Just the back yard!? Nah, I want the front and side yards landscaped in natives too.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You've Got to be Kidding Me

First, I can't believe how long it has been since I've posted anything here!  Second, after a long stretch of unseasonably warm weather (which I got very used to), things have gone unseasonable in the other direction; the temperatures went below freezing over night--into the 20s!  We had snow today--not that it lasted.

The last time I put off posting was on April Fools' Day--another day we got snow! (...and I wasn't happy about that either--even though it didn't last either.  (I searched for the April snow pictures, but didn't find them.  I doesn't matter--the purpose of this post it to start me posting again anyway.)

Some flurries this morning and ...
...hail this afternoon.  Okay, I confess, both pics are of hail.
I slept in this morning...and it is hard to take pictures of snow!

I have to get past the idea that everything must be kept in chronological order--that has kept me from posting all sorts of things...until I post what had happened prior to it.

So, later (I'm a procrastinator, remember), I will post some highlights of that past several (plus) months.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Sure Sign of Spring!

For the past week or so, I've been scanning the roadsides for red-winged blackbirds.  Nothing.

The other day, I was at a hardware store to pick up some more birdseed (black oil sunflower seeds).  Across from the store is a natural area, swampy with some trees, cattails, and some winter berry holly (Ilex verticillata)--it always catches my eye.  While crossing the parking lot to enter the store, I heard the distinctive call of the red-winged blackbird-one of the few bird calls I know.    It made me smile.

Hearing them was great...but I had still not had a sighting...until this morning when a small flock of them appeared outside our bay window enjoying the black-oil sunflower seeds I'd sprinkled there.  :)

Not the best shots--taken with my phone...and the red-wings are pretty skittish when they see movement near the window:

Great sight for the first full day of spring!


I remember, when I was a kid, snow seemed to stay around for most of the winter, over the past two decades or so, that rarely seems to happen.  This year, it did.  I was fine with the snow for a long time, but now I'm thinking spring.  So, when it finally started to melt, I tried to document the process:

....and then... the first robin!

...three more robins...

...and then we got MORE SNOW yesterday for the first day of spring!  

This Winter

This winter, we've had a LOT of snow in January and February...and into March.  The temperatures have been unusually frigid too many days, but I did get out in the yard...sometimes...but not as often as I would have liked.  

Snow can be pretty...and I was okay with it for a long time...but, I'm ready for spring (first full day today...not that it seems like it)...I decided to share some of the photos I took...then post pics of it melting! :)

Watching the birds that came to the feeders always helps.

Winter does blot out many details which allowed me to highlight
individual trees that are lost in the details of spring, summer, and fall.

A trail in "the woods".

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Great Backyard Bird Count 2015

After being reminded of the bird count on WildlifeGardeners, I forgot about it until Sunday.  I ended up being off on Monday as well, and here is the count from then (I saw more species and more individual birds that day)...

...If I recall, I saw more of several species in another list...and within a couple of days I saw several morning doves, at least 5 cardinals (2 males and 3 females), and at one point over 30 goldfinches--why do I never get these numbers when I'm doing a count!?  (comment added over a month later...as well as the gif above--had I waited until I had all of my photos ready, I'd never had posted at all!)
After seeing the photo, there are clearly more than thirty! :)
Well over fifty--if I didn't count some twice, I got up to 65!

10 species total
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Blue Jays
Black-capped Chickadees
Tufted Titmouse
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrows  (I'm not 100% sure of this ID.)
Dark-eyed Juncos
Northern Cardinals (1 male, 1 female)
American Goldfinch

Friday, January 30, 2015

It's a Start...

This past fall, it seems I spent more time collecting seeds (with the intention of direct sowing a section or two of the field and beginning the process of converting it into a meadow of native grasses and wildflowers) than doing much else on our property (although, I did accomplish some things).  I'm still hoping to direct sow some, but the areas don't seem as prepared as I'd hoped they would be--I'm hoping to remedy that early this spring...and sow then (hopefully having given the seeds exposure to freezing an thawing before then).

Still, my traditional method of winter sowing in plastic "shoe boxes" will be implemented as well.  I don't want to put all of my eggs in one basket...and, with a couple of new species that I'm trying this year, I'd like to get to know them from germination on--and guarantee that I know just what I have.  This year, I'm adding closed (or bottle gentian), Gentiana andrewsi, and blue vervain, Verbena hastata.  These two, especially, I want to plant in pots where I can monitor them and ensure they have a good start.

I have a LOT of seeds to go through this year, and I've been putting it off.  With February right around the corner, I can put it off no longer--having a snow day today, I have no excuse.

It's not pretty, but it will be when they are growing
together and blooming!
Bush clover is another new one for me...I guess I'd better 
get another pot ready.

Close-up of Gentiana andrewsii seeds.

These are the two that I planted so far:

It's a start.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Surprise Visit

I guess the holidays aren't over yet in our house; Jeff and I were making another holiday treat before sitting down to binge watch House or Orange is the New Black--depends on what Jeff picked (either is fine by me).  We still have tonight and tomorrow before we head back to work after Christmas break.  We were toasting Pepperidge Farm thin white bread in the broiler to prepare them for a ham and cream cheese concoction that we make every year with left over ham.  I'd set the time, and was on my way to take out the bread when I spotted a deer just outside the kitchen window (the motion detecting light was on).  After getting Jeff's attention, he spotted another, and then a third, as I got my camera ready--too bad I didn't have the game came set up tonight!  Anyway, after taking some shots, Jeff announced that we'd burned the bread--we both laughed (easier to do since we hadn't spread it with the ham spread yet.   We started the process all over again, and I decided to post this before sitting down to enjoy the show.

Here is one of our surprise visitors:

Now off to enjoy my snack.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Unseasonably Warm Weather

Being off for 12 days for Christmas break is wonderful enough, but this year, I was thrilled to be out working in the yard for 3 of those days--it felt like spring!

We had to be out in Western PA six days before Christmas, so we arranged to visit the family the weekend before Christmas instead of driving back out 3 or 4 days later.  It worked out well for everyone--the visit was enjoyable and relaxed...no one felt rushed to squeeze in two visits in one day--and best of all, that meant we would not lose two days to traveling a a few days to visit, so we have had more time to ourselves here.

With weather between 45-55 over a three day period--and one day I swear it felt like 60 or 65 in the sun.  The ground was not frozen, and that put big dreams in my head to start digging the large pond I've been dreaming of...but, being out of shape and not having a place to transplant the white violets that take up about a third of so of the section, I put that on hold until the spring.  (I'd better get to the gym over the next 3 months and be ready to DIG!)

While walking the paths (can I call them trails if they go through my "woods"?), I would just wander around to see what sparked some action.  Luckily for me, this summer, I'd sickled through two areas that I'd let get overgrown--one of which was a woodland path.  Normally, the woodland paths close up on me (since there are not enough trees to shade out the weeds out), so I don't normally get in there until this time of the year or later.

I was finally able to access the secondary path of the "woodland" area--and that is where I spotted a privet bush (right near the property line) that must've escaped cultivation.  I spotted it early spring, but never did a positive ID on it.  Seeing it loaded with berries was a dead give-away.  Still, I double checked my ID skills by searching online.  Sure enough, it was what I thought, and had to come out.

Privet seedling growing right near the adult I took out.

I even found myself pulling weeds!
Who would've thought that I'd be able to yank something like this out of the ground this time of the year (with the help of a pick)?! The ground was not frozen--or more likely had thawed since we had a stretch of overnight temps in the 20s a couple weeks before.  After, removing it, I spent time cutting off all of the berries, tying them up in a shopping bag and throwing them away so they will not germinate, then I added the bush to my brush pile.  Since I'd made a hole in the ground, I thought it best to replace it with a native shrub.  Luckily for me, my "pot ghetto" still has several red-twig dogwoods that needed to be planted.  This wasn't where I'd planned to put any of them, but it is an appropriate spot, I think.

I was THRILLED to be doing something like this out in the yard this time of the year.  It was a reprieve from winter--and made my time off all the more special.