Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bluebirds and Babies

I had a pair of bluebirds visit me!  While washing dishes at my kitchen sink, I tend to stare out the window into my back yard.  Imagine my surprise and delight when a pair of bluebirds landed on my deck rail.  I watched them with a huge smile on my face and then ran to get my camera.  The female is on the rail and the male is on our lantern.  Of course they flew off before I could switch to my zoom lens.  I have never seen bluebirds in my yard before.   Now I really want to get a bluebird nest box.   I would like to make one like this one in the following link.  It looks like it was made from a white birch branch.

Female Bluebird
Male Bluebird.... he was a little shy and wouldn't look at the camera.

The grow lights are getting fuller and we are still starting new seeds.  Here are some pics of the latest.

Cabbage and Onions
 Our light rack at the beginning of the month.  The cabbage and onions were moved out to the greenhouse later to harden off.  We plan to plant them tomorrow in the garden.
Light rack filled with herbs, tomatoes, peppers and flowers
Zinnias and Tomatoes
Lupine babies basking in the sunshine
 And now we head outdoors where the sun is shining and green is growing thanks to the almost 15 inches of rain and snow we have been blessed with this month.

Hardy Black Chicago fig cutting taken last summer
Garlic planted last fall sprouting in the garden

A Fishy pond story

I have two ponds and before you get excited and think I am great gardener with amazing abilities, I have to do some confessing to do.  I didn’t do a good job last year of keeping my water clear, ponds gunk free and de-leafed.   So this past winter, the sludgy pond water kept clogging my pumps and I finally gave up around December and let them freeze over.  I know… death sentence for the fish.  The fish need to have an open section of water to allow the gases that would otherwise build up under the ice to be released.  If they don’t the fish can “drown” or become poisoned.  So I was not surprised this spring to see my little front pond had a dead fish in it.  I was surprised that I still had a large school of fish in my big pond.  Yay… I can restock my little one from the big one.

So, on the first day it was to be above 50 degrees, I decided to clean out the little pond.  I can do that without having to actually get in it like the big one.  It is only 4’ by 3’ by 2.5 feet deep so I can lean in to get the water out with a bucket. It was predicted to rain later that day but I figured I would probably be wet anyway….

Ok, to keep this story shorter, as I am unable to tell short stories apparently, I shall just tell you the tally for the afternoon.... On the positive side:  one clean pond and sterilized pump, one live 3 inch goldfish that I didn't know had survived the winter, (oh joy!) 5 snails, and one miniature water lily that needs to be transplanted.  And on the dead, gross and mucky side: one bucket of smelly slimy leaves (man are they heavy!), grasses and sticks (yes I really did clean out the pond last fall, supposedly after all the leaves had fallen), one large bloated frog that popped when I scooped it up with the strainer, (ewww!) 2 huge caterpillars, which also um, deflated when touched, 6 white earthworms and the other fish who didn't make it. Oh, and lots of stinky smelly dirty green water. Of course I didn't get done before the rain but since I was already kinda wet..... I guess being soaked wasn't too bad.  It helped to wash off the punky fish smell.

So I refilled the pond in the rain, brought the remaining goldfish and his snail buddies into the garage for the night in a big bucket of pond water because it was going to freeze later while the city water off gassed the chlorine in the pond.  Fishy was swimming around fine when I put him back in the pond the next day with the snails.   Then a few hours later I went back to check on him…..  He apparently decided that he didn’t like his new clean pond and went on a walkabout.

Sigh; here is the nail in the coffin of the confirmation that I am a bad fishpond owner.  I didn’t have anyplace for him to hide in his new crystal clear pond.  I didn’t have the pump with the bell going to “hide” him from view because the stand I usually have it on broke over the winter and the pump wouldn’t stay upright.  My guess is that a bird of prey had a claw in helping my fishy take a walkabout.
Here is a picture of the scene of my crime.

Spring? What spring?

The month of March is generally associated with lions and lambs, but the weather this April, seemed to have given us a repeat of March this spring.  Oh wait, what spring?  This is a picture of snow still in our yard on during the first week of April.

 We were happy to finally see it go.  Only to have it snow again… repeatedly!

The middle of April had snow showers and nighttime temps that never came out of the twenties.  We were spoiled by last year’s early spring and had forgotten what a normal spring looks like… although I do have to say, spring is taking it’s lovely time getting here.  But it looks like it has come and here is the proof!