Sunday, January 21, 2024

Ice box

This has been a very cold week. No dog walking, as the street (we have no sidewalks) has an slick layer of ice beneath the snow. I confess I like looking at the white landscape instead of the gray and taupe one we usually have in winter. Alas, not enough snow here for cross country skiing and it is due to melt this week.

Despite the sub-zero temps (or because of it), there has been lots of bird activity. The robins have eaten all the winterberries, are now working on the hawthorn haws. It was 7 degrees out when I spotted these starlings bathing - they emptied the birdbath with their enthusiasm.

I follow the Garden Rant blog. While they don't stick to native plants, their postings frequently give me some good ideas. One of the recent postings mentioned that rattlesnake master seems to prefer it a bit damp, so maybe I'll reintroduce some near the rain garden.

I found two more squash bugs in the house this week, but both were already dead. What is the deal?!?

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Squash bugs

I have not grown anything from the squash family for years, but for some reason this winter squash beetles have invaded the house, one at a time. Unless it's the same beetle over and over again? I capture them and release them outside (except for the one that went down the garbage disposal), but then one shows up again. Now that we are heading for sub-freezing temperatures, maybe that will stop.

The snow I reported last week melted. Then we received some more, which also melted. But this bit of snow will stick around for a while, as things are going to be VERY cold for a while.

The wind reminds me of the winter of 1978, but without the avalanche of snow that formed drifts over six feet high. I was working at an "automated egg laying facility" at the time. Regardless of the weather, the chickens had to be cared for and the eggs processed. They sent manure trucks into town to pick us up, and we spent the night sleeping on the floor in the supervisor's house on the premises. The following winter promised to be nearly as bad, so I quit. There were more snowy winters after that, with resulting spring floods. We were living in the country by then; a creek that ran to the nearby river separated us from our neighbor. When her furnace went out, the repairman borrowed a canoe from us to reach her house. Fun times.

This weather has brought more bird activity in the backyard, including frustrated starlings who cannot get to the mealworms, thanks to the feeder design. There are plenty of other options for them, so no one is going to starve on my watch.

Sunday, January 07, 2024

White stuff

We are finally getting a little snow, emphasis on "little". It might not even stick around. But at least the ground feels frozen (less dirt for the dogs to track into the house), and it looks and feels like winter.

The seed catalogs are beginning to roll in, in ernest. I'll need some zinnia seeds, of course, but I am also contemplating growing a half dozen amaranth plants, for dyeing yarn. I can get both seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds., but they don't have milkweed plants, just seeds. I scatter seeds in the target area each fall, but so far, none have taken, so I'll get some plants elsewhere.

More birdfeeders are up, including a cylinder of "bark butter" - basically suet and peanut butter - and niger seed. I stocked up on millet from Wild Birds Unlimited, along with some ears of field corn for the squirrels, and a fresh suet block I have yet to hang up. The peanut splits remain the most popular offering to the birds, but I'm sure they will catch on to the rest soon, especially now that we have some snow.