I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Bear, moose and owl...oh my! (and some gardening.)

May 26, 2024

 Look who ...Whoo whoo... landed in front of the "bird" trail camera..



And did a little dance....
That sturdy branch is a good spot for the owl to peruse the clearing for snacks. Elsewhere on the cameras....Momma moose and twins! They were busting along, startled by something, maybe by us, coming along the trail.....


And a bruin...

The date and time stamp on the last two pictures is obviously wrong. 

It has been a busy few days. The garden is mostly in and leaf mulch spread around the transplants right after a total of over two and a half inches of rain fell. One batch of moisture came in a torrential downpour, a little hail mixed in, with seemingly constant lightening and thunder. 

In the field garden....

In the foreground, four, four foot wide beds hold a double row of different varieties of spuds.  They took no time at all to pop up, as the soil was warm from the early heat we experienced this spring. The plan is to hill them mostly from the soil in the middle, thereby leaving a depression to put the hose in if things get too dry later in the season. Down the far side are 10 squash hills, the middle of each hill holding a couple of good shovels full of compost, and the top lightly depressed. In the middle of each one I've put a tall bamboo stake, so I'll know where to put the hose nozzle when/if watering is needed. The plan is to guide the vines off onto the grass on the far side. There are 5 tomato plants across the far end, still awaiting their mulch and supports. A bare patch in the middle is for a later planting of beans.

The raised beds are pretty much all planted, with spaces left for later plantings of carrots and greens. The bed in the foreground has a couple of rows of old bean seeds that obviously were still quite viable, and there is a row of gladioli along the side.

The pea barrels have been poking along, the willow cuttings actually trying to root, little sprouts emerging all along the stems. I keep pulling off all the sprouts, and several times have twisted and pulled the cuttings slightly, to discourage the rooting.                           

Quite a few packets of lettuce and other greens seeds are getting old, as I discovered after planting them in their planned space...and waiting and waiting...so I've planted them all out in marked rows wherever there was a bit of empty space in the raised beds, and we'll see what emerges. Next time to town, new seeds. Radishes and the overwintered spinach are keeping us in greens for now.

The bush is burgeoning with life, leaves are mostly fully out, and lady slipper orchids, star flowers and lots of other plants are blooming. The first Monarch butterfly floated across the clearing this morning, and the milkweed plants are up a good foot or so. Along the road in sunny spots, wild columbines are blooming.

All the moisture has encouraged Pheasant Back mushrooms to grow, and it seems I'm always too late for the young, tender ones.

In the fruit department, the apple trees have set fruit, choke cherry bushes are almost finished blooming, and blackberry canes are loaded with buds.

If we continue to get sufficient moisture, hopefully there will be some wild harvesting to be done.



Thursday, May 16, 2024

Yard visitors and bush wanderings.....

May 16, 2024

 This little guy came walking tentatively toward the pond one afternoon. A feisty small snapper. That is a quarter on his back for scale.

This hen turkey has been absolutely determined to find any leavings on the ground under the bird feeders. At the least movement or noise from inside the house, she runs off, her big turkey feet flipping up.

Marsh Marigolds are brightening up wetter areas along the roadsides...
I went a-wandering in a friend's deciduous bush, a little south of here. What beauties on the forest floor, and the serenading from the leafing-out branches above... So many warblers, thrushes, tanagers and an oriole....
A carpet of wild leeks and trilliums...
past their best, Dutchman's Breeches.
Yellow Bellwort,
Jack-in-the-pulpit..
downy yellow violets...

Foam flowers.... but look a little more closely...

A little foraging along the way...

A wonderful day roaming the woods. The blackflies and mosquitoes cooperated, and were tolerable.



Friday, May 10, 2024

Birds and Bloomers...

 May 10, 2024

A Bluebird pair has shown up in the clearing, and the Tree Swallows are not impressed. The female swallow is diligently collecting nesting materials, and flying them into the nest box...the male guards the territory. He took a swoop at the Bluebird who was sitting up on the clothesline pole..and the language..! 

Meanwhile, the male Purple Finch is trying to impress the ladies with his dancing prowess. He pops up a feathered crest on his head, spreads his wings and flutters them while dancing in place.



A meander around the bush trails this morning with Merlin, tells me that lots of warblers have made it north. It is pure magic to be able to put a name to the calls I'm hearing. Another thrill was to be up very early one morning, and actually get a flashlight beam on a pair of Whip-poor-wills who were sounding off right by the lilac bush. They have become a morning fixture. We are lucky to have that 'threatened' species here.

Off in the bush, large white blooms seem to float in mid-air...Hobble Bushes are blooming.

Trilliums, here and there and everywhere. There are mostly red ones around here,

and some large colour morphed red guys. Some have rounded petals,

and some have pointed petals.

We had to travel a little further afield to find some white trilliums. Here they are, drenched, on a rainy day earlier in the week.
The good inch of rain that fell has put my potato planting on hold for a bit, as the soil is just a little too wet to be walked on. Meanwhile, down in the Lady Slipper patch...
Buds are poking up above their sheathing leaves.

A lot of wild cherry and plum trees are blooming, their blossom laden branches seem to miraculously float unsupported here and there in the bush and along field edges, as other trees are not fully leafed out yet.

Temperatures have been very comfortable for outdoor endeavours, and the black flies don't become noticeable until the mornings warm up. It is so nice to actually have spring, and not go directly into hot, hot summer.

 



Saturday, May 4, 2024

Firsts.....

May 4, 2024

First harvests......


I was surprised to find the morel. I was taking a picture of an open Red Trillium, and oops...what is that in the background?? I didn't think we'd had consistently warm enough temperatures yet.

First rhubarb pie...what is left of it! Yummm.


Things are greening up, popping up, and opening up. We've had a couple of lovely rains and now the daytime temperatures are creeping up toward the low 20's C (68F) The apple tree buds are expanding just enough to see that there are lots of blossom clumps, the old crab apple tree will be dressed in bridal white this year, and my baby plum trees have quite a few swelling white buds! 


Tomato and pepper seedlings are being hardened off. Yesterday I remembered to check on the dahlia roots that have been residing in a pail of sieved compost over winter. There are lovely shoots starting on the tubers, so they are potted up and outside, and will be brought in nightly. The perennials that were earlier transplanted are all showing signs of life. Lilacs buds are busting out..
Green things are starting to poke up everywhere in the bush, and the blackflies are out. I think of them as bird food...for the myriad species of birds which are now serenading every day. A lot of winter migrants are back, not all, but lots. The Merlin app flashes up bird after bird, especially in the mornings. 

Earlier this week, I actually got a shot of one of the migrating flocks of northern geese which are going over. The wind was at their tails, and they sailed quickly across our expanse of sky.


A couple of Canada Geese, (or maybe different pairs each time) have been persistent in their visits to the green, green grass in the yard. We've had to shoo them protesting loudly on their way, several times.
The Tree Swallows are setting up housekeeping...many trips, beak full of nesting material, into the nest box. Other usurpers keep showing up, and I often hear loud chittering as they chase them away. The first Hummingbird zoomed in yesterday morning. We were expecting him, so had fresh nectar waiting. 

Garden beds are being marked out for future residents, some greens, beets and onion sets are planted. The field garden just needs to dry out a little more, and the spuds can go in.  Spring is definitely here now!





Sunday, April 28, 2024

Birds, birds, birds....


 April 28, 2024

Thunderstorms last night, warm southerly breezes today, and with them, the migrants from the south are wafting in. A Brown Thrasher entertained us early this morning with his amazing repertoire. I heard a nattering Bluebird before Merlin confirmed it. Both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets are here, as well as Winter Wrens. Our little patch of green in the bush seems to attract birds because we have good "edge habitat". Yesterday, a small flock of White-throated Sparrows arrived and have been fossicking around in and under the tray feeder. They have such precise colouring, and some say the song they are singing is "Dear old Canada, Canada, Canada". Their song holds many memories for me, being one of the first bird songs I learned long ago.

The roving ball tied on the tree is getting quite tufty, but we don't seem to be getting any shots of the action at all. We think the main users are Robins and Chickadees.


Perhaps this Red-breasted Nuthatch also took a tuft or two. 


 I have moved the ball a bit, and hope to get some different pictures, and perhaps see who is pulling out the roving. 

We ambled around the trails this morning to pick up the SD cards from the trail cameras. Still lots of deer showing up, some does with quite visible pregnant bellies.  On our trek around, the Merlin app identified Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Blue-headed Vireo.  The bush is still relatively quiet, but expect that to change soon.

The new herb bed frame is in, levelled and back filled. I sprinkled white clover seeds around the edges. Speaking of edges, the first dandelion blooms are popping out in sheltered, south-facing places.

 

A sure sign that temperatures are warming. 

I have broccoli and cabbage plants sprouting in cell packs which are sunk into the soil in the old cold frame in front of my garden shed. They are growing with the lid up, but there is no sign of pea shoots in the barrels yet. This spring it is time to get serious about the new cold frame which was completed late last summer. It needs to be filled with soil, and I am trying to figure out ways to make it easier to access. I have a solution in mind. It involves more digging and placing something that will insulate, but be easily moved, at the front. Meanwhile, I wandered down to have a look.....Perhaps you can just see that something is pushing up against the glass....

 

Same stuff...outside the frame... I think it is Poor Man's Pepperweed.


So...guess it will work!




Sunday, April 21, 2024

Birds, plants, hiking and digging...

 April 21, 2024

 It has been a week of cool temperatures, a few sunny days, and a lot of wind. There has also been rain, and a few gusting snow flurries coming suddenly out of nowhere, between sunny breaks in the clouds. A few of the flurries came down as bouncing pellets, not quite hail, but hard enough to be heard pattering on the roof. All of it melted on contact.

The new herb bed framing is in, levelled, soil chinked in around the perimeter, and white clover seed pressed into the edges.


The new planks are thicker and wider, and made of hemlock, so here's hoping they last longer. Because the planks were wider, I had to dig out the edges more to set them in because I want to keep my 4 X 16 inside measurements. I am always amazed at what I dig out from the 'undisturbed' soil. I wonder at the habits of those who came before, because there is always stuff. I've found square nails, bits of glass and crockery, and even once, the leather upper of a boot!
Did they just throw stuff wherever?? 

This brown Javex jug was found intact, behind a stone fence, the sun glinted off a bit of it sticking out of the forest litter and drew our attention.


The pond is up, beautifully full, and yesterday a Belted Kingfisher flew a chattering pass over it.

Early in the week, the Tree Swallows returned. There was suddenly a lot of chittering around me, and looking up, there were 5 swallows zipping around the clearing, and arguing over the nest box. A pair appeared to win the rights, and they have been perching on the clothesline poles and above the nest box daily. Nest building has not started yet.


Last weekend we took a hike just inside the Algonquin Park boundary to a place where Trailing Arbutus grows. It is an early spring bloomer with an amazing fragrance. The leaves are evergreen, and the waxen flowers are white, and pale pink.

Closer to home, in some disturbed soil, wee Drabna is blooming. A tiny, tiny plant that one could very easily overlook.
Crinkly, dark green rhubarb leaves are unfurling, and soon there may be enough stalks for a small harvest. The earliest tree to leaf out is the crab apple tree, and this year is it's bi-yearly bloom year. The buds are open just enough to make out the tiny, tight bud clusters.