Backyard Nature

Northern Green FrogThis is a Northern Green Frog that took up residence in our little man-made pond. It’s been there for four months.

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we love spending time outdoors. We live nestled down in the woods and have lots of critters and creatures around the creek that cuts through our property and in the woods beyond.   The kids have learned to identify a half-dozen types of snakes, five or six different types of frogs and toads and really enjoy their discoveries outdoors. Imagine my surprise and horror when ED came up to me with FOUR eggs!  It turns out that a bird had made a nest on the deck in an empty pot that the kids use for their nature collections.  ED took the eggs out and brought them into the woods to show me.  I had her put them back, but I’m not sure what the fate of these eggs will be. We haven’t seen a Mamma bird hovering around.

Backyard-NatureIn the photo above, LD found a baby ring-neck snake. It was only about four inches long. The top right photo is a Pickerel Frog.

Along with all this pretty property, we have a lot of chores to keep us busy. Last weekend (and last week) I spent about 15+ hours weeding the veggie garden (see the before and after photo below!) and weeded the blueberry bed. I also spent time building up our woodpile. Meanwhile Hubby tore down the rotting bridge over the creek and built a new one. Below is a before-after shot of part of the vegetable garden and Hubby hard at work building a new bridge over the creek with “help.” This week I’ve bagged, loaded, and hauled 40 bags of mulch (guess you shouldn’t complain when it’s free)… now I have more weeding and mulch spreading to tackle!

Outdoor backyard homeschooldenAfter all the hard work weeding and tending tomato plants it’s always discouraging when nature strikes.  Two of the tomato plants were stripped bare by the 3 inch long Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar you see below. :( We didn’t notice it at first because it blends in so well (though we certainly noticed the destruction!) Luckily the recommendation I’ve read most is to simply pluck the caterpillar off your plant (rather than resorting to sprays, etc.).  Since we don’t use sprays in the garden and because the caterpillar is harmless I’m happy to do the “pluck it off” method!

caterpillarTomato Hornworm Caterpillar

The braconid wasp is a natural predator of these caterpillars (it lays its eggs inside the caterpillar). We have some unsettling photos of the tomato hornworm caterpillar with wasps eggs at this post.

IMAG0229birdThis bird had a HUGE wingspan. I’m pretty sure it was a turkey vulture (turkey buzzard).

Hope you’re having a great summer (if that’s the season you’re in)!

sunflower

We have one more thing to share with you and I’m absolutely BURSTING at the seams to share it, but I need to confirm a couple things and so that post will have to wait til Monday!

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