Posts Tagged ‘birdfeeder’

Saturday, March 31, 2012

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Friday … the end of the work week .. and another day of activity.  A real mix of weather, ranging from brilliant sunshine to pouring rain.

What to do .. what to do … what to do…

Shopping of course .. made a list, actually brought it with me and then left it in the car!  Groceries first .. went to a few supermarkets to take advantage of sales.  Found some good deals and soon the back of my car was loaded up.   Also purchased the most beautiful umbrella at the bank, proceeds go to Children’s Hospital.  It’s just the loveliest umbrella I’ve ever had. There are two coverings.  The outer (top) is black and the inner cover is a cheerful blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds.  How appropriate for one who loves the sky so much!   And I actually had the opportunity to use this in the afternoon when I went for a little walk!   I had my blue skies with me, even though it was pouring rain!

Decided to just make a “little” visit to Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.  When I got there, the little parking lot was jammed full .. so decided to leave unless a spot happened to open up.  Just as I made this decision, I noticed someone preparing to get into their car and leave.  Hmmm.. what can I say?  So I waited a few minutes and then parked in the now vacant spot.

Pulled on my gumboots and started walking.   Sauntered along  the pathway to Tuesday Pond … went to the side area  .. which is now nicely covered in mulch .  This mulch looks just like the pine chippings that I scooped up a few days ago, from “free” in Used Victoria ads.     I’m getting to know my mulch.  And glad that I still have 6 large Rubbermaid containers full at home .. plan to use this on my back pathway.   Pine mulch is not good for gardens, but perfect for pathways.

Anyway .. onwards I went .. and saw no ducks at the side area .. so I retraced my steps, planning to take the shortcut to the little bridge which spans the Tuesday Pond area.  Oops .. there is a large Canada Goose along the shores .. so I decided to go the long way around.  The Geese  can be a bit territorial and I didn’t want any confrontations.

I walked along the pathway for a while, tempted to walk the full circuit around the Sanctuary, but decided on a shorter version, it’s too easy to spend hours and hours here and I have things to do at home.

Eventually I turned back and made my way to the main observatory.  Noticed many cleared areas, invasive plant growth removed, lots of sunshine now entering the cleared areas.  Lovely ..lots of volunteers have helped to open up these side wooded areas.

I could hear the calls of many birds, some of which I recognized.  The songs of the Red Wing Blackbirds, the males and the females.  The Marsh Wrens.  And many others.

Spoke with other people looking out for birds and feeding the ducks.  Saw the Cormorants were still settled on the wooden platform which is tethered to the shore.  Separate from the main walkway and inaccessible to the public, a safe haven for the birds.

Noticed a Great Blue Heron stalking prey for lunch, very stealthy.  Then, ta da, he swiftly gathered up a rodent, and just as swiftly, in one gulp, it was gone.   Nature at work.

Stopped and watched some Red Winged Blackbirds as they sang away.  These are quite beautiful birds and the females have the most beautiful songs to sing.

Finally I tear myself away and go to the Nature House to see if my place on the Native Plant workshop has changed .. I’m currently Number 3 on the wait list. Nope, unchanged.  And no phone calls as of this morning, so I didn’t make the cut.  Boo hoo .. that will teach me to procrastinate!  If I’d contacted them when I first saw the ad, I’d be there right now.  Oh, well, there will be other workshops, I know.

Homeward bound …noticed that the sunny morning skies have changed and now were overcast.  Groceries brought in and put away.  Time for tea!

Played around in my garden room.   Sorting seeds.  Found some packages that were either purchased by me or given to me as gifts.  Boxed herb seeds.  A package of Korean pine tree seeds, complete with compostable plant pot and saucer.   I followed the instructions given on the enclosed sheet and now the seeds are sitting in the moistened potting mix and awaiting germination.  If they sprout, then I’ll keep them in pots.    Perhaps I’ll plant them on our future property, but time will tell if they will indeed sprout.

Then, the herb package, sweet little clay pots, 4 labelled aluminum plant stakes and 4 envelopes of seeds.  I’ll put them in plant pots and see if they will germinate.  If they do, then I’ll have lots of basil, parsley, thyme and cilantro for the summer.  You just never know.

Finding (and using) these hidden treasures  gives me incentive to continue on with my clearing away the clutter in my garden room.

I also found time to look through some watercolour instruction books.  Looking for ideas that I can use to paint some white rectangular tiles.   I’ll take the painting ideas and use them on a variety of things for the garden.  It would be fun to paint some leftover boards and try to make signage for the garden.  Another fun project for a sunny day.

Went outside for a few minutes, in between the rainy showers and checked out the garlic, growing quite strongly now.   Looked up in the sky .. no eagles flying around.  Heard the rapid taps at the bird feeder as a little chickadee pecked away at the acrylic sides of the feeder – to remind me to add more sunflower seeds to the feeder!   Ha ha ha .. went inside to fetch the sunflower seed container and then added a cup full to the various feeders.    The birds only tap at this feeder when it’s empty, smart little guys, aren’t they?

Rains began, so inside I went.  And on with my day.


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Friday, March 30, 2012

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Thursday was a lovely, overcast day.  The rains fell often enough to dissuade me from digging away in the garden, but not enough to keep me away from there!

I must have slept through the windstorms of late Wednesday night .. .and I was surprised to see, yet again, the backyard hummingbird feeder lying on the ground.    I might have to change the location for the summertime, as currently I have the feeder hanging from the little Lee Valley archway, leading into the veggie garden area.

So I rinsed out the feeder, searched for .. and found .. the little yellow baskets that sit in the middle of each of the red “flowers”.  Went to the fridge and brought out the container of 3:1 sugar nectar.  Reassembled the feeder and hung it up again.

Back inside later, I  mixed  another mixture of 3:1 and placed several full containers in the fridge, once they had cooled down from the short cooking process, transforming the sugar/water mixture into a liquid nectar.  That’s it for the 3:1 and when this mix is gone, I’ll resort to the 4:1 for the summer.

Away to the front yard and, my goodness, that feeder was empty too!  So promptly refilled it.  Didn’t take too long for one of the little Anna’s to zero in and settle down on the tiny little perch and start sipping away.

I noticed the beauty of the raindrops on the outer surfaces of the dainty daffodil flowers.  Such grace and natural loveliness.  Pretty as a picture, I thought.

Then of course, I just had to wander around the yard.   Soft raindrops falling in a mist, gently painting a delicate cover of moisture on everything in the yard.  I was very glad that this was happening, since there were several plants that I had dug up a few days ago, still sitting on the soil, waiting to be planted.  They certainly will not dry out.

Looked up to the sky, no aerial shows to see.  The winged creatures must be elsewhere or perhaps they are taking cover from the rain?

So, decided to go inside and tackle a task that I’ve been avoiding.  Drum roll.  My little garden room has been neglected during the last few months.  And disorder had come to visit.  So, ended the procrastination and began moving things around. Trying so hard to be decisive about what leaves and what stays.

I moved my tools, all the paraphernalia, hammers, saws, nails, screws, screwdrivers, all that sort of thing onto the walled shelving unit.   A solidly built set of 3 shelves, installed by a previous owner.  Myself, I would have extended the shelves so that they would have spanned the entire wall, for better storage.  But these are solid enough, so they will stay, for now.  Unless DH decides to change things  .. he is so very creative about these sorts of things, he is quite amazing.

Turned the music up loud, brought out the broom and started sweeping.  It’s quite amazing, the amount of leaves and mud that I’ve been bringing in, via my boots .. but that’s the way it is when I’m gardening.

Decided to create more space taken up by my bunches of dried garlic bulbs, kept finding more bunches strung around the room.  Spent some time trimming the bottoms and clipping the bulbs from their papery  branches.  Found one bulb sprouting so took that outside for planting.  Ended up with a large basket full of the savoury things.

Even had some elephant garlic .. guess I’d dug them up too soon, because there were several that were just one round ball, the size of a golf ball.  Very delicate garlic scent also, not overpowering.


After a few tea breaks and time out to read some chapters of a good mystery .. I’m currently reading one by Marcia Muller “Dead Midnight” (she has the most amazing storylines and her characters are full of life!) and Lisa Jackson “Malice” (same …amazing author).

Sometimes, I just want to be totally decadent and just curl up on an afternoon and just read a book from cover to cover.  This was a habit when I was a teenager and then into my 20’s and 30’s and then I just seemed to have dropped the habit.  And all my time was filled with being “busy”.

Looking over to my fiction book unit I see that I have quite a few more books to read .. so that I can empty the shelves and then visit the next library book sale.   Once I read a book, it goes into a bag, to be given away free to those interested.  I’ve tried keeping track of the books I’ve read, but that project got away from me!  I’ll try to update my list, to avoid picking them up again.  But I must admit, in the frenzied atmosphere of the book sale, I just grab what I can.

Which reminds me of the most amazing luck I had at the last book sale .. for the first time I was able to select quite a number of books on weather, clouds etc. in addition to some fantastic gardening and birding books.  These are treasures and I look through them from time to time. They are the kinds of books to take along on a weekend away .. when I can spend hours looking through them, without feeling guilty about time spent.

The hours just flew by yesterday and soon I had finished organizing my room for the day.  DH was home and time for supper.

Today .. I plan to finish the organizing in my garden room.  And now there are some tough decisions to make.  Should I keep my beading and glass tile hobbies for now or get rid of them?  There are some lovely bright and colourful bobbles that I’ve been accumulating .. planning to make some garden art from them.  They’ve been just sitting there in their containers, not looked at, for a long time.

I think that I will most likely decide to get going and be creative.  Spend some decadent hours with my creative hat on and just assemble all my little treasures out on the table and play around.

I’ll post any pictures of my new artistic endeavours when they are done.  Just writing this out has helped me decide to keep my supplies for another year.  This will be the year that I’ll venture into that special little world of creativity. 🙂

Today looks to be another overcast day and for that I am glad.  Time to get going .. a little walk, fresh air, and then .. back to organizing.


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Saturday, March 17, 2012

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And a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  Oh, the joys of Facebook & Skype.  Via Facebook, I was able to watch one of my great-nephews play his fiddle, along with his instructor, playing some Irish tunes.  He plays much better than me, despite the lessons I’ve taken. However, I’m not giving up.  I might never play at Massey Hall (ha ha ha ha ) but I can scare the heck out of any marauding crows that visit the yard.

Hmmmm .. maybe I should just dust off my fiddle case and practise in the backyard, when the European Starlings visit . .should be interesting to see if this would act as a deterrent!  I remember our dogs cringing when I opened the case.

Anyway, I’m travelling on the lovely gardening path into my ever-expanding world of gardening .. it’s a wonderful journey.  I’m continuously meeting the most interesting people and learning more and more about plants.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to volunteer in pulling invasive species out of a natural forest area.   I’d heard about the magical results of Fawn Lilies growing in areas which were once heavily infested with ivy and Himalayan blackberries.  Once the heavy top-growth was removed .. the Lillies appeared. Isn’t that amazing!  The powerful energy of nature.  Humbling, I would say.

So I was excited to be part of this activity.  We uncovered a very heavy growth of ivy from a number of tree stumps.  And once that was done .. the space seemed to be calmer, cleaner .. sort of feng shui of the area.    Huckleberries are going to be planted in the trunks so I really look forward to seeing that.  I posted some pics and will follow-up when the berries are growing.

Learned about other vegetation, such as Alaska onion grass .. the leaves look exactly like grass and one must look to the base of the blades to see the little bulbets!  And, I also learned that the tiny weeds that I’ve been busy pulling out of the ground at home, are actually a type of cress, edible and most likely high in minerals and vitamins.

Oh, Nature, you are so subtle.   Leaving lots of plants around for us to nibble on, we just have to learn them, pay attention.

We chatted with a young man, who is a finishing carpenter .. now that is a trade to be proud of … my dad was such a person.   Such a joy to meet talented people who, it follows, most certainly must have a love for natural materials.

Back home, I refilled the hummingbird feeder and while I was standing there .. I saw several zipping around, so camera out.  I think that there is a Mr & Mrs, there were 2 at the feeder at the same time, sipping companionably.  Then one, without the red neck feathers, omg, this must be the female!  Her head looked to be shades of brown .. I’m standing there trying to focus and she just hovered there in the air.

I wasn’t able to click a photo of her .. hovering .. but I will always remember the joy of the moment!  Hummingbirds are little sprites in the air. They are tough little birds.  And so very beautiful.

Friday .. and Saturday .. well, lots of sun, followed by bursts of rain. Perfect gardening weather.

I’m just so looking forward to working in our yard .. to chop up the kelp & seaweed & spread around the garlic bed.  Then, my first major gardening feat will be to empty the 3 composters, one by one and start layering them in properly with the carbon/green layers.   Once that is done, I will feel so much better about the composting process.  Instead of just throwing vegetable waste in (which is what I’ve been doing) I’ll be consciously layering, creating a good atmosphere for the specific bacteria to grow.  Some like it hot, some like it warm, some like it cool.   Just like Goldilocks & the 3 Bears!

I’m going to build the compost just right!

Anyway, on with this day.  More ivy to pull.  Some plants are moving in for a vacation while their plant mom is away travelling.  Here is my chance to give them some EM and keep them in a healthy condition till she needs them back.

So .. away I go .. on this lovely Saturday morning.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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  The winds were powerful here yesterday.  Blew some fence boards out of the panels, broke some of the branches on the wild and crazy tree ..luckily that was all the damage we received.

Got out my cordless drill and mended the fence.  We’ll be getting newer panels sometime in the near future.

Saw seagulls flying sideways and the crows were sailing, enjoying the winds.  The backyard hummingbird feeder was again knocked to the ground and oh, no. out of sugar.  So I braved the winds and off to the supermarket to get some of the sweet stuff.   Home, mixed up a batch, put in the freezer to cool down and soon had the cleaned, refilled feeder back in its usual place.

Put more sunflower/birdseed mix in some of the feeders.  Especially love the translucent feeder on our kitchen window.  Sometimes there are lineups as the birds wait their turn to fetch some sunflower seeds.

Recently I’ve been volunteering in various plant related things.  One is happening this week, with removing invasive ground cover at a little neighbourhood street.  Another is to have our yard checked during the coming months, to see which pollinators are visiting … I’m just waiting to see if our yard fits the criteria.

In the meantime, I sent some bee photos to the person in charge of this study.  I had photographed two bees a few weeks ago.  It had been a warm and sunny afternoon and I happened to see several bees hanging on to the side fence, catching the full warmth of the sun’s rays.

Thought that these were queens that had just emerged and were acclimatizing to their new life stage.   Well, it turns out that I was half right!

The larger insect was indeed a Queen!   A Bombus mixtus (no common name).  Only Queens are out this early (it was Feb 22) in the spring, when it is warm and start looking for pollen and nectar and build a nest.  The smaller one was a hoverfly .. it is an excellent honeybee mimic.

I also learned that: ” flies have just two wings, and bees four;  and flies have big “bug eyes” whereas bees tend to have smaller eyes (and cuter faces).  In the hoverfly photo you can see the big bulgy eyes!  Bees also tend to have longer antennae than flies, (again easier to see when you have one in front of you :)”

New worlds of knowledge .. the exciting journey continues!!

I can only marvel at the wonderful timing in life that allowed me to happen to pass  by the fence on that sunny day, seeing the new Queen, having my camera with me to take a photo.  And later, getting more involved with native plant information, being able to send these photos to an expert for identification.  The serendipity of gardening.  Or the magic of it, really.

Yesterday, while starting on my decluttering, I found things I had bought to play around with one day.  One of these was a “learn to play the recorder” kit.  So, I opened the packaging, assembled the recorder and studiously went through the instructions.  Went from “what the heck” stage, trying to understand the finger placement … to the stage of practising the notes.  Fun.

Then, putting my knitting supplies together, I finally started weaving the t-shirt knitting material (found on Stumblupon, ways to re-use t-shirts, fun!) and wove two rows, then, couldn’t find the hook to remove the first row over the second.  I know for a fact that this hook is on my table in the gardening room.  However, I also knew that if I went to look for it, I would get involved in laundry, and all sorts of distractions, so I just put this loom away in the box for now.

Then I placed a large stack of books recently read .. into a bag for giveaways.  Sorted my Spanish and French grammar books onto shelves higher up so that I would open them more often.  Couldn’t resist opening up one of each, though, to practise my comprehension and pronunciation.

Also leafed through my “Vein of Gold” book, by Julia Cameron, which fell open at page 177, discussing music and the Native American flute music … would that in any way be coincidental with my practising the recorder?  nah.

Next, I repaired a broken wing on one of my graceful faerie ladies .. I had knocked it over months ago, and she just didn’t look right with the one wing .. so now that is all better.  I looked through my “the ultimate Fairies handbook) Susannah Marriott.  I love the drawings, so fanciful .. and read a few pages.    And of course “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” .. imagine having the time to just draw and write.  Hey .. I have that time.

Well, I made a lot of progress yesterday.

And it’s time to get going on more right now!


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Thursday, March 1, 2012

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Wednesday started off in a cloudy fashion.  I felt cloudy also.  As in, not energized.    You know the kind of feeling .. life is rolling along, full of positivity and energy.    Open to new possibilities and learning.   Then there is a blip.  So I was in a blip.  Hmmm. .. that could very well be a new adjective, couldn’t it?   As in “it was a blip situation” …:)

So I went outside to experience some positive energy from our yard .. to take a few moments to watch the birds.  Check out the ground, look for spring flowers .. that sort of thing.  Pondered walking over to Swan Lake, to see the ducks and watch for the local eagles .. I’d really like to see them.

Decided it really was time to stay home, study, spend some time in reading through the materials on organic gardening.  Not many classes left.

Brr .. chilly in the early morning.  Rain starting to fall.  I was determined to finally install the Lee Valley hanging saucer beneath one of the bird feeders.  A green circle of about 1 1/2 feet in circumference, which would be attached to the bottom of the feeder.   There was a cover for this saucer, which was full of holes for the bird seed to tumble into (instead of tumbling onto the ground!).

By the time I’d assembled (found!!!) my pliers, saucer, bird seed and was outside, a light rain was falling.  My hands were numb with cold, but I was determined that I was finally going to assemble this saucer thing which I’d bought before Christmas!

Deciphered the instructions, arranged the chain and attached to one of the bird feeders – I’d lost all track of time so really don’t know how long it took me to do that.  Anyway, as all gardeners know, time doesn’t exist in a garden   🙂

Finally, the bird feeder with the new saucer was placed carefully, hanging from a branch of the apple tree, freshly filled and awaiting the discovery of the birds.  A sense of accomplishment was strongly felt.  yeah.

Next, time to fill up the hummingbird feeder and the rest of the bird seed feeders.

And …. ta da .. there is a new addition to the village of bird feeders!  I finally broke down and bought the Mark Cullen covered suet holder, it’s cute, made of cedar, with a sloped roof, underneath is the suet holder.  It’s made specifically for the tiny members of  birds .. the darling little Bush-tits, the Red-Breasted Nuthatches and the Chestnut-Backed Chickadees.   Bigger birds (Junco’s, sparrows, European Starlings) kind of take over the other suet block.  So this is special for them.

Wandered around the back, inspecting the branches of the dwarf apple tree that we’d planted a long time ago.

Looked up to the sky and wow .. there is one of the eagles flying around.  I found it really amazing to be looking through the tight web of branches and actually see this magnificent eagle flying and .. I actually had my camera with me!  So I quickly drew the camera from the case, clicked it on and took a few pictures.  This camera doesn’t have an eyepiece, it has one of those little screens which doesn’t show clearly what you are looking at .. so it was really sheer luck that I was able to zero in and take some photos.

As the eagle flew in ever larger circles, I ran to the center of the yard and found it again .. and clicked away.  So very grateful that I was outside at that moment in time, and looked upwards.   An inspirational bit of time which filled me with joy at the sheer magnificent beauty of nature.

The eagle then changed direction, soaring effortlessly in another direction, lost to my sight.

Well, then.  I was able to see the eagle and saved myself a few hours from walking to Swan Lake.

Time to go inside and get some studying done.

And you know what?  Once I started going through my notes and the online lessons, I was transported away to the world of composting and the many lifeforms therein.

Quite the learning day for me . .one that I thoroughly enjoyed.



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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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So the week started out full of promise.  Some frost in the early morning .. noticed some flakes of snow on the mulch in the back yard.  Brrr.

Monday was a day totally spent in the yard.  Sheer bliss.   I’d been spending a fair bit of time at the kitchen table, little old Toshiba connected, going through the study materials of the gardening course I’m taking.  I’ve stayed there through some sunny days and thought to myself, well, it’s good to spend the time now so I’ll have the knowledge later.

But, my goodness, how much can a gardener take .. staying indoors all this time, anyway!  So, Monday was my decadent day .. to spend completely outside.   Except for some quick trips inside to make more Yorkshire Tea and a quick-lunch, Monday was devoted to outside things.

I had a mission .. to tidy up the yard so that my gardening class could freely move around the yard.  Thus I moved hundreds of cuttings & potted plants to one area, so nice and tidy, I impressed myself.  Then, time to address the mountain of leaf mulch.  I filled tarp after tarp load with the leafy stuff and dragged them over to the perimeter of the yard, nicely topping up the side gardens, being careful not to cover the emerging bulbs.

This time of the year is such a delight .. so many surprise flowers popping up, awakening from their winter sleep.  Perfuming the air with their scent and delighting the senses with their delicate beauty.

I accomplished quite a lot on Monday .. so on Tuesday, I decided to continue.  Morning was chilly and then the sun fought to come out.  Clouds 1.  Sun 0.   But, a lovely warm mug or two of Yorkshire Tea kept me warmed up.

Our backyard is actually quite large.  Now that I’ve moved the potted cuttings, reduced the size of the leaf mulch pile, removed part of the homemade bamboo/twig fence that encircled it,  bundled the support twigs that comprised the fencing .. the yard is looking quite spacious.

Normally I’m the only person playing out here, so I’ve allowed myself to have some lazy habits.  And now that I’ve been organizing the space, I’ve quite impressed myself with my activity.

Next I moved the loose rocks and boulders to encase some island beds.  Dug in some broken bricks in the back pathway, adding to the rustic charm of a relaxed garden.  Mended some loose boards in the fence.

Stood back, admiring my work from the past few days.  I can feel the lovely fresh energy that now emanates from my garden .. my real living space.

And although the work was for naught, as the location has now been changed for the pruning demonstration and will not take place at our yard .. I feel that all was not done in vain.  For, if not for the push of the upcoming Saturday’s pruning event, I would have dillied and dallied and wouldn’t have been so active.   Much like preparing for an upcoming visit of someone and plans changed at the last-minute.  The result is a tidy space.   And the feeling of pride and joy of discovering that my organizational skills are smoking hot!    Chalk one up for me .. I’ve proved to myself how hard I can work.  Had forgotten that skill .. so this was a good reminder.

Funny .. during the last few days, when I’ve been busy doing something or the other in the yard, suddenly I’d heard some sharp rap-tap-tap noises .. looked up and some (variably) a little Chickadee or Nuthatch.  Nicely settled on an acrylic sided bird feeder.  Noisily tapping away at the clear sides … the bird version of a slot machine.  Expecting the seeds to fall into the trough?  Or, trying to catch my attention?  Either way, I complied to their needs and put some sunflower seeds into the feeder.

The idea that wild birds can communicate to us mere humans was reinforced this winter.   The front Hummingbird feeder had frozen solid, so I took it inside, thawed it out, refilled it .. and placed it by the front door.  Then DH & I would look out the front window and observe the little Anna fly around, checking it out and then settle in for a feed.  After, of course, flying up to the window, flying horizontally and vertically, thoroughly checking us out.  She knew we were there and that I had “fixed” her food source.

One morning, looking out .. I saw that the feeder was again frozen.  This time, little Anna tried to get some nectar.  No joy.  she turned her little head in my direction, looked back at the feeder, then back at me, then back to the feeder.  She acknowledged that I was the “fixer” .. the nectar was frozen .. so  .. “fix it”!  Body language was clear.

So I did fix it … and soon she was happily feeding away.

Yesterday the winds were so wild that the backyard hummingbird feeder went crashing to the ground.  Finally, I picked it up, took it inside, cleaned & added some nectar and then hung it from a little branch at a side cedar tree.  I knew the backyard Anna would find it.   She’s smart.

Well, nature and all of the beauty have been inspiring me with a wonderful gardening energy and today I will return again to the garden.

A brand new lovely day ….

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Tuesday, January 31, 2011

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  Ah, Monday .. Monday .. where did you go?  I was up early enough .. wanted to go for a quick walk and then buckle down with my garden studies.

But … did I follow through with that?

Heck no!

I dillied and dallied and played with our new computer.   Took care of the feeding, playing and cleaning up of the feline part of our family.

Went outside, filling up bird feeders & suet holders.

Finally .. outside and started my walk.   Or at least, that is what I intended to do.  Then I met a neighbour and so we began a conversation about the neighbourhood . .and the ugly big box building that is going on in the neighbourhood.   And things along that vein.    Another neighbour joined our group.   And the discussion continued.

Finally, shivering .. it was chilly!  I bade goodby and began my trek to Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.

Promised myself that I would only walk to the short observatory and then return home .. lots of studying to be done.

Well .. once I got there .. I just relaxed and continued walking on the pathways –  looking out for birds.  Then I met up with one of the guardians of this wonderful treasure of nature and we had a chat about the goings-on.    Sad to hear that the eagles had captured a Heron.   At first I was shocked, and then, later on, during my walk,  I remembered hearing that Beacon Hill Park had experienced the same problem .. years ago.  That was a time when I wasn’t tuned in to the majestic beauty of these birds.  Now, this saddens me.  I know .. it’s nature.

So I enjoyed seeing the cheerful appearance of the Robins .. the wrens .. the Mallards.   Didn’t see any eagles during my time there.  Not much happening at the short observatory.   Looked at the marsh grasses .. wondering when these grasses would grow tall enough for the Marsh Wren to build her nest.

The lake was empty of birds ..only a few Coots swimming around.  No Herons.  No Geese.  They must be dining elsewhere.  Funny, last year I used to walk around the Sanctuary nearly every day and I always saw so much activity.  This year I’ve settled into a different pattern of more activity, less walking .. and I don’t see very many birds. (except for today and I’ll write about that tomorrow!!   whoo .. eee .. this was a great day!)

Finally, time to go back home and start my “learnin”!

In the kitchen, I turned on the laptop .. this thing is a workhorse.  It’s a second-hand Toshiba that I purchased last year for $85.  It’s not the fastest laptop in the world, but .. it’s paid for.  And it plods ahead.

I opted to using this instead of our brand spanking new computer because:

a) the new computer is in the side room or “study”

b) the laptop is portable .. and I set it up on the kitchen table.  This way, I can look out the kitchen window and see the birds.

We’ve set up one of those translucent bird feeders that attach to the window with suction cups.  The birds love it.  And the aluminum blinds, well, I’ve angled them so that the birds can’t see us .. and so they can relax and feed at will.  So sweet to see them standing on the top of the sundeck fencing area and on a board beneath the window .. nibbling away at birdseed.

They are so very sweet .. tiny little sparkling eyes, fluffy plumage.  And yesterday morning, after I’d opened up the blinds and flung aside the kitchen curtains .. there was a little Red-Breasted Nuthatch.   I love his little nasal chirps.  No mistaking him.

There is so very much information to learn … I just worked away, reading from the course textbook, typing notes .. willing all this information to stick to my consciousness.

Then, later, supper prepared for DH and then it was time for me to go out for a monthly Coronation Street supper … a few hours of talking about the show .. and other things.  Quite a fun evening.  Listening to some friends discussing their travels… and catching up on what’s been going on.  Lots of fun.  There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as a good meal and lively conversation and that’s what we enjoyed last night!

Then, we dissect the life out of the show’s scripts .. sometimes they are so good and other times .. not worth the air time.  There is always a variety of writers so the scripts are sometimes much better than others.

Oh oh .. a reminder that DH & I will see William Roach in just over a month!  yippeee.  I still need to make up a list of questions. A once in a lifetime opportunity to do so.  So the questions need to be good .. and unusual!

Well .. the day is done and so time to end this lengthy rambling.

Tomorrow … I’ll focus on more studying.  I sure love this Organic Master Gardening Course .. a program like no other!!

And .. I just have to visit Swan Lake again .. I’m hooked!


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Friday, January 20, 2011

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 The heavy snowfall has been challenging for the surrounding area.  I for one, am not venturing out except by foot and only that when necessary.

Except for spending hour upon hour, standing outside in the back yard, ensuring that the bird feeders are kept  full.  And defrosting the hummingbird feeders.  Oh, and making sure that the European Starlings stay away from the suet long enough to allow the smaller birds a chance to feast away.

I replaced two of the feeders with suet blocks and placed the fat in the trees (tightly squeezed between some branches) and the birds have liked that.

The first heavy day of snow was just amazing.  I’d stand out there just making sure that there was a plenty supply of food for our feathered friends.   There was a lively mixture of Fox Sparrows (all sizes) and I counted at least 5 Spotted Towhees!  Usually I only see one or two!  Robins, Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, Mr & Mrs. Red-Breasted Nuthatches.  Darling little Bush-tits.  White & Gold Crowned Sparrows.  Regular Sparrows.

Yesterday morning I was looking out the basement window and saw a Flicker, nestled on the gravel and pecking away at the ground …. he was surrounded by other smaller birds and must have been there for quite awhile before I noticed him.

The freezing rains are expected soon and that will be followed by days of rain, so soon this snow will just be a memory.

I finally finished entering my gardening books … and am sure that I’ll still find a few more, tucked away here and there.   My current count is at 214 books .. which does include a few little booklets and my 1975 copy of Organic Gardening. I did have quite a collection of these treasures but got rid of all but this one, during some decluttering sessions.

This one is a treasure, it contains easy instructions for making a chicken wire compost box.   And simple pruning helpers .. such as:  placing a ladder against the tree .. prune to the right when climbing up the ladder and to the left when descending.  Easy pease.

These smaller format OG publications were absolute treasures.

And I also found, as I looked through my treasury of books, that many books contained the same information, worded in various ways.

Scary to read about pesticides used so freely, in the older books.  It was just taken for granted to use them.   shudder.

Interesting to see the breadth of mulching uses, the many ways of propagating. I have much personal knowledge of gardening and it’s always a joy to learn more and more.

So I’ll work away at my book listing, sorting by title for one version, and by author in another.  I did find that I had duplicates of some books .. they are absolute gems, so that explains why I bought them .. at different times, of course.  I’ll carry this list with me now, for future reference so I won’t make that mistake again.

I was so looking forward to the first classes of the Organic Master Gardening course, but the snow put an end to those two classes .. so we’ll start again next week.  This gives me a bit more time to do some reading and organize materials that I’ll bring with me.  So excited about learning more, meeting like-minded gardeners and just plain talking about gardening for hours upon hours!

Well, this has certainly been a relaxing week.  Not able to do any gardening due to the snow.  Fingers, eyes and toes crossed that all the plants will survive.   And I had been quite proud of the scented geraniums that had been growing stoically despite the frosts.

On with this day and all the fun things that it will bring.


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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

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Yesterday was a holiday Monday .. so DH and I enjoyed lots of time, relaxing …

So we watched parts of the Corner Gas marathon … this was a show that we didn’t appreciate fully when it was on the air.  Two years ago there was a marathon on New Years Day and as we watched the shows and began to see the characters develop, we became hooked on the show.  Hilarious.

Geared myself into action and actually got a fair bit done yesterday, so it wasn’t a total loss.  Cleaned up kitty’s litter … no thanks from them, right!?

Outside to fill up the bird feeders.  Noticed the hummingbird feeder in the back yard was very dirty, lots of black growth around the little yellow cages .. highly unusual.  There is a lot of development happening in the neighbourhood, and the tree branches are bare  ..  so I think that the leaves normally block a fair amount of the dust that travels through the air.  Anyway, took the feeder inside and scrubbed it thoroughly with hot water so it was spotless .. outside and filled it up with fresh 3:1 nectar.

I can see that the birds have been feeding heavily at the fat in the suet holders, that’s good.   And I refilled one suet holder with a seed-embedded block .. these normally don’t last very long.

When I was at Lee Valley last week, I purchased a large SeedSaucer .. and have yet to install it beneath a seed feeder.  Perhaps tomorrow.  It is a large saucer with chains and is to be connected to the bottom of a feeder, to save the spent seeds and shells from falling on the ground.  I plan to make a makeshift one, using a large plant saucer … to achieve the same purpose.

And then yesterday, I started the daunting task of listing all of my garden books.  Turned on my little laptop in my garden room … created a spreadsheet with neatly titled columns, fetched a pile of books and began typing away.

As I did so, I began leafing through the pages of each book.  Noting the things that interested me the most and listed these details in a column.  Nice to have a quick reference for various items.  And I’ll just add to this column, over time.

Until I change the headings of this sheet .. this is how I’m noting the details of the books:

Category (Herbs or Propagating or Wild Gardens or Landscaping .. as appropriate).  Then subheadings:  Title, author, publisher (and this is proving rather interesting .. one  Ortho Herb books shows “Ortho, Chevron Chemical Division” ????) .. and then: Pages of interest and lastly: Comments, and here I am just noting, succinctly, what grabs my interest about the contents.

I know that I’ll make changes as I go along, but these columns are good for starting.  This is a project that I’ve long put off and I find it very satisfying to actually begin.  Very satisfying.

Soon … suppertime.  My lovely DH had prepared meals & dish washing up for two nights, to give me a break from the daily routine.  I feel quite spoiled!  He makes the most delicious meals, quite a change from my usual and it’s good to have a change.

Later on, we discussed the “taking down” of the Christmas tree …. I never really like this time … however, it needs to be done.  So, while watching Corner Gas shows, sipping a glass of wine, I began the task of removing the ornaments carefully .. from the tree.  There are always a few that, despite careful searching, miss the first cull . .and I always find them when everything has been packed away.  It’s part of the Christmas tradition.

This year, I am being very organized with the ornaments.  Usually I wrap them up carefully in paper towels/tissue and pack them away.  This year, however, I am using those wonderful zippered clear bags that contained all the new drapes that I’d purchased from Fabricland!

These bags were too practical to discard .. so I’d put them aside, planning to use them to store my craft items.  However, I realized that these would be just the thing to organize the decorations.   And they were just perfect.  And it is time for a change in how I do things, anyway.

I packed up many of the ornaments in their original.  The remainder was sorted into non-breakable and fragile .. and these went tidily into some of the zippered bags.  How tidy is that!  I was very careful in packing all these into one Rubbermaid container and the result was … all the decorations fit  in one container!

The lights, also, were neatly contained in more zippered bags.  Nice and orderly for next year.

Time for the evening to wind down.   This has been a relaxing Christmas and New Years .. all my slowing down for the season has resulted in new fresh energy for this lovely New Year.

This will be a busy one .. and I’m quite looking forward to all the newness that it will bring!

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