Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Laptop Finally Bit the Dust...

Well, the rescued plants are mostly thriving - on the other hand, my laptop IS NOT.  It went kerplewey today after about the 20th dreaded "blue screen" notice.  I had pretty much copied most of my files onto DVD about two weeks ago, but that's still two weeks of work that I didn't have backed up as we thought the problem was fixed.

So I will be taking it to the repairman tomorrow with high hopes that he can retrieve at least some of the last few weeks of articles, photos, and stuff.  I'll probably be off the grid for a couple of days so bear with me!  (It's not like I can't keep busy repotting and trying to ID greenery!)

Enjoy your week my friends.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rescued Plants Breathe a Sigh of Relief

This is a photo-intensive post.  Lots of plant pictures also at the bottom of the post.

We have had one busy week leading into the weekend at MoonCat Farms. A large, local nursery went out of business a bit ago. Apparently they were still seeding and planting while the court battle was being played out. When the water was shut off, the plants were just left to die.

A friend of ours contacted us and let us know that we were welcome to come in and see if we could use any of the plants or supplies that were basically abandoned on the 30+ acre nursery.

The photos are just some of what we've managed to salvage. There are thousands more dead and dying plants just left out there in the hot sun. I was almost in tears at the horrible waste. There are so many charities that could have benefited and so many senior centers and other public facilities that could have made use of the greenery.  Not to mention that I have a thing for plants and it just hurt to see all the plants gasping for water. 

But, that's a done deal and we have a lot of watering, re-potting and sorting to do.  Identification is one of the largest tasks as NOTHING was labeled.  I recognize many of them, but there are some mystery plants that I will probably be asking for help from all of you with. 

Some may laugh at me, but after spending over two hours that first night soaking each and every pathetic little plant and tree, I really do swear that they heaved a collective sigh of relief and thanks when I was finished.  I just sat outside on the bench amongst them all for a bit keeping them company while it got dark. 
I'm a sap, what can I say.. 


Sorry for the photos getting all cattywhompous(sp?), but I couldn't get them to behave & line up!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Selections

Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.
- Marianne Moore

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hayseed is a Winner and So Is...

And they're off..........crossing the finish line by the tip of her sneakers is:   SewCalGal!

Congratulations!!!!!!  I'll send your info to the publisher.  Thank you all for entering the drawing and be on the lookout for more giveaways soon.

In the meantime, be sure to go here for  Hayseed's First Race.  Hayseed makes his grand debut in the world today!  I'm told they are already working on his next escapade so don't miss out.  Learn more at:  http://www.caballopress.com/

What I See Wednesday

Damage from the last big storm
Promise of sweetness to come
Chandler's Serious Pose
Calien:  "Play?Play?Play?"
Valley Oak Scented Geranium
Yes, Mr. MoonCat is really a twelve year old!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Husband is a Dung Beetle

Male beetle moving ball of  dung with his hind legs
First off, let me state for the record that I did not call him this.  At breakfast this morning, he told Mom and I that he is the dung beetle of the family.  While this is not a normal conversation in the majority of homes, it is really not a super surprising one for this group.  We obviously aren't normal anyway so let me try to explain this statement.

When we were camping last summer we came across a funny sight while hiking.  I was in the lead and had to stop as I saw something rather strange:  it looked like a little turd moving along the path in front of me.  Upon further investigation, we found that it was a dung beetle with a rolled up ball of poop.  He was rolling it uphill and in a very straight path - over pebbles, twigs, whatever.  He was a persistent little guy as the ball was about three times his size and it was very unwieldy.  We must have spent about fifteen minutes just watching as this amazing little creature kept to his task.  He was the epitome of the saying that "the impossible is possible if you keep at it".

Now, the reason Mr. MoonCat popped off with this little gem today is that he had done some reading on these fascinating little bugs.  We were talking this morning about how ants can carry many times their own weight and we told mom about seeing the little dung beetle at work.  Hubby's ENTIRE basis for saying that he is the dung beetle of OUR family is that the males are the ones who do all the work in dung beetle couples.  They usually roll up the ball of poop and move it to wherever the female designates while she directs or even HITCHES A RIDE while he's working! 

Mr. DungBeetle moving poop while being directed by Mrs. DungBeetle
If this hadn't hit me as so funny, I might think about being offended, but I chose to laugh my butt off at him.  (It's especially significant today as I "requested" that he move around a bunch of furniture yesterday..)

I did some reading myself on dung beetles and was really amazed to learn how beneficial they are to agriculture.  They can be found on every continent except for Antartica!  I had already known (from my dad) not to kill any that we found out in the manure pile at the ranch but really didn't know why.  I've learned that they help keep down the fly population and thus the spread of disease in livestock because they make the manure inhospitable to the fly larvae and maggots.  Learn More Here about them and how dung beetles are a very beneficial part of managing and sustaining pastureland. 

I hope you enjoyed yet another insight into the not so ordinary happenings (and conversations) here at MoonCat Farms.  And just for the record, I did NOT hitch a ride on his back while he was moving furniture - I directed. 

photos courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

Hayseed's First Race Giveaway Ends Tonight

Hayseed's First Race debut book giveaway ends tonight!  If you haven't entered the drawing yet, be sure to go to the original post HERE.  Don't miss out on your chance to win a copy of this darling book about an amazing racehorse who overcomes obstacles to obtain his heart's desire.  This book makes it's official debut tomorrow, April 14th for the whole world to enjoy.   Good luck to everyone!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Herbs - D is for Dandelion

Latin Name:  Taraxacum officinale of the family N.O. Compositae

Alternate Name(s): Priest's Crown, Swine's Snout, Blow Ball, Cankerwort, Dandelion, Lion's Tooth, Pissabed, Puff Ball, Pu Gong or Pu KungYing, Telltime, White or Wild Endive

Description: Shiny, smooth green leaves with many jagged or toothed edges form an almost flat rosette close to the ground. A single bright, golden-yellow bloom will appear on a purplish smooth stalk that has no leaves. This stalk comes straight up from the root itself as this is where the water concentrates in the plant.

Habitat:  Anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere where there is full sun and plenty of water. They grow wild in just about any meadow-type area as well as lawns. This is another of the plants that are very sensitive to the sun and the weather. The blooms will open fully to the sunlight and then close themselves up at night. They will also close tightly when it rains.

Growing:   Dandelions will grow wild in most parts of the world and are actually cultivated in some places such as France and Germany as a crop plant. It is started from seed in the early Spring or they will come back year after year on sturdy roots. Dandelions will bloom and scatter seed most of the year and is thus considered a great pest by most gardeners and farmers alike as they can never seem to eradicate them completely. It is a very hardy and persistent plant and thus very easy to grow when you chose to do so.

Harvesting: The young leaves can be taken at any time during the Spring while they are still tender. It is best to do this early in the morning before the heat has affected them. The roots should be harvested in the Fall when the plant is two years old.

Uses: Many people enjoy eating young dandelion greens in salads or steamed like spinach. They have been shown to be a great source of Vitamin A and potassium. Dandelions have been reported to be a potent diuretic for humans and is actually a considered a beneficial one as the dandelion may up the levels of potassium which is usually leached out by other diuretics. The dandelion root has been shown to possibly have a laxative effect on humans and may aid in cleansing the system. This is interesting since it basically acts just like coffee and is often used as a coffee substitute.

Extra Simple Dandelion Wine
4 cups White Wine
1 cup Dandelion flowers

Place flowers and wine in a sealed bottle or container. Place in a dark place for about 4 weeks. Remove the flowers and sweeten to taste. Stevia or honey are excellent natural sweeteners to use.

Even Simpler Dandelion Tea
1 cup boiling water
1 cup Dandelion flowers

Steep the flowers in the cup of boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the flowers and add sweetener to taste – I use stevia or honey.

Notes: Dandelions are a critical source of both nectar and pollen for honeybees. It is especially important as it provides a natural food source well into autumn for the bees to the beekeeper isn't feeding them the artificial food as early. Consider growing a couple pots full of dandelions even if only to keep the bees happy!

http://www.freeherbphotos.com/ - photos courtesy of

Disclaimer: The information presented herein is intended for educational, informational, and recreational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. It is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider before taking any supplements, herbs, or other substances.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Selections

Who would have thought it possible that a tiny little flower
could preoccupy a person so completely that there simply
wasn't room for any other thought....
- Sophie Scholl

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hayseed's First Race Book Review and Giveaway

Giveaway is now CLOSED

I would like to introduce you to my new favorite horse - Hayseed. 

Hayseed is the star of a delightful new children's book that will be making it's debut on April 14th.  I was sent an advance copy from the publisher for a review and giveaway to one lucky MoonCat Farms reader.

My Review: 

Hayseed's First Race is a lovely story that is brilliantly illustrated by the author, Sally Schrock.  She tells us about Hayseed and his desire to be a racehorse like the mighty Prince Perfect who is always the winner.  Prince Perfect and the others aren't very nice to Hayseed and make fun of him because he is different and tell him he doesn't belong. 

Ms. Schrock delivers the message beautifully with words and darling pictures that you not give up just because someone tells you that you can't do something.  This is an especially insightful story as the author herself is deaf.  The words that Hayseed's mother say to him "Love yourself for who you are, and never, ever, let anyone tell you that you don't belong" are words that Ms. Schrock's mother told her as a child. 
I highly recommend this book to parents, educators, or anyone with children in their lives.  It is an extremely enjoyable and easy read while delivering an important and powerful message. I really hope that there will be more books to come for Hayseed as the author has created a wonderful character who can be a positive role model and hero for little ones.

The book can be pre-ordered from the publisher Caballo Press or from Amazon and is available currently in English and Spanish.  It is a great deal at only $12.47 and would make a lovely gift for any little one in your life.  A bit about the publisher from their site:  

Caballo Press of Ann Arbor is an award-winning small, innovative, independent publisher specializing in diverse topics related to the equine industry. Its first title won the 2009 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, an award that recognizes Thoroughbred horse racing's book of the year. The intention of the press is to publish works in a variety of genres related to horses. A portion of every book we
publish is donated to a non-profit organization related to horses.

Part of the proceeds from Hayseed's First Race will be going to Anna House at the Belmont Park racetrack in New York.  Anna House is an on-site child care center for the backstretch workers at the racetrack. 

One of the fun things for your kids to do is to join Hayseed's Posse where they can print out pages to color, practice their handwriting with Hayseed, do their math problems, and enjoy other fun and educational games.  They can meet the author, Miss Sally and read a message from her HERE

Adults might take a minute to learn more about the author and some of the issues she is facing like so many others in these hard times.  Click Dark Horse Battles Predatory Lender to read more about her ongoing battle.  She's an inspirational lady.
 The Giveaway:
One lucky reader of MoonCat Farms Meanderings will be the recipient of a copy of Hayseed's First Race. 
Sorry, but this contest is only open to US residents.  The drawing will close at midnight PST on Tuesday, April 13th.  I'll announce the lucky winner on April 14th - Hayseed's Official Coming Out Day!  The winner will have 3 days to respond or I'll have to draw another.  Please be sure you leave me a way to contact you if you're not a blogger. 

There are several ways to enter: (You can put everything you do in one comment & I'll add them up instead of doing a comment for each item - but the first one is MANDATORY)

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me why you'd like to win this book. 

  2. Become a fan of Sally and Hayseed on Facebook

  3. Become a fan of  MoonCat Farms on Facebook

  4. Become a fan of Caballo Press on Facebook

  5. Post about this on your blog & leave me the link (worth 5 points)

  6. Be (or become) a follower of MoonCat Farms Meanderings

  7. Subscribe via email to MoonCat Farms Meanderings

  8. Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review and received no monetary compensation. The publisher is providing a copy of the book for the giveaway winner.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy California Poppy Day

In 1973, the California state legislature designated that April 6th would become "California Poppy Day".  

The California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) was named the State Flower of California after the California State Floral Society decided to choose an appropriate bloom for an official emblem. 

After a landslide vote in December of 1890,  the California Poppy beat out the Mariposa Lily and the Matilija Poppy for the honor.  It wasn't until 1903 that the legislature finally made the official proclamation. 

California Poppies are a protected wildflower in the state of California, but they can easily be grown from seed on your own property and enjoyed immensely.  Seeds available where wildflower seeds are sold.

Photos courtesy of:  http://www.freeherbphotos.com/