Monthly Archives: September 2009

Semi-rural logging

The power companies have been clearing the rights-of-way in our neighborhood. Any logs too big to chip, have been left by the side of the road. I didn’t touch it for a week, thinking the landowners would pick it up, but it went untouched. So, one Friday afternoon, on a day when Peter was off, we set out to gather some future firewood. Most of this first load was cottonwood, not the best for burning, but there was some oak in the mix.

More wood was cut, more waiting. Finally, today, after watching a pile of wood across the street for nearly two weeks, I set out to gather more wood. This time I scored some oak, elm, mimosa, and hackberry. It’ll take a good year before any of it is ready to burn. We’ve set it out on the spare concrete slab to dry, and I’ll have my work cut out for me, shortening the four foot logs and splitting them. But my best guess is that we’ve gathered nearly a cord of wood that would otherwise have rotted. Not that rotting wood is a bad thing, but when you can use it for emergency firewood, it’s better to keep it from rotting.


Dog fun

After making a few jumps and weave poles for D’Argo to practice on for agility, I decided to make a teeter board for him to work on at home. The base is a kit and I just had to provide the properly painted board. The yellow sections are the contact zones that the dogs must hit with at least one paw.

After making the teeter, I may have gone a little crazy and built the dog walk as well. It’s an obstacle D’Argo really likes, so I wanted him to have something that was fun to do, along with the harder obstacles like the weave poles and teeter.

I set the dog walk up today for the first time and D’Argo ran up it with enthusiasm!

I couldn’t be more proud.

He’s had some practice on the teeter board. Now he ably handles the movement, waiting for it to land.

Peter took a sequence shot of D’Argo going over each obstacle. Here’s the dog walk. (click on it to enlarge it.)

This one’s the teeter board. In each case Odo ran along beside me trying to horn in on the treats. He got one eventually.

Next, the A-frame.

Gardening in Oklahoma: lessons learned.

I’ve learned a few things this year with my gardens. First and foremost, the deer will try any way they can to eat my gardens. The original strawberry bed has chicken wire covering it and it kept the deer out during the critical spring fruiting. During the summer however, the deer discovered that if they yank up on the runners escaping the fencing hard enough, it’ll roll the chicken wire out of the way. You can easily tell which half of the garden was eaten , and which wasn’t.

Lesson #2: Plants grown in partial shade further North must be grown in full shade here. My poor little gooseberry plant that survived it’s first summer in Oklahoma, was barely holding on after all it’s leaves burnt away in the summer heat. I have now moved it to the North side of the house where it is already putting on new leaves. It probably could have survived where I had originally planted it, but if it spent all it’s energy replacing leaves, I would never get any fruit.

Lesson #3: The Summer garden will never be done by the time you need space for the Fall garden. Which leads to the correlated lesson: You will never have enough growing space! I’ve had to be creative. I’ve got summer carrots growing with the basil and peppers, and I’ll be adding beets and maybe peas to the bed.

I’ve got some kale growing with the sweet potatoes.

If you’ve never seen a sweet potato flower, they’re gorgeous.

One garden bed is dedicated to more strawberries. Runners that were rescued from the deer. This bed was also decimated when the deer discovered they could lift the netting by yanking on runners. Not anymore! The netting is pinned to the frame.

The melons are still going strong, so I can’t use this bed yet. But I may put in carrots and lettuce after the first frost.

A couple of the gardens don’t quite get enough sun in the Fall, so they’ve been seeded with a green manure and will be ready to plant in the Spring.

In the meantime, I’m refurbishing the back garden and expanding the beds. I’m hoping to have the one nearest the walkway finished this week, so I can plant kohlrabi, broccoli, lettuce, and other fun Fall crops. Eventually, there will be two new gardens, one at the East end of the walkway, perpendicular to the house, and another parallel to the path. These beds should keep the gophers from tunneling up to the house thereby reducing the chances of the house flooding again.

Windhaven Wildlife

Now that the cooler weather has arrived, I’ve been getting some of the gardens under control. Unfortunately,this also means displaced wildlife. While weeding the melon patch, I came across a snake, but couldn’t get a good look. A couple of days later, when I was mowing, I rescued this beauty from in front of the mower. I’m pretty sure it’s the same snake from the melon patch, and it challenged my identification skills. I finally eliminated all but a juvenile yellowbelly racer (not illustrated in my reptile guide, and therein lay the challenge). He was a lovely and surprisingly calm snake, but happy to be let go again, into some safer vegetation. Mowing can result in quite a few tragedies (frogs, hidden in the grass, have occasionally leapt into the blades), I’m glad this one was averted.

I’ve posted a picture of the Green Lynx Spider before, but this one was a particularly lovely specimen, replete with eggs. I displaced her from the wildly overgrown mint patch, so I placed her among the potted plants. She is on my Meyers lemon tree in this picture, but later moved to the blueberries.

I had to clear out the cucumber plants from the back garden, so I can refurbish the bed. That exposed several chrysalises attached to the plants and cage. Apparently, the Black Swallowtail caterpillars, having fed on my bronze fennel, decided that the cucumber plants would be a great place to metamorphose. The squash bugs had different plans, and had nearly killed the plants, exposing the chrysalises. I moved a couple of pupae to the shade of a rosemary bush, but the one on the cage had to stay as is.

I’ve been digging a trench around the back garden to install a weed/gopher barrier, and as sure as the sky is blue, the next morning I found wildlife in the trench. Of course the gophers had tried their best to fill in the trench, but I also found this perfectly camouflaged toad, hunting trapped insects.

This little creature, a lovely praying mantis, blending in to the concrete background, was checking out my construction material. It stood there, swaying slightly doing it’s best “I am a dead leaf” pose, while I set the camera in front of it on the wood. I love my little digital camera. This shot would have been much more awkward if I’d had to actually look though a viewfinder.