Monday, May 23, 2016

More Bird

We had so much fun last week watching the orioles and western tanagers coming and going into the garden. They put on quite a show as they sparred for the best perch at the feeders. Their favorites were the grape jelly and the commercial suets cakes. They had some completion for the feed, the backyard bullies and pigs: grackles and starlings that devoured the suets cakes as soon as they were put out. I did catch a robin sneaking jelly, apparently a treat for this one with a sweet tooth--beak?

We decided that we had 5 mature male Bullock's orioles and couple of immature males along with females. The females were hard to count because they look so much like the tanager females, a drab olive.

We decided, too, that there 4 mature male tanagers coming to the suet cakes. Once we started looking for them, we saw them all over the yard high in treetops, in low pine branches, and even in the not much used bird bath in the front center circle.

I took these shots with the Canon Rebel using the the 75-300 mm telephoto from inside the house thus the  blurry edges.

He had a great time.

If you look closely, you will see the water splashing. 

The Tanagers are so beautiful with their bright yellow plumage and red heads. They are hard to miss in the garden once you see them. They are gentle and quiet, and wait their turn patiently at the suet.

I took so many photos; some great, some not so good--a lot. I began to think that I needed a bigger, better telephoto lens and began a Google search for the next size up.

I discovered two things: the next size lens is thousands of dollars. Out of my league. And one expert convinced me that the lens I have is the best size to use along with advise to just get closer to the birds. Yeah. I guess. 

So is this close enough? I was snapping photos left and right one after another standing on the patio so close to the tree. To my surprise the bird flew from the feeder to the window ledge. I was left wondering just what he was thinking as he looked in the bedroom window.

Meanwhile back at the grape jelly, the Bullock's Oriole indulged his own sweet tooth.

The Garden Spot is coming alive after all of the rain and the cold. The first bearded iris has bloomed: Edith Wolford.

At her feet grows the new clematis that I planted last year to grow up the fence of the chicken pen. I started to weave it's stems in the fence only to have a hen quickly begin to take bites. I changed my mind.

Here is a very late bloomer. The Head Gardener found some stray bulbs in the barn and stuck them in the ground late last winter. There are two of these gorgeous daffodils, one at each end of the hen pens. They are buttery yellow with very large blooms. A happy surprise. 

Tool of the Week:

I have seen the bulb diggers thing-a-ma-bobs that I thought would make planting easier. They are actually used to make the deep holes the spring bulbs require. Does anyone else use these diggers? 

The HG planted the tomatoes, cabbages, broccoli, and peppers today, along with his favorite little marigolds, while I used this digger to make holes for 44 gladiola bulbs. Used in the soil that has been tilled and worked, the digger works great. It sinks down easily and leaves a nice plug of soil to back fill the hole, covering the bulb.

However in other parts of the garden where the soil is heavy clay and not tilled, it isn't so handy.

 I am excited to see two rows of glads by the end of the summer. They will be a favorite.

The potatoes are doing nicely, along with the onions and peas planted the middle of March. We now have the seed vegetables to plant: red beets, carrots, and a variety of squash. Tomorrow.

I had to take this shot with the iPhone. The pastures are green with tall hay growing quickly with all of the rain that we had. I enjoy watching the neighbors' horses graze. 

Out front the clematis is in full bloom. I didn't get it cut back this spring, so it has a rather odd shape, but it blooms.

I do think it needs some fertilized. I've heard that brick tends to leach iron out of plant material planted next to it. Have you heard that?

The center circle in front thrives. This is the hollyhock we dug out last year. Oops. Didn't get it all. Now it is bigger than ever. I may just leave it. But the chamomile will get pulled out tomorrow for it is crowding out some perennials that are not getting the sunshine that they need. 

Plant Challenge: What is this?

I am not sure if Heather gave me this plant or if it just found its own way in to the back garden. Last year it bloomed for the first time with one spike. This year it has divided and bloomed even more beautifully. Now I would like to know what it is.

I have forgotten what this plant is, already, but isn't is spectacular this year?

If I think long enough, I might remember what this is, too. It is planted next to the patio in the raised succulent bed. I love it. I also have some planted in the front courtyard with next to the water garden.

May has been a very good month for spring blooms.

And the fairies have returned. They always seen show up when the little girls are here. Lucy spent the night with me last weekend, and after she left I found this offering. 

We have more to do this week. More planting. More weeding. Just more of everything garden. What will you be doing in the garden? 

Thanks for visiting. I always enjoy your comments. I'll be around to visit you, too.  Have a good week.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Rare Bird

April's transition to May occurred seamlessly with more cold, wet, rainy weather, while the spring blooms carried on. With the daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and flowering trees fading, the lilacs began to dazzle, scenting the air with their intoxicating perfumes, but they, too, are winding down. What a shame it is that these beautiful spring flowers don't last forever. But May offers her own exciting fare.  The bearded irises are beginning to show buds, with the dwarfs already blooming. The peonies are still weeks away; hopefully by Memorial Day.

Here at the Garden Spot, we have a variety of lilacs. They make a nice backdrop for the water feature, along with the pagoda.

We have had so much rain that that lawn and pasture are green and healthy, including a bumper crop of dandelions. They have already gone to seed. The Head Gardener sprayed the pasture this week, hoping to mitigate the hefty crop of the weeds. I am sure that the neighbors trying to keep their yards dandelion free don't appreciate our pasture full. While the yellows do make for a scenic view, the weeds soak up a lot of water. We rely on the grass to supplement the horses' diet.  This week, he'll use the weed whacker to trim the edges. There is a lot to whack.

Can't wait for these peonies to bloom. The HG found the supports for them this year so that hopefully they stand strong and pretty instead of flopping all over the garden. We will see. 

Birds fascinate me. I love watching them. I was hoping to get a stunning photo of this handsome lad with the lilacs in the background. He actually is a proud papa standing watch as momma sets on her nest in the tall Blue Spruce behind the honey locust.

I am sure that I have shared this little clump of dwarf iris each year. They are a favorite and an heirloom. They have survived transplant from great grandma's garden, to our first house early in our marriage, to our next home, and finally to the Garden Spot. 

Unfortunately they don't last long.

A while back--a few years ago--we planted giant globe alums in the front circle. Their blooms are nearly the size of soccer balls. I always leave the heads on after the flowers have faded because they are so unusual looking with their star shaped, wheat colored skeletons accented black seeds. The grand kids love playing in the center garden and as kids do, they pick things. And shake things. And fly with things. And do all kinds of things with things. 

Thus I have hundreds of alums growing in the center circle. Not only are they growing, but some are mature enough to bloom. I cannot wait to see how many of them do bloom and how big the blooms are. 

This one found it's place in the courtyard right next to the sidewalk and bloomed last year. 

Speaking of birds. The HG first spotted this fellow in the pine tree near the swing set. I tried to get a good photo of him, but he was too far away and hidden in the tree.

While I was watching this fellow from the patio, the HG went inside to check the bird book to see just who he is.

Meanwhile, he was getting rather brazen, approaching the water garden It's hard to say if this was his first visit to the pond or not; he seemed to know where he was going and what he wanted.

I took dozens of photos of him from the patio as he stalked the goldfish in the pond. He was even successful.

A tasty morsel.

As it turns out this is a green heron, rare for our area. They will be found in eastern Colorado where they nest, but this would be considered a rare sighting. When I contacted the Ft. Collins Audubon Society, I was cautioned not to be too specific with the location of this sighting when I posted the sighting on their Face Book page, for obvious reasons. You won't tell, will you? 

This photo was taken May 9 and he is still hanging around. We have an algae bloom in the pond right now, so I don't know just how many fish I have lost. The koi thankfully are too big for him.  As I told the HG, we have had a water garden for years and never lost any fish to the fish eating birds. Our friends have had such problems with the blue herons that they have given up their water gardens. But we have been lucky. And now we end up a rare bird making his home here. Lucky, aren't we?

More welcome visitors to the Garden Sport are the orioles. We have 3 males coming regularly now and one female that we have seen. There is an oriole nest in the neighbors' cotton wood from last year, so they will nest and we will see them all summer. We put out grape jelly for them. The robins have learned to eat jelly, too. We will be going through a lot of jelly this summer, I think.

Yellow headed black bird. There were several makes in this cattail marsh keeping guard as their hens nest. I could have sat there all afternoon listening to them. What a variety of sounds they make. 

We like to take the country route home when we dive to Ft. Collins. I took my camera with me so we stopped by some farm ponds to watch the birds. 

Ducks are fun to watch, too. On this pond there are several varieties.

This cinnamon teal was fun to watch, along with his hen. 

And the red winged black bird

On another lake we found a fresh water pelican. Yes, we have pelicans in Northern Colorado. They are actually quite abundant on a good many lakes and ponds.

This lake also has a large variety of water fowl, including these western grebes, another bird that makes a variety of sounds.

The sun just hasn't been hanging around much lately. Our skies are more likely to look this one, with storms thundering in and out. While we tend to complain, the truth is the rain nourishes the land, feeds the plants, and makes everything grow green and pretty, so while I am eager for sunshine and warmth, I'll not take the rain for granted, for once summer arrives we may get very little rain.

This week, hopefully, we can get the vegetable garden planted and get some pots planted. What garden plans do you have? 

While Judith spends time tending her beautiful garden rather than Mosaic Monday, I am linking with Eileen's Viewing Nature Saturday's Critter's. I hope you will join me.  (There will be plenty of time for mosaics later.)

We have lots of work to do. I may talk hubby into a trip to Bath Garden center after church. (He's easy). Enjoy your week.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Little Housekeeping

I have been working on cleaning up my blog reading list, which is proving to be a challenge. Oh, I am able to navigate the technology of the process, but it is a bit tedious posting. I am deleting from my list those have not had any activity in a year. I ponder each one a bit before I hit "remove," remembering what I enjoyed about that particular blog.

Two make me really sad to say "Good-Bye" to. Animal Instinct kept by Janis was a wonderful adventure in rural life in Vermont. I never really knew if Janis was a man or a woman, but simply an older blogger who tended a small herd of cattle on a small average. The blogger loved the cattle. One particularly devastating blog was a story of the terrible snow storm that collapsed the cattle shelter roof, injuring new born calves. I cried as I read how the blogger worked to save the injured calf. The last post was about digging turnips. I have worried about what happened to Janis.

The second blog that I so enjoyed (and have already forgotten the title) came from rural area in Brittany, France. This blogger wrote mostly about her critters: chickens, rabbits, ducks, and her garden and her family. She also wrote a lot about her health, which wasn't always very good. She had a gastric bypass and lost a lot of weight, but her health problems continued and her sudden halt in posting worried me.

But I had to let go of several of my old dormant favorites to make room for the new friends that I have made through Mosaic Monday. I have been sloppy in adding new blogs to my reading list on the home page so that I can keep up with everyone. I am still working on cleaning up my reading list and adding more to keep up with. If yours isn't listed, please let me know so that I can add it to my list.

The housekeeping has extended to the abode as well with the flooring now installed. Not only did we have to move back all of the furniture, but everything needed dusting.

We are so pleased with it. No tripping hazard in the kitchen now. I probably mentioned that instead of hard word flooring, we installed a vinyl planking that is virtually indestructible. With all of the outside traffic, a large, active dog, and general wear and tear, we knew that hard wood just wouldn't hold up. 

I still have some redecorating to do like new curtains and probably slipcovers for the sofa and my chair, along with area rugs.

Home construction is never fun with all of the inconvenience of moving out all of the furniture and then having to put it back in place. The worst part of the project was the removal of the tile flooring in the entry way and the bar area in the living room. The removal was loud and dusty. I spent most of the day outside.

While Javier banged and clanged away in the house removing tile,  Dr. Larry came to tend to Pop. Pop didn't winter very well and is very thin. While he is 27 now, he shouldn't be so thin, so after consulting with two veterinarians, we have begun a regiment to try to get some weight back on him. 

He is on a medication for an auto immune disease, Cushions Disease that causes a multitude of ailments, including not shedding out his winter coat. As a result, he is shaggy and bony and looks awful. He also needed some dental work. Here, Dr. Larry is floating his teeth. Horses' teeth continue to grow as they age, causing chewing problems when the teeth prevent the jaws from making proper contact while chewing. So the horse, then, can't properly chew food and loses weight. At some point the teeth have to floated or filed off. The vet gave Pop a strong sedative, but only enough to make him drowsy and docile and to not knock him down. The Head Gardener did have to hold his head up so that the vet to work on Pop's teeth. Pop was very good through the entire process. He no doubt had a sore mouth when he woke up, but hopefully he is chewing better.

Little Helper

Heather and the boys came for the weekend. I fixed a big breakfast Saturday morning. Nathan always wants to help flip pancakes. This morning's lesson including a lecture on how to pour pancake batter.

"It's all in the wrist, Nathan." While I did click away on the iPhone camera, I won't take up your time showing you all of his flipping flops, only his success. He got very good at lifting the edge just a enough to see if the pancake was ready to turn. The more he flipped, the less he flopped.

Starting mid-week, a Big Secret began to float around. I was invited to Jen's house at 2:00 PM Saturday afternoon. And when I arrived, I was greeted by these 3 lovely young ladies and a beautifully set table for a Mother's Day Afternoon Tea. Ellie (9) is learning how to cook, so she served her favorite mini pizzas with heart-shaped crust. I was very impressed. 

There were other goodies: kiwi with raspberry by Lucy (7) and crackers topped with a wonderful Wisconsin blue cheese, (mom) a spinach leaf and a half a grape tomato--so good. But what made the day so special was that everyone was there to celebrate not just Mother's Day, but being together.

But the best was yet to be served: these delicious (and I mean delicious) meringues topped with whipped cream and berries. I had two. Couldn't help it. The girls worked so hard with the help of their mother. Even the boys, Jacob and the HG, enjoyed afternoon tea.

I am not one to need or even want attention, let alone gifts. A pretty card for Mother's Day or a birthday is always plenty. But Jen and the girls spoiled me with this beautiful African violet and

And a Royal Albert Beatrix Potter Mrs. Bunny with Babies. 

Heather, too, knows the way to her mother's heart. She ordered this comparative coin from England's Royal Mint to commemorate Potter's 150th birthday.

The best part of Mother's Day simply was having my family all together. With Heather and her family living in Denver, while not a great distance, our lives are busy and we don't get together as often as we should. So thank you to my sweet daughters and their children for their kindness and love.

Well, I have have almost written a post without mentioning how crummy Spring has been. 

Outside the lawn sparkles as the early morning sun begins to warm the grass heavy with dew. But don't let the sun fool you, for it has been very cold and rainy this week. 

Yes, this photo was taken this morning, 9 May 2016 with the gas logs burning to take the chill off. Boone's favorite place when he has a chill. Note the fuzzy blanket. He does not like lying on the new bare floor.

My hope for tomorrow is to get out into the yard. We had a very wet weekend, but today was sunny, so hopefully the ground will be dry enough to get some planting done.

 Here the rule of thumb for planting is to wait until after Mother's Day to avoid frost, so we should be safe to get tomatoes planted and maybe some pretty pots.

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day. Thanks so much for stopping by. I'll be visiting, soon, too.