Saturday, January 10, 2015

# 540 - Acorns as Food

Our acreage is covered with towering oak trees. I can somewhat identify the Red Oaks and the White Oaks. We are very careful in working to partially clear our land to not excessively remove too many of these valuable hardwood trees, especially the more mature oaks.

Since the United States has over 60 different oak tree species that vary according to the part of the country you live in, it can be difficult for an ordinary person to figure it out. Usually, a certain species of oaks will be native to their geographical region.

I have been studying this topic in nature so that I can better understand the ecology of our acreage. Also, I have always had a garden journal and am eager to do a sort of "botany" map of our acreage, which would mark areas of towering oaks on the land along with their species.

An oak leaf is the easiest indicator for identification. We seem to have a lot of White Oaks on our land; there leaves have rounded lobes and the bark is often lighter colored and somewhat grayish than the Red Oaks that can appear so dark that they sometimes almost look black. White Oak bark can appear scaly, while Red Oak bark can have deep furrows with zigzag grainlines.

Identify Oak Leaves Step 2.jpg
I think of White Oaks leaves as rounded, like an angel's halo, then I think of
Red Oak tree leaves pointy as the Devil's horns. Easy to remember.

The number of lobes on each side of the leaf's stem is also important. Growing a tree from an acorn...easily done. We have purposefully planted a few oak trees from acorns throughout our acreage. There are some evergreen oaks, but the oaks on our land are deciduous, meaning they go dormant in the winter/cold months. Some of the Red Oaks, referred to as "Scrub Oaks" have smaller leaves as indicated below, but normally deciduous Red and White Oaks have much larger leaves.

Identify Oak Leaves Step 6.jpg

Red and White Oaks can reach 100 feet tall, but White Oaks mature at 75 ft. in height and have a wider spread that can reach up to 100 feet wide, and Red Oaks mature at 80 feet tall with about a 75 foot spread, and Red Oaks can grow faster.

White Oaks produce acorns once per year and have fewer tannins which makes them less bitter and better tasting to wildlife. One year may provide a bumper crop and the next might find acorns to be on the spare pickings side. But, one "grandfather" White Oak tree can produce over a thousand acorns in a season and these are extremely valuable to wildlife because they contain large amounts of carbs.

White Oak acorns have bumpy caps and are more elongated or oval-shaped, while Red Oak acorns are wider and more plump with caps that have smooth, overlapping scales. By the way, acorns are considered to be in the "nut" family. White Oak acorns matures to have a brown cap with the acorn remaining greenish white; Red Oak acorns mature to be brown in color.

The small oak tree there in the center was grown from an acorn.
We had planted several in pots, years ago, and most of them slowly
grew into trees large enough to be transplanted on the acreage.

The Southern Red Oak is a squirrel favorite and suited to other smaller wildlife because the acorns produced are smaller than the White Oak's. Southern Red Oaks are great to use for interior construction projects where the finish is important as their growth ring pores are very open and porous, but White Oaks have pores plugged with tyloses, making it more dense, which is the reason White Oak wood is great for water-tight vessels, and White Oak wood is more resistant to rot and decay. White oak is often used to build outdoor furniture and for boat construction. Therefore, of the two, White Oak is usually a bit more expensive, especially since it is more slow growing.

Red Oaks are shade tolerant trees usually can be found on dry uplands and can commonly be found invading upon Pine Tree sites.

On the flip side, as for acorns, Red Oaks often take two years to produce mature acorns, which are more bitter because of the increased tannin. Because of the need for two growing seasons for acorns to mature on Red Oaks, there will always be differing stages of acorns growing on the tree. Red Oak acorns have tiny hairs growing on the inside of the acorns, and these are not found on the inside of White Oak acorns. However, wildlife will still eat them, especially the Fox Squirrel. Other names for Red Oaks in this area are: Spanish Oak; Swamp Red Oak; Water Oak, and Turkey Foot Oak.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

# 539 - A Football and a Grandbaby

Christmas is always sweeter with babies in our midst. Being able to be with my first grandbaby, Coraline, for our Christmas gatherings has been pure joy.

Yes, my grey/white hair is shining through,
for now, it stays. For now...

Coraline has Texas A&M parents who love football and their daughter is a football buff as well.

And here is her touchdown dance...

If there is a football around, Coraline wants to get her hands on it.

Yes, I have such fun with this little one around. God knew what he was doing when he created grand-children.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

# 538 - Moving the Grown Baby!

Just after Christmas, we helped Stefie move out of her apartment. Stefie is our youngest daughter, a 24 year old who just finished all academic requirements for her Master's Degree. She is amazing.

It was nice to help move her out of her apartment that takes about four hours to reach by Texas Highway. She was happy to move back to Greater Houston, especially since she was born in Houston. Now, she is again close to many family members and old friends.

We had quite a great time getting her moved out, maybe a bit too much fun.

While packing, we gals are members of the Pony-Tail Club!

Our guys, Sgt. Dave and Officer Brice soon showed up to do the heavy lifting.

There won't be any complaints from us gals about cleaning and dealing the details of packing as the guys poured sweat while carrying heavy furnishings down a long flight of stairs.

Stefie had a lot to do. She had final, straggler items to pack at the last moment, but we parents had to head out for our long drive home, so the young kiddos wrapped up their final moments in San Marcos on their own.

We parents did as much as we could, as much as the kids were ready for us to do, until we headed back home while pulling a flatbed trailer carrying the bulk of the apartment items...the living room furniture, dining furniture, bedroom furniture and lots of boxes. Sgt. David and I drove for hours with no tail lights working on the flatbed trailer, in spite of every effort to make them work, so I drove lose behind him, protecting him and other drivers from pulling behind him. At least we had mostly highway the entire way home as the tail-lights could not decide whether to stay on or off. That is another project for Sgt. Dave to tackle...looks like the wiring has passed its life cycle and needs to be revamped.

Brice stayed with Stefie to help finish packing and to load the remaining boxes and items into their U-Haul style truck that they would also bring to unload in our immense storage building the following day.

Brice putting back a light fixture the apartment
complex installed in the WORST front of
the cable connections. He had removed it so they
could see the television. Here, he is using what he
can to reach the 9 foot ceiling fixture for a reinstall
of the light, but standing on a chair and then a bucket
while dealing with live wire was interesting.

Throughout Stefie's college days, we provided her with a Nissan Frontier as her's an old, but reliable gal. Lately, the truck had been chugging. Turns out, there were clogs in the fuel pump/filter or whatever. Since Brice is an rookie Officer and my husband is a Sgt., poor Brice ended up on the ground doing all of the icky mechanical work and he was covered in heavy grease and grime, but Brice said, "I couldn't let the Sgt. do it." One thing is for sure...Brice is a smart young man.

Thank goodness storages come in all sizes, but we had plenty of
room in ours to allow their furnishings and boxes to be included,
saving money that would been wasted on another storage room.

Our family is so unique. Brice will indeed soon be our son-in-law and we are thrilled, we love Brice, but the poor guy in law enforcement lives at work and at home with ranking respect that is in his blood to honor. He is such a good kid. We are blessed to have Brice in our lives.

Since Stefie was having problems with the Nissan, her daddy let her drive his Dodge while we took the chugged along the way, but it pulled the trailer loaded with furnishings and made it. I admit, there was a bit of breath-holding along the way. Stefie's daddy will be doing work on the Nissan over the next few weeks to get it in tip-top shape. It's been a GREAT truck that helped provide transportation for both of our daughters as they went through college.

At one point, Sgt. Dave and I gave each other a kiss and said, "Thank God we had our children young!" Neither of us could imagine doing this at 60 instead of in our 40's. Having kids young worked out for us.

We were also glad to get home to our furry babies...they were so good, even though they were left at home all day long.

So, both of my daughters are finished with college, at least the portion that we helped support them through.

A celebration for us PARENTS would be awesome, but we are too exhausted!