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Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Today we’re having one of those slow steady rains, the kind that lasts all day, the kind you sometimes get after an extended hot dry spell, you can almost hear the land sighing with relief. The birds are singing and much more active than they have been, it’s cool and overcast and just what I’ve been hoping for for weeks! It’s also giving me time to finally post on the garden.

We have gotten so much done this season, it probably isn’t as obvious to the rest of the world but we see the work we’ve done and it is looking so much better already.

Here is the truck taking away dumpster #1 which we filled with mixed trash, everything from old rotting stuffed lawn chairs, to broken clothes drying contraptions, to miles of rotting electrical wire, ancient unearthed plastic bags, rusty nails and screws, broken window glass, vodka bottles whole and broken (must have been nearly 100 bottles scattered and buried) you name it, we’ve found it here. This is all stuff that we have slowly been harvesting from the property (courtesy of the old tenants!) as we dig and clear new areas.

Dumpster guy left us another dumpster which we filled with over a ton of rotting wood that was laying around in piles all over the property. I swear this place was like a landfill, we are still unearthing things as we dig planting beds but I think the bulk of it is gone now. We’re talking 2-3 tons of trash…unreal.

So anyway, I’ll give you a little tour of some of what we’ve been planting around here. The pictures all look a bit over-exposed because I took them on an incredibly hot, bright morning a few days ago…too much sun.

Here is a freshly dug bed that runs along the front of the house, next year I’ll fill it with perennials but for this year I’ve planted some sunflowers which will get about 6ft tall. I have also sowed dinosaur kale and raddichio just on the other side of that concrete brick, it is just beginning to sprout.

And here is my long awaited Zephyrine Drouhin rose. It took over 2 months to finally acquire one, I was beginning to lose hope. It is currently about 1 1/2 ft tall and has one very tiny bud. I don’t care about flowers this year, I just want it to establish enough to survive the winter and maybe even reach the first bar of the trellis ;O)

In front of it, I’ve planted 3 ‘Hidcote’ Lavender plants. Everything is so tiny!

This next bit is more of a ‘wildlife installation’. The brush pile has been there since last fall and we have been adding to it this season too. Since early spring it has been taken over by dozens of ground sparrows. I had the pleasure of their company all winter as well, as they spent their days eating all the seed off the ground which fell down from the bird feeder.

The brush pile seems to be a congregating point, a social meeting/mating spot for them. They have built their nests in the roof of the big barn across the street and some are nesting in crevices under our roof as well, but they spend alot of time on the brush pile. I love having them there.

The next addition to my ‘wildlife installation’ was a DIY bird bath. I have felt really sorry for the birds during this incredibly hot and long dry spell so I just used what we happened to have laying around and built this bath.

It consists of a big concrete block that the previous tenants had buried in the ground as an anchor for their laundry thingie, talk about over-building syndrome! Poor P spent an entire afternoon trying to get it out from the bottom of the 4ft hole he had to dug to get to it . He got it out using nothing but long crowbar-like levers and lots of swearing, it weighs a ton.

On top of the huge block of concrete I set a large plastic plant pot bottom, it’s about 2 ft in diameter, in the middle I set a large stone to hold it in place and to also provide an island for any unfortunate critters (like bees) who might fall in while drinking.

It’s not much to look at but the price was right and the birds love it!

Here’s what the studio is looking like currently. The rose to the left has been there for about 3 years but I haven’t been too successful about getting it to climb up and over the roof, I hope the trellis P built this year will make a difference, I’m also, admittedly, giving a bit more attention than I had been doing, it is definitely showing progress so we’ll see.

In the tub in front of the studio I have sown some beautiful pink rose mallow. It’s growing but not fast enough for me ;O)

In the cracks along the stone path I have planted creeping ‘Bressingham’ thyme, also very tiny at the moment.

Here’s a clematis I planted earlier this spring, it’s grown about 2-3 ft since then! It’s an early bloomer, with large lavender flowers, called Mrs. Cholmondeley.

This is a late blooming clematis that we planted on the wood shed, it’s called Jackmanii and has gorgeous dark violet flowers.

These are red currants which are nearly ripe, we only have a few canes currently so I just leave these berries for the birds. Next year we will plant a large berry garden on the other side of the house and then we’ll add more of these so we get a decent harvest.

Apples slowly ripening on our Roter Berlepsch apple tree, these are good eating apples. We also have a Gravenstein which is mainly a cooking apple.

This is an attempt at making a bumblebee house, but unfortunately no bumble bees moved in. I think maybe the hole is too vertical and so there would be rain getting in and falling on the little bumblebee heads…not good. They do however live in the crevices in this stone wall, so that’s ok, at least they are here. I still haven’t given up on the idea of bumblebee housing, but I think the hole needs to be horizontal. Anyone ever tried this with flower pots? Any suggestions?

And speaking of bumble bees if you look closely you’ll discover that the center of the pink flower is actually a bumble bee bum :O)

I am growing two varieties of cherry tomatoes on my porch. Tomatoes don’t do well here unless they are kept out of the rain, they are borderline greenhouse plants here, you can grow them outside with alot of care and attention but they do so much better in a greenhouse, or under cover. They are doing well for me in pots on the porch so this is what I will do until we eventually get a greenhouse.

And lastly, a few pics of my poor kitties who can’t stand the heat and tend to move from one shady patch to the next until they finally get to where they are going.

Any little patch of shade will do!

Well, that’s not all we’ve done but the rest of the pictures didn’t turn out so well. I’ll give you an update as things grow. Hope you are enjoying your garden too!

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birdhouse

We’re finally having a decent winter around here, complete with plenty of snow and cold…REALLY cold weather. It’s been a few years since we had a decent winter. I’ve been making food for the birds this year and they are loving it, we now have quite a large gathering who spend their days in our trees. Mostly we’ve got tits (ok, I know this is going to really increase my traffic but I’m not the one who named them!)

Tits, you know tits like this…

greattit

That one is known as a Great Tit, we have tons of these. We also see some of the smaller Blue Tits although not as many. We get a few European Robins which look like this…

european-robin

Photo by Jens B. Bruun

These are much smaller and more delicate than the North American robin. We’ve got a few pairs of black birds which is why Peer built the nifty bird feeder shown above, they’re too big to eat from the hanging bags of food, but they haven’t gotten the hang of this new bird house yet and still insist on eating the crumbs that the little birds drop on the ground. I worry that a cat will get them…probably my cat…she’s way too good at hunting.

wren-006

We also get a few wrens…These are super cute, but we don’t get very many at all.

great-spotted-woodpecker1

photo by Bill Baston

We even have a Great Spotted Woodpecker who has started hanging out in our elderberry tree. These are pretty rare so it is nice to see him.

Bird Feed Recipe

To make the food, I melt 500gm plant fat, mix in 500gm rolled oats, a cup or so sunflower seeds, some millet mix it up good and then let it all soak in the fat. Stir occasionally as it re-hardens. Then I scoop it into recycled net bags, the kind that onions and lemons come in, tie closed with a long piece of string and hang them from tree branches. The little birds can eat from these but not the larger birds. The birds love this stuff and I end up making at least 2 batches a week.

foodbags

What else am I up too? Well, I’m a bit early I guess, but I’ve started my spring cleaning. Unfortunately, being the Queen of Clutter that I am…this is long overdue and has turned into a major undertaking. But it’s got to be done, our walls are in need of a fresh coat of paint which we’ll be doing sometime in February so first we need to be able to get to the walls! I think I’ve got another 2 weeks of cleaning and de-cluttering before I’m done.

When I’m not cleaning I’m doing alot of knitting and spinning either that or cooking. Peer has been cleaning and melting down wax from the old hive we replaced last summer with a Warre hive. Anyway I  have lots to write about and lots of pictures to show, I’ll try to get caught up during this week.

First of all, I finished my Anemoi mittens…

mittenfinishpair

I love these mittens, the only problem is that the thumb is a wee bit snug, but they are warm and I love the pattern.

mittenfinishhand

I’ve got a blanket, a scarf and a pair of socks on the needles too at the moment but none are anywhere near to being finished. Oops, I just found a pattern for a matching hat to go with my Anemoi mittens. Guess what I’ll be casting on this evening :O)

I got the chance to spin hand-dyed roving for the very first time last week! Yes, it was very exciting! I normally spin plain old white wool, which is still tons of fun, but spinning in color, wow!… it’s so totally mesmerizing. Anyone who knows me and has seen my glass art, knows that these are so MY colors. Learning to dye my own handspun yarn is right at the top of my things to do list.

firstdyedroving

Anyway, I didn’t dye this particular wool myself, I got this from Gale’s Art Fibers on Etsy. She makes gorgeous roving. I made a chunky weight yarn out of it and since I  didn’t  have very much, I needed a small project so and ended up knitting it into another pair of mittens :O)

mittenweekend

The colors are actually alot more intense, every time I photograph these mittens they look washed out. Anyway, they’re cute, warm and comfy.

So, that’s it for today, other topics I’d like to cover this week include: making tofu, cleaning and preparing wax from the hives and maybe a recipe or two if I have the time.

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