Tuesday, August 30, 2011

If you need me, I'll be here for the next six months

Our home in Deerfield is surrounded by gigantic poplar, elm, locust, hackberry, hickory, white oak and persimmon trees. Some of the trees are 36 inches in diameter.

The storms of the spring and summer had me in a tizzy. I would watch the tree tops bending, almost touching the house. We could hear trees crashing in the forest. A limb from a hickory tree came crashing down once, barely missing the renovated deck.

Instead of worrying, it was time to do something about it. I called in a tree service and the crew spent two days this week taking down trees near the house that were capable of causing problems. All the crews did was take the trees down. I will be doing all the cleanup.

I'll be cutting off all the limbs and will leave the trunks in 12-foot lengths. I'm hoping to find someone who will come and get the trunks for sawmill wood. I will burn the tops and limbs. If my tractor can't move the trunks, I'll call on my neighbor with the big tractor to help.

If I'm lucky, I should be done by next spring.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hidden beauty, hidden disaster

This cross-cut of a 20-inch American elm trunk has a beautiful pattern until you realize that the tree was actually rotting from the inside with Dutch elm disease. Some estimates say 90 per cent of all the elm trees in East Tennessee have been infected with the disease.

We have a few more elms at Deerfield, but this is the last one near the house. It had to go. Thanks to the April hail storm, we are getting a new roof next week. The last thing we needed was a tree crashing through it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

An embarrassment of gourds

Here's my gourd story, and I'm sticking to it.

In my post from April 18, I was all a twitter about the prospect of growing my spring garden from seeds and not from starter plants.

I purchased three seed flats and carefully planted several types of squash, cucumber, pepper and other delectables. I decided to try one little batch of a gourd seed mix. I carefully marked each section of the flat with its seed type. I faithfully watered and soon found the seeds bursting forth with small shoots. Once or twice I watered a little too much, but I was fairly certain that the seeds didn't "float" out of their assigned cubicles. I planted the small shoots and waited.

All summer the vines grew in resplendent glory. Yep. You guessed it.

Where I thought I had several types of cucumbers, I had gourds. Where I thought I had butternut squash, I had gourds. Where I thought I had acorn squash, I had gourds. Gourds to the left. Gourds to the right. Out of my gourd.

For the record, I got zero cucumbers and a handful of zucchini. A few yellow squash did manage to survive the gourd attack.

The photo is a sampling of my gourd harvest. Anyone have any good gourd recipes out there?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

'What is It?' answered

Lynn Ray Lewis, good friend and editor extraordinaire, came to the rescue by finding a close cousin to my creature at www.butterfliesandmoths.org. It appears this larva is that of a spicebush swallowtail butterfly. Thanks, Lynn Ray. We can all rest easy now.

We play the 'What is it?' game again

I found this little fellow (or gal) on the front porch recently. I want to say it's the maturing larva of a butterfly, but as sure as I do some expert will tell me what a dunce I am.

So, as we agree that I'm a dunce, does anyone know what it is?