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Early spring before I’d started my garden I came across an article about Purslane, a common “weed” which is extremely nutritious, and grows just about everywhere. I was astonished. I’d been pulling it up and tossing it for years. [Edible and Delicious Weed]

Yesterday I headed out to the garden to make a stab at the weeds that were growing abundantly in my vegetable garden.

Vegetable Garden July 3 2016

It’s hard to tell the weeds from the sprouting veggies.

While weeding, what should I come upon but Purslane – in abundance!

Edible Weeds

One little patch of Purslane among many in the garden.

So…I picked and washed the Purslane and then removed the root portion. Quite an easy job.

Washing the weeds

The roots are easily pinched off. I had several meals worth just in that one little patch.

You eat the Purslane raw in salads.

My Supper

I will have the same meal tonight! (Well, not the same meal .)  Remove the egg and you have a perfect vegan supper.

I waited to post this today so you would know that I survived without any ill effects.

Enjoy!

Who could resist

What? That’s not a fawn, you say.

True.

Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me when I encountered the fawn yesterday. So instead of posting relevant photos while I tell the tale, I’m posting photos I’ve been taking since my last posting. We all like a photo or two, I know.

Handsome felow

This fellow was around here for weeks. The females seemed unimpressed, but I bet they are busy sitting on eggs right now.

The girls are not frequent visitor just now. At least not many of them. Today one female arrived at the feeder with three males. The males kept shooing her away, so she, smart turkey, leapt up onto the feeder itself and helped herself from there.

clever turkey

Those are teen-aged guys (I think). Except for the striped bird – that’s one of my hens, chowing down with the turkeys.

So…yesterday I rounded the corner of my house and came upon a beautiful fawn at the end of the drive. She was eating the hostas which I have not yet covered. I immediately froze. She seemed not to be worried about me. She looked up, and then went back to ripping leaves off the plant. Okay, I muttered, I guess you’re going to eat my plants because I’m not going to shoo you off.

The Girls

Then Bo, my little, deaf, poodle, wandered past me and into the garage, He was hoping I had not cleared away the old cat food he’d found days earlier in a garbage bag that was destined for the dump. When he realized it was gone, he turned and saw the fawn.

Perrenial beauty

I was standing right on the other side of these flowers when I froze.

The Fawn became quite excited. Her ears perked up, her tail swished back and forth and around in half circles. Slowly she came toward us.

Heirloom Iris

Bo stood watching. Then he looked over at me. I don’t know what he thought since I never stand still like that.

Suddenly the fawn started stamping her feet. Not pawing the ground the way a horse does, but pouncing on her front feet the way a dog does to invite play.

The Wanderer

The Wanderer

Unfortunately, Bo didn’t pick up on the message. He’s old, and deaf, and not much into play.

Iris Beauties

The fawn wouldn’t give up. By now she was up nearly at the garage, and right in front of me, only ten feet away.

Lupin

She circled the drive, and pranced her feet, then then snorted at Bo. I wanted to go and dance with her. But I didn’t dare move.

Sweet Woodland Rhododendron

This went on for fifteen minutes. My legs were going numb.

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The fawn gave up on Bo and went back down the drive and continued snacking on the hosta.

Bridal V

I cut my bridal veil down to the ground a few years ago – it was in such a sorry state. But it’s coming back.

Sadly, Bo wandered back to the cat door and disappeared inside. I stayed and watched the fawn until she too gave up and headed off through the woods.

Spider Hiding

This yellow spider was on the front of a the blossom when I arrived. He slowly crawled around to the back to hide.

Not a very exciting story to tell, but believe me, it was quite amazing to stand there and watch.

The weather was beautiful Sunday. So beautiful that my guilt over painting indoors with my dog snoring beside me, finally forced me put up the brushes and get my shoes on for a walk. As I headed outside with Bo, I made note of  where the cats were. Lately Finn, my granddaughter’s cat whose been living here while she is at college, has taken to following me around the yard. I was afraid he might try to follow us on our longer trek. I was not sure he wouldn’t wander off and get lost, or get stuck up a tree (which he has done several times). I saw he was safely indoors. Good, I thought.

We were half way down the driveway when Finn came bounding along. He’s free to go in and out the cat door as he pleases. I had wrongly assumed he was happy snoozing inside.

So, I decided to see how it went.

Finn is very much like Max, the neighborhood cat, who used to follow me, Buddy, and Bo, frequently on our walks. Max is featured in many of my past blogs. Max moved away, and I’ve missed his company. Of course I didn’t have to worry about Max – he was a roaming cat and not mine. But I was not keen to have to tell my granddaughter that I’d lost her cat.

01 How does he know the way

How does he know the way?

Right away Finn took the lead.

02 Bo and Finn Heading for the water

Bo and Finn just rambling on toward the water.

 

03 Beaver Dam Across the way

The beaver dam across the road.

 

05 Someone Else Passed This Way

Stopping for a little scent exploration.

 

04 Following along

Sometimes Finn leads – sometimes he follows.

06 High Alert - Ducks

On high alert – ducks ahead!

 

08 Marsh Path

Someone has made a path through the marsh. Hmmm?

 

09 Finn, come back!

No Finn – come back!

 

10 Not a good idea

That’s not a great idea either. Remember how you got stuck up the tree all night?

 

IMG_5468

Thank you!

07 Happy Cat

Happy cat!

 

11 Taking the shortcut home

Taking the short cut back towards home. We went far enough for a first foray.

 

12 Back out on the road

Back on the road.

 

13 Stopped to roll in the dirt

Finn stops for a roll in the sand.

 

14 Heading Home

Heading back home. Finn knows the way. Why do I think he’s roamed farther than the yard before?

 

15 Back safe and sound

Home sweet home, safe and sound.

 

We’ll have to do that again!

(No apologies for all the cat pictures.)

Signing off.

 

I took a stroll in the drizzle today, down to the wetlands where I like to sit and contemplate. Nearly there I sadly discovered that the beautifully shaped ash that I’d wrapped a few years ago against the beaver who’d been taking my trees, had been chewed down to the last half inch.

IMG_5010 - ineffective barrier

Why the beaver stopped there, I don’t know. Probably he knew it wasn’t going to be an easy haul down to the water and simply needed a tooth sharpening.

I strolled on to the water and spotted the beginnings of a new dam.

IMG_5013 beginnings of a new dam

You can see three newly stripped saplings. One laid across the gap, one that must have fallen through, and one further away at the edge of the grasses. That one will probably be part of the dam tomorrow. Above the dam is the pond where I sit and watch the ducks and the sunset. On this side below the new dam is the stream that runs down to the old skating pond area, and on under the road to the big water reserve across the road from me.

IMG_5018 probably the dam starter

I think that dam starter was probably growing here yesterday.

IMG_5019 ugly but effective sheilds

This was my attempt at saving some of my trees. It’s ugly I know, especially during a winter with no snow. But it was necessary to save some of my hardwoods. I wish the beaver liked snap pine. I have plenty of those I wouldn’t mind losing. I put this flashing around these trees two years ago. And though I did leave some saplings for the beaver, once I’d done this, he moved on – probably discouraged by the metal barriers.  But now he’s back.

IMG_5025 beaver dam

This is the major dam the beaver has built over the last two years. When I first moved here 18 years ago, a different dam was in place here. The effect is to create a large pond above which became a skating pond for the grandchildren. I spent hours clearing off the snow, are we all have many happy memories playing down here on the ice.

icepond

The ice pond with small area cleared after snow storm.

If you’ve been following me, you will have seen this ice pond before.

IMG_5020 skating pond again

Here’s the same area today with the same old tree stump – a little more decayed. We didn’t have enough snow and cold for a safe ice pond this year, but next year, perhaps.

The old dam that created the first ice pond was eventually torn down by the town. I was very upset, especially as I knew the beavers were living in the lodge that was now unprotected due to the falling water level.

But come spring and fall, there was a new benefit. The apple tree that had been overhanging the pond was now water free. That fall I had a large bounty of apples (blogged about a few years ago).

But now again, the apple tree is hanging over the pond.

IMG_5021 apple tree

Here’s the apple tree. It fell over during the ice storm of 2008, but it continues to bloom and produce apples. Unfortunately I cannot reach the apples now due to the new dam.

As you can see, the beaver has been at the apple tree. There won’t be any apples, whether or not I can pick them, if he continues.

IMG_5028 skating pond2

Here’s another view of the skating pond. The apple tree is out of sight at the left. The dam is just below at the right.

IMG_5031 water under the bridge2

And here is the water under the bridge – a really lovely old stone bridge. The dam is just to my left, quite visible from the road. Now I don’t know whether I’d rather have apples or a skating pond. I guess what I really want is for the beavers to be able to do their thing without deliberate destruction of their creations. It’s true, I don’t want them to take all my hardwoods, but I wouldn’t destroy their dams and lodge to protect my trees. I like the idea of living in peace together.

This morning when I went out to feed the chickens I heard the first red winged black bird of the season. This is a sure sign spring is here. I couldn’t catch sight of the newly arrived, but a few minutes later I saw her (or him) under the feeder – no doubt chowing down after a long journey.

Red Winged Blackbird 3-9-16

I’m so happy to see her as last year I saw no red winged blackbirds at all. Usually they are plentiful. I feared my birds were some of those found dead on the roads down south.

Normally this time of year snow still covers the ground. Not so this year. In fact I have not had to take out the snow blower even once (knock on wood).

Along with the blackbird came a gloriously warm winter day – 75 degrees (f). I let the girls out of their penned area to enjoy the weather.

The girls out composting

Here they are composting away.

Poor me…I had to choose between staying indoors and working on an oil painting that is near completion, or heading outside to enjoy the day. Of course I did both.

Beautiful afternoon on the pond

The pond across the way.

Ice still on the pondYou can see we still have ice on the pond.

Bo still trekingMy old dog Bo came along for the walk. He’s still a trouper despite his old age.

IMG_4936 croppedHere’s a photo from yesterday. Another beautiful day it was. The sun was setting – but I cheated and put this on “fall” setting to bring out the light.

Their turn under the feeder

When we returned from our walk today, the girls had made their way to the feeder to clean up what was left after the birds, squirrels, and turkeys had had their fill.

I suppose it’s a bit of a cheat to post this as it is not from this year, or even a winter project. I had intended this to be a day to day posting similar to my building the chicken coop. The postings never happened, but I did take the photos. In the end, the greenhouse, (solarium – as my neighbors call it), was finished enough for use last summer without a single posting.

Now as I sit here mid-winter, without much heading outside, I think, why not post the greenhouse photos?

I got the idea to build this greenhouse/solarium from photos I saw online of many charming structures built from old windows. Since I had held onto the windows I had replaced on the house a number of years ago, I had many to start with. Others, with synchronicity, I quickly accumulated from freebies left at the side of the roads in the area.

I still haven’t finished all the window trims, or painted anything yet. But last spring I started my vegetables in the greenhouse and they did very well. I have a large wooden rocking chair inside which makes it a fun bug-free place to sit in the summer.

Here’s a photo I took last summer of the nearly finished, but in use, product. (It is level, by the way, it just doesn’t appear so in this photo.)

solarium near completion - IMG_4267

If you want to see how it developed, read on.

I picked a spot that received the most sun, and spent several weeks transplanting all the vinca that was growing there, leveling the ground, and moving a large boulder that was in the way.

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This was one heavy boulder. After struggling to lever it out of the ground, I decided to dig the hole deep enough to get it below ground where it would not be a bother.

IMG_2936

Boulder buried, the next step was to level the ground and lay the foundation blocks. Then I built the frame, having carefully designed it to accommodate all the windows I had.

IMG_2972

I assure you it really is level – clearly I need a camera with a level on it.

IMG_3020

I started adding windows. They are held in place by wooden 1 x 1 slats on all four sides, inside and out. The two top windows in the front are hinged at the top to open out for ventilation.

IMG_3022

On this side, at the back I built a screen to fill the long rectangular space. This I then shuttered it on the outside. At the back I did something similar with the two smaller rectangles at the top.

IMG_3035

When most of the windows were in, I began to put on the roof while continuing with the  windows.

Solarium in progress

The roof is clear fiberglass. This is the only photograph I took of the roof in progress.  It was time consuming, but not difficult. It is anchored to all the studs so that it won’t blow away.

IMG_3401

While I was working on the roof, grasshoppers for some reason were attracted. I spent a lot of time following this critter around trying to get a decent shot. Isn’t she lovely? I love these creatures. Their bodies are so amazing. How do I know this is a she? See next photo.

I felt a bit bad about taking this next one, surely they wanted their privacy! But I couldn’t resist.

IMG_3642 cropped

All this greenery was growing inside the greenhouse as I put it together. The last step was to pull all the weeds and lay down flagstone which I had in abundance having been left here by the former owners. You can see here that the wood I used was rough-cut.

Then I started to think about what I’d do with the rectangular spaces at the bottom.

IMG_3424

Though I’d never done it before, I thought I’d try filling the spaces with stone and cement. First I built a frame, gathered stones from around the yard and laid them out in a nice order. Then I lined the frame with plastic, poured in cement, and then pushed in the stones.

IMG_3428

I let the cement harden for 24 hours. Then I lugged the frame over the the solarium, pushed out the cement and stone slab, and cemented it into place.

IMG_3433

Here’s one cemented in, and you can just see the one at the right sitting in place ready to be cemented in.

stone work coming along

Here most of the stone work is done, the roof is completed, and all the other non-window areas are either screened in or filled in with plywood. Here you can see roof trim which I cut to match the scallops of the roof.

In this next one,  you can see the door which is the insert from a screened/storm door that was on the house when I bought it. The frame rotted, but I kept the inserts.

Solarium and Chessie

Here’s a view of the side with the shuttered screen. The shutters are not hinged yet in the photo, but will eventually be hinged. I did discover a design flaw. The roof overhang does not allow the shutters to open. So my plan is to cut the top of the shutters and fix them in place permanently, and hinge the lower sections. This past summer, I simply removed the temporary wood slat that holds them in place, and removed the shutters completely.

That’s my cat Chessie making her way to the greenhouse.

I still have some window framing to do. I need to attach the trim properly (It’s just tacked on), and paint. I’m going to make milk paint.

That’s about it! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

We had some cold days here last week, and I found myself once again photographing the frost on my windows. I find these gems of nature irresistible. I poured through my dozens of images and saved many for future photo shopping. I lost my hard drive over a year ago and don’t have my favorite photo editing software anymore. So editing will have to wait.   These that I post here are untouched – merely cropped.

 

 

frost card 1 - IMG_4753

frost card 2 - IMG_4766

 

frost card 7 - IMG_4798

 

frost card 6b - IMG_4782

 

frost card 8 - IMG_4800

 

frost card 11b - IMG_4809

 

frost card 13 - IMG_4811 cropped

 

frost card 18 - IMG_4815

 

frost card 22 - IMG_4819

 

frost card 23 - IMG_4821

 

 

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