Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Carp are Spawning

Yesterday I mentioned that the turtles were laying their eggs late this year Turtles Are Finally Laying Their Eggs.  Something else that is really late this year is the spawning of the carp.  When we first moved here, we couldn't imagine what was going on.  One morning, late in April, the marsh was bubbling and churning.  As we looked closer we could see big fish.  Being city folk, we had to ask.  The locals told us that it was the carp coming into the shallow marshy areas to spawn.  The females can release a half a million eggs.  When they are finished they leave and the eggs stick to vegetation and gravel on the bottom of the pond.  It doesn't take long for them to hatch and soon the pond is filled with little fish.  These little fish provide food for other fish, frogs and herons.  Thank goodness some get eaten because the carp population in the rivers and lakes are very large as it is.  Sometimes we have boaters with specially equipped boats come into our pond.  They use a bow and arrow system to fish for the carp.  I guess some people smoke the fish and eat them.  No thanks, I could never knowingly eat that kind of scavenger fish.  I don't know why I never took a photo of the boat.  Lord knows, I take pictures of everything else.

The bubbling in the center of the photo is the carp spawning.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Turtles Are Finally Laying Their Eggs

Snapping Turtle on the move.
Snapping Turtle resting next to the foundation.

The turtles are finally on the move.  I think they are a little late this year.  We usually see them in the yard during the month of May, but this has been a very unusual year as far as the weather.  They travel quite a distance from the water to find the perfect place on land to lay their eggs.  They lay lots and lots of eggs because the mortality rate is very high.  This is a snapping turtle in the process of laying her eggs.  She digs into the dirt and backs into the hole.  Sometimes it takes a long time to find the right spot and then lay the eggs. 

Snapping Turtle laying eggs.

When she is finished, she covers up the spot.  Sometimes they leave a small hole, but most of the time they cover it completely.

This time she must have left in a hurry.  This hole is a dead giveaway to predators.  The next morning this is what we found.  There are at least sixty turtle eggs that have been dug up and eaten, probably by a raccoon.

Destroyed turtle eggs dug up and strewn around.

It is sad but again we have no control over the balance of nature.  Every now and then we will see a little turtle making it's way across the lawn.  How they know the direction to the river amazes me every time.  This is a little snapping turtle.  You can see how small they are.

Baby Snapping Turtle less than three inches from head to tail.

This little guy didn't make it, he was the size of a quarter.

Not only do we have the snapping turtles coming up to lay eggs, we also see these turtles.  I think they are painted turtles but we always called them mud turtles.  I will have to find out exactly what they are called.  Here is one I saw on Wednesday.  It was raining out, but she didn't care.  She had a job to do.

Mama turtle laying some eggs on the side of the driveway.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Time of Year For Deer/Car Crashes

Today was a fairly normal day.  Then late in the afternoon, we had to go pick up our car from the shop.  After stopping to have some dinner at a Mexican restaurant, we headed home.   On the way home,  I followed my husband who was driving our truck.  He was being a little speedy, so I just kept a good pace and fell back a little.  As I was going down the highway, I noticed a deer very close to the road.  I noted that their color had changed.  They weren't as dark as they are in the winter.  Then I remembered that I heard on the news that this was the worse time of year for deer/car crashes.  As I was having this thought, BAM!  A deer came across the highway and ran into the rear end of our car.  After the thud, I looked into the rear view mirror and saw the deer drop to his knees and get up again.  He ran off across the field.  I guess he was alright and I hoped the car was too.  I called my husband and he turned around.  I had pulled into a wayside to wait.  I checked out the damage.  There wasn't any that I could see, thank goodness.  This is all I saw.  A little deer hair under the door handle and a little mud on the fender.

I was very very lucky.  If I would have kept up with our truck, I would have avoided the whole thing or not.  My mother once said that you shouldn't drive any faster than your guardian angel can fly.  I think she read that on a bumper sticker, but maybe if I would have been going faster something worse would have happened.   A few years ago on the day before deer hunting season, a deer crossed two lanes of traffic and hit us.  That time the deer died immediately, and we had a couple thousand dollars worth of damage.  Yes indeed, I was very lucky tonight. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Ducklings Short but Special Life

This is Mrs. Wanda McDuckerson

It is the time of year for the little ducklings to hatch.  My daughter had a Mallard nest in her backyard that hatched on Sunday, June 2.  It reminded me of a summer about four years ago.  She had a pair of Mallard Ducks that lived nearby.  They would come for a corn treat regularly.

Feeding the ducks some corn.
She named them Wanda and Gene McDuckerson.  They had markings that she could identify as the same pair.  Every year they would nest under a hosta plant off their driveway.

Gene and Wanda

The eggs Wanda laid under the hosta plant

Wanda sitting on the nest.

When Wanda's ducklings would hatch, she would take them to the river.
Mama leading the babies to a safe hiding place.

About four years ago,  a strange thing happened.  Wanda either left one duck behind or one hatched a little later.   Out on the driveway was one little duck.  It was all alone.  My daughter couldn't stand it so she took him into the house.  She got a special cage for it and got special baby duck food.  They named him Pat McDuckerson because at that time they didn't know if it was a boy or girl duckling.  Later Pat became a beautiful Male Mallard.  He flourished and became their pet.  They would go outside and he learned how to eat bugs.  In the house he would sit on their feet.  He followed them around like a puppy.  Eventually Pat grew up and became too large to have in the house.  They found a farm where they had ducks and chickens.  Pat adapted very well and became king of ducks.  He had many girlfriends who adored him.  The owner of the farm loved him too.  There is a sad ending to this story.  One day a fox came to the farm.  Pat was killed but he died defending his girls.  They survived.

Wanda and Gene returned for about three or four years, and then they didn't show up any longer.  Our daughter is hoping the female who nested on their property the last couple years was one of their babies who grew up and had a family of her own. 

This is Patrick.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Facebook Recipes Reviewed

Everyday on Facebook there are recipes new and old.  Most of them sound delicious and look delicious, and that is why people share the recipe.  This is the Rhubarb Dump Cake I said I was going to try.  It looks good, but I ended up throwing a lot of it away.  It is super sweet and has that artificial strawberry flavor from the jello.  I'm not fond of the cake mix taste either.  My dad will eat anything and usually does, but he wasn't too crazy about it either.   It is super easy to make though.

Rhubarb Dump Cake
3-4 cups of cut up rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1 (3 oz) package of strawberry jello
1 package of yellow cake mix
1 cup water
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 pan. Spread the rhubarb evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb, followed by the jello and finally the cake mix. Pour the water and melted butter over the top. Do not stir. Bake for 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender.

Rhubarb Dump Cake

The next recipe I made from a Facebook post was Death by Chocolate Bundt Cake.  This was a little better.  It still has the artificial cake mix taste, but with a little cool whip it tastes ok.  I still prefer my Chocolate Chip Date Cake.  The bundt cake is very quick to make but full of calories.  I didn't add them up because I didn't want to know. 

Death by Chocolate Bundt Cake
Mix together for 2 minutes 1 box of yellow cake mix, 1 box of vanilla instant pudding, 1 box of chocolate instant pudding, 4 eggs,  3/4 cup of oil,  1 cup of sour cream, and half a 12 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips. Pour half the batter in a bundt pan and pour half of the chocolate chips in. Pour in the rest of the batter and sprinkle on remaining chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Death by Chocolate Bundt Cake

It came out of the pan very well.

This isn't a Facebook recipe but I was out of the Peach Jam (Freezer Jam made with Canned Peaches) I blogged about earlier.  It is strawberry season so I thought I would make strawberry jam this time.  I bought a 3 pound container for about $3.00.  I took the tops off and chopped the berries.  I got almost the exact amount needed for the recipe (4 cups).  I followed the recipe I posted for the peach jam without the lemon juice.  This is the result.

Strawberry Jam

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Piano Recital

Today my eleven year old grandson Dylan had his first piano recital.  He has only been taking lessons for six months but he definitely has "the gift".  I think he was born musical.  His pitch is right on.  He doesn't get that from my husband or myself.  I can hear it and feel it, but I don't sound good to others, only myself.   I can whistle tunes though.  My husband is tone deaf.  He is so bad that he can't even feel it or hear it.

 My mother (his great grandma) was smiling down on him from heaven while he was playing today.  She could play the piano by ear.  She grew up in a big family, and they entertained themselves by singing and playing the piano.  My mom would play the white keys and her brother would play the black keys.  Then the others would sing along.  Her sister actually was offered a singing contract but chose to get married instead.  My mom played the clarinet in high school and could play that by ear also.  When they were marching or having a concert her band director would tell her to at least pretend to look at the music.  Dylan did the same thing during the recital today.   He wasn't even looking at the music.  The difference is that he can actually read the music.   He plays the saxophone as well.  The last song he played was his own composition.  The piano teacher said that he had never, in all his years of teaching, had a student compose a song. 

Dylan is very special and as you can tell I am really proud of him.  He is always happy and interested in so many things.  The other day he explained the 38th parallel and north and south Korea to me.  He does math in his head faster than I can on paper.  In fact, faster than I can with a calculator.  He makes movies and edits them.  The best part is that he is a kid too.  He plays and has lots of friends.  Even if I am his grandma, I know he has a very bright future.  

All the student participating in the recital with their teacher.

Dylan getting his certificate.