Category Archives: The Critters

posts about creatures great and small

Unwelcomed weather and a little about my Harvest.

The harvest, which for the past six weeks has been a raging flood, has once again returned to a steady (and manageable) stream.  Summer crops are giving one last push, while my recently sown fall seeds have begun growing with vigor.  Or at least they were.  Last week, tropical storm Lee graced us with his presence.  It has been two days since the rains have subsided, and my garden is still under water in some areas.  The ground is beyond saturated, my only hope is that the predicted thunderstorms hold off, and we have several days of sun.

When I returned from my vacation, not only did I bring home a bushel of apples, a half bushel of pears, and a peck of peaches, I also managed to acquire (and for the record, she found me) a feral kitten.  Meet Harvest.

It’s hard to tell from the picture but she is pretty pathetic.  She weighs about 2 lbs, all skin and bones; the fur hides a lot!  From the large scar on her back, she had been in a fight with either a raccoon, or a piece of farm equipment.  Regardless, scars build character and she is an absolute sweetheart!

I have an overwhelming desire to care for the needy, fix the broken, and love the lame.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for all things sad and pathetic.

After a solid seven days of loving care and a full belly, she is one well-adjusted, playful, happy kitten.  I’ve even managed to stick to my guns and NOT allow her on my bed!  Go me!!

Thursday I had to get to the pet/feed store to put the brakes on some tapeworms.  After forty-five minutes of detours and turn-arounds I finally reached my destination, a mere 5 miles away.  As to be expected, I had my camera; here is just a bit of what I saw and the chaos that was experienced.

The road (and farm) are completely under water.

Stone bridge built in 1883, completely destroyed.

The water was really moving!

The Susquehanna river crested yesterday, several roads in Lancaster and Harrisburg are still underwater.  Thankfully, mine is not one of them!  My neighbor had over two feet of water in her house; I managed to stay dry even though my house sits below street level.  Fire trucks lined both sides of the road assisting homeowners with water removal.

If the sun comes out, and it looks like it may, I will venture into the garden to survey the damage, pull what’s dead, and reseed that which has been washed away.  Here’s to hoping for the best!

Images and content copyright © 2009-2011 Danielle R Limoge.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under The Critters

A Day of Firsts

First sunflower opened.

First black swallowtail caterpillar.

First summer harvest.

Today was a good day indeed.

2 Comments

Filed under Micro-farming, The Critters

Squirmy and Wormy

I’ve had a fascination with worms ever since I was a wee sprite.  My mother would tell me stories about how she would be outside gardening, and with every dig of the shovel, there I was poking around in the dirt collecting the worms.  This she did not mind; however, the fact that I would then place my new-found “friends” into the pockets of my overalls was another story!  Worms and washing machines are not a good combination and I still get flak for it to this day!

Now that I am older I no longer carry my “pet worms” around with me, but I am still very intrigued by them and all the wonderful things these small slimy creatures are capable of.

Oh, red wigglers, I ♥ you! 

I try to not disturb and annoy them too much, but I just can’t help digging around in their bin.  The rate at which castings (worm manure) are being produced is quite remarkable!  Last Sunday, I was adding some veggie scraps to their bedding and I decided to give the bin a good mixing.  I pulled out a handful of compost to inspect my friends (I want happy, healthy worms!) and discovered two worms completely entwined with each other.  At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this scene.  It looked as if they were fused together resembling an X with a large swollen middle.  I just stared at them wondering what was happening and then it hit me.  Brown-Chicken-Brown-Cow, they were doing the hanky panky!  It really was quite a sight to behold!  I felt as if I should put on a little mood music to the tune of Marvin Gaye!  Looks as if my worms are definitely pretty happy living in their current environment!

I will be harvesting my worms (and compost) around the end of the month.  The worms will be placed back into their container with fresh bedding and the compost will be used in the garden.  I plan on conducting several experiments regarding the use of vermicast, so I’ll be sure to let you know of my findings!

Leave a comment

Filed under The Critters

Hide and Seek

When I was little I loved the Where’s Waldo books; unfortunately, they always ended up being in places that I would have rather not been, like the doctor’s office.  As an adult, I still find myself scanning the kids’ books looking for Waldo while I sit and wait.

Now, I bet you’re wondering why I’m rambling on about a fictional character who wears a little striped hat.  Well dear readers, today we are going to play the garden version of that game, entitled Where’s Borecole…aka Kale (I needed a two-syllable word cause I’m a geek like that)

Pictured below is my (temporary) kale bed.  When I transplanted those vitamin-packed Brassica earlier this year, I forgot about the super invasive violets that show up mid April.  This image contains 7 baby kale plants, can you locate them?

  Have you given up yet?  If so, scroll to the bottom of the post to see their whereabouts! 🙂

Later this month I will be transplanting the kale into my front-side garden bed, once the ivy has been removed, and judging by the tangled root system that task may take years! haha

Last week, I’ve received an email from a reader thanking me for posting the Garlic, Kale & Chickpea soup.  She mentioned wanting to incorporate more odd vegetables into her diet and was willing to give this soup a try.  AWESOME!! 🙂  While I personally don’t think of kale as an odd or strange veggie, I also have to remember not everyone is a veg-fanatic like myself.  This email sent my hamster spinning on its wheel; I’ve decided to begin “featured veggie” postings where I will be sharing recipes and nutritional information about various vegetables.  Initially I wanted it to be something like a Friday’s Feature (there I go again with my alliteration nonsense), but I don’t want to stress myself out with mandatory weekly postings, especially once the growing and canning season is in full swing!  My first feature will be on, you guessed it, Kale.  So be sure to stay tuned for that!

And now I leave you with some pictures of Polonius, who decided to see for himself what all the fuss is about regarding kale!  I tell ya, if it’s not the wild critters, it’s the domesticated ones!

 

 “Why hello there little green plant, I’m going to eat you!”

 Did you find all 7?

Leave a comment

Filed under Micro-farming, The Critters

Can you stand the cuteness?

My friend, Erik, and I try to get together every few weeks for an evening of good food paired with great conversation.  This ritual typically involves one of our usual go-to meals of either sushi or Thai.  This time we decided to switch things up a bit.  I made the main course (Panang curry consisting of assorted mushrooms, carrots, red potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and tofu, over a bed of jasmine rice), he was in charge of the wine (a bottle of red) and dessert (Belgian milk chocolate gelato and Roman raspberry sorbet).

While the tofu was pressing, I gave Erik a tour of the grounds and gardens.  I was rambling on about the different varieties of kale I have planted when something caught his eye.  Now, I warn you, there is a ridiculous amount of heart-squishy, squeal-inducing, cuteness ahead. Consider yourself warned.

Seriously, just look at those ears, I could barely maintain composure!  Talk about teeny-tiny, itty-bitty, adorable fluffiness!  I quickly grabbed Jedi, who was eyeing him up in a very predatory way, and tossed her into the house; she was less than pleased.  It took everything I had to refrain from scooping the bunny up and cuddling the daylight right out of it!  Hopefully, Mr. bunny will remember me saving him from Jedi’s jaws and will think twice about nibbling on my tender salad greens and baby kale!  But probably, most likely, not.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Critters

Spring Nesting

I consciously strive to be as low-impact as possible. I reduce, reuse, recycle and re-purpose whenever I can. I purchase second hand; everything that can be composted is. I would use public transportation and bike more often if it weren’t for being in the middle of nowhere. I’m miles from everything and would have to ride my bike into town, then catch a bus. If I lived in a major metropolis that would be another story. So instead, I save all my errands to be ran at one time and I plan my travel route. I also make it a habit to stop on the way home from work, since I’m right across the street from a shopping center.

Typically, once the new year has begun I stop composting my dryer lint. Yes, I am guilty of using my dryer in the winter. Line drying inside is just not conducive to my living space. However, you bet your sweet bum that when we have those lovely pseudo-Spring days, my laundry is outside soaking up some rays! So Jan-April I collect my lint (and not in a Congressman Dilbeck kind of way) and save it for Spring.

Now, what do I do with this saved lint you ask? Why I give it to the birds in the form of nesting material, along with saved threads and serger clippings. I place them into a baggie and once nesting time rolls around I stuff it into my empty suet feeders. You can also use those green plastic berry baskets found in food stores. Just place the nesting material into two baskets and secure them shut with a twist tie. Really any small slotted box type container will do. The birds will simply pull out the stuffing with their beaks and the small holes helps them to grab just enough! Makes for a cozy nest to hatch and welcome those little baby birds!

Leave a comment

Filed under The Critters

When Baking is for the Birds

Last month, as a solstice gift for my feathered friends, I baked up a batch of bird muffins. I’ve been wanting to make these for years but seeing as how one of the ingredients is bacon drippings, something I never have since I rarely eat meat,  the recipe has been hanging out on my fridge every winter for as long as I can remember.

When I first placed the muffins on my holly tree, the birds favorite hangout, they weren’t sure what to think. After realizing my gift was food, they were all a twitter with excitement! If you don’t have a tree to hang the muffins on you can always place them on a tray.

Bird Muffins

(from Birds & Blooms Aug/Sept 2001)

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup plain bread crumbs

3/4 c raisins

1/2 cup bacon drippings

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sand

1 cup water

Combine cornmeal, flour, bread crumbs and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add raisins and sand and mix thoroughly. Then add the bacon drippings and water. Stir well.

Spoon the dough into muffin tins and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool the muffins to room temperature before serving (to the birds). Store leftover muffins in the refrigerator until it’s time for a refill.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, The Critters

Batter Up

After listening to an entomologist on NPR’s Radio Smart Talk, I’ve learned the best defense against cicada killers is to smack them with a wiffel ball bat. Dude, I’m so game!

Leave a comment

Filed under The Critters

Creatures Great and Small

This year I am being tested. To be quite honest, I’m not sure how much more I can take. Seriously, I can’t win! My last home the most I had to worry about was blight and Japanese Beetles, which I have here as well. Although the beetles weren’t near as bad as they have been in the past.
First it was bacterial wilt which was being spread by cucumber beetles. Wipes out ALL of my cucurbits.
Then I have an infestation of Eastern Cicada Killer Wasps which are reported to be non aggressive, unless you are me. I can not tell you how many times I have been CHASED out of my garden by the females!  Probably doesn’t help that I am allergic to bees and I’m sure they can smell my fear! But seriously, can you blame me? Just look at the size of these suckers!
They’re quite a beneficial insect as they control the Cicada population. This year I have tons of Cicadas so I can only imagine their numbers if the wasps were not around. But that still does not mean I like them!
The beginning of August my cat unexpectedly dies and a bunny up and moves into my garden. Decides it’s now his personal smorgasbord. I’m so not cool with that or his ever mounting piles of poo!

 

He chows down in my garden till I get too close to his tomato safe haven and then bolts out OVER the rabbit fence and into the mess of cone flowers behind the tool house!
This week I have discovered Tomato Hornworms. This tomato shows some of the damage they do.
Nice Huh? At first I was picking them off and tossing them into the outside covered trash can. After a bit of research I’ve learned the white sacks covering their backs are actually braconid wasp pupae that eat them! Woo Hoo!!
I have more caterpillars than I can count!
I believe these two are Black Swallowtail in their first instar.
maybe a Virginian Tiger Moth caterpillar
Tiger Swallowtail cat in my fennel
Cabbage Worm

 

And when you have lots of caterpillars usually a few weeks later you have tons of butterflies!
What I thought was a Comma Butterfly is probably a Question Mark Butterfly…thanks Tree!
Tiger Swallowtail
American Painted Lady
maybe a female Black Swallowtail
I think this one is a Spicebush Swallowtail.
possibly a male Black Swallowtail
Monarch Butterfly
I have Colorado Potato Beetles on my eggplant
Scoliid Wasp in my mint.
pretty Ailanthus Webworm Moths
and my reason for growing so many sunflowers…the American Goldfinch
I’ll be back soon with a post on whats growing in my fall garden as well as whats being harvested from my summer garden!

4 Comments

Filed under The Critters

Wordless Wednesday – Essence of Summer

Images and content copyright © 2009-2010 Danielle R Limoge.

2 Comments

Filed under The Critters, Wordless Wednesday