All posts by ruthsoaper

Interesting Creatures

While writing this post I realized that I can not even fathom all of the different life forms that we share the Earth with. I did have to do a little homework after spotting and photographing these interesting creatures earlier this week and decided to share what I learned with you.

My curiosity was peaked when I noticed them diligently working on this log for a second day this week. What are they and what are they doing?

With the assistance of my Field Guide To Insects And Spiders Of North America and an internet search engine I identified them as Ichneumon wasps. I also determined that they are laying eggs.

When my husband set up our beach chairs and umbrella this year we discovered that the table that we normally use on the beach during the summer was now being used as a plant stand. I suggested we use a piece of log from a large dead tree that we recently had cut down as a table and he thought it was a great idea.

What we didn’t know, but these wasps have told us, is there are some type of grubs living in that log. The field guide explains that, with their antennae, these parasitic wasps are able to smell grubs. When they locate the grubs living in the wood they secrete a chemical, with their ovipositor, that will break down the wood fibers to gain access to the grub. They then lay their egg on or perhaps near the grub and when the egg hatches the grub becomes it’s food source.

These wasps are rarely dangerous to people. That appendage that looks like a long needle is not a stinger, but the ovipositor required for reproduction. They are, however, thought to be beneficial as they help regulate other invertebrate populations. As I sat in the beach chair watching and photographing them they paid no attention to me and other than the inconvenience of not being able to set my drink on the table I had no problem with them.

Have you spotted any unique bugs this year?

55 Things # 24 – For Hanna

Click here to learn more about my โ€œ55 Thingsโ€ and here to view previous posts in this series.

I have decided to dedicate a post in this series to each of my daughters. All of my girls have always loved Disney movies and I have some very fond memories of the girls singing and dancing together, to Disney songs, while completing their after dinner chores. So I have decided to make these Disney dedication posts.

30 years ago today I gave birth for the first time. It was a difficult pregnancy and after being on bed rest for several weeks the doctor decided to induce labor two and a half weeks before my due date. After 12 hours of labor he decided a c-section was the best option. I was sedated during the surgery and awakened sometime later to meet my 4 pound 13 ounce daughter Hanna.

The Lion King is the movie that will always remind me of Hanna. Even though by this time she may have another favorite (or two), I don’t think I will ever forget the day when I had Hanna with me while shopping at our local K-Mart store. My sister worked at the store so when we shopped there we always looked for Aunt Kathy. When we found her and were saying “hello”, five year old Hanna, who was crouched down on all fours in the shopping cart, announced “I’m Simba!” just like the young lion cub in the movie. “Call me Simba,” Hanna insisted.

Kathy and I had a good chuckle at Hanna’s cuteness and Hanna got called Simba, of course.

This is my Disney dedication to Hanna.

I selected a second song for Hanna. Not a Disney song. Just a song from me to her.

Happy 30th birthday Kiddo (Simba)! I Love you!

Strawberry Season and Chicken Pics

It’s strawberry season in Michigan and we have picked our first five quarts of berries. ๐Ÿ™‚ This years berries are smaller than we have seen in past years, likely because of the dry spell we had as the berries were beginning to form, but despite the smaller size they have the sweet wonderful flavor that we have come to expect from our homegrown berries.

If you live in Michigan and want locally grown strawberries now is the time to look for them.

These are the new kids on the block – the chicks we bought earlier this year. When we bought them from the farm store we thought we bought black Australorp chicks. Instead we got a mixed bag. While the small one in the back looks like a black Australorp, two look like barred rocks and while the one in the middle is a beautiful bird, we have no idea what breed he might be.

You might remember that we started out with six chicks. sadly two of them fell prey to a racoon.

We had hoped to get at least one rooster out of the six and at this point we have identified two which we are certain are roosters and a third which we suspect might be a rooster but are more hopeful of it being a hen.

Recently our evening have been spent around the chicken yard, watching chicken TV, and being on the lookout for racoons. The chickens enjoy the evening visits especially this particular evening when my husband was passing out treats. ๐Ÿ™‚

Will you be shopping for locally grown produce this year?

55 Things # 23 – Comforting Words.

Click here to learn more about my โ€œ55 Thingsโ€ and here to view previous posts in this series.

Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.
1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

As I read the headlines and wonder where this world is headed this scripture comes to mind. I find comfort in these words. Perhaps you will as well.

The War On Weeds

In any war it is important to have a strategy and that includes the gardener’s “War On Weeds”. I don’t think it is possibly to have a garden that is perpetually weed free, so I don’t know that it is possible to truly win the war. I am going to share some tips, though, that might help you win some of the battles.

The Plan Of Attack

We have learned over the years that pulling weeds when the soil is moist is the best approach. When the soil is dry the roots are reaching deep into the earth searching for water. This makes digging them difficult and pulling them next to impossible. When the soil is moist the roots are relaxed and can be pulled out much easier. Weeding in the morning when the soil is moist or after a rain will make your work much easier.

Keep Your Enemy In Check

Most plants will reproduce by forming flowers or seed heads. In order to keep the plants from multiplying (often exponentially) remove the weed before it forms flowers or goes to seed.

Know Your Enemy

Being able to identify the type of weed and how it grows can be most helpful in ridding it permanently from your garden. Plants that are annuals and are pulled or cut before they go to seed should be gone for good. Other plants that are biennial (taking two years to mature) or perennial (come back every year) will need to have their entire root removed otherwise they will continue to grow back. Some perennial’s, like Canadian thistle and sow thistle, have roots systems that run horizontally under ground. When the shoot/plant is pulled and detached from the horizontal root it will, in a quest for survival, send up several more shoots. (A loosing battle.) However cutting the shoot/plant at ground level will deprive it of the ability to perform photosynthesis. That particular shoot may grow back and need to be cut another time or two before the plant (root) dies.

In the past we have had much success in getting rid of thistles from lawn or field areas by mowing the area throughout the summer. This year as I weed my prayer garden I am on a mission to eradicate thistles, so I am cutting them with the intention of coming back once a week to cut any that are starting to grow back. Wish me luck!

Happy gardening! ๐Ÿ™‚