Friday, August 28, 2009

The Eastern Milksnake

This photo is extracted from the document

"Eastern Milk Snake: A slender species, with a beige background and brown to reddish blotches on the back. The belly has a black and white checkerboard pattern. They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes since they will vibrate their tail rapidly when threatened, which can produce a buzzing sound if it contacts the ground. Once believed to milk cows, hence the name, but like all snakes they only drink water! Farmers now realize the great benefit of this snake, as its primary diet is rodents. Milk snakes also prey on other snakes, including venomous species, as they are immune to the toxins. These snakes rarely exceed one metre in length. Milk snakes are found throughout southern Ontario."

The Eastern Milksnake is Ontario's only constrictor snake (kills prey by crushing it - think of the boa constrictor but only mouse sized).It is a very shiny snake. Freda and I saw one about a foot long that was roadkill and I actually thought it was a toy (fake) since it was so shiny! I have seen a baby snake (about 6 inches long maybe) around our house, and another about a foot long when I was turning the compost. The Eastern Milksnake is so shy, it doesn't sun itself directly on top of rocks, etc, but indirectly (like in the composter).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Storm coming (we hope)

It has been hot and humid this past week. The sky to the west is dark blue-gray so we hope that means the thunderstorms in the forecast do come to give us some rain and relieve the oppressive heat.

3pm Update: the sky has cleared up so it looks like no rain for us and the oppressive humidity will stick with us for a while longer.

4:30pm update: we had about 30 seconds of rain, so no big relief from the humidity. It is 32C with a humidex of 41C.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A new member of the family

The Ford family, that is, because we got "Ford Family pricing"... Mark's old car needed to get some expensive work done, and we decided we needed to get a vehicle that was more practical for us, especially in the winter. Mark's old car had low ground clearance and wasn't good in snow because of that. The colour is called Sangria Red.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A tale of three trees

These are Elm trees. I guess I don't know much about trees because I thought they were Ash trees and the dying one was succumbing to the Emerald Ash Borer - a pest that is expected to wipe out 100% of the Ash trees in Ottawa (all varieties of Ash) - this will make a big change in Ottawa as 25% of the trees are Ash trees. There are no known natural predators to the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), except for a tiny wasp and woodpeckers, but those aren't prevalent enough to arrest the EAB. Ontario and the federal government has spent a couple of hundred million dollars trying to prevent the EAB from leaving the infected areas and there are rules that if an EAB-infected treee is cut down that the wood cannot be taken off the property.

But back to the Elm trees. It turns out that the middle elm tree that is dying is infected with the Dutch Elm Disease. We will have to get the tree cut down and hopefully the other two trees will survive. I bought some fertilizer for the trees to hopefully help them to be stronger.

Update (Aug 31): it turns out that the two trees that are together are both dying. Dutch Elm Disease can be passed from tree to tree if their roots are in close contact. DED is like arterioscloris in people, it stops the sap from flowing in the tree and that's what kills it. DED is usually carried from an infected tree to another tree by a beetle.

Fortunately, this is the first bird fatality that we have had this year. It was a young bird, probably just hatched this year, unfortunately. We haven't been drawing the curtains over that window, but have not started doing that again.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

New deck is finally finished

This is the new deck that is finally finished. It took me over 2 months to do it, and I should have been able to do it in a weekend, but was unable to do so because of constant headaches. In front of the deck we were going to put a step down, but we discovered -- thanks to all the heavy rains that we have received this "summer" -- that the water pools in this area. So instead of a step, we built up the area in front of the deck with sand and Freda put down some flagstone, and then sloped the extra dirt to blend the new, higher area into the lawn. We hope this will help the water run off and no longer pool in this area.

By the way, the black recycled rubber square tiles aren't going to stay on the dirt, they are only there temporarily to keep Tawny off the dirt and she loves laying and rolling in sand and dirt. We are going to get a few strips of sod to put on top of the dirt, so we don't have to deal with Tawny laying on and rolling in the dirt, especially after she's been swimming.

This angle shows the vertical wood fence boards that follow the level of the rock across the deck.

Taz is getting a bit agitated as he doesn't like getting his photo taken. Tawny, on the other hand, absolutely loves laying in dirt and sand, as you know already...

Freda's brother Mike was visiting for about 10 days, and has now returned home. The dogs wouldn't behave for a group shot - this is not for lack of trying!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

An interesting moth

Freda captured this wonderful photo of a unique moth when she was in Pickerel River. (Sorry for the delay in posting this.)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Pickerel River

Paradise, just outside Sudbury.

Random photos

Sorry for the lack of recent updates - my camera has developed some idiosyncrasies where the photos are basically just white unless the lens is halfway between wide-angle and fully zoomed out. So these photos are from Freda's camera.

This is the stupid fat groundhog that eats Freda's flowers.

After a heavy rain, it looks like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is in our neighbour's yard!

Freda's pretty flowerbed.

Freda's sweet peas.