Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stonybrook Wildlife Sanctuary

The Autumn colors of New England are at their peak now, and the intensity of the colors is phenomenal. I took Gabe out to view the foliage at Stonybrook "Farm", which isn’t a farm at all.

Every photo I took turned out looking like a post-card!

I am always a little sad this time of year. The plants are no longer growing, and the days are shorter. While I know that once it snows, I will be happy again, the thought of facing the cold and the dark again makes me melancholy.

But there is something to look forward to at Stonybrook: otters! I was told they are easiest to spot early on winter mornings.

On this trip, we saw a swan.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cold-Blooded Critters

We are seeing the last of our non-furry friends for the year. While taking down the garden, Chris stirred up a leopard frog, rana pipiens

We had to catch it, of course!

On sunny days, we can now easily find garter snakes, thamnophis sirtalis basking among our rock piles. It turns out that by making rock walls and rock heaps, we have been building snake habitat. Rocks provide holes to hide in, plus the absorb the day’s eat and store it into the frosty night. Also, on hot dry days, warm air wafts into the crevices, and water condenses out onto the cool rocks deep inside, providing a water source. That moisture attracts other wildlife, too, such as crickets and slugs, which are perfect snake food.

Now that I understand all of this, I am building rock piles in the front yard to attract snakes there as well. I put the first pile on a patch of ground that remains dusty-dry even after days of rain, in the hope that the condensation will improve the soil there, too.

I also found a salamander hanging out in the remains of our dirt pile on the driveway, but I didn't take a picture, alas! I suspect the presense of an amphibian there attests to the good quality of the soil.

It must be a good year for katydids, because they are everywhere!

Shutting Down for the Year

Autumn put an abrupt end to tomato season. Suddenly, the nights feel cold, and the trees are turning glorious reds and oranges.

Because the bunnies keep infiltrating the garden, Chris decided to call it done for the year. The tattered fence came down, and the tired tomato vines went into a compost heap.

The asparagus fronds remain, as well as some basil and the Swiss chard. I think Chris was considering running the mower over the chard just to see it turn into confetti.

Even though the bunnies ate the tops off of the carrots repeatedly, we still got carrots! Perhaps because of having to regrow their leaves so often, they didn’t taste all that good, sadly. We processed this batch into baby food.

The raspberry bushes weren’t supposed to bear fruit until next year, but they didn’t get the memo. Chris and I are becoming frightened at the thought of drowning in a tsunami of raspberries. We will have to invite the neighborhood kids to eat all they want in self defense.