Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Blooming Color

I know you've all be waiting on pins and needles for the Big Hoophouse Paint-Job Reveal, and here it finally is!

There is nothing quite like a colorful mural to bring an ordinary structure to life, is there?

I love my little hoophouse sooooo much.  Who wouldn't love a polytunnel that can double as a sauna?   I think I love it even more now that it has gone all va-va-va-voom with some snazzy new artwork.  This mural is a collaborative effort, penciled in by my good friend Suzanne who is a wonderful artist.  I did all the paint-by-number fill-in, which was rather fun.  I felt like I was channeling my inner Van Gogh, in a non-clinically depressed kind of way.  I wanted a whole "Alice in Wonderland Which Is Actually Miami" vibe, and I think I may have gotten my wish.  None of these colors actually appear in Nature. They appear in my garden, if no where else on the planet.

One project down, four million to go!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Guerilla Warfare

After spending a couple of weeks working my way through the unstoppable and prolific mint that had choked out everything in its path, I'm left with a pile of fat white roots:

What a mess, right?

I have to admit to a certain sense of satisfaction in seeing all of this rooted out and removed.  I have no idea what I will do with this pile.  It is still alive, and growing...I'd drive a stake through its' collective heart, if it had one.  I suppose I'll have to settle for fire.  Bwah ha ha ha!

Unfortunately, it is rather windy today so my pyromaniac dreams will just have to wait. I don't want to set the house (or the neighbors) alight...just the mint.  Dang mint.  It's not worth saving, as it has hybridized, and tastes horrible.  A hybrid of spearmint, peppermint, pineapple and apple mint is NOT something you want to experience in your mojito.  Trust me on this.  Ack.

After all the "stuff" was dragged out, inch by inch by inch, I rounded up a whole mess of bricks from the big home supply store.  I love going there this time of year. So many projects, so many options, so many pretty pretty things for your garden.  So many many ways to spend your money.  After browsing the options in the concrete and rock area, I opted for the "Holland" style, in mocha.  So much more sexy than the standard red brick monsters that you can find everywhere.  Plus, they were out of the red ones.  (Apparently bricks are really hot right now.  Maybe everyone is dealing with overgrown herbs?  Or, there's a big-winded creature out wandering around.  The election primary is next week.)

After a bit of fun with graph paper and a ruler, I mapped out my plan for the new and  improved herb garden.  I'm hoping that by using bricks, it will help keep the herbs defined and stop them from all growing together.  Time will tell if my plan will pan out.

In any case, the end product looks like this:

Not too shabby, huh?

It's a little bare right now, but as it has decided to be seasonable weather once again (meaning that the daily high temps are hitting the 40s or 50s, and we are still getting hard frosts at night) I can't put my new herb seedlings out until things warm up a little bit. I was able to rescue a few things, like a bunch of hyssop, my french tarragon, one of the echinaceas that didn't get strangled, lemon balm (now that was a wonderful surprise!), and chives. I scored some walking onions at last weekend's plant swap, and dug some catnip from another spot in the yard and transplanted it here.  I also scattered some valerian seeds that I got from a friend. The remaining 9 sections will be home to thyme, basil, parsley, and more, once things (a) get warmer, and (b) I actually harden off the seedlings.  It's on my To Do list.

A revamped herb garden:  gnome approved.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Good Dog

This is my Max, one of the best dogs in the whole world.  He is giant, weighing about 100 pounds and standing hip-high at the shoulder.  He runs like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.  His tail has the uncanny ability to sweep everything off of shelves, tabletops, and counters.  His tounge is always ready to lick something.  You can braid that little beard hanging off his chin, which more often than not is dripping with water following a big, sloppy drink.

It's like living with a rather messy Muppet.

I wouldn't trade him for anything.

When it comes to life on the farmlette, he doesn't do much that is rigorous.  No guarding the livestock, no hauling a wagon around the yard for me.  I'm sure he would love to give small children rides through the neighborhood, but a lot of them get worried that he is big scary dog (he's a large muffin-headed creature, with a big bark) and then when he slathers them with that giant tounge of his, they run for the hills to escape his smothering love.

Nope, as a working dog he'd be a total loss.  But, as a big friendly one-creature welcoming committee, he pretty much has that job in the bag.

Besides, everyone loves Muppets.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Smells Like Teen Spirit

The chicks on the porch have reached that gawky juvenille stage, where you feel a little sorry for them because they look a little...messed up.  I think  all those feathers growing in have them going a little nutty and they are definitely inhaling their food.  They even do that weird "leap into the air and crash into their friends for no reason" thing that I see my seventh and eighth graders do while walking the hall between classes.

I mean, really.  What IS that?  It's like their nervous systems take over and those dangly limbs just go flopping all around.  Maybe all those hormones flushing through their bodies cause things to spark and go haywire once in a while.

In any case, three week old chicks do the same thing.  Apparently, it is common amongst teenagers of all species.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Typical Afternoon with the Buns

Every day, when I go into the Bunny Barn  to check on its' citizens, it is the same thing.  Day in, day out, a chorus of rabbity complaints and queries.

"Don't we look cute?  Look, look!  Did you see my back flip?  Didja? Didja?
Hey, when are you going to feed us?  Huh, huh?"

("You aren't really going to eat us, are you?!?")

"Ich bin nicht fett. Es ist einfach ein wattle.  Jetzt erhalten sie mich mehr essen."

(Magda speaks German, because she is Amish.  Translated, this means:
"I am not fat.  It is a wattle.  Now, get me more food."
A wattle.  Sure, Magda, I believe you.)

"Why, why, oh why, must it be so hot?  I'm pregnant and these hot flashes are killing me!"

"Bring. Me. A. Woman. Now."

"Seriously.  Bring me a woman.  And a cigarette."

"Hey, I'd like a woman, too!  But first, I want a haircut.  And an eclair. 
 Mmmm, eclair."

"Oh no, it's looking at me again.  It's looking at me!!  Help! Help me, someone!  Please!!
Oh's going to touch me.  HELLLLP!
Wait.  It's producing food.  Ok, it's ok everybody.  I'm fine now."

Every freakin' day it is like this.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding My Roots

The warm spring weather appears to have deserted us for a little while, much to the sadness of my blooming plum tree and spontaneously reproducing rhubarb bush.  Not much else appears to be affected, which is good, but my dreams of sowing tender seeds and setting out the veggie seedlings taking over my guest room are on hold for another few weeks.

All is not lost, however.  This is the time to plant potatoes and onions and other root crops.  I had started onions from seed, and they were doing wonderfully.  Then I forgot to water them, which did in the batch of red onions.  All was well for the remaining yellow onions, until I forgot those outside the other night, and found them in the morning withered under a half-inch of crusty sleet and snow.  I don't believe that they can be resuscitated, but perhaps if I leave them alone for a little while, they will somehow be fine.  (Probably not.)  I had heard that starting onions from seed helps to prevent them going to seed during the summer, and while it was a worthy experiment, I believe I have reached Gardener's Failure for this season, for this particular project.

It's back to onion sets for me, then!  I stopped off after work at a local greenhouse, and loaded up on two pounds each of seed onions.  I love the vintage-esque look when they are packed in paperbags from the hardware store.  It helps to take some of the sting of failure out of my onion planting to have pleasing packaging.  Of course, they'll be much more pleasing once they are planted in the ground.

I've been researching on how to grow the perfect onion (and there is plenty of conflicting advice out there, let me tell you).  So far, I think I am going to go with scattering them around the various gardens, watering them more than I think they need, and keeping the soil "loose" around them.  I am a little worried that the last one will lead to infiltrations by weeds, which love disturbed soil, but as I have a lovely weeding fork that should work for going around growing bulbs, it may not be too bad.

As for my potatoes, I have two kinds:  German Butterball (my favorite) and a variety called Elba.  I had ordered Green Mountain (another favorite), but apparently it is SO popular, they ran out and I got a substitution.  This happened to me last year, which is how I discovered the joys of Green Mountain potatoes, so perhaps it will work out for the best to try Elba.  I am planning on planting them in steel garbage cans, perforated with home-made drainage holes, in layers of straw mulch and rabbit poo.  I've grown potatoes in containers before, and hopefully I can get my usual prolific yield using that method again during this growing season.  It is the easiest thing in the world:  you just keep adding layers of growing material as the potato plant sends up more leaves until you reach the top of the container, and then you water and let it do "it's thing" until the plant dies back and dries out naturally in the fall. The potato plant, meanwhile, has sent all sorts of root clusters into those layers, which become oodles of delicious pomme de terre.  I am planning to pop a lid on the cans come cold weather, and store the whole shebang in the root cellar.  When I need a potato, I'll rootle around in the bins and pull out what I need.  Genius!

I'll let you know how that plan works out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When in Doubt, Tampenade

I wound up not having lunch today, and when I got home, I started attacking the giant pile of laundry that was taking over the guest room.  I have friends coming for an overnight visit tomorrow, and there was no room in the inn.  There was hardly any room left uncovered by the clean laundry pile, which explained why I could find nothing in my closet:  it was all on the pullout couch.  After subduing the mountain, and making up the guest bed, I realized I was starving and desperately needed a snack.

Good thing I had whipped up a batch of tampenade yesterday afternoon, and left it to marry in the fridge.  It's great fresh, too, but leave it for a day or two and it becomes even better.  I adore tampenade. It is olive-rich, salty, has a mustardy bite and is simply addictive.  Paired with some chunks of my friend's delightful goat feta cheese, it is heavenly.  Since it is so easy to make, it's a wonder that olive lovers everywhere don't rise up and declare a tampenade revolution.  Yummmm!

Kalamata Olive Tampenade

This recipe makes A LOT, so feel free to share with others or put some in a jar and pop it into a freezer.  Yes, you can freeze tampenade.  It does keep a long time in the fridge, as long as it is in a sealed jar.

You will need:  one 10 ounce jar kalamata olives, pitted and with most of the brine drained; one 12 ounce can each of  ripe green and ripe black olives (I love the Lindsay Naturals line--just ripe olives, sea salt and water); 4 or 5 cloves of garlic; 1/2 cup capers; salt and fresh ground pepper to taste; 2 Tablespoons lemon juice; about 1/2 cup or so of good quality olive oil.  Put all olives, garlic, capers, and lemon juice into your food processor.  Season with pepper and salt (go easy on the salt!), and then hit the "on" button.  As the machine is grinding everything up, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.   Final consistency should be a nice paste, with tiny bits of chopped olive and garlic in it.  Pot into jars or into a sealed container, and allow to sit in the fridge overnight for best flavor.  This goes great on crackers, or as part of a spread on a sandwich.  I love it as a sauce for pizza! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Endings

Remember that lovely old dog I found wandering?

She is doing very well.  In fact, she was reunited with her lovely owners who had been wondering where she wandered off to--she's developed dementia and a lack of enthusiasm for food and a sorry tendency to want to go on walkabout the past couple of months.  After an emotional reunion this past weekend, I decided to go visit my new friends this afternoon and see how my formerly "new dog" was doing.

All was well!  The tempting meatballs that I sent Sadie the Wandering Dog home with have been put to good use, and Sadie looked a little less bony than the last time I saw her.  She (the dog) was delighted to see me, and really really really wanted to hop into Lucille Laverne and go cruising again.  I decided that probably wasn't the best option, as her owners were still feeling worried about her disappearing again.

I am very happy that Sadie the silly old dog has been returned to her loving home (there is a serious pack of spoiled dogs living there, I tell you!), and I am happy to have a couple new people friends as well.  It turns out that Sadie's owner runs a candle and jewelry making business, and refused to let me leave without gifting me some bling.  I love this necklace--it's a choker style, with lovely flowers and a dangly bit that were all made by hand, in teensy tiny glass beads.  I cannot imagine the woman-hours it took to make this confection!  I tried to take a picture of me wearing it, but all I could see in the photo was my fat neck.  I swear, the angle of the shot made me look like I had a massive goiter (it was just one of my wobbly chins, but still...) so here it is, hanging in state in the bathroom.  And, it turns out that this lovely woman also is a knitter, so I am kidnapping her for an afternoon with our local knitting group this Sunday.  She's new to the area, and doesn't know anybody, so how better to get to know folks than a group of knitters?  Well, a group of gardeners would be a close second, but either way, it's a good group to get to know.

Monday, April 9, 2012

In The Mood to Swap?

There is something about spring that makes you realize just how overgrown and crowded your garden has become.  Everywhere I look, there are offspring of perennial mothers coming up.  Yikes!  What to do, what to do?

It's time to organize a plant swap or two.  I am sure that there must be other folks in the area with the same problem, so here's the plan:

A Perennial Plant Swap will be held on Saturday, April 21 at the Pioneer Park in Prairie Farm, starting at 9 AM until 12 Noon.  I'm planning to bring some chives, and maybe some raspberries, and a whole bunch of too much from my perennial flower beds.  I am hoping I can score some hollyhocks or delphiniums.

Because I cannot seem to control my urge to start vegetable plants, and I never have enough room in the garden for them all, the third annual Plant Swap will be held on Saturday, June 2, again at Pioneer Park in Prairie Farm.  It's a ways out, but it helps to mark the calendar before the weekends get too booked up.

Since it is far too cold today to spend all the time in the garden that I want to, it's nice to at least dream of warmer days when we might actually get to play in the dirt!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chocolate bunnies & Colored Eggs

Happy Easter to all and sundry!

Anybody else out there have a jellybean hangover?  I swear those things are laced with methamphetamines instead of just being pure sugar.  Here I am, all hopped up on jelly eggs and there's no chocolate rabbit in sight to bring me down from my sugar high.

Just kidding.  While I did have a huge slice of Coconut Jellybean cake, I have spent a lovely day outdoors in the sunshine and wind, working away on my hoophouse painting project.  Photos will come, but for now, you'll just have to be patient and wait for the Big Reveal.  I know, the suspense may just kill you, but that is a risk we will just have to take.

It was nice to be outside, painting and pondering the beauty of my brush strokes, with the sun shining on my head.  I got to hear/see all the neighbors' egg hunts for the little people, without actually having to participate.  Mostly, the neighborhood was just quiet and calm, with that aura of large amounts of very good food being consumed by people on their best behavior wearing uncomfortable clothes.  I did indulge in my own consumption of very good food, but I was wearing paint-stained jeans and an old ratty tee shirt.  I can't vouch for the goodness of my behavior, but my friend who came over to spend a relaxing day hanging out didn't complain.  She even did the dishes, which was a nice treat (I was making the coffee to go with a side of coconut cake).  While I miss visiting my family, I do enjoy my peaceful holidays very much: no travel, no dressing up, no organizing a schedule of events.  Plus, I got to be grubby and paint all afternoon.  Not a terribly religiously-observant way to pass the day, but I think God would appreciate the peacefulness and overall sense of joy and benevolent goodwill toward all that a day in the sunshine inspires.

Here's hoping that everyone had a nice day, got a little sunshine, and didn't eat too many jellybeans.  Those things are addictive I tell you, crack in a candy shell.  Don't get me started on the Evils of Peanut Butter Chocolate Eggs.  Oh, lordy.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

It's Nearly Easter

And that means, it is time for Coconut Jellybean Cake!

Sounds ghastly, doesn't it?

Actually, it is rather good, if a bit rich.  Perfect for the Easter indulgence gluttonous feasting, with a good strong cup of coffee for a chaser.  You aren't required to eat the jellybeans, but they make cute decorations on top of this white and fuzzy cake.  (I personally only eat the red ones, and probably not on this cake.  I prefer my jellybeans unadulturated--mmm, sugar-licious)

I used a coconut cake recipe from my favorite bundt cookbook, Bundt Cake Bliss by Susanna Short, and adapted it for what I had on hand and what sounded good to me.  This means, in part, that I added a bunch more coconut and coconut extract than what the original recipes called for.  I also threw caution to the winds and used cream instead of milk or half-and-half.  I think the final product is going to be heavenly!

Coconut Jellybean Cake

For the cake, you'll need:  three eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon coconut extract, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups cake flour, 1 Tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 12 Tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup cream, and 1/2 cup coconut flakes.

Beat together the butter and sugar until creamed, then beat in the extracts.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add the flour, baking powder, and salt., then add the coconut flakes.  Add the cream a little at a time until incorporated, then beat on high for 3 minutes until batter is somewhat "fluffy".  Pour into a well-buttered and floured bundt pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool ten minutes in the pan, then tip out onto a rack to cool completely.

For the icing, you'll need: 2 cups of confectioners sugar, 10 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract, 2/3 cup coconut flakes, and four Tablespoons of cream.  Soften the butter at room temperature, and then beat it smooth on medium speed.  Add the sugar a little at a time (about 1/2 cup at a go), beating until smooth after each addition.  Add the extract.  Then, add the cream and increase speed to high.  Beat for 4 minutes, until icing is extremely light and fluffy.  Fold in 2/3 cup coconut flakes.  Spread onto cooled cake, and decorate with jellybeans as desired.

Friday, April 6, 2012

In My View

Spring has sprung, and it is lovely.  Signs are everywhere,
like this plum tree, ready to burst into bloom...

and my fat rabbit Magda, ready to kindle...

even the compost heap is full of life
(even if it isn't terribly picturesque).

A broody hen in the nest box is a sure sign of spring...

as is the vigor of new growth on the black raspberry trellises.

My brocolli and cabbage seedlings are enjoying the soft air...

while the chicks on the porch are safe and snug in their brooder,
just dreaming of the day that they, too, get to go outside.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Love John Denver


Isn't he great?  Even singing melons and thistles adore him.  I totally dig the 1980s era giant glasses.

I had this song rattling around in my brain earlier today, while wrestling with thorny raspberry canes that were resisting being restrained on a trellis.  It's a great gardening anthem!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Garden Beds

Ha ha.  Get it?

That's a little garden-themed black humor.

With a "hard freeze" expected tonight and Thursday night as well, it doesn't bode well for my early-blooming garden.  Usually, nothing tender is leafed out this early, but this year, with the unseasonably warm weather we had during the month of March, my rosebushes and strawberries are full already with happy new green growth.  One good freeze, and all that green turns black and rotten.  Waaaaah!

This is when my obsession with rescuing quilts from thrift stores and garage sales proves its' worth.  I have stacks and stacks of odd little quilts, with horrible patterns and holes and mysterious stains that I hope is just rust and not the remnants of some horrible crime committed by a knife-wielding maniac.  Usually, the dogs enjoy them in their cozy crates, but when the temperature plummets and ice threatens my lovely garden, the quilts are deployed for a higher purpose.  (Not that cushioning sleeping dogs isn't a worthy purpose, of course.)

As I was out placing my blankies on the beds, a few neighbors driving by had to slow down and gawk.  You'd think they'd never seen anyone putting the garden to bed before.  Honestly, I should sell tickets to all the free shows I provide to the community.  I could title this one, "Roses in Robes of Many Colors":

A star is born, people.  A star!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Yet More To Come

I stopped by another Tractor Supply the other day.  You know what's coming next, right?

Oh yes.  I came home with more chicks.

I did have to replace the ones that became kitty snacks.  At least, that's how I'm justifying it.  It all boils down to I just can't resist a lively chick.

Into a little carry box went six healthy Jersey Giants.  I know, it sounds like I've invited the Mafia into my coop.  I need to find out some appropriately Jersey names.  Snooki?  Corlione?  Anybody remember the names of the Real Housewives of New Jersey?  I'll have to put some thought into it and get back to you all.  Right now, they just look like tiny blobs of black & white fuzziness.  Eventually, they will grow up to be large and lovely beauties, as seen in this drawing foisted from McMurray Hatchery:

I love the coal black legs, don't you?  Very sexy.

So far, the newest inmates of the Porch Brooder are doing well and have integrated with the other chicks from the first ill-fated batch.  The cats appear to have taken my threat of turning them into handbags seriously, and have left them alone.  This is nice, because as always life is a constant adventure.

Case in point, I found this little creature wobbling her way down the middle of a country road this morning:

Desperately thin, no muscles or body fat to speak of, hungry as heck and just oozing woefulness.  As I am not made of stone, I popped her in the truck and zipped over to the vet (just to rule out any "I've been run over" issues), and then set her up with some luxury digs in the shed.  (I also dosed her with Frontline and picked ten ticks off her until her patience wore out.  Aggggh.)  My intial reaction on seeing her was horror.  My second reaction was to be pissed off.  Maybe she was left to wander and survive off "the farm".  Maybe not.  Maybe she's somebody's pet who wandered away.  Maybe not.  Maybe, she was off for a cheerful morning jaunt dragging her bony, exhausted self down the road, and I've stolen her away from her home.  Maybe not.  I find I don't really care any which way,and she's here in the Dog Hospital in the Shed for the duration of her recovery.  I am doubtful that anyone will come looking for her, but if they do, I'm going to be quite interested in hearing how she got to be in such a sorry state.  And then I'll deploy any means necessary to keep her from heading back to that condition (including bribery.  It works, as I found when I bought a dog for $50 off a neighbor who was abusing it in front of me.  That, my dears, is a story for another day.)  We've got a date with the vet on Monday, and hopefully she'll have a clean bill of health and just be on an eat-until-you-don't-look-dead prescription.  Keep your fingers crossed, ok?

There is never a dull moment on this farmlette.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Life is Bee-you-tee-full

In this season of prep and ground work, let us not forget the little creatures who make all food possible.

You rock, bees.  Just don't sting me, okay?

April Fool's?

I didn't exactly leap out of bed this morning, but when I finally woke up enough to realize that I really, really wanted bacon, pancakes and a lot of coffee, my first thought was enthusiasm.  The weatherman had promised a sunny, warm Sunday and I was ready for it.

Imagine my disappointment when I swept back the curtains with flair, to reveal this:

Fog, damp, grey.  (My camera wouldn't do it justice, so I hijacked this nicer photo...incidentally, which looks much more cheerful than my grey morning looked...from a much-better-camera-owning blog.)

Mother Nature was having a wee bit of fun on April Fool's Day.  Evil bitch.

After drowning my sorrows in two cups of strong coffee and a short stack of buttermilk pancakes, the sun decided to make an appearance.  Now, the day looks something like this:

Cue bird song-angelic choir chorus.  Now, that's more like it, M.N.!

So far, I've planted a bed of garlic, raked smooth another bed, filled the tire on my sad little wheelbarrow, and hauled four heavy barrow-loads of dirt to fill a couple of the raised beds in the hoop house.  All that, in about an hour and a half.

As you can see, that required a brief water-Advil-computer break.  I'd forgotten just how heavy topsoil can be, particularly when it is damp, and how insidious the incline of my yard is when pushing said heavy topsoil uphill, repeatedly.  At least I know I have muscles still.  I had started to wonder if they'd disappeared over the winter.

Brief update on the critters:  The five-week-old kits have been moved to their grow out pen, and seem pleased as punch.  Little Mama is delighted to have no one sitting on her head at all times, plus she had a hot date with Bucky.  Bucky was very, very pleased to have a date.

The chicklets on the porch are doing very well, with no further kitty attacks.  Thus far, my reinforcements and cayenne pepper seem to be repelling the cats on the porch against further forays into madness.  I maintain constant vigilance, however, particularly today when the quilt covers are pulled back (the porch gets toasty when it is sunny, and I don't want to wind up with Fried Chicklets).

Lucy the Feral Hen is still broody.  This makes Week 3 of Broody Feral Hen in the Nest.  We have a wonderful daily egg-gathering routine where she squats there, hissing like a snake, and I put my hand under her and flip her up and off of the eggs she has commandeered.  It is great fun for all.  So far, she's only bitten me once.

Okay, daylight is burning and there's four more loads of dirt to be hauled across the yard.  But before I go, once last bit of exciting farmlette news:  I discovered a colony of Mason bees!  They are nesting in the wood privacy fence (erected to prevent my old biddy neighbor from seeing my "messy" garden of growing goodness) and seem happy as clams.  I am so excited to have these delightful, nonagressive pollinators right in my own garden.  Yay!

For those wondering, this is what my Mason bees look like:

Thanks, Harpers College, for the great photograph.  They have a lot more really nice bee pictures, of all kinds of bees and wasps and hornets, if you are into that kind of insect-related photography genre.  For me, it is roughly the stuff of nightmares, but I do like friendly little Mason bees.

Buzzz, buzzz. buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.