Hey Kids! Get Off My Lawn!

No photos with this one…and that’s a good thing.

About a week ago, we saw Brownie outside in the back yard, having a ball with something that looked like one of those dog toys from Petsmart – the ones that look like a flattened animal carcass with a tennis ball for a head.

It wasn’t a flattened animal carcass dog toy from Petsmart.  Or at least, it wasn’t from Petsmart.

Brownie had found the hide of a dead raccoon  and was throwing up in the air, then racing around to grab it again.   What do you do with a raccoon hide?  Can’t toss it back into the woods — she’d just find it again.  Can’t bury it — she’d just dig it up.

Eric picks it up with a shovel and flings the carcass up into the branches of a honeysuckle bush.  It hangs there like a rejected taxidermy project — nothing but skin and claws.  He says “go and see if it’s going to stay there, or if it’ll just fall down in the wind.”

I go and look…and I notice that there’s three old beer bottles in the space under the honeysuckle.   Eric says they’re probably left over from the builders, but I fear trespassers.  If it was trespassers, they’ve a nasty surprise waiting for the next time they plan to party in our backyard.

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Bear, February 2, 1999 to October 18, 2014.

Good with cats.


Loved the outdoors.

Amy and Bear in TreeBear on the lake

A willing grader.

Bear Grading Reports

Down on the farm.

Down on the Farm

Bear on Doggie.


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Eric’s cousin Molly writes monthly newsletters for the extended family. Last year her letters included updates on her pumpkin patch and the size of George, the pumpkin. Molly’s pumpkin missives climaxed in March, with a small packet of pumpkin seeds she’d recovered from George the previous fall.

With an air of futility, we planted the pumpkin seeds in the front yard. Nothing has grown from seed for us. If seeds manage to germinate at all, the seedlings soon disappear, eaten by a critter or drowned in the duff. We covered Molly’s seeds with mulch and chicken wire, but didn’t expect much.

We were wrong!! By the end of August, we had a good 30 linear feet of pumpkin vine, climbing the oak sapling and surfing on top of the duff. The giant pumpkin leaves were a nice contrast to the fine leaves of the duff, and the yellow pumpkin blossoms fit right in with the hardy daylilies in the front yard. Even more surprising, we grew five pumpkins. The girls named them — Alfred Pumpkin the First, Charletta, Charlie, Peanut, and Tangerine. Only Charletta was ripe enough to carve for Halloween, but we saved her seeds and are going to plant pumpkins again next year. The plan is to try to use all the downed trees from Arborgeddon as a trellis.

Peanut the Pumpkin.

Peanut the Pumpkin


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Arborgeddon: the aftermath

The arborists came last week.  They cut down all of the dead or dying ash trees that might have fallen and hit our house.  This is our yard now:

ash trees



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Nathan at Air Camp

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Thanks to the Wright Brothers, the USAF Museum,  Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,  and a variety of local airports the Dayton area has a lot to offer people who are interested in aviation.   Air Camp  has created a summer camp for … Continue reading

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Note to the birds

Dear Birds,

Please note the following.  Nests belong in trees..


..not the garage.


Even if you can build it underneath an old bird feeder.


I’m sorry – I didn’t expect to find a nest in a stand of giant ragweed and duff.


I’m glad you liked the sunflower seeds.  By the way, you missed one:




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The Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect accidentally brought to the US from Asia on infected wood shipping pallets, has reached Ohio.    The Emerald Ash Borer lays its eggs in the bark of ash trees; the larvae bore their way through the ash and feed on the phloem of the tree, slowly killing it.   American ash trees have no natural defenses against the Emerald Ash Borer, and while some animals, like woodpeckers, do eat them, they don’t eat nearly enough.  Emerald Ash Borer was first observed in Michigan in 2002; in the 12 years since, has already killed over 150 million ash trees.  This insect may kill the entire genus of American ash trees.

Our ash trees started dying about two years ago.   In the last two years, we’ve taken down over 50 trees.  Eric tried to save the trees that were closest to the house, but they’re showing the signs of distress that  mark the Emerald Ash Borer — die-off at the crown and suckers emerging  from the trunk.   He met with the arborist this weekend to identify the trees that need to come down.  The arborist will come back sometime this month, and take down another 40 trees.   We’ll let the ones that can fall down without hitting something expensive come down on their own.  By the time this is over, we will have lost 175 to 200 trees.


Distressed ash tree.  Notice the suckers coming out on the left side of the trunk.


This is a log from an ash tree killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.  The squiggles on the log are the tracks left by the boring larvae.

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