Category Archives for Walk in the Woods

Tree Pipes

November 24, 2009

The Farmer and I were walking out in the woods a while back, and came across something we don’t remember noticing before:

Tree grown around a pipe.

Yes, several feet off the ground there’s a PIPE stuck in that tree.

Here’s a closer look at it:

Tree grown around a metal pipe.

We have NO idea how it got there.  It’s obviously been there a long time considering the way the tree has grown around it.  We’ve been here for 12 years, so we know it’s been longer than that.

Why anyone would put a pipe there, who knows?  But I feel another tree poem coming on . . . 

I never thought that I should see,
A pipe stuck way up in a tree.

A tree who has a pipe that’s prest
Against the bark upon it’s chest;  
  
A tree that looks a trifle odd,
To have a pipe stuck in its bod;  
  
A tree that in all seasons dresses 
With metal among its leafy tresses.   

Upon whose bosom rests a pipe;  
But yet I’ve never heard it gripe.  

Yep, such poems are made by fools like me, 
Wondering how a pipe got in a tree.

(Apologies to the late Mr. Kilmer;  just coudn’t resist another parody of “Trees”.)

Spring Is In The Air

April 9, 2009

After having what is hopefully the last frost of the season yesterday morning, today beckoned bright and sunny.  And although I stood in line at a visitation last night for 2 hours, and my spine, heel, muscles, etc. are all complaining mightily today from the nerve pain and fibromyalgia, I just HAD. TO. GET. OUT!

Besides, I figured Toby needed a walk in the woods (or is that a splash in the creek?), so after morning chores were done outside, we headed out.

There are still lots of trilliums and spring beauty every where.  I noticed one trillium different from the rest, a sort of albino variation:

Trillium albino

Instead of the usual maroon colored flower, this one had light green.  It’s the only one I saw like that, though I obviously could have missed one somewhere else in the woods.

The ferns are starting to come out in force.  I like it when they’re little and curled up in little balls or like the fiddle heads.

Immature Ferns

Besides the immature ferns, there were bigger ones here and there, too.

Ferns

Of course, they’re not near as big as they’ll get when they are full grown, but it’s nice to see them showing up all over the woods.

Another favorite that is now popping up in colonies are the Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum). I’m not sure why they’re called Mayapple when the appear in April, but maybe somewhere more northern they actually show up in May.  Or maybe the fruit is actually mature in May.  Who knows?

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) Colony

The first year these plants only have one leaf and don’t bloom. The next year, however, the plants have two stems and develop a white flower that is up to 2-inches across at the junction of the two stems.

I didn’t see any flowers today, but I did see either an unopened bud or one of the little “apples” that develop from the flower.

Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum)

It’s hard and green and not very big yet. 

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) immature fruit

When the fruit of a Mayapple is ripe, it’s bigger, yellow and soft.  It’s also edible, though the rest of the plant is poisonous, and the immature fruits are cathartic.  I don’t think I’ll try them out.

We’re also heavy into the pollen season here, with trees puffing out pollen at an alarming rate!  The pond gets a scum of yellow.  The driveway turns yellow.  The cars are coated in yellow.  (I asked the Cave Geek what you get when you cross a car with a tree.  He said, “A cart.”  Okay, I’ll let him chalk up a point for that one. . . )

I know the proper name for these is a “fruit cluster” but it doesn’t look like fruit to me.

Tree Fruit Cluster

I think it looks more like fairy wings.  Maybe they use them for gliders when humans aren’t looking.

Of course, new flowers and pollinating trees aren’t the only signs of spring.  The birds are building nests, and in fact, some already have babies.  I also noticed this morning that our guineas are starting to nest.

Guineas and nest.

If you look close, you can see not only the guinea in front of the nest, but the one behind.  Our guineas always team up and have at least two on a nest and parenting the subsequent keet brood.

Here’s the front door to their nest:

Guineas nest - front entrance.

And here’s the back door:

Guinea nest - back entrance.

When I peeked inside, I saw there are 11 eggs.

Guinea Eggs

They probably aren’t done laying yet.  There’s usually anywhere from 18-36 eggs in a nest with two guineas, and sometimes over 50 if three or more guineas are sharing a nest.

What with flowers, pollinating trees and nesting guineas, it seems to me the signs of spring are everywhere!

There’s Something Fishy About The Woods

March 31, 2009

I decided to meander around in the woods after the flood waters receded, just to see what might have been left behind.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the woods was the Trillium is finally up and blooming! 

Trillium cuneatum

Most of the buds aren’t fully opened yet, but these are some of the first flowers around here to welcome spring.

Whippoorwill Flower

This particular variety, Trillium cuneatum,  is also known as Whip-Poor-Will Flower, Cuneate Trillium, Large Toadshade, Purple Toadshade, Bloody Butcher, and Sweet Betsy.  That’s sure a lot of different names for one little plant!

Nearby there was some Virginia Springbeauty (Claytonia virginica) blooming.

Virginia Springbeauty Flowers

These little flowers pop up all over the place in the woods.  Of course, after the flood waters had been through, they weren’t the only buds in the woods.

Bud Light

Nestled among the other flowers, there was a special metallic version known as “Bud Light”.  It’s frustratingly long lasting in the woods, and the only flowers that appear with it are the blooming idiots who consume a little too much of this bud’s nectar.

I don’t know if this particular denizen of our woods tried any Bud Light, but he was certainly laid back.

Box Turtle - Male

In fact, this male box turtle was totally unconcerned by my presence and happy to pose for pictures.  How do you like those bright red-orange eyes?  That’s what makes it easy to tell this turtle is a guy!  (The females have brown or light orange eyes.)

He was wandering near yet another patch of flowers, some Yellow Trout Lilies, also known as Dogtooth Violet.

Trout Lilies

They’re another one of the first wildflowers to bloom around here come spring.  They are such a pretty bright yellow, and look particularly cheerful after the drab browns of winter.

Trout Lily

Supposedly, this plant is called a TROUT Lily because the mottled leaves resemble the patterns seen on trout fish.

But these weren’t the only fishy things in the woods.  Oh no.  You see, along side one of my regular paths in the middle of the woods, I found a fish.  Yep, that’s right, a fish.  You want proof?  Here’s a picture:

Fish in the woods.

See, told ya!

At first I thought it was dead, considering the flood waters were long gone and there was only a little puddle of water left underneath it.  However, when I touched the fish, it moved!  Whoa! time for a rescue operation – get it to the creek quick!

I tried scooping it up with what little water there was, but the fish was unimpressed with my rescue efforts and flopped out onto some leaves.  Now here’s where I wish I had someone following me around and taking movies of some of my misadventures.  I mean, surely ONE of them would go over well enough on Funniest Home Videos to win the big prize!

Just picture a chubby old lady chasing after a little fish flopping all over the fallen leaves in the middle of the woods.  I picked it up several times, but it was a slippery little devil and would manage to get loose once more, and there we’d go again… fish flopping, me hopping.

Finally I sandwiched it between some leaves to hold it fast and ran … well, stumbled really, as fast as I could to the creek, trying to get there before the fish ran out of air.  I’m not sure which one of us was gulping for air the most by the time we made it to the creek.

Despite the prolonged lack of water, after I deposited the fish sandwich in the creek it wasn’t long until the fish was swimming off.

Fish in creek.

I took two pictures in quick succession, but by the second one he (she?) was long gone!  (Do you suppose he’ll tell his buddies about his remarkable experience when a strange alien plucked him out of the woods?  Maybe he’ll even appear on the Fishy Springer show on Small Fry TV!)

Since we were by the creek, our Farm Collie decided it was a good time to wade right in.

Farm Collie in creek.

Toby loves playing in water no matter what the temperature is!

As you can see here, the flood waters left a lot of debris.  All kinds of leaves and stuff caught in the branches of this fallen tree.

Tree fallen across creek.

On the bank nearby, I found a black plastic milk crate which I carried back to the feed shed.  I even found something to carry in it on my way out of the woods.

Yes, there was one last interesting thing Cast Away by the flood waters:

Ball by creek.

Like Wilson, this ball was washed to shore. I think it needs a name. Should it be another Wilson or something entirely different? It’s generic, with no name imprinted on it anywhere.  What would you call a little mini-basketball left behind after a flood?

What with spring flowers, stranded fish, a turtle and cast away basketball, this was definitely one of the most interesting walks in the woods I’ve had in a while!

That’s My World – A Walk In The Woods

November 10, 2008

Almost every morning when I’m out to do the morning chores, my canine companion, Toby, and I go for a walk. We go down through the bottom pasture and into the woods.

We have about 4 acres of woods on our little farm, so although not real big, it’s enough to get in there and not see any civilization.

We had some rain a few days ago, causing a lot more leaves to fall off the trees and carpet the path.

Going into the woods and under the bigger trees makes me feel a little like I’m a hobbit or elf or something, treading along through Middle Earth in the Lord of The Rings.  It’s so tranquil, and a great way to start the morning.

Our usual path through the woods takes us by a big hackberry tree (Celtis occidentalis). The morning sun and a low limb makes an interesting pattern of shade on the big tree’s trunk.

This is the same tree that had all the slugs crawling up and down the trunk earlier this year.  It’s too cold now for such critters to be sliming their way up and down the tree, so we didn’t see any today.

We passed by an old fallen log with a covering of moss, plus an added decoration of a bright red leaf.

Eventually we meander along the creek. With the sun shining so brightly today, it made some nice reflections of the trees in the water.

In the deeper areas of the creek, we can usually see some minnows swimming along. They zip by pretty quickly, so it’s hard to get a picture.

The reflection off the water also makes getting a decent picture difficult, but at least you can see there’s little fish in there!

It doesn’t matter how cold it is, Toby has to splash around in the creek.  He loves playing in water!

Many of the fallen leaves have caught on some rocks in the creek and made a little dam, slowing the flow of the water.

They’ll eventually float away, especially if we get more rain and it raises the water levels for a while.

Further down the creek there is a fallen log.  It’s been there a long time, and has created another bit of a dam in the creek.

The water and floating leaves rush over one or two little sections.

Listening to the water flowing along is quite soothing.  Maybe a walk in the woods would be better than medicine for high blood pressure or depression!

Here’s another little video taken from the bank hanging over top of the end of the log.  I kind of like this one because at the end a walnut goes floating over and bobs in the water.

On the loop back through the woods, there are ferns here and there. It may be fall, but some things are still green.

Sometimes we wander around the paths in the pasture at the end of our walk, but that’s more fun in the spring and summer when there are butterflies and other bugs livening up the place.

For today, That’s My World is a walk in the woods.

Slug Surprise!

March 5, 2008

I thought I had slugs figured out. They crawl on the ground, munch on my hostas and other flowers, and make slimy trails across the sidewalks and front porch.

As far as I knew, they never got far off the ground – no further than crawling up on the plants they munch on.

Well, I know this is going to be a shock to some, but it turns out I was wrong.

It’s like this… yesterday we got over an inch of rain so I went out in the woods between showers. I figured I wouldn’t see anything new, but I still needed the exercise.

Wrong again! I definitely saw something new!

By the time I made it to the big tree in the above picture, it had started sprinkling again. Still, I felt like getting up close and personal and communing with that particular tree, which is when I found a surprise — several surprises of the same type in fact!

Okay, there’s probably lots of you out there that knew this happens, but imagine the shock to my “slugs creep on the ground” beliefs when I looked way up in that tree and saw a bunch of slugs crawling down. And I do mean a BUNCH. There were a couple dozen in various stages of progress slowly slithering down that tree. And that’s just the ones I could actually see.

Slugs are not supposed to be crawling way up in a TALL tree. They are supposed to be making their slimy way across the grass or other vegetation close to the ground.

That’s when I got to wondering… I know slugs are supposed to like beer, and it makes good bait for a trap, so do you suppose they had a kegger the night before, and drank too much beer? I can just see these little redneck slugs partying, and one says, “Hey, what ‘cha suppose is at the top of that tree?” And the other inebriated slugs holler, “Yeah, let’s find out!”

Then there they are the next morning, hungover, blinking and waving their optic tentacles around, and screaming in terror because they are WAY UP IN A TREE!!!! Now what???

And that’s when they all started making their way ever so slowly down from the heights.


All right, all right. So maybe they didn’t really do all that. I did a little research and discovered there are actually slugs that crawl around on trees, especially in damp weather, and they are called…. yep, tree slugs (Lehmannia marginata).

I don’t know if that’s what this particular variety is, or they belong to some other slug group I haven’t discovered yet.

I just know there were slugs in a very tall tree, and man, was I surprised!!!