Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hiking in the Prairie state

Here is a photo from a Sierra Club hike a while back. This is from Starved Rock park, less than a couple hours from Chicago. There are a lot of ravines and formations in this area, where creeks feed in to the Illinois river. Admittedly, much of the state is flat cornfields, but there are a few places with interesting scenery.

Monday, June 22, 2009

summer like the good old days

Here is a shot of the ice cream stand in downtown West Chicago. It is a sure enough Tastee Freeze, and since it was renovated, repaired, and reopened, has become quite popular. It is a short walk from our house, so the net caloric results of my evening walks are somtimes in the wrong direction.

Friday, June 12, 2009

rough rider

I've been getting on the bike a lot more lately, usually sections of the prairie path bike trail system. Some sections are in better repair than others, so you really have to keep an eye on the trail to be ready to dodge gopher holes, or ruts or whatever.
Here is a photo of a snapper who was crossing the path when I came by. He was around a foot long. These old railroad right of ways that are now trails have altered development, so there is a good bit of wetland and "wilderness" along them. Today I also saw a fox, a deer, and lots of rabbits.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

air drying

You might have caught a glimpse of the clothes line in that photo of our rain barrel. Here is a more direct shot. This side yard is about the only place we get sun, unless of course, we aired our undies in the front yard. ( that is our neighbors house in the background. They are pretty laid back and cool with it, but there are some communities that do not allow clothes lines.
I only bought one clothes line post, and used some pipe, soil screw anchors and odds and ends of chain and wire rope I had been hanging on to for years. The advantage of the odd looking arrangement is that I didn't have to do any concrete anchors, and it is quite stable. I could break it down in just a few minutes if needed.
So how many of you have a clothes line?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

cool June

Here are a couple photos of our rain barrel, for catching rainwater and using it to water plants. Most people in the suburbs water their lawns. We do not water the grass at all, but we do water some potted flowers. Since it has been such a cool May, we have not used any rain out of the barrel yet. June proving to be pretty cool so far also.
Patsy heard a talk by an organic lawn care expert in which he said you could collect all the dandelions you chop out and soak them in a bucket of water. After they get all nasty, you can use this water for fertilizing. I did it, and luckily no one saw me, cause the neighbors would not be thrilled because of the smell. They are probably wondering who's porch has a dead skunk under it. FYI, the overflow has an internal riser, so it is not just saving half a barrel of water!

Friday, June 5, 2009

a bear in the woods

Well, actually, there are no bears in our area. This old outhouse, just a few steps from the old deerstand in our woods, has recently only been used by racoons who don't know how to raise the seat.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

the magic of seeds

We got our garden all planted a couple weeks ago, but haven't been back to see how things are doing. Bri called and said the peas and potaotes we planted earlier look fine, the brocolli is not looking much different, and none of the seeds we put in the ground are up yet. They've had rain, but it's been cool, so I guess they aren't really late yet.

When we were there, we helped Jake, our farmer who is working the 25 acre field, pick rocks out of the barley field. After seeing them, and the size of some, I'm surprised his seed drill is still in one piece. Later after the barley is harvested, I think we will go out and gather some of the bigger ones to use for landscaping. We would just haul them to the edge of the field, so they are scattered all along the fencerow.

For supper on Sunday, we had chicken sate and big leafy mounds of Harmony Valley salad, and s'mores.

I also should mention that Bri invited some neighbors and interns from one of the organic farms over for dinner Saturday night. She made pizzas for all, and we had a good time getting to know each other. Lots of diferent toppings, and I liked them all.

We went ahead and bought the brush mower attachment for our tiller, and this made clearing our garden area in the hay field much easier. In fact, as hard as it was for the tiller to dig through the roots and hay stubble that was left, there is no way I could have got the soil ready without the mower.

Here are the chives that are growing just outside the sliding doors. We were snipping them and using in the kitchen earlier, but this is the first time I'd seen the blooms. We saw our first hummingbird come by to take a taste of chive (pollen, nectar?). I wonder how the different plants taste to them?