Sunday, April 15, 2007

Larch Balls & misc Spring Maintenance

For those of who have never seen a Larch (Tamarack) ball before here's your first peek. Jeff saw these strange round balls of needles on someone's desk a couple years ago when we first got our camp at Big Sky Lake. He had heard that you can find them in the spring along the shore of the lake..... Well, until today, it is just something that we had heard about...

Our friends Dan and Angel and their son Wilson came up to the lake for a little while today for a visit and so that Dan and Jeff could put in the newly stained ballisters for the porch... Before today the ballisters were wide enough that Wilson and a buddy could fall through...

Anyway, I'm digressing from my original story.....So, lets get back to it - Dan found the first larch ball down by the water in front of our place. He gave it to Jeff who in turn gave it to me - because he knew I'd love it! He made me close my eyes before he handed it to me. It was immediately like one of those haunted houses that you go into as a kid. You stick your hand into something that says "intestines" and it is really spaghetti. When he handed it over it felt like this heavy mossy live thing.....when I opened my eyes it looked like this beautiful round urchin. But it was my very first larch ball!

OK - you may think I'm a total dork about how cool I think this phenomenon in nature is - but it is SO NEAT! I was so interested to see if I could find another one so Angel and Wilson and I went down to the shore and right away I found another - and I gave the one I found to Jeff. I snapped a couple of pics of them.

Western Larch are the only deciduous conifers in Montana. We have several on our property at Big Sky Lake. They drop their yellow needles into the shallow water in the fall and the churning waves mold the needles into a compact sphere that commonly grows to the size of a baseball. The ones that we found today were about tennis ball size.

Back to the other "story of the day". Jeff and Dan brought the porch up to code by adding ballisters between the existing ones. Thank you DAN! It is SO much more kid friendly, now, although the colors are pretty varied. There is uniform chaos, I guess. This week we are going to get some more and replace the old ones to match the "honey" colored new ones.

Jeff also stopped a bird from pecking a hole in the house all the way into the woodstove. It is the water side of the camp and we had ripped of the hideous faux brick (white) siding that was on there, and haven't replaced it with something else yet. We kind of felt bad for the poor bird since when we went out there s/he stood right by the hole defending its turf even when we were within 4 feet of him/her. Jeff put out a suet feeder right after he put a board over the handy work, but the bird didn't return the rest of the day.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the cool larch ball pics. Sweet. I am from Arkansas and I'm an avid (rabid even) crystal hunter and saw a basketball sized larch ball in glacier park Montana last week. They are really neat looking. Looks like you are doing an awesome job of mothering too!!!! Peace from the ozarks, jimbo.

Ebeth said...

I would really realllllllllly like to see the basketball sized larch ball!! If you get this message please send it to me!