Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Teeny Weeny Prairie

As I've explained previous posts, when we sold our old house with its expansive sunny flower and vegetable garden and moved next door into a new house in the oak and pine tree woods, there was a big change in what grew and what didn't. I was into nurturing native woodland wildflowers and planting lots of hostas, hydrangea's  and the like.  What not to like. No big lawn to mow and veggie garden to weed.  There was only one problem, in the meantime I had fallen in love with prairies. For that I needed sunshine. Could I find a place on our land that offered enough????

Indeed. There it was a ten foot high bank facing East of our woods.  It got the morning sun and that was it.  Was that enough to create something amenable to native prairie plants?  Take a closer look.
And towering high above Mrs. T. a true native prairie denizen.... The Cup Plant ( type of sunflower). Also to her left some wild phlox. These pictures were taken a few days ago in mid August. July saw an outburst of several types of coneflowers and fall will see an outburst of several kinds of wild asters.
The pictures below are from our friend Gary's restored prairie.  It gets really spectacular when you have several acres to work with....:)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rounding Up The Garden

It all startedwhen we moved next door into the woods to build a new house. I left behind several
beautiful sunny gardens and wildflowers along the back of the house and the adjacent woods. Then there was the vegetable garden.

For decades I supplemented the soil from an active compost pile. The soil became deep rich and loamy. It produced bountiful crops of delicious vegetables. Nothing like home grown is there?

I knew that our new home in the woods next door would require a different gardening approach. Native woodland flowers and other shade growing plants. Surrounded by giant oak trees and white pine there was really no place for a vegetable garden.

I was pointing this all out to Mrs T. Our days of growing, canning and freezing our own crops were over. We would find and patronize local farmers markets. That would be just as good and a lot less work. I especially noted that I would not miss all the hoeing and weeding. Thirty years of that was just about enough!

About that time our friend and neighbor farmer Dick dropped by. He heard Mrs T’s sad story about the end of our vegetable growing days. "Not a problem," he noted generously,
"I have 14 acres of corn on the west side of your woods. Use whatever you need for your garden." Mrs T lit up like a Christmas tree. "Oh how wonderful" she enthused. "Well ah... I’m sort of retiring from that field," I noted cautiously. Getting the "look" I piped down quickly. "Then I’m going to do it," she added..... We were back in the vegetable growing business.

From overhead you can see the emerging corn to the west on the far left. Our house is hidden in the oak trees. The deck faces the setting sun. The plan that developed featured me sitting on the deck, binoculars and adult beverage in hand, offering cogent supervisory assistance, while she worked the garden. Great idea, I thought. That lasted, of course less than a week. I was back to weeding...:(

The garden angel!

Its been 12 years now since that inauspicious beginning. Each year the garden seems to have grown in size. It apparently has a will all of its own. I can’t explain it. The soil is rocky and not very fertile but the weeds seem to grow better than ever. Till this year. I had studied the adjacent corn field very carefully. Fourteen acres and NOT A SINGLE WEED. I asked what the key to this phenomena was? Roundup its called. By mid July I was definitely losing the weed war. I thought .... what the heck I’ll give it a try. One gallon sprayer in hand I attacked the persistent little green intruders. Success. They wilted and died.

It wasn’t till a couple of weeks later that it became apparent that the tomatoes, peppers beans etc. seemed to be in a permanent sulk. Not exactly dead but with leaves curled tightly and not growing any more. Consulting my farmer friend I received the third degree. "Did you hold the sprayer nozzle within two inches of the ground? Was it very windy the day you sprayed.?" Oh oh...
Drift can be a serious problem with herbicides. Apparently one should read the directions on the container.

In light of the semi-wilted state of the national economy, perhaps next winter, when all the garden catalogues arrive, I will revive my argument that stimulating the local farmers markets is the patriotic thing to do.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Opening of Zucchini Season


Subject: Opening of zucchini season in Minnesota

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Some Favorite Poems

I've started a list of some of my favorite poems. Click on Mark Twain above to jump to Troutbirder II- Reviews and Views.

And yes there's even one about trout fishing...:)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Reminiscing Hayden Prairie

We headed south last week, a few miles into northwest Iowa. Near Lime Springs is a remnant of Americas frontier past. A 300 acre plot of never tilled land. Its called Hayden Prairie.
Named after Ada Hayden, who was the first woman to receive a doctorate at Iowa State College (now called Iowa State University). Her doctorate was earned in 1918, making her the fourth student, male or female, to obtain a Ph.D. at Iowa State College. In 1920 she was appointed Assistant Professor of Botany at Iowa State. Teaching probably occupied a great deal of her time until 1934, when her appointment was changed to a research position in the Agriculture Experiment Station.
She devoted herself to prairie preservation and research. She wrote 29 papers, most dealing with Iowa flora. She campaigned for a system of prairie preserves.

You have to get up close and personal to spot the hundreds of different wildflowers, as they change with each passing season. Naturally, I brought my binoculars so I didn't miss any. On this particular day I was specifically looking for gray-headed coneflowers. Also sunflowers were also on my list as I heard there were hundreds  of varieties. Now where are they?
Perhaps Baron might spot a few. He has a nose for finding things.
Wait somebody else in on the path. It's Joe Pye(weed)!

Putting my binocs down I noticed the gray-headed coneflowers all around me. And stretching far into the distance.

Walking further down the path, I saw a bunch of blazing stars... and its wasn't even dark yet!
Swamp Milkweed one of  the wildflower paparazzi's (Mrs. T's) many targets.
Although full professor status was denied her, and she received little public recognition for her accomplishments, she continued to work for what she believed in until her death in 1950. During her time at Iowa State, she collected over 30,000 plant specimens for the herbarium and also sent many duplicates to other institutions. Hayden Prairie is a remarkable place and its naming is a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman. Way to go Iowa!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

They are one of my favorite birds. They are not daily visitors at my feeder, but pop in and out all summer. Once a whole migrating flock stopped by to feed in the spring. More than a dozen at once.
 What a sight that was!
Three guys and a gal.             
Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak and four friends.  She apparently likes the corn for lunch...:)


Monday, July 24, 2017

Me and My Windows Upgrades

A short dose of Troutbirder Wisdom revels his notion that "new and improved" isn't always so at least to us regular members of the Curmudgeon Nation.  A recent example would be the regular Windows update to our ancient Windows7 Home Computer.   In a word, it  caused the system to fail.  I am a  long time believer in the concept of "if it ain't broke don't fix it or buy a new and better one with more gadgets".  This upgrade was done without my permission and yes they broke it.  It was more than a month in the repair shop before it was finally determined that it was Microsoft's upgrade which caused the problem. I don't know if our computer guru  finally fixed it with help from Bill Gates and Co. or not.  I still had to pay the repair costs.  What followed was almost  as bad...............
WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.

USER: cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

USER:  boiledcabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

USER: 1 boiled cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.

USER:  50bloodyboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one uppercase character.

USER: 50BLOODYboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one uppercase character consecutively.

USER:   50BloodyBoiledCabbagesYouStupidIdiotGiveMeAccessNow!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.

USER :  IWillHuntYouDown50BloodyBoiledCabbagesYouStupidIdiot


WINDOWS: Sorry, that password is already in use.


 It's all about trust....:(


Friday, July 21, 2017

Irish Scenes Finale

The final days of our Irish trip seem somewhat of a blur now and I didn't keep a very good record of the many interesting places we visited. Perhaps I was too enamored of our bus driver/guides blending of history and locations. Especially about the centuries of British rule, its consequences and the long division of the country into a Protestant North and a Catholic South with attendant strife. Our crossing the border into Northern Ireland was a day I well remember.  Our final 2 days in the Irish Republics capitol in Dublin was also a great highlight. 

The food and adult beverages in the Irish pubs were excellent.

Indeed. Though we didn't "pass by" the Guinness brewery, their product found my favor ...:)

One of Mrs. T's favorite venues and yes she did make several purchases in addition to the handmade wool sweater I bought at Blarney.

Being a flower gardener I was envious at more than one stop...

It didn't take a lot of imagination to see how much our two parish priests (one from Rochester and the other from Spring Valley) enjoyed celebrating morning mass whether it was in small rural churches like this or in big city Dublin...



And then on the last day in Dublin, I had to go to the library to check out a book.  The library was located in Trinity College.  The book was simply  known as The Book of Kells.
Going back to the ninth century this amazing collection of the Gospels, richly illustrated, survived Viking raiders and time.  Needless to say a world famous artifact couldn't be checked out but what a moment just to see it.  And Ireland too........