Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Team Tag

I've talked about Lizzy a couple of times recently.  Lizzy is our beagle.  She loves to go outside and sniff all the new smells that have been deposited since the last time she "read" the yard.  Occasionally, Sally joins her on these excursions and they make a good "tag team"..... Lizzy doing most of the work and Sally standing back waiting and hoping for her to scare up a mouse or something.

A couple of weeks ago I caught them on camera during one of their "hunts". 

As I was watching the action here, I saw a small mouse run out of the grass and escape.  But, who was I to spoil their fun!  Just figured I would wait and see how long they would keep this up.  As it turned out, this went on for quite a while with Lizzy digging a hole.
 Sally helped some....just enough to get her nose dirty.
They never found the mouse, but they wore themselves out trying and had to take a long nap afterwards to regain their strength.

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Greenhouse

Ever since we moved from our house in town we have missed our little greenhouse in the back yard that was just a few steps from the house.  This summer Tom became acquainted with one of the Mennonite men who has a plant nursery and sells flowers and bedding plants at the Farmers Market.  This fellow also builds greenhouses and decks.  We went to look at a large greenhouse that one of the other farmers market vendors purchased from him and were very impressed.  We don't need one that large, but he builds smaller ones, too.

Tom stewed about buying one of the smaller ones all summer.  Finally, in October, he decided to use some of the money we've made this year from our Farmers Market endeavor to buy an 8X12 greenhouse.  Here's a picture of it.

We had them put it next to the house.  You cannot see very well, but there is about 2 feet between it and the house.  Notice that it is located so that we can walk into it from under the patio cover so in bad weather we won't get wet going to and from it.

You can't see the sliding door that leads out onto the patio from the house; nor can you see the patio itself. But, there is a strip of dirt between the patio and the greenhouse. We plan to build a deck to cover this area. We had this area covered by a conglomeration of mismatched paving stones and bricks. These were uneven and somewhat of a safety hazard!  I've been wanting to do something about this area ever since we moved here and am looking forward to finally making it into a nice enjoyable outdoor area.

Once the greenhouse was in place, we had a dump truck bring in a load of gravel and we put about 6 inches of gravel over the floor of the greenhouse.  This will keep it from getting muddy when we water plants and will also act as a "heat sink" to collect heat during the day and release it at night.

I was pretty impressed with the dump truck.  Guess I've never seen one up that close.  The guy in the picture is standing in the door of the truck while he is dumping the gravel so he can keep an eye on the electric lines above. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Wildlife

Our wildlife camera continues to amaze me with pictures of deer and other animals.  A couple of weeks ago we captured this picture of a herd of 5 deer eating the corn that Tom puts out for them.

The wildlife camera is motion activated and has an infrared flash so it does not scare the animals away.  All you see when it "flashes" is a red light on the camera itself.  Even with just this little bit of light, you can tell that most animals notice it and some of them look somewhat alarmed.  These deer, however, have been coming to eat the corn for several weeks now and seem to have become accustomed to it.

All of the deer in the above picture appear to be female or else too young to have antlers.  And, I've been wondering why we have not seen any bucks . . . UNTIL this week when the camera captured a picture of this big guy.

Isn't he magnificent!  It is hard to believe that all these deer come to eat just a few yards from the house every night.

The little coyote that I wrote about on October 25 has not been back and we've not seen any pictures of raccoons this year.  Last winter we had lots of pictures of raccoons.  So, I'm wondering where they are hanging out this year.  However, we did get a picture of one animal that we've not seen before.  See below.

No, not the deer....the little black and white animal to the right of the deer.  It's a skunk!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Compost Dog

Lizzy is our beagle.  We don't know how old she is because she was a stray that we found running around our neighborhood in town in 2004.  She was a grown dog, perhaps 4-5 years old at the time.   So, she  is probably at least 10. 

Beagles are hounds and were bred to be hunting dogs to sniff out small animals.  We had never had a hound as a pet before we got Lizzy and I'll have to tell you that they are a different kind of dog.  For one thing, they have the "melodious voice of the hound" as I read in one book.  Lizzy doesn't just bark; she bays.  But the main difference between hounds and other kinds of dogs is their sense of smell is so much more acute.  In fact, Lizzy's nose rules her whole being.  Sally, our other dog, can be allowed outside and will rarely venture off our 5 acres.  But, we can't do that with Lizzy.  She has to be on a leash or watched very carefully because she might catch the scent of a rabbit or other small animal and be gone in a matter of seconds.

Lizzy loves to explore our compost pile.  We have a small compost pile near my herb garden where we put our kitchen waste, weeds we pull out of the beds and things like that.  But we found that we had way too much composting matter for the small one.  So, we decided to pile all this stuff out in the field where we could turn it with the tractor. 

Here are some pictures of Lizzy investigating the compost pile.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Recycled Coffee Grounds

Our local Starbucks recycles their coffee grounds by bagging them up in large bags and setting them in a container by the door for people to take and use in their gardens.  We don't go to Starbucks very often to drink coffee.  But, Tom goes there a couple of times a week to pick up these free bags of coffee grounds.  A full bag weighs about 5 pounds.  Here's pictures of what they look like:

Coffee grounds have up to 2 percent nitrogen, some phosphoric acid and varying amounts of potassium, all of which are great for plants.  Coffee grounds are on the acidic side and thus have a low pH.  Your garden soil should be close to neutral.  Since much of Oklahoma has soil that is on the alkaline side, it is okay to add coffee grounds directly to the soil.  The coffee grounds will help to neutralize the soil.  But, you should not go overboard on this.  If in doubt, you can take a sample of your soil to the local county extension office and have a soil test run.

Of course if you are growing blueberries or azalias or other plants that like acidic soil, then you can probably add as many coffee grounds as you want!

You can put coffee grounds in your compost pile, too.  To balance out the pH when adding coffee grounds to your compost pile, I've read that adding a cup of agricultural lime to every ten pounds of grounds is a good rule of thumb.

I appreciate Starbucks and their efforts to recycle and keep as much waste out of the landfill as possible.