Friday, July 29, 2016

Alpaca Envy

We are in love with Alpacas! I want some, I want, I want, I want...

But, we'd have to clear the rest of our acre, trade in the dogs for a couple of alpacas, and spread into the neighbor's yard;-) Not going to we'll just visit with these guys on a weekly basis.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Powerline Trail Walk - Topsham

Drew has found us a trail to walk that is easy on my knees. It is an ATV trail in Topsham, and it begins at a church parking lot on Roman Rd., off of Foreside Rd. It has a few steep sections, and I successfully navigated one of them without too much knee pain. 
We walked 2 miles (which I know is not much, but we had our two Greyhounds with us and they are glacially slow;-) by walking the main trail and an offshoot of the main trail, through the woods over toward Rt. 24. It was so nice to walk a trail that we've never accessed before.
Wild Blueberries
The trail was mowed, and we did not get any ticks on us, which was a nice change from all our other walks this summer. I was happily surprised to see fields of wild blueberries and blackberries. This trail will be so colorful in autumn as the blueberry leaves turn red.
Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum)
Note the mixture of blueberries and other plants
which I cannot identify.

There were also a smattering of Wood Lilies scattered here and there in the dry open fields/thickets.
Meadowsweet (in the rose family)
We also found Meadowsweet (Spirea alba) along the edge with lots of other plants common to open fields.

Just a few garden delights

I was messing around with one of my lenses, and took a few photos of some of my flowers. As I was photographing parts of the front stump garden, a clearwing hummingbird moth made an appearance. This isn't the sharpest of photos as I was in still-photo-taking-mind-mode;-)
These moths sound like hummingbirds and move like them as well. Just after photographing it, a real hummingbird flew in to sip nectar from the bee balm. But, he flew away before I could capture a photo of him.
This Fire King Crocosmia plant is one of my favorite bulbs. This is the first of its flowers to open. I love the color of the flower and of the stem and buds. Gorgeous!
I have also left a number of poppy seed heads to mature. They provide quite a contrast with all the brightly colored flowers.
And, lastly, one of our high bush blueberry plants is happily producing quite a few blueberries for the first time. Of course, we've only picked a few berries, whereas a bluejay has eaten most of the others as they have ripened. How do I know? By the feather he left behind after one of his forays into the plant;-)

Patio Garden

Our patio garden is very happy this summer, and the plants seem to enjoy the heat so long as we water them regularly.
The first tomatoes are ripening.
We actually picked a couple of tomatoes last week and found the skin to be thick and chewy. I have a feeling this species of tomato is bred for beauty over taste and skin thickness. So, we are allowing these to ripen well into maturity in hopes that the skin is more tender. 
I am a fan of growing pickling cucumbers. We put 6 cucumber plants into our grow box. The cukes have been growing by leaps and bounds. Note: For maximum crunchiness, refrigerate a freshly picked cucumber for a few hours before eating.
And, I had arugula in my dinner salad. Yummmm! Even though the first arugula plants are bolting, I have a secondary set of plants already growing behind the ones you see here.

Weather Update

Ugh...I was not meant to live in a place where the daytime temperature rises into the 80's or above. In fact, as soon as the temperature rises above around 73F, I start to feel overly warm. Today, the outdoor temperature reached 87F, and tomorrow won't be any different.

I remember when we moved to Maine 16 years ago. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there were very few days that reached up into the 80s, and you could count, on one hand, the number of thunderstorms that hit all summer long. Boy, have times changed... as has the weather! Now, most of our summer days are in the 80's and thunderstorms are common.
July's weather from the 10th to the end of this week.
Click on the chart for a larger view.
Today, I went onto the front porch to water the tomatoes, cucumbers, and arugula, at around 3pm, and felt like I was in an oven. We put a thermometer on the porch and it read 113.7F. As we weren't sure of the maximum temperature the thermometer could handle, we took it inside at that point. Suffice it to say, our front deck was hotter than 114F. No wonder we are absolutely miserable and don't have much energy to work outdoors! I keep dreaming of moving to Iceland...go figure;-)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Cucumber Tendril Time-lapse

60 minute time-lapse (1 photo per minute) of a cucumber tendril grasping a wire trellis.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Be on the lookout for Noctilucent Clouds

Photo by Johann Enmarc - Uppsala Sweden
'Tis the season for noctilucent clouds (ice clouds) high up in the mesosphere of Earth's atmosphere. I have never seen them, but they are becoming more common with climate change where the mesosphere cools and has an increased water content. The clouds will have bright bluish strands, and can be seen 30-60 minutes after sunset. The article "Climate Change at the Edge of Space" explains this phenomenon. Here's hoping we can see them!