The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Second looks

Opening pear buds

Sometimes I go outside with the camera to take a picture of one thing...but a closer look points out that something else entirely is going on.

For example, I've been noticing pear buds beginning to break dormancy over the last few days. "Slow down!" I told the tree.

But when I took a second look, I realized that only the branches of the original variety on this topworked tree were opening up. The grafted-on variety --- shown slightly out of focus in the foreground of the main photo --- is still holding tight. Looks like the new varieties I chose for flavor might also be better at resisting late frosts as well.

Golf ball in snake
Less pleasantly, I watched Lucy kill this black rat snake while I was pruning the blueberries Monday. I always beg her not to attack rodent-eating reptiles, but our usually well-behaved dog goes tunnel-vision when she smells a split tongue.

It turns out that just this once, the snake she was after was actually a villain. No, not poisonous --- a nest-egg robber! We keep golf balls in our chicken nest boxes to give dim-witted birds the impetus to lay in an easy-to-gather spot. The snake must have swallowed one of these fake eggs, then learned the hard way that plastic doesn't digest the way shells and yolk do.

I still would rather Lucy didn't lay down the ultimate punishment. But I felt a little less guilty when that big white ball popped out of the snake's belly.

Anna Hess's books
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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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