Mowing, Yellow Jackets, and the Moon

 

October 22 – We have had several beautiful, sunny, mild days this week with little wind, although Monday wasn’t one of them! That particular day featured a blustery south wind that blew leaves and brought down a lot of tree branches that we will have to pick up one of these days. We’ve been picking up branches off and on, but leaving the bigger ones until later. The burning pile is getting larger and larger.

161022_yellowjacketpears

[ Yellow jackets feasting on a pear ]

Whenever we check the compost heap, can’t help but notice the great amount of yellow jackets on the pear cores and peelings. It worries me to see so many, as that indicates there must be a lot of them living around here in their hidden burrows, and anybody running a mower over an entrance is likely to get stung. Our regular pear tree in the pasture is dropping a lot of pears, and it might be nice to collect some of them, but the rotten ones are also swarming with yellow jackets, and I don’t want to risk having one fly up my pant leg.

One task accomplished this week was mowing over the garden, as there was a lot of tall grass that had grown in the sweet potato patch and around the tomato cages. First, I had to do some raking to get the dirt clumps back into the holes the plants had left when I pulled them out. The mowing went fine, and the garden looks a lot better now. But I need to use the rototiller to get all the grass out, ready for planting next spring. This will be a big job. The tiller tends to leap up and skip the big grass clumps.

Besides the fallen branches, there are other signs of the strong winds early in the week. The big cattle gate on the west side of our garden had been blown wide open, ripping the chain off the nail it hangs onto. Our smaller hammock had been blown for a number of feet from where we had it, leaving the brick I laid in it to hold things down, on the ground yards away.

161022_tentcaterpillars

[ Tent caterpillar web knocked to the ground ]

This year is the worst infestation of tent caterpillars I can remember. Their webs are in many trees, sometimes completely covering branches and eating off all their leaves. Our black walnut tree, their tree to dine on, is leafless and decorated with dozens of the webs full of caterpillars.

Well, the webs are empty of caterpillars as they must have turned into moths by now. After checking the dictionary and insect books I find these must be the American Tent Caterpillar, but could not find a picture of one, so cannot wage warfare on any that I may actually see. I understand that cuckoos are one of the few kinds of birds that will eat these, and I did see one in our yard the other day, pecking at a fallen web.

161022_poisonivy

[ Poison ivy changing colors ]

Chris has been busy proof-reading and correcting an article, one of many she is doing for a friend, but got tired of this eventually and we went for a walk. The poison ivy plants have either lost their leaves or are turning yellow and dropping them. These are one of the most common plants on our property, lining almost every trail and climbing many of our trees in the woods. I wish a disease would completely eliminate them. Tree leaves are falling steadily, giving us something to rake eventually, unless the wind blows them off into the pastures. Chris cut back our purple cone flower plants around our propane tank, as they looked rather ugly after the flowers had died.

After putting our lawnmower away in the barn today, I took a look at our garden cart, which has a leaking tube in the tire. There is a minor mystery here – I cannot find where that leak is. I took the tube out of the tire and immersed it completely in a barrel of water, but no bubbles emerged to indicate where that leak was. I repeated this time and again, but never any bubbles. How could that be? Finally, I put the tube back in the tire and pumped it up. Today that tire is soft! Guess I’ll just have to pump the tire up each time I need to use the cart.

161022_orangemoon

[ Orange moon ]

What a gorgeous orange moon was in the eastern sky this week. Don’t remember ever seeing such an orange one before. We sat on our front porch and watched it until finally it got high enough that it changed back to the usual silver color. And that change brings me to the end of this blog, so goodnight to all. – DALE

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