Out With The Old

When we built our house years ago, I planted ‘Goldflame’ Spirea in the front beds.
15 years later, those Spirea have seen better days.    A few late freezes, an extreme ice storm, and brutal hot, dry summers have wreaked havoc on their old limbs.  Many had dead centers, a couple were completely dead and the rest were just pitiful.
Thus began my exercise program for 2014.
It went something like this.  Bend, clip, pull, throw.  This method uses several muscle groups at once while accomplishing a task.  After all, if I’m going to exercise, let me see instant results for my hard work.
Daisy, however, thinks if you lay on an exercise device it counts as exercising.
Oh how I wish that would work.
While I was clipping, I found several of these.

praying mantis coccon
Praying Mantis Egg Case
These are usually deep in the shrubs and I left them undisturbed.  A case this big could house 150-200 praying mantis.  That’s a lot of aphid eaters!
The chickens took an instant liking to the cleaned out bed.  Fresh dirt warmed by the sun makes a great dust bath where they basked for most of the afternoon.  Annie is such a mother hen to these birds and she likes to get everyone lined out and in their spot.
I’m ready to begin another year and I appreciate you all reading and listening to me go on and on about gardening.  This year I am going to focus on some other interests as well.
As our food supply becomes more and more genetically modified, I am more determined to raise my food.  This will include a variety of animals this year.  In a couple of weeks, I will be attending a free beginning beekeeping class offered at the University of Arkansas.  In the spring, I hope to raise my own chickens for meat as well as a pig or two.  We’ll see if I can pull all that together.  I’m going to do my best.
If anything, it will give me something else talk about.
Here’s wishing you a great year!
p.s. I have uploaded a video on youtube of Annie and her chickens.  She’s such a sweet dog!

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