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Archive for the ‘Country Challenges’ Category

Hogweed 1

Hogweed in Northern Michigan

“Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

Oh how we rejoice in the beauty of nature!  And summertime in rural Virginia couldn’t be more invitingly lush and green.

Then my brother called from California to warn us about an invasive weed recently found in Virginia.

Beware HOGWEED!

It grows exceedingly tall and some might say, “pretty”,  but you don’t want to cut Hog Weed for indoor  arrangements.  Even if you just brush against as you pass by, your skin may suddenly become sunlight sensitive to the point of third degree burns!

And if you get some of the sap in your eyes, you could literally go permanently blind.

Read about Hogweed  here!  It is in a number of states now and Virginia is the latest.

Now if Hogweed wasn’t enough (and forgeddabout Stink Bug infestations) but have you ever heard of SLIME MOLD?

Slime Mold

Slime Mold – Nickname “Dog Vomit.” Ewwwwww!

This weekend I looked around the mulched beds in our front yard and saw a giant spread of a horrifyingly ugly mold.

It was a sickly white globby thing!

I expected it to ooze out bigger and bigger and to eventually smother every living thing in its path.  Yes, you would definitely see SLIME MOLD in a very scary horror movie.

I was terrified.  I didn’t want to touch it.  I didn’t want to move it.  “Well, maybe I will water it,” I thought.  A hard spray to the monolithic gooey mass created a copper colored cloud of deadly dust.

  • Am I inhaling this?
  • Will I die of an alien fungus and who would know?

My fearless friend Amy was here but even she was intimidated by the ugly slime.  She agreed to turn a pot over on it so we wouldn’t have to see it.  I had nightmares that night though.

  • What if it seeped out the sides of the upside-down pot?
  • What if it could figure out how to get inside the house?
  • There was a hole in the bottom of the pot for drainage but the hole was now “up” and was I feeding The THING with oxygen and enabling it to grow?
  • Would it crawl out the drainage hole?

Thank Goodness for “Hey Google!”

Turns out that SLIME MOLD (affectionately nicknamed “DOG VOMIT”due to the similarity in appearance) is not dangerous to humans or pets or even plants if it doesn’t smother them with love.

Slime Mold is only horrifyingly ugly, which demonstrates that sometimes Mother Nature is indeed, benevolent and even compassionate.

Watering will cause Slime Mold to float around in the air (in that big copper cloud I unleashed) and spread (the result of my watering efforts).

And so my friends, my own personal ugly Slime Mold took up new residence on top of an Impatiens flower in the same bed.

According to my panicked research, the way to remove it (the Slime Thing) is to dig it up with a shovel, put it in a plastic bag (like you would dog doo) and discard the whole thing in the trash.

Bill grinned and bore it and just pitched the one celled organism into the woods where it will surely find some new decaying vegetation on which to build a life.  We are not killers after all.

Such are the gifts of nature to be found in the Virginia countryside!

I did see a mama turkey and her six young-uns running for the woods yesterday.  Maybe they heard about the Slime Mold Invasion.

So, what’s new in your neck-o-the-woods?

 

 

 

 

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Camping

The problem with blogging is people begin to know all your weaknesses and character flaws.

Most cyberspace friends already know this country girl’slady’s flaws:

  • A devout shopper,
  • a worrier,
  • guilt ridden
  • a planner,
  • and a neat freak.

My hope is that all in all, you all (y’all in Virginia-ese) find these combined traits to be endearing.

But did you know that the BigFoot whiner was once an outdoorsy camping enthusiast?

Here are some FAQS you may have missed:

  • Once, at 3 AM, I threw an air mattress across the pup tent at my devoted spouse.

Why?

Because I kept sliding off and onto the cold lumpy ground.

  • And another time, I ran with a coat around my ankles to get back to the tent.

Why?

Because it was deer hunting season and it occurred to me that a beige suede coat whilst relieving oneself in the woods would conjure up images of a white-tailed deer!

  • And how about the time I had to wear a black patch over my eye to a party.  And it wasn’t Halloween and it wasn’t a costume to make me look like a Pirate either.

Why?

Because a giant gnat bit me near the eye and it swelled up to a frightening countenance.

  • And then there was the time we were six minutes into the Appalachian Trail.  Bravely carrying a 30 pound back pack I was moaning and lagging in line behind husband, our 8 year old son, and Tinker, the dog.  That’s when I sat down in the middle of the trail and cried.  

Why?

Because Y’All,

I hate camping!

More FAQs?

  • How about the tent that blew away?
  • Or having to sit under a tarp until a deluge of rain lets up?
  • Or trying to sleep listening to something or things crashing through the forest?
  • And wondering if we will be attacked by wolves or bears or angry deer.
  • Or being “Nose Cold” (and I don’t mean a head cold).  I mean a nose that’s almost frozen along with toes.

And now you have another character flaw to add to the list!

And Thank you Andrew for inspiring this post!

 

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Amy and Hildegard

My friend Amy is always doing fascinating things.  She is the one who took up Contra Dancing.  And before that it was Jumpology.  She has taught piano and is a violinist, but is now taking cello lessons.  And she got a trucker’s license in order to drive preschoolers in a school bus.  And she is a marathon runner too.  There is more.

But Amy’s latest endeavor is raising chickens.

She and her sons built the perfect stable safe house for them, better known as a chicken coop.  She then bought four beautiful egg laying chickens and she gave them old fashioned names:

  • Penelope
  • Gertrude (Gertie)
  • Esther, and
  • Henrietta

And they all laid beautiful delicious eggs.  But sadly, Henrietta passed away.   They said it was from an inherited disease.  Amy was distraught, but soon went out and purchased two more cluckers:

  • Esmerelda and
  • Hildegard (Hildegard is now her favorite chicken!  She runs to greet Amy and rides on her shoulder).

Unfortunately, Amy just discovered

that Hildegard and Esmerelda are EGG EATERS!

Oh no!

This is not good.

This is a very bad thing because it teaches all the other chickens to eat eggs too.

It is a nasty habit, egg eating, and very hard to break.  But Amy is determined.

What to do.  What to do.

Amy thinks this blog post may help others of you out there who are raising chickens who turn out to be egg eaters.  After assiduous research and concentrated efforts to watch, wait and trick the ladies, things seem to be paying off.

Try these remedies:

  1. Watch, wait and grab newly laid eggs of the “good girls” ASAP.
  2. Replace real eggs in the nesting box with golf balls.  The chicken ladies will peck the hard golf balls and this will make their beaks hurt.  This is breaking a habit with negative suggestion…. like pain.
  3. Replace real eggs with Mustard Eggs!  Ever hear of that one? To make a mustard egg you blow out a real egg so only the shell is left and then insert mustard.  Chickens HATE mustard and when they peck at such an egg the taste is awful.  More negative psychology.  It would cure me of eating eggs too!

Do you have an egg eater in your family besides of the human variety?

Have you successfully convinced your chickens to stop egg eating?

Please share your remedies.

We are in search of a cure.

 

 

 

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My BigFoot “Expert Doctor” is in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It’s about an hour and a half drive over the legendary Afton Mountain.

And even on a clear day you can be confronted with fog.

There are lights embedded in the roadway but it still feels treacherous.

And it may not actually be fog, but the signs say so.  Last time we went “over the hill” we could see a low lying cloud enshrouding the roadway, and then drove right into it.

What a thrill it is to creep along and wonder how bad it could get and would we careen over the edge?

Can you tell I am a worrier?

We have survived the winter with several visits over Afton Mountain and actually this was the first time to experience fog.

From Virginia Living:  “The drop-dead gorgeous scenery disappears when clouds blanket the mountain. Fog and ice make for a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) has addressed safety by installing expensive airport runway lights along the 64 roadway to guide motorists…”

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Our Wood Stove

I know winter is an excuse to stay inside by the fireside, but I keep thinking I need to tend to things around the home periphery.  Landscapes tend to expire this time of year in Virginia.

And there are outside chores you know.

There are two ornamental grasses that should be trimmed back for happy regrowth this spring.

The Canna Lilies have all died and I should tend to them too.

The deck needs sweeping and we need a new bird feeder.  A bear mangled the one we are using now so the seeds tend to jam up.

The garage is too cluttered for my peace of mind whilst parking.  I prefer pristine organization.   Bill doesn’t seem to care though.  Never has.

There are old evergreen bushes in the front yard that are brown.  Should I terminate them now or wait to see if they revive in spring?

Oh well.  The heck with it.

There is always my chair by the fireside.

I tend to migrate there.

This post is in response to Daily Prompt: Tend  

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Greetings from your Absentee Blogger who has been re-visited by her BigFoot family of

Boots

Braces

A Knee Scooter

Crutches

and

a

Cane

And not a candy cane either.

It has been over 2 years now and 4 MRI’s later, a cat scan, numerous XRays, an electrocardiogram, blood tests and more blood tests, and about 9 different diagnoses.  And the latest diagnosis is an injured bone in the ankle area which may respond to megadoses of calcium and Vitamin D3 if I “stay off my feet” and wear a boot for 8 weeks (or perhaps longer).  The “injury” lets me announce, “I have a sports injury!”  Then folks can admire and wonder if this old lady got it skiing!

Bill is back in the kitchen.  He is also now a veteran grocery shopper, cook, cleaner- upper, gopher, and generally expected to smile and keep MY spirits up.

My job is to sit.

Watch t.v.

Read.

Think.

Nap.

Somehow the days go by but there is not much exciting to report.  Hence, the long delays between blog posts.  I keep hoping for a dog for Christmas but that would be kind of silly right?  I will make do with the plush pup my Mom gave me years ago.  And when noone is looking, he gets lots of hugs.

This whole holiday look with the scooter, crutches and the puppy toy make me laugh.  I hope they make you laugh too.

Love, Hugs and My Best Wishes for a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS

AND THE HAPPIEST NEW YEAR!

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Twin White Steeds

 

Equine News in the Neighborhood!  

On the bright side, rumor has it our neighbor will be renting his pasture to a horse (the owner will pay the rent of course)!  I had been missing daily stop-by visits with Rosa-the-mare (who sadly was lost due to some equine malady).  A new horsey neighbor will be a grand treat.

Two other horses at different homes developed abscessed feet.  I mean, each horse has one lame foot. They are both on antibiotics, have wrapped hooves, and both have cast off their wrappings and are healing nicely.

I can empathize….  me-of-the-gimpy-foot too.  It’s a neighborhood epidemic!

Bagging a Chicken!

Today I roasted a chicken that came bagged and fully seasoned.  Instructions were to cut a slit to allow for expansion and bake for 2 hours.

Talk about SIMPLE!  And the results were delicious.  I hate to admit that because the bag-less version is to rinse, pat dry, oil, season, and baste.  Maybe this bag thing is positive progress!

Tree Surgeon Mending

Our tree surgeon is also nicely recovering from having a tree fall on him some weeks ago.  Country living is fraught with unexpected danger.

He is the fellow our community hires to trim trees along our road and sometimes to remove trees entirely (those threatening to fall on homes, etc.).  He is always a wonder to watch traversing limbs at dizzying heights.  We are just happy he is on the mend.

New Life in Town

‘Tis a university town (Lexington, Virginia) and school is back!  Our downtown is alive and writhing again (I mean “thriving”).  The kids are back at Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University.  Why is it they look younger every year? And now the local restaurants are packed as families come in to help all the young’uns get settled.

Horrible Harvey

Sending thoughts to my Texas blogger friends who so eloquently describe their own experiences with the monster storm, Harvey.  I am so glad you are high and dry and thank you so much for your perspectives.

It has been an unendurable week for many in Texas but to see how millions are dealing with the aftermath is to understand the value of good neighbors, the ones who become heroes when they themselves least expect it.

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