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.








Monday, May 24, 2010

Rejuvenated by Nature

I have been so busy the last couple of weeks that I have neglected my walks through the woods. I have neglected my walks and talks with Nature. My mind set on helping my Mother get ready for her move 400 miles away. My body tired, achy, and worn out. My mind only focused on helping her and getting my house organized from the furniture and odds and ends she is giving me. With each ache and pain, I kept forcing myself to do more and more, telling myself my Mother is 63 years and hasn't complained one bit. I kept pushing and pushing myself ignoring the fact that all I needed was just a few minutes a day with Nature to rejuvenate myself.

Saturday afternoon, drenched in sweat from southern heat and humidity, I was unloading my car, when I heard the sound of something tapping on the pecan tree beside me. I stood still, motionless, and quite so I could see what tapping on the tree. My eyes scanned the tree up and down and for the life of me I couldn't find it.
Suddenly, there it was, just a little above eye level, some sort of woodpecker. I damned myself for not having my camera on me. I took my chances and ran inside for my camera. When I returned, he was still in the tree but had moved a little further up. He stayed long enough for me to snap one photo and he flew away.

With the tail gate still opened to my car, still loaded, I walked off, and walked down into the woods. The pines stood tall and erect. They swayed just a bit as if they were welcoming me. Birds began to sing, all around me. I sat just for a moment and listened. I looked around me. All the trees were full now, big huge star shaped leaves on the Sweet Gums, Pines looking more bright green than before, the Oak leaves now full size, wild daisies blooming among the brown pine needles on the ground....it all looked so much different since the last time I visited. For 2 weeks I neglected my walks and talks with Nature, when I returned, nothing looked the same. I left a little offering before I left, and made a promise I wouldn't stay gone so long again.

Last night just before midnight we had a small storm. I stood in the back yard, watching the lightening, feeling the wind and rain against my skin, and smelling the freshness of the near summers rain. I reached down and picked up a few pea size hail off the grass and tasted it. I listened to thunder rumble after each lightening bolt, and suddenly my body was no longer exhausted, my mind no longer clouded. I slept like a rock last night and woke this morning feeling fresh and rejuvenated. Using all 5 senses last night, I stood and let Nature envelope me and cleanse me. Today I feel energetic, alive and whole. My body ready to tackle the week ahead, my mind free and clear.

Below is the photograph of the Woodpecker. Im not exactly sure what kind it is. I looked him up in my bird book. Only thing it resembles is the Red-cockaded but the book says they are declining and endangered.

Ive also included a few photographs I took Saturday in the woods.








Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Tortoise and Mosquito

The last two weeks have been extremely hectic for me with so much going on. However, I finally received my new camera and have been having a blast taking as many nature photos as I can. The other day I neglected my house work and thought I would go outside and just enjoy the weather, take a little walk, and take some photos. I didn't even make it to the woods, when I saw a tortoiseshell turtle slowly making his way down the hill. He was kind enough to stop a while and let me photograph him.

The mosquitoes were horrible, and I should have sprayed myself down with some Rosemary and Lemon Balm to protect me from their bites. When one landed on my hand as I was photographing the turtle, I thought I would try out my super macro function on my camera. I was really impressed with the way the photos turned out.








Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Boy Named Eugina



Eugina was born almost 2 years ago. His Mother disappeared shortly after giving birth, leaving us to hand feed him. Later, after discovering Eugina was a boy we tried changing his name to Eugine, but somehow it just didn't fit. Eugina, as a kitten, was a barrel of laughs. He would often climb in the most inconspicuous hiding places, and playfully attack us as we walked by. He loved the outdoor life, chasing birds and chasing squirrels. Often times we would see him crouched low to the ground, his tail still and stiff, stalking and preying on a nearby bird feeding from the ground, but to our knowledge he never killed our wildlife friends.

Eugina was every bodies cat. He walked with me through my daily walks in the woods. Sometimes, he would run ahead of me, other times he walked along my side. He would wait patiently as I stopped to photograph some nearby nature. He would walk along downed pine trees, and sit with me for a little rest as I listened to the peace and quietness only nature can bring.

He would join my husband in the shed, and watch him tinker with all his manly toys. He would twist around his legs, weaving his tail in and out, purring loudly till my husband acknowledged his presence. He would often aggravate him, by pushing his head against his hand as he tried screwing something together with a screwdriver. A slight push away, and a few cuss words never fazed Eugina, he continued till my husband scratched his head. Satisfied, hed lay down nearby and watch him curiously.

He didn't have a certain human he liked to sleep with. He divided his time among us all. Some nights, you might would find him curled at the foot of the bed, while my 16 year old daughter was texting and doing homework all at the same time. Other times you might would find him, sleeping above my 14 year old daughters head, sharing the same pillow. He would often curl up in my husbands lap as he stretched back in his recliner. I always knew when Eugina climbed on my bed for a midnight nap. His purrs were always so much louder than the other cats.

Eugina, loved mice and was a great mouse hunter. We laughed one day as we watched him catch 5 in a row near the chicken pen. Another time, we saw him walking up from the woods with a field rat in his mouth as big as he. With Eugina around, no mouse was safe.

While Eugina stalked the wild birds, he never bothered my husbands cockatiels and parrot. In the evening my husband would let the birds out of their cages to explore the shed. Eugina knew they were part of the family and he never bothered them. Sometimes we would catch Winston, my husbands cockatiel, perched on top of Eugina as he was sleeping.

Eugina, was a protector to all our animals dogs, cats, and birds, as well as us humans. He would keep the mice population down. He would curl up against Stella, my American Bulldog, during one of his many cat naps. When Stella got sick one time, Eugina laid by her side all day and night till she started feeling better. He never seemed to mind, Stella's slobbering, long tongue as she licked him and cleaned him as if he were her young.

When one of our other cats Pirate, was stuck in the tree for 6 days. Eugina became disgusted with our many attempts of trying to get her down. He watched us day after day as we tried endlessly to no avail. He would sit back on the pic nic table, and watch us climb the tree, and offer her can salmon and tuna to try and bribe her down. He sat silently laughing at the many stupid attempts we made trying to rescue her. Disgusted with our silly stupidity, he jumped from the pic nic table, to the tree, and climbed all the way to the very tip top. He jumped branch to branch as he often watched the squirrels do, and he tip toed as if walking a tight wire, all the way to Pirate. He touched noses with her, meowed several times, then scooted back down the tree. Midways down, he turned and looked up at her, and meowed loudly as if he was saying "that's how its done, you idiot". When Pirate finally came down by herself, 6 days later, Eugina sniffed her from head to toe making sure she was ok. He followed her in the house and watched as she gorged on a whole can of salmon. He sat and waited patiently for the left overs.

Friday morning, after I got out of bed. I saw Eugina laying on the window sill. I opened the window to let him in as I have done every morning for the past 2 years. He looked as if he were asleep, but when he turned to the sound of the window opening, he didn't look like Eugina. He scared the living hell out of me. He scared me so bad, that I slammed the window shut because I didnt think it was him. Then I realized, it was Eugina and something was terribly wrong. His jaw hung open exposing his white sharp teeth. His green eyes were crossed with a white film over them. My youngest daughter ran outside to get him off the window ledge, cradling him gently in her arms.

We had assumed Eugina had been hit by a car, but later learned he was hit by a blunt object, whether a bat, a hammer, or with a foot from a swift hard kick. With Eugina's jaw broken we fed and gave him water through a straw and syringes. I gave him a warm bedding to sleep in, and told him stories during the evenings. I stroked his back, I kissed his little head gently. I whispered "I love You" in his ear and offered him comfort and courage. Yesterday morning, Eugina became to weak. He could no longer battle his injury.

Yesterday morning we laid to rest, our boy named Eugina.













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.