Monthly Archives: August 2008

Learning and Growing


I was checking on some plants the other day and was surprised to find a fig on my fig tree. I only have one (well, had one), but for a tree I planted this spring, that’s pretty cool. I had to search online to figure out how to tell when a fig was ripe, and according to the information I found the fig has to droop. It looked droopy to me, but unfortunately it wasn’t droopy enough, and I picked it too soon. There was a hint of the sweet flavor to come when I tasted it. Oh well, I’ll know better next year, but now I have to wait until next Spring to savor this fruit.

The fruit was a lot bigger than I expected. I should have searched for images of ripe Celeste figs before I picked it, then I would have known they should be brownish purple when ripe. Oops! But I’ll be the first to admit I know nothing about figs, except that I like to eat them. I did the same thing with a melon as well, not knowing what the variety should look like when it’s ripe (unripe melon tastes like watermelon rind). Now, I know. We learn as we grow, and growing (fruit) takes a lot of learning!

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Another one!

I took this picture of a Silvery Checkerspot a few days ago, thinking I didn’t have a photograph of the butterfly yet. Not only did I not have a photograph, but I hadn’t recorded the species at Windhaven. This butterfly, sitting patiently on our gas grill, is the 56th butterfly species seen on our property. One of it’s larval food items is crownbeard, and I currently have a good crop growing over the septic field. It’s usually seen in wet woodland openings. That’s not a description I would use for our forest, but we did have rain recently, and the woodlands closer to the lake are wetter, so I guess it’s not that unusual.

Beating the heat

Midsummer in Oklahoma, the best time to work is very early in the morning. I got to work finishing my gates before the temperatures soared to 104 again. The East side gate had been installed a few days earlier but the self-closing hinge didn’t work. So, the first task was to replace that hinge.

The double gate has also been installed for a few days but lacked the pegs to hold the gate open, or closed. I wish I had had a video camera while I was working, because a digger wasp was busy burying a green caterpillar twice it’s size. The backfilling process was fascinating as the wasp appeared to use sound to loosen the soil it was picking up, then again to tamp it within the burrow.

By the time I finished the gates, it was close to noon, and I noticed my fig tree and strawberries were wilting. I grabbed the trellising I had saved from the back porch railing and used that for soil shading over the strawberries. I was able to water deeply into the shaded soil, and succeeded in reviving the plants.

I found this little wasp nest on a piece of the trellising. The little clay pot is smaller than my thumbnail. I’m always astonished at the variety of mud wasps here and the amazing architecture of their nests.

Let there be light!

Taking a break from the heat is a good time to catch up on the blog. It’s in the 90s today instead of triple digit heat, so it’s the perfect day to break through a wall. I ripped the plywood off the doorway allowing the sunlight into the mudroom for the first time. There would have been more sunlight of course if I hadn’t put up a tent canopy to make work bearable. You can see my laundry hanging in the background showing how convenient this passage will be (I’m standing at the washing machine to take this picture).

I had to take the outside trim off to make sure the door opening was large enough after we pour the new floor. I was somewhat shocked to see just how much clay had been shoved in the little box over the years. The pile on the floor is what fell out: various mud-dauber nests, paper wasp nests, possibly a mouse nest (a mound of insulation)

And there was more up inside the trim box. Thankfully, the live wasp nest had been within reach of the killing spray (my only exception to my pesticide ban, especially if they’re an aggressive species of wasp).

The plywood is back up, without the insulation and framing, lightly sealed with foam to keep critters out, but easily removed when we’re ready to do the floor next weekend. The next step is to remove the little concrete platform outside the doorway in order to set forms for the raising of the threshold. Inside, I can start filling holes in the walls. Progress is slow but steady.