Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts


September 15, 2022

Today my daughter and I took a class on identifying edible vs toxic mushrooms in the wild. Since I was little I always wanted to know which mushrooms I could and couldn't eat but no matter how many times friends with mushroom knowledge would point out an edible mushroom I just didn't trust it. 

Growing up my mother was a wealth of knowledge when it came to edible and medicinal plants but not when it came to mushrooms. She had this long list of stories she'd share with us about people she knew or had read about who had died eating the wrong one and died so we were told to admire fungi from afar. As an adult that warning was ingrained in my head but I know it's silly, sort of, so I decided to take a class.

Will I be eating wild mushrooms now? Um... not likely.  If I do I'll stick to a select 2-3, but I definitely won't be branching out to all that's available. It was fun to explore in the woods with our guide and talk about mushrooms though. Even if I never eat one my daughter and I learned a lot. 

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June 12, 2022

A few years ago we decided to remove the majority of our grass in the front yard to make room for pollinator gardens. We removed about 1/2 of the lawn and planted numerous Minnesota natives to feed butterflies and bees. In our backyard we added several native trees to help feed the birds. Immediately we started seeing the benefits of both. The birds come to the trees to nibble on the fruits and the pollinators visit the flowers for pollen and nectar, but this year we were surprised to find this...

While I was up in Northern MN at our cabin a few years back I found a plant growing wild down the road and thought it was interesting. I looked it up to find it's name and whether it was native to the area or not. It's called pearly everlasting and it is a native to MN so I decided to plant it in my front yard. I ordered 3 plants from a local native wildflower nursery and put them in. Two years later (today) I noticed they had spread quite a bit. Three small plants that took up a total of a foot space had now spread to about 4 ft around. I thought that was exciting since I want all of my plants to spread. I went out a couple days ago to water and discovered what looked like dying pearly everlasting. I thought maybe it had some type of fungus or mite since it was covered in a white powdery substance with black flecks and it looked like it had little cobwebs all over the top. I started pulling back the webs and was surprised to find caterpillars inside. By the time I was done counting I found over 2 dozen caterpillars. I rushed to my resources to find out what they were and it turns out we created a home for the American Lady and Painted Lady butterfly larvae. 

The pearly everlasting is a host plant. The caterpillars live as individuals in nests made of leaves and silk. Here are some photos of what I found.

This is EXACTLY what we wanted to achieve when we removed our lawn. In our front yard we have three sections with native wildflowers that feed the local pollinators. It's very exciting to see the fruits of our labor. 

We also found that the butterfly milkweed we planted is covered in Monarch caterpillars. I didn't expect this. I assumed Monarchs would only lay their eggs on the common milkweed. Here are a few photos of what we found on the butterfly milkweed. 

Now I know that the Monarch will lay her eggs on all 9 species of milkweed but the common milkweed usually has the highest number of eggs. 

We have a lot of common milkweed growing so off to the garden store I go to get more butterfly milkweed. 

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June 17, 2016

This past weekend my oldest daughter and I attended another herbal workshop.  This time the location was a beautiful farm in North Central, MN and it was the perfect spot since there was a great variety of wild edibles and medicinals spread over the property, even this beauty… truly growing wild, there were just two plants on the 38 acres.

I think my daughter had the most fun hanging out with the chickens 

While I was busy eating wild foods

We talked about many plants including the a variety of uses for Solomon's Seal

and Black Medick

There wasn't a boring minute while Lise Wolff talked

I really can never get enough of these plant walks.  Lise Wolff is like an herbal encyclopedia that I wish I could just put on a shelf and open when needed.  How she mentally files away so much detail about medicinal and edible plants I will never know.

It truly was a great day!

For anyone who lives in MN and may be interested in these workshops, here is a link to Lise Wolff's website .  Her classes are not always posted on her site but if you sign up for emails she'll definitely send you one when a workshop or class is scheduled.
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August 20, 2015

At this time of year we have every insect imaginable hanging out in our backyard.  You have to be very careful if you walk the trail around the Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod because literally hundreds of wasps, honey bees and bumble bees call the JPW & GR a source of food.

One of hundreds of yellow-jackets calling our yard home right now. They are hungry for the Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod.

Monarch butterflies are just interested in the Joe Pye Weed.

This little lady(bug) has been spending her day poking around the goldenrod.

I saw this frog and thought it was deformed but turns out it was crossing its legs like that on purpose.  Who knew they did that? I didn't.
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October 8, 2014

Yesterday we went to the Minnesota Science Museum to check out the Monarch exhibit.  If it wasn't for a time constraint I could have stayed in the butterfly house all day, as it was we had to bribe Aiyana with better things to come just to get her to leave.  

Who knew insects could be so fascinating but I'm finding myself more and more interested in learning about them, and not just the pretty ones either.

Mating pair.

Apparently I am the only one who thought this was fascinating. Mating butterflies. Maya kept telling me to stop taking pictures but I thought it was cool to see.

Monarch (male) - the swollen pouches (circles/balls) along the veins near the ends of it wings tells you it is a male.

Painted Lady Butterfly hitching a ride on Aiyana's head.

Maya and Monarch posing for the camera.

Painted Lady Butterfly

Monarch (female) having a conversation with my husband.  I think she had a crush on him :P

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November 4, 2012

Have you ever wondered what climate change looks like through the eyes of our wild neighbors?

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Grizzly Bear: more mountain pine beetles = less whitebark pine trees = less whitebark pine seeds = starving grizzly bears 

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Polar Bear: melting sea ice = less access to seals = more energy spent hunting for food = less time for reproduction = less polar bears  

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of an Orangutan: drought = loss of habitat due to more wild fires = no food and no place to live

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Snow Leopard: warmer, wetter weather = loss of alpine habitat = loss of hunting grounds = desperation = exposure to humans & livestock = increased retaliatory killings of the snow leopard

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Gazelle: drought = expansion of desert land = loss of of trees and grass = less food = having to compete with livestock for food = loss of life for the gazelle.  

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Cheetah: loss of the gazelle = eating outside normal diet = getting less “healthy” protein = negative effect on sperm health = changing the ability to reproduce effectively = dwindling number of cheetahs

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Tiger: rising temperatures = melting sea ice = rising water levels = flooded lands = loss of habitat

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Shark: warmer waters = expanding food search area = becoming stressed = a refusal to mate = less sharks + more exposure to humans = more conflict = slaughtered sharks.

photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Sea Turtle: warmer weather = melting ice caps = rising sea level = erosion of nesting beaches & changes in sex ratios = less sea turtles

Photo source: CLICK HERE

Climate Change through the eyes of a Bird: warmer weather = change in migratory patterns = missing out on food sources & mates = unhealthy birds = less offspring. 

Add poaching and human caused habitat destruction and what do you get?


Now what does climate change look like through your eyes?

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