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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Grasshopper Update and Misc. Gardening News

The bear grass is stunning this year. On one of our recent explorations, we were continually exclaiming over the beauty of the profusion of blooms. It is truly summertime here. I spent much time weeding lastnight. Today, I will harvest parsley, sage, and chives to dry for winter.

On the grasshopper front, I still see many, many grasshoppers when I walk around the garden, but they don't seem to be eating my plants anymore. That would be consistent with the information on how Semaspore works. They start eating less as the virus multiplies in their bodies.

I visited a wonderful farmer's market the other day and ran into the teacher who had taught my organic farming class at the college. I mentioned to her that I was having grasshopper troubles and she said, "Oh, there's this wonderful stuff you've got to try! It is called Semaspore." When I told her that I had already appplied it about two weeks before, she said that that was perfect! I was pleased to have confirmation from a source I respect so much that I was onto the thing!

The Mighty Hunting Hound is still being crated while taking steroids. She is doing SO much better! She will have a follow up exam with the vet tomorrow and hopefully she will be off of her physical restrictions. Here is a picture of Mr. Blueberry Eyes sharing her exile with her for a few minutes.

We made a great discovery yesterday. Radish tops are edible! Who knew! We sauteed them with kale and ate them over rice with fresh chopped tomatoes, topped with an olive oil/lemon/garlic dressing. It was really yummy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Frog Day

Wednesday we had a great adventure. Our Forest Service has a Frog Day that volunteers and children are encouraged to participate in. This was our first year to join in and did we ever have fun!

It started with about an hour of training and then we were divided into groups. Each group had at least one biologist or experienced person in it. Ours had two. Pat, our driver was a fish biologist and had quite the knack for finding critters. He decided he wanted us to see tailed frogs, so he plunged into a very cold, rushing mountain stream. Within seconds, he'd collected 6 tailed frog tadpoles (pictured above).

We were outfitted with hip waders and nets. The hip waders ran out, though, so I used my rubbers. We spent the day splashing through wetlands, searching for amphibians. We were rewarded with 20 spotted adult frogs, four common garter snakes and hundreds of tadpoles of the spotted frog and quite a few salamander tadpoles. We learned that salamander tadpoles have gills. At the first and last wetlands of the day, I fell in past the tops of my rubbers and filled them with pond water. I must say that carrying several extra pounds of water weight around was interesting!

Mr. Blueberry Eyes and Laughing Water thoroughly enjoyed it. While I was initially just going for the kids, I really had fun, too. We even saw a black bear cub while we were driving. I'm reminded that there is no substitute for just getting out and enjoying nature! - Nanette

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rye Headaches and Perrenial Joys

Here are some pictures of my garden so far. As you can see I have about 40 tomato plants in Wall O' Waters. That was a back breaker to fill. I'm delighted to see a picture of a homemade contraption for filling these featured in the Backwoods Home Magazine. I will look forward to having The Wood Artist make me one! As you can see, the kale is producing nicely.
I've finally broken down and purchased a number of perennials for my flower garden. If we move, I'll just dig them up. I couldn't wait any longer!

We had a fun Father's Day weekend. The Wood Artist took us exploring for over eight hours on Friday. The trip got awfully long, but the scenery was beautiful. I have never seen such bear grass! Gorgeous! Will post pictures sometime. On Sabbath, we hiked in Glacier Park with friends. The Wanderer made us all homemade shortcake with strawberries and whipped cream. YUMMY!!! In the evening we all joined The Wanderer in his campsite and ate very yummy food - like burritos toasted in jaffle irons, another huge hit! It was so good to see Georgia Girl and her sweet family. We got some precious pictures of her little ones playing in the lake.

I did more weeding in the garden the last two days, but still have more, more, more! Unbelievable how much time I'm spending weeding that darn rye! Next time I do rye, it will be in the fall so the tiller can do all that work! Sure, it stops the other weeds, but it is no fun to weed IT!

The Wood Artist is away for four days on a side job. I will miss him terribly. I have to take all of his students, but we are thankful for the work right now! He is chinking a log home. I'm also thankful that he is a man of many talents. It sure helps in a down-turned economy!

The Mighty Hunting Hound got a good report from the vet yesterday. It seems the Prednisone is really helping reduce the swelling in her spinal region. She is considerably more stable on her feet. She is, however, feeling better and really doesn't like being crated all the time. We are to keep her still for about 10 more days. Yikes! This is going to be rough! - Nanette

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weed-ling the Time Away

I stayed in the garden lastnight until I feared I would not be able to tell the difference between the weeds I was pulling and the peas I was attempting NOT to pull. Laughing Water was reading a breathtaking portion of The Chronicles of Narnia to me while I weeded. About 10:15 p.m. The Wood Artist came out to see what was keeping us.
I still have a LONG way to go pulling that rye out! And there is still plenty of book left for Laughing Water to practice her C.S. Lewis voicing ! I fear I'll never keep up this year. But the potato patch looks entirely better, even if my hands have a permanent green stain on them!
It was a busy weekend. For starters, Friday, I discovered the plague of grasshoppers has started. Thousand of nymphs can be spotted in the hay field around the garden. So Friday was the day to put the Organic Semaspore on the area around the garden. Yesterday I got a gallon of black strap molasses for the spraying of the plants when they move in. I'm armed, but I'm not ready. I don't want to lose any of my crops!

Sabbath was busy. We led out in singing at our local Veteran's Home. The Wanderer joined us with a violin that added a lovely touch. Then we spent the evening with friends - laughing, and of course, eating! Marathon Man made the MOST delicious homemade ice cream and hot fudge sauce. It was the kind that was so yummy, the whole world needed to stop so you wouldn't be
distracted while relishing it!

We're still worried about The Mighty Hunting Hound. She's not improving, despite our faithful crating and medicating. Poor baby.

These are pictures of my poppies and sage that are up and doing beautifully in my garden. It is difficult to see the lovely lavendar flower on this sage, but if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see it better.
Happy weeding! - Nanette

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Willow Chairs and Vetrinary Visits

I finished my willow chair yesterday. It is by no means perfect, but I'm kind of proud of my first journey into the art. It was a bit more work than I anticipated, but not terrible. I want to make a love seat next and then another chair or two and some tables. I think it would be lovely to have a whole set on my deck. It may take me a few years, though! It makes it even more special that the willow all came from my parents land!

Today's main event is that we had to take The Mighty Hunting Hound to the vet again. Her vomiting has stopped, but she is still unstable in her hind legs and in obvious pain at times. We were able to determine it an injury - we think she fell off of our steps. The vet said that he thinks it is a buldging disc in her back and is in danger of paralyzing her. He put her on a strong anti-inflammatory and pain killer and has given strict instructions for her to be crated for 10 days. It is so hard for her and all of us as she is used to being held much of the time. We pray for her speedy recovery! - Nanette

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Soldiers and Recitals

I love these pictures! The first is of my brother arriving at the airport from his military medic training. Mr. Blueberry Eyes and Laughing Water missed their Uncle very much while he was away and this picture is a strong representation of that! Uncle is a hero already in their eyes!

The second is of Mr. Blueberry Eyes proudly receiving his award for his promotion in his music school. He worked so hard and did very well at his recital. He even played a song he had composed that switched from major to minor. In this picture, he is very proud of himself! I had to crop the picture because he is standing in the middle of his class, but I don't have permission to show the other children on this blog. It is really a priceless picture!

In other news, I checked my greenhouse this morning and the grasshoppers are, indeed, moving much slower as predicted by the Semaspore Bait. I even have on of the Kale varieties coming back! I'm delighted! I get frustrated when something like that happens in my garden (or my life, for that matter), but now I know that it drove me to find solutions. Another remedy my best friend told me about is spraying a solution of black strap molasses and water on the plants. I feel ready now, should a plague of them fly in! - Nanette

Monday, June 8, 2009

Odds 'n' Ends

I'm sitting in my office while I wait for a student to finish her work. My own kids are done for the year, but we have a student who will be with us for a while yet. I'm usually pining to get away from my desk, but today I'm having fun tying up loose ends. For starters, I charted out Laughing Water's first name onto graph paper as I'm crocheting an afgan with her name it it.
Then I cleaned out my teaching cupboards. They get filled with all kinds of stuff that becomes obsolete by the end of the year. I really don't like thinking about cleaning cupboards, but once I get into it, it isn't bad.
While I was doing that, I remembered that I still have to turn in our homeschool attendance records to the county superintendent. So I finished my records for the year and filled out that form. Then I made a list of all the things I want in my kids' curriculum for next year. That will help me keep an eye open for curriculum over the summer. I will make a specific schedule later in the summer.
Tonight, Mr. Blueberry Eyes has a promotion at his music school. I'm looking forward to having it over. It has been a long haul to practice for everything the last 6 weeks or so.
The weather is cool today. My garden is really popping up. Its a great day in the North! - Nanette

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wind and Weeding

This is a picture of part of the mud hold I reserved in my garden for the kids. They have countless hours of fun building roads, dams, and lakes in it.
It is fun to see my garden slowly, but surely coming up. I'm always anxious about whether stuff will come up and whether it will survive. I've been doing a lot of weeding. I'm thinking that the person who told me you could plant rye in the spring was wrong. When we tilled it in, some of the rye berries hadn't yet sprouted - and now they are. So I'm pulling weeds. Next year, I want to do it in the fall. Then it should all be up by the time we till in the spring.
I put some of the organic grasshopper bait in my hoop house yesterday. We'll see how it works.
Today is an unusual day. We have two consultations in our tutoring service and have an all day student, too. So, I don't know if I'll make it out to replant basil - for the third time!
We were going to go camping this weekend, but the forecast is temps in the 50s and wind in the 40mph range. Not very appealing. We will stay at home and go out during the day. - Nanette

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grasshopper Guts and Music Recitals

Life is in transition in our home right now. Laughing Water and Mr. Blueberry Eyes are done with school for the summer. We are, however, still tutoring another homeschooler for a few more weeks. We are nearing the end of music lessons for the year. Laughing Water is done with her guitar and piano recitals. She played at a local coffee shop last evening, along with other music students. Mr. Blueberry Eyes had his violin recital last week and has his piano recital next week. Music lessons will be done next week. Mr. Blueberry Eyes' last baseball game was Monday. There is a lot going on and I'm tired and wishing we could get into a quiet, summer rythm already.
My 6,000 sq. ft. garden is planted. This year has gotton off to a bad start. My starts did very poorly. They just wouldn't grow. I don't know if it was the potting soil, or the fact that I didn't water with kelp this year. I had to purchase about 43 tomato plants from a local nursery. Fortunately, they were on sale.
Another downer is that I already have grasshoppers in my hoop house! They've eaten 2/3 of my kale crop and about 3/4 of my basil. My mother-in-law sent me information on an organic substance you can get called Semaspore Bait that gives the grasshoppers a disease called Nosema locustae. It is supposed to be safe for other creatures and kills off grasshoppers for at least a couple of generations. I've ordered some and I'll post on its success or lack of success over time. (Thanks, Mom! I don't know how you knew!) I would be most interested in any advice on grasshoppers you can give. A childhood friend told me that her dad blends up a mixture of grasshoppers, garlic, and cayenne to spread around the plants and that he swears by that! (I think I will get a blender from the thrift store. I'm not going to put grasshoppers in my Bosch blender. Sorry. Ain't happening!) The next hurdle is collecting the critters!
I'm just finishing up a willow chair for our deck. I'll post pictures as soon as its done. It has been fun! Cheers! And happy June! - Nanette