Weekly Homestead Report 17: December 5, 2016

This week we picked medlars and broccoli, it snowed, we found life in an ugly plastic box, I turned 29, a tree fell down, and I made it through my first town meeting as a member of the selectboard.

First up: life in a storage box. We keep this ugly left-over from our house’s previous occupants so that the mail carrier can leave a package for us in inclement weather. Apparently it also serves as valuable habitat. We found three different spider egg sacs, about 10 jumping spider houses (one in each molded notch), a funnel web, stink bug eggs, and a paper wasp nest (with wasp still sleepily clinging to it). The northern paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus, is the common native species in the Northeast.

Nice to know that the junk also has biological function.

Walking in the woods, we found red maple tree that had recently broken off. Brief investigation led us to suspect beetle damage as the cause of the death of the tree. We found several little channels filled with sawdusty frass, a strange series of holes with little webby sacs in them, and a wriggling beetle larva!

For my birthday, we got to pick medlars. Medlar, Mespilus germanica, is in the rose family along with apples, and the fruit looks like a cross between a rose hip and an apple. Apparently it should be picked in December and stored until March, then eaten when the fruit is soft. It has been likened to a baked cinnamon apple. Never having eaten one didn’t stop Charley from buying the tree two years ago. We picked five fruits; one seemed appropriately squishy, so we tried it out. I’m waiting until March to really assess, but so far, I like apples better. However, the idea of having ripe fruit in March is still appealing.

I’ll leave you this with this beautiful elf shelf mushroom.

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One thought on “Weekly Homestead Report 17: December 5, 2016

  1. Judy says:

    Fun post! I’ll try the medlars in March if there are any, but I’m wondering if the late onset of real cold might have altered the ripening season. Congrats on your first Town Meeting as a Select Board member! 29! I remember my 29th–my mother in law presented me with two frozen/heated pumpkin pies topped with sparklers! I have a picture. Odd birthday. : )

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