How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck…

It must be the summer for varmints.

First the coon, then the bunnies, and now a wood chuck.

I remember reading that back in the depression hobos used to leave marks on fences and trees so other tramps would know the houses to avoid, which ones had good food and where the mean dogs were.

I’m thinking some varmint put a sign out in the back 40 saying, ” Try these humans – they’re an easy mark and worth a laugh!”

However he found us – a solitary woodchuck ambled into the yard a few weeks ago and decided to make a permanent home under the wood pile in the machine shed (the only outbuilding with a gravel floor.)

We did not realize his presence for awhile and by the time Pedro first noticed the large pile of dirt and gravel in the back of the shed – he had dug out quite a home for himself.

My husband was not happy.

At first I didn’t mind so much. He was kind of cute in a 4- legged varmint-y kind of way. Besides he stuck to himself and didn’t chase chickens or eat my edamame.

But then I discovered the partially eaten pumpkins and winter squash in the garden.

Cute little Chuckie had crossed the line.

Now – how does one remove an unwanted woodchuck from his burrow underneath a large pile of wood inside a machine shed?

Good question.  But – never fear – Google has the answer.

We set the live trap for him – right outside the front entrance of his domicile – and baited it with carrots just as the website said.

Within 4 hours little Chuckie was history and his home was blocked up so no other little varmint would move in.

Maybe I should add a “no vacancy” sign.

Or “vagrants not welcome”.

Take that you little varmints. These humans are getting smart.

Photo thanks to Matt Reinbold.

Digging Out

After the craziness of the fair died down (By the way – the kids did great – a thank you to everyone who wished them well!) – it was time to dig out the garden.

Once I found the plants again, I had some pleasant surprises!Corn stocksThe corn has been  growing fast and already has tassels and silk. My mouth waters just looking at it!
MelonsI found several baby watermelon tucked away under the leaves.
PlantsThe winter squash, pumpkin and some volunteer gourds have taken over the bottom section! I see several little pumpkins  and butternut squash forming, but absolutely no zucchini or summer squash.

Am I the only one in the world who can’t grow a zucchini?

BeensBut I can grow cucumbers! I had to pull a lot of weeds before I even uncovered the plant – and very excited to find this guy hiding in the leaves. Isn’t it beautiful?  🙂

Cucumbers

And then there’s our summer staple – the fresh green bean. We’ve had just enough to eat fresh –  lightly steamed and served with butter. Yum!

Somehow all the sweat and hard work is worth it when you see those fresh veggies on the table!

I’ve linked this post up with the Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.

Cousin Week!

Just look who’s at my house!

Girls

Yep – it’s my nieces Katie and Annie. They’re here for the week along with their sister Emie and all 4 brothers.

Why? Because it’s cousin week again! Of course Aunt Julie came to help – along with her two boys, and Nana and Poppa. That makes a grand total of 14 kids and 5 adults.

For those of you newcomers, Annie is my biological niece, and her parents adopted Katie and Emie from the Ukraine. All three girls have Downs Syndrome. When you take those 3 special girls and add their 4 brothers,  you get one busy family – and two very tired parents. So once a year we take all seven kids for a week to give them some time much needed alone.

And boy do we have fun!

Girls 2This morning the girls did the Jillian workout with us – using blocks as their weights. What a hoot! Both Katie and Annie took breaks through-out but little Emie never stopped!

We played play dough, frosted cookies, made bread sticks, spent hours on the swing and in the sandbox, picked lots of flowers, played with the doctor’s kit and gave lots of “pokeys” (shots), and of course – chased chickens.

And it’s only the second day! 🙂

Girls pond

But we’re not always moving. We’ve had lots of cuddle time to read stories and giggle. I loved our walk to the pond before supper to throw rocks in the water. The girls played for a little while, then just sat quietly, mesmerized by the ripples on the water as the wind blew.

After a few minutes they’re charged up and ready to go again – on to another adventure!

Somewhere Between…

We’re in a between place –  it’s not quite summer and it’s not quite fall.

The days are warm and sunny, but the nights are cool and crisp.

School has started, but we’re still wearing shorts and t-shirts.

Melon

My garden is still producing summer crops – like these cantaloupes – all eight of them harvested on one day!

But my fall crop of  apples in the orchard are already starting to ripen.

We picked 5 tubs of apples from a neighbor’s tree this week and canned almost 50 quarts of applesauce – and still have 3 tubs to work up.

Apples

The pears aren’t far behind them.

The cicadas are singing and the world is starting – very slowly – to turn brown.

One season is closing and another is just beginning.

A part of me is ready for the schedule and structure of the fall – yet another part of me already misses the freedom of the summer.

While my mouth still waters for another taste of meat on the grill, I find myself lingering over recipes for warm comforting casseroles and rich thick stews.

We’re hanging in the “between” right now, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful breezes.

For just a little while we can forget the heat and humidity of the past months and the cold and snow that are surely in our future.

Yes, we are most definitely somewhere between and I think it’s a pretty sweet place to be!

Cilantro and Fresh Salsa

I am hooked on fresh cilantro!

I had never had it until a few years when my sister Teresa brought it to a family gathering. Now it can’t be summer without it!

I actually bought a plant this year so I could start some of my own, but my mom assures me it grows just fine from seed.

My favorite way to use it is cut up with fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions and garlic in a salsa.

Served with chips or on top of taco it brings the fresh taste of summer right to my dinner table!