Monday, February 28, 2011

Farewell, Dear One

For Virginia

My bestest friend for a life time (literally since before we can remember we have been friends) called this morning to let me know that her mother had passed. We knew it was coming, but none-the-less the loss of a mother is just the saddest loss. My own mother has been gone 18 years, and I still miss her terribly. Now we say good-bye to our second mom. My friend is broken hearted. Her mother had a long, productive, healthy life, all 93 years. She rests now.  We will hold dear the wonderful memories, the kindnesses, the generosity, the wisdom.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fresh Eggs?

We've talked about adding chickens to the Garden Spot ever since we knew we were moving to an acreage. My husband's grandmother kept hens and so did my dad, so now we are going to follow in the family tradition. When we moved from the old house, we moved our garden shed too. It measures 8x12. Hubby added a wall, giving the hens a third of the shed, about 4x8. The other two thirds will be the garden/potting/tool shed. He has electricity to the shed now so that baby chicks can go to the hen house as soon as we get them. He has already purchased the tub he will use as a brooder and his heat lamb, and other supplies. So soon we will be ready for the chicks.

The house faces the vegetable garden. The chicken pen is a chain link dog run
with a cover that he bought on Craig's List. We have to secure it yet to keep predators
from digging in.
Today he installed the insulation. He has done a lot research; some insulate, so don't.
He is an over achiever, so he is insulating.

A Room With A View, too. Nesting boxes will go under the window.
Exit here.
It will, indeed, be interesting to have chickens. I have read many blogs of those who have chickens, and they thoroughly enjoy them and the fresh eggs, too. Especially the fresh eggs. Just tonight we were again discussing how many chicks to get. Eight seems to be a manageable number. The ranch store will have them in March.

Finally, we counted birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count. We had our usual numbers of avian visitors. We have discovered that we do have 2 male downy woodpeckers and 2 females. We counted a hundred red wing black birds that come to feed at the feeder of all ages from the mature males with the brilliant red and yellow bar on their wings, to young males still sporting their drab brown with a pale yellow bar on the wing, to the drab brown females. Our American gold finch population is growing. All summer I could hear them in the trees, but last winter they just didn't hit the thistle feeder. This count we were able to tally up 9, but I counted 11 last week-end. Well, it's been a busy week. No classes tomorrow, but I have grading. cheers. ann

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Great Backyard Bird Count: Feb. 18, 19, 20, and 21

Eating the homemade suet: female downy woodpecker, black capped chickadee, and a flicker. At the thistle feeder
a male house finch with an incoming female. Can't keep enough of either suet or thistle seed.

The Great Backyard Bird Count starts tomorrow. If you want to participate, visit the web site to get the details. Not only is it great fun, but backyard birders provide important research and information from the local counts. We will do our count Sunday. When we keep an eye out, we can be surprised at what we see. If you plan to be home over the week-end, get out your binos and start counting. At the end of the day, go the web site and enter your count.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let the Sun Flower

Once again One over at Onenezz has inspired tonight's post in response to her beautiful and inspirational post on her sunflower that she planted from seeds sent to her by another blogger as a give away. As we combat the winter doldrums, sub zero temps, foot upon foot of snow,  the dreariness of cold, grey winter days, and our near insane anxiety for spring to arrive, I decided to write about the sunflowers that have captured my heart over the years, trying to bring back the sunshine.

I named her Big Mamma, nothing more than a weed,
she came up volunteer, but had such a beautiful golden
glow about her, that I took dozens of pictures of her.

Here in Northern Colorado and, in fact, probably over much of the US, sunflowers grow wild; simply put, they are weeds. But look carefully as you curse the highways and you begin to see the old standard roadside varieties are beginning to take on new looks in size and color. As more and more farmers grow sunflowers to harvest for cooking oil, some of the roadside sunflowers are getting larger heads. Others are sporting bronze colors as gardeners plant plant exotic hybrids ranging from deep, dark browns to golden hot reds.

In August, our small town has a fall festival complete with all of the activities: a parade--mostly politicians, John Deere Tractors, cheerleaders, and fire trucks--, lawn mower races, church in the park, Sunday morning pancake breakfast at the fire station, free rides in the big fire trucks for the kids, and the arts fair where participants display everything from beautiful quilts to homemade jams and jellies, fresh baked pies to the ugliest vegetable in town to the loveliest petunia. On a whim and at the very last minute, I entered one of Big Mamma's flowers and a golden rod--about all I had our first summer here at the Garden Spot. So much to my surprise and total shock, I was amazed to see that Big Mamma had won a blue ribbon. OMG! When I returned later in the day to pick up my flower and my prize, 5 pound bag of sugar, I ran into the flower show judge. It was a hard decision, she told me, between the lily and the sunflower for grand champion. WOW. There is justice in the world, for it would not be right for a weed to win the grand champion. I took another bag of sugar home that day for Reserve Grand Champion for my husband's egg plant. The golden rod won a red ribbon, second place--no sugar, though.
This is my red sunflower. Don't have the name. Not a weed, but a commerial seed.

Big Mamma: Not Bad for a Weed

Combined with daisies and Russian Sage, the sunflowers were
perfect center pieces for our annual family picnic.

As I told One, I have a moratorium on weeding out sunflower sprouts, for we never know what they will grow into. Sometimes we have had an 8 foot tall sunflower sprout as a volunteer. They are fun to grow, they add color to the yard, and they provide so much for the local insects. They are, however, hosts for aphids, arch enemy to any gardener. Some gardeners will grow the giant heads to save the seeds, so you will see the seed heads covered with paper bags to keep the birds away from the ripening seeds. Here in the Garden Spot, it is all about the birds and bees, so all of the sunflowers invited or not provide a healthy banquet for the garden residents.

Let the countdown to spring continue.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I hope you all will bear with me; I am trying to create a new banner. I am using Picsa , so this is my prototype--my first attempt, but I am off to bed now.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Jackson and Perkins roses have been in the garden for at least 10-12 years. This year they have been spectacular. The bushes were taller and...