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Category Archives: Nature

A Near Miss

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Yesterday was a day for our “history” books. Having a tornado on the ground for 20 minutes, that passed only 1 mile or so north of us. Not a fun middle of the day activity. Trying to decide if we should head for the basement as the wind whipped fiercely outside our doors.

We were lucky. Minimal damage.

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Four trees down along the property line. Three in a group. That just missed taking out one of our small towers in the side yard.

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About an hour after the storm, we were out there chopping wood away from the guy wires. If we didn’t relieve the pressure, we could have had a tower come through our bedroom window.

Not great. But, we were lucky. No power outages. No damaged buildings.

Our local radio friends. Had some serious damage. W3LPL had a tower come down. He was in the direct path of the storm. Just last Saturday he had his annual open house, with his antenna tour.

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Saturday.

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Today. Not just antenna damage. But, a tower down.

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We can’t get down his road to see if he needs anything. Their phones are messed up, and their cell service seems to be affected because we couldn’t get coverage out there. He was interviewed today on the local TV station, saying that they were lucky the tower fell away from the house.

Mother Nature is simply scary. In the blink of an eye, you can have a major mess to deal with.

As I said, we were lucky. And, I want to give my appreciation to the crews out there trying to put massive amounts of power lines back into service.

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Everywhere we went today, during our multiple trips to the landfill, and surrounding areas (we had some weird detours trying to get there and back), we encountered dozens of trucks and workers, lifting wires and poles, cutting trees and clearing debris.

Burntwoods Rd this afternoon had at least 15 trucks trying to piece back together the poles taken out.

Hopefully, all will be calm for this weekend’s Amateur Radio Field Day. More on that in the next few days. As for now, we are just happy we have minimal mess.

Tractor Supply Chicks and Brighton Azalea Garden Update

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The new most searched topics for this blog. How much are those chicks? Are the azaleas blooming?

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First, the azaleas. Yesterday I was told out at the gardens that they are at the 35-40% mark for blooms. Tomorrow should be a good day to go, or next week, as more varieties respond to this warmer weather.

Oh, and take money. $6 per person to tour the gardens. Under 16, and 65 and over, don’t pay. This is new. I don’t know how rigorously they will enforce it during the week, but on weekends, they will be collecting money. I understand it. The gardens needed lots of work. Older plants died, and they have replanted extensively the last few years. The gardens are still lovely. Worth taking the time to visit.

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As for those baby chicks, not many left at the Mt. Airy store today, and they are on sale for a buck a bird. Yep, $1 each. Minimum of six chicks, unless there are just a few left. A couple of the tubs had sold signs on all the chicks in them. I suppose that when they get a few weeks older, they are eating more and the profit margin is shrinking.

While we were there today, I did pick up shallots for my garden. And, a bag of snap peas to plant. Tomorrow I will head up to my garden to continue planting. Not quite ready for the tomatoes for two more weeks, and the zukes and cukes won’t go in until the end of May. Too much of a risk. They don’t like any cold nights.

Spring is definitely hitting us hard now. If only the pollen would go away.

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The Four Seasons

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All in the same day. Or close to it. Within 48 hours, we get rain, snow, sleet, thunder, rainbows, sunshine, and a freeze warning for tonight again.

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Even the “pot” people at the Conservancy have reverted to scarves and hats, and ditched their baseball caps. Or they blew away in those gusts of wind we have been enduring.

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My lovely flowering cherry from a week ago has now lost all its blossoms.

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I cut many of the tulips earlier in the week and brought them in to bloom. The remainder, my later blooming varieties, are safely covered with row cover that I purchased at our community garden supply sale this morning.

It’s hard to believe it is springtime. Next week we will be going to Greenfest at the Community College. I hope to buy some sungold tomato plants from Love Dove Farm. In two weeks, it will be Earth Day celebrated at the Conservancy. More on that later. Also, Sharp’s Farm will be opening their greenhouses on the 21st of April. Time to get the rest of my plants for the garden.

I tried to get my plot ready for the onions to be planted, but the high winds drove me out of there. Trying to move dirt around while wind in whipping up the dust and pollen didn’t make for a pleasant gardening day.

Crossing our fingers that they are correct, and that the end of this coming week will indeed bring us higher temperatures and sunshine.

Wednesday Wisdom

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As opposed to Tidbit Tuesday. Just a few odds and ends about things happening around here.

Like a very special event this weekend at the Conservancy. How to build bee houses to attract bees into your habitat. To help the pollination process, for your flowers and vegetables. Build Bee Boxes with Paula Becker. Human beings have depended upon animal pollinators for millennia. With the loss of natural habitat for insects, birds, and other animals, we now have the opportunity to return the favor. Explore some ways in which our natural communities overlap, opportunities for conflict and co-existence, and discuss our perceptions and expectations of the natural world. We’ll also share ways we can adjust our landscaping so everyone benefits (and lawn care is reduced!). We will also make some easy bee housing, which doesn’t involve stinging.

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Bees are amazing.

The program, rain or shine, takes place Saturday morning at Mt. Pleasant in Woodstock. You can make your own bee box to take home and hang.

Hoppy Easter

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As the Easter Egg hunts, and egg rolling events accumulate this weekend, we have yet to establish if there really was an egg laying hare, aka “Oschter Haws” as the Germans called it. You have to admit, for those of us scientifically inclined, it is mind boggling to contemplate bunnies laying eggs.

I did dye eggs this year. Kept some older ones around, to be used for display purposes, so I cheated and used the Paas dyes.

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Brown eggs are always interesting to dye. And, the slightly speckled eggs come out very nice. I should have done the natural thing and made dyes from our red cabbage, or from the turmeric in my spice cabinet, but with all the painting and sanding and hammering this week, I was surviving in a corner of my kitchen.

They are done, more or less. Just some carpentry and plumbing to finish. I even got my grandmother’s china back into her cabinet in the dining room. Just in time to make the bone in ham from the CSA last week.

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Traditions for the holidays? Do you have them? Are they ecofriendly and healthy, or are some of them bad for you but you do them anyway. One of ours is the ceremonial Peeps. Has to be just one small box. The other one, Rhebs Candy.

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Who hasn’t been in that long line to pick up candy, up off Wilkens Avenue by St. Agnes Hospital. When we were young, my Dad brought the candy home from their stall in Lexington Market, which closed down in 2008. You can get the candies ordered online now and have them sent to you, but going into the store, smelling the chocolate, and picking out your own assortment was a real treat.

Well, I need to stop reminiscing and get a few things done for Easter. While putting the rooms back in order, hanging pictures and curtains, and finishing up from the six weeks spent making half the house look great.

Making Progress

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Today’s the first day of spring.

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My daffodils are blooming. Even that weird snow storm yesterday didn’t take them out. They are a bright spot in my cluttered kitchen aka renovation central. The only room on the first floor not being painted, it has become the storage site for all the dining room, foyer, powder room, closet and hallway stuff. Like dozens of pictures, fixtures, switches, knobs, hinges, etc.

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My family room isn’t much better. Chairs, table leaves, buffet contents, new light fixtures and mirror. The chaos moved from control to out of control.

I still have room to cook, and room to start the garden seeds.

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They are happily getting sunshine in the kitchen. I started arugula, dill, bibb lettuce and rainbow chard. If I get time to continue the spring cleaning of my garden plot, the onions will be planted later this week.

This egg crate method works very well for seed starting.

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I use a fruit box from Costco, covered in a layer of plastic and newspapers. Prevents leaking while watering.

All of these will eventually go into my community garden plot, sometime in the middle of April. Under row cover for the greens. The dill. It will be interspersed into my asparagus patch up there. I am really excited to have a two foot by twenty foot line of asparagus in my new plot.

And, in just a few weeks, I am off to Sharp’s Farm to get my summer vegetable seedlings. Spring needs to get in gear around here, and help us gardeners get plants in the ground.

Planting anything interesting this spring?

The Great Backyard Bird Count

I do it every year. Count the birds in my backyard. This year the snow made it interesting, and slightly different. We always get a massive influx of starlings when the snow falls. But, I did capture my friend flicker.

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This Northern flicker hangs out all winter at my suet feeders. He is also a resident bully, chasing away smaller birds. Sort of how the mockingbird acts, but with that long beak, he is definitely intimidating.

Since the weather has been cold, snowy, windy, and the birds are struggling, I always give them extra during this time. I even add peanuts and corn for the squirrels, like this rare black squirrel who hangs out here too.

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Last item that attracts birds to your yard. Berries.

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The robins love the nandina. We also have crabapple trees.

Keeping the birds fed and hydrated.