Friday, June 24, 2011

Pinto Pinto Pinto

Last month's abrupt and brutal heatwave was a bit much for my poor garden. It tried, and I tried, but the blast of heat was just too much too early for some of my plants and many of them went into deer in headlights mode - they stopped growing, but didn't necessarily die... Except for the few who got squished.

One of the things that got blasted a bit were my pole and pinto (half-runner) beans. They stopped growing, and the bottom two thirds of the plants lost all their leaves. This was not good for pole beans who had only set a few beans each by then, but it was actually beneficial for the harvest of my pinto beans. They had set so many pods, and the heat wave just helped them dry out.

Since then, the temperature has gotten a bit more reasonable and a bit more seasonal (read: it's just as hot but it's appropriate now, and it slowly turned up the heat as opposed to flipping a switch and going from low 80's to 99 overnight). And my pole beans and pinto beans (and my snap beans, as well....) have started flowering and setting beans again. Yay!

Dried pods

Pinto bounty!
 There was something extremely satisfying about shelling the beans late at night after a long day at work - straight into a jar in my pantry they went, and I am so excited to have put something in my pantry!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Tomatillo

I REALLY like tomatillos. I like to roast and puree them, and then put them in just about everything. So waaaay back in December? January? All of last year? when I was putting together a seed list to order, they were absolutely included in the giant first list, and never even got close to being cut in the subsequent rounds of list editing.

My love of the tomatillo was obviously reinforced by my stint of living in California, but due to the climate I lived in I had never seen it growing, although I would be surprised if none of my friends or friends of friends didn't grow it up on the ridge.

I planted 3. I transplanted them outside a teensy bit early, but my shed wasn't heated (or insulated) this year, so under the fluorescents with no warmth, things were getting a bit leggy. So outside they went. They took a bit of time to adjust to being outside, but once they did they took off.


In fact, they are so big now that the 6 foot stakes I put in to help support them (they're growing in a bed that is not quite deep enough and the topsoil has been compacted a bit making it even shallower) are turning out to be inadequate.

Tomatillos flower and then when germinated, the calyx blows up like a balloon, and the fruit slowly grows in it and fills it up until it starts splitting. At which point you are ready to harvest. So cool.


Now they look like big lush bushes covered in Chinese lanterns, and every time I look at them they bring a smile to my face. I can't wait for harvest!

Like lots of little Chinese lanterns...


And such cool flowers... (impossible to photograph...)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yes. We have a favorite chicken.

We can't help it. And by 'we', I mean me, my manfriend, and my dog. We are all in love with this effing chicken. She is awesome. She is the first to come to the door when you open it, the first to grab a treat out of your hand, and the first to come when you call "Cheeeeeeeeep cheep cheep cheep!!" She is awesome. She is Henrietta.

video 
  

*and to my sissypants Malia - we WILL have a Stoneyhaw chicken dinner. Don't you worry your pretty little head!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Guest Post: Mom's Point Of View - Stoneyhaw, Take 2

I love it that my mom lets me post these... It was great to have her here, she ROCKED the blueberries, and I do believe that besides me, the dog, chickens, ticks and chiggers all miss her oodles! And this time (thanks to her new awesome camera!) the pictures (and captions) are hers, too.

As usual, this is ridiculously long, and, as usual, please read it at your leisure!  The continuing saga of my time at Stoneyhaw, having just gotten back from a spring visit...

I was going to start out with “You can’t go home again,” but that sounds too negative.  Suffice it to say that the Stoneyhaw I returned to two months ago was a very different place from the one I left at the end of December.  For one thing, the Airstream and environs looked positively lived-in; well, the Airstream always had (it is nearly 40 years old after all), but the surrounding area had flattened out under the back-and-forth of Caitlin’s feet, and at least three looping paths heading down from the RV to the lake and back again had been pounded through the woods by Zora’s paws in her frequent, vigilant and breakneck “perimeter checks.”  In addition, unlike the roughing-it that we had done in the fall, we now had running water inside (wow—no more hauling from the well!), as well as a spigot that we could draw water from outside, the height of luxury.  And occasionally the water inside even ran hot!  Well, when the ancient pilot light could be coaxed to stay on.  (By the end of my visit, the coaxing and the sopping up of leaks from the elderly hot water heater were over; Caitlin’s manfriend Mike, bless his heart, hands and cleverness, installed a new one.)

But the differences were not just physical.  Caitlin had been working really hard, building raised beds, clearing garden space, nurturing her farm plants into life and growth, and making the place her own.  So on this second visit, I felt less like the collaborating conspirator I had been the first time around, and more like the supportive right-hand-man.  If I characterize the feeling from the first visit as the passion and excitement of falling in love, the feeling of the second was the warmth and comfort of revisiting an old friend.

An old friend, however, that still exacts a fair amount of work.  As Caitlin continued to labor on the garden, I went to work first on the blueberries.  One of my favorite stories about this land is walking it with Eric maybe twenty-five years ago, a few years after we had bought it and begun to be its long-distance caretakers.  He was re-visiting and re-acquainting himself with the trampings of his early youth, re-locating the site of the old well, the garden, the beehives.  And he knew the blueberry bushes were around here somewhere…  We studied the ground intently, looking for signs, when all of a sudden, Eric’s eyes travel up and up until he is craning his head back to look at the tops of some bushes about ten feet in the air.  Oh, there they are!  It was those “bushes,” then 15 years old, and now an additional 25, that I tackled my first week there in mid-April.  An enormously satisfying and ruthless few days of hacking, pruning, wrenching, hauling and burning anything not actually bearing living leaves or flowers yielded an 8’ x 12’ patch of living, growing, and, we hoped, bearing blueberry bushes.  I left two weeks ago as the berries were just beginning to blush; Caitlin will keep me posted on whether they amount to anything or not.

Like any hired hand, I didn’t just get the glamorous jobs.  I also spent three days sifting dirt—gorgeous, ancient, beautifully composted garden dirt from the area around the old garden shed.  Unfortunately, the shed, along with its asphalt roofing and broken windows, had composted right along with it.  Not being able to bear wasting the dirt, I cleaned the glass shards and asphalt bits out of it so that we could use it in Caitlin’s beds to grow the garden’s great-granddaughter generation of tomatoes.

I got to do battle again with the “sand rock,” using a shovel and pickax to even out the ridges and holes in the ground left behind by the plumbers who ran the water line up the hill from the pump to the spigot and from there into the trailer.  The stuff is amazing—like concrete when dry, it turns slimy and sticky and gooey and thick when wet.  Once I had evened things out, I hacked at the area around the end of the Airstream by the spigot to aerate it enough to seed it with grass that might have a chance of growing (it had gotten a good start when I left).  All the digging up of the land in the fall for laying the water line and burying the electricity cabling, however, did yield a useful crop of large stones that I collected and laid in a mosaic on the ground around the spigot to drain off the drips and drops, and to give us something other than gelatinous mud to walk in when that area gets wet.

I got to do lots more clearing this time, too—making Zora’s paths to the lake accessible for taller beings who don’t fit as neatly under the fallen logs and encroaching branches as she does; pulling out, chopping up and burning brush from all the trees Caitlin had cut down since the fall to give her garden the light it needed to grow, and, most satisfying of all, freeing up one of the ancient magnolias that Eric’s grandfather had planted 50 years ago (in order to entice his wife to move out there—it didn’t work) from the embrace of a huge old pine that had had the poor grace to practically bury the magnolia in its death-fall.

Caitlin and I also managed two construction projects.  For one reason and another, mostly an effort to listen to commonsense (she still didn’t have a job; she was already working hard with the garden; she didn’t have the facilities ready), by early this past spring, Caitlin had just about given up on having chickens, though she desperately wanted to start her flock this year.  However, in the true fashion of the impassioned, she threw caution to the winds when I arrived and we ordered eight “practice” chickens by mail (having been told that the local store that carried chicks would be sold out by the time we were ready to buy them).  (Oh, and the “practice” part was because they were the cheapest and easiest available, to “practice” on before she got the heirloom varieties she really wanted.)  Lo and behold, however, when we were ready to have the chicks out at the farm, the store DID have some in stock, and Caitlin promptly bought eight, figuring we’d cancel the online order.  Which predictably, in hindsight anyway, we could not.  Sixteen chicks later, we had the first, older eight cheeping around in a large Rubbermaid container in the shed, and the younger, smaller eight happily ensconced in the bathtub (luckily enough, we were in an unusable phase of the hot water heater, so the tub wasn’t required for showers—we had gone back to taking showers outdoors for the moment).  In the mean time, Caitlin and I constructed what we fondly call the Multimedia Chicken Tractor, a “mobile” (OK, the quotations marks aren’t really fair, because we could and did move it and neither one of us got hurt doing it, but it IS heavy…) chicken hut with attached, covered run.  The hut itself was made from the lumber from an old shed that had found its way to us through a relative, with old roofing tin for its roof.  The frame for the run was made from PVC pipe and covered in deer netting, held in place with cable ties, while the door was a bamboo curtain.  With appropriate windows for ventilation and a door to keep them safely in the hut at night, it was the perfect first stop as the larger chicks graduated from the Rubbermaid.

But it wouldn’t be enough when they got bigger, especially for all 15 (one apparently succumbed to SCDS, or “sudden chicken death syndrome”—I shouldn’t joke; when Caitlin found a chick inexplicably dead one morning, we were pretty sad).

So, once again, Eric’s aunt BJ came to the rescue.  She had bought a screened-in gazebo from Aldi’s for her granddaughter’s outdoor wedding, and thought that we might like something similar for the farm.  When she returned to Aldi’s, she discovered they had two left, both broken, and the manager refused to sell them to her, saying that they had to be thrown out.  Now, BJ is as spunky as they come; she drove back behind the store the next morning to the dumpster, just in time to see the garbage truck empty it and drive away.  But the packages for the two gazebos had been too long to fit into the dumpster, so they were left on the ground as the truck took off, only running over the two boxes “a little bit.”  She promptly opened the back of her van (this is an 83-year-old woman, now) and loaded all the hardware, screening, poles, etc. into the back.  When I eventually drove the van out to the farm and investigated, we found we had enough materials to build a complete, nearly square gazebo, with a few extra bits like a second screen and canvas top for back-up, and extra poles for training green beans and grapes on.  Once we had puzzle-pieced together the gazebo, it was a simple matter to line the inside “walls” with chicken wire (folding it in a foot along the ground and pinning it down inside to keep predators from coming in through the bottom—we’ll see how long that lasts—hopefully a long time with Zora keeping the actual predators at bay…), and fix a plywood wall on one side into which we cut and hinged a door to let the chickens and us in and out.  Voila!  The Chicken Palace.  We moved the larger chicks in from the Multimedia Chicken Tractor, and then housed the smaller chicks in a hutch that we had actually bought (we aren’t blindly wed to the “we have to make everything ourselves” doctrine—when we saw this hutch in Tractor Supply, we knew we could never make it as well or as cheaply and so we “splurged”), and carried the hutch into the Palace as well so that everyone could get to know one another—with the safety of a barrier between them just in case there were any seniority or territorial issues.

As usual, I missed all the fun.  (“As usual” = missed turning on the electricity for the first time, missed turning the water on in the Airstream for the first time…sigh)  Since I left, Caitlin has allowed the chickens their free range, and integrated the two groups, both without mishap.  Apparently, with good chicken sense, they happily retire to be tucked into the Palace at night, and streak out in the morning to spend their days in utter lethargy under the Airstream (possibly the coolest place on the farm).

Of course the chickens and their eggs will be eaten, eventually, and that is a good reason for having them.  But I think what tipped the balance on the decision to get them was the Tick Problem (move onto the next paragraph now if you are bug-squeamish).  Suffice it to say that every day I spent on the farm I was bitten by anywhere from one to four ticks (this is bites, not just having them crawling around on me); Caitlin took tens of ticks off Zora several times a week, and suffered her own barrage of bites (though I seemed to have been the tastier one in tick eyes).  Caitlin doused herself with chemical spray, but I have never liked to do that sort of thing, and was willing to try Eric’s grandfather’s remedy:  sulphur powder (“flowers of sulphur”).  I began by sprinkling it on my socks, in my shoes, along my waistband, down my shirt.  No effect.  I then took the plunge to the diehard method—I ate about a half teaspoon of the stuff every day, the idea being that the smell, which ticks are supposed to hate, would come out all over your body in your sweat, and repel the repugnant guys.  Didn’t really notice that that was effective, either.  Despite the heat (and luckily, it was only rarely in the 90s, mostly in the 80s), whenever I worked in the woods or fields (i.e., every moment I wasn’t sitting at the picnic table in front of the RV, which was the vast majority of moments), I was covered up—long pants, socks, the whole deal.  Didn’t matter.  By the end of the day, those crafty ticks (and they could be anywhere from 1/8” to virtually invisible), had found their way to my ankles, arms, back, stomach, and other more intimate areas.  For me, though not for Caitlin, the chiggers were just as bad, and just as impervious to my efforts to keep them away.  Except that they were truly invisible, and managed not just to raise an itchy welt, but to create huge straining blisters of painful itchiness whose scabs and scars still decorate most areas of my body.  OK, enough about the bugs.  The point is, chickens love to eat ticks, and I hope they are feasting on them right now!  (Footnote:  all those sulphured clothes still smell of sulphur, several washes later, and I’m not sure I don’t still smell as well!)

There were a few other useful accomplishments.  After literally months of inconclusive discussions with poorly informed and confusing sales reps, and agonizing over the possibility of an astronomical cost for laying in a land (phone) line as the only feasible way for Caitlin to get internet, the resolution was surprisingly anticlimactic.  Within a day of calling AT&T one more time and just agreeing to everything without really getting much information, a line worker came out to measure the distance and lay the line.  In what we have come to think of as the prototypically helpful Southern way, he asked if an engineer had been out.  When we said no, he smiled and said that, really, an engineer was supposed to be consulted for anything over 900’, and our line would be nearly 1200’.  But he was happy to call it 900’; whereupon, he laid down the line, hooked it up to the box on the shed, and once Mike installed a jack and Caitlin hooked up a phone she had, we were in business.  Well, there were the burps of the line guy mistakenly doing the paperwork to start up someone else’s internet instead of ours (took an afternoon on the phone [which we had, at least!] to straighten that out) and then a downed line somewhere in the county cutting us off the next day for a little while, but both the phone line and the internet have worked flawlessly since.  Another huge change to our way of life out there—no longer any need to drive into town, faking a desire for Starbucks in order to use their internet…

We also finally tested our water.  Now I can admit it—no, we hadn’t tested it before.  We (and by “we” I mean mostly Caitlin) had just been drinking the stuff from the well in the relatively blind hope that it was all right (OK, not completely blind—it had been fine 50 years ago…).  We bought a testing kit that covered everything from evidence of pesticides to lead to bacteria, and then, nervous about what we’d find, we put off using it for a couple days while we screwed up our courage.  Courage sufficiently in place, we went ahead and found that the water was just fine in all respects (it’s a little acidic, which the blueberries love).  I must admit to a bit of relief.

I took a trip up north to see friends and family, and thanks to the loan of the van from BJ, came back with a full load of tools, gardening supplies and all my mother’s well-loved and -used (or as Malia would say, “experienced”) canning supplies, now finding a new home, and a renewed reason for being, with Caitlin.  The vast carrying capacity of that van was also necessary to transport the enormous amount of love and good wishes that everyone sent.

I find all the work that we did to be enormously satisfying, but there were times of satisfaction and contentment that didn’t involve work as well.  Heading out to the blueberry bushes, intent on the day’s pruning, I was caught up every time by the sweet smell of honeysuckle, which always made me look up from my preoccupied staring at the ground to watch the sun trickle through the greening trees and glance off the bright white dogwood blossoms.  We did sit out with our drinks at the end of the day and gratefully watch that same sun lower itself behind the woods, letting the air cool down and giving us a break from brightness.  We took our walks to the mailbox in the late afternoon past the meadows where the fluffy heads of the tall grasses caught the warmth of the remarkably golden sunlight of that time of day.  We lay in our beds listening to the thunder crash and the wind whip down the lake, bringing rain that would water the garden (yes, and make a sticky mess of the mud and the driveway).  We watched out everywhere and at every moment for snakes, and saw a few—a bright green one on the path on the far side of the land, a mottled one on the driveway, a worm snake in the pile of dirt by the shed.  (I missed the black snake that Caitlin swears hangs out in the garden, along with a couple of friendly toads.)  Hummingbirds rewarded us for hanging a feeder we had made out of an old whiskey flask we had found on the land by zooming in over our heads and drinking their fill.  And the early, early sun made the lake sparkle, and the stars peppered our nights (though I saw less of them this time since I didn’t have to go outside to the “bathroom” any more with the indoor facilities now functional!).

Caitlin continues to farm and raise the chickens; she also just got a job at the new local Co-op.  You can follow her further adventures (when she has time to write about them!) on her blog: http://caitlinvb.blogspot.com/.  For now, I’m back in Vancouver, working on my own garden and house here, writing up research, and thinking about what comes next.


Best to you,

Laurie

The Chicken Palace (and Caitlin).

The spigot mosaic.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!

To all Dads, Dad-like figures, and single Moms who sometimes have to do a Dad's work.

Most specifically a Happy Father's Day to my Dad (who DOES NOT read this blog. Or any other blog...):

This is the mental image I like to think of best. My Dad is the coolest.





And to my favorite single Dad:

This past Christmas my beloved man was all things Dad. He didn't know it then, but the already hooked hippie got irrevocably so that week.
Love you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Adjustment Period

Please forgive my (hopefully!) brief absence while I adjust to the notion of being employed, oh Lone Reader. I got a job, you see, and now I'm all of a sudden working full time AND doing the farmstead/chicken wrangling thing. I will get it figured out and be back to posting crazy turtle pictures soon :)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Amazing Eastern Box Turtle - Part Two

I am NOT a turtle person. I promise. I realize that this is contrary to my current posting trend, but I can't help it. It's like I live on terrapin alley or something.

Walking down my driveway back from my neighbor's today, I found a box turtle. A little one. I stooped down and took its picture.

Trundle trundle trundle
And then I picked her up. (It had brown eyes. According to wikipedia, that means it's most likely a female box turtle). And then my mind was blown.

I knew that they were called box turtles because they could close their shells and resemble closed boxes. Fine. That sounds great.

But when I picked it up, it pulled its head and legs in, and then with a squeak (like air being forced out - which it probably was) its bottom shell (the plastron, if you will) hinges and it closes up tight. Dude. So cool.

Closed up tight.

It has a HINGE. So incredibly cool.
I think I'm turning into a turtle person.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Weather and Watering

When planning my garden, watering was a big issue. My garden is a good ways from Melvin. Like 150ft? 200ft? I dunno, I grew up with the metric system.

Anyhoo - this is where my whole "how the hell am I gonna keep this thing watered?" issue came in.

In planning on moving to North Carolina, weather was a bit of an issue. As in "how the hell am I gonna survive the summer?".

Yeah. And then this year happened. First a record breaking cold winter,  a rainy-yet-somehow-non-existent spring, and now record breaking heat.

And somehow the watering issue has become more of a comfort. I abandoned my ideas of some sort of pump system to get water out of the lake, or a drip irrigation system, and I now water it by hand. And it's perfect. I get to visit each and every plant, and I feel like even if I don't know how to FIX anything (still learning!) I can at least monitor things with each and every one of my plants.

And as this is my first year out here, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Lush enough, no?


Sunday, June 05, 2011

Holy Buckets of Wildlife Galore - The Turtle

So... I have mentioned the Eastern Box Turtle as well as the abundance of terrapins in general out here. And the 'plop plop plop' -ping one hears when you get close to the pond.

So I shouldn't have been surprised when I came across this in the driveway on my way home yesterday*:
He was basking. It was over 90 degrees out.

So obviously I stopped, the manfriend picked it up, and we went on our merry way.

When we got back up to the camper, Mike hosed him (could be a girl, I suppose. I'm not on my turtle sexing. Sorry) off, and then there was appropriate amounts of oohing and ahhing.

At first I thought he was hissing, but really he just seemed to be thirsty. My manfriend obliged.
Oh. Like the rocks?My mom did it. Thanks Lone Reader!

And then we bid him a fond farewell and sent him on his terrapinny way.

After a fond farewell, the damn thing sat there for like an hour.

I looked around online and tried to identify it - my best guess is a Yellowbelly Slider - mostly based on the striped (instead of circular) markings, rounded jaw, and domed shell. I'm happy to be corrected, but I'm OK with thinking it was a slider...

Harrroooo?
-----
*more accurately I was driving up the driveway chattering away about nothing (I'm pretty sure - that would be the norm, anyway) and trying to avoid the massive tree roots uprooted by the AT&T guy burying our phone line, when I hear "baby slow down! SLOW DOWN!! Turtle turtle turtle TURTLE TUUUURRRRTLE!!!!' coming from the direction of the manfriend. He just blended so well. ("Oh yeah. You blend" - name that movie!)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Roost

Say that word too many times, and it just sounds weirder and weirder...

I put together a roost for the chickens. They needed something to...well...roost on. I really didn't want to buy anything, and I am proud to say the whole thing - in its rickety entirety - was made out of things we already had. Woot.

It still needs some cross braces for some extra support (I expect to walk in one of these mornings to find it fallen over, but anyhoo...), but for now it'll do.

These will now become a roost. Muahahaha.
See it yet?
How about now?
OK. Fine. There you go. The finished product (cross braces pending)
*sigh* currently they have to talk to each other through screen and chicken wire.

Friday, June 03, 2011

And here it is, week 11. Wow.

I can NOT believe how time flies. It feels like I've been here forever and I really COULD NOT WAIT to get to plant stuff this spring, and now I feel like I've turned around and oodles of time has gone by.

And I've had things growing for 11 weeks now. Holy shit.

Sorry. No other way to put that.

Figgy has baby figs! Eeeek! (click on the image to enlarge, and then put your nose right up against the screen. Aim for the middle. See it? Just go with it. 'cuz it's there! Two, actually!)

The soup peas left, but the cucumbers very quickly took their spot...

Don't bean plant just make you happy?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

White Cucumbers

As my mother keeps mentioning, this is a 'practice' garden this year. Granted it is easy to forget that when I really *would* like to be eating most of my veggies and whatnot out of it this year - especially as I'm really too broke to be shopping. But it is a practice garden nonetheless.

And this excuse came in handy when I went to place seed orders last winter/early spring. I have multiple varieties of a bunch of stuff - all in the name of experimentation...

And so far the results have been interesting. Take, for example, the cucumbers.

I have 3 kinds of cucumbers, in 3 different beds. I have Japanese Long, De Bourbonne, and Ruby Wallace's Old Time White. Having grown up in Japan, The Japanese Long is the kind I tend to crave, and they don't really have a lot of seeds. They're also good for eating fresh OR pickled and are quite the not-so-little utilitarian cucumber. The De Bourbonnes are pickling cucumbers most famous for being made into cornichons... they're little itty bitty guys and they produce. And what sold me on the ones I'd never heard of before? The Ruby Wallace's? Merely the fact that they were a Carolina heirloom, and I like to try to grow regional heirlooms when I can. I should probably mention that all 3 seed types came from the same company and are open-pollinated.

And at first I was very discouraged by Ms Wallace's cukes. All 3 types were planted inside in flats at the same time, under the same lights, blah blah blah. They all germinated fine...and once they had about 2 or 3 true leaves, the French guys just took off, with the Japanese ones not far behind. The Carolinians struggled.

And then the move to outside happened. Kinda. Again, the French cukes TOOK OFF with the Japanese cukes not far behind. And the Carolinians just looked kind of sickly. I did lose one of the French cukes to wilt, but I replaced that patch of dirt and stuck a seed in there as it was still early in the season. The other two kept growing and growing and the Ruby Wallace cukes just sat there without really growing much at all. And then 2 of them died, for no apparent reason. No bugs, no bacterial wilt, no mildew - they just didn't want to be there I guess. So I replaced that bit of dirt and stuck some seeds in. They took forever to germinate, but in the end they did.

And then abut 2 weeks ago something weird happened. I went in to the garden one day and the Carolinians had seemingly taken off over night and had far outgrown the other two types. Not only that, but they were the first to flower, and the first to set fruit. And they are possibly some of the best cucumbers I've had.

Let me put that into context - I have Greek blood in me, I grew up eating a lot of middle eastern food, and I grew up in Japan. These are cucumber-heavy cultures. And I like cucumbers. And I am a cucumber snob. And these Carolina heirlooms are rocking my world.

Score yet another point for my new home state.

Shown:Ruby Wallace Old Time White (x3), Japanese Long (x1), Arugula and Calendula flowers.
I was gone for memorial day weekend and by the time I got back, they had gotten overripe - they should be white and picked before they turn yellow. Didn't seem to hurt them a bit, though.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Amazing Eastern Box Turtle

OK. So the proof that these guys are amazing is currently somewhere buried in the giant stack of magazines and notebooks and seed catalogs and the like on my windowsill, and of course now that I want to find it to reference it, I can't find it. BUT. There's an article in Grit, or Hobby Farm, or some such magazine called 'Turtle Popsicles' and I had to read it (for obvious reasons). The article goes on to explain that in the first year of their life only, eastern box turtles literally freeze their first winter - and then come back to life again in the spring. Subsequent years they hibernate and they have an anti-freeze like substance in their bloodstream, and this fact alone I find cool.

This property is covered in turtles. When you walk to the pond and you come up alongside the water, you can hear a 'plop plop plop' as they all dive in the water off their sunning spots. I see various turtles along my driveway and along the road. If this place hadn't already been named when I got here (and maybe if the Grateful Dead hadn't taken the word 'terrapin' as their own), they would be referenced in the name of this place.

As it is, I will continue to move them out of my way as I roar down my driveway...!

Trundling across the garden...