam.  As you can see below, they aren't very big.

 It was a busy weekend.  They go way too fast.  I'm not sure what other projects I will work on this summer.  Probably a lot of wine and jam making in my near future.  I used my chamomile to make some hair detangler.  This is much needed since I have taken the top and doors off of my Jeep.  

What are you harvesting?  What are you doing with your harvest?  Have you ever seen a butterfly use a butterfly house?  Have you ever seen a nest of bumblebees?  Hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July and wishing you a great week.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Pumpkins and projects...

 It was a wonderful weekend.  The flycatcher is nesting on the porch and she is always flitting around.  The chipmunks keep me entertained and Ella ever on alert.  She is always trying to catch them.  We don't know what she will do if she ever gets one.

 I have always said iris are nature's stained glass windows.  The sun really sets them off.  Below are the last blooms of my peonies.  They smell so devine.

I tried to capture all of the bees and bugs on the flowers.  They would not sit still.  There are three different types of bees in the rose above.  The poor bumble bee was stuck.  I had to help him out. 

 This is the last yellow rose and the bees and bugs were all over it.  I have no idea what that big ugly fellow is, but he was very photogenic.  The shot below isn't as good, but I had to show how many bugs were savoring the last of the rose.  I can't say I blame them.

 The peonies were so pretty this year.  This the first year I got blooms from the dark pink peony below.  I love taking close-up photos of the petals.  It is easy to get lost in their folds.

 I promised pumpkins and projects.  As you can see above I have a pumpkin on the roof of the greenhouse.  My project is also climbing related.  I planted a clematis at the bottom of our signpost.  A copper pipe was wrapped around the post for the clematis to attach to.  Problem is clematis want something smaller to wrap its tendrils on.  I saw this trellis on pinterest.  I took branches from some willow trees my husband pruned and cut them into 8 inch pieces.  I then took some sinew and tied the twigs about 3 inches apart.  I think the clematis will love it.  The big question is how long will it last?  Sorry, there is a lot of distracting stuff in the background.  It was impossible to just take a photo of the signpost.

The view from the porch is perfect.  The weather has been wonderful.  Not too hot and not too cold.  I've been able to watch the birds, bees, and blooms.  I hope summer is as enjoyable for you.  If you have any tips for growing big pumpkins, I would appreciate it.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bats, Birds, Bucks, and Baking...

I don't like to sit still.  I always have a project in the back of my mind.  This week I was able to cross a few projects off of my list.  I made a bat house, bird house, square foot templates, a butterfly feeder, and spray painted my plant supports.  Pinterest has helped me reach my goals. These are projects I have wanted to do for years.  With Pinterest I can find the project that best suits my needs.

I have always wanted to build a bat house. We have plenty of leftover lumber.  I found the plans at:  Of course, I adjusted them a bit.  I will stain it next weekend and put it up for my resident bat.  I have one little bat that lives in our shed. 

 I also used scraps to make a chickadee house.  It was my favorite project.  The plan was simple.  I used one board to make the whole birdhouse.  There really aren't any plans for it.  The was a picture with measurements and it didn't go to any specific link.  I 'winged' it.   The square foot planters is a questionable project.  I like the square foot method of planting, but am not very patient or precise.   When I saw these square foot templates I had to try it.  I cut the boards into perfect square feet, measured according to the templates, and then drilled screws into each board.  Then screwed on the many used corks that have been laying around.  I painted it and added handles.  I got the idea from a pin that is blocked.  The templates for spacing are at:

I also set up a makeshift spray painting booth to paint my tomato cages and rebar supports.  Then I spray painted a little jar lid and poked a hole in the lid to make this butterfly feeder.  After the paint dried, I stuffed a sponge in the hole and put sugar water in the jar.  I made a harness for it and hung it from a branch.  So far, I haven't seen a butterfly near it.  I was skeptical when I made it, but had to try.  I will let you know if it works.
 The birds are nesting everywhere.  They are in the paperbox and on the porch.  You have to be careful, because you never know where they are.  We had a pleasant surprise yesterday when our resident turkey hen wandered through with her seven poults.  It was so much fun watching the little ones speed around after bugs and seeds. 

 He is so cute.

 The bucks have been scarce as they are resting quietly while their antlers grow.  We were able to see a few here and there.

I also did a lot of baking this week.  My college friend, Jody, stopped by with her mother.  It was a great visit.   My only regret is that a cold wind blew the whole time they were here, thus, no coffee and Danish on the porch.  Of course, we did have it in the cabin.  Time flew while they were here.  It was great catching up with them both.  
 Well, the sun sets an a wonderful week.  I was happy to get so much accomplished and thankful for the time spent with my husband and friends.   I have wanted to try several of those projects for years.  Have you crossed off any projects this summer that have been on your to do list for a long time?  Is there one you would like to do before the summer is over?