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Does anyone know anything about coffee trees?  I have had a coffee tree for years.  It lives in the sun room and has always been a beautiful green plant.  This year, however, it decided to do something big and different--it bloomed.  There were thousands and thousands of blossoms as you can see from the couple of branches in the picture.  The blooms lasted about a day and were gone just as fast they showed up.  Of course, since it is inside, there are no bees, and not much of a breeze, so the question is were the blossoms fertilized; i.e. will there be coffee beans on this tree? Or even for that matter, can coffee trees self fertilize?  Does it need a companion tree?
Well, whether or not we get blooms, it was lovely for a day and during that day the sun room had a lovely fragrance, not a bit like coffee, though.

 
 
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One of our pleasures every day is taking our two dogs for a walk in the morning before coming to work.  We generally spend a half hour or so walking in the woods behind our house.  It is generally cool in the morning and we love seeing what wildlife we can spot.  It is rare that we don't see some deer or turkeys, although now that the corn in the field is over our heads it is harder to spot things.  (What you say is a cornfield doing in this blog when we are talking about walking in the woods--We walk along the side of the field to get to the path in the woods.)  
When we came back the other day, Mack felt something on his leg--ick, yuck, a horrid tick.  He pulled it off and threw it to land on the walk so he could smash it, but before it landed a guinea flew up out of nowhere and ate it quick as a wink.  I'd always heard that ticks were guineas favorite food and I knew we have had fewer ticks since getting the guineas, but I never witnessed one eating a tick before.  I certainly never expected the enthusiasm and relish with which that guinea gobbled down that tick.  Yeah guineas, maybe you earn your keep after all!

 
 
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A brand new Noro (hardcover) book--so gorgeousl, it makes a great coffee table decoration!  All of the projects use 1, 2 or 3 skeins, so it is possible to make some beautiful items without investing a fortune.  There are 30 great designs by several different designers using various Noro yarns.   Each design is laid out in a 4 page spread.  The first has a picture of the yarn and the number of skeins, the next is a full page picture of the front.   Pages 3 and 4 are the pattern and generally a picture of the back  of the project.  It is yummy !  Charts for those requiring them are in the back.  The books are going fast!

Pictured below are three of the projects.  Pictures 1 and 3 show pages 1 and 2 of those projects and picture 2 is a pattern and back.  

 
 
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 The goslings are growing up very fast, with some making it faster than others.  This year LG adopted a family.  It included a Pilgrim goose and another gander--that is right 2 daddies and one mom--an arrangement which seems to be fairly typical with our geese. (The picture is of LG, the baby and Mom.  The other  father is mostly out of the picture.  The orange bill and white chest are his.  Note that he is standing guard, while the others are eating.)  I suppose it gives the moms more protection and gives the goslings a better chance once they hatch.  Mom sat on a nest of about 8 eggs located on the edge of the hay storage area in a shed.  After about 34 days one egg hatched--a little girl gosling.  We watched for two weeks but no more eggs hatched and Mom finally moved out with the baby to join the two dads.  (Our suspicion is that the little gosling was fathered by the Pilgrim goose and the eggs that didn't hatch were LG's, which makes a lot of sense because LG is a Canada goose.  Canada geese are brants capable of cross breeding with ducks or geese, but the offspring are generally sterile like mules.)  It doesn't matter to LG who the father is, that baby is his and he is a most attentive father.  He is busy protecting her and making sure she has everything she needs.  He attacks anything that comes near that baby and leaves a trail of feathers in his wake.  As a result, LG's baby is the biggest, fattest gosling we have in spite of being two weeks younger than the other goslings.  (The poor mother that hatched 13 has lost one and her babies are much smaller than the others.)  LG's baby is also spoiled and lately, now that she is the equivalent of a teenager, she has been tormenting poor LG, her mother, and other father by slipping under the fence into our yard.  She waddles about eating grass while her parents stand by the fence frantically calling her and trying to get under the fence as well.  (The adults can all fly and could easily fly over the fence, but they don't.  Who knows why?)  In a way it is sad, but it is also pretty funny-- watch them and their struggles.

 
 
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Today is Alpaca shearing day in the local area.  That meant we got up at 6:00 and loaded Machu and Picchu into a truck and drove them to one of the centralized locations for shearing.  Loading isn't as easy as it sounds.  They know what is coming and try to stay at home as hard as they can.  The situation wasn't helped by all the mud from the rain last night, not to mention that it is a big step into the truck even when we had a semi-loading dock for them to use (actually the foundation to a tiny greenhouse we are building). It is amazing how hard they can put on the brakes--lying down is tried and true. Poor Mack had to heave and heft while I applied tension to the leads.  We got them loaded, and as you can see by the photos, they are back home sheared.  Getting them back in their field was not a struggle, they could hardly wait.  The only problem is I got some mud (and alpaca smell) on my work clothes.  Ah well, that is the way it goes.  They feel better--the heat was stressing them and we don't have to go through this for another year.  That is Picchu in the top picture and Machu in the bottom.

 
 
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Guess what arrived yesterday!  The new summer Noro knitting magazine and then today up drives the FedEx man with the new summer Interweave Knits.  Talk about overdose.  These two magazines will do it for you.  They are both absolutely lovely.  The Interweave knits is packed with beautiful summer projects--not just one, two, or even three, but a whole magazine full.  Lets just take the cover  of Interweave-- a beautiful summer pullover called Kayleen made with Jupiter Moon Sabine.  There must be 6 projects I want to start today!  No, eight, I just counted them and that is just in Interweave.  They really out did themselves this time.   I think if I were a dog I would be drooling.  Is there such a thing as overdosing on "wanting to knit too many things."  My mind has a "stomach" for collecting way more patterns and yarn then my poor little fingers can crank out.  Oh, but I want them--the patterns and the yarn!  It means re-organizing my stash, so I can slip these new things in.  And wait, I haven't even discussed the Noro magazine.  It has lovely items also.  They are probably a bit more artistic--but the colors--and textures--Oh my!  I have to add one, two, three.  I don't think it is humanly possible--I will have to study and prioritize.  Darn!

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This is a picture (not a very good one) of my completed Michelle Hunter/Skacel April mystery knit along--the Hole Story.  What is there not to love about this shawl?  I love the yarn, the pattern and just everything about it. I blocked it using my favorite lavender detergent so it even smells good. This was my favorite of the Hunter/Skacel mystery KALs, and I have done at least one project from every one.  

 
 
Monday the duck and goose nests were all pretty much static.  All the prospective mothers were pretty laid back.  They got off their nests to eat and I was able to do the morning and evening chores.  On Tuesday when the mothers jumped off their nests for breakfast, I heard an egg peeping in one of the tire nests. (Eggs start talking to their mothers a day or so before they hatch, so you can have some pretty noisy eggs.  It is a strange effect.)  Wednesday, brought changes, Mommy didn't get off the nest, but was standing in it doing something.  There was a tiny wet black thing wriggling in the bottom of the nest.  I couldn't see well enough to tell what it was.  On Thursday morning there were two new little goslings--one male and one female.  On Thursday evening we had to move the tire the nest was in so the little goslings could get out to get food and water.  I told Mack to be sure to wear gauntlets and goggles because I expected the mothers wouldn't like us messing around.  He shrugged me off, saying he didn't need them.  Well, if he didn't need them neither did I.  So, out I went without them.  Well guess what--that mama goose grabbed my right wrist and hung on for life while she flogged me with her wings.  It hurt quite a bit and now I have a bloody, ugly sore place on my wrist and some nasty bruises.  OOOOO, those geese were upset.  We got the tire out!  Every time we go out to check on them, the little ones are eating and drinking and growing!  It is so hard to imagine how 30 days can make such a difference in an egg.  Those little guys are so cute with their down and rubbery beaks and feet.  No, don't try to hold them or even get close to them or you will pay!  Am I angry, no, not at all.  The geese were being good mothers and taking care of their babies.  I was being stupid!  No, there are no pictures of the babies.  That wasn't possible, at least not yet.  I don't want any more welts and I don't want to have to go out and buy a new camera!  Th pictures of nests have no babies in them.  Oh, yes, by the way, there were new goslings in another tire nest this morning!
 
 
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Or, is it 26 geese?  In our case it is 26.  All of the poor girls are laying eggs like crazy. Right now there are eggs everywhere and there don't appear to be enough nesting sites--either that or they like to let someone else find the site, get it all fixed up and then steal it.  As a result we have horrific quarrels with lots of honking and feathers flying.  The male poultry are all fighting each other as well.   Some of the girls have settled down (you can tell when they get enough eggs and actually start sitting because they pull the down off their breasts and cover their eggs with it).  We have three geese on nests in the big chicken house,  one in the little chicken house, two in the brooding pen, two under the chicken house, one in a duck pen, one in the hay shed and two fighting over a lonely corner of the electric fence.  That poor nest has nothing going for it, no grass, no brush, no nothing, unless you count the electric wires on two sides.  There also appear to be geese building nests on top of the brush pile and in the fence rows.  They give themselves away when they come off the nest or as they are going back to it after an eating or swimming break.  When they leave they put their heads down and honk like mad as they run to the food bowl.  They  do the same on their way back to the nest.  It seems that they are really giving notice.  Each goose has one or two ganders protecting her and her nest site.  The goose in the shed has the best team.  She has LG and Shoe.  LG (the Canada goose that lives with us) is a fierce defender of his chosen goose.  Those with no nest sites yet  are so desperate it is sad.  Yesterday we found Rocky and his two hens running around out of their little chicken tractor.  The geese had opened both latches and were checking out the tractor as a nesting site.

 
 
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It seems that spring may finally be here, tentatively, but here!  The spring flowers are poking their leaves out of the mud (at least at my house, it seems that every blade of grass is gone) and the ducks and geese are laying their eggs everywhere.   The chicken house floor is covered with goose and duck eggs--a prospective mama goose was rolling them into a nest.  She was quite aggressive and ran at every other bird that came in with her wings outstretched and hissing viciously.  Unfortunately, it appears that the first goose with a nest in the chicken house will not be hatching any goslings.  It has been over 34 days and nothing has happened so I am very pessimistic.  We will give her a few more days, but she is losing interest.  Probably she know nothing will hatch.  Baby birds start peeping inside their shells a few days before they hatch and there may be no peeping.
Speaking of peeping, the real subject of this blog is spring peepers--the tiny tree frog Pseudacris crucifer, the common northern variety.  Yesterday evening for the first time this spring, we heard spring peepers, a sure sign of spring.  It was amazing that they emerged on the first day of spring.  I don't ever remember that happening before, usually we start hearing them late in February or early March.  They can take a little bit of freezing, but we generally don't get really cold weather or hard freezes once they emerge.  I looked them up this morning and discovered they are called crucifer because they have a dark mark that forms an x on their backs and crucifer means cross bearing.  It shouldn't be long now until we start finding tadpoles all over the place and in the meantime we can enjoy the spring singing.