Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

What to Do With a Broken Plate

 Here's the herb garden which I redid this year.  I had to try to tame the oregano - right edge of the bed - and needed to replace some herbs that died out.  I have had a broken white plate in my herb garden for a couple of years. It's not visible but sat in the ground between the oregano and the savory.


One of my hobbies is Zentangle.  The act of doing it is Tangling.  I go to a club meeting once a month so grabbed the plain white plate and decided to decorate it with tangles.  I used permanent ink but don't know if the design will weather well.

Here's the plate in a new spot stuck in the ground in front of the basils and cilantro.


Too much of the bottom edge design was not visible this way so I got a stand.


Here it is on the stand.


I used 2 colors of pink, purple and black.  Dan gave it the stamp of approval!


Hmm ...  I have three more whole plates.  May just have to tangle them, too.



Friday, May 29, 2015

Wildlife



I planted my peppers finally on Wednesday along with a row of bush beans, two pots of cucumbers, a row of Little Gem lettuce and a hill of butternut squash.



This toad was in the garden.  I think he's made a home there.  Good!





As I was finishing up I spotted a turtle by the garden gate.  Was he going in or out?  I didn't know but with all the mud on him I figured he needed to be relocated to the pond and that's where I took his photo.  



Look at that long tail.


He blends in with the surroundings well.  


When I went back 10 minutes later I couldn't spot him anywhere.
I wonder if he will eat goldfish?





Thursday, May 28, 2015

New Addition to Screen Porch

I have been looking at antique shops for years and then on Etsy and eBay for this primitive hutch that I spotted years ago in Flea Markets Gardens, a magazine (year unknown).  I've been carrying around this torn out page forever.


Finally I found a Pennsylvania cabinet maker on eBay and made the purchase in early April.  It's built to order so Tuesday it finally came.  I am really pleased with how it turned out.  



It's a nice addition to the porch and provides more display space and storage than the shelf that was there since we moved in almost 10 years ago.  The shelf is now in my garden shed holding pots I'm not currently using.  Pictured on the deck before it made that move.




My first attempt at filling the shelves with decorations.






Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Whooping Cranes

Sunday we had a chance to go with friends on a tour at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge.  Run by both the US Geological Survey and the Fish and Wildlife Service it is home to lots of research on how to protect the nation's wildlife, one of those being the whooping crane.  May is whooping crane month and there was a special tour back into the innards of the refuge, through lots of special gates, to learn about whooping cranes and see two of them.

So far in April and May there have been 14 young to hatch.  These are tended by volunteers who dress in special outfits so the young don't imprint on humans.  The young are caged next to adult cranes.

The refuge is on land that was once the Snowden Plantation.  This house was one of the original structures minus the two extensions and in recent times has been used for offices.  Since the earthquake in our area a number of years ago the building was damaged and funds have not been appropriated to fix the structure.

Ponds were built for two purposes: to provide habitat for water birds and other wildlife and as a water source for fire fighting.



A view of the pens where birds being studied are kept.



Ken, a volunteer, is one of many who dress up to take the cranes for walks.  No, that isn't a crane next to him, its a pointer they use to represent the head of a crane.  He's holding a wooden model of an egg, too.  These are placed in the nests of cranes when they remove the eggs to an incubator.


It was very difficult to photograph the two cranes we were allowed to view.  There were at least two or three layers of fencing between us.  This pair have congenital flaws so are not allowed to breed.  


The male's wings are partially clipped so he couldn't fly properly to mate with the female.


This turtle was outside the fence trying to get in.  He was big!




Here's the group on the tour.  Note the fencing, electrified!  Predators kept out are foxes, turtles, snakes, raccoons, bald eagles, etc.



We could hear the whoop from the pens where the breeding pairs were and where the hatchlings were kept.  It's quite a distinctive sound. No one is allowed back there with them unless dressed like a crane.



Here are photos of photos in the Welcome Center.

Cranes that live in Wisconsin migrate and so some of the young that are hatched here are introduced to the sound of the ultralight even before they hatch then are transported to WI in boxes where they are taught to migrate.



Ken told a story about teaching cranes how to wade in the water.  The young ones were timid about going very far into the small pond where they were.  Ken then walked around the pond thinking the young ones would wade through to meet him.  [He's their father figure dressed in his crane outfit.]  But no, the young ones followed him around walking the edge of the pond like he did.  Finally he ran as fast as he could around to the other side and the cranes then fled through the water to get to him as fast as they could. From then on they were not afraid of going deeper in the pond.  Ken felt good that he had taught them something.

These are the crane outfits the volunteers wear.



Adult whooping cranes stand 5 feet tall and are the tallest North American bird.  This is an endangered species that almost disappeared.  It's only been with these efforts of the Fish and Wildlife Service that the population has been increasing.



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tom, The Back Roads Traveller posts photos of barns every Sunday.  When we drove to Missouri last month I managed to grab these photos through my window as we drove Interstate 70.  Not as good as Tom's photos but interesting nonetheless.











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