Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Signs Of Spring In The Valley

Daffodils are a welcome sight in the sun that came out today.  This time of year you can walk in the woods where old homesteads and farms were and see wide patches of daffodils that were planted by early settlers and continue to come up.

Snow drops are in full regalia now.

Crocus give a warm smile and lovely color.

Quince give the promise of ripe fruits for chipmunk in the summer.

Vinca is a stunning blue and hints of possible cures for cancer. 

Huckleberry flowers greet bees and promise ripe blue fruit for birds, chipmunk, bear, and even deer who sometimes choose to strip the bushes in late summer.

Oregon grape is bright and promises berries for birds and chipmunk.  The roots make good medicine for colds and flu.

Lungwort has bright blue flowers and is good for lung infections.

The red ants have even woken up.  Today they were basking in the sun, getting organized for the upcoming season of harvesting, feeding, nest building, and defending.  I met these ants on the land early on and we quickly made friends.  Soon after I bought the acreage, I moved a 1959 Marcy 37' trailer up on top of the hill and watched the seasons go by through four years to determine the best home building and gardening sites.  The trailer had beautiful wooden cabinets inside and was quite cozy, in spite of its age and the pack rats that moved into the walls occasionally.  However, there were carpenter ants in the framing behind the walls.  One day I came home to find a swarm of red ants in a front corner of the trailer.  I wondered what kind of trouble they would be since they bit pretty hard if you bothered them.  I waited to see what would happen.  Within a couple of days, there were black heads of carpenter ants falling from the ceiling and I realized that these red ants would do a good job of cleaning out the carpenter ants from the trailer.  After a couple of weeks the red ants seemed to be done with the job and they moved out of the trailer and established a nest nearby.  Through the years they have multiplied and created new nests in various spots as needed.  They cruise the perimeter of buildings on the land and continue to meet, greet, and eat carpenter ants and termites when encountered.  Clearly these red ants are the champion pest controllers for human buildings, without the need for pesticides.  We get along well and they do not bite when I am gardening near their nests or encountering them on the hard-packed trails that they create, having walked over them so many times.

Posted by michael

1 comment:

dcp said...

Great pictures and story about the ants, Michael.