Category Archives: Nature

Reading Mystery

A few years ago, back when a librarian needed to check out your books for you, the older red-haired librarian at the desk (Anna would know her name) said “My, you have a wide set of topics here.” I don’t remember what I was checking out, but I do read across a fairly wide swath.  Science fiction, fiction, mystery, a variety of science, biography, history, philosophy, fantasy, kid lit, thrillers.  About the only thing I don’t read is romance if I can help it.

It was about that time that I started keeping track of how I got the idea to read a particular book. I have several categories for this – my book clubs, BookPage from the library, Writer’s Almanac, my various “lists” (English Monarchs, Presidents, Newbury & Caldecott winners, etc.) and the Trail. By far the biggest category is O&A (Out & About), a catch-all for everything else.

I’m pretty good at remembering where I find a title that I want to read, but every now and then I am surprised when I go to my hold shelf in the library. I knew from looking at my online account that there was an InterLibrary Loan titled Meetings with Remarkable Trees waiting for me.  It had the sound of poetry and many of the poetry books I look for end up coming from other libraries: I assumed it was poetry.  So imagine my surprise it’s a lovely photo book with essays about specific trees.  It’s fascinating but I’m not sure where the idea came from?  It’s not exactly the kind of thing that you find in the mainstream.

So I’ve decided it must be something that was recommended to me on the Trail. It’s about nature, so it might be Clyde (he is usually my go-to for travel books, but it seems like something he might like).  But it has absolutely lovely nature photos, so it might be the kind of thing recommended by Steve or Cynthia or BiR.  It’s a little off the beaten path, which has Bill written all over it.  The author is originally from Ireland, which means that it might have been recommended by PJ, who has a broader range of non-American authors.  I’ve haven’t gone back to the Trail and done a search: for now it’s a nice little mystery.

Do you do well at taking advice? Or do you prefer to GIVE advice?

Infestation

We had some basement drywall and carpet ruined  from a leak from an egress window when our downspouts were plugged  this  summer. The dry wall guy finished up the repairs last week.

We removed the water damaged carpet in the basement bedroom. As we put the furniture back in the bedroom, I thought that I would put on the bare cement a wool area rug that we had stored in the furnace room. It was a nice thick one we got from Pottery Barn 15 years ago, in pinks and greens, our daughter’s favorite colors at the time. We used it in her bedroom.

The furnace room is warm and dry. We keep the door to it closed. As I reached for the carpet, which was rolled up and standing in a corner,  I noticed something that looked like grains of rice protruding from the back of the carpet. As I lifted the rolled carpet, I saw many hundreds of grains of rice on the floor underneath where the carpet had been, about an inch or so thick, in a pile of pink and green sawdust. I am thankful none of it was moving, as it turned out to be carpet moth larvae and the remnants of the carpets they had eaten. Husband took the rug outside and tossed it in the back of his pick up. I hurriedly vacuumed up all the “rice”  and sawdust, and checked everything in the basement for further evidence of the infestation. I am happy to report I found nothing.  You can see some of the larva and the green part of the rug they chewed.

Further research informed me that wool rugs rolled up and kept in the dark are prime targets for carpet moths.  So are parts of wool rugs that are laid out on the floor but underneath tables and other furniture. The moths themselves are quite small,  with maybe 1/4-1/2 inch wing span.  I am thankful that all my sweaters are upstairs in cedar lined drawers. Ish!!

Ever had insect damage? What do you have in your house that you haven’t checked on for a while? 

Taking My Show On The Road

The following is an excerpt from an article in our local paper, The Dickinson Press, for September 17, 2019, written by reporter Josiah Cuellar.

“An 18-wheeler loaded with a massive, four-ton potato, on its annual tour of the country, stopped by The Hub at West Dakota Oils which was having their grand reopening Tuesday, Sept. 17.  The Big Idaho Potato crew filled up and welcomed the public to get photos and ask questions to the truck driver, Melissa Bradford, and the “Tater Twins,” Kaylee Wells and Jessica Coulthard.  “No two potatoes look alike, neither do the Tater Twins,” Wells said.  “It’s just a really fun campaign,” Coulthard added. The annual tour began in 2012, and the popularity of it keeps bringing the colossal spud back. “They built the potato truck to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission,” Coulthard said,  “It was originally supposed to be one-year tour, but it got so popular they just kept it going.”  While every trip in the giant, potato-shaped truck is unique, this year’s tour is extra special because it features the first all-female group. “We are the first all-female team that they had on tour,” Wells said. “We get to show other women that you can do anything that you put your mind to, that you can succeed in a man’s world; you can do whatever you want.””

Ok. I think this is pretty silly and weirdly wonderful.  No matter what happens in the next few weeks in Washington, I think it is important to remember that this is what makes us a great nation.

What would you like to load up on a big truck and take on tour? Where would you take it?

Farm Update

Today’s crop update comes to us from Ben.

Been checking some fields.

Soybeans are about 85% yellow and starting to lose some leaves

It’s interesting because right there by a stalk that’s lost all its leaves is another plant fully green. This picture taken two weeks ago

and there’s a waterway in the middle there. It’s good and green to the left and to the right it’s rocky and yellow. Typically crops do poorly in the rocky areas. The roots don’t establish as well, and it tends to dry out faster. So presumably this area was less robust to start with and that’s why it dries out sooner. Still, to see a line like that is interesting.

Notice there are a decent number of pods on the plants,

and they all have 3 beans in them. But the pods are very wet yet. Even when the leaves fall off, the stalk and pods need to dry down in order to harvest. I cracked one open but it was tough to get open and the beans are firm, but not dry. They should be round, about ¼” to 5/16ths diameter. These are still bigger than that; swollen with water. They’ll get smaller as they dry down. I pay more money to have soybeans combined than corn, because beans are harder on the combine. Because they’re running the combine so low it picks up more dirt and rocks. And as the heads get bigger and wider (my guy is using a head for beans that is 30’ wide) and lots of newer combines have ‘auto float’ for the head, but if my field curves a bit, the header can be on the ground in the center and 4” up on the ends. Then you’re leaving more beans on the ends. So, it’s important to keep the field as smooth as possible in the spring when planting.  These beans are about 20” tall. Normally, they should be 36” tall at least and filled with pods to the top. Sometimes you’ll see 4 beans in a pod but that’s unusual and they say extra pods on the top of the plant indicate an exceptional good year. Won’t be any like that this year. Remember one day I said beans respond to the length of day light? Everyone’s beans look about the same now no matter when planted. Height may be taller if planted early, but colors are about the same. I’ve seen a few people already combining beans. The rest won’t be too far behind getting started on combining beans.

Three weeks ago, I noticed a little bit of yellow in a field and I thought there was some disease damage happening. Nope, just starting to turn, but that first hint of yellow always surprises me. Takes about 3 or 4 weeks to all turn and loose leaves. That happens fast, once they start to turn and then they still have to dry out. Often, it’s not until a killing frost that the stalks are dry enough to go. Not always, again, depends on the weather.

I’ve got some beans on a rental field. They look terrible this year.

They’re short, and the stupid deer have eaten the tops off the entire field!

Everytime I go look at that field I just feel sick about it. The beans there are only about 8” tall. See all those pods near the bottom? The combine will have a hard time getting them so close to the ground. Sigh.

The corn is looking good.

The ears in the field are surprisingly good looking in size.

You can see the deer damage on the outside here.

Notice all the ears standing upright yet. Once they get down to a certain moisture, the ears will drop and hang down.

I don’t know what that moisture % is, but when they’re standing upright, all the rainwater can run down inside the husks. Course that can cause mold issues.

You all know there is a silk to every kernel, right? Notice the odd kernels in this ear.

So that silk didn’t get pollinated for some reason. And the odd shapes, I’m not sure, but obviously, something didn’t all work right. Too cool, too wet? Too dry at that point? Who knows? All part of the mystery.  Splitting the ear, there are nice kernels in there.

See how its’ all dented? But still a drop of milk when I squeeze it. So not quite to ‘black layer’ yet. That will start at the bottom and move up the kernel as it dries. I’m not there yet. I’ve seen a few people starting to chop corn silage for feed. This wouldn’t quite be ready yet either. You want it in black stage before chopping. Maybe another week or two depending on weather. Not that I chop anymore. I kind of miss that. I always liked chopping corn. It smells good and goes easy and was fun to do.

I have one field that has gone down in a kinda random way. I hired a kid to fly his drone over the field. He didn’t know what he was looking for and I couldn’t see what he was looking at, but he did good enough that I could get an overview. The header photo comes from him. (Thanks to Nick Casper’s drone!) It’s called ‘lodging’ when the corn goes down like this.

I don’t think all the deer walking through helped. But the rows and tassels should all be in nice lines. See the mess in part of the field?

Corn puts out extra roots called ‘brace roots’ as it’s gets bigger. Usually they’re 4” above the ground, just to help brace the corn as it gets bigger. Notice these roots coming out 18” up?

An effect of wind and lodging and weather conditions I’m told. Weird. Hopefully it stands until harvest and doesn’t fall over. It’s a mess to combine if they all fall down.

I wish Clyde was still here to add his farm comments.

What was the last ag related commercial you saw on TV?

On the Wall

As I was turning the corner after leaving the library, I saw a man walking his big dog. Only the big dog was walking up on the retaining wall along the sidewalk.  He was walking very steadily on the wall, which was about 2 feet high, negotiating the corner with ease.

I slowed down and called out my car window to the man, asking if his dog likes all retaining walls or just this one. He laughed and said “all walls, but this is his favorite”.  He said to have a good day and I drove off.

Tell me about your favorite circus memory!

Water Damage

We live in a semi-arid part of the US. We don’t get much rain. The rain, when it falls, is usually no more than a quarter of an inch at a time. This has lulled me and Husband into a false sense of security when it comes to our gutters and down spouts. Why make a point to clear out the spouts when it hardly ever rains? Why check to make sure that the spouts are fully functional?

For the second time in the 30 years we have lived in our home, we have water damage in the basement due to our rain spout neglect.  The first time the extension that takes the water away from the house fell off, so the water poured out of the spout right along the foundation of the house.  The water traveled along the side of the house and came into the basement through a hole in the basement wall where a well pipe enters the basement foundation.  We replaced all the basement carpet.

This most recent time, the down spout was clogged with leaves, so the water poured over the gutter right by the foundation and traveled into  an egress window and soaked the drywall and carpet below the window in a basement bedroom. We rarely go into that room, and I discovered wet carpet and moldy drywall on Friday, about a month after the rain.  It smells pretty grisly. I suspect we need to replace the carpet in that room, and the drywall guy is coming Monday to check  out the drywall. I am pretty disgusted with our lack of diligence. I feel pretty stupid flooding our home for the second time. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have one’s entire house damaged by water.

What mistakes have you made with home ownership and maintenance?

Autumn Gardening

You all know that I love gardening in the spring and summer. And that I am horrible at gardening in the fall.  I’m not sure but I think it’s too much delayed gratification.  Anything you do in the fall isn’t really going to give you results until spring.  Or maybe I’m just worn out after the spring and summer hours pulling, hacking and digging.

In any case, over the weekend I had to FORCE myself to get out and do a little clean up and plant some bulbs and tubers. I added some more tulips to the front boulevard and also two patches of daffodils.  I moved my yellow and purple dwarf iris a bit (they were getting swallowed up by lilies) and I also added some Open Your Eyes dwarf iris tubers this year

I had put this off over the last couple of weekends, using YA’s accident/surgery as an excuse and, truth be told, I have been very busy, but 2 weekends in a row, the gardening was on my list and just didn’t get done. So now I feel an immense sense of satisfaction and relief.  Why can’t I get myself to do gardening in the fall, when I know it will feel great when I’m done?

How do you get yourself motivated?