Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rain Chain Update

We had the gutter guy out a few weeks ago and hooked up our gutters. Finally it rained on Saturday evening, perhaps a 1/4 inch not near enough to amount to much. Bad news is the gutter guy installed the gutters over the metal drip edge, so it leaked between the gutters in many places, I though he knew better??? I'm not a gutter guy yet common sense say if the water runs down the drip edge it would go between the gutter and drip edge, I'll have to have him back out to fix it.

This short video shows the rain chains in action, it rained this hard for about an hour ( three roofs fill into this gutter). You will notice a bit of splash from above, any debris that gets in the cups can mess them up a little. The other rain chain was a lot more splashier than this one. So an hour south of here got 1.5 inches of rain yesterday and today a big storm passed through and barely nicked us, we had only a few drops of rain. The rain totes filled about 100 gallons on the porch and maybe 50 gallons on the shed, I was hoping the overflow would be tested...
While cleaning out the rain chain this morning I found this female Blue Dasher dragonfly perched in the top cup. Guess this dragonfly is a better weatherman than me I brought in clothes off the line and used the dryer, the clothes would have dried just fine here today.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Juniper Hairstreak on Mountain Mint

The main reason I planted mountain mint in the garden was too attract hairstreaks. Today in the sweltering heat I found one of my favorite hairstreaks in the mountain mint patch a Juniper Hairstreak. The patch was covered in bumble bees and wasps, no honey bees anywhere, must be something better out there for them. I also have Apple Mint going strong with bumble bees and wasps, no honey bees.

This photo was painstakingly taken with my Canon G11, you have to get the light on the hairstreak just righ,t or in this bright sun it the hairstreak comes out dark with none of the cool details. This one is super fresh, they dull up and loose most of the red in a short period of time.
Last even when I got home is was 101 degrees (39c) and the bees had quite the beard going. Look inside the hive barely any space for bees to come and go.

I know they are getting water somewhere. The hive is next to the pond, no active drinking going on there. We have a water feature by the driveway, a few bees have been seen there, but none lately. The pond down the hill and through the woods I have seen bees but none when I rescued the goat in the heat. They do however come and drink when we are watering the garden, a few at a time. I can no longer keep the sugar feeder filled they empty in in hours now.

Today they have said the temps might reach 104, it has never been hotter than 105 here according the the weather mans records on the triangle area.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

101 degrees with goat rescue #3

People I'm getting reasonably upset that our neighbors can leave a goat stuck in the fence all day. I heard it calling before 8am and this evening at 6:30pm I went down and freed it. These people must be inside running the AC (windows sealed tightly shut) and not paying attention to their animals. The weatherman said it made it up to 101 degrees (39c), it was 96 degrees when I freed the goat.  So what should we do about these neighbors? I hate to have neighbors mad at me, but there is something else I have not mentioned yet. There was a Turkey Vulture in a tree waiting for the goat to not be rescued.

Poor poor goat on a very hot day stuck in the fence all day.
After I rescued him the Billy came down to see if it was OK.
Here is the Turkey Vulture up in the tree above the goat.

The beehive was very active at 6:30 pm it was 96 degrees. This is an orientation flight, something bees do when they first decide to leave the hive to forage. The orientation flight helps them to get their bearings so they know how to return home. This is the busiest I have seen the hive, they were in mass in a 5 -6 ft area in flight all in front of the hive. Did I tell you I need to cut those weeds in front of the hive?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Big Tomato Harvest!

Yesterday I got home and found Meg was watering the garden beds, using the sprinkler with well water and watering from a rain barrel by hose. I joined her with my new 2.5 gallon metal watering can using water from the 300 gallon rain tote. The rain totes both have 3/4 inch spigots so the water fills the can twice as fast as the hose(we have low water pressure) or smaller 55 gallon rain barrel. We both worked hard in the 95 degree heat spot watering the new plants and anything looking bad.

While Meg was watering I picked these tomatoes, the orange ones on the top are Rutgers are around 12 ounce tomatoes, the darker ones are Cherokee Purple most of them went over a pound! I'm sure this bowl has at least 10 pounds of tomatoes. These are the biggest and best Cherokee Purples I have ever grown!

The Roma tomatoes will be harvested tomorrow 2-3 pounds look to be ready. My history with romas is not so good, these are looking great! The Jubilee tomatoes should be ready very soon too.

While feeding the bees late this afternoon I kept hearing odd noises in the big oak tree by the pond. Later I went out to turn on the sprinkler and watched a Northern Cardinal fledgling in the garden path, must have just flew out of the nest. Both parent cardinals were watching ever so carefully, I left them alone to watch over their baby.

The temperatures are still hot as it can get here, Friday is calling for 102 (39c) degrees. Dry, yes it is very dry, we had a couple small showers a few days ago, got a little water in the rain totes, the new one got at least 20 gallons, I used some of that water yesterday.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hairstreaks from my archives.

We have a lot of new visitors to this blog. Not sure many of you know that I have been chasing butterflies with my camera since 1997.  Hairstreaks are some of my favorites and thought I'd share some with you. My butterfly website has more see a lot more butterflies there.

Striped Hairstreak, Satyrium liparops one of my favorites, this was found in South Carolina on a canoe trip, totally unexpected. I have seen these in North Carolina and Virgina also.

 Here is an Satyrium sylvinus  taken in California back in 2002 with my trusty D30 camera.

 Arcadian Hairstreak, Satyrium acadica taken in New York back in 2003 taken with my Canon D10. This one location was given to me and I have only seen it at this one location.

Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak, Strymon istapa I think this is from south Texas, I have seen them in southern Florida also.
Coral Hairstreak, Satyrium titus I found this one in the North Carolina Piedmont back in 2002. These can be common here in June. The photo below is an Coral Hairstreak from Colorado, looks a good bit different. This is a tailless hairstreak, the only tailless hairstreak in the eastern US.

White M Hairstreak, Parrhasius m-album
We get these in the yard, here it is on our plum tree. You can tell that it is a White M hairstreak when you see it fly, it flashes a brilliant iridescent blue in flight.
Red-banded Hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops These are quite common here in North Carolina.
Dusky-blue Groundstreak,  Calycopis isobeon I found these common in south Texas. The look a lot like our Red-banded Hairstreak.

Edward's Hairstreak, Satyrium edwardsii Fairly hard to find unless you know where to look for it. June is a good time to find then in the North Carolina Sandhills.
Great Purple Hairstreak, Atlides halesus Both images are from our yard, one in the spring on American Plum the other in summer on Apple Mint. I really wanted photo of this hairstreak, I traveled 2 hours to find it and later found them in our garden.

King's Hairstreak, Satyrium kingi Pretty rare and hard to find. This was taken in the North Carolina Sandhills in June of 2004.
Hickory Hairstreak, Satyrium caryaevorum This is found in North Carolina and is extremely rare, but I found this one in New York where they are much more common..

Martial Scrub-Hairstreak, Strymon martialis This was found in the Florida Keys way back in 2002! These images have been hidden away for a long time! The photo below shows it with the wings open.

Leda Ministreak, Ministrymon leda I found this tiny tiny ministreak in a puddle in southern Arizona. This is the only Leda I have ever seen.

White Scrub-Hairstreak, Strymon albata When I found this in south Texas back in 2004 it had recently been found in the US for the first time.

Silver-banded Hairstreak, Chlorostrymon simaethis This hairstreak was found in south Texas in 2004. Certainly on of the coolest I have ever seen.

Xami Hairstreak, Callophrys xami I found this also in South Texas in 2004. It is one of the most prized hairstreaks to find in the US.

Bramble Hairstreak, Callophrys perplexa This was found in Colorado. Could not have found a fresher one I believe. It is also a tailless hairstreak.

The news says we broke a record with five days in a row with temps in the 100s! Three more 100 degree days expected next weekend...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Other Rain Tote

Took us a while to figure out where we wanted to place the other 300 gallon rain tote. The back corner of the house seemed good lots of roof to fill it with rain water but not a great location to water the front garden being on the down hill side. So we decided on the workshop ( I always called it my shed until we had the house appraised). As you can see the roof is smaller on the back side, yet it was the best location and up hill of most everything in the garden.
I dug and poured 4- 12 inch x 16 inch footers the other day, this rain tote will weight 2400 pounds and we don't want it falling over. The stand was built out of cut off or left over over 4 x 4s and 2 x 8s. On the inside of the stand I doubled up the wood with recycled 2 x 6s from a tear out. Each corner of the stand has 12-14 3 inch deck screws holding it together and the legs are notched so the band boards rests on the legs.

Once the stand was built I dragged the 300 gallon tote over to the stand and somehow lifted it up and onto the stand, it is about 3 foot off the ground on the lowest side.
 You can see I also gathered up scraps and built a small bucket shelf. Tried it out by flooding the gutter with the garden hose. The shelf works great for filling buckets. The white elbows in the downspout got painted brown but the 2 elbows at the corner of the shed leak I'll have to glue them together.

I then the next day, did I mention it was 100 degrees yesterday? I picked up some extra downspout elbows(brown is no longer available) and hooked up both downspouts. Yes the one across the window looks ugly I know... Once I got the downspouts to the tote it occurred to me that leaves and stuff would be going right into the tote and the spigot is at the very bottom and it would quickly clog up and be a tub of water we could not drain. So I called the engineer(in my head) and came up with this pickle bucket (Meg Sorry). I cut out the hole in the top of the tote with a jigsaw and dropped the bucket in about half way. I then drilled hundreds of 3/8 inch holes in the bottom of the bucket for drainage. Then cut out two pieces of 1/4 inch hardware cloth for a screen in the bottom of the bucket. I'll likely get some 1/8 inch hardware cloth to make the screen a bit finer.
This Red-spotted Purple butterfly was great help for me today as well. It landed on the tote many times during the day as I was working. We have several of these around the yard, they like damp spots and we have been watering a good bit. Guess what it is expected to reach 100 degrees Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (yeah the tomatoes love it). Usally we get one or two 100 degree days each summer, by Sunday we will have had 6 100 degrees days already.
When I took the thermometer off the wall of the shed to install the rain tote, I found this Gray Treefrog behind it. We find these treefrogs all the time around here. Currently you can not walk around the house without seeing 5-10 baby toads. 
 Gray Hairstreak on Mountain Mint, we had three of these little butterflies yesterday in the Mountain Mint.
 A look at our tomatoes about 8 foot tall, the temporary fencing has kept out the deer. These plants are 8 foot tall and covered with green tomatoes. The cucumbers trellis is on the right.
 it pays to add lots of compost and water the garden look at these 7 foot tall tomatoes. That is a 4 foot tall Serrano pepper plant between the tomatoes.
Our first cucumbers of the season. Oops, corrected the first cucumbers from the seeds we planted, we harvested one cucumber that volunteered.
 Our first tomato this year a sandwich sized Rutgers Tomato. Not tasted it yet, guess who bought tomatoes at the farmers market yesterday.
We have lot of green tomatoes under those giant plants see.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

101 degree day in the Carolinas!

Here is our bee hive on an 101 degree day! This is the first beards (the other beard is under the boardman feeder) I have seen our bees make. I got worried later that night the hive was covered in bees, I thought they were going to swarm, just cooling off. Bees like the temperature to be 93 degrees in the hive. I stopped by Jan's and his big hive had two 6 inch beards on it. After two days in the 100s we had two days in the 80s, the bees looked to have packed up and left as maybe 1/5th as many were outside the hive.

 This Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor  caterpillar was found near our road, I have seen these about every year, but have never located any Aristolochia the host plant. Some beautiful photos and more on the Pipevine Swallowtail on my website here.
 The black-eyed susans are looking pretty good despite the heat.
 Green June Beetle, Cotinus nitida mating on our deck. The grubs of this species are supposed to be bad on your lawn. Good thing we hardly have a lawn.
 Grumpy doing what he does best....

 Remember the cone flower photo I posted a few weeks ago, this is the entire plant!
 Today I was at Southern States, the coreopsis venticillata Moon Beam'were covered in bees. They had an end cap on 4-5 large plants that must have had 100 bees on them.  So I purchased one Moonbeam and one Zagreb for our bees. This bee is on sneezeweed I believe.
 This male Fiery Skipper was cooperative in letting me get a photo of it today at Southern States. These are one of the most common skippers in most gardens in the southern US.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Rain Tote filled!

We still have not had the gutter guy out yet, been too busy to take the time off to meet them. Anyway in the past 4 days after 2 pm it has rained cats and dogs in Durham and Raleigh. We missed getting these afternoon showers 3 out of the 4 days and we are only one half hour north of Durham. Now it is very wet here and the rain water is not needed in the garden.

So you might ask why is the 300 gallon rain tote filled then? I have placed 5 gallon buckets under the eaves, when they filled up I'd pour them into the drain that goes to the rain tote. On Wednesday night at about dark, the rain filled and I emptied about 30-40 buckets. Got quite wet but I had fun. The rest was a few rains and bucket pours. I thought the tote was maybe 2/3 full. This morning I cut in the 2 inch PVC over flow drain and saw the tote water level was only 1/2 inch below the drain hole I cut out.

Several people have asked how we got the rain totes so cheaply. I found them in the farm and garden section of craigslist (see the link in my side bar). Our totes were used for mulch dye. I have found that some dye remains and settles at the bottom. So I have been opening the valve and letting out about a gallon of brown water every few hours when I have had the chance. The water is coming out clear now. We'll be using the first water on the flower beds, then later move to the vegetable garden. The other tote I have rinsed it out and will likely put the pressure washer inside to clean it out even better.
Here is the over flow drain. I used 2 inch PVC pipe, think about it a 3 inch drain line is filling the tank, so a large drain is needed. I see rain barrels in the stores with 5/8 inch hose connectors for drains, hook a hose to it and the hose folds over and barely works. My advise it to cap the hose drain and drill into the barrel and attach at least a 1 1/2 inch PVC line and pipe it down and away from the house.

Hooking up this 2 inch drain required a 2 1/4 inch hole saw to drill the tank. I then screwed an 2 inch PVC male adapter into the hole and measured and glued on the rest of the fittings. The drain will water one of our camellias and flow down into the yard and then into the woods.

Thought I would share this morings breakfast with you. Told Meg I wanted 3 eggs, she always eats just one. This morning I ate 2 double yolk eggs. These eggs were bought at the local farmers market for $3 a dozen. I've only seen 2-3 double yolk eggs in my entire life, out of 3 eggs today we got 2 doubles!

Here is our beehive right now. I added the second brood box on Monday. My inspection showed the single brood box nearly full and no pests what so ever. Crossing my fingers we will not have too many problems. Like the background of the hive?

Last thing, remember the Japanese Anemones I order last fall from Holland? I got little root pieces, here is what they look like right now. The weeds here have been growing faster than the anemones, but I think that will be changing soon.