Sunday, July 26, 2015

Alien growth?...

What I first thought was an alien growth in the compost pile:
Turns out it was just a box of red potatoes that was left over in the garage:

And after I confirmed the lack of an alien invasion with Andy, she wanted to include some photos of the current garden':
It's a blooming...
:
Smoke in the background is from the forest fires. It's close to a record this summer for the burned area.
Tomato plants are in the the greenhouse tent. We're already eating ripe tomatoes.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Wasp wars...

This is the time of year when wasps start to be a problem. Locally, they're called yellow jackets, hornets, or simply bees, but technically they're relatives of the european paper wasp (Vespula sp.). They over-winter as adult queens, often underground, but then in summer build their paper nests in trees, shrubs, or roofs. This year they chose a corner of the porch roof where there was just enough of an opening to squeeze through, then started a nest inside. Within in a week or so, there were dozens of wasps flying in and out. Since we have to pass that corner to go into the house, well it didn't look too promising for their future there. In the past we've tried to co-exist with them, but in the fall, they start getting very territorial and aggressive towards anything that approaches the nest. Since I've been stung many times,  it's quite painful even if you don't get a reaction to the the venom, I figured I'd better gear-up before taking action. I'd tried several outfits before, but the best thing I've come up with is an old leather welding jacket and gloves, full-face motorcycle helmet, and a hooded sweatshirt.

Suitably attired, I crept up to the nest and sprayed, only to have the can malfunction. After some adjustments, I was able to repeatedly spray the area around the opening until the wasps were no longer flying around, then caulk the hole closed. Lots of excitement for a few little bugs.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Aspen errors...

When we first looked at our property back in the late 70's, what really impressed us was how big the trees were. Mixed stands of aspen, birch, and white spruce seemed huge, some of the spruce were likely a 100 feet tall and 3 feet thick. A fews years back, Andy's friend Val cored some of the bigger trees for some obscure project and found they were all 200 or more years old. Pretty cool, except for the fact that most of trees in interior Alaska seldom live much longer. So now we're seeing the end of the mature forest; in the last few years, I've dropped at least a dozen dead aspen. This spring I noticed 2 large dead ones right behind the house, so figured I'd better get to 'em before they fell on something useful. The first one went down more or less according to plan and landed right between 2 piles of split wood .

The second, not so much. It hung up on another aspen and no matter how hard we pulled it with the come-along, it stayed stuck. When we finally took a break to rehydrate and think things through, the tree it was hung up began to split half way up, then the stuck tree fell, just missing the power drop and Ski-doo. The interesting thing was that when we finally got the third tree down, it fell right on the stump of the second tree, then folded back on itself where it had split, with the top landing on it's own stump. Lot's of angst, but all's well that end's well, I suppose.
The photos were taken after starting to buck up the trees, so all the stacked wood's from the dropped trees