Archive for October, 2009

Golden shower

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

ginkgo

I’ve mentioned here a few times that we have a ginkgo tree in the back yard in suburbia. It’s overshadowed by the cypress tree, so I don’t appreciate it as much as I should, but it’s hard to overlook this time of the year when it turns a vivid yellow.

There is some lore that claims that a ginkgo will drop all of its leaves in a single day. I’ve tried to observe this, and when I’ve had the chance I’ve found that it isn’t really true. Ginkgos can get mighty big, though, and even if it only dropped a third of its leaves over a twenty-four hour period, I could see how someone could believe that.

In our back yard, the ash have finished dropping their leaves, and we’ve raked most of them into our compost bin. The ginkgo will be next, and it’s already scattering some leaves on the grass now. After that, the two cypress trees will drop their needles (tiny, needlelike leaves), which the long-haired dogs will bring into the house. They’re not much trouble to sweep up, but dogs consider sweepers to be their mortal enemy, so we face a dilemma.

Missouri calendar:

  • Halloween

Duck box demise

Friday, October 30th, 2009

done

Bittersweet. This is all that remains of the duck nesting box I had set out in the pond so many years ago with high hopes. You can read all about it in this very early post. (Hopeful picture included.)

No ducks ever made use of it, though some organ pipe wasps seems to have found it handy.

The box was sagging closer to the water, and I expected the post it is anchored to to break loose from the ground at the bottom of the pond. Instead, the front, sides, top, and bottom of the box broke loose. I suppose they sunk since there was no sign of them anywhere else in the pond. Too bad about that, but at least the post is standing more straight now.

My good friend Duff suggested that the pond may be too small to attract a nesting pair of ducks. We have seen pairs there in the past, but they don’t linger. I think he’s right about the size. Someday, when I find the gumption, I’m going to make a new nesting box and hang it on the side of a tree beside the lake.

Missouri calendar:

  • Bullfrogs begin hibernation.

Three, and then four

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

three

Before we left for home at the end of the day on our last trip to Roundrock, we decided to take a random hike in the forest. We were in the relatively flat area south of the pond. We let our steps take us wherever they would, and we came upon what you see above.

Apparently, someone had been this way before. I suspect it was I, though I have no memory of having collect these three round rocks here. At first I was amazed that we could stumble upon them if we were just hiking randomly. Then I considered that if we truly were letting our steps take us wherever they would, they would most likely take us along the easiest, most level way through the trees. And that is probably what we had done before when I placed these rocks here. So it wasn’t all that coincidental after all.

We continued hiking a short way, but we had the long drive home ahead of us, and we had our new puppy there waiting for us, so we decided to turn around and head back to the Prolechariot.

When we got back to the collected round rocks, they looked like this:

four

But I remember placing the fourth one there.

Missouri calendar:

  • Average day of first frost in southern Missouri.

Wordless Wednesday ~ Ball?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

ball

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is also wordless today.

Fall nuts fall

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

walnuts

I’ve mentioned before that my neighbor in suburbia has a walnut tree in her yard. It’s a scion of some historic walnut tree Back East somewhere. This year has been a good one for the tree because her yard (and a bit of mine) is dotted with green walnuts still in their husks.

Out at Roundrock, I have a few walnut trees myself. I seem to find at least one new one each year, and that’s good, but I’d like to have more. They increase the diversity of the forest and provide winter food for the critters. A well grown walnut tree can be quite valuable at harvest, though that is not my intent for them.

So it is that I like to improve my forest by introducing Missouri native species of trees, and my neighbor’s fallen walnuts help me do that. Before our last trip to the woods, Libby and I collected several plastic grocery bags (the bane of civilization) of the walnuts and took them with us.

My plan was to throw them mostly randomly into the forest in areas where I knew the soil was good or where I knew other walnut trees grew. I don’t know the proper cultivation process for a walnut (though there are still plenty on my neighbor’s lawn and I could learn how to do it and give it a try), but what I observe in nature is that the nuts fall from the trees and unless planted by a squirrel, must make do on their own. Thus my random throwing technique.

We were at the end of the day on our last visit when we finally persuaded ourselves to take on this chore. We drove to various spots along our road through the trees and each carried a bag deeper in. I took myself to the beginning of one of the ravines that cut down from the north, thinking that the sloping land would give my throws a little more distance. I started launching them, and then the bottom of the plastic bag broke and the walnuts fell to the ground.

That’s where I left them. Sure, I could have picked them up one by one and thrown them in among the trees, but they had fallen in an area where water flows when it rains. I thought that maybe the rain could disperse them for me.

Missouri calendar:

  • Snow goose population at wetland areas is at its peak.

A round rock emerges, is a contender

Monday, October 26th, 2009

crown

Before leaving for the day at the end of the day after our last visit to the woods, Libby and I decided to take a short walk near the pond just to see what there was to see. (That’s easier to do now that so many leaves have fallen from the trees and bushes.)

We strolled over to where we had found a fallen deer last year. All we could find was one bone. The forest has reacquired the deer, as it should be.

I happened to glance down and saw a round shape emerging from the ground. It looked like a particularly large round rock, but we see a lot of possibles like that, that turn out to be only fragments. The more I cleared around the emerging shape, the more round rock was revealed, as you can see above.

We weren’t too far from the truck, so Libby decided to go back to it to fetch a shovel. (I stayed with the rock lest it get away!) With the proper tool in hand, it wasn’t long before I had that round rock, a whole round rock out of the ground, as you can see here:

unearthed

As you can tell from the scale provided by the shovel, this is an especially big round rock. Most that we find are about the size of a Florida grapefruit. This one was more like a bowling ball, and I began to think it might have been the largest round rock we’d ever found.

There was only one way to test it. The largest round rock we’d found thus far is back at home in suburbia. Obviously, we needed to put this new rock beside the current champ and see who the winner is. Fortunately, Libby had also brought along a bucket I could use to carry the rock all the not-too-far way back to the Prolechariot. So I did, and we took it home, and you see the match up below:

paired

It’s a tie! The one on the left is our new-found round rock; the one on the right is the current champ. The left one is a little less round, and it’s actually sitting on lower ground (though you can’t tell from this photo too well), so it looks as though it is smaller, but it’s about the same. The frogs are for whimsy.

I suspect that there are thousands of round rocks under the ground in our woods. I don’t intend to liberate all of them, but I will get some of them!

Missouri calendar:

  • Striped skunks are fattening up for winter.

Sunday report

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

aloft

The leaves around suburbia have been colorful this last week, but we won’t be able to go to our woods until this coming weekend. Given that Roundrock is a hundred miles to the south, maybe will still get some display down there by then.

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The next Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Blog do Avores Vivas, from Brazil. This is Juliana’s second time as host, and her theme is “if I were a tree.” Her fast-approaching deadline for submissions (of your own posts or links to posts you’ve found) is October 29. You can send your submissions to avoresvivas (at) gmail (dot) com.

We’re always on the lookout for new hosts for the Festival. It’s a fun way to steer more traffic to your fine blog and meet new friends. Dave and I will give you all the help you need. Just let me know if you’re interested.

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I’ve been visiting Salt Creek Life a bit recently. It’s another fine rural Missouri blog. Maybe you’ll like it too.

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Obligatory Flike Update: My pup continues to make big improvement in his social skills. He plays with Queequeg all the time. He comes when I call him (most of the time) and wags his tail in greeting. He’s even tried to engage Max in play, but Max isn’t interested (yet). We took them all on a short walk down the block; that was a three-leash circus, but he’s learning. He’s still too young for obedience class, but he is very smart, and he’s going to be very big, so we certainly want to get him under control early.

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The flag of the Empire of Benin. Check it out!

Missouri calendar:

  • Peak fall color ends.

And I ate it

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

persimmon

Yes, I ate this persimmon, most of it anyway. Not the seeds, and not the skin. But about half of the pulpy mass within. We’d had some frosty nights, which I understand is a prerequisite for these things to become edible (at least to humans).

We find persimmons in most of our open, sunny areas, and they grow fast. Some land that was cleared for the original road through the trees now has persimmons growing on it that are taller than Pablo.

I didn’t slice open the seeds to see what utensil was contained inside. According to folklore, if the shape of the stain on the inside can be a fork (mild winter), a spoon (plenty of snow to shovel), or a knife (cold and icy winter).

Missouri calendar:

  • Juncos arrive from Canada.

Limestone from the depths

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

lime

This is Good Neighbor Brian’s new well. It’s capped and not in service yet (because the electricity hasn’t arrived), but it won’t be long.

This photo does not show it very well, but that gray powdery stuff around the pipe and leading away from it is actually a dazzling white. This is limestone from deep in the ground. The well drillers brought all of this up in their quest for the water table. When we had our conversation, I neglected to ask Brian how deep they had to go. Good Neighbors Tom and Fred at the other end of the ridgetop had to go down more than 400 feet to get to the “good” water. (There is apparently a table of water less deep that has a nasty taste.)

Brian told me he intends to spread the lime below some of his mighty oaks to improve the soil chemistry there. The man never rests.

Missouri calendar:

  • Green-winged teal migration is at its peak.

Frosty feature

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

frosty

Jack Frost has made a visit to Roundrock. When we were down there on Sunday, with the temperatures forecasted to soar up to 60º,  there was still some shadow on the south side of the lake, and when we hiked over there (after inspecting the overflow drain and the sorry, sorry spillway), we found this frost on the the grass.

It was hardly a hard frost, and by the time the sun kissed it, it was gone altogether, but it speaks of winter’s approach. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t be swimming in the lake anymore this season.

Missouri calendar:

  • Don’t miss the fall colors of cypress and tupelo gum trees at a swamp in the Bootheel.