Monday, August 31, 2015

Back to Fair Hills

A few weekends ago we went up to Fair Hills Resort with my family again. We went a few weeks early because my cousin Ben is headed to college and we didn't want him to miss out on this. It was a hot weekend, but luckily we had a pool and the lake nearby. We went to the Shady Hallow Flea Market one day and it was just dead. Most people didn't even set up because it was too hot. I got some awesome vintage jewelry nevertheless.

This was a really fun year for Harriet. She was able to participate in all the activities they have for the 4-8 yr old group. Also she loved the pancake lady who makes pancakes in different shapes. She asked for a shark, but as we were waiting, the funniest request was of a pancake of Paul Revere crossing the Delaware. The lady did a pretty good job making that one.

While Harriet was on one of her excursions we took Eloise for a canoe ride. She tolerated it for a while, but then had had enough.

 Harriet did a little golfing. No more golf ball lady to visit this year. She sold her place and moved away since she was 95 and it was hard to travel.

 Mixed success at ping pong, but she smiled the whole time.

 My dad and eloise at sunset on the lake.

 A lackluster bingo night.
We have this same picture of Harriet at the same age here.  

 This field is on the way out of town and I had been looking forward to getting a cute family picture here. Didn't happen.

We had a great weekend and I think each year will be more fun for everyone as the girls can participate in more organized activities and we can have more free time. We loved having time to catch up with family and relax.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

How to hatch monarch eggs into butterflies

Two of my friends have recently been hatching monarchs and I thought this might be a fun and exciting experience for us. Harriet has been really into bugs ever since she got a bug explorer outfit and kit from her Uncle Dave and Aunt Lisa for her birthday so this seemed like the perfect thing for us to do. I did a little internet research and came across a bunch of sites that gave us the info we needed to get started. 

First find monarch eggs. They lay them on the underside of milkweed leaves and it takes a keen eye, but once you spot the first one, and know what you're looking for, you see them everywhere. I wrapped the leaf end in wet paper towel and covered that with tin foil to keep it wet so it wouldn't dry out.
Next after a few days it will hatch into the tiniest thing you have ever seen. This is a very close up shot. They will grow noticeably bigger each day.  I put them in my turtle's old cage with some paper towel lining the bottom. They need the paper towel replaced each day because of all the droppings.

Harriet in her bug explorer outfit getting some fresh milkweed for those hungry caterpillars.

It was so much fun watching these guys grow and move. Even Eloise loves it and runs over to the cage each morning to see them. They will shed their skin numerous times for the next week or more.  Eventually they will get very colorful like the ones above and have white dots on their feet and that means they are in fifth instar stage, the last one before chrysalis making. This whole process from egg to fifth instar takes 10-14 days.

This is the first time they leave the milkweed and they go and find the perfect spot to make their chrysalis. They make a bit of silk with their mouth that they will hang upside down from.

Next stage: J form. They curl up and get ready to shed their skin again and become a chrysalis. We never got to see them actually doing it, but we did see many of them become discolored and look like they were almost dead. This means they are very close to chrysalis making.

I love these cuties, particularly the gold gots and gold line at the top. We looked it up and the gold dots are little areas that let the chrysalis breathe. Air vents. 

This stage lasts for 10-14 days. The whole process from egg to butterfly takes about a month.

A few hours away from hatching out.

Right before emerging it goes from black to clear. 

Harriet spotted the happening at breakfast one morning. It was so thrilling to see it emerge. Here you can see that the wings haven't expanded yet.

It has emerged! It needs about 4+ hours for the wings to dry out before being able to fly.

The release! To date we have released seven, have two more chrysalises and five more caterpillars still eating away. We have learned so much and have loved every minute of doing this as a family. Hopefully we can inspire others to do this too.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Garden update

The garden is bursting once again this year. Here a few pictures from it.

Peppers, peppers, peppers. Steve and I switch beds this year and he is during mostly hot peppers for canning.
 I have been growing this Asian climbing spinach and I wouldn't do it again. Not a huge fan of the waxy spinach leaves. Also growing green beans up this trellis. I also brussel sprouts, basil, numerous herbs, broccoli (which is done), snap peas, beets, onions and kale.

 These beets just look awful, but they appear to be growing so who knows.
 We have loved eating the sugar snap peas right off the vine.

 The lace worms have really had a field day yet again this year with my kale. I have tried to be vigilant, but appear to be losing the battle. It still tastes fine though and we have more than enough.

This is the newest addition to the backyard (thought of by Steve). It is a sunshade (purchased online) for the brutal midday sun in the summer. We used to have some shade from the tree next door, but that has been gone for two years and we have no one where hide from the sun back there. This does a good job of shading at least something so we can hang out and not fry up.  It is hung from three bolts that are screwed into the house, garage and a part of the pergola. We take it down each night or if it a weekend and no rain or wind is predicted we just leave it up.

buzz. Honey bee and a bumble bee living in harmony.

We are having an amazing year with both of our apple trees. Only problem is the squirrels. As you can see, we have set up a trap below, but no success. Hoping to get at least 50 apples, I can just taste them now....