Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Grandsons Visit

Yesterday we had visitors at our house. Sarah, Sam, and Nate shared the day with us. We had lunch with the kids and our good friend, Diana.

After lunch, Grandma had a scavenger hunt. The boys found Hersey's chocolate kisses hidden in the backyard.

Before supper, we were off to visit our friend David and his critters. He had new kids that were born in the past few days. As we approached the goat enclosure, there was a neat sight.

Henry is the beautiful rooster who roosts on the back of any tolerant goat. What a funny scene!

Sam and Nate enjoyed the quality goat petting.

The young Nubian kids are so cute,

It is such a joy to see the young goats scampering and climbing the rocks.

It was certainly a fun day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our Easter Men!

I need not say more.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Update On The Blossoms

Tis a great day in our garden. As you see the flowers are wonderful. The primroses above are delightful as is the false nettle below. The false nettle came into our garden from our friend, Liz, who had the plants under a tree at her house in Shepherdstown. The nettle has now covered the entire bank behind our koi pond.

Ajuga is also a great ground cover. It is so hardy and can grow in USDA zones 3 to 9.

Some flowers are so delicate.

Others flowers are hidden beneath their foliage. This is the case with ginger. The ginger plant is another great ground cover.

We love these wonderful mahogany critters.

Friends, below is another plant that you would never see the flowers unless you search under the leaves.

This plant is known as the Mouse Plant (Arisarum proboscideum). It is a small cousin to the Jack-in-the-pulpit. The start of this Arium came from Ray and Sue who live near Seattle, WA.

These ultra-charming blooms are not quite entirely hidden because the tails make them six or seven inches long, so that either the maroon tail, or occasionally a portion of the main body of the mouse, will poke out of the shiny green arrowhead foliage.

Its gorgeous green arrowhead leaves form a low, spreading carpet beginning late in winter. It would be a pretty plant even without flowers. It is the strange flowers that lend it its name. The long tail on each fat little spathes lends the flowers the appearance of a family of mice, enhanced by the chocolate-maroon coloration of the upper portion and tail. The lower portion of the spathe is white like a deer mouse's belly.

This plant is a woodland aroid native to Italy & Spain.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Morels

The rain and warm temperatures of the past several days have provided the conditions for the morels to flourish. These critters grow in our backyard. Interesting that they are under an ash tree but tend to raise their heads out of the gravel.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another Success!

Judy managed to "heal" this male goldfinch that decided to hit the window. This guy returned to the skies after a rest at the Meads habitat.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Northern Lights

Friend Mona shared these photos of tepees and the northern lights. I would love to experience this beautiful phenomenon.

Friday, April 08, 2011


Researchers in Alaska are planning a strategy to attack an invasive species with a heck of a nasty nickname: rock vomit.

Known scientifically as Didemnum vexillum, it's a type of sea squirt discovered in a harbor near Sitka last June — the first confirmation of the non-native anywhere in Alaska.

Rock vomit is so named for its penchant for spreading over hard surfaces such as piers, ship hulls, large seashells and rocks. It feeds on the tiny plankton and decaying plant material it filters from seawater, and can be lethal to other creatures — including commercially important species of fish.

"It’s a crazy organism," Linda Shaw, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a NOAA release. "It smothers other creatures while producing acidic toxins that in turn prevent anything from growing on it.

"Rock vomit creates a type of barrier between groundfish and their food," she added. "It’s been causing problems worldwide."

Divers searched the harbor last fall and again in January but could not cover the entire area due to the depths.

That led to the deployment of a remotely operated submersible, which videotaped much of the area and areas just outside.

"We can say that there are no big infestations outside the harbor," said Shaw. "But there are some things we want to take a closer look at as we review the video."

Once that review is complete, NOAA and state officials will launch an eradication campaign.

Maine in 1993 became the first state to detect rock vomit, which was probably introduced by ships dumping their water ballast. Since then the species has spread to other parts of New England.

On the West Coast, California, Oregon and Washington also have infestations.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

I Love It!

What a show out our living room window! The forsythia and daffodils are ablaze with yellow. This week the Bradford pear exploded with blossoms as did the canopy of the flowering cherry tree.

The periwinkle crop is amazing this year.

Here is proof that Spring has arrived. The blossoms of the plant below are raising their petals toward the sun. OK- what is this plant? First to identify will get the first flower.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Pet Expo

You wonder why Judy was not interested in us attending the Pet Expo held this past weekend in Morgantown? It did not take 44 years of marriage to know that if I had attended that we would come home with a parrot, a spiny lizard, and a pot bellied pig!

The wild and wonderful made its way indoors this weekend at the Mylan Expo Center for the Second Annual All Pets Expo.But it wasn't all just cats and dogs; there were pets of all shapes and sizes.

"This is awesome. Because there's not too many events for dogs let alone dog parks. So, this is really something awesome. And its not just for dogs or cats, people had their goats here yesterday too," laughs Sherri Foyles with 4 Paws Up Pet Bakery.

"I've seen some pot belly pigs walking around and some goats. That you generally don't see at a pet expo," said John Lege, who has named himself That Guy With The Birds.

Animals of all kinds were welcome this weekend and they came from all over.

"We've had people come two hours, two and a half hours. We have vendors from Virginia, so we have people coming from all over the place, said Natalie Zellie, the promoter for the All Pets Expo.

And in only its second year, it is one of the largest in the area.

"Columbus is probably the biggest expo in the country and this one is right up there even though its about a third of the size," said Lege.

Lege travels all over the area with parrots that he has rescued and loves teaching the crowd.

"The reaction of the kids and the adults in some of the important facts that we put across that people really didn't know about, whether it be parrots or different birds from around the world. A lot of things here are very educational. Thats the main focus of it," said Lege.

His parrot program was just one of many unique shows throughout the weekend.

Pets could enter the ultimate air dogs dock diving competition to see who could jump the farthest.

"Its fun for the entire family. Lots of things to do for the kids to keep them entertained. There are lots of things to do, of course, for the dogs and the animals, but also the adults. The shows, the entertainment," said Foyles.

Organizers said that the shows from this years event were such a success, they hope to have them return again next year.

Friday, April 01, 2011

April Fools Day

Today is the day to trick the wife. I have learned over the years that my April Fools joke has to be tame or I get into big trouble! I rem
ember some of the great hoaxes that have been perpetrated in the past years. I believe the classic was The Swiss Spaghetti Festival.

1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied t
his announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

Here are two that remember distinctly.

1998: Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed American
s. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version."

1995: Discover Magazine reported that the highly res
pected wildlife biologist Dr. Aprile Pazzo had found a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. These fascinating creatures had bony plates on their heads that, fed by numerous blood vessels, could become burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speeds. They used this ability to hunt penguins, melting the ice beneath the penguins and causing them to sink downwards into the resulting slush where the hotheads consumed them. After much research, Dr. Pazzo theorized that the hotheads might have been responsible for the mysterious disappearance of noted Antarctic explorer Philippe Poisson in 1837. "To the ice borers, he would have looked like a penguin," the article quoted her as saying. Discover received more mail in response to this article than they had received for any other article in their history.

I fell "hook line and sinker" for the Discover article. Being a biologist, I should have known that the story was an April Fool hoax and th
ey were describing the naked mole rats of East Africa! Gee, it was an article in the scientific magazine, Discover. Remember the old saying about not believing everything you read!