Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lizzie's toad house

Yesterday Lizzie and I found a little American toad hopping around in our grass. Never having seen a real live toad Lizzie was pretty excited, and so was I! We immediately caught it up and transferred it to the carrot patch where I've seen numerous garden snails and other pests that make tasty toad-treats. I was hoping the toad would make a home of my organic garden, and sure enough he was still there this morning.

"Let's make a toad house!" I said to Lizzie and "YEAH!" was her immediate enthusiastic reply. I rummaged through a pile of old clay pots, found a hammer and we smashed a side off each pot and had instant toad homes.

You can buy toad homes online and spend around $20 for each house. Or you can knock a small opening in the side of a clay pot, or even stack a few bricks to make a small shelter. Toads will be attracted to the shelter, use it during the day and claim it as their territory coming back year after year. Each night one toad can eat up to 100 slugs, grubs, grasshoppers, tomato beetles, cutworms...anything you don't want eating your garden. The tadpoles also eat mosquito larvae! And the average adult toad can live for nearly a decade, that's a nice family pet you don't have to feed or take for walks.

So give your toads some houses and enjoy their stay in your garden. Lizzie's already moved the houses around three times this morning and can't go a minute without looking to see if anyone moved in. I'm trying to explain to her that she should leave them alone so the toads don't get afraid and move out. But you try explaining that to a curious two-year-old.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

And all is right with my world

Well, almost. I wish I had a little more time with two free hands to do things like blog, clean my house, and take a nice bubble bath. But, I really can't complain. I had another beautiful little girl on June 27th and we call her Poppy, short for Penelope Rose. My two-year-old daughter Lizzie just adores her.

We're very lucky since a lot of my friend's older children don't even acknowledge their newborn siblings let alone try to play with them. It's not unusual for Lizzie to pile Poppy under all her favorite stuffies, including Bear-Bear (in the dirt above) her most prized bear of all. Poppy doesn't really like to be piled under four or five bears but she'll learn someday that her older sister is being very sweet. It melts my heart to see them together. I wanted nothing more than two little girls and I got them! How lucky am I?!

Lizzie's garden (formerly the Michelle Obama rocks, Monsanto sucks, honorary organic garden) is flourishing. Lizzie took it over by moving her lawn chair in there one morning and saying "I LIKE MOMMY'S GARDEN!" and then proceeded to eat a carrot right out of the ground, dirt and all (luckily dirt makes your smarter.) So I've had to rename my little six foot by fourteen foot patch after my older daughter since she's apparently claimed it. And if I can grow it she'll eat it. I've had other mommy-friends look on in wonderment as she devours homegrown carrots, green beans and cucumbers but leaves her mac and cheese untouched.

Last year I posted a running tally of everything that I grew in my tiny 6'x14' patch and I will again soon. Tomatoes are just coming in now and we can barely keep up with cukes. More than one neighbor has come home to a cucumber or two on their front steps :) I'm already coming up with expansion plans for next year since Poppy will want in on those homegrown carrots and green beans by then and I want some too!

I've been a lot more successful than last year due to the hot weather and a better layout, tucking over-zealous zucchini in a back corner and not right out front where they shaded everything. So far we've also been spared late blight which destroyed my tomatoes last year. There's a late blight warning for the western part of Massachusetts but no word of it on the North Shore yet. I keep knocking on wood though.

The Ipswich River is also running again, finally. We're currently experiencing our third day in a row of rain and I am ecstatic! The USGS gauge went from 0.88 cubic feet per second on Sunday to 75 cfs today! I know it won't stay up there forever but a three day soak is just what the watershed needed to last the rest of the summer. Happy fish!

I will sign off now and hope my state of contentment sticks with you. It helps that my full-term baby is already pulling eight hour stretches overnight so I'm getting a lot more sleep than with my preemie first-born (where I was up every hour and a half for the first two months!) I hope to visit all my follower's blogs soon, but even though life is good it is super super busy. Plus it's summer so we're outside getting dirty as much as we can!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ipswich River Drought

It has been a very busy six weeks up here in Ipswich. As of late June I now have two little girls vying for my attention. But, I wanted to bring everyone some dramatic photos from our little dam, which is always causing trouble. This was the dam yesterday. But where's the water?

Some of you may remember a mere four months ago when my town seemed to be underwater. I published some very dramatic photos and video. The river was running at a record 4,000 cubic feet of water per second then:

This morning it was running at 1.8 cfs. Yes, 1 point 8. That's the lowest recorded number for this date in the 70 years the US Geologic Survey gauge has been keeping track. This was the fish ladder (below) with no water running through it. So fish are basically stuck below the dam preventing them from using the entire upper part of the river.

This was the same view in March. Hard to believe we ran out of water:

So if you live in the Ipswich River watershed area please please turn off those sprinklers and let your lawn die. The grass with come back to life but the fish can't.