Snow, ice, and dog hors d’oeuvres

Back in late January, our temperatures plummeted. At one point, our city was the coldest one in the US at -20F. We beat out Alaska and Minnesota! Just because it gets cold doesn’t mean the dogs get a free pass and don’t have to go outside, though. The more cold-hardy of the two goes out in her own fur coat, but our greyhound mix, Emma, wears a sweater or a doggie coat. She has a metal plate in her leg from a bad break, so she’s especially susceptible to the cold.

Here’s a shot taken of the more robust winter dog after the snowstorm, when we took a frigid walk down the street. Poor Emma only made it a few houses down the street before my husband had to turn back toward home with her. Stella and I soldiered on, because Stella was still playing in the snow and I wanted to get to a better vantage point for the gorgeous sunset.

Photo of my dog walking in the snow

Our rugged individualist.

 

Just as spiritedly as she played in the snow, she suddenly stopped and looked up at me before starting to limp. Her feet had reached their limit! I thought I was going to have to carry her back home, but right then my sweet husband came driving up in our car, figuring we might need to be rescued. It was below zero out and terribly windy. We gladly got in the car even for that half block drive home!

This is the sunset I wanted to photograph. Aren’t those clouds gorgeous?

The magnificent sunset of January 25, 2014.

The magnificent sunset of January 25, 2014.

 

More snow fell this past Monday evening through Tuesday morning and, after it, a layer of ice. This has made for some interesting time outside for our two dogs who, at only about 42-45 pounds, alternate between skating atop the ice and breaking through spots. It also serves to make piles left by the dogs and other animals quite prominent in our landscape. While walking one of the dogs today, I noticed this:

 

Iced deer poop hors d'oeurves

Culinary perfection to my dog: Iced deer poop hors d’oeuvres

 Yes, the deer who frequent our yard at night left their usual calling cards. This presents iced deer poop hors d’oeuvres for Stella, who has a disgusting fondness for these morsels. We have to keep her away from this feast. Dogs!!

Ohio garden in the winter

Here are a couple of photos of our snowy, cold garden pond and yard, taken this morning at about 9:15AM. Yay, sunshine! It is bitterly cold, but we have had sunny days this week. That’s been wonderful, a break from winter’s normally grey and dismal days. These shots were both taken using the Snow setting in the Camera ZOOM fx app on my Samsung Note II.

Winter garden and pond

Winter garden and pond with ornamental grasses

 

If you have winter photos of your garden, post a link in the comments below so others can check them out!

Garden pond with stock tank heater is an oasis for wildlife in the winter

This has been cold winter for us in Ohio. It seems like we’ve been shivering forever and that spring will never come. Our garden’s avian visitors are eager for food and water, frequenting our feeders of black oil sunflower seed and drinking from our garden pond. One of our guests is a flock of dark-eyed juncos. They’re members of the sparrow family. You can identify the slate colored dark-eyed juncos by their dark grey heads, grey bodies, white bellies and white outer tail feathers. They are winter visitors here in Ohio, little birds we love to see make their appearance each year. We love watching them hop around in the snow.

Here are two photos of dark-eyed (slate colored) juncos:

They leave these tracks on our pond when they come to drink.

bird tracks on frozen pond surface

 

The floating stock tank de-icer you see thaws the surface enough that there’s a hole even in the sub-zero temps we’re experiencing this year. Brrr! If you get a stock tank de-icer, make sure it’s safe for plastic if your pond is a formed pond or has a rubber liner.  They’re great things, ensuring the local wildlife has fresh water and lets oxygen into the pond so our pond fish don’t suffocate under the ice during prolonged freezes. There are raccoons and neighborhood cats drinking from the pond as well. So far, no deer have ventured up, at least not as far as we can tell.

 

We had our last heater for six or seven years, maybe longer. We finally had to replace it for this season. Even if you don’t have a garden pond, it’s possible to provide water for wildlife in the winter. You can either keep a hole chipped in a container of water or get something like we used to use, heated birdbaths. There are traditional bowl-shaped models as well as more natural-looking birdbaths that just sit on the ground, patio or deck. Here are some examples:

 

At some point, we should find an alternate way to aerate our pond in the winter that is more cost-efficient. Our pond heater pulls over 1000 watts when on compared to the smaller heated birdbaths that only use the equivalent of a light bulb. However, the little heated birdbaths don’t necessarily keep the water thawed down to frigid temps like we’re experiencing this winter.

Confused crab spider

Spiders are cool. Take the crab spiders of Ohio, for instance (Thomisidae). They’re intriguing little guys. They’re not web weavers, these spiders. They’re passive hunters, masters of disguise. Stealthy little critters, they change color similar to chameleon lizards and blend in with their surroundings, then lie still and wait their prey to scuttle or alight nearby.

Then, when their meal is within striking distance, they pounce! They can take down prey several times larger than themselves, big insects like bees and wasps are common snacks.

A little while ago, I glanced down at the Fiberglas table next to me in the gazebo and spied a crab spider hanging on the side. Seeing how it was sporting its yellow camouflage to match it, I had to laugh. I suppose she might have found a meal there, but I still shuffled her onto a piece of paper and deposited her in the mulch by the plants. You can see her better there.

example of crab spider with yellow camouflage

The pictures were taken with my camera phone, so they’re not very good quality. I haven’t identified which specific crab spider this is, and likely won’t. I just wanted to grab some quick pictures of the spider to share.

Here’s another photo I took of one some time ago. This one was hiding beneath the bloom on one of my coneflowers (echinacea purpurea).

crabspider-bee

I love spiders, as long as they’re not crawling on me.

Garden photos slideshow: Minolta DiMAGE A1

I ran across this group of garden photos taken with my Minolta DiMAGE A1. That camera had quite the story behind it, a testimony to good customer service.

Sometimes I miss that camera. My Sony Alpha A300 is wonderful, but I don’t have the lenses yet which would allow me to get some of the shots I used to get with my Minolta or my subsequent Fuji. Still, I love my Sony! They’re a terrific line of DSLR cameras.

The music is courtesy of the generous Kevin MacLeod. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your offering this caliber of music, free. You bring life to any project I do. I want to give you props! Thanks!

Kevin also has music for sale. Amazon has a nice selection of Kevin’s music available for instant download.

Inadvertently erotic produce

Yesterday, while putting away a new bag of white potatoes, one caught my eye. I laughed out loud. all by my lonesome near the hanging wire basket in the pantry.

She was lurking in the bag of spuds.

She, for it’s obviously a she, sports a potbelly. She even has a belly button (it’s an innie). She’s a potato with a pannus…Or a panniculus, if you’d prefer. She’s ample, delightfully rubenesque. She’s a BBT (Big Beautiful Tater).

But it gets better. While setting up my decidedly low-tech shot, I looked at the back of Miss Tater and saw this…

Yep, same potato, other side!

Not only does she have a tummy, she has a tater tush. She even has a cute little dimple at the top of her crack. You can’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

I’d love it if readers would share their “produce with personality”. Post links to your own blog entries and photo streams. Rated G or PG *only*.

Burpee’s Spring 2010 TV commercial

Howie and I saw Burpee’s new TV commercial today. It’s a terrific ad! I haven’t gotten around to downloading it and embedding it here, and I can’t find it elsewhere, so just check it out at the link I gave.

It depicts a woman wearing a flowing blue dress, strolling through her garden. She kneels down and admires the ripe, red tomatoes. Last, she reaches down and pulls out….a smartphone. Yep. She snaps a photo of the tomato and seems to upload it somewhere. She’s grinning like a fool the whole time, by the way.

Howie and I laughed when we saw that, because that’s pretty much me. I carry my G1 phone with me everywhere. I’m also an avid photographer and love to share with others. So, I often take photos of flowers, veggies, toads, and anything else I find pretty or interesting and upload it from my phone.

Need to ID a plant? Snap! Upload it.

See a cute little toad? Snap! Upload it.

I need to take more breaks when I garden than I used to, so I upload pictures when I sit down and take a break.

I wrote to Burpee today:

My husband and I saw the spring commercial on HGTV this morning. What a clever and funny ad!

We got a good laugh out of that, because that’s exactly how I am. I’m frequently out in my garden, admiring the flowers, veggies, even the little toads, then pulling out my cellphone to take photos and upload them to Facebook, my blog, and e-mail.

The only difference is, when I go out in my garden, I can assure you I am *never* bright and shiny, put together in a lovely outfit complete with hat and basket! My neighbors and any passers-by can attest to this. Please don’t ask them about it, though.

Thing is, by the time tomatoes ripen in my area of Ohio, it is HOT. If I’m dressed up like that, I’m sure not going to ruin my hair and makeup by going out in my garden and kneeling down to get pictures of my tomatoes…Even for a quick snap.

Okay, I lied. Maybe I would, but just one! My husband will be in the background telling me we’re running late and to get in the car.

Anyway, good show on the commercial. You and your ad agency came up with something delightful for us tech-loving gardeners.

We need an Android app, guys. Hint, hint. ;)

When I wrote it, I’d only watched the ad once and would have sworn the woman in the commercial was wearing a straw hat. Nope! It’s funny how your mind’s eye can trick you!

I now return you to your scheduled programming.