08 May 2008

Roadrunner Courts our Dachshunds...

If you've visited Larrapin Garden's blog, you've probably met Randy, Ricky and Rhonda, the three road runners that have visited our land at different times. Randy (a big male) hasn't been seen in a long time. Rhonda is kind of shy. Ricky, on the other hand, is kind of like an odd pet that lives in the yard and has a lizard/snake fetish.

We've told folks that Ricky has a huge crush on our weiner dogs, and regularly brings them courtship offering -- in various stages of deathly disarray -- of lizards or small snakes or large bugs. Or if pickings are slim, Ricky will settle for sticks, chunks of grass or cherry blossoms. Anyway, this is hard to believe till you see it. Since Ricky usually courts through the glass sliding doors, at first we thought he might just be seeing his reflection and be unaware of the two weenie dogs slathering on the other side. (Okay, only Buster the part jack-russell slathers, Blue is far to lazy to slather...)

But this video proves Ricky the Roadrunner has it bad for the dogs because he's flirting through a fence and can see them plainly. (And is perfectly aware they can't get to him...I know the inspiration for the roadrunner/coyote cartoon watching this bird!) So here it goes:

(NOTE: turn your volume way DOWN to eliminate the mowing going on during this video and the incessant yapping...I don't know enough about doing video to decrease it... It's 2 minutes long.)

Bees in the Comfrey Flowers

Bee N Comfrey

One thing I've learned from my baby-steps study of permaculture concepts is the idea of planting "guilds." That is, grouping plants that benefit each other by being in proximity. A classic example seems to be grouping a tree with smaller plants such as nutrient accumulators/mulch producers like comfrey, then some plants that attract beneficial insects etc. So last year I planted this comfrey at the base of the Prarie Fire Crabapple, a tree I treasure for the spring blooms, but mostly for it's bird-food value. (Permaculture is much more oriented toward people-feeding trees, but I'm getting to those this year...) It also has some Sedum (attracts beneficials) at its base.

And by golly, both the tree and the comfrey look remarkably happy! Comfrey is one of those great multi-functional plants that accumulates nutrients from deep in the soil, is self-mulching and weed suppressing and pollinators LOVE it. (And of course it's medicinal.) Just don't let comfrey loose in rich garden soil, or you'll soon have a comfrey farm...

The bumble bees are busy adoring every pink bloom on the comfrey. There are loads of bees this spring (bumblebees -- but I'm seeing very very few wild honeybees) and they are loving the comfrey!
Bee N Comfrey

Bees are hard to photograph. They are, after all, very busy.

Bee N Comfrey

And very beautiful in their yellow and black velvet coats.

Bee N Comfrey

And he's off to another flower!

So, after this experience, I'm putting a start of comfrey at the base of every new tree I plant. (Don't worry, not even comfrey can become invasive in our natural clay/gravel...) I'll let you know how it goes.

Like Clockwork, He Arrived April 15th

Hello Hummers 2008!

For the three Springtimes we've spent at Larrapin, the hummers have arrived promptly on tax day, April 15th. This year was no different and as usual we were scrambling to get the feeders up as he was zooming around the spot where it usually hangs... It took me a while longer though, to get a proper welcome-back photo.

New Visitors to Larrapin

These two lovelies are like flying jewels. They are fans of the
mutton suet we've located at the Fayetteville Farmers Market. It's
incredible and the birds LOVE it even birds that aren't usually found on suet feeders.

(And it's nice that it's a sustainable local product.)

Bird Visitors

This cute redhead is a big fan.

Other New Visitors

And this red-all-over lovely (summer tanager?) is also a fan. I
didn't know they would go for suet but *everybody* loves this suet.
This photo is foggy because of the extreme zoom. He was sitting out in
the golden locust and made quite a colorful sight.

Bird Visitors

Here he is, smaller, but better focus.

Best Suet Ever - Summer Tanager Male

And here, gobbling mutton suet...

Best Suet Ever

Here is the tanager's lovely wife, who also has a taste for this amazing suet!
Welcome to the new summer visitors!

07 May 2008

The Beauty of a Clothesline, Part II

I posted the pic above a few days ago, when the sun was shining enough to dry clothes in about an hour. Today it's raining and I want to add my promised addendum to the clothesline post. Thanks "Amanda" for your comment and agreement about the beauty of clothes hung out to dry -- and the silliness of communities that outlaw this simple way to save energy.

One group has gone even further to celebrate the clothesline:

Project Laundry List
Our Mission: Project Laundry List uses words, images, and advocacy to educate people about how simple lifestyle modifications, including air-drying one’s clothes, reduce our dependence on environmentally and culturally costly energy sources.
What fun! And why not get behind these simple things that can go a long way to reducing energy usage.

The main block to handing out clothes (as long as you don't live in a clotheslines-outlawed community) is lack of time. Then the question becomes: Do I want to have the kind of life where I don't even have time to stand out in my lovely back yard and hang up clothes while listening to the birds sing? That is the kind of question that has driven me to seek more simplicity and less consumerism. The less I buy and spend, the less I have to work outside the home, the more time I get to spend with the wind, the birds and my family. Now that's a good deal.

I'll end with this wonderfully poetic take on the beauty of clotheslines from poet Mendy Knott called "Instruments of Peace" from her blog A Creative Life. Here's a snippet:
"Looking out the window, hands in the kitchen sink
washing up the dishes gives a person time to think.
I see our colorful clothing fly,
this old Arkansas home’s prayer flags;
from t-shirts stitched with slogans to denims and dust rags.
The blessed sun shines down.
The breeze it blows and fills.
They sail and pull at pins
as if the billowing clothes
could keep this old world spinnin’
spinnin’ spinnin’ spinnin’ spinnin’
spinnin’ round."

(Read Mendy's whole poem here: Instruments of Peace)

06 May 2008

First Harvest at Larrapin

While we've nibbled out of the Spinach bed already, tonight we had
these two batches of greens to harvest before the big thunderstorms
that are coming. That's spinach on the right and Ragged Jack/Russian
kale on the left. We love to saute it with a little olive oil and
garlic in a big iron skillet (or wok). It stays very green and is

05 May 2008

When Is a Clothesline a Work of Art?

There's just everything right about a good clothesline: good for the
clothes, good for the environment and in my opinion they are often
lovely to look upon. More on clotheslines soon.