Thursday, June 30, 2011

Turtles On The Runway

I was  cheered today by the news that JFK Airport was closed to flights for about half an hour yesterday because of a turtle invasion to the runway. They could have just run them over, I suppose, like many people do around here, but then when the news got out, some animal rights group would have them in a sling. And I agree in this case.  When something as careful and thoughtful that can live a hundred years or more  needs human consideration, we should give it.

While the subject was on my mind I checked out some turtle videos on YouTube and saw some wonderful examples of turtle determination, fortitude, and just plain ingenuity. Who woulda thought turtles could climb fences? Take a look.

  Tortoises, terrapins and turtles do not only move slowly; they grow slowly and can get exceptionally old. Nobody is sure about the maximum lifespan of some of these species, but even after many decades they show no sign of ageing and die only of illness or injuries. A specimen of Testudo sumeirii that was brought to Mauritius in 1766 died in 1918 of unnatural causes. In 2000 a zoo in Sydney, Australia, celebrated the 150th birthday of a tortoise that was donated to them by Charles Darwin!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

I have 2 of these shrubs (Itea virginica) that bloom in the spring (May -zone 8) and they are so fresh and pretty. I would not want to miss out on these lovely flowers by not giving it at least enough attention to assure flowers the next year. I do give them a little water when it gets extremely dry, but they are fairly tough. One was given to me and the other I bough in sorry condition on sale late in the year last year. But both flowered beautifully this spring. 'Little Henry' has beautiful red twigs in the winter (the shrubs are deciduous) and are small in statue ( mine are about 2 feet tall after 2 or more years). I assume they will get larger, but for now they are cute rounded low shrubs. they do not appear to be bothered by much and even the deer have not eaten them (yet!).
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hidden Falls at the Ecology Preserve

I had almost forgotten this little stream in a gully at the Auburn university Ecology Preserve. It is a miniature and unexpected beauty. When you go, be sure to look it up.
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Stinging Nettle

I took this picture in Tuskegee national Forest about 2 months ago. It was blooming everywhere in the Long Leaf pine areas. It mush relish or at least tolerate the periodic burning needed to maintain these forests. The flowers are so stark white that they are difficult to photograph because they turn out so white it is difficult to see the detail. The flowers are beautiful, but the hairs (trichombs) that cover the plant is the part to take special note of. If you touch them, you will get a sensation not unlike a bee sting and it will continue for a long time. to me it has an itching component that is particularly painful.
The internet is filled with advice for the treatment of interactions with stinging nettle, but I can only recount how I have treated them. I would go to the nearest stream or puddle, grab up the wet mud or sand from the bottom of the stream, and scrub the area affected. This was a kid's remedy and it provided quick and lasting relief if the process was continued several minutes. Sand was my preferred scrub substance and it worked to some extent even without water. I believe it scrubbed off the painful trichombs that were stuck in the flesh. Water helps wash away the formic acid and other noxious chemicals that are on the trichombs.
The nettle greens are of both nutritional and medicinal value to hear the internet tell it. You can buy all sorts of preparations for whatever ails you, from  arthritis, hay fever, kidney problems, to prostate cancer. Nettles as a green are high in vitamins A and C and can be cooked and eaten like any other green. The nettles are destroyed by the cooking. They are eaten world-wide.  But you need to be a pretty stalwart individual to pick them, and better come prepared with gloves and clippers.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oak Breaks and Falls

We had about a quarter inch of rain early in the evening yesterday. It cooled things off a bit and I was reading on the porch before dark. I heard a little crack and leaf rustle like a limb fell. I got up and looked at the old red oak that stood at the far end of the house. It had provided shade and coolness for us the 25 years we have lived here. Lately (the last year) it seemed to me that it was leaning more than it should and I thought again how if it fell, it would take out the power line and hopefully fall away from the house.
 About 9 o'clock there was a muffled noise and then the lights went out. I knew almost immediately what it was. I went to the back stoop and shined the flashlight in that direction to verify that I was correct. Against the sky I could see the snag that was left standing.The trunk was rotten inside all the way to where the limbs started. I said a prayer of thanks that it had not fallen into the house. I did not go out to get a closer look as I knew the power line was down.
 I called TREC and about 3 hours later they arrived with 2 trucks and the gear that they needed to get the power back on. I am so thankful for the brave people who come so readily when called. I do not know how many there were but a number of people were wrested from their beds or at least they may have been thinking about bed, and  came to our rescue in the middle of the night,and put the power back on so that I could have my coffee this morning.
 Everything about this incident worked out the very best it could. The tree completely missed the house. It broke instead of pulling up out of the ground. If it had pulled out of the ground it would probably have damaged the septic tank which is nearby. No one was hurt in the incident, and TREC came and fixed the power problem right away. I went to sleep thinking what a lucky duck I am!!!
  I hope I am as lucky getting someone to clear the tree away. The last time a mere limb fell, I was scammed out of $200 and the huge limb left behind. My neighbor kindly cleaned it up for the firewood. If you know anyone interested in cleaning it up, please let me know. Also free firewood.
 You can click on these pictures to see them in a larger format.

Monday, June 6, 2011

50 Most Important Landmarks

This deserves a look. Lots I never heard of, some I have seen or know people who have seen. I was wondering about how the familiarity people have now with these sites would compare with 50 years ago. No way to know I guess.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Japanese Beetles Arrive

Yesterday I had to send out the Beetle Patrol. They were eating like crazy on my Evening Primrose and it was practically in a lace petticoat when I found them. I take a bucket, add an inch or two of water, and a squirt of dish liquid. I take hold of the plant, hold the bucket under it and and give a little shake. The beetles natural response is to let go and drop off, thus escaping. Unfortunately for them, when they hit that soapy water, they drown. I smile. The only thing more satisfying in dealing with these voracious eaters is squishing them where they munch. I gave up on spraying years ago. The bucket method is more efficient,less time consuming,and fewer get away.  First of all, it is poison and I feel like the less use of that, the better. Secondly, it just does not kill as many or as quickly as this mechanical method.
Oh, yes, leave them in the bucket at least overnight. You do not want them to revive!
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