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Catch and Release

9 Oct

The forefinger largehairy caterpillar eating on the Milkweed fell off the plant I picked so it did not come home to be photographed.  It sure was not a monarch larva.  It was a caterpillar.

The red darning needle dragonfly was rattling under a piece of grass.  Freeing it, holding it in my hand, wondering if I should set it free or keep it for cards.  It was a spectacular  bright red.  It flew off just then and I was happy the decision was made for me.

The Black Swallowtaillarva went back out into the dill and promptly disappeared.  It overwinters as a pupa so perhaps it got ready for winter.

We found one Katydid still alive and kicking in the long grass verge on the side of the corn field.

Earl and Merle Squirrel have increased their range dramatically.  They now go over the lower roof to the west side of the house, they meet us at the door, and this afternoon Earl was on top of the freezer in the back room; I gave him a chestnut, got hold of him and he jumped onto the door and up over the roof.

Jay took Isabelle hunting Saturday and they came home with one goose.


And while we were cleaning up the garden, we thought maybe the answer to higher food prices is to feed out the turnips.  One of these would feed a family for a couple days.  Or even longer if no one likes turnips! Turnips as large as your head.

The First Frost

6 Oct

Yesterday morning stepping outside  in the predawn was like stepping into a refrigerator.  There were still a few intrepid insects singing.  A couple early birds.  When the sun came up the crows, squirrels, chipmunks all started their morning calls.  We walked to within 100 yards of a buck feeding  on the corn left in the field.  For breakfast: my mother’s homemade blackberry jelly on home made toasted bread.

Yesterday during the day the east cornfield was harvested.  It was clear sky all day and into the evening.  I harvested the rest of the peppers and most of the tomatoes.  Jay covered the red raspberries with a tarp.  I cut dill.  And while doing so came upon the first (for us to see) Swallowtail larva of the year.

The dill plant with it attached was brought into the house.    The green-red blown hydrangea blossoms were picked and hung.

The Monkshood was just coming into bloom:

Easy to see where Aconitum got its common name, eh?

This morning was like standing in front of the open freezer. The grass and gardens were covered by thick white frost. No insects singing.  Birds were, though, in a frantic “Thank God for the sun” kind of way.  Geese were landing in the newly harvested field.  We walked fast.  How did the spiders work so quickly since the field was harvested yesterday to string innumerable filaments of fine silk down low to the ground amongst the stubble?  And what happened to the spider which had strung a heavy thread of tough silk right at head height on one corner of the field?


27 Sep

Today two adult Monarch butterflies were flitting about in the field where all the larvae were.  Visiting their natal area?  No larvae have been seen since Sunday, one on that day, which was finishing up a leaf on a Milkweed , stripping it down to the center rib.

Two flocks of geese went over, eyeing the newly shorn corn field.   They saw Hawthorne snuffing in the field and opted not to land.  I had concealed myself in the hedge row hoping they would.

A smallish red pepper heisted from someone’s garden turned out to be hot.  I cut it up and put it in a pan of turkey garlic soup.  Raw it seemed fine and not at all hot.  But in the soup?  I almost choked!  And now, hours later, the fingertips of my right hand, which held the pepper while it was diced, tingle and burn as if they are being slowly broiled over a very small flame.

Sunday was the pumpkin harvest.

And the gourd harvest.  A smaller someone seemed tonight to appreciate the ones that came home:

This morning Earl drank about 11 ml of cream mix.  Merle?  Pshaw!  He has not lowered himself to milk products in a couple days.  He is eating nuts and drinking water, thank you very much.

Merle is also thinner than he was.  Not unusual.

They are both starting to jump and are much quicker.  They run and leap now.

They come in most days in the morning and evening for some bonding time.  Their nest box will soon be moved to the tree and they will have more room to roam at will.

Tomato, Wasp, Raspberry, Deer Eating Corn season

18 Aug

If you are a pale gray or white small moth, though, you better watch out.  The birds are eating you.  I find their wings in the mornings on walks.  The deer rip off the young corn cobs and take one bite before leaving them lay on the ground.  Or they break off the top of a smaller stalk and chew on the inflorescence and young leaves.  Either way, the edges of the corn fields near the woods are mangled and battered.

It is tomato sandwiches morning and noon for me these days.  Don’t knock an open-faced sandwich of toast, mayo, and fat red slice with salt for breakfast until you have had it!

Three different wasps this week have made my acquaintance.  One was already dead.  The other two species died .  The ichneumonid  wasp and the dead wasp I have yet to key out which is metallic blue with lovely tight “c”-curved antennae are being readied for use in cards.  The yellow-jackets were showing way too much interest in my window washing for comfort and were poisoned.

Yesterday we harvested the first watermelon.  The first we have ever successfully grown.

It weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces. 

And it was very good warm.

Various Vicarious

13 Aug

Pounce has been accompanying Hawthorne and me on the walk in the 50 degree mornings. He makes it to the last rise of the lane way and then heads into the corn.  If he does not make it that far, he waits in the hedgerow.  On the last leg, when he either sees or hears me (if he is in the corn) he emits plaintive cries.  Today it was a questioning mew followed by the short rising brrt a kitten uses to request something of its mother.  Yesterday, though, he sent out loud grunting, yowling roars.  The cat equivalent of what you see lions doing in nature films. It was astonishing.  He could not see or hear me and thought we had abandoned him.  Once in sight he reverted to the kittenish calls.

After reading a 1910 Dupont pamphlet on Farming with Dynamite, I made plans.  I woke up hoping there was a way we could get our hand on enough to try turning over the soil in our vegetable garden.  Two rows of four holes each 3-4 foot deep dug with a hand auger would be enough.  But Jay thinks we would have to call specialists in. And get someone’s permission.  And then we would end up on some sort of list.  What freedom we have lost in the last 100 years!

My husband would know about the rules and regs.  He is a licensed, card-carrying agrochemical applicator.  He can buy and use herbicides and pesticides you and I can only dream about if one does not have a license.  Back in 1910 it was different.

He also knows about and participates in IPM.  IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management.  On the radio, oddly, I have been hearing daily ads for IPM. I keep wondering why. Perhaps because it is still available to the ordinary individual without a license.  IPM is an ecological equivalent for those who are too old for lead soldiers on counterpanes or GI Joes in sandboxes.  It is warfare by proxy.  Oh, IPM is really useful, don’t doubt it.  But surely there is some elemental frisson of excitement releasing your army of cannibalistic parasitic wasps on the unsuspecting hoards of aphids consuming the irreplaceable research plants.

Me?  I prefer to do some of the dirty work myself, up close and personal.  For Japanese  beetles,  a fingernail through the joint between the head and thorax, or a quick snap that completely removes the head partially makes up for those ruined rose petals and holey leaves on all the hollyhocks.  Potato and squash beetle larvae squish satisfyingly.

What’s Cooking?

2 Aug

Nothing in the oven.  Too hot.  But recent repeats since they are all in full harvest now include green beans with homemade Italian dressing:


Potato salad with fresh onions or shallots and Sungold tomatoes and fresh garlic mayo:

And glazed blueberries as dessert:

The raspberries are coming on now, too.  And the heavy cream–hah!  This is an easy dessert.  Take about 5 cups of blueberries.  Make a glaze.  Pour hot glaze over berries.  Cover with very lightly sweetened whipped cream.  Or yogurt.  Enjoy.

Instead of plain water I tried this summer hard cider from Woodchuck which contains blueberries.  It made a great glaze.

One cup liquid, 3/4 cup sugar, 3Tablespoons cornstarch.  Mix all together before heating.  A glaze is essentially a blanc mange (pudding) made with water (or in this case hard cider) instead of milk.

The glazed berries.  The above glaze was more than enough for 5 cups berries.  I cut the recipe in half for berries for 3-4 of us.  Other berries can be used.  The idea came from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook given me by my mother when I was a young teen.  The strawberry glaze pie.  No pie shells baked now in this heat!  Have done so other years and filled the shell with this mixture.  But is just fine and fewer unnecessary calories with just the filling and cream.

More Reds and Vegs

14 Jul



Oriental lilies


The first pound of green beans yesterday.  The first Sungold tomato today.

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