Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The tail of the hawk

While we were away from Deerfield for 10 days, neighbor Larry kept up the wildlife watch and snapped this nice photo of a beautiful red-tailed hawk in his back yard. (I checked with News-Sentinel columnist Sam Venable, hawk aficionado, to make sure the identification was correct.)

Larry said the hawk was quite nonchalant as he walked up to it the take its picture, preferring to scan the fields for a four-legged lunch rather than pay attention to anything on just two legs.

A red-tailed hawk measures around 25 inches long, not too much smaller than a bald eagle which is around 30 inches.

Hawks are plentiful in Deerfield, probably because field mice are so plentiful. The mice keep gnawing on the electrical system on my tractor so I wish the hawks happy hunting.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back in the saddle again

After a ten-day hiatus I'm back with you in the blogosphere.

Deerfield greeted us with cool fall weather and the aftermath of many days of rain. The weeds are as high as an elephant's eye and the driveway has a few washouts, but a couple of days of heavy labor will get everything back into shape.

I have some more hawk photos to share in coming posts, and it seems Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin may have paid us a visit.

I'll be back with you as soon as I see if there's anything left of the fall garden.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Programming Note

DEERFIELD DIARY will be taking a 10-day sabbatical starting today. My next post will be on Sept. 28. Until then, be safe.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cross off the bok choy from the menu

Forty eight hours ago I had the prettiest bok choy (Chinese cabbage) you could imagine. The plants stood about 10 inches tall with dark green tops and the snowy white underbelly.

While the beets, turnips and spinach are bug-riddled and dying, I reasoned that the redneck bugs in Deerfield didn't have a taste for anything Chinese.

This morning I went out to harvest the plants to find them all stripped bare of their leaves. There were no deer prints, so it had to be rabbits. I have chicken wire around the bottom of the garden fence, but apparently this didn't stop the hares.

If my first garden is any indication of my horticultural skills, it's a good thing I'm not a subsistence farmer. I would starve for sure.

The only hope now is for the broccoli.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mystery vine is unraveled

In my post of August 21 I asked readers to help me identify two plants that had popped up unexpectedly.

One remains unidentified but for the second there is no doubt. It's a pumpkin. And what a pumpkin it's proving to be. The vine is more than 25 feet long and has six nice pumpkins on it so far. It started too late for the pumpkins to mature properly before winter, but it seems to be making a valiant effort.

So, where did the punkin' seed come from? Maw Nature only knows. Readers of this blog know that one of my continuing themes is that Maw Nature does what she wants and if she's not agreeable, you can't do much to change her mind.

For instance, the pumpkin vine is quickly making its way to my fenced vegetable garden where the soil has been tilled numerous times, compost and organic matter added, weeds pulled and fertilizer applied. So far, the spinach is dead, the beets are beaten and the turnip greens are brown.

The pumpkin vine, which sprouted in untilled ground as hard cement, seems to be mocking me as it inches over to the garden. That's OK. I might have some pumpkin pie to salve my soul.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A gazebo to stand the test of time

Larry, our Deerfield neighbor, is never timid when he takes on a project.

When he designed his workshop, he made it so it would hold a dozen cars plus assorted tractors and equipment.

When he put a two-story addition on the back of his house, he installed an elevator.

And when he planned a gazebo for his side yard, it was a mongo gazebo. I refer to it as the “Deerfield bandstand.” There’s enough lumber in the structure to frame a three-bedroom house.

Larry said he has about $2,500 in the gazebo that he started building back in the spring and just finished this weekend. All he lacks is the stain. He did the work himself with help from daughter Angela and son Geoffre, and, of course, the moral support and daily critiques from his Deerfield neighbors.

I cringe when I have to cut a 45-degree angle, but Larry has about every angle on the protractor in his octagonal structure. To add to the challenge, it’s built on the side of a steep hill.

The center foundation support is a pillar of concrete upon which you could launch a moon probe. If I feel earthquake tremors, I’m heading for the gazebo.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Legend of the Persimmon Seed

(I've been waiting at least 50 years to post this.)

When the 14 first cousins were running around on the Vawter farm in McKenzie, Tenn., our cohort in shenanigans was our Aunt Judy. Judy, the youngest of our aunts and uncles, wasn't all that much older than her nephews and nieces.

Judy was known for her practical jokes, ghost stories and tall tales. To my mind, there has never been a horror movie that comes close to approaching the fright level created when Judy recited James Whitcomb Riley's "Little Orphant Annie." I still get chills thinking about it.

Besides using the screens on the bedroom windows to make "ghost noises" and telling us about all kind of creatures that inhabited the smokehouse and corn crib, she would come up with wild tales like what's inside a persimmon seed. She told in her animated way that if you cracked open the seed of a ripe persimmon you would find a little knife, fork or spoon inside. Since the cousins assembled in McKenzie mainly in the summer, we always missed the fall persimmon crop and the story became just another tale.

I kept Judy's persimmon tale in my mental file for these many years.

Our front yard in Deerfield has three prolific persimmon trees which is one reason we have such fat 'coons around her. I picked up the first ripe persimmons of the season and cracked open two seeds to show you what's inside -- little spoons. In the four falls we have been at Deerfield, I've cracked open hundreds of persimmon seeds and have never failed to find a tiny utensil.

And another thing:

You better mind yer parents, an' yer teachers fond an' dear,
And churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An he'p pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns'll git you
Ef you don't watch out!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Deerfield's Biggest Loser: Week 8 (Final)

If I cock my head just right, the scales say I weigh 194 pounds, down 30 pounds in eight weeks. I won't use the "D" word, so I'll just say that my weight reduction project is officially over.

The promise I am making to myself is that I will never again rise above 200. My knees feel much better at this weight and I don't have to tie my shoelaces in several shifts.

It doesn't seem it's that hard for me to take weight off, but that means it comes back on just as easy. I hope this is the last time I have to drastically alter my eating.

I'm going to pack away my fat wardrobe. I should take in to the Salvation Army, but I've been sorry when I've done that in the past. The sure way to backslide is to claim an ultimate victory.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Roots, roots and more roots

Take a last look at these impatiens in our backyard because they will be pulled up soon, roots and all, and tossed in the compost bin. I've spent the last few days emptying the many pots and flower beds of annuals.

Speaking of pulling up roots, I went to the root canal doctor for the second time yesterday. The good doc found a third canal in the same tooth which he had to clean and pack. I'm getting tired of this entire roots business.

I had a good nurse while convalescing, No. 1 niece from Jackson, Tenn., Sara Nan, better known in East Tennessee as "Nanner." She became only the third person to ride in my Hooptie.

She was amazed at how good the Hooptie air-conditioning worked. All you have to do is push out the vent window. Willie and Nanner know a good thing when they see it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A successful tomato experiment

We harvested the last of our gravity tomatoes today, the ones planted on the cheap on June 17. (Photo was taken several weeks ago.)

If I counted correctly, we picked 18 small but juicy Rutgers tomatoes from the upside-down plant. What I found unusual is that not one tomato was bug-infested or had bad spots. It's been my experience that about half the tomatoes on a right-side-up plant go bad.

Maybe there is something to growing tomatoes upside down, but don't fall for the $19.95 TV version. Make one yourself for a few pennies.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day, Mr. Spider

Trying to find some work being done on Labor Day in Deerfield led me to a neighbor's gazebo where a large spider was hard at work on his web and then with preparing lunch. This eight-legged beauty is an argiope aurantia, commonly known as the Black and Yellow Garden Spider, according to Wikipedia.

The male of the species shows off by doing a bold zig-zag pattern on the web. Typical male behavior, I say. ('Nita, can your new machine do that stitch?)

My young neighbor, Angela, who never met a bug she didn't like, offered the spider a treat by placing a dead carpenter bee in the web. Mr. Spider immediately began to wrap it up for a big Labor Day feast. The bee was almost as big as the spider eating it.

A good time was had by all (except the bee.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Attack of the Dog Days of Summer

Here we are in the last throes of summer, and Deerfield has succumbed.

Instead of bouncing off the windows and walls when a rabbit or a squirrel is spotted outside, Willie and Nelly languish on the couch.

Our once beautiful and lush pots and baskets of flowers are stringy and tired.

The perennials around the yard have stopped growing and are saving string for next year. The annuals have given up the ghost.

Your faithful blogger is more miss than hit.

The clothes dryer has quit drying.

Even the black flies and mosquitoes are lethargic. They land on you, but don't have the energy to take a bite.


No movement backwards or forwards. Stuck on 196. Goal of 190 is in jeopardy, but need to focus on the fact I have lost 28 pounds.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two week update on fall garden

It's been a little more than two weeks since my fall garden went in the ground. Here's a quick update on the state of things:

SPINACH -- Dead. Never got established. Must have planted it when it was too hot.

-- The best looking crop. Almost 5 inches tall.

HEAD LETTUCE -- Sprouts look good. About two inches tall.

CABBAGE -- After a shaky start, my two kinds of cabbage are looking good.

-- Almost let the bugs get it, but applied Sevin just in time.

DETROIT BEETS -- Fewer than half the seeds sprouted. Jury is still out.

ICICLE RADISH -- Have thinned the sprouts three times. Radish greens are good in a salad.

TURNIP GREENS -- As I mentioned, I sowed these much too thick. I'm just going to see what happens.

-- Sowed these just 8 days ago, but sprouts look good.

-- Velly, velly nice.