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

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.


Sunday, April 14, 2024

Bush flora and fauna....and barrels 'o peas.....

April 14, 2024

The snow melted, the rain came...is still coming....Thankfully. The bush is now full of the vernal pools that were missing this spring. The pond has come up beautifully, the grass is greening, and when the sun comes out again....things will be bustin' out all over!

The heavy snow has broken down a lot of trees in the bush, and some have just keeled over from all the moisture softening the soil. Hubby has done a round or two of the trails, with ATV and chainsaw, and today we pulled off a few more smaller trees that have succumbed since then. 

The red squirrels have had a prosperous winter with lots of white pine seeds to eat. The stripped cones are lying in piles under trees, beside rocks, wherever the little rodent sat to eat.

The resident Pileated Woodpeckers certainly have lots of options with all the dead and dying beech trees. Apparently something edible was still in this stump after this broken tree was cut down.

More blooming things in the bush...
                                 Eastern Leatherwood

                                           Red Maple

And on the trail cameras....

A moose ambling by. It has a bald spot on its withers where it has probably been rubbing against trees to dislodge it's tick load.

(Disregard the date and time stamp.) This mild winter was probably a bad one for moose ticks.
On the gardening front, I have baby tomato and pepper plants just emerging, under lights, and there is some life starting to show up in my winter sowing jugs outside. Mustard, kale and oregano are poking up tiny sprigs of green. I've since prepped a few more containers and set them out with marigolds and several varieties of lettuce.

Perennials have been moved from the nursery bed in the end of the Field Garden, into the new bed out front, and I shovelled lumps of the remaining snow around them for slow-release moisture. It has been raining for several days since, so my timing was good. By no means is it a finished project yet.

The herb bed has had the rotten edging removed, and the new hemlock planks are being readied for insertion.
This is the first bed we made when we moved here in June of 2017. I was dismayed when I encountered this behemoth right in the middle, which refused to budge.

A couple of years later, I decided to dedicate this bed to herbs. To make the soil deep enough for planting, we cut an old water barrel into sections, and I positioned one right on the rock and filled it up with soil. I made the mistake of planting mint in it, but the rock did help stop the spread. We rolled the mint barrel out, put it on an old aluminum toboggan and pulled it to a spot over near the compost bins with the ATV. I'm sure it will be happy and thrive there! The other piece of water barrel in the foreground has oregano plants in it. The rock is marked on my garden plans every year, and again will be a place to plant very shallow rooted stuff.

A few days before the rain started, I dumped the soil out of these two barrels onto a tarp, revitalized it with some moisture control soil and a good pail of my sieved compost from last spring.

This morning, in the rain, I donned rubbers, waded out along the edge of the overfull pond, cut willow sprigs for uprights, then wove and tied a few more around for supports. A not too tall variety of pea is planted around the circumference. When the rain stops, I plan on putting just a few lettuce seeds in the middle.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

What a difference a few days make....

 April 9, 2024

This trail camera picture was taken on March 27, of a few deer milling around the salt block.

On April 4....same camera....

A few birds have landed on the branch where we put a trail camera to capture them pulling roving out of the ball for nesting. The ball is a little tufty, so some birds have been at it, but there are no pictures of them.

A Blue Jay with a corn kernel in its beak...

A Chickadee....

Hairy Woodpecker....

And a Robin....

Then the branch after the snow fall...

That snow is all melted now, the surface of the pond has risen a good bit, and the last few days have been the warmest of the year so far. Tree buds are swelling, snowdrops and crocuses are blooming, and there is a definite green tinge on the lawn.

On recent walks, I have heard and seen a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers who appear to be sticking around this area. Birds are filtering in from the south. Song Sparrows are setting up territories around the clearing, Dark Eyed Juncos have been here for a while but are now doing a lot of singing. The Eastern Phoebes are here, having arrived before the snow, and one has chosen the barn for a nest site, sitting up on the peak and calling consistently. Merlin is telling me that a Golden-crowned Kinglet is hanging out behind the garden shed. It is wonderful to put names to all the calls we are hearing, some I've always known, but others are frustrating me no longer!

As far as the eclipse went, Monday morning was clear and beautiful, but clouds rolled in by event time, and we only caught glimpses of the sun whenever the clouds thinned. It was cooler and sort of dim for a bit. 

Serious gardening has started...I've moved some perennials to the new bed, and the herb bed is being readied for it's new framing. Expecting one of my favourite signs of spring very soon....frog song!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

This morning.....

 April 4, 2024

Well...I wanted moisture! And it is early in April....

The rain changed to snow mid-afternoon yesterday, and snow is still coming down, but lightly. The thermometer is holding just around the freezing mark. Looks like just short of 5 inches on the picnic table.

The wind is getting up. Already there are branches, and I'm sure, trees down. Mother Nature is doing her spring pruning. Thankfully we don't have to go anywhere, although someone obviously felt the need!

This will bring the water level up!

And just a reminder that it will all melt away, and soon....
Took this one of a Wintergreen plant on the weekend....

The forecast has double digits (in the 50's F) starting on Sunday...and sunshine!! Things will really begin to POP then!