Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Whoosh!! Let a couple of weeks slide by there. Just came off of a four-day talkathon--Mike and Margo came for a visit and we proved that conversation can be non-stop for at least 10 hours a day. Too much fun--we visited Thomasville for the Rose Festival, played with baby goats and bought artisan cheese, went to Saint Marks and the marine research lab, and finally visited the Florida Wild Mammal Association (an animal rehab center) to pick up a half-dozen baby opossums--talking all the while.

Meanwhile, back at the swamp, I finished weaving the painted warp. It's really lovely--the picture doesn't do it justice. I had originally thought about a vest, but I think this is going to be a skirt--and every top I own ought to go with it!

Out front, we finished putting up the fence around the future butterfly garden (so the chickens and peacocks won't tear up the plants. For instant gratification I put in some plants--lantana, Mexican heather, salvia, sunflowers--some herbs and a few tomatoes and peppers and a gardenia. Then we spread out a big bag of mixed seeds for butterfly/hummingbird gardens (over a dozen kinds of seed in one bag). Whatever survives, survives. I'm just hoping for some colorful chaos. All of this was supervised by one of the peacocks--who is the main reason we have the fence.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Messing around with boats

Took the kayaks out last Sunday to our usual place--"the flats". This is an area on Lake Talquin which is too overgrown to let many power boats through, so we regard it as ours. It's where we almost always go kayaking. Some might say we're in a rut and should explore elsewhere. But this place is less than a 10-minute drive away, and being familiar with it lets us observe all of the changes. We know where the bird nests are, and where to find the biggest alligator (carefully)

It's odd and wonderful that we can leave civilization and with a few minutes paddling find ourselves in Middle Earth--or maybe Jurassic Park.

Spring has sprung, and the birds are nesting. This is a little fuzzy, but if you look at the left of the nest you can make out a couple of tiny fuzzy and very noisy babies.

Another pair of trees is very popular--there are two great blue heron nests and four anghinga nests in these.

There are at least a dozen osprey nests occupied. The birds are brooding but we haven't spotted any babies yet.

Of course, no trip is complete without an alligator. It was late afternoon and warm so we didn't catch any up on the banks sunning, but we at least found this one.

Even if we go out for only a couple of hours, it feels like a vacation. We're so lucky to live here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Making Room for Butterflies

We've decided to put a butterfly garden in front of the house. I saw these in various locations last year, and I loved the rather chaotic beauty of them, and the amount of riotious life in them. It will be a large circle going around those two rosemary bushes, with a place in the middle for a swing and some benches.

Bob announced this morning that he thought he could just dig it all up with a pickaxe. I gave him The Look, and he opted to go rent a rototiller. Power tools are a good thing. There were also some branches overhanging the area, and Bob cut them down (as though we didn't still have enough downed branches to deal with). Chain saws on long poles are also a good idea.

So now the big circle is tilled, and some compost tilled in. Tomorrow we return the tiller and buy some fencing. With both chickens and peacocks running around, plants don't stand a chance.

In the background of the first picture you can see the clay oven I talked about a few entries ago. We built that several years ago by the simple (if backbreaking) method of building a base of cinder blocks with a layer of firebrick, then shaping a large mound of damp sand on it. Then we dug clay out of a roadside cut, mixed it with some cut straw, and packed it about 8" thick onto the sand mound. This is one of those projects that sounded like a good idea at the time. We didn't realize that it would take several hundred pounds of clay. By the time we were 3/4 through we were like couple of cranky children, but couldn't quit. So we finally finished, cut a door, and then dug the sand out. To use it, you just build a fire inside for about three hours, then scrape out the embers and start shoving in food. It will cook a pizza in about three minutes when it's freshly heated. It will hold the heat for about 12 hours. We dont' use it often, but it's fun.