Sunday, April 28, 2013

Super Cute Crochet Owls

Wow, we've neglected our blog for quite some time...hello again readers!  Life is good here in Ohio...super busy enjoying spring by gardening, hiking, birding, wildflowering, etc.

Jennifer whipped up these cute little owls at some point during our busyness.  I was inspired to make the owls after reading about them here.  The original instructions can be found here.  I am not a crocheter so this was my first real foray into that crafty world and I so enjoyed myself!  These are pretty easy-peasy with a little You Tube help so give an owl a go if you are so inspired.

We promise more garden and nature posts soon.  Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ultra Low Input Compost

About 2 years ago we used a sod cutter to turn our lawn into a garden and, in the process, created a huge pile of rolled-up sod bundles. We occasionally wondered if the sod cutter was the best decision and, tonight, we learned to not question so much. 

Here's that pile 2 years later:

As you can see, the grass leaves, roots and associated soil has composted, without any attention from us, into gardening gold:

Our made-from-junk compost sifter makes short work of separating soil/compost from roots/plants:

Now to our "active" compost pile we go....

We basically throw anything that will decompose onto this pile and leave it alone. The back half has composted into garden platinum, a shovel or two of which went into each wheel barrel of the above.

Mix a bit with a fork and.... is ready to go onto a renovated bed (we use a lot of layering to keep the weeds knocked back):


We have a couple dozen beds so guess what we will be doing again soon (but we are grateful to have our Ultra Low Input Compost!). Keeps us out of trouble too!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve

At 2,000+ acres, Lake Katharine is among the largest nature preserves in Ohio. In addition to being large in size, this great natural area is spectacular in natural scope. Take a look:

Jennifer says, "I love nature like I love life itself":

Steve says, "Look, some of the native conifers we read about in Wild Ohio!" From left to right it appears we have Shortleaf pine, Virginia pine and Eastern Hemlock.  

Jennifer soaks up the sun while enjoying the flow of water in Salt Creek.

One of our favorite wildflowers: Rattlesnake Plantain. It's in the orchid family, which is always cool, but check out those deep green leaves checkered with white. No matter how many times we stumble across this one we always exclaim, "Look, Rattlesnake plantain!" 

When you see large rock exposures coupled with deep ravines in Ohio you might begin your geologic ponderings with, "Hmmm, this country was probably not glaciated." Then consult your handy ecoregion map and conclude, "Yep, I'm in Jackson County which is entirely within the Allegheny Plateau, the only part of Ohio that has not been glaciated." If there's a smartphone app for that, we'd like to see it!

 Jennifer and Steve say, "Just try and keep us indoors!"

Lake Katharine spillway:

Lake Katharine:

Checking out the birds:

Some shots of the deep gorge cut by Salt Creek:

Whimsical vernal pool (yeah, like there are non-whimsical vernal pools):

A new tree for our dendrology life list: Umbrella magnolia. Check out those fang-like buds!

As usual, we are loath to leave these wonderful natural areas but thankful for those brave and insightful people who took the road-less-travelled and protected (rather than exploited) such beauty and majesty. Thank you to Edwin A. Jones and James J. McKitterick, wherever you are!