Saturday, May 28, 2022

Possum on the half shell

Apparently, armadillos are now a thing in Illinois; read about it here. I have to admit I would be rather excited to see one in my backyard (as would the dogs), but I also hope I never do.

I was getting a little concerned that the landscaper had not responded to any of my recent emails. Turns out his last email went into my spam folder. Right now we are on schedule for an early June installation. That gives my daughter more time to dig up plants. It also means I need to clean up at least the front yard a bit while we wait. The mulberries are out of control, along with thistle. A bit unsightly.

Baby sparrows left the nest this past week. Once I figure out how, I'll post a video of mom feeding the babies right under my window. There was another baby bird of some kind, but it didn't make it. By the time I noticed it, the parents had abandoned it. :-(

The Clematis Paniculata is halfway up the pergola. I tried rooting some Virginia creeper cuttings in water, but Beau the Feline Destroyer of All Things Nice kept messing with them. I'll try planting the cuttings directly into the container instead.

Usually I avoid politics and religion in this blog, but in the wake of the recent tragedy in Texas, I feel compelled to put in my two cents worth. I am wondering if firearms could be treated like tobacco: sales of firearms and ammo highly taxed (and the proceeds could be used to fund mental health services), elimination of all advertising on all media, "gun-free" zones like we have "smoke-free" zones, age limits on purchases, etc. This action would sidestep second amendment issues while addressing some of the contributing factors of this senseless violence. I've contacted all my legislators, both state and federal, but frankly, I feel very hopeless and helpless.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Suburban wildlife

Most of the time, the only wildlife in my backyard are birds. In the past, woodchucks were the bane of my existance along with rabbits. Between the privacy fence and the dogs, most critters keep away except for one bunny and a few squirrels. So imagine my surprise when I found this opossum in the backyard.

At first, I thought the dogs had killed it, but no, opossums are very good at "playing dead". There was at least one baby on board; opossums are marsupials with a pouch, which this little guy was trying frantically to find. Mom was not helping in the least.

There were a couple more close encounters between the opossum and the dogs, so I thought she would leave. But the other night, I saw Baby wandering around on the deck after dark. They seem to have taken up residence in the dog house.

On top of the opossum, this black squirrel made an appearance. I've seen squirrels with this mutation in the neighborhood, just never in my own backyard. The squirrels (and presumably the opossum) clean up under the bird feeders.

And, not to be oudone, a bunny got everyone excited by making an appearance by the front walk.

The orioles and catbirds have abandoned their feeder for now, so I took it down. I also removed the mealworm feeder, as the only birds using it were sparrows and the occasional bluejay. The local paper printed a photo of a hummingbird at a nearby nature preserve; I hung out my hummingbird feeder, but so far, no takers. I think the robins in the front yard and the wrens in the back are nesting; in another week or so, I may hear some hungry peeps.

The pagoda dogwood has been blooming its little heart out this year. I can't find many photos of this tree on my blog, but I don't know if that is because it doesn't usually bloom so well or if I just neglected to document it.

The hawthorn in the front yard is blooming as well. I can't miss that as I see it every time I open or close the drapes over the picture window.

It seems like it is either raining or I am mowing. Everything seems HUGE this year, even the (doomed) rhubarb.

While the Clematis Paniculata is putting out some new growth, it looks like the 'Jackmanii' clematis did not survive the winter in a container despite my precautions. Now I'm back to the idea of trying to raise Virginia creeper, which covers a section of the privacy fence, in a container. All I want is something to grow on the pergola.

Saturday, May 14, 2022


This past week the painters and the carpenter FINALLY all showed up and finished the work on the house. Nice improvements, plus now the landscape installers can do their thing. I'm so glad this stage is complete.

Above, is the side door to the garage. I cleaned the mildew/alga off it. Now I just need to finish cleaning the siding.

Below are the shutters and the front porch. I've planted a couple of ornamental sweet potato vines in the container, 'Margarita', which hopefully will climb the trellis.
And the wrens FINALLY returned from their winter digs. A male started building a nest in the wren house right outside the den window, to be joined the next day by a female. The nest appears to be complete now.

My SO helped me continue to prep the yard for the landscapers. There were a lot of bits and bobs of poultry netting and hardware cloth that I used to protect shrubs; I want to keep them just in case, but need them to be out of the way. It was a bigger job than we anticipated, resulting in sore and stiff muscles, but we got it done.

Otherwise, I have been mowing, three times this week. It was supposed to storm all this weekend, but the weather warning turned out to be a false alarm. Instead it is hot and sunny, very summerlike, although the next week is supposed to be cooler. And I just saw the first grackle of the year.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Promises, promises

I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to stop raining, but this week promises to be dry and sunny, with high's around 80. The painters were a no-show last week, but I've been *promised* that they will be here on Tuesday, the carpenter on Thursday. We'll see.

Bird observations continue. Robins built a nest under the eaves by the dining room window, behind the Japanese maple. This is a great location for them, as when the fledglings leave the nest, they can perch in the tree, hopefully safe from my indoor/outdoor cat. Finn is getting arthritic, but I bet he would overcome the pain if a baby bird were easily in reach. I saw the robins mating yesterday.

Besides orioles, catbirds like grape jelly. A white-crowned sparrow visited the safflower feeder, probably on his way north. I *think* I've heard wrens - my birdsong identification skills are horrible - but still no takers on the wren houses. Redwing blackbirds visit the feeders occasionally.

The 'Perfect Purple' flowering crab looks wonderful this year. It lost its leader last summer, but it looks like there is a likely candidate poised to replace it.

Two (?) years ago, the Japanese maple did not leaf out very well, which I discovered was due to sparrows eating the leaf buds. Last year it looked better. This year it looks great. I credit my feeding the sparrows millet in the backyard. Now I'm wondering if the viburnum will fruit better.

Still no date on the landscape installation. My daughter has been digging up plants that are destined to go, for her yard, for her neighbor, for her mother-in-law. My son visited last week and planned to take some, too, but it rained, rained, rained.

Many years ago, I converted part of the garage into a laundry room, but I had the plumbers leave the old faucets which are in what I now refer to as the mudroom. The outside faucets are still on the well and spew orange-ish water; if I want non-well water for something outside, I figure I could run a hose from the old laundry faucets. I never tried it, until last week, and it worked perfectly. Now I'm thinking I need a power washer so I can clean the siding.

Just for the record, my SO *loves* his new EGO self-propelled lawn mower.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Returning snow birds

I recall the first time I heard the phrase "snow birds" - and it was in a derogatory manner as the speaker thought those who head south for the winter are weak - but I'm seeing the phenomonon in my backyard. This past week, a catbird landed on the safflower feeder, much to the consternation of the house finches, and a cowbird has been a regular visitor at the millet feeder. And I have at least one oriole who likes the grape jelly I put out for him!

I hung the wren houses, one in the backyard and one in front, but have yet so see or hear any wrens. I had to make an addition to one house, as last year a sparrow squeezed into it. I've seen the sparrows check out these houses this year, but so far, no one has moved in.

Still no progress on the front of the house. The one guy could be done in about an hour, just needs to install a railing on the porch and replace the shutters; the painter is supposed to show up tomorrow. Once the trellis is back up, I plan to make use of a new planter I purchased from Gardeners Supply. This is the first time I've ordered one of their "self-watering" planters. We'll see how well it works.

No takers on the "rainbow" shed yet. I may post it to Nextdoor, which is not one of my favorite sites. My daughter is getting a new shed, but I couldn't convince her to take this one. Something about it being plum ugly.