May 2 We
got two chicks given to us by the family that was staying with us, and
the weather just recently got hot, so we couldn't house them in the
greenhouse, where it gets 100 degrees on a sunny day... So this leads
me to my latest chicken contraption:
from scrap pallet wood and chicken wire, it has two small wheels on the
heavier end, and two handles on the other end, so it can be pushed to
new locations as they devour the grass. With the door open you
can see the two nesting boxes above, and a platform for the food and
water on the bottom, so that it can hopefully be transported without
having to move the food and water separately... It also has the
enamel top of (what turned out to be) our current washer for shade and
water shedding... This was a redesign from a memorable failure a few years back:
This was too heavy and having four wheels it couldn't turn if it wanted to...
We used to say "We've got 3 seasons in North Idaho, and temperate isn't
one of them..." It went from 27 degrees overnight and highs in
the 50's, to highs in the upper 70's the last couple days. That
doesn't sound too bad, particularly if you're still recovering from the
polar vortex in Minnesota, but a sunny day and upper 70's is too hot to
work in the garden. Speaking of which, the cherry trees are
blossoming, the manure got delivered yesterday, plus a pickup load I
got this morning. All that coincided with my getting an
intestinal bug that has zapped my vitality, so I'm mostly lying low...
Still feeling a bit under the weather, although the weather has
been nice today... We went to the Mill Pond for the sunset the
other night, and the pale night sky, reflected in the still water,
which showed the vee shaped trail of a beaver heading over to our
corner. Part of the unfortunate fallout of the new park project
was cutting out some shade trees along the edge of the road. including
dumping the branches in the water. That wasn't effective if you
want to remove willows, since they will sprout from cut-off branches,
but it was effective in drawing the beaver right over to us, and we
could hear it nibbling the bark off some of the branches.
Beavers come and go on the Mill Pond--years ago they dug deep trenches
in the mud to make a watercourse available to them all summer, but that
was all removed when the bottom of the Mill Pond was sealed with fabric
a few years back...
May 8 I
guess I'm back to normal, since we went on a 3 mile hike steadily
uphill on the logging road M41 today, to look for calypso orchids
(found 3). There were thousands of other wildflowers in bloom--,
wild strawberries, maiden mary blue-eyes, prairie stars, dwarf waterleaf:
stars, larkspur, yellow and blue violets, trillium, skunk cabbage,
bluebells, Columbia Virgin's Bower, glacier lilies, and a juvenile snowshoe hare shot with my last photo before the battery ran out:
was steady work pushing a bicycle up the gravel road, at least a
thousand feet of elevation gain, but it was fun and easy to ride down
in about 20 minutes at the end...
My Mother's Day observance included a pickup load of manure going onto
the church garden, including lots of digging out grass. The
weather was very nice, and expected to get nicer through this week.
I'm still digging grass out of the paths in our garden. When we
put in the garden, aeons ago, we thought it would be nice to have grass
paths, not knowing that the grass in question, quack grass, puts out
dozens of runners underground in all directions, so we were were
providing handy pathways for it to take over...
is a female rednecked grebe on its nest. A similar nest nearby
had two eggs. We canoed partway up the lake on this lovely warm
morning to see if we could see some wood ducks, but only saw
grebes and geese and a turtle or two. In Spring, an old man's
thoughts turn to manure, repeatedly, probably in more ways than one.
But I got another pickup load of manure yesterday, and commented
that I'd performed a literally Herculean task of emptying it at one go.
This is probably a better use of literal than most, since it WAS
one of Hercule's tasks (except for the pickup-load part). This morning
I spread that load and parts of several others, needing to get it all
spread to get the garden planted, which could mostly have happened a
week or two ago, given the current weather (nonfreezing and warm).
And now I should get back to do a little more gardening before
May 18 We
went up to the chain of lakes along the Coeur D'Alene River and
bicycled about 15 miles today. Much of the route was through
swamp on an old railroad grade, so it was easy to get close to quite a
surprise were these white pelicans, which I hadn't known were in our
area. They have the funny bumps on their beaks during mating season.
I think this is a male cinnamon teal
A male yellow headed blackbird
A pair of hooded mergansers
This female redwinged blackbird looked good on the native waterlilies.
Gardening hard and furious these days. A patch of volunteer
spinach is big and glorious, showing that I've way behind on planting
the cold weather crops this year. But now the manure is spread
and peas, dahlias, gladiolas, corn, and broccolis are in, with more to
go in later today.
Carrots, green beans, more peas, and various greens are now planted as
well. We're still eating a few carrots from last year--the ones
that overwintered in the garden and weren't eaten by gophers or
frozen... I got another load of manure to take up to the church,
and am trying to reclaim some acreage from the evil quack grass.
And the weather is very nice but could benefit from more rain...
My son and I went bicycling around Farragut State Park today-- the
former Naval training base about 10 miles from Spirit Lake. I
thought there was a chance to see a few different flowers or birds, so
I brought my camera, but the part of the park that had been the base
retained little visible native flora beyond some patches of Rydberg's
pentstemon and balsamroot. In a few places the asphalt roads that had
ringed the many sections of the 30,000 population camp were
deteriorating to gravel, and nearly all the buildings had been removed
except for the Brig, which is now an interesting museum of the place's
Driving around the town of Spirit Lake there are still lots of wild
phlox blooming, and I hope to get up on the ridge before the camas
flowers are through. My daily focus remains on the garden,
including planting, watering, and weeding.
I've been fixing things lately in my spare time. So much of our world
is disposable, but a few things can still be fixed, like a garden hose
timer that I took apart and removed the gunk so it would work
again. Then there's repurposing-- I take apart old computer
hard drives for the great magnets inside. I used one of them
today for a screen door closer--the spring pulls it in and the strong
magnet latches it tight, but a push opens it without having to turn a
knob. My toughest project is replacing the blades on a very old
Vornado fan--I was cooling the chicks in the green house and it fell
over, breaking the plastic fan inside the green enamel metal
housing. Using Google and Ebay, I was able to find hopefully the
correct replacement in about 10 minutes. I'm a big advocate of
"letting my fingers do the walking" but I don't expect that's what Ma
Bell had in mind when it was the advertising slogan for the yellow
pages (remember them?). While at Ebay I checked to see what my
old Vornado might be worth--probably over $100 before I broke the
original fan blade.
went looking for what's blooming this afternoon, and decided to include
all the ones that turned out reasonably since I'd like to edit my
wildflower pages some winter day.
This song sparrow isn't blooming but posed nicely in our garden.
It's late for the calypso orchids, but I found 8 walking up to the ridge from the SW corner of the Mill Pond.
These mariposa lilies are common now.
The wild hyacinth was common at Farragut Park, but I only saw a few on the ridge.
Ninebark bushes are starting to bloom--very common.
Rock penstemon is common on rock outcrops, and at its height now also.
Larkspur and phlox tend to grow on the sunnier exposures. Larkspur above, phlox below.
I'm doing well in the fixit department. The
new fan blade fit the old Vornado fan, and another fan was in the shop
for failing childproof switch got glued to functionality. Then
there was the missing pole for our tent rain fly. I
remembered seeing a trashed party site behind the Mill Pond with an
abandoned tent and got the foldable poles from it, which with cutting
and taping fixed the missing tent pole for us... I would have
cleaned the site up more, but the ants had colonized the tent...
We've had sprinkles the last few days, but from the
weeding I've been doing I know the subsoil is drying fast, so it's
going to take more watering for the gardens this year. We usually
let the lawn go brown, since the orchard and garden end up costing over
$100/month for water as it is...
May 30 I
went to Q'emiln Park in Post Falls again today--as lovely as always.
For a city park it's huge--70 acres, with deep canyons and lots
of little confusing trails. I stayed oriented by hearing the sounds
from the freeway to the north, or the rushing water of a branch of the
Spokane River sometimes as well.
The honeysuckle was starting to bloom there.
chocolate lilies I'd seen upstream at Tubbs Hill, but never near
Spirit Lake. I knew the name because I'd just read there was a
flower walk at this park and chocolate lilies were expected.
This was a new one to me, possibly in the pea or vetch family.
These wild roses are so common I tend to overlook them...
Here's the rushing waters coming out of the floodgates, scheduled to be replaced this summer, I believe.
Books read and other media of note:
Four by L'Amour The
CD version is nicely dramatized, a set of unrelated western short
stories. From his fiction one gets the feeling there were a lot
of pretty single women ranch owners in the old days.
A Million Ways to die in the West by Seth McFarlane This
is likely to offend most aficionados of western fiction--it's sort of
an adult version of the Shakiest Gun in the West meets Blazing
Saddles. It is clear the author looked up a couple facts on The
Old West on Wikipedia and then wrote a thoroughly modern novel set in
his own mythology. Correction--it's based on his own screenplay,
so it's derivative of a genre that created his false mythology--I think.
The Empty Land by Louis L'Amour. Classic
western with the reluctant gunslinger coming in to save a mining town,
with two potential love interests. The kind of story that makes
you wish Hollywood and America were still into westerns...
Nothing to Lose by Lee Child It
starts out with chily vibes like The Lottery or The Visit, and works
towards plausibility but never arrives there. And the ending
might work in a fantasy, but in the real world? Nah.
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff. When
it comes to juvenile books that mix doom and destiny, Margaret Mahy's
Pirates Mixed-Up Voyage is my favorite. This one, shrouded in fantasy,
came off a little too serious for my taste. It did have the fun
concept of talents that could be captured like mist...
Stone Cold by C J Box Having
read most of Box's books, I was afraid he was veering too much into the
dark side, but this book, probably titled after a character in the
novel being a "stone cold" killer, was somewhat redemptive in the
end. There was still some bleak commentary on our gun culture and