Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Four Buddies: How Very Different, How Very Much the Same

On MLK Day, I wrote about the four boys who are so very close in my kindergarten class this year. They all have a name that begins with the letter A. One A is white. One A is black. One is from a family from China and one is from a family from India. These are four of my top readers: they are amazing and very bright boys and I am sure this is yet another aspect of their bond. Their love of soccer is another.

This week I took the picture that should have gone with that blog.


Valentine's Day is about loving and caring so take note, World, and just perhaps "a child shall lead them."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not Rudolph

As we were leaving the Refuge on Sunday afternoon, we glanced down the trail/road by the visitor's center and there was this little deer grazing.

I love the pose of what I, the kindergarten teacher, know as the "I-need-to-go-to-the-bathroom-NOW!" look.


It went back to grazing much as some of my kids might go back to playing, temporarily forgetting the prior warning.


This pose looked just like those deer decoys that bow-hunters practice with!


We became aware of what had tempted this young deer out in the open. It was eating the tender red maple winged seeds that had fallen to the ground in small clusters.

Here it looks like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer as it stuffs in a small branch.


I took this picture a year or so back but it shows what this deer found so tasty.


Maybe this explains the signs!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Gator Day

It was gator day at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge today. It has been a cold, windy week, and reptiles and mammals alike were out enjoying the sun. We counted nine gators on our drive.  All but one were biggin's.

I loved the fanned tail on this one.


Nice smile, too!


This guy was absolutely HUGE! He was up in the grass and this was the best shot I could get of one of the biggest gators we've ever seen. We were fine with him being across the canal from us. We estimated he was more than 30 inches across at his shoulders. Probably had a deer for breakfast!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Neighbors Left the Sprinkler On

It was on all last night, but I did not see the effect until 5PM.




The late afternoon sun had warmed us from this morning's 13 degrees to a whopping 48.

The steady drip could be heard.





The neighbors said they expect to run it again tonight.

Quite a ways south of here, other sprinklers were on last night and tonight in an effort to save citrus trees by keeping their temperature from dropping below 32 degrees. My dad and brother were out turning on the systems and monitoring them to make sure they were all working properly. They are out again tonight. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

In Need of Correction


I saw this and came back with my camera.

I suggest:

"Correct thyself, DOC."  ;^)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

B's Cabbages

In late October, B went to Gramling's, an old wood floor, tin roofed, generations-of-Gramlings old, general farm store a few a blocks from the state capitol, down by the train tracks. Tools to tack and feed and seed are just a few of the simple pleasures to be found in this wonderland for growers of both plants and animals.

We go for the plants. There are the usual cell packs of plants--usually vegetables or herbs with the occasional flower. But the seeds offer the most variety. On a wall just inside the front door are the seeds in the plain, brown envelopes. If that is not enough, they will weigh out the amount you need with an old balance scale. Advice is free.

On that day in October, B found little savoy cabbage plants in a small bundle. He gave one to his homebound brother, one to younger son and planted the rest out in a raised bed. They have been happy here.


We had not grown savoy cabbage before and I had to do a little research to figure out what we had. It is a very mild flavored cabbage with very curly leaves. The effect is pleasing as well as tasty.

So on Saturday, he harvested one.



He discovered it occupied--no whiteflies, though!



The compost pile ate well that day as the outer leaves were recycled.


And we ate well that night with fresh cabbage and bacon salad.


The rest of that head became coleslaw for a memorial reception.

Mr. O.I. Gramling would be proud.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hiking Around Lake Piney-Z

I had never hiked all the way around Lake Piney-Z and so we did this Sunday afternoon.  It was actually more of a stroll as we made it last two hours and it really isn't all that far.  the trails are part of a larger trail system that links a couple of different parks here in town.

It was good to see the wood duck boxes. Several of these were part of our younger son's Boy Scout Eagle project. The one below has lost its predator guard.


I have photographed these cypresses in the fall from across the lake.


The lovely golden trumpets of the jessamine are blooming her and there.


I believe this is a coreopsis that was blooming right by the shoreline.


Though the trail officially is not a loop, if you walk down the train tracks or on the rocks beside it, you can make it all the way around the lake. I was anxious while we were on and by the tracks and relieved when we came to the trail again. We had been off less than three minutes when we heard the train in the distance and walked back to see it.


The highlight of the walk was watching some really large fish in an area near the shore. They were probably carp. The fin protruded a good four inches above the water. The first I saw was a nose and I thought it was an otter. But last time I checked, otters don't have fins and seem to swim just fine without them.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Rattlesnake Roundup

On Saturday, we went up to tiny Whigham, Georgia to the 49th annual Rattlesnake Roundup. We had not been in years and decided it was time to go back.

The original purpose of the little festival was to raise money for community projects and it still does bring in folks from all over. We were curious to see how it might have grown. It has grown: there were a lot of people, a lot of cars and a lot more booths. The booths, however, were more of the flea market/fair type than the craft  and school/church food type that we prefer. We saw nothing that tempted us to buy. Though this came close! Doesn't everybody need a five foot (plus) green alien?  "Take me to Obama!"


We found a few other things we thought interesting.

A little 1926 mill was making corn meal and grits on the spot. Can you see the fake rat at the top of the hopper?


The local boy scout troop had set up a rope bridge that kids were challenged to try---for free. B also bought a raffle ticket from them for a shotgun.


And just as we got to the camera battery gave up the ghost. I had checked it before we left home, but it was cold this morning and it sucked all the life out of it. That was really disappointing.


We saw some BIG rattlers being brought in by the snake hunters. Some of the handlers used long-handled hooks and others used their gloved or bare hands.

The snakes are weighed, milked for venom, and counted. Most end up being sold for meat and skins. (Tastes like chicken, they say.) Though it was available, we did not partake. It was fried like everything else there. 

There are cash prizes for the hunter who brings in the largest and the one who brings in the most rattlesnakes. The record rattler weighed over 15 pounds in 1976. The record number was in 1989 with a whopping 164 snakes brought in by the winner.

We did not stay for the competition having seen what we came to see and not being able to photograph anymore was disappointing, as I said. That should do us for Roundup for a few more years.