gourd tree

I’ve got a huge swelled up knot on my wrist, gnarly bruises coming up on my shoulder and leg, and a million scratches and scrapes but man was today awesome!

Visited my dad and he and I went to his brother’s farm to collect some cow bones he saw there last week. We hiked through enormous hay, tobacco, and corn fields and woods and loaded up an old feed sack and my backpack with fossils and cow and hog bones. Then when we got back to my uncle’s house he showed us where he dumps the carcasses from the possums and raccoons he shoots when they start nosing around his chicken coop. 

When I realized just how many bones there were I ran back to the barn to get another feed sack to put them all in and was greeted by this sight on my way back down to the bone pile. Here’s my 89 year old uncle and my 69 year old dad digging possum bones out of a ditch, bless them.

My uncle kept laughing and shaking his head because he couldn’t believe anyone would want those bones. <3  Ended up with most of four or five possum skeletons and some raccoon bones too.

Then I went back to my dad’s house and he and I harvested the swan, dipper, and snake gourds from the vines that grew up into his 50+ foot tall pine tree. Apparently growing gourds and pumpkins in trees runs in the family, haha! Check out those vines!

He’d cut a few of them with a telescoping tree pruner while I’d stand under them and catch them but for the ones that were higher up he brought out a .22 rifle and shot them out of the tree by the stems. My dad is an amazing shot, by the way. We got most of them down intact! Only one broke because it hit a limb (and then the top of it hit my wrist and the big round heavy base hit my shoulder, haha) but I caught all of the others, including that monster snake gourd in the middle of the pic. It’s nearly four feet long and weighs about fifteen pounds and it had about a twenty foot drop!

Then on my way home I was greeted by this pretty red full moon when I turned onto my road. Don’t worry I stopped to take the pic. Not much traffic out here in the country! Now werewolves on the other hand… ;)

So yeah, today was awesome. I’ll post pics of the big bone haul soon!

Hope you all had a lovely day too! <3

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Gourd Lamps by Calabarte

“The gourd is the annual tropical vine originating from Africa and Asia. Its dried, lignified fruits are used for various, both decorative and practical, purposes. There are several dozen varieties of gourds differing mostly in shapes and sizes. The structure of the dried gourd is entirely different than the structure of the standard wood. It is more homogenous; it does not contain growth rings, fibers or knots. The external layer of the gourd is harder than the deeper one of a light wood. For that matters, the gourd is kind of a phenomenon in the nature; it is the raw material that gives enormous processing possibilities.

In the past, my lamps have been made from the two varieties of the gourd growing in Poland. After my trip to Senegal, I started creating them, in the first place, from the senegalese variety called calabash which is growing on the trees.”

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A few of the purple martin landlords we’ve met so far:

David McCabe of McCabe’s Bar-B-Que in Manning makes the best pulled pork I’ve ever had. He saves his old mayonnaise jar lids so they can be used as access hatches on purple martin gourds.

Jim Beatson of Sumter grows gourds in his back yard. (“Much to my wife’s displeasure,” he told us. They get in the way of her flowers.) Beatson read that purple martins prefer open areas, so one day while his wife was at work, he cut down a couple of his dogwoods. (Also “much to my wife’s displeasure.”)

Bubba Johnson has taken care of purple martins since he was a boy. He enlisted the help of his neighbors, and now his home town of New Zion is dotted with purple martin colonies.

A bit of background: Hundreds of year ago, purple martins on the east coast started breeding in gourds hung from trees by Native Americans. Now, they rely entirely on human-built housing, and it’s to late to go back. Natural nesting sites like tree cavities have been taken over by aggressive invaders – European starlings and sparrows. It falls to humans to build the houses that allow purple martins to survive.