Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Today's Garden Department Specials

That's right, more curb shopping. Apparently today the Garden Department of the Curb Shop was just GIVING stuff away!

Now see that big bin on the bottom? I can expand my red wigglers. Who knows where the top two bins will end up being used. Probably to hold books. And the stars? Oh somewhere on the patio wall will be great. Now, I have saved the best for last and without any further ado...the rustic bench.

Is this thing cool or what? Perfect for the garden.

Rainy Day Visitor

When returning from our morning walk we found this handsome guy on the side of our road.

He is the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrepene carolina carolina). These poor fellows are suffering greatly from lack of appropriate habitat. Too much of their woodlands no longer exist and they are killed off in large numbers by cars, pets, and, unfortunately, people who take them in with no idea of how to care for a turtle. We took him away from the road (increasing his chances of survival) and set him down near our little pond. He did not seem to like it here as we saw him heading out of our yard a few hours later. Perhaps we will see him again next year.

UPDATE: Our neighbor (she's just not the type of girl to touch a turtle) just came to the door so we could rescue this guy from the road again. We put him back in our yard. I have thought of relocating him but I have read that they like to stay in the same territory from the time they are born. Looks like we'll have to be extra careful on the road.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Girls and Boys...its All the Same

This picture and little post is for my dear friend on the West Coast (you know who you are). Little girls climb trees too. Even little 4 year old girls.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Pupa

Here's an intesting find of yesterday's strawberry planting project -- the pupa, and what a large pupa he...or she...is.

Okay, that *is* a six-year-old hand, but still. After several minutes were spent tickling the poor pupa and making it sqirm, came the inevitable chorus of, "can we keep him"? So we made a nice home for him, burried him back in some nice loose, black garden dirt, like were we found him, and placed a stick in his cage so that when hatched he may crawl up and dry his wings.

My experience with these things (yes, I am crazy, I do have experience in these things) tells me this is the pupa of a moth, a large moth. We actually found one quite a bit larger than this a few weeks ago but a certain child "forgot"where she put it. Note to self: keep mouth shut when sleeping.

Now we must remember to keep our dear moth-to-be well watered and moist. Drying out is a grave danger to pupae in captivity.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stupor Mundi...

...Wonder of the World, goes the Latin saying. Sunday evening my life changed drastically. Meet Cooper Mundi, 80-something pounds of fur and muscle, the latest addition to our family.

Getting this pooch to be still long enough to take his picture was no small feat. This dog honestly touches more things he's not supposed to than my 2 year old, and he is much bigger than her. He can swipe things off my kitchen countertops with all 4 paws on the ground...and he is still growing. He came to us with the name Cooper and my 9 year old Latin student decided Cooper Mundi was a good fit -- he does wander about in all the wonder of a toddler. One of us was less than happy to welcome Cooper into the family. Pax is a little old (11) to tollerate 24-7 of His Puppiness.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Honey, Did you Let the Worms Out?

No that is not a typo. The dogs are in, the worms are out. Today we removed the worms from their winter lair, the hall closet.

Many people have come through our hallway since we brought them in from the cold in late October, completely unsuspecting that they were passing a writhing mass of red wigglers (eisenia fetida). There is of course one child who likes to “see people’s faces” when she tells them that “worms live in her closet”, so the winterized worms have not been completely covert. We started our vermicomposting bin last September. This is what I have learned:
  • It is not easy to find the happy medium between fruit flies/smell and hungry worms. I would much rather err on the side of hungry worms.
  • The cool, damp air space between the bottoms of the bins is preferred by the occasional cave centipede. Truth be told these things are just plain creepy and I only saw one but still I have heard they can give a nasty sting so I thought it worth mentioning.
  • Apparently our worms reproduced in captivity, though I was unable to determine if any of the pieces of matter were eggs. Little baby worms are very small.

Now it is obvious we did not feed them enough. There was not nearly as much castings as I had hoped for. So today we made more bedding of torn cardboard and leaf litter and gave them a fresh meal. I am thinking they need to have food thrice weekly.

Preparing a worm farm is easy. We use two large containers, one which fits inside the other. We put bricks as spacers between the two containers and drill the inside container with small drainage holes. Within the small container we put shredded cardboard, old dry leaves, and a handful of sand (though gritty dirt will work as well). Mix it all through and wet it till its is quite moist but not dripping and there you have it.

If your worms are happy they will not attempt to escape. We have never had an escapee. Note, worms do not like oak leaves and they do not like citrus and tomatoes. These create an environment too acidic for worms and they will try to get out. Feed your worms small amounts as your colony builds. We cover the inside container with a piece of cloth which has eliminated fruit flies. If you start to notice an odor, you are feeding them too much. If you chop your vegetable matter into smaller pieces the worms will eat it faster.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Randomness of it All...

I have been tagged by my friend Jilly. These are the rules:

1. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself
4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

Seven random things about me.

1. I hate plastic and I have even before they determined it to be bad for you and before children made it a safety issue I used to remove medication from their plastic bottles and put it in pretty glass or tin containers.

2. I don't watch tv.

3. My life seems sureal at times -- I never thought I'd have 4 children.

4. I am crazy enough to want more children.

5. I always root for the underdog. Always.

6. It is very difficult for me to wear synthetic fabrics. I kinda think they are like plastic.

7. I like wearing wool sweaters.

Okay now send this on to what 5 no 7 more people? Huh? But Jilly aready sent it to all the people that I know that have blogs. Looks like the buck stops here.

Save NJ Parks

Today we exercised our right to assemble peacfully in protest of Govenor Corzine's proposal to close 9 of New Jersey's parks. There were hundreds of people, old and young gathered outside of Round Valley State Park. Here's the youngest and possibly cutest protester (and no she's not mine -- thanks JW!):

We were addressed by Senator Lance and Assemblywoman Karrow (gotta love her) who gave us their support and vowed to fight against Corzine's plan to close state parks.

If you are a NJ resident I strongly urge you to sign the petition to recall Corzine. He showed disregard for the safety of NJ when he travelled 90 on the Parkway and continues to disregard our well being by taking away our parks where we go to enjoy fresh air and nature. Just go to http://www.recallcorzinenow.com/ and download and print a petition. Don't forget to have your neighbors sign.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hushing the Household Buzz

One of the biggest contributors to household stress is noise. Our homes have just become too noisy. Several years ago our dishwasher broke down. Fatally. We did not have money to replace it and I told my husband I would see how I could get on without instead of worrying about how to replace it. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was after supper without the noise of that contraption. Secondly I noticed that it didn’t take me any longer to wash the dishes by hand than it did to scrape them, rinse them, load them into the washer, fill the soap dispenser, unload the dishwasher and wash by hand the one or two items that just didn’t come clean. Over the next several years I discovered many noise making, stress causing, energy suckers that we could and do live without. Ironically, many of these items are marketed by the masterminds in advertising as time saving, cannot LIVE without items:
  • Dishwasher – getting rid of this item can lower your electric bill, lower your water consumption (especially if you use the gray water from your dishes to water your garden), and contribute to the peace of your home.
  • Clothes dryer – getting rid of your dryer will lower your electric bill drastically. Clothes can be line dried in the summer and dried on racks within the home in the winter. You will also save water as you will be more discriminating in washing only things that are truly dirty if you KNOW you will have to take the care to dry the items. Having your children help hang the clothes to dry drastically reduces the amount of clean clothes that wind up on the floor or in the laundry. Forget the fabric softener too, its mostly chemicals that the water supply can do without. Instead fill your softener dispenser with vinegar. That’s right, plain old cheap white vinegar. This deodorizes clothing, and reduces the “stiffness” of line dried clothes.
  • Video games and toys with batteries. If it can play by itself then we don’t need it. Interaction and creativity are superior toys.
  • Microwave oven – the safety of these things are debatable in many ways. And it hums. And bings. Those are contenders for the most annoying noises in the world.
The other night I heard the spring peepers down by the river calling for their mates. Years ago this would have been drowned out by the dryer, the dishwasher, and *hum-bing* of my tea water being heated in the microwave.