Friday, February 29, 2008

Mmmm, Fresh Potatoes


I scanned this lovely full page advertisement from my current National Geographic. I probably violated half a dozen copyright laws by doing so. Isn't that an idyllic scene, everyone out in the lovely air, gently hand picking potatoes and placing them lovingly in wooden baskets?


Except potatoes don't grow on bushes, or even exactly on the vines. And you don't harvest them when the plants are blooming. You wait until the plants die down and then dig up the tubers out of the dirt.

This ad makes me nuts. It doesn't bother my husband at all. I think I have a problem. I may need professional help.

It just makes me crazy. No wonder kids are confused about where their food comes from. Even potato chip ad execs don't know where potatoes come from.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Burrow Digging

It was raining the morning I took these pictures. Despite the warmer temperatures (high 40's, creeping to 60), there are still pockets of ice and snow on the ground. So I was surprised to see one of the does digging like a crazy thing under a feeder hutch. That's her and her new burrow in the photo above; she's being camera-shy. Even though it's just the beginnings of a new burrow, she's moved LOTS of dirt in the early hours. Last night there was no activity at all under the feeder hutch.

Maybe she wasn't shy. Maybe she just suddenly realized how HUNGRY she was after all that work. Look at those muddy little feet.

The weird thing about her digging is that she just kindled a week ago, in a burrow under the feeder hutch. That little hole to the right is where the new kits are. I'm not sure if she is digging a better entrance or what. I'll just keep on watching and learning. I really enjoy pondering the rabbits and their behaviors.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sticky Snow


The temperatures have been in the high 20s or low 30s at night, and into the high 30s low 40s in the daytime. This makes for some very sticky snow, like what I was used to in Georgia. The snow down there, when we got it, was all slushy and would stick together great for making snowmen. Up here the snow is dry and powdery and we've had some too powdery to even sled on. Just too fluffy.

Sunday evening we got a lot of fast falling, heavy, slushy snow. It stuck, even though it was around 34 or 36 degrees out. It stuck like mad to the bird netting over the rabbit colony. The bird netting is usually invisible but on Monday morning it looked like mosquito netting. It's gotten all saggy from the weight of the snow, too.


This doe is kind of checking out the snow on the netting, but mostly she was trying to reach that shrub/sapling to nibble some bark and buds. Rabbits like to eat tree bark, especially apple tree bark. Every once in a while I cut off some apple tree branch and put it in the colony for them to chew on.


A raccoon was evidently nosing around the chicken house. The chickens are locked in their coop and fenced run for a few days. We'll set a live trap and either catch the raccoon or convince ourselves he's wandered off.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nutter Cemetery

I got to go to England a few years ago for a training course. I learned a lot of things. One of the things I learned is that a nutter is a crazy person. So, to a British person, this sign may as well say "Loony Cemetery".

Nutter is a fairly common surname around here. We have lots of Nutter things. I love West Virginia.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

More Snow Prints

I know these photos are very blue. They were taken at twilight and, well, it was blue!
I love seeing rabbit prints in the snow. We have quite a few wild rabbits around here, plus an escaped domestic "yard rabbit". To me, rabbit prints look like little rabbit faces with big ol' ears.

Frequently the front feet hit separately so the rabbit face is kind of messed up. But they're still very rabbity looking prints.

This rabbit went and hung out under the tractor for a while. Walking outside in the mornings and seeing all the goings-on from the night before is a bit like reading a book. You get to see little sub-plots unfolding all around.

This is a deer track. They have split hooves. The deer frequently cross the creek between the house and the chicken house, so I see them or their prints a lot in the mornings.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eclipse


Last night was a total lunar eclipse. Totality was around 10 p.m. so we didn't even have to stay awake late or get up at insane hours.

We thought we'd miss it, because yesterday was cloudy and snowy all day long. We gave up and watched a movie right after dinner. Then when we poked our heads outside after the movie, LO and behold, the skies had totally cleared and the beginnings of the eclipse were evident!

We dressed warmly and went outside with binoculars, telescope, and camera.

It was cold. 14F when we came in a little past 10. The battery in the camera gave out pretty quickly, but my clever and always prepared husband had a spare in his pocket. The second battery gave out just after totality, and so did we. Apparently batteries don't like extreme cold much more than people do.

Still, it was lovely being outside. We stood in the back yard and everything was brightly illuminated because of the full moon and all the snow. Then as the moon became eclipsed, more and more stars appeared, and the snow quit sparkling and became somber rather than festive.

My husband took photos with the telescope (it has an attachment for the camera). I stood there with my gloved hands making encouraging noises while his hands turned numb and his fingers fell off. We retrieved all but one, which we hope to find in the spring thaw if the dogs don't find it first.

After the eclipse reached totality and the second battery died, we went inside and thawed by the wood stove and sipped hot chocolate. Turns out that last finger was in my husband's coat pocket all along, so *that's* okay.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Waking Up

We seem to have our best conversations waking up. I absolutely LOVE KathyJo's stories about her conversations with her husband and her boys, so I thought I might share some of mine from time to time, too.

Me: We need to get up.
Mr. Leslie: I would, but I'm mostly apathetic.
(pause)
Mr. Leslie: I'd be 100% apathetic if I could only muster the enthusiasm.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Prints in the Snow

I love going out in the morning with snow on the ground. I get to see who's been by during the night or pre-dawn hours. Most of our tracks are pretty tame. Take this determined path, for instance.

The straight line of prints was made by our neighbor's cat, Winston. He comes by regularly to check on the rabbits and chickens. He doesn't hurt them, our dogs don't hurt him, and it's nice to know he's on patrol, keeping things in order.

This odd arrow in the snow wasn't made during the pre-dawn hours.

It was made when I let the chickens out for the day. In the evening I'll have a regular chicken highway in the snow near the chicken house.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Honey Expo


I've been BUSY!!! I have a new job that's taking a lot of set up time and it looks like the insanity will continue for a while. Nice to be busy.

I went to a Beekeeper's "do" earlier this month. It was well organized, with three class sessions, a lunch break, and the opening/closing remarks and some free time to browse exhibits and vendor tables. I attended a couple of beginning beekeeper sessions that were really good, and an apitherapy session where a guy relieved arthritis and other pains by stinging strategic locations on the suffering person, kind of like acupuncture. It was wild. The premise is that bee stings kick start the body's healing processes and encourage the body to heal itself. I didn't volunteer, I miraculously was totally pain free that day.


Here's a vendor table, from one of the big vendors like Dadant or Brushy Mtn. I got a book from them. You kind of had to look around; the same book could vary in price by $3 or so between vendors. There were also small private displays. I got some soap from a woman who makes soap with bees wax in it.


Our beekeeper club raffled off this gorgeous hive. One of the members' wives painted it for us, for free. She did a breathtaking job. We'll use the funds to pay for a table at an expo or fair, where members can sell their honey and related items. I don't sell honey or do anything with bees wax yet. I just try to keep the poor things alive.

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