Thursday, October 16, 2014

No frost yet!

It's October 16th and no frost yet! The flowers are still blooming and the nice weather is allowing us to make some enjoyable progress on our winter preparations.

Steve is the superstar soil man and is adding a lot of nice organic matter to all our beds, then covering them lightly with straw to protect the soil from the pounding rain sure to come.

Steve also put in a new gate for us on the east side of the garden. We salvaged the old gate from a barn that is getting torn down and we are wooed by its charm! 

We pulled all the winter squash and were completely wowed by the Cushaw White. They are monsters! We will see how the flesh tastes on some cold wintry day. 

Here's a picture of our soil for documention of this summer's weather - DRY:

Wow. We look forward to fall rains and recharge in soil moisture and ground water. Until then we are enjoying this fabulously beautiful fall and hope you are doing the same!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Picking Lots of Apples

We took a morning to pick apples at Branstool Orchards and enjoyed easy picking, delicious apples and a picturesque location!

The asters growing amongst the apples provided nectar to numerous pollinators and beautiful blooms for us to enjoy.

Apple picking is much quicker than blueberry picking so we picked about 80 lbs of apples in 1-hour or so.

We look forward to the day when our apple trees are fruiting, but for now we are grateful to have so many local orchards to pick from.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Late Summer Garden Harvesting

We are harvesting daily so it's fabulous eating around here! We will pull winter squash and sweet potatoes today since there is rain (we so hope!) in the forecast tomorrow followed by cool/cold temperatures for the remainder of the 10 day. It's not been a great gardening year due to the cool summer and lack of moisture, but it's certainly been worth it. We've put away so much food and love that we know exactly what went into our food, how it was processed and how the earth was treated. Our planet's food supply is intricately connected to conservation of land and biodiversity so we work hard to make our impact the least harmful we can and perhaps even beneficial in some ways.

This time of year is so beautiful with all the changing colors so we are enjoying every last moment outdoors, in the sunshine, and hope you are too!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cool Caterpillars

The moment we discovered caterpillars marked the beginning of a whole new world of natural history exploration for us. They are so varied, so colorful, so fun to find and so incredibly important to the natural food web. And, that's without mentioning they become the magical butterflies and moths we all love! Wow.

It's a good thing Steve noted this Saddleback caterpillar on his shoe before getting stung on those many spines. They're supposed to deliver one of the most potent stings of all caterpillars - a great defensive technique for sure. What a beauty! This guy is homegrown. All our wildlife plantings are working!

Here's another homegrown caterpillar on one of the roses in our old field. The long-winged dagger moth feeds on many woody plants including rose, blackberry, cherry, oak and more. We have all of those!

While hiking our long hike at Mohican State Park we found more cool cats. Our quick moving feet stopped at every caterpillar crossing the trail, which surely contributed to our long rest times which added up over the day. What are you to do though when you love to look at nature stuff?

The hike started quite cool (note our knit hats) so many of these caterpillars were quite sluggish. We can't imagine being cold blooded and at the mercy of the air temperatures!

The white-blotched heterocampa wandered the trail and caught our eye with its rosy coloring. According to David Wagner in Caterpillars of Eastern North America, this caterpillar turns pink when prepupal. Probably by now this caterpillar is coccooned and will perhaps over winter in this stage? This caterpillar feeds on oaks.

The gold moth caterpillar feeds on crownbeard, wingstem and perhaps others in the Asteraceae family. We found this caterpillar on the edge of the woods near the clear and cool Clear Fork branch of the Mohican River. This seems a perfect place for its host plant to grow.

The green-striped mapleworm turns into one of the prettiest moths - the rosy maple moth - pleasingly colored in yellows and rose.  They feed on maple, box elder and oak.

The pink-striped oakworm is super cool and is one we've not seen before. They feed on oaks.

The asteroid always turns up in old fields in fall due to its love of aster and goldenrod flowers, which are in full bloom this time of year. It's a colorful caterpillar fitting the vibrant autumnal hues of the season. forecasts some great weather in the 10 day so more caterpillar findings are a sure bet. You know we will be outdoors looking!