Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Miikka Flop

A couple of pictures of Miikka, playing tug, one of his favorite games.

It often devolves into Miikka Flop. Then he gets dragged around the living room and kitchen on his back or his belly until one of us gets tired.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our April Hike

We just managed to squeak in a short hike in April. At one point, I had visions of backpacking and sleeping in a tent for my birthday, but what with lots of grading to be done on Benjamin's part, and lots of gardening and errands on mine, it just didn't happen.  This past weekend, however, we decided that it was too nice not to go hiking.
We chose to go to Hillary Hollow, part of the Ouachita Trail southwestish of Little Rock. We had been there before, the day after Thanksgiving this past year, and really wanted to come back for spring.  It was so much greener (well, duh), and although I think we missed the majority of the wildflowers, there were still plenty to see and enjoy.

Miikka had a bit of a treat: we let him do most of the hike off-leash. On our daily walks around the neighborhood, we have let him do this for very short periods, but there are just too many ways for him to get into trouble: squirrels, cats, cars, the road... On previous hikes, we have experimented with off-leash hiking, but never for very long. I have been nervous to try it for a longer stretch because if he gets interested in something, he goes deaf, and will not come.  But, it was a nice day, there were no other hikers, and I didn't want to hold the leash the whole time, so off he went. 

Miikka, mid-run - notice the ears?
He did a very good job.  Most of the time, he was between Benjamin and I, on the trail.  Sometimes, he would lag behind, and then have to run to catch up. When we stopped for a break, he roamed around the area quite happily, playing in the leaves (and picking up ticks), and romping around. On the way back I had to put him on the leash earlier than I had planned, simply because he no longer felt the need to be a follower, and wanted to take the lead on the trail.  That would have been fine, if I could have called him to me from time to time, but he was rather stubbornly deaf. Ah well. He had fun while it lasted.

The end of the hike did see a little mishap, involving me, a rock, and the round.  Miikka was tugging the leash, and I wasn't paying attention to my feet.  As a result, I stepped awkwardly and twisted or rolled my ankle. Luckily, my hiking boots protected me from too much damage, and I escaped with only a minor injury.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The difference of a month

Here is the backyard on March 17th. No plants on the deck, brown grass, no leaves on the trees.

Backyard, April 1st (no fooling). Starting to get a bit greener; if you look closely, you can see leaves starting on the trees.
April 18th. What a difference! Everything is so lush and green. Too bad all the bugs are coming out too. I have already had 3 ticks, and several other bites. Just from working in the yard. Ahh, spring and summer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ok, OK, Garden Pictures

OK, Mom, I got the pictures of the garden off the camera last night, and here they are.  This picture was taken yesterday.  Left to right: 3 tomatoes, with basil seedlings (can't see them in this picture), sugar peas, beans, collards, lettuce (just replanted, in planter), carrots, and lettuce.  All coming along nicely.
The now-standard jalapeno plant.  We could have put this in the garden, but why bother, when we know it grows well in a pot?

 Potatoes, Yukon Golds and some sort of fingerlings. I have never grown these, although Benjamin has.  We decided to try the container method to save having to give them room in the raised bed (and because we had a boatload of extra dirt to use up...)

Cherry tomatoes, two kinds, on the deck.  Again, these could have gone in the garden bed, but we decided to put them in the pots instead.  I think we will have to build another bed next year, but this is satisfactory for now.

This is the so-far most successful of the three blueberry bushes we put it.  It has little fruits already!

And here are my two little Asian Eggplants.  We bought the seedlings from our farmer's market and the whiskey barrel from the grocery store (again with the need to use more dirt). I haven't tried growing eggplant before, so I hope this turns out to be a successful experiment.

There, a garden update. There will be more tomorrow, and then I will probably be out of pictures and out of ideas for the week!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring in leaps and bounds

Yikes! It is Friday already! Once spring gets started here, it doesn't stop does it? This is the garden almost two weekends ago. (Yes, I did already post this, but I am trying to keep it in your mind until I get around to showing its current state.) Now, there are plants all through it - collards, lettuce, beans, peas, carrots, and basil. I promise to take more pictures, and get them off the camera, before the end of this coming weekend. It has been so nice out lately, and I have been so busy doing other things, that blogging has fallen behind, again.

Anyhoo, spring is here, and spring is springing. Baseball has started, the hockey playoffs have started, I have to wear sunblock any time I go out now, and the heater is off and the A/C is on. Phew...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Everybody say aw...

Here is a Thursday dose of cute for you. Notice the dirt ring around his nose that is evidence of his digging. Digging up my rose bush, again, are you buster?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lilacs and Butterflies

As you may remember from last week (or was it the week before? No matter...) I have a lilac bush. Now, to those of you in the Northeast and Inland Northwest, a lilac bush is nice, but nothing special. But for Arkansas, a lilac is a rare treat. It generally doesn't get cold for long enough in the winter, and it gets too hot in the summer, so you have to be very careful about the variety. Apparently, a previous homeowner did their homework, because my lilac is very healthy.  It needs some trimming, but as you can see, it is flowering away.

And I am not the only one who appreciates the lilac bush. Bees (no picture of them - the only one I had was too blurry) and this butterfly, probably a spicebush swallowtail, also enjoys it.

What a treat! I am so very happy to have a lilac and butterflies. Can't you just smell the lilacs? One of the few times I wish we had smell on the Internet.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bulbs, tomatoes, and jessamine, oh my!

I have so many pictures to share, I don't know where to start. This unknown plant is in my backyard. It must be a bulb of some kind, but I haven't a clue as to its name.

Miikka has been helping us around the yard a lot lately. He loves it when I weed, or pick up sticks, or mow the lawn, or dig a hole. Or water the plants, or put up fences to keep him away from the newly-planted plants... On Sunday, I had to lock him in the house while I mowed, because he thought it was so incredibly fun to bark constantly while dancing around the mower.  Now, we have a reel-type push mower, so he wasn't in any danger, well, no danger from the mowing machine at least... And we have had to erect yet another fence, this one around the vegetable garden, to keep him off the lovely dirt and the seeds we planted.

On Saturday, we finally got a chance to go to a garden center and pick out some plants. So far, we have three tomato plants (plus two cherry tomato plants in pots on the deck), and Benjamin planted seeds for lettuce, collard greens, carrots, beans, basil and snow peas. In addition, we have two large pots of potatoes.  Whew. We have so much lovely dirt left that we might just start another garden bed.

In addition to the vegetables, we bought a lime tree, (no pictures of that at the moment), several geraniums, two kinds of peppers, and a small planter of lettuce. They are all in pots on the deck.  I also have mint, lemon balm, oregano, and parsley.  I planted seeds for can nip and sweet peas.

And to cap it off, we have Swamp Jessamine (isn't it a lot prettier than its name?) and a lilac bush. Both smell heavenly and are buzzing with bees and butterflies.

I do love spring!