Flourishing Fungi

We have had a lot of rain over the last few weeks, which is not unusual for our part of Eastern Pennsylvania, where summer downpours and storms and the normal climate. As we live in a wooded area we have a lot of leaf litter and decaying branches and twigs on the ground which, coupled with the high humidity, makes an excellent environment for fungi to flourish.

One thing about these mycological wonders though is that you have to be quick to catch them as some species seem to pop up, mature and die down again in a day or two!  I went out to mow the lawn in the morning and noticed a few different types and then went out in the early evening (almost too late as the light was failing) but I did manage to get quite a few serviceable shots of the variety that inhabit our property with my trusty Panasonic GX8. needless to say, a lot of these have gone already, a mere 24 hours later!

As I mentioned on my previous post, if anyone can help me to identify any of these I would be most grateful!

180729_Fungi1180729_Fungi2180729_Fungi3180729_Fungi4180729_Fungi5180729_Fungi6180729_Fungi7180729_Fungi8

~Richard

52 Week Challenge: Week 50

WEEK 50: Landscape: Symmetrical – Often considered one of the hardest compositions to pull off, Symmetry. Challenge yourself this week by shooting a symmetrical landscape/urbanscape.

I used this evening’s trip to Longwood Gardens to see the light display to my advantage here. The Italian Garden afforded a great opportunity to use formal garden symmetry to fulfill this landscape requirement, with an added twist of being a night shot too.

170101_52Wk50Symmetrical.jpg

~Richard

Home Grown

The old saying, “it’s so nice to go traveling but it’s so much nicer to come home” sprung to mind this morning, as I was wandering the yard after 12 days away. It was great to escape the daily routine, visiting new places and doing different things without thinking too much about the usual domestic chores to keep the house running.

When we returned the grass had grown significantly so my first task was to get out the mower, but before I did so I thought I’d walk around and I was glad I did. The warm, wet weather recently in Pennsylvania, along with the lack of two mowing cycles,  had allowed some great mushrooms to flourish. I love mushrooms, although I don’t know much about them, so I took a few shots and then decided to leave a large area of the yard uncut for a few more days at least so they could finish doing their fungi activities.

Oh, and if anyone can identify any of these beauties I would be grateful.

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~Richard

How Does Your Garden Grow?

A late blog entry today as I was busy in the garden (or “yard” as my colleagues insist on calling it!). This year I finally got my act together, built up a few more raised beds, filled them with topsoil, compost and a little vermiculite and then, most importantly, added an leaky hose irrigation system.

So far, I am pleased with the results. We are on our third crop of broccoli florets, having realized that just removing them causes the plants to produce more; our potatoes, squash and cabbages are doing well; and our tomatoes are starting to plump out. The fruit on the raspberry canes and blackberry bushes we planted two years ago are starting to ripen and even the asparagus bed has taken off, although that will be a long term project! The only thing that has been a disappointment is our strawberries, which we cannot seem to get to thrive 😦

I am looking forward to getting outside in the cooler morning weather tomorrow to harvest some of this bounty before the temperatures hit the mid 90s °F again (~ 35°C) but I did manage to wander the estate (!) and get some pictures to remind me how fortunate we have been.

~Richard

 

Protecting our Chickens with PVC piping

A year or so ago we bought chickens and I built the girls a run in which to place their coop and provide protection against predators. As is my wont I built it without plans and soon it became fairly clear that we would need a cover to keep out the rain and snow. As I had already put a mesh roof on it to keep out raccoons this was no mean feat, and after trial and error,  I ended up cobbling together a makeshift sloping roof by placing a couple of upturned buckets on the top with a wooden pole between them and then draping a tarpaulin over this. It served us fairly well over the last 12 months as I struggled with motivation on how I was going to come up with a longer term solution.

This year we restarted out raised bed garden and I used PVC piping to make hoop covers for my new plants. Then it hit me – why not apply the same approach to the chicken run? After all, all I need is to put a slope under the tarp so that water runs off and doesn’t pool on the surface.

After a few hours work here’s my current set-up. I used 3 x 10 ft ¾ inch internal diameter PVC pipes and 4 T-joints. The T-joints form “feet” for the poles which are bent to provide a dome shape. The feet are connected to the top of the run using cable ties.  The whole frame cost $12.

I have a similar arrangement on the adjoining chain link chicken run, but that has the advantage that I can use bungee tarp cords to put the tarp under tension. On the original run the mesh is ½ inch and so I cannot do this. Therefore, I modified the design a bit by using nylon washing line from corner to corner to add some tension. Now we wait for the rains…

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PVC tubing bent to form a dome
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Nylon Clothes Line used for corner tension
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Final tarpaulin cover

~Richard

Holding a Mirror to the World

Today was meant to be a blog entry on politics per my schedule, but to be honest I’m sick of politics at the moment and a lot of my posts have already covered that topic over the last few weeks. So today I took advantage of a break in the rain and, as we had what ended up being a brief bit of late afternoon sunshine, I ventured outside for some photographic therapy. Several weeks ago I purchased a 10” x 8” mirror from the dollar store in the hope of using this to make some interesting compositions. I had left in in the trunk of my car and there it had languished. Today, I finally  decided to start on this project, especially as I just found out that May is National Photography Month (NaPhoMo). I began by removing the plastic frame from the mirror so that it had no defined edge and would be able to blend into the background for a better optical effect. Unfortunately this also meant the cheap card backing was detached too, so I had to cover the back of the mirror with duck tape to protect it from being scratched*. Five minutes later with prop in hand I started playing around in the garden.

No sooner had I placed the mirror down then one of our hens came over for a look. I thought she might be frightened, or angry but she simply regarded the bird in the mirror, was mildly confused when she looked over the top and then wandered off looking for bugs (good girl).

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I think this may turn into a longer term project as it had loads of possibilities, even though the mirror is far from perfect…

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*although this may too be an interesting effect

~Richard

Spring has finally sprung… the tulips are here

It has been a month since we “sprung forward” with the annual clock moving, and we have since had some odd weather in Pennsylvania, fluctuating between a nice 70°F (21°C) all the way down to 21°F (-6°C) depending on the day. We even had one full day of snow last weekend!

All very frustrating, but all part of the change of Seasons.

Well, today was finally nice enough for me to get outside into the garden and start work tidying things up, cutting the lawn, building up the veggie plots and generally appreciating the outdoors life. And what’s more, over the last few days the tulips have finally come into bloom.

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Happy Spring!

~Richard   

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