Tuesday, July 17, 2012

a bout of scout(ing)

Last week, Todd and I drove to Kentucky to retrieve some merchandise being stored in an uninhabited 101-year old farm house.  While Todd "wheeled and dealed" with the merchandise owner, I prowled around the property, trying to keep the sweat out of my eyes in the 103-degree heat. 

The buildings have fallen into dilapidation, for the most part.  Nature is slowly but surely reclaiming the space.  You can see the vines sneaking up the edge of the roof on this barn.

Similar vines stretch across the front porch...

...and up the walls.

A trumpet vine threatens to strangle a small shed. 

Trumpet vines are beautiful plants, much loved by butterflies and hummingbirds. 

They can be very invasive, though, so plant them on a trellis but never against your house.  They will take over!

I saw wild grapes on an ancient arbor, almost invisible in the weeds.

Bright purple ironweed lit up a dark corner...

...and wild meadow daisies made a cheerful show in an otherwise parched meadow.

This odd weed reminded me of a flower...

...except for the gangly stalks that grew out of its top.

These strange rainbow-colored spikes were clustered around the front porch.  What were they?

I did some research later and discovered that they are arem italicum, or the Italian Cuckoo Pint plant. They aren't supposed to be up until fall, but the drought and heat caused them to spike prematurely.  Also known as "Lords and Ladies Plant", the roots of arem italicum were boiled and then powdered and made into a starch that stiffened the ruffles and collars of 16th and 17th century clothing. 

I'm going to file this away for future reference...they make beautiful late fall and early winter-interest plants!

I saw maple bladder gall all over these maple leaves.

Tiny mites that have overwintered in the bark of the tree cause these bumps.  They feed and then lay eggs there.

Another strange growth or gall is affecting these leaves, but I don't know what kind!

A type of boring insect caused the holes in this tree. 

There are a few fruit trees there that still produce.  This mystery tree was just starting to fruit...

...but this apple tree had been producing for a long time.

The apples were shriveled in the heat, but are still tasty to local wildlife.  Some deer scat underneath the tree indicates that this is probably a favorite feeding spot.

There were other signs of life, too.  Lots of little skippers were visiting the still-green clover plants.

I spotted an old ootheca...

...and soon enough, one of its former occupants.

 There were lots...and lots...of googly-eyed grasshoppers.

Some were brown but most were green...

...with black-striped backs.

I saw these red paper wasps swarming around a tree and burrowing under the bark.

They shred the bark from trees and use it to build nests in abandoned buildings.  I did not go looking for one of those!

Lots of beautiful spider webs hung in buildings and even in the trees.

Try as I might, I was only able to spot a solitary spider, hidden except for one or two legs.

It's interesting what you can see if you're willing to look closely at something that at first sight, seems devoid of life!

There's no "knitting" or "stirring" on today's post.  Unfortunately, we're entering our 12th week of no rain and 100+ temperatures, and our A/C unit is in need of repair and is not putting out much cold air.  It's being serviced today, so hopefully I'll be able to make more than the perfect glass of ice water soon!

Have a great week! 

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