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Tag Archives: nature

Whither Winter?

To paraphrase the Elvis quote, “winter has left the building”, or has it? Rumor has it that we will get another Arctic Clipper blast a week from tomorrow. Hopefully, that won’t be the case, but it certainly doesn’t feel like winter anymore around here. I had the French doors open all day today, and it is T-shirt weather.

I seriously considered heading up to the community gardens and clearing up the asparagus beds. I almost took the tomato seedlings out of their warm spot in the laundry room and moved them out for fresh air.

I went back in my old photos to check out the four previous February files. I found quite a bit of bad weather this week.

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Two years ago, on the 22nd. Frantic birds chowing down on the hastily thrown seeds on the patio. It was too deep to get to the feeders.

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Last year, the day after Valentine’s Day.

Other years I also had the mad rush for fresh water from the cedar waxwings, and the pileated woodpecker working on a possible new home (or food source in my dying tree).

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I think the birds tell me when the seasons are changing. That means right now, since the juncos are still here, that winter has not left the building. Spring will be here when they leave and the hummingbirds show up.

Now, if only we don’t get weather that is too harsh, because the daffodils are coming up and the tulips are just popping through the soil. I hope the dogwoods and the cherry trees don’t suffer from too much cold. They look to be close to budding.

Climate variance. Around here, we measure things like bud break. Soil temperatures. The farmers can tell you all about weather and climate variance. They have large amounts of data tracking the weather. It’s the only way to know when to plant.

Bugs and Brews

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Thursday night. One of the more popular events for the over 21 crowd. Out at Mt. Pleasant, Howard County Conservancy picnic grounds. The second in the series of annual “cocktails and nature” themed events.

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Dr. Mike Raupp, the bug man, famous in this area for his vast knowledge and enthusiasm for all things buggy. Dr. Paula Shrewsbury is also presenting and she and Mike will be leading an informal walk through the meadow trails to search for interesting bugs, bees and butterflies.

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This year the theme is Bugs and Brews. Heavy Seas beer is available to enjoy. The event is free. The beers will be a nominal charge. You don’t have to imbibe to attend, but the beers are excellent.

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This was last year’s crowd. As I said, this event has been a big success. Thursday night we hope to see all of Mike’s fans, and lots of beer lovers, too.

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For those of us who have been here a long time, Heavy Seas Beer is the very popular craft beer company started by Hugh Sissons. Sissons opened in Baltimore back when I was a newlywed with Baltimore roots. A pub we visited on our trips to the Inner Harbor. It’s still going strong and held by Sissons’ family members.

Come join us. Six PM is the starting time of the event. Have a beer. Talk to Mike and Paula. See what interesting insects they bring to the party. August 25th.

Rural Development

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The Fairy House Version. Yes, it is fairy house development season out at the Howard County Conservancy this Saturday the 23rd at 10 AM.

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I mean, if you were a woodland fairy, wouldn’t you enjoy this waterfront property complete with outdoor seating and water features? The imaginative homes crafted by our local children are always fun to explore.

This event is immensely popular.

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For all ages. And, all skill levels. Just bring your love of the outdoors, and let your children create memories in the forest.

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Details here.

Guys With Trucks

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A few weeks back I talked about volunteers with trucks helping the Conservancy staff when they heard of items they could use, items that needed to be hauled in trucks.

The last few weeks? We need guys with trucks to help those neighbors whose properties have been trashed in the wake of the tornado. There are volunteer helpers to cut down trees, into manageable pieces.

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At the Town Hall the other night, there was discussion of the need for trucks to haul debris. Commercial trucks are charged when they enter the landfill. Private citizens aren’t. The county promised to look into the creation of a solution to help those who are cleaning up. Cleaning up on our own dimes. Insurance does not cover tree removal, if the trees don’t threaten your home, or block access to your property. Many residents are paying up to five figures for tree removal. Which is still going on, two weeks after the tornado.

We have made eight trips to the landfill. Thankfully, they are open late.

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The lines aren’t too bad to dump tree debris. But, it is a very busy place.

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When your yard looks like this. It takes many days to get it cleaned.

It’s why the volunteers at the Mid Atlantic Baptist Network could use guys with trucks.

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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Grilling Chilling and Tilling

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Those three words sum up the weekend here. Ten hours in the garden. Three dinners from the grill. A couple of really nice wines and some kick back evenings watching movies.

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I did perfect those grill marks, didn’t I? A couple of very nice filets as an add on a few weeks back from Friends and Farms. A simple marinade of vinaigrette. A screaming hot grill. Baby rose potatoes from my last CSA basket. Carrots from Friends and Farms. Lettuce too. The tomatoes. Those were Hummingbird Farms hydroponic picked up at Roots. The same place I picked up this.

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Did you know Salazon chocolate is made just up the road in Carroll County? They used to have a shop in Sykesville, which unfortunately closed. All their dark chocolate bars have sea salt in them, and lots of flavor combinations.

Perfect to go with a duo of very old, very special local wines.

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1998. Yes, you read that right. Two of our favorite old local wineries. Allegro has changed hands since the Crouch brothers ran the winery a couple of decades ago. Their wine. Still absolutely drinkable, soft and great with the filets. As for the Hardscrabble, it still has tannin and can continue to age. Who knew? Almost 20 years old. They could compete with lesser growth Bordeaux, when it comes to matching your meals. We compared the two with dinner and later savored them with that awesome chocolate.

As for the garden, we did quite a bit of work the last two days. I finally got the onions planted, and the seeds for arugula and bibb lettuce under the row cover.

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My better half tilled the three rows I will be using for my community garden. One row, tomatoes will dominate. That middle row, greens and onions. A third row, cucumbers and squash. The already established fourth row is full of this.

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Asparagus. I have been carefully working around the tender spears that are emerging. I will probably add a few herbs to this bed, once I get it cleaned up.

And, for that final chilling part of the post, check out our resident killdeer, back and laying another four eggs.

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I took this from really far away and thankfully got to crop it without distortion. I hope to soon see the babies chasing mom and dad all over our community gardens.