Friday, October 31, 2014

harvest of purple and gold

Partridge Pea  -  Chamaecrista fasciculata
One of my long-term goals is to convert my lawn into a nature friendly xeriscape. That means planting as many native plants as possible to give back some of the habitat being destroyed by housing and roadways. The partridge pea is an old favorite flower, one I first spotted in Bosque County about 1985, but I hadn't seen one in many years until recently. Now I see many dozens of them in an as yet undeveloped field near my house and I thought I'd to grow some. Getting seeds for planting has been a bit tricky. I've looked at a lot of seed pods, but there must be a very short time between the pods being too green or being too ripe with seeds already scattered.  I've been looking at and gathering pods sporadically for over a month and have less than 30 seeds to show for it.

I had been puzzling for months over a clump of interesting greenery in someone's front yard, trying to identify it. It looked like rosemary, but was too stiff and prickly & certainly didn't smell like rosemary. A few weeks ago the prickly greenery began sprouting tiny purple flowers. and then I saw these plants in the wildflower field which are unkempt versions of the plant I had been so fascinated with. I finally found its name: Gayfeather, Texas Liatris, or my favorite, Blazing Star.
Gayfeather  -  Liatris mucronata
I took a spade with me one day and dug up a few specimens to put in my yard. I wouldn't normally disturb someone's property, but this field seems to serve mostly as a repository for cans, plastic bottles, and almost every kind of trash. I didn't think anyone would miss a few plants.  So far the specimens I transplanted are surviving.

When I dug up the gayfeather plants I accidentally got a couple of Broomweed plants with them.
Prairie Broomweed  -  Amphiachyris dracunculoides
I decided to plant them as well, and hope any seeds formed would self-sow in my yard. One plant by itself doesn't look like much, but in quantity they cast a nice yellow glow. Apparently settlers in the 1800s would gather a bunch of these plants and bind one end so they could be used as brooms, hence the common name broomweed. They're part of the Aster family, and up close are quite pretty. I do hope I see them in the yard next summer. Maybe all these wildflowers will find my yard to their liking.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

new weapon of choice

Yee-haw this is my new toy, a 12-Volt Bosch impact driver. Its sole purpose is to insert & remove screws. I call it my Miracle Tool. (yes I know my fingernails are dirty.)

I've always had a hard time working with screws. My hands and arms aren't usually strong enough to get a screw properly tightened down with a regular screwdriver. I have a power drill that I have used for screws but again, I'm not strong enough to keep the bit firmly in the screw head. I end up stripping the head, making it useless. I may get it screwed in place, but I will never be able to remove it.

Last December I had to remove a row of screws from the underside of the top of a closet-door frame. I had to stand on a stool, reach up with both hands, and bend my head back to see. Because of the awkward position & the weight of the drill I ended up severely pinching a nerve in my neck. It took more than 6 months to recover most of the use of my shoulder. I decided it was time for a good power tool.

This impact driver weighs only 2.13 pounds and I only need one hand to use it. I looked at a lot of drivers and this is one of the lightest if not the lightest, but it's got plenty of torque. I can put in a screw & then remove it in one fell swoop. I was able to remove 12 tight screws holding some door hinges in under 5 minutes. The Miracle Tool has made my life so much easier I've decided to tackle some real woodworking projects.

Ta-dah. Oh, I know, it's just a box frame. It's for a raised garden bed. It's made of four pressure-treated 2x10" boards with three 2-1/2" deck screws at each corner. While I did make pilot holes for the screws I probably could have got by without them. When the screw's path gets sluggish in the wood, the impact driver turns into a "mini jackhammer" to MAKE that screw go in, and all I have to do is hold it in my dainty little hand. Thank you, Bosch, for making a tool a Girl can use!