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Posts Tagged ‘dragonflies’

I was supposed to be canning pickles (both dill and my sweet gherkins), plus I had apple sauce that was hot and waiting for the canner to heat up.  But before I got started packing the pint jars, I thought I would run out to the garden once more to look through the cucumber vines and see if I missed any.   I had.  So I picked them, and noticed that there were some tomatoes that also needed to be picked.   I needed a basket for that, so I started back to the house to get it.

As I scurried past the pond, I noticed that the apple mint was in full bloom.   It is taking full advantage of the lapse in memory I had a few weeks ago when I started the water running into the pond to fill it up, went inside and promptly forgot all about it.  In the morning as I was waiting for my teapot to fill so I could make coffee, I thought idly to myself,  “Gosh, the water pressure sure doesn’t seem to be as high as usual … OH SHOOT (expurgated for the blog)!!!  Whereupon I crashed out of the house, scaring the dog away from her breakfast, ran out to the garden to turn the spigot off and observed that the pond was approximately 5 inches over flood stage.  Further investigation showed that the water had flowed all the way down to the Petite Prairie, watering the day lily bed quite throughly.  The drain pipe at the other side of the vineyard was also trying to deal with the overflow.   I still have a green circle down there, where everything else is sere and brown.

But I digress.   The apple mint was blooming furiously, having been so well watered previously.   I just deviated from my course a bit to see if perhaps my honey bees were availing themselves of the pollen source.  They were.

The honeybees had lots of company out there.    I forgot all about pickles and apple sauce and went to get my camera.  I spent quite a while out there, standing quietly just inside the border of the mint patch.  When I first arrived with my camera, everyone got very excited and nervous about the big thing that had just disturbed the feeding frenzy.   But as I stood quietly, things settled down.   Here is a group of four different sorts of wasps, all intent on their food source.

 

The variety of pollinators present was impressive.

There were yellow jackets, of course.

 

 

Several different types of wasps were in attendance.

 

That big black wasp was at the large end of the size spectrum.   But there were teensy wasps too.

 

Some of the wasps were overcome with optimism for the future by the large quantity of food available.   The sudden onset of a good energy source put them in the mood, I guess.

The female went about the business of flying and eating as if the male wasn’t even present.

There were also several female bumblebees at the buffet.

 

A tachnid fly — one of several different varieties flitting about.

 

Butterflies –a buckeye and a little blue.   The little blue has a mud dauber wasp sharing the frame with her.

 

I saw a beautiful bright green sweat bee, but it didn’t stick around long enough to get photographed.   You can see what it looked like here.

There was an interesting beetle.

I’m not positive, but that may be an assassin bug, which means it isn’t strictly a pollinator, but more a pollinator eater.   They wait in flowers for the pollinators to come along, grab them and then suck the juices out of them.

Here’s another predator.   Probably not big enough to be a danger to anyone other than that tiny wasp above, or possibly a gnat or aphid.

That’s my finger holding the flower apart because the little crab spider wasn’t anxious to be photographed and kept hiding from me.   No escape from the paparazzi, I’m afraid.

There were a couple of dragonflies around too.   This is a rather small red one.

Just a few feet away is the pond, and this big blue dragonfly was hovering around there.

It was heartening to see all that life burgeoning in the yard, since it has been scorchingly hot for three weeks.    I mean really hot, too.   The temperatures have been over 100°F every day for three weeks, only cooling off into the low 80s at night.   (That would be 38° C for all the rest of the world.)   This heat has been accompanied by a complete absence of rain of any measurable amount.   We had a respite today, a line of storms came across the plains.   We got about 1mm of moisture out of that, enough to settle the dust (barely) and raise the humidity to about 90%.   Ergh.

This is what the garden along the back of the house looks like.   All those burned hostas are not dead, they are just conserving their energy and protecting their roots.   Still, it is a little depressing.   The Hosta Dell exhibits similar damage.

Please notice the lawn to the right of the path.   Our whole place looks just like that except around the landscape shrubs and trees, which we have been pampering with regular water.   This also encourages the grass, which gives the rabbits something other to eat than the fruit tree bark.   The rabbits out browsing gives the owls something to eat.

There is a note of hope in the middle of all that devastation.    The naked ladies have made their appearance.   I just love them, their combination of hardiness and delicacy is inspirational.

The pickles have been put through the canner and are cooling on the counter.   They are accompanied by 6 pints of apple sauce.

Now I believe I’ll get that basket and go out and investigate the tomato situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The family room is strewn with six toys, a scratching post, a kitten and a dog right now.   We’ve all had breakfast, and rather than go out and work in the rapidly increasing heat, I thought I’d stay in the house until my ten o’clock client arrives.   Since this is a new client, I felt that it would be more professional if I greeted the gentleman at the door rather than having someone come collect me from the garden, all sweaty and dirty.   I could be wrong about that. . . but it just seems like I might make a better impression.

A few weeks ago, I bruised my wrist.  (That bruise is fully healed, by the way.)   I find it interesting that I posted a picture of it, and mentioned it in passing, but did not describe the circumstances surrounding that event.   What really happened was that I had a couple of hours between clients and Zoey and I were deeply involved in cleaning the house across the street as the tenants had left.   By this time, we had discovered that in addition to not bothering to clean it up, they had also left it infested with fleas.   So we were vacuuming the entire house daily in an effort to mitigate the flea situation, and braving the starving hordes of insects as we worked on getting the walls clean.   (You really have to clean walls before you do carpets.)

Anyway, I was over there instructing the girl in how to wash walls, thinking that I had at least fifteen minutes before my client, a brand new one, arrived.   I had just whacked the hell out of my wrist and was standing there cussing when Jim popped in the door and said, “Your client is here.  She’s early.”  He had her set up filling out the client intake form, but her first experience of me was my precipitate entry to the house where I grabbed the ice pack out of the freezer, wrapped it in a dish rag and sat, sweating and disheveled, at the table where she was filling out the form.   While I did get all cleaned up before I started the massage, and I also think I gave her a pretty good one, I have not heard a word from her since.   Let me just say I am not really surprised.

So, I am happy to report that my legs and arms are almost completely healed from my encounter with the cercaria in the pond.  Thank heavens.

The ditch is done, and we are enjoying that the new faucet that is nearer to the flower gardens.  And that it does not leak.

That scar will be gone before you know it.  Out in the vegetable garden, the big news is the summer squash.   We already have over a gallon of it roasted and frozen for winter.   Below are a couple of “arty” shots I took, first of the pattypan squash, the second of the yellow zucchini.

While I was deeply involved in trying to capture the squash, I was being buzzed by a dragonfly.   I looked up and caught it posing on the garden fence.

You can see it is an older one by the tattering of its wings.   This is the same species I featured in the last blog post.   I guess it was over in the garden looking for lunch.    I thought I’d go see what was happening by the pond, and discovered another sort of dragonfly species there deeply involved in their mating rituals.

While I was shooting these dragonflies, I was hearing quite a commotion in the nest box that is near the pond.   Apparently the garden wren decided she wanted new quarters for her second brood of chicks, and they have hatched out.  Whenever a parent arrives with a food delivery, the chirping and cheeping is quite loud.   Here is one of the wrens, exiting the box, having made a food delivery.

When I proceeded into the Stroll Garden, I discovered a third dragonfly species hunting in the day lilies.

There is a fourth species on the place that I have not been able to capture yet, brilliant red, and very large.

Last, I have abalone nacre and the sunset light shining through heuchera leaves for you.

Turns out I was laboring under a delusion when I thought my client was scheduled for 10 a.m. today.   He’s not supposed to be here until noon, so I believe I shall take Ruby for her walk before it gets any hotter.   It’s already 82° F and the prediction is for 96° with a heat index of 102°.  So I believe I shall motivate out of here now.

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My niece and I went out last Friday and worked for several hours to clear out the pond.

I have to tell you that that area of the yard has been so disturbing to me I haven’t even been able to bring myself to photograph it.   However, there are photographs taken in earlier years that show how it looks when I let it get away from me.  If anything, it was even more overgrown this year.

So, a few days ago, I decided to document how it is now that I have beaten back the water plants a bit.

Seriously, before I worked out there, you could not see the waterfall at all due to the giganticness of the forsythia bush and the massive wild lotus in the water.

The dragonflies love the pond.  This one is posing on one of the water cannas.

But there is always a price to pay for beauty, I’m afraid.   Turns out that my little pond has managed to become the harbor  for some sort of trematode, a two stage parasite of birds and snails.   Thank goodness I did not encourage my niece when she suggested that she could also get into the pond to help me clean it out. Otherwise, she could look and feel just like I do.

I took close up shots but find them way too graphic and disturbing for this blog, really.  Thank goodness I had on my wet suit booties.  I seriously considered wearing my short river shoes, or going barefoot.   Otherwise my feet would be in on the “fun” too.

Actually, these shots were taken a few days after the initial eruptions of hives, which happened on Saturday morning.   Imagine each and every one of those little welts being approximately three times the size they are above… intense itching… diarrhea because of the amount of toxins being emitted by the dying creatures (thankfully that only lasted for a few hours)…  Benadryl, ibuprofen, cortisone cream…   in the afternoon I discovered that margaritas helped enhance the effect of the benadryl…  Saturday is a lost day for me, I can barely remember it, except for a general sense that I was really uncomfortable.

My wonderful friend Jeri told me on Sunday to try doing a salt scrub.   That made the itching 90% better, bearable.   I have done several scrubs and a couple of soaks as well.   The lesions are healing, but some of them are stubbornly itching even now.   The ones on my hands and arms are particularly bothersome as they get disturbed all the time, which makes them itch.

I just haven’t felt much like blogging or anything else.   Still, we managed to get started on reclaiming the root cellar, another spot that I have let go over the past couple of years in despair over the bermuda grass infestation.   That resulted in the discovery of a new tenant at The Havens; a young groundhog recently expelled from the maternal presence has decided to move in back there.    Hopefully it will not discover the vegetable garden.   I have enough problems with squirrels and birds.

My dislike of squirrels has been compounded by the latest activity — putting the netting up over the vineyard, which is starting to ripen the grapes.   We discovered that the squirrels thought that maybe the bird net would be a good place to spend the winter, so there is one net that is sporting large holes where the rodent attempted to chew the fibers into a comfortable bed.   Fortunately, we discovered its presence soon after it moved in and found a more secure way to store the nets.    But I have been spending some “quality time” out in the sweltering day mending the holes; the birds would find them quite convenient.

I really hate squirrels; not enough to eat them, though.   As Jim says,   “I don’t eat rat.”  Not even if it has a fluffy cute tail.

Excuse me.   I have to go scratch.  No, wait!   NO SCRATCHING.

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