Little Napoleon

Who would have thought that little Pearl – the smallest and shyest duck to pop out of the box – would become such a take-charge bird. CPT A calls her Little Napoleon. She shows no fear with the chickens, and yesterday, she charged the cat! Even on Ginger’s lap, she asserts her dominance, claiming the best spot for herself.

It’s not that she’s mean. She isn’t. She just has a very firm idea of her place in the world. And her idea is that she’s at the top.

Our concerns about the ducks integrating with the rest of the backyard flock are quickly evaporating. Pearl will make sure they do just fine.

From the dining room table, inside because it’s too hot to garden,

Mrs. Smythe

A Mystery

CPT A found a tiny skull in the garden this week.

It’s incredibly wee and delicate….really a work of art.

CPT A thinks it once belonged to a mouse…possibly a mouse that fed an owl. I think it was a vole. What do you think?

Getting their feathers

The ducks are in the midst of losing their down. Right now, they’re a patchy combination of soft and sleek as their first feathers begin to emerge.

It’s most noticeable with Lilo. You can see the transition on her chest. She’s going to be a beautiful chocolate color.

Meanwhile, we think Ponyo (left) will be a mottled grey and black, kind of like our turkey.

And little Pearl will be cream and tan with a tan “mask” across her eyes. So far, though, she remains buttery yellow with only a hint of the tan to come.

It’s fun watching the ducks grow their fall wardrobes.

From the dining room table, hoping to do some weed whacking in the back yard today,

Mrs. Smythe

The Puzzle That Is Tansy

Have you heard of Tansy? It’s a pretty perennial herb that grows about three feet tall and is often seen along roadsides. I have it growing in my backyard, thanks to a neighbor who has generously gifted me plants from her garden over the years.

I really like Tansy – but it is full of contradictions. In some of my books, I read that the leaves can be used to make tea or to flavor cooking. It is thought to be effective in fighting intestinal worms and joint pain and to even the complexion. Other sources say the leaves are bitter and toxic. But, the most puzzling thing to me is the assertion that tansy is a good insect repellent. People used to wrap food in its leaves to keep insects away, or to bury people in coffins filled with the stuff. It’s also recommended as a companion plant for certain crops, including potatoes. My tansy, however, does not appear to repel any insects. In fact, it seems to do just the opposite.

See what I mean? I’m not sure what to think. Perhaps it becomes loathsome to insects only at certain times. Or, maybe only certain insects are repelled by it. I’ll have to keep my eye on the Tansy to see what develops. Plants are so interesting, don’t you think?

From the dining room table, hoping to get some weeding done today,

Mrs. Smythe

Turnip time

I’d never planted turnips before this year. Heck, I’d never even eaten a turnip before! But, this spring, I thought I’d give them a try.

Now they’re ready, and I had to look up recipes last night to figure out what to do with them. Mashed turnips seemed like a good place to start. Here was the result:

They were delicious! Even the kids liked them. They admitted that if I hadn’t told them they were turnips, they would have guessed they were mashed potatoes. The turnips did have a bit of an aftertaste that I don’t normally associate with potatoes, but otherwise, they were very similar in both taste and texture. Extra points because I got to use parsley from the garden as well. I’ll definitely be making these again. If you’re interested in trying the recipe I used, you can find it HERE. (I did dial back the pepper a bit, as the kids aren’t fans of spicy food – but otherwise, I left the recipe alone.)

From the dining room table, hoping to transplant some stray morning glories today,

Mrs. Smythe