Hummer Feeder Mystery

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Drained dry!  No bee guards!

We had a recent theft in Maine.  I awoke to find that some creature had raided the hummer feeders, draining them and removing every bee guard.  Nothing like this has ever happened during our 38 years of feeding the hummingbirds at this location.  The typical scenario is that we arrive and one of my first tasks is to fill the feeders and put them out.  The hummers (who must see the car) arrive within 20 minutes of my putting out the feeders and the feeders are in constant use for the duration of our stay.

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Damaged bee guards

I noticed the drained feeders and missing bee guards quite soon after I woke up at 4:30 a.m. so I think it was a night time marauder but it is possible that the damage happened just as it got light.  We managed to find six of the eight bee guards, two of which had tooth marks.  The culprit also bit holes in a bag of fertilizer I had left on the deck and the teeth marks were an inch apart, probably ruling out the one I thought to be the likely perpetrator; a red squirrel. I suppose it could be a fisher, porcupine or  raccoon with a sweet tooth, but all of those are quite large and getting to the feeders might be difficult without waking us up.  I refilled them and put them out (I have extra bee guards) and I took them in at night.  Maybe I’ll get a game camera and set it up. We’ll see what happens next time we are in Maine.  Grrrr!

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Garden Update

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Just seeing the profusion of happy garlic scape curlicues makes me smile!

It’s been a busy spring with much to sidetrack my writing including a 10 day stay in the hospital (Takotsubo’s Cardiomyopathy, look it up, it’s sort of interesting).  I’ve recovered for the most part and am back to gardening with my husband’s help.

First the peas!  They bore early and heavily so the experiment was a success.  They are finishing up now as the weather is warming, but we enjoyed several nice stirfrys and some lovely pasta primaveras.  I don’t think I would have had anywhere near this success if I had waited until the weather settled because the inevitable heat of late spring always brings them to a screeching halt.

Next, garlic scapes.  They have reached the height of their exuberance so I snapped them off yesterday and made garlic scape pesto.  Susan W., if you see this, the scapes from the garlic you gave me last summer had double curls, similar to the heirloom variety called Unadilla Double Coil that I got from a farmer in Poughkeepsie, New York.  I wonder if they could be related.  Such a lovely fresh taste, I can’t wait to see how they are as keepers.

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This is a scape from Susan’s garlic!

Lastly, I think I have improved on my strategy to keep my eggplant safe from the dreaded flea beetles.  A few years ago I began covering them with a floating row cover until the flea beetles had completed their life cycle, mid July here, just as the plants are beginning to flower.  The problem with this was that I had to open the cover to water and check their progress.  I recently visited northern Vermont and brought my head net in anticipation of black flies.  In looking over the head net, I got the idea that the fine mesh would make a good substitute for the floating row cover.  An internet search turned up “Noseeum” mesh in 72″ widths, available by the yard.  It is a very promising substitute so far.

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Noseeum fabric mesh protecting my eggplant seedlings.

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Pea Planting II

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Doesn’t it look warm and toasty under it’s nice white blanket?  All is well, I think.

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Strategy for the Timely Planting of Peas?

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I have always planted my peas on st. Patrick’s Day (a green activity for a green day) but this year, with three Nor’easters in March, one due tomorrow and yet another forecast for next week, the wisdom of this habit seems ill advised.  Peas are a crop that require cool weather to bear well and usually give up when the hot weather arrives here in Connecticut, usually mid-June.  If I wait too long to get them planted I’ll lose out on this lovely vegetable entirely.  I plant snow peas and we’d certainly miss out on the beautiful healthy stir fry dishes we anticipate for spring.  Well, THAT would be terrible so I’m taking a gamble.  I planted them on St. Patrick’s Day in a snow free spot in the garden, watered them and covered them with a portable cold frame a friend found for me at Costco.  The sun has warmed the soil enough to keep the ground from freezing at night.  It remains to be seen if the little cold frame can withstand the weight of 8 to 12″ of snow/”wintery mix” forecast for tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

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Cooper’s Hawk goes to Rehab

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My husband was driving on a nearby road and saw a Cooper’s Hawk sitting on the yellow line, apparently injured.  He jumped out of the car, stopped traffic, tucked the bird under his arm and drove home.  He found an appropriate box and put the bird in, closing it up in hopes it was just stunned.  I returned from the store a few minutes later and he wanted to show it to me.  When he opened the box Ms. Coop burst out and ran across the lawn but couldn’t get any lift to fly off.  Suddenly a Red-tailed Hawk swooped down on the Coop in an attack.  The Red-tail must have seen us as it abandoned the attempt and flew off without touching the Coop.  After a prolonged chase my husband recaptured the Coop (we think female due to the size) and we took her to Wildlife in Crisis, the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center.  We hoped it was just a soft tissue injury as the wings were not displaced and a preliminary exam found no obvious break, but an x-ray showed a break that would require a three month rest and recuperation.  The prognosis is good.  She is a stunningly beautiful bird but a stone cold killer of our feeder birds.  They may have a three month rest as well. (photos by George Van Der Aue)

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

These are the Valentines I made for our Grandchildren.  I thought I’d try pop-up cards and had such fun with them.  Julia loves Origami so gave her a butterfly for the cover and made her a flight of doves for the inside.  This gave me some ideas for adding color to the background, etc.

 

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Planting Onions

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Today I reached forward into spring and planted my onions, 250 of them.  With the “Bomb Cyclone” in full force, a thought of spring to come was welcome.  This year I’m trying Yellow Spanish Onion “Sedona Organic F1” which is resistant to pink root, a virus still in the soil after 125+ years.  They’ll be ready for harvest in July.  These will be a nice size for transplanting into the garden in April.  The days are getting longer!

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