Monday, January 31, 2011

So that's why they call it a Blazer?

So, I was taking the garbage down to the road late Sunday afternoon. I noticed a little smoke coming from the hood of my beloved Hoopty, an '89 Chevy Blazer.

I opened the hood to find flames shooting from the back of the engine. I had some drop-clothes in the back so I soaked them in some nearby standing water and threw them on the engine. I thought I had it about out, but then the fire flared again and all I could do was call 911. About twenty minutes later (a little long if you ask me since the fire station is only three miles away), the Louisville Fire Department came and put out the fire.

I had a good set of tools in the back seat in a plastic tool box. The tools are now permanently encased in a mound of hard plastic.

Nothing else was hurt, except my pride, and no injuries occurred. Betty says no more Hoopties for me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Willie

Our white boxer, Willie, is 5 years old today. He came to live with us when we bought Deerfield in 2006.

I understand the photo above can be seen on several screen-savers across the country. It was taken in 2007. Willie never met a screen door he couldn't go through. See the steel mesh attached to the door. He eventually went through that also. I now have installed 1/2-inch plywood on the bottom of our four screen doors on the back porch. He hasn't gone through the plywood -- yet.

The bottom photo shows how Willie celebrates momentous occasions. Every day is a momentous occasion to Willie.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the trail of Deerfield's original inhabitants

At the end of Deerfield Drive is a 100-acre tract of land owned by an East Tennessee lumber company. Attempts have been made to develop the land, but so far the rugged terrain has thwarted the efforts. Legend has it that somewhere on the hills or in the valleys of this land is one of the largest Indian burial mounds in East Tennessee.

Suffering from cabin fever, Neighbor Larry and I set out on this sunny Sunday afternoon to see if we could find the mysterious mound. Armed with a compass and a good topography map of the region given to me by my son, we began our hunt.

Walking this area anytime but the dead of winter is impossible. The fallen trees and thick brush make the land almost impassable in the other three seasons.

After going up and down and round and round, we noticed on the topo map a ridge peak called Tomb Ridge. We located the landmass and at the highest elevation we noticed a distinct "bump" in the ridge. The "bump" was flat on top. Upon closer inspection we noticed that on this promontory grew the only pine trees in the area. This means the area had once been cleared of the large hardwood trees like poplar, oak and hickory. The fast-growing pine trees were able to move in and take over.

I had read where Indians chose the highest peak in an area so their deceased would be closer to the spirits in the sky.

We decided that we had found the Indian burial mound. We don't know for a fact that we did, but it was a pleasant way to spend a sunny January afternoon.

TOP PHOTO: Larry looks up at a massive shagbark hickory not too far from Tomb Ridge.
BOTTOM PHOTO: Larry, almost in exact center of photo, stands just below the peak of what we think is Deerfield's Indian burial mound. (Double-click on the photo for a better view.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Convening at the Ladybug Hotel

Neighbor Larry's woodshed again has yielded an interesting phenomenon involving ladybugs.

He uncovered this scrum of the little ladies trying to keep warm in the bowels of his woodpile. I thought all the ladybugs in Deerfield were spending the winter in our house.

Ladybug trivia: How can you tell the difference between boy ladybugs and girl ladybugs? Answer: Girl ladybugs are usually larger . . . and smarter, my wife would add.

Usually when I offer a post on ladybugs I hear from someone in Australia who informs me that the insect is called a "ladybird" in the land from down under.

"Bug" or "bird", these little beauties are having a tough winter in East Tennessee. Temperature tonight may hit the teens again. Huddle up, buttercup!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Trumpet vine may have sounded its last note

As you come up our driveway and just before you round the curve to go up the switchback to our house, there sits our small red barn and a large trumpet vine intertwined around a cedar tree stump and what once was a large birdhouse.

I assume the previous owners of the property had built the birdhouse on the stump. As trumpet vines go, it's one of the largest ones I've seen with the base measuring about 2-inches in diameter. The flowers (small photo from summer ) are numerous and bright.

As you can see, the cedar stump has rotted away and the birdhouse is in shambles. As soon as the snow melts (maybe about May 15), I'm going to get rid of the stump and the birdhouse. I'll try to save the trumpet vine but it may have tooted its last note.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nelly belly snow gauge

Nelly, our Boston terrier, has become Deerfield's official snow gauge.

Nelly's legs measure 5 inches. We calculate the space between her belly and the top of the snow and that's how we get our snowfall amount. At 9 a.m. we have 4.5 inches of snow and it's still coming. More on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday.

As you can see by Nelly's demeanor in the photo, she is not overly thrilled with her snow gauge duties. Willie, our white boxer, is excused from snow duties because he just disappears. He can always be found hunkered up against the stove.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hibernating -- duplex style

Hibernating bugs are not uncommon, but it's rare to see two types packing it in for winter in so close a proximity.

Neighbor Larry has a massive woodshed and the cold weather in Deerfield has him foraging deep into the inside of the shed. He found a stick of wood with these two types of bugs covering it. He snapped this photo for me.

The bugs on the left are ladybugs, obviously, but it took a little research on the Internet and in my bug book to find that the species on the right is a boxelder bug. (I know, as soon as I identify something on this blog there will be a dozen entomologists telling me I'm wrong.) So, until I'm chastised, I'm calling it a boxelder bug.

The boxelder bug is also known as the maple bug. It's like the ladybug in that it really doesn't do any harm. It can be a nuisance in the summer trying to get in the house, but in the winter it lays low and just tries to keep from freezing -- just like the rest of us in Deerfield.