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Fred Tyler

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since Jan 04, 2015
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Fred Tyler currently moderates these forums:
Showed up for a PDC at Wheaton Labs and decided to stick around. He's now planning to build a passive solar/hobbity wofati on a deep roots plot at Wheaton Labs.
Wheaton Labs, MT and Tularosa, NM
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Recent posts by Fred Tyler

With the recent rains and fall temps come the mushrooms! I haven't had much luck getting ID's for many of the mushrooms that show up here.

These were all growing next to a two year old volunteer cottonwood tree that is growing at the Abbey. It has been mulched with hay, various weeds, and horse manure.
18 hours ago
I baked another batch of bread! I did one loaf in my cast iron pot and one in the loaf pan. Someone had abused my pot in a fire, so the bread stuck to the bottom and i had to tear it up a little getting it out. The crust came out better this time because i followed the directions and kept the pot and pan covered during the first 30 minutes of baking.

On my plot i found a nest (probably from bald faced hornets). I thought it was weird that light was visible in the opening. When i looked at the other side, it turned out that someone broke open the nest. Probably a hungry bird.
Here's what I was able to capture. The sensor on the wall outside the Abbey wouldn't send any data. The bedroom sensor would get through about 10% of the update and then stop. It got some of the temps, at least.
Not everything is going dormant for fall. Some things are taking advantage of the recent rains to have a second round of growth. During the heat and dry of summer the walking onions (Allium × proliferum) and the sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) went dormant and all (or nearly all) of the leaves shriveled and dried. Now they are putting on new leaves.

The first photo is the walking onion. Because of a miscommunication and poor supervision on my part, these onions were planted way to close together and they struggled this year. Maybe i'll have time to separate them next spring.

The second photo is the sheep sorrel, which grows wild here. Though, I did scatter the seeds after disturbing this spot. This plant looks to have two leaves left from spring, but most had none.

The third photo is of the compost heating up. It isn't phased by the recent cooler temps.
I returned to ZoeLand to find some of the walking onions i planted last time were peeking out of the ground for a taste of sunshine.

Then i planted some comfrey pieces near the onion patches. The ground was a little damp from last week's rain, but i still watered everything in good.
Next to accept fall's advance is the chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). These are found is patches around basecamp and the lab. I didn't notice much fruit on them this year. The fruit isn't that great on its own (not surprising when "choke" is right there in the name), but is delicious turned into syrups and jams. There is a traditional way of eating where one grinds up the whole fruit including the rather large pit and dries the resulting paste. This must be done outdoors as cyanide is released in the process. After thorough drying they are safe to eat. When folks have tried it here, we have enjoyed the flavor, but not the texture of the shell fragments. Maybe if we put it through a flour grinder or use some method to separate out the hard bits it would be better.
More caterpillars! These were on an apple tree at basecamp. These are all the red humped caterpillar (Oedemasia concinna) aka (Schizura concinna). The first two photos are different views of the same caterpillar. The third photo is a different specimen that looks like the same species, but smaller and maybe a bit dried out. Maybe it is being eaten from the inside by a parasitic wasp? It hasn't moved in more than a day, so probably not in the best health. Nearby on the branch someone has left a bundle of tubular eggs wrapped in silk.
The first photo is of a cousin to the wooly bear caterpillar, the spotted tussock moth caterpillar (Lophocampa maculata). The white hairs sticking out of this caterpillar have stinging barbs, so watch out. They feed on deciduous trees. This one was traveling across the forest floor.

The second photo is what looks like the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea). This caterpillar has a huge variation in its appearance, so i'm not 100% sure of the ID. I saw this caterpillar crawling across a thimble berry leaf. I didn't think to look in the trees overhead to see if the rest of its webmates were nearby, but they aren't usually found alone.

The last photo is the common thread-waisted wasp (Ammophila procera) on some late blooming goldenrod i found on my plot. These are great beneficial wasps, often seen carrying caterpillars back to an underground lair for their young. The adults feed mostly on nectar and are quite effective pollinators. If you zoom in, you can see that the face, body, and legs of this wasp are covered in pollen. As a bonus, there is a crab spider hiding in the goldenrod blooms. He was so well camouflaged, i didn't even notice him when i took the photos.
Now the Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum) knows it is fall. I love how each tree transitions so differently. I wonder how much of it has to do with the soil at a particular site and how much has to do with its microclimate. This is one of our few native deciduous trees. Though it is rare that they get more than 30' tall and 5" in diameter. The ones around basecamp and the lab are more like 12-15' tall and 3" in diameter at their biggest. They usually grow with multiple stems and end up looking rather shrubby. The strong stems were often used to make snowshoes.
Here's some photos of some of the insects i saw on the hoary false-alyssum (Berteroa incana).

The first two photos are a couple different angles of the same bee.

The third photo is probably the thick-legged hoverfly (Syritta pipiens), which mimics wasps.

The last two photos are probably the common drone fly (Eristalis tenax) from a couple different angles. Several years ago when people were soaking (and forgetting) some manure for cob making at the abbey we spotted some of the larval stage of this fly, the rat-tailed maggot, living in the fouled water.