Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Funnies

Are some days hard to get a handle on ?

Maybe these will help . . .

handle collageNow where are those door(s) ?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Friday is the Final Fun on the Fen Finale!!!!!

YEs, it's hard to believe that my work on Mutton Hunk Fen is almost over. Well, the planting is almost over. As of this afternoon we not only broke the season record for number of trees planted in one day, 65, but we now have just about 36 trees (out of 510) left to plant tomorrow.

I realized that i had never actually showed the whole process of planting the trees, just snips of the operation. So here we go from unloading the truck to the final tamp.

 The trees come on a flatbed trailer. Usually about 140 trees to a load. They are unloaded one at a time due to the size and weight of some of the root balls.  Sometimes we unload using the Bobcat along with the John Deere.
There is one fork attached to the bucket. It is offset so we can get closer to the tree we are picking up without damaging the ones next to it.

From the truck they are either loaded onto the field trailer or brought to a staging area.

Some of the trees balls are over 550 lb. (as high as our scale went). 

Unloading is one of my jobs. The Yellow Lab is Shelly the WunderDog. She is our supervisor and finder of old deer bones.

This is what a trailer of trees looks like. We get 24 trees to a load. After loading onto the trailer the nails that hold the burlap ball together must be removed. There are about a dozen nails in each ball and none of them come out easy.

After the trailer is loaded i switch tractors from the green JD to the blue New Holland and tow the trailer out to the field where Michael has drilled holes to plant the trees in.

Usually the trees are lifted off the trailer using a boom and 1200lb. wench that is mounted on the trailer, BUT this last truck load of trees has been so heavy we have needed to use a tractor to unload and get the tree into the hole.

This next series was taken from the drivers seat as i unloaded a tree. Is this dangerous???? YES!!!!! Are there moving mechanical parts that can easily crush human parts???? By all means!!!!!!     We only go to this operation when there is a trained crew doing the planting. This afternoons crew was Richard, Michael, Me, and Will. We are all used to working near moving machinery or operating it.

Here we are following Will driving a load of trees to the field. The next pictures are what I see from the drivers seat. The crew was really patient with me photographing, but for one time only.

Richard hooks the chains onto the tree, stands back, and i lift it off.

 From the trailer the tree gets moved over to the hole. The guy in the pink shirt is Will (a retired engineer) and is my guide. Operations like this require ONLY ONE guide. Will is the only one who determines how i move the machine.

 Once the tree is in, i move back and help with the final setting, adjusting, and tamping.

Shelly the WunderDog keeps an eye on us.

 The tamping is accomplished with a highly specialized tool.... a wheel barrow handle. The soil has to be tamped so that there is no voids around the root ball. These could fill with water and loosen the ball. This would be bad since the wind out here is constant. Today it blew at 20 mph all day long. Luckily it was from the South West which is usually warm.
This is what our trees should look like when we drive away.

SOOOO you're probably wondering how did Shelly the WunderDog get her name????? I gave her this because i always wonder where she finds the stuff she drags back, how she gets so dirty, where she finds enough water to be soaked, and today, where she found a pile of fox poop to roll in.....

On the other hand, she is one of the most lovable dogs around. She belongs to Richard and Dot (our real boss). Rumor has it that Dot has a touch of Dolittle and can talk to Shelly..... but that is just a rumor (i hope).

SOOO thanks for following this adventure. If you are on the Eastern Shore in the future, this preserve will be open to the public this summer. You can find directions at then look for number 44 on the map, Mutton Hunk Fen.

If there are still questions i will answer them in another post.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gratitude for Gifts

tammy spices (2)Recently, I posted how fellow bloggers are the nicest people, even though we’ve only met a couple (so far)  of folks who blog and those who comment on our blog.

Recently, we received these  homemade seasoning mixes from Tammy (Simple Southern Happiness).  This past weekend, tIMG_0314he Super Blend mix was used to season a beef crockpot stew. What a wonderful addition that  made this meal quite tasty. We’re looking forward to buying fresh salmon to enjoy the dill-chive-garlic mix soon.

Unexpected surprises like this call for a personal THANKS. We surprised Tammy with a call this past Sunday a.m. and had a wonderful and lengthy conversation. She is recovering from recent surgery and expects a return to blogging soon. In the meantime, drop over and visit her blog for wonderful photography and tasty recipes. And, while you’re there, be sure to check out her pottery and sewing projects – this is one very talented lady !

We hope we can meet this blogger one day when we visit relatives who also live in GA. THANKS  Tammy.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Mystery Continues . . .

At least for us that’s what happens every evening when we sit in our favorite chairs and try to figure out Who Dunnit???

A February post of the same title described our absorption with mystery novels. Grenville was reading novels by Louise Penny and I was reading some by Charles Todd.

We have continued reading – similar and new authors . . .

Believing the Lie is the newest Inspector Thomas Lynley mystery bycurrent reads (1) Elizabeth George. Lynley is mystified when he's sent undercover to investigate the death of Ian Cresswell at the request of the man's uncle, the wealthy and influential Bernard Fairclough. The death has been ruled an accidental drowning, and nothing seems to indicate otherwise. Lynley enlists the help of his friends Simon and Deborah St. James. The trio's digging soon reveals that the Fairclough clan is awash in secrets, lies, and motives.

Thanks to fellow blogger and mystery reader, AC, for letting me know about this latest tome, over 610 pages in the hardcover edition. It was a 2-week new book library loan, which meant several late night readings to return it on time this week.

current reads (3)In February, I had begun the first book in The Sunday Philosophy Club series by Alexander McCall Smith featuring Isabel Dalhousie, an Edinburgh philosopher who uses her training to solve mysteries. Besides Isabel, characters in the series include her niece Cat, a young attractive woman who runs a delicatessen; her housekeeper Grace, an outspoken woman with an interest in spiritualism; Cat’s ex-boyfriend Jamie, a bassoonist and music teacher; Charlie, Isabel and Jamie’s son; and Brother Fox, an urban fox who lives in Isabel’s garden. I’m reading the 8th (and last to date) book in this series.

Grenville read several of Ms. Penny’s mysteries featuring Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec before moving on to a U.S. based mystery series (also through a suggestion from AC).

Archer Mayor is the author of the acclaimed, Vermont-basedcurrent reads (4) series featuring Lt. Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro, VT police department. Mayor’s novels are based on actual experience in the field. He works as a death investigator for the VT State Medical Examiner's office and as a deputy for the Windham County Sheriff's Dept. There now 22 books in this series, which have been appearing about once a year since 1988; unfortunately our local library doesn’t have of them. Soon, Grenville will be running out of Mayor’s mysteries . . . any reading suggestions?

We don’t subscribe to cable or digital services needed for any TV watching in this area. For us nightly reading is far more entertaining than anything currently on the boob tube.

How do you spend your evening down time?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Historic Onley Station gets the "Big Suck"

Most of you remember the work we have been involved with at our Historic Onley Train Station. This past Saturday was a special day. To get the full enjoyment of this, BUT flip over to Possum's blog at


Fog on the Fen

Last Tuesday and Wednesday we had a little fog here on the Shore. Schools were delayed 2 hours on Tuesday and cancelled completely on Wednesday.

On the Fen, which is right on Metompkin Bay, it was very thick.
Above is our entrance sign on Tuesday morning. You can see the fog in the background. By 10 AM it had all burned off.
Here is Wednesday morning. This did not burn off till about 1pm.

A few other views of Wednesday.

SOOOO you may wonder,,, Did this slow us down??????? No way!!!!! Even with a late delivery of trees on Tuesday we still got all 140 trees in by Thursday afternoon.
Tuesday will be another delivery and the weather is calling for clear and in the mid 60's.


One-Pan Chicken and Asparagus

If you’re a regular or even occasional reader of recipes posted on The Frog & PenguINN blog, you may have notices that we cook a lot of main dishes using either chicken or fish.  While Grenville and I DO enjoy a grilled steak and barbecued ribs, not to mention a good burger, chicken and fish are more often than not on our dinner menu. Our favorites are easy-to-prepare main dishes accompanied by fresh veggies we have grown or bought fresh.

This a simple (and delicious) meal using chicken breasts and one of our favorite veggies – asparagus. And, aide from the pot used to cook the rice, it’s cooked in one pan – another of our favorite types of meals cause there’s less after-dinner cleanup.

Chicken and Asparagus

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour  
  • 1/2 C dry white wine (or use cooking wine) 
  • 1/2 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced (or garlic powder)
  • 1 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed and cut up 
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley or use 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  1. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-in. thickness. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and ground black pepper.
  2. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place flour in a shallow dish and dredge chicken in flour.
  3. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
  4. Add wine, broth, and garlic to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 minutes. Add asparagus; cover and cook 3 minutes, until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add chicken over asparagus and cook for a few more minutes.chicken-asparagus (4)Remove from heat; sprinkle with parsley. Serve chicken and asparagus over rice with sauce.chicken-asparagus (1)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yard Work & Spring Blooms

Spring is Here . . . What a weekend – great weather, good food, Saturday evening with friends  . . . then yard work on a warm (not too hot) Sunday. Grenville and I split the work, which went faster than we expected. He spent most of the day setting up the newly designed (and much smaller) vegetable garden and will be posting about that project later. It’s a (very) much smaller garden than those of the past few years and be  a lot less work as well.
strawberry patchMy chores included weeding the 2 strawberry beds. Forgot to take a “before” photo, but got this “after” shot of one bed. Yes, we already have some blossoms.Most of the daffodil blooms are quickly fading, but there was still a variety in the front and back gardens.
daffodil collageWe have 2 forsythia bushes in full bloom. The forsythia plant is native to China and is named is named in honor of William Forysth, director of the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1770 and one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society.
cedar nestrobinsspring bloomspeach blossoms collagedandelion collageforsythiasDandelions continue to bloom and are now going to the familiar seed puff balls.Peach blossoms are in the orchard and Grenville is already talking about peach pie recipes, peach cobbler . . .Some other early blooms around the F&P include vinca, grape hyacinth, lily of the valley, wild violet and candytuft.Scores of robins have been seen in and around the yard, perhaps checking out possible nesting locations. There’s a vacancy in the cedar tree out front.

How was YOUR weekend?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Funnies from the Fen

OHHHH I just couldn't help myself on that one...... OK OK OK  So here is a funny sent in by longtime blog follower, fellow weather prognosticator, and old friend Possum

Makes ya stop an think, doesn't it!!!!

Anyway, there have been some questions about the logistics of the Mutton Hunk Fen Project i am part of. 
Entire Project area= 418 acres
2010 area planted= 35 acres
2011 area planted= 75 acres
2012 area planted = 110 acres

For those of you who may find this a spacial challenge to get your ming wrapped around, your typical home lot of 1/4 acre is 100' x 100' approximately. An acre is 208' x 208'.

Our friend Abe Lincoln  said that he thought that would be very close plantings of the Oak Trees. BUT numbers wise we have just 500 Oaks for the 110 acres giving us 4.5 trees per acre. Not every acre will get trees. There are certain really wet spots that will be eliminated as will areas near the bay due to eventual 'sea level rise' and the Nor'easter's we are known for. I will try Tuesday to get a good picture showing the trees. Those half trees are the hardest to plant though. Root ball falls apart every time. 

Then someone asked what kind of Oaks we are planting. The short answer is ones that like wet toes and can tolerate salt spray. Remember this land is near sea level (at the most elevation is 15 ft) and bordered by saltwater. Oh yea,,, did i mention that the Atlantic Ocean is just a mile away across Metompkin Bay???? (If they grew Pop Corn here you would never have to add salt...:-)....)

Our first load were Willow Oaks Quercus phellos. They really like this wet environment.
Next is Water Oak Quercus nigra.  This one is in the Red Oak family and is sometimes called Spotted Oak or Possum Oak. 
This coming week i think we are planting White Oak Quercus alba. Another long lived common Oak found all over the Eastern US.
And finally Red Oak Quercus rubra. Again a very common Oak in the red family, and the state tree of New Jersey.

All of these trees are native to our area, which is a major criteria for our projects. All of our plantings are "Native Plants". ANd yes for those of you thinking that this area will eventually turn into a forest, that is the whole idea. Our goal is preserving or restoring our "Natural Heritage".  Or in another way, parks are for people and Natural Area Preserves are for critters. Again, Tuesday i will post pictures of the first area we did back in 2010. Along with the native grasses in that first area, you can find some of the Oaks, but the Lob Lolly Pines, Pinus Taeda, have really taken hold of the area.

This weekend we start our new, improved, and decidedly smaller garden area. I bet the Princess will take a picture or two,,,, ya think?????

Friday Funnies

While visiting NJ last week, I saw two different examples of parallel parking outside a Panera Bread in Westfield, NJ.

The back right tire of this car was on the sidewalk; the front right was smack against the curb.  (The car had NY plates.)IMG_0403IMG_0406 Less than a half hour later, another car was parked in the SAME spot – not on the sidewalk or anywhere near the curb – but over the parking space line AND nearly in the traffic lane .  (NJ plates on this car.) IMG_0407This is WHY carrying a small digital camera everywhere is handy. You never know what you will see OR where.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chicken Parmesan/Parmigiana

Whether called Chicken Parmigiana or Chicken Parmesan, this is a popular and easy meal. It can be served with a side of pasta, salad and crusty bread or salad and bread alone.IMG_9990 

To avoid chicken splatters, pound the chicken in a plastic bag or between slices of waxed paper.

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 C flour seasoned with salt & pepper
  • 1/2 C seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
  • Shredded or sliced Mozzarella cheese
  1. IMG_9993Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set up 3 pans for flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Dredge chicken breasts in the seasoned flour and tap off excess.
  2. Dip chicken in egg, then dredge in bread crumbs.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Brown the chicken about 3 to 4 IMG_9997minutes on each side on both sides until golden.
  5. Add some tomato sauce on bottom of glass backing dish and then add chicken on top.
  6. Pour sauce on top of chicken breasts and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.IMG_0002
  7. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with spaghetti, bread and green salad.