Saturday, July 31, 2010

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

When we arrived in our garden, this sunflower was being visited by a giant swallowtail. The sunflower is probably the size of my hand. It is not the mammoth variety but a smaller one, making the butterfly look even larger.


I did not realize that sunflowers contain the nectar butterflies seek; but this one stayed and stayed. 100_2088

You can see how ragged the wings are. One of the swallowtails is actually missing.


When I got too close, it flew to the Tithonia (Mexican sunflower) which I did know is an attractor.



But soon it returned to work the sunflower and I began my work picking beans, peppers and okra.


The garden is feeding us both with abundance.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Emu’s Got the Blues


Feeling kind of blue?

Come on, big guy! It’s not that bad, is it?


Hold your head up!


On second thought, maybe if you eat something, you’ll feel better.


Or just come tell me about it.


We came across these emus in Bainbridge, Georgia at a county park by the river.

Have to wonder what the story is: why emus in the park? (Emus are natives of Australia.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Red-shouldered Hawks on the Hunt

One morning recently, B and I were finishing our coffee on the screen porch when a hawk swooped across the little grassy spot and came to perch on an impossibly small knob left when the wild cherry self-pruned during a storm. It was one of the big red-shouldered hawks that live in our neighborhood. After it had sat there a while, I said, “Okay, go catch a snake.”

The words were no sooner out of my mouth, when it swooped down just six feet in front of us and picked up a little ring-necked snake that was hidden in the grass! We had no idea that little guy was there!  But that was probably what the hawk came for originally and then saw us as it came around the side of the house and decided to go to the little perch. After observing that we were actually in a people cage, it decided it was safe to finish its hunting business at hand ---make that “claw”.

Yesterday morning, B mowed the backyard and before supper he made the discovery of this pile of feathers on the otherwise beautiful lawn.


These are mourning dove feathers.  We are guessing it was at the bird feeder when a red-shouldered hawk made a swoop. There was only a single drop of blood, that can be seen at the lower right. It was thoughtful to leave only a feather mess, and not messy parts and pieces.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Green (Bean) Anole

As I was picking pole beans the other evening, this green anole leaped from where I was working to the next pole of beans.


What a great idea to hang out where the beans are shaped and colored like you!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Okra’s On!

The okra in our garden came in nicely.



Really the best way to enjoy fresh okra is to fry it. Truly, we don’t do a lot of frying, but okra is the exception.

The first batch, we cooked with egg/milk and cornmeal. Almost all the batter fell off the okra in the hot fat. Disappointing.

So the next time we tried McCormick’s Beer Batter Mix.  YUM!


We have blanched and frozen quarts and quarts of okra, now.

As the okra kept coming in and we had to pick a “mess” every other day, I was starting to look for some other ways to cook it up. One website alone listed over 360 recipes for okra. That took a while to wade through. One recipe, though, made me laugh. We could deal with two things at a time.

Squirrel Gumbo

3 -(up to) 4 Squirrels; cleaned
1 Chicken
1 1/2 -(up to) 2 c Bell pepper; chopped
1 1/2 -(up to) 2 c Celery; chopped
1 qt Stewed tomatoes
1 can (small) tomato sauce
2 c Canned okra
2 -(up to) 3 T Creole gumbo file; or to taste
3/4 c Dark roux

Pressure cook and debone squirrels and chicken. Save the broth. To boiling broth, add bell pepper, celery, onion, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Make roux (using oil and flour in equal parts, in a heavy skillet brown roux) and add to the above mixture, stirring until well blended. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add meat and okra. Season to taste. You may also want to add hot sauce to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes. Just before serving or when serving, add file‚ to taste. Serve over rice. Serves 15 to 20.


So, that one is a joke because we have had too, too many squirrels in our yard.

One night when we needed to eat more okra, I just sliced it up and threw it in a pot with a can of diced tomatoes, some chopped onion, banana peppers and the last ear of corn from our garden, a little garlic powder and a few splashes of hot sauce. It was pretty good.


To finish it up another night, we reheated it and added it to our usual vegetarian-style taco salad, which while it contains no meat, does have refried beans in it. It was good, too.


Next time, I think I want to try putting some in taco shells.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Matching Houses

Here is the mailbox.

Mailbox Pink House Closeup

In the background is the house they built to match the mailbox.

Or, possibly, vice-versa.

Mailbox Pink House

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hornworm Hunting

First I saw the frass (droppings).


After I looked, I found the hornworm that had been chewing on our eggplants.


Great camouflage!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Backpacking, But Not Alone

I recently found this large spider on the inside of the screen porch. When B came, I showed it to him and asked him to assist me to get the auto(only) focus set.

100_1871It was only then that I saw that the star-like texture on her was her offspring, backpacking.

Here is the picture cropped in. It is not a great shot, but you can see her numerous babies a little better. It makes me glad to have removed her outside the screen porch when we did.100_1872

Look at that face. Tell me she doesn’t look tired!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Parading Poults

One evening as we were turning into our garden plot, two wild turkey hens started to gather up their poults to scurry them to safety.


The poults went through the fence while the hens flapped awkwardly over it.100_1880

You can just barely see a mama in the background below.


As we drove through the gate, they were nowhere to be seen.

But once we were out of the truck on the other side of the field, here they came, scurrying through the Spanish needle, rattle-box  and other weeds.

“Which way do we go??”


“This way! And make it quick!”

“I’m right behind you!”



And then they were gone from sight.

We have seen them a couple of times since. Other times, we have just heard them.




Pictures taken through the windshield are never wonderful.






What fun to know you might see a wild turkey when you go to the garden. In fact, you never know what you are going to see!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Patriotic Penguin


This penguin was originally part of an extensive Christmas display in a yard near our home. Sometime early in the new year, all of the decorative items were put away, save the penguin which seems to have the ability to reincarnate himself to observe other holidays. The latest is his patriotic get-up.

And by the way, he is motorized: he’s a flag-waver!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


On our recent rainy evening drive down to the lighthouse, we saw that workers have installed some of the boom that will (theoretically) help to contain any oil that may arrive along our coast.


In the pictures below, all of which were taken in the rain, you can see the lights that help keep boaters away. We are guessing they are solar-powered. Hope they came on later as there was not much direct sun that day.



Below is the anchor: a large live oak in the yard of the lighthouse. We are hoping the choice of a live oak is a good omen.


Those familiar with the lighthouse can see just how close the boom is.

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Below are the steps to the keeper’s cottage.



Now the oil spill is really real.  The precautions have come to our own “backyard.”

It is a good thing that most of the migratory birds and butterflies will not arrive for several weeks. That buys them time for now. With the well cap on, the spewing has finally stopped. We are thankful. Maybe, just maybe, it will be okay here.