Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh what a month it has been! My mother moved to the beach and I helped her as much as I could for the last few weeks. I will miss her so much! Im starting a job next week patient sitting, and also leaving for the beach on Thursday of next week, for the weekend. I can't wait to get some photos while there!

One day last week as I walked around the yard and my daily walks through the woods, I saw tons of mushrooms, I thought I would capture a few:








Tuesday, June 8, 2010

True Guinea Humor

I feel like a complete idiot,but it's not entirely my fault! If it was I would take full blame, instead I blame my idioticalness on the nice gentleman who owns one of the farm feed and seed stores in our town.

About a year ago, my husband Billy went to the feed and seed store to get a couple of more chickens. He came back home with a few Rhode Island Reds, and a couple of Barred Rock. In addition to the chicks, he also had 2 baby Guinea Fowls. It was my first time ever seeing a Guinea, and my first time ever hearing about a Guinea. I asked him what in the world were they good for. He said "they will eat bugs, and keep the bug population down". I just looked at him, "ohhh kay" I said. He then said, "when they grow up they will also act as watch dogs and let you know when someone comes up". Honestly, I have dogs for that, but if he wanted these strange looking little babies then I was not one to argue.

A few days later, a friend of ours came over, and saw the little guinea babies. He knew what they were the instant he saw them. He then started telling me how his parents and grandparents raised Guineas when he was a little boy, and how they would eat bugs out of the yard, and even "bark" when somebody pulled in the driveway.

As time went by, the little Guineas took up with one of the Barred Rock Hens and they always stayed by her side,everywhere she went. I guess they thought she was their Mom, and why wouldn't they? The markings were quite similar. A few months later one of the guineas decided to fly. He or She flew directly over the dog pen, where the dog leaped in midair, caught it...and well, yea..

After the loss of guinea number 1, Guinea number 2 continued to follow its adopted mother everywhere, never leaving her side. Each day, that damn guinea grew uglier and uglier. I asked my husband would it always look so prehistoric? He then replied "Why don't you go look them up on the internet?"
In other words..he didn't have a clue! I learned, yes, they would always look like some leftovers from the prehistoric ages. I also learned they could be quite loud, good bug eaters..but I don't recall the web saying anything about them being "good watch dogs".

One Morning, I was sleeping in, and the most awful noise brought me right out of my slumber! It was the most loudest, horrible, noise Ive ever heard, just outside my window. I rolled out of bed, pulled the curtain back, to see the Guinea under my window. I ran outside, to find Billy standing by the shed laughing like crazy. Surely this thing wouldn't make this noise all the time. Billy assured me he wouldn't. I should have known NOT to believe him as the Guinea proved him wrong. The Guinea makes this strange noise all day long! However, I have grown used to it now.

A month or two ago, I went to the feed and seed store myself for some tomato plants. I asked the owner was my Guinea suppose to make this God awful sounding noise daily. He laughed and said "you must have a jack"
"No, I have a guinea" I said.
"Yea, but you have a cock" he said.
"WHAT??!!" I asked shockingly.
I swear he rolled his eyes, then said "you have a male guinea, often called cocks or jacks. And yes they will make alot of noise. You could try getting him a female but even then they will still be quite loud"
There was no way I was going to get my cock whom I named Jack, a mate!

Every morning, me or my husband go out and collect the eggs from the chickens. The last few weeks, Ive been getting these really small eggs, much smaller than the chickens. A friend of ours gave us a few chickens a few weeks ago because he didnt want them any longer. We are notorious for taking in stray animals, so of course we took the unwanted chickens. I just thought that one of the newly adopted chickens must be nervous or something, and just laying premature eggs. When I brought this up to Billy at the dinner table, I thought he was going to spew his food. "chickens do not have premature eggs Kelly" he said laughing hysterically.
I just shrugged my shoulders, of course he was right.

Today, as I gathered up the eggs, I had another small egg. I decided I would turn to the internet and see why one chicken keeps laying this abnormal looking egg. I couldn't find much of anything at all, and closed the lid to my laptop when suddenly a wave of curiosity came over me. I opened the lid to my laptop and searched Guinea Fowl. I then found this website:http://www.guineafowl.com/fritsfarm/guineas/eggs/ and it showed me the difference in a female and male guineas, as well as what guinea eggs look like. The female and male both looked the same to me..but the eggs........

I ran to the refrigerator and grabbed one of my abnormal eggs, and ran back to my laptop and compared the eggs. I immediately picked up the phone called my husband at work screaming "Your cock is not named Jack, but Jacquelynn!"
After a brief moment of silence from his part, I had to explain my recent discovery.
Billy asked "Can you eat Guinea eggs?"
My reply was "I hope so, you've been eating them in just about everything I've baked, plus your fried egg sandwiches."

Annoying as Jaquelyn can be sometimes,she is fairly interesting. She still hangs pretty close to the Barred Rock hen, and often times she just goes her own way. When the chickens return in the evening to their coop, Jaquelyn likes to stay out a little later and returns after dark actually. She really doesn't bother much, and she doesn't tear up my flower and herb beds. Her feathers are actually very beautiful with a lavender purple that runs down her neck, fading to a purplish grey over her body, with beautiful white polka dots all over. Although her head is quite ugly. She does look like something from the prehistoric times, or even close to a Buzzard or Vulcher. Her head is pretty much featherless, but along the top of her neck is just a few spriglets of fine feathers. She has some kind of pointed looking thing on her head, which makes it look like she has a horn,not even sure what that thing is called. Today I did run across a website stating that Guinea's will alert you when predators are around, making excellent barnyard dogs. Jacquelyn really doesn't alert us too much when we have human visitors, but she has alerted us when the neighbors dog up the street came running through our yard. When we let the chickens and Guinea out of the coop, she takes off running, then flying just above the ground, with her loud call just before landing a few feet ahead. Despite her loudness, she really isn't so bad, but I still don't think I will get her a mate.


These photos aren't the best. Its kinda hard for me getting a good picture of Jacquelyn, she's hardly ever still nor does she let me get close enough for a good shot. Normally, her eggs do not have the speckles on them like the one in the picture. No matter how hard I scrubbed the egg, I couldn't remove the speckles.
One other thing about Guinea eggs...the shell is much stronger than that of chicken eggs. They are really hard to crack. Also Guinea eggs hold a lot of yolk.



Saturday, June 5, 2010

Speechless

First of all let me say, these photos are not mine. They came directly from the Huffington Post and Facebook. These pictures are disturbing.

I am totally speechless and blown away by these images. I honestly have nothing to say.








Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Friday Afternoon in the Park

Last Friday, was the last day of school for my daughters. They only had to go a half of a day. My youngest went home with a friend, and my oldest daughter, Libby and I went to the Park uptown. Libby likes photography as well, and took a course in photography at school. She thought it would be a good idea to go to the Park and take a few photos. It was the first time I had ever been. I wasn't really impressed. Libby thought I would be able to get a great many nature shots, but honestly, there just wasn't much there. If you want to read about our experience at the Park, you can go to my personal blog, Percolated Thoughts, as I try and keep this blog purely about Nature and everything related to Nature.

I was able to get a few Nature shots. I was real pleased with being able to get a few Bumble Bee shots, and in one photo you can see the pollen that has collected on his back. Libby didn't have much luck trying to capture the Bees. Every time she tried, they kept flying toward her.
We both were lucky enough to be able to capture a butterfly, and be able to get close enough to her to watch her feed on the sweet nectar of the flowers.

The Park had lots of trees, but only a couple of flower beds, and it had a walking trail that led all the way around our town. The only problem with walking the whole trail besides the fact its such a long trail, the trail also runs along the back side of a few rough parts of of the town. I didn't realize at the time, that this was the same trail I read about in the newspapers about drug activity, some gang violence, prostitution, and mugging. Over all, I wasn't overly impressed with the Park, I seemed to have more Nature around me than the park had, but I did get a few good photos. I have more photos on my personal blog as well. The best part about the Park was me spending the afternoon with my 17 year old daughter!






Thursday, May 27, 2010

LADYBUGS: Facts and Lore





FACTS


1. Ladybugs are great for our veggies and plants, they eat aphids which are harmful to our plants.

2. a ladybug will flap its wings approximately 500 times a minute

3. A ladybug produces a chemical to protect themselves from predators which smells and tastes terrible.

4. A ladybug's spots fade as they get older

5. Females are usely larger than males

6. They can eat up to 5,000 aphids in 3-6 weeks.

7. They have a life span of one to two years.






LORE


In Norway, if a man and a woman spot a Ladybug at the same time,
there will be a romance between them.

In the Spring, if numerous Ladybugs are seen flying around,
British farmers say it forecasts many bountiful crops.

Folklore suggests if you catch a Ladybug in your home, count the number
of spots and that's how many dollars you'll soon find.

In the 1800's, some doctors used Ladybugs to treat measles! They
also believed that if you mashed ladybugs and put them
into a cavity, the insects would stop a toothache!

If the spots on the wings of a Ladybug are more than seven,
it's a sign of coming famine. If less than seven, it means
you will have a good harvest.

Nearly ALL cultures believe that a Ladybug is lucky.
Killing one is said to bring sadness and misfortune.

If you find a ladybug in your house during the winter, you
will have good luck.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Queen Anne's Lace

This morning as I went for a little walk, I noticed all the Queen Anne's Lace blooming. I remember as a child I used to love picking the flowers and putting them in bottles of water with added food coloring and watching the flowers turn colors.

As I got closer to the flowers, I noticed a colony of bugs feeding off the nectar in each little bloom.
Some of these bugs were so tiny, while others were just a fraction bigger. I don't really know what kind of bugs they were, but they were cool to photograph. A sweet lady bug also allowed me to photograph her for awhile.

The Queen Anne's Lace grows wild around here, as I guess it does in the majority of the States. It's one of my favorite wild flowers, but it wasn't till recently that I learned some of the benefits from the plant.

Some people take a teaspoon of seeds with a glass of water immediately after having sex to keep from getting pregnant.

The Queen Anne's Lace is really a wild herb and is a diuretic. It is also known as a cleansing herb because it supports the liver, stimulates urine flow, and removes waste by the kidneys. The root of this herb is used to delay menustration. Making an infusion of warm water and flower heads has been said to treat diabetes. Some take the root of a young plant and crush the root to make a tea to prevent and eliminate kidney stones. It has also been said that tea will remove worms and parasites in the human body. The thick sap can also be used for cough and congestion.

The Queens Anne's Lace contains flavonoids, essential oils, vitamins B and C, pectin, lecithin, and glutamine. The root of the herb when crushed smells just like carrot and why the Queen Anne's Lace is also called Wild Carrot. It belongs to the same family as parsley and is an ancestor to Carrots. Some have taken the flower heads of the plant and battered and fried them, claiming they taste like fried carrots. I have never tried this nor ever tried any of the tea!

There are several different fables how the Queens Anne's Lace got its name.
If you look closely in the center of the flower head, you will see one small purple flower. It is said that Queen Anne of England pricked her finger while sewing lace and the single purple flower in the center of the white cluster of flowers, signifies one single drop of her blood.
An English botanist suggests that the name did not come from Queen Anne but from Saint Anne the mother of the Virgin Mary who was a lace maker.

Some religions have used the Queens Anne's Lace in rituals and spells.

As I have said, I have never used any of the teas, nor cooked the flower heads, Ive just always enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers. I suggest if you decide to try any of the teas, to research a little more before doing so.

NOTE: I have read that the leaves can be toxic on this plant, only the flower heads and root are edible. Please do not get the Queen Anne's Lace mixed up with the POISON HEMLOCK. As with all herbs and wild plants please research before ingesting.

Here are a few photos I took this morning. I love all the little insects on the flowers.








Sometimes, when a bird cries out, or the wind sweeps through a tree, or a dog howls in a far off farm, I hold still and listen a long time.
We live in all things, and all things live in us.