Monday, April 25, 2011

Big Bertha, Free Lumber and Elbow Grease: Garden Fence Building, Part 2

The fence we started in "Big Bertha, Free Lumber and Elbow Grease: Garden Fence Building" has been taking more shape lately.

We'd already used up all of our throw-away 4x4's and 2x4's so now we turned to our stack of throw-away fence sections.  Take 'em apart...

 ...cut to length...


 ...lay out fencing...

 ...tack in place...

 ....and install bottom and middle rails:

Once we rounded the corner...

...we had a system down and so we whipped out a whole additional side. That's 2 sides done in one day!

Two more sides, some shed fix-up, garden prep. and then planting (we can't wait).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring moths in Ohio & Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone!  It's raining and gray here, but the birds are calling, the trees are flowering and life is good. :)  Lepidoptera season is certainly back and we're so excited!  We spotted some cool moths lately while getting out between rain showers.  Someone called the Grapevine Epimenis, Psychomorpha epimenis, moth (Family: Noctuidae) pictured below a day flying mini moth and it's quite fitting.  

We spotted a group of these moths mud puddling on a hike just this past week.  The sun shone and the temperatures were in the upper 60s and these little moths seemed quite content going about their business.  The adult Grapevine Epimenis moth feeds on nectar from various spring blooming plants: plums, cherries, hawthornes, redbuds, etc. The orange-headed black and white caterpillar feeds on various types of grape. 

The green beauty below clung to a fence post on a cool spring evening this past week; Steve spotted him while we walked by looking at spring wildflowers and listening to the calling birds.  We know the moth is some type of Emerald in the genus Nemoria. (Family: Geometridae)  Anyone know more to share? 

We're so looking forward to this gal's moth book coming out in 2012!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Tree, Shrub and Forb Planting!

On Saturday we planted a bunch of trees, shrubs and forbs that we purchased from the Franklin County, OH Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Most counties of all states across the whole country have SWCD's - visit them to find out what conservation programs and events they have going on.

We employed our favorite auger, Big Bertha, to bore holes for the trees:

White pine, Ohio Buckeye, etc....

We used water from our cistern (that was nearing full from recent rains) to make sure our trees got a good initial drink.

Good friend, Tim Gerardot, gave us a submersible pump as a house-warming gift (now, that's a house warming gift!) and that baby really cranks the water out:

Watering a White Pine (Pinus strobus Pinaceae). Sure, they are not native to this particular piece of property but they do o.k., are not invasive and provide good cover for migrating and nesting birds.

We put a few stones around each tree to a) make it easy to re-locate them and b) improve water infiltration.

We have another 30 trees to pick up soon from the Morrow County SWCD but  here's what we've planted so far (just the beginning, of course!). Our focus is providing food and shelter for critters and beauty for people:

2 Virginia Bluebells
1 Butterflyweed
1 Cardinal Flower
1 False Sunflower
1 Blue Flag Iris
1 Cardinal Flower
1 New England Aster
1 Purple Coneflower
1 Royal Catchfly
1 Showy Sunflower
1 White False Indigo
1 Wild Quinine

5 Spicebush
2 Elderberry
2 Highbush Cranberry
2 Washington Hawthorn
2 Pagoda Dogwood
2 Serviceberry
2 Hazelnut
2 Pawpaw

2 Pecan
2 Butternut
2 Persimmon
2 Sugar Maple
2 American Beech
2 Kentucky Coffeetree
2 White Pine
2 Witch Hazel
5 Shingle Oak
5 Paper Birch
5 Redbud
1 Ohio Buckeye

Sunday, April 17, 2011


So our bluebird box attracted a male and female bluebird within a day or two.  We expected this since we saw a pair inspecting our wooden bird feeder. 

They spent much time going in and out, but built no nest.

Suspecting some dissatisfaction, perhaps due to the shallowness of the box we added another bluebird box.

We built a baffle out of scrap aluminum left here in one of the many piles of junk.

Steve made a fancy cap for the baffle...

and we placed the baffle on the new nest box location west of the garden.

We didn't walk five feet away and the male bluebird landed on top of the box...

and began scoping the new digs.

He brought his lady friend right over and the two began a long morning of back and forth trips, with you guessed it - nesting material.

Here's a peak at the partially completed nest.

The male is now starting to defend this space.  He needs to: that same morning a male and female tree swallow and Carolina chickadee checked out the box.  (We need to add more boxes!)  Check out his perch below. 

A pair of American robins are working on a nest in the green barn too.   We're hoping for successful nesting!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Big Bertha, Free Lumber and Elbow Grease: Garden Fence Building

Sometimes motivation comes naturally and other times you have to get the bait and switch from the tool rental place. Today it was the latter - when the tool rental place told me that the rental price doubled from what it was a couple of days ago I bet you can guess what I told them to do with their power auger! Well, as luck would have it, we had our own auger (Big Bertha) and our own power (muscle power). Add to that a huge pile of the previous tenant's throw-a-way lumber and we had a project in the works!

A fence can go up quick - all you have to do is set the corner posts and then run a strait line from one to the other.... marking stakes every 8 feet  on center....

...auger your holes using the strait line and stakes as guides... this several dozen times down to 30 inches or so...

...set your posts...

...tamp the posts in....

... run stringers on the top row and then cut off the posts to all the same height....

...and you've got a good start on a fence.

Here's a view from above. We spent literally nothing on this fence and got a lot of good exercise to boot! Now we just need to scavenge a bit more wood for the other 2 rows of stringers, attach rabbit fencing about half-way up and we'll be ready to plant!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The warmest day of the year!

This past Sunday we hit 80 some degrees!  The kitties loved, loved, loved the open windows.  So did we.

We watered our new orchard in t-shirts...

And a bit later in the day laid out the garden beds in shorts!

We opened the cold frame up so the many little seedlings could also soak up the balmy air.

Most of the rest of the day we spent working on the garden fence - more on that the next post.  Hoping for much more of these warm temps soon!