Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sunday. 12/28/14

Cloudy in the morning.  Slow clearing during the afternoon.  This is what the sky looked like around 2:30 PM.

Temperature below freezing overnight, but not a lot of moisture.  Just a droplet of ice still clinging to some wild highbush blueberries.

Mushrooms growing at the base of an oak.  Looks as if something has been eating on them.

Clouds to the north during our late afternoon walk.

Mostly clear sky to the south.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday, 12/27/14

Mushrooms on dead tree.

A fairly soggy day in the Ozarks, not that we actually received all that much rain -- only around three-tenths of an inch.  Jo and the dogs got a little damp this morning.  They got caught by a drizzle while returning home on their morning walk.  Our afternoon walk was a little soggy too.  Don't know if you'd call it a heavy fog or a light drizzle, but you'd get wet if you stayed out in it for a while.

Temperature fell slowly all day, but remained above freezing until almost midnight.  Then, the wet steps and porch began getting slick with ice.  Our forecast contained a chance of snow, but that did not happen.

I cleaned out our wood stove and rebuilt the fire among other piddling chores accomplished today.

Wet leaves.



Friday, 12/26/14

Clouds returned.  Overcast all day.  Increasingly damp as the day progressed.  Periods of light mist off and on during the afternoon.  Light drizzle during the evening.  Gusty south wind most of the day, but it backed off to moderate during the evening.

South wind is producing higher temperatures as well as increased moisture.  Temperature steadily increased all day, including during the evening.  High for the day was 51°F/10°C at midnight.

Cut, loaded, brought home, unloaded and stacked a small load of firewood.

I often harvest firewood from fallen trees, but I do not think there is any usable firewood in this tree.  I'll leave it for the bugs and fungi.



Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Day 2014

Today was the first day we've enjoyed significant sunshine in about a week.  Clear in the early AM, but clouds slowly moved back in as the day progressed.

Jo washed a load of clothes and was able to get them dried out on the clothesline in the sunshine.  Underwear you can hang on racks around the wood stove.  Sheets and towels are not so easily dried indoors.

Pines along our road out.

I think this cloud formation is called a mackerel or buttermilk sky, but I'm not certain.

Down near the house, a seep runs across the road, causing that section to stay wet and muddy all winter.



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Tuesday, 12/23/14

December continues relatively mild, but cloudy and damp.  

The old song says some folks have Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  We have pottery and underwear drying by a wood stove.

Mid-Afternoon: Sky quickly cleared to partly cloudy. Clouded back up again just as quickly.

Across Bear Creek Valley.



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Green Marvel Moth (Acronicta fallax - 9281)

Green Marvel Moth (Acronicta fallax - 9281)

Range:  Eastern North America.

Food:  Principal host plant is said to be Viburnum.




Gray Skies Continue

Wednesday (12/17) dawned relatively clear, but with a red sky on the horizon.  Clouds soon moved back in to cover the sky, but not before Jo captured a photo of the walnut tree in our yard. 

Thursday (12/18) was overcast all day.  This was the view right after we turned around and headed back home on our afternoon walk.

The grass and weeds at the road's edge were wet with accumulated moisture.



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Monday, 12/15/14

.9" of rain overnight.  Day dawned very foggy.

Partly cloudy with a gusty south wind blowing by late morning.

Clouds returned during the late afternoon.  A new cold front began moving through during the evening.  No additional rain.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sunday, 12/14/14

Garden Area (Sweetgum & Persimmon)

Veggie garden area with large sweetgum and smaller persimmon trees growing at the edge.  Were we totally hardcore gardeners, I suppose we'd cut down the trees growing so close to our garden so their roots would not grow into the garden beds, but we are "tree huggers" and just put up with the tree roots stealing nutrients from the beds.

High, thin clouds late morning and for most of the day.  South wind increasing.  A new cold front nearing.  Should arrive Monday.

Jo Weeding Asparagus Bed

A full schedule of fall shows; meant we did no fall garden housekeeping.  Jo took advantage of a nice winter afternoon to clean up the asparagus and corn beds.



Monday, December 15, 2014

Saturday, 12/13/14

Cougar Lane

After several days of typical winter gloom, overcast and fog, we enjoyed a few hours of mostly clear sky this afternoon -- a most pleasant surprise not in our forecast.

Foggy Afternoon Walk

Unfortunately, the blue sky did not stick around for long.  By the time Jo and I took our afternoon walk at four o'clock, overcast and fog had returned.



Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tarantula Hawk (Pepsis sp)

Tarantula Hawk (Pepsis sp)

Tarantula Hawk (Pepsis sp) on Slender Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium). A male. I'd say he is P. menechma, but the experts say identifying a Pepsis species from a photo is "often impossible".  Females do provision their nests with spiders, but not necessarily tarantulas.  (Photo taken 7/5/14).

More info on BugGuide.



Friday, October 31, 2014

Sweet Potatoes

A light freeze is predicted for this weekend, so it's time to dig our sweet potato crop.  They say the potatoes will rot if left in the ground for very long after the tops freeze back.  I don't really know if that is true or not.  We always dig when a freeze is predicted or right after the green tops are nipped by a freeze.

Jo is removing wire row covers so we can get to the bed.  It may look as if she's dancing, but her arms are wrapped around a welded wire tunnel.  The way the sweet potato vines are trimmed back to the wire shows why the wire covers are necessary.  Rabbits and/or deer would feast on the green sweet potato vines if they were not covered.

We had a mediocre sweet potato harvest this year:  A little over 47# from thirty feet of garden bed.  There was quite a bit of rodent damage, but there always is.  I don't know how to fence out mice and voles.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia - 8146)

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia - 8146)

For more information on distribution, caterpillar and life cycle, please see:



Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterondon platirhinos)

Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterondon platirhinos)

Also sometimes known as: Blowing Adder, Death Adder, False Cobra, Hissing Adder, Opossum Snake, Puff Adder, Sand Viper, Spreadhead and Spreading Adder.

Description: Herps of Arkansas calls the Eastern Hognose "one of the most variably colored and patterned snakes found in Arkansas." This statement probably holds true for most states. It can be black, brown, dark olive, yellow, or red. Some individual are highly pattered while others are solid colored.

Food: All sources agree that a Hognosed Snakes eats toads. The upturned snout which gives Heterondon platirhinos its name is used for digging up buried toads. Likewise, fangs at the rear of its jaw (photo) are used for puncturing ballooned toads so they can be swallowed whole. Some sources say a Hognose has a more varied diet that also includes frogs, salamanders, insects, worms, and newts. Others say it eats toads almost exclusively. Diet may vary depending upon location.

A Hognose is considered non-venomous, although some researchers claim its saliva contains a mild venom that will effect small amphibians. Regardless, a Hognose is harmless to humans, especially since it almost never bites.

Range: The eastern half of the United States from southern Florida north to central New England and west to Texas, the Great Lakes Region, and some regions of southern Canada. 

Habitat: Many sources indicate that Hognose Snakes prefer woodlands with sandy soil usually near some type of water source. However, I tend to agree with Herps of Arkansas: "This species can be found in a variety of habitats, especially where there is an abundant population of frogs and toads." Our place is mostly rocky hills and water can be scarce in summer, but Hognose Snakes have no problems living in these conditions. 

Defense: Like almost all wild critters, a Hognose Snake's first line of defense when confronted by an animal too large to eat is usually escape. The top photo shows this Hognose attempting to crawl off into the weeds when I first found it crawling across our road. However, if it cannot escape, the Hognose has one of the strangest defense strategies I've ever encountered. It will first flatten its neck and hiss loudly. If the source of harassment comes too close, the snake makes striking movements, but these false strikes are usually closed-mouthed and often made away from the harasser.

If this cobra-like display fails to intimidate, a Hognose usually proceeds to part two of it's act which is playing dead. It deflates and writhes about for a few seconds while excreting and covering itself with a foul smelling musk. It then flops onto its back with its mouth gaping open. The Hognose remains completely motionless until the source of harassment is gone. If turned upright, it will immediately flop back onto its back and return to its dead-snake routine.

I've provoked several Hognose Snakes into their dead-snake routine, but not his one. After a few minutes I decided it was time for me to stop bothering the snake and let it go on its way. If you want to see a photo of a Hognose playing dead, there is one here.

(Previous Eastern Hognose post here.  Same text with photos of a different snake.)



Thursday, July 31, 2014

In The Garden: July 29, 2014

 Asparagus Bed

The garden bed I'm currently re-mulching.  We should keep a layer of mulch on the bed year round, but it's getting very thin and the red sorrel is invading the bed.


Our tomato plants were looking really good earlier in the season.  Now, the leaves toward the bottoms of the plants are dying.  Also, some critter(s) is eating more than it's share of tomatoes before they ripen.  Most of that damage occurs relatively low on the plant, so we assume it's rabbits.

Surprise Lilies

Blooming for a week or so at various places in our yard.  Planted by previous owners, but now some clusters expanded and relocated by Jo



Monday, July 28, 2014

In the Garden: July 27, 2014

"Fallow" bed.  Contains a few old cabbages, a few dill plants (our dill did not germinate and thrive well) and some volunteer zinnias.  Also, sprouting buckwheat, a cover crop Jo just planted a few days ago.  (We plant dill because it is a favorite host plant for black swallowtail butterflies.) 

Corn:  Last year at this time, I was lamenting that our corn was just now tasseling because we'd planted so late.  This year, it's not yet even to the tasseling stage.  Pretty soon we will be growing fall corn.  The only problem with that is:  In a (more normal) hot and dry summer, the corn won't produce much -- or, maybe, nothing at all.

Potato Digging Day:  Bed before digging.  Potato plants have died back.  Volunteer coreopsis is doing well.  I'll try to dig around the flowers and save as many as I can.  Native bee pollinators visit them often.  Unfortunately, a bloom on the end of a long, spindly stems makes capturing their visits in a photo difficult.

Red potatoes produced well, but we harvested almost no Yukon Golds.



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ice Bloom

Echinacea blooms covered in ice during last week's freezing drizzle.  We are very laid back gardeners (lazy?).  Dead-heading we never do, and seldom get around to cleaning up a bed after the season is over.  Dried seeds feed the birds.  They also usually reseed and/or spread the flowering plants.



Monday, January 13, 2014

American Sweetgum balls (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Icy Sweetgum balls.

Last Thursday was a day of freezing rain and drizzle.  We feared the accumulation might be enough to break limbs or bring down power lines, but we lucked out and only received a light coating of ice.

The porch that stretches along the south side of our house was a little icy too.
There was enough wind to blow freezing drizzle most of the way across the porch.  
It's about eight feet to the ground on the high end.



Sunday, January 12, 2014

Icy Waterfall

During the extremely cold temperatures earlier this month (down into the low single digits here), the little waterfall behind our house did a lot of freezing.

Inside the overhang looking out.

The waterfall is on a little winter (i.e. drainage) creek.  While it is in our more or less in our "backyard", our house is one the same level as the top of the falls.  One must still climb down into a ravine to get a good look at the falls.

Lots of icicles hanging down from the ceiling of the overhand.

Ice "flowing" over the edge of the falls.

The little winter creek that feeds the falls.

Falls from the top side.



Sunday, January 05, 2014

Dandelion at Gilbert, AR

My first wildflower of 2014. Yeah, I'm easy. I'll take any bit of color I can get during the middle of winter, even a "lowly" dandelion.  This one was blooming in Gilbert, AR.  Jo and I found it while taking our New Year's Day hike along the Buffalo National River.