Sunday, October 16, 2011

Garden Keeps Getting Larger

Dexter the horrible donkey is helping to thin out one of the gardens.

One Cleome flower actually survived for weeks inside Dexter's fence.

Great cover for the wildlife.

Starting a new compost pile. Took wheelbarrow loads out for early summer mulching.

As of October 15th, 2011 a cold day, with rain so much in the past week. I still had Monarchs around. They should have tried to get going South a bit earlier. Their migration takes 2 months to go about 2500 miles to Mexico. If they linger too long they won't be able to make the journey, because they are unable to fly in cold weather. They over winter in the Oyamel fir forests which are in the mountains of Mexico. Scientists are baffled how they know this route of their ancestors.

Our 20 year old Persian cat, "Mama" Kitty died April 13, 2011 and I had to end up burying her myself under this Serviceberry tree. She was a wonderful cat but never wanted to be outside. Her only fault was she wasn't a hunter. Thinking her cat food down in the basement was being eaten daily by our big dog, I kept refilling her bowl which was located 2 feet from an opening under my basement stairs that was filled with clutter. One night I noticed a "mouse" peeking out from under my dryer, well it was no mouse. It was a rat. Here there was a huge family of rats living under the steps, only had to sneak out a few feet and eat tons of cat food daily. They left no droppings anywhere in the utility room, so I had no idea they were there. Well they had to be disposed of, they can cause a health risk, so sad to kill things.

Dense is better. Bunnies can hide from hawks.

I just can't keep these Maximillian Sunflowers tied up. They are a perennial and grow at least 10-15 feet high. I have to figure out what to do with them. Hardy and a late bloomer, but too high.

I bought this pink grass in June and by September it was over 10 feet tall.

Planted the grass in the middle of June, this picture was taken in July 2011.

Now here is the tall grass which is almost 12 feet high by September.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Praying Mantis

This Praying Mantis just stayed put while I was able to take some shots. They will devour any insects that come their way, including beneficial insects. They are well camouflaged with sight up to 60 feet, they will lie in wait for their prey. Their heads can swivel 180 degrees. They are prey to birds and since they fly at night, the bats are also their predator. The adult female will eat her mate after mating. An intriguing species.


There are about 20 frogs in this little pond all sizes. Since it is so overgrown now they have good cover. I had tried to catch a small garter snake in the pond but he was able to hide under all the plants. I just don't want the snakes eating my little frogs.

A Tree Frog on my door one night.

This is just part of the large wall of rocks my son Bill hauled for me for a future larger pond.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Baby Bluebird That Couldn't Fly

As I was walking back to the house at almost dark I saw this baby hopping around the base of a tree which was near the mealworm feeder. Thank goodness I watched him more and then realized he couldn't fly. He was from the 5 babies that fledged on August 27th. I saw most of the family hovering around waiting for mealworms everyday, but never saw them all together since the babies were usually up in the trees. Oh what a panic, it was late and had to rescue him because of not only a stray cat that had been showing up, but other predators could have gotten him. Placed him in a tub, fed him some mealworms and then called the greatest person in the world...........Mary Jane. She has a wildlife rehabilitation center which is almost an hour from my house. Rushed this baby there the next day after work. I hope he will be able to fly, so I can go and retrieve him and place him back here with his family.

The Skyes Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is located in Western Pennsylvania, which does not receive any State or Federal aid, only donations from people who of course love wildlife. Weekly dozens of injured wildlife are brought to this center. I try to give as much as I can. It just breaks your heart to see these injured animals. Mary Jane is so wonderful to work around the clock caring for them. The site is:

The parents of this baby had a very bad time nesting this year. First they had their nest already built in the regular bluebird box and a male house sparrow fought with them all day long, he wanted the box, after of course they built the nest inside. If there were eggs or babies in the box, and the parents couldn't fight off the house sparrow, he would kill and toss out the eggs and babies.

Finally the pair went to a bird house which is not a bluebird house, which I have to fix now from predators. The babies were growing and being fed by the parents, and the most horrific thing happened.....a raccoon came and ate the babies. From there the parents went to my neighbors bluebird box which I purchased for them last year. Five eggs were laid and I when I monitored the box, the day the babies hatched I was able to calculate when they would fledge. And they did, exactly the day I guessed, August 27th.

This little bird needs lots of prayers. With the invasion of HOUSE SPARROWS aka English Sparrows and losing their natural habitat to build nests, the bluebirds need human help to keep reproducing so we can not only enjoy them, but they also are wonderful for insect control, not house sparrows.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hot Pepper Spray

Tent Worms on Hydrangea Paniculata

Many of the trees were affected this year by the Tent worms/caterpillars. I don't use any type of chemicals outside so I hand picked some of these worms, then placed them in soapy water and used a hot pepper spray also. Birds have no taste so this wouldn't harm them. I find it difficult to understand that they have no taste when it comes to the favorite seeds some of them prefer. 

Caribbean Red Habanero

I have some varieties of hot peppers which I planted for my son-in-law. Happy to find out they will serve greatly in making the spray. A Scoville Heat Index can be found on the internet which is a measurement of the hotness of peppers. These Habanero's have a heat unit of 445,000, ferociously hot! Compared to the Jalapeno at 5,000; the Cayenne pepper at 60,000 and the hot banana at 500. I put these peppers in the blender, and then strained them through a coffee filter, added water also in the spray bottle. You can also add a little dish soap to help the liquid to stick on the leaves. I did notice the worms did curl up and die, but had to really douse the leaves.

Tiny Tree Frog

This little Tree Frog was barely a half inch wide sitting on the ornamental grass. I sure hope the hot pepper spray didn't affect him. But better he would get a hot mouth instead of chemicals on my plants. The chemicals are destroying not only the wildlife but the human race.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tree Swallow

This is the father Tree Swallow who perched on a dead Castor Bean stalk in May keeping watch over the mother and her babies located about 50 feet away in a Bluebird house attached to the back on my shed. It states that the male will stay faithfully the whole time at a distance of 50 feet. It was so true. I could get about 3 feet from him, forgetting he was there until he chirped a soft murmur sound. These swallows are the first to return in the Spring. The male will arrive about a week before the female. They are cavity nesting birds and will use woodpecker holes or houses. They will use Bluebird houses which can be placed close by to nesting Bluebirds. But of course they can be prey by the House Sparrow which could kill their babies. Luckily all of the babies survived. I had 7 babies that when they fledged, all came out and perched atop my tomato stakes. It was such a site........of course I never have my camera with me.

They are described as glossy metallic Iridescent blue-green color on their backs, with a forked tail. One of my favorite birds, which catch their prey in the air, they only eat the flying insects and will eat berries when those are not available. In long periods of rain the flying insects are scarce and they can actually starve. After their nest is built they line it will large feathers, it almost looks like the eggs and babies are nestled in a cocoon. The eggs are white and sometimes have a pinkish color to them, they lay 4 to 7 eggs. Of course I forgot to take a picture when I cleaned out their house. I was amazed at the large white feathers, they must have traveled a distance to get those, the only chickens and ducks are quite a distance down the road.

I enjoyed the flock of these birds all Summer while they flew and dived around catching the bugs. I think they have already headed South. They usually migrate in early Fall. Can't wait until they return.