Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mr. Groundhog Returns

Groundhog day poster Much as I'm a fan of the movie Groundhog Day -- I am NOT a fan of groundhogs.  Let us walk through the mists of time to remember what happened about a decade ago . . . (insert a little harp music here).

All those years ago, we had an unwanted visitor in our garden.  He would take a dip in the pool, walk up the steps, walk around the pool, and sun himself on our little garden bench.  We thought this was kind of cute . . . until he started eating all our flowers.

Groundhog It turns out, Mr. Groundhog lived in a hole in the arborvitae that grows on the west end of our yard.  My husband Frank was furious--as at the time, the garden was his domain.  We live behind a farmette and Frank passed through the magic door (a space between the arborvitae) into the farm and found that Mr. Groundhog had been feasting on their crops.  One phone call and an hour later, a Havahart trap arrived behind our yard.  An hour after that, Mr. Groundhog had been captured.  He was taken away and we never knew (but did suspect) his fate.  And our flowers flourished for the rest of that season.

Bunnies have been the bane of my bean crops, eating them down to the dirt.  But this year, we sprinkled (and rather liberally) dried blood and consequently are having the best pole bean season ever.

All was well until last night.  I was sitting there reading in our enclosed porch when Chester jumped onto his little box all attentive.  Omigod!  There was a skinny groundhog walking on the concrete deck, heading toward MY CROPS.  I shot out of my chair, hands clapping, and new Mr. Groundhog fled into the arborvitae and I flew out the door to reassure myself that all was well in the garden.


Chewed_sprouts The pride and joy of my Brussells sprouts had been severely chewed!  And, in fact, one of the leaves had been ripped from the plant.  As it happened, I'd been bragging to my Dad earlier in the afternoon that the first plant was growing by leaps and bounds--and that it was nearly four feet tall.  We had been out picking beans just a couple of hours before I discovered my poor sprout plant had been savagely CHEWED!!!!!

Chewed_broccoli As we looked closer, we saw that one of the broccoli plants had not only been chewed, it had been stripped!  Yum-yum!  Mr. Groundhog had been having a lovely vegetarian dinner and apparently enjoying himself immensely--hence his return for a second meal of the day.

Close_up_sprout Look at the close up of my Brussels Sprout plant (my pride and joy) where he ripped off the leaf--and note the sprouts are just starting to form.  (Aren't they cute?)  Leaves are one thing, but he'd better not nibble my sprouts.

Chewed_leaf Of course you know, this first offense will not be taken lightly.  This means war!  First, the last of the dried blood has been spread.  Next up, taking a look at the farm behind us.  If their crops have been decimated, another call to the owner is in order.

Mr. Groundhog, you are no Punxsutawney Phil and this is not Gobbler's Knob.  If you know what's good for you, you will make like Elvis and leave the area.

For good.

And what critters are dining in your yard?

UPDATE:  Mr. Groundhog returned later this afternoon and completely destroyed four of the five Brussels sprouts plants.  We are buying a trap.

Where have I been?

I haven't posted much this summer.  In addition to there being very few sales--and therefore I've bought very little . . . I've been preoccupied with  other matters.

The biggest being my elderly father being admitted to a nursing home.  Why is he there?  He went to the hospital in early July suffering from dehydration.  That small problem escalated and during the 17 days he was there, he developed severe bedsores--FIVE OF THEM.

Now, he's in a nursing home.  My mother stays with him from 8-10 hours a day.  In the meantime, I'm taking care of their home, their errands, their shopping, their laundry.  Did I mention I have a home of my own?  Oh, and I have a job, too.  (Luckily it's a job with flexible hours.)

So I haven't posted much.  But I'll try to do better.  And will post something else later today.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What happened to all the sales?

The yard sales have been a huge disappointment this year.  We're talking TERRIBLE, which is why I haven't posted in a while.  So is it any wonder that sometimes the best thing I can find on my weekly travels is a vegetable?

Cauliflower Last week, after wasting too much gas and not finding anything fun at the yard sales, we stopped at a farm stand and found the world's most perfect cauliflower.  Even better--it was only a dollar!

I LOVE cauliflower and I have a really easy recipe that uses only three ingredients.

Boil as much cauliflower as your family can eat.  When it's almost done, remove it from the boiling water and place in an oven proof dish.  Sprinkle (or dump on) it with your favorite cheese.  (I've used Parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella), and then sprinkle (or dump on) seasoned (or unseasoned--depending on your preference) breadcrumbs.  Bake at 360 until the cheese melts and the breadcrumbs are golden brown (10-15 minutes).