Category Archives: Seasons

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? 

Irony

Tuesday the temperature here was 75. Yesterday we had a winter storm blowing in.  I was getting ready for work yesterday and I noticed a large welt on my calf. It was a mosquito bite!  I searched and saw it flying around in the dining room. The little devil got me  while I was wandering around the house with my coffee cup. It probably stowed away in the spinach I harvested on Tuesday night. How ironic!   A mosquito bite on the day of a snow storm.

What are the recent or not so recent ironies in your life? Got any good mosquito stories?

Seasons

It snowed here on Wednesday.  The header photo is a view out of my work window Wednesday afternoon.   The buildings in the background are part of an assisted living facility.  The season changed here suddenly, and incontrovertibly.

PJ mentioned yesterday her horror at seeing all the Christmas decorations while she was shopping. I suppose the merchant’s view is that the season has changed, and the store is announcing it.

Husband says we have six seasons out here: Winter, Calving, Spring, Summer, Harvest, and Autumn. I say a sure sign of Winter is green tomatoes ripening in paper bags or boxes in the house.  I ordered glaceed fruit and nuts for my Christmas baking today, another sign of seasonal change.

What are the seasons in your year? What do you look for in nature or in people around you for signs of the seasons changing?

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?

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?

The Chestnut Tree

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

The horse chestnuts are falling.

The walnuts are falling too and they make more noise when they fall. And boy, if they hit the deck it’s a good “Thud”. But hit the metal deck table? Wow, that’ll wake you up. “KABANG”! We have 4 nice big walnut trees that shade the deck. But they sure make a mess.

But it’s the horse chestnuts that I’m attracted too.

This is the one chestnut tree we have at home.

I planted it from a seed. Mom says she’s surprised it ever grew at all because I was digging it up every day to see if it had sprouted yet.

I would collect the nuts on Sundays along the sidewalk on the way from church. There were several chestnut trees next to the parking lot we used and in the fall I’d be lucky to find some left from the kids at the earlier services.

They’re just so appealing with their large size and smooth shell and the nice brown color. And they’re fairly easy to get out of the husk. Walnuts are messy and stain your fingers and they’re just dark brown and yucky. Acorns are kinda cool, but they’re small and sometimes hard to get out of the husk. But horse chestnuts. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about them.

Here’s part of what I collected. There doesn’t seem to be very many this year. Yet another victim of our cool, wet spring?

Here’s chestnunts in their natural habitat.

And the empy husk, which was almost as appealing as the nut itself.

I had the big yellow Tonka dump truck and I’d fill it with acorns I picked up while playing in the street. Yeah, Mom and dad told me to go play in the street. Not exactly; the oak trees are along our driveway so that’s where I had to go to collect acorns. I was probably about 9 or 10 years old.

I remember when I was about 4 or 5, mom and dad had just built the new house. There was a tree stump in the backyard that I played on. And it seems like there was an upended stump; all roots sticking out, I could climb up in there and find a place to sit in among the roots. That was fun.

I’ve lived here 55 years. A lot of trees have come and gone.

TALK ABOUT A TREE.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

The blackbirds have arrived. Or maybe they’ve just arrived en-mass. Kelly does not like them. She will go out at 6 a.m., slapping two boards together to scare them off. To me it looks like an exercise in futility. She’s thinking if she scares them off soon enough and often enough they’ll stay away. And I’m not sure – I can’t prove it *won’t* work. But I don’t think it is working.

It’s morning, she’s just driven off to work and the trees are already filled with cackling blackbirds. I’m sure it upset her no end; she knows they are mocking her now. But I admire her determination. The barn swallows have moved on so that’s depressing as well. Tonight when she gets home, she’ll be out there cracking those boards together.

We’ve even tried firing shotguns at them. Yep, they all fly away, but then they’re right back. Like turkey or deer. Or raccoons. Or a bad fungus.

The city of Rochester has also been fighting crows roosting in trees in the downtown area. So at least we’re not fighting the messy droppings of the blackbirds, just the noise.

“What wakes you up in the morning?”