There are a lot of local artists in Union County (see Union Co. Arts Cooperative) but Pat and Bill Clapsaddle are two that I particularly admire. Some of you may already know Pat as an accomplished ceramic artist, but may not be familiar with Bill’s talents. These fish drawer pulls are all Bill’s creative genius. Bill, a retired historic home restorer / custom builder, crafted them in clay and painted them himself, using glazes. Pat helped by giving advice on how to cast and use her glazes to get the effects he wanted — Bill actually made all the casts and applied the glazes.
I don’t claim to be able to identify fish, other than, perhaps, blue gill. I would bet that these are accurate and could be easily identified by people who know fish. Pat and Bill are also accomplished fisher-people — I’ve seen photos of them holding their catches and you can tell they enjoy it immensely from the looks on their faces.
If you are interested in purchasing these, they will be available for sale at the Foothills Craft Show in November at the Jacobs Building in Pat’s booth. They are signed and dated by Bill.
But you’ll be able to see Pat earlier than that and purchase her ceramics this coming Saturday, where she will be giving an art demo at ”Art in the Park” in Maynardville on June 1st. Please stop by her booth and tell her that you saw these drawer pulls. Pat Clapsaddle Pottery has a Facebook page, also, so
please ”like” it to see new photos of her work and find out where she will be exhibiting next. She is quite active!
Carpenter Bees – How to Identify If You Have a Problem
Carpenter Bee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you have any wood on the exterior of your home, deck, or barn, you probably also have carpenter bees. And you don’t even have to be in the country or have a log cabin to experience this. I’ve seen carpenter bees drill their distinctive hole right in the middle of the wooden front door of our neighbor’s home when we lived in the suburbs. It looked like someone shot a bullet through the door – it was so perfectly round.
The photo above shows the distinctive round hole that they make. They then proceed to drill tunnels, often turning a sharp right angle from the entrance of the hole, that can weaken the wood deep within the log or board. In the tunnels, they lay eggs that hatch into larvae. The larvae turn into carpenter bees that eventually emerge through the same hole.
TIP: Do not plug up / repair carpenter bee holes until late fall so that all the larvae have hatched and the young bees have exited. Young bees exit by looking for the nearest light. If you plug up the hole and eliminate the light, they will just drill another hole to exit.
English: CARPENTER BEE IN BACKYARD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Carpenter bees like the warm side of a structure. Ours like to drill holes behind the gutter that is against the fascia board on the west side of the house. The gutter retains the warmth of the sun and protects them from the rain.They are active in the spring and nest in the tunnels the rest of the year. Right now, they out and about. They like to hover right in front of me and stare me down – like they are little remote control drones. You can’t help but think they are little aliens scrutinizing our intelligence.
Two Great Carpenter Bee Solutions
Jim and I were out-and-about and came upon a log home manufacturer that had model log homes to tour. We asked them their advice on log cabin maintenance, just to see if there were any new tips we need to incorporate. Boy, were we glad we asked.
They mentioned carpenter bees as being the only real problem and they had two solutions: a trap that does not use any pesticide and a product called Brian’s Bee Butter that does.
Carpenter Bee Trap
Watch this video to see an effective carpenter bee trap that is engineered to do the job right the first time. They explain all the reasons that carpenter bees are attracted to their trap to make it so effective – it is really quite interesting.
I called to ask them some additional questions and learned that when the first couple of bees find your trap and die, they release a pheromone that attracts other bees. If you don’t want to wait for the bees to find the trap, you can speed this up by killing a bee with a tennis racket and putting it into the bee trap.
The chemical solution to exterminate carpenter bees is a product called Brian’s Bee Butter that contains permethrin — the same product used to dip dogs & treat head lice in children. I’ve written about permethrin before as a good tick repellent / defense against ticks and I regularly spray it on my clothes before I go on a hike.
The video below shows you exactly how to use it. It comes with a syringe and you simply inject some into the individual carpenter bee holes. The permethrin is carried in a grease, according to the video, that not only protects the permethrin from breaking down prematurely (it normally only has a short life) but also keeps it from dripping so that it stays in the hole to continue to work as baby bees emerge throughout the year.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, I just learned that they are no longer able to sell the Bee Butter. They had been selling it for five years without any problem, but the EPA, in their ultimate wisdom, decided that they need to resubmit it for review since they were mixing already approved ingredients. It would cost $40,000 PER STATE! Another government intervention that is limiting small business.
Sadly, morel mushroom hunting season is over for this year. But if you still have the bug for mushroom hunting, then here is something to try – growing your own! Our friends Paul and Amy, in NE Ohio do this with great success.
Somehow I missed seeing this when we were up there a few weeks ago, but Jim didn’t. He was telling me how Paul and Amy have about 20 logs stacked upright, like a fence. They drill holes into logs and then “seed” shiitake mushroom spores, which they purchase, into the holes and seal the holes with wax. Simple enough. This is definitely something I want to do.
How to Grow Your Own Shiitake Mushrooms
I found this great website and video (below), that explains every step on how to grown your own shiitake mushrooms. The first minute or two shows you a time-lapsed sequence of the mushrooms growing in just a short span of 3 days, but hang in there to get to the meat of the instructions.
In a nutshell, here are the basic steps that I learned from the video, on how to grow shiitake mushrooms in a log:
Cut a fresh 4′ log, preferably red oak (this is the native wood in which they grow Shiitake mushrooms in Japan to produce the premium mushrooms that sell for a lot of money).
Soak the log for 24 – 48 hours.
Using a 5/6″ wood drill bit, drill holes in the log every 6 inches. The holes need to be big enough to allow you to insert a wood dowel plug that contains shiitake mushroom spores.
Pound the dowel plugs into the holes.
Melt bee’s wax and pour into the holes to seal.
Stack logs (like a log cabin, or fence, or lean against a building) for 6 months in partial shade.
Water every 2-3 weeks. Keep the logs at 30% moisture content.
The video says that the logs will fruit for 5 years, until the logs fall apart. The key point that Jim learned from Paul, is that the mushrooms grow underneath the bark, and once the bark is gone, it is all over.
My friend Bonnie found this cute idea that recycles wine bottles into planters. The idea came from Recyclart.com. I can actually see myself making these.
Cut the bottom off of a wine bottle and fill half full with potting soil. Place in plants, water and set on their sides for 5 days or more, until the roots expand to hold in the soil. Hang with a wire and water through the top.
Recently, we were invited to spend the day with long-time good friends Bonnie and Jim Neidhart at their son Paul’s 60+ acre woodland paradise in SE Ohio that he owns with his wife Amy. That’s Bonnie and her son Paul in the photo to the left.
Paul has a degree in botany (with a special interest in mushrooms) from Ohio University. If there ever was an expert to learn from, he is the one. We were told that the morel mushrooms had just started emerging the week before and they had saved some big ones for us to find. We were so excited.
At first, I couldn’t see them. Paul and Amy were spotting them immediately — and these were the BIG ones! Later, we started finding much, much smaller ones — maybe just a few inches tall — but I was improving. Amy said sometimes it helps to actually get down on the ground and look for the white stems. Also, she said that they like disturbed soil. And, indeed, we did find a number of morels around spots where they had previously cleared out brush. I later read that morels often have bumper crops in areas that has been burned.
My final triumph was actually coming across a new patch on their property that they had never explored before and finding 10-12 morel mushrooms there!
The two bowls to the left show our day’s bounty. Note the differences in sizes.
Since I had never prepared morels for eating, I was all eyes when Paul went through the preparation.
Step 1: Paul first soaked the morels in salt water. This was to flush out any critters that might be inside.
Step 2: Then he cut the morel mushrooms in half. Don’t skip this step, because even then, he found a slug in one and a dozen or so ants in another.
Step 3: Heat some olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and toss in the cut mushrooms.
Step 4: As they cook, you’ll notice moisture coming out. Paul likes them to be less watery, so he continued to let them cook.
Step 5: Perfect! The moisture is gone and they are nicely browned.
So… is the flavor of morels worthy of all the hype? Yes. Definitely yes. Good bye button mushrooms. Hello morels.