Daylily pictured: Border Blessed
I couldn't resist posting these adorable photos. Like clockwork, at the end of July and throughout August, these tiny American Green Tree Frogs appear in and on my daylilies. It's fun searching for them and finding their hiding places while (carefully) dead-heading the old blooms each day. Ange took these photos; the tiny frogs are one of his favorite subjects. To read more about American Green Tree Frogs visit my September 7, 2014 blog.
Daylily pictured: Border Blessed
I noticed a beautiful pair of Cardinals frequenting our clematis trellis, perching on top and going inside the clematis foliage. The female always had twigs or leaves in her beak. Sure enough, there's a nest! It's a great location choice. The nest so protected, you'd never realize it is hidden inside the abundant clematis foliage. The photos were taken every few days until one day, the nest was empty!
Cardinals mate with the same partner each breeding season. They will breed two or three times during the summer. The female builds a nest in dense shrubs or thick bushes. She will lay three to four eggs and incubate them; remaining in the nest for 11 to 13 days. During this period the male cardinal will feed the female. Both male and female cardinals care for and feed their young. In the first few weeks the chicks are fed only insects. Young cardinals begin learning to fly around ten days after hatching. The parents continue to help feed their chicks for several weeks after they have left the nest. The chicks will usually flock with other juveniles until they are mature enough to establish their own territory. Cardinals have a lifespan of 15 years in the wild.
Info from Northern Cardinal Facts: https://forum.americanexpedition.us/northern-cardinal-facts
Usually I whine about the herds of deer that roam around our home, but for some odd reason this year the rabbits have been the problem--digging holes, destroying our lawn and just about every petunia in sight, like they're on steroids! They don't eat the flowers, but they rip the plants out of the ground and tear apart the root balls. So much for the two batches of Wave Petunias we bought.
We have been regularly spraying all of our plants with Liquid Fence. Any other year, the Liquid Fence always did the trick--the rabbits never even looked twice at my petunias. But not this year... so we doubled down and came up with a solution. Here's the recipe Ange experimented with, and so far it seems to be working. The rabbits have not bothered our latest batch of Waves, the new patches of seeded dirt are coming up, plus there are fewer rabbits lurking in our yard.
1/8 cup Crystal Hot Sauce
1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Powered Onion
Enough hot water to fill up a 1 quart sprayer
Boil the above mixture on the stove until the cayenne pepper dissolves, but make sure you strain it with a cotton cloth to remove the remaining cayenne pepper particles, otherwise it will clog up the sprayer. And remember, be especially vigilant with your applications.
I'm gifting myself with a couple of weeks away from technology. My blog will be on hiatus until August 18th. We'll catch up then!
Pictured: Twin fawns that visit my yard daily - Mom is hidden in the thicket, watching.
While weeding I discovered four bunnies in a nest next to one of my daylilies. (In the second photo the fourth bunny is hard to see. His head is sticking out on the left, underneath his siblings.) These babies have been growing faster than weeds! I have checked on them every day for a little over a week and each day they grow remarkably larger. At first I could barely see them nestled inside their nest covered up with their mom's fur and some old grass, but now they are so big and wiggling all over that they no longer have cover. We have had some heavy rain and I worried that their nest would get soggy and they would get wet and cold. Ange came to the rescue; he put a little table above their nest so the rain wouldn't beat on them. We made sure there was ample room under the table so their mom could get to them easily in the morning and evening. And honestly, I'm not even sure why I'm so worried about these tiny stinkers -- in no time they will be roaming around my yard devouring all my flowers.
After reading the April 19 CNN article about the Connecticut golfer that was attacked by a bobcat on a golf course, you can well imagine how shocked I was to see this bobcat only a few feet from our back door just three days later! In all the years we have lived here I had never seen a bobcat. This one looked like it weighed about 25 pounds. The photos aren't the best, but honestly I'm surprised I was able to get any photos at all. As I watched the bobcat saunter through our yard towards the woods, I noticed a small cat cowering alongside of our house, trying not to be seen. The moment the bobcat disappeared into the woods, the cat high-tailed it back home on turbo boost.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has noted an increased presence of bobcats in western and southwestern Wisconsin. Bobcats eat a diversity of prey including rabbits, squirrels, opossums, and birds. An adult bobcat usually weighs between 20-25 pounds, with some large males weighing up to 40 pounds. Bobcats have pointed ears with ear tufts, short tails about 6-inches long, cheek whiskers and orange/tan to brown fur with irregular black spots or blotches. They are usually most active at twilight around sunset or sunrise.
This bobcat looked very healthy, so clearly it's living the good life in our area. And as much as I enjoyed seeing this wild bobcat up close and personal, I sincerely hope I never see it again.
Bobcat info is from the Wisconsin DNR
I saw my first robin last Friday! In fact I saw an entire flock of about 25 robins sitting in a tree by our front yard. Despite the three-plus feet of snow remaining after a week of rain and freezing rain, this gives me hope that warmer weather is just around the corner.
Still, I can't help but worry about these little robins and wondered how they manage in the 30 degree temperatures. Apparently, if food is abundant, robins can thrive in surprisingly cold temperatures if there is not too much snow. In the north, ornamental fruit tees can sustain robins during the cold weather (crabapples, hollies, and mountain ash) in both urban and suburban areas.
We put out some dried cranberries and raisins for them, but unfortunately, the mice got to them before the birds. Robins also like dried blueberries, apple slices, fresh grapes, meal worms, and suet pellets. And for the robin spa experience, they especially enjoy a heated bird bath. Hang in there robins!
These two photos illustrate why I place protective tomato cages in my flower garden over the winter. On this occasion there happened to be only one deer foraging for food, but it's not unusual to have a herd of them roaming around. This whitetail scrounged up some dried up marigolds, but thankfully the tomato cages kept my precious daylilies safe.
As you can see, this kitten found a new vantage point to look for Santa. What is it about cats and Christmas trees? I'm sure to 'Thunder' this tree looks like a tall cat toy challenge, put there purely for his enjoyment alone. Anyone who has lived with cats knows how much they like climbing as high as they possibly can to observe their surroundings.
Thunder is a shelter rescue who found his forever home last August with two of the most amazing children ever. And he just so happens to be my grand-kitty. This little guy has a big personality. He is outgoing, cuddly, and very gentle. Whatever is happening around his house, he likes to be right in the middle of the action. Thunder has proven to be a perfect fit for his new family...other than the Christmas tree thing.
Thanks to Tara Elizabeth for the photo of this irrepressible adventurer.
These little creatures visited my garden for quite a while before I found out they were not a type of hummingbird – they were actually a moth! The hummingbird moth in the photo is a 'Hemaris Clearwing' (the most common kind). Your chances of seeing them are better if you grow Phlox, Bee Balm, Butterfly Bush, Honeysuckle and/or Verbena in your yard.
Hummingbird moths are more plump than hummingbirds, and grow approximately two inches long. The Clearwings are usually a reddish brown/olive color. Like hummingbirds, these moths make humming sounds when they hover around flowers. What makes them unusual is that they have a very long tongue that they keep rolled up under their chin; when they unroll their tongue they can reach nectar inside flowers that many other insects can't.
The females lay their eggs on plants, usually on the underside of the leaves. The caterpillars are green, so they blend in with the foliage. When they are fully-grown they drop to the ground and spin a loose cocoon. The pupa spends the winter well hidden and the adult emerges the following spring. In northern climates there is only one generation per year.
The white garden phlox pictured is 'David.'
Credit for the photography goes to my husband Ange
Credit for the hummingbird moth information: butterflywebsite.com
In spring, a kitty we had never seen before started patrolling our little piece of paradise. It was hard to miss him with his snowy white fur and ginger spots. Talk about skills; this stinker scaled the trees like a squirrel! He also liked to check out the inside perimeter of our garage for mice. Some days, he followed me around the garden, curious about what I was doing.
Here's the funny part...there are actually THREE of these guys, and they all look quite similar. I did a triple take the first time I saw all three of them together. After I paid attention to the details I could easily tell them apart--love those raccoon-striped tails. Sometimes their mom comes along on patrol, too. There are, after all, lessons to be learned.
Cats that patrol our yard live in the barn across the road. The triplets' mom is Penny-Kitty, who I did an earlier blog about.
American Green Tree Frogs and daylilies go together like toast and jam. The frogs arrive in late July and early August. Gotta love these little guys; they just sit and patiently wait for their meal to arrive. They often stay on the same plant for days at a time and just move to a new bloom each day. When I deadhead my daylilies it's important that I pay attention and be very careful so that I don't accidentally fling a tiny frog into outer space.
A few of the daylilies pictured include: Sabine Baur, Spanish Glow, She's Got Legs, Techny Peace, and Webster's Pink Wonder.
I came to the conclusion that I run a round-the-clock resort and spa for rabbits. And it must be five-star, because my yard is infested -- moms, dads, babies, the entire extended family -- they are all here. Accommodations are luxurious: a thicket to hide in, expansive play areas with dirt to roll and dig in, warm rocks to lounge on, water to primp and wash, and a decadent buffet of fresh perennials and weeds that are always available. No room service needed here.
A monumental negative; my resort is not gated. I have seen foxes abduct guests on numerous occasions. Coyotes lurk as well, not to mention the hawks and eagles that soar overhead, looking for a quick meal. And then there's the road...
Should I post a warning?
I have never seen this many gulls all in one place before! Driving past the local landfill reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds.' Being underneath that cloud of birds would not be a good thing.
Landfills close to bodies of water tend to have more gull problems. This particular landfill is near the Mississippi, Black, and La Crosse Rivers, in addition to Lake Onalaska and Lake Neshonoc. Lack of natural food during the cold weather/winter months brings birds to the landfill. My curiosity was piqued after seeing this phenomena. I did some reading on gulls and landfills. A Duke University Study (by R. Scott Winton) finds that gulls' nutrient-rich droppings may cause major water-quality problems in nearby lakes and reservoirs. It's quite a dilemma that affects our environment. Who knew?
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-06-trash-picking-seagulls-poop-tons-nutrients.html#jCp
October 27th was National Black Cat Day. What a perfect opportunity for me to reminisce about my first black cat, 'Uncanny / Canny' (I liked both words / Couldn't make up my mind). I got eight-week-old Canny when I was in college. We shared an upstairs apartment in an old house with roommates Sandy, Gail, and Gail's small dog (pictured). Ange was around in those days, too. We stayed in that apartment for a year or so, but did what most college students frequently do; we moved and (of course) did not get back our security deposit back. Gail's dog had chewed a good portion of the bedroom carpet and I melted a huge candle onto the orange shag carpet in the living room. Long story; not important. Sandy, you must have done *something* to that apartment -- it wasn't all Gail and me, right?
We loved our larger place, but apparently Canny didn't. We kept him inside so he would acclimate to the new surroundings, but he would sneak out if someone opened the door. He kept trekking back to the old apartment, which was about six blocks down and two blocks over. When I'd walk to school in the morning, there he'd be, sitting on the porch of the old house. He would never fail to come down and greet me. On my way home, if I'd see him, I'd pick him up and carry him back to the new place. Canny would stay for a day or three, but eventually disappear again. Over the course of many weeks, this happened numerous times. Canny's territory seemed to be more important to him than anything else. So I finally talked to the girls who had moved into our old apartment about the 'Canny situation.' They loved having Canny around. He was, after all, a most awesome cat! So I reluctantly passed the torch to them knowing that he would be well taken care of.
So there you have it, my very first black cat, Uncanny/Canny, left home and never said goodbye. Could this be Ange's fault for relentlessly teasing him with a water spray bottle? Probably.
There are mixed opinions as to the exact date of National Black Cat Day. I went with October 27; being close to Halloween just seemed right. #loveblackcats
Isn't she sweet? This little girl lives at the barn across the road from us. I named this tortoiseshell 'Penny-Kitty' because she reminds me of 'Penny,' a cat my friend Mar had for 17 years. The day I took this photo it was relatively cool outside, but our driveway was warm from the sun. Penny-Kitty spent time lounging in our driveway. I imagine the warm asphalt felt kind of like a heating pad. She comes over just about every day to visit us. And she's a talker! We enjoy her visits because she often goes home with a companion. A mouse in Penny-Kitty's mouth is a mouse not building a nest in our garage.
As much as I dislike orange ditch lilies, they exuberantly grow on our land across the road. For some odd reason Ange always mows around them. He thinks they look pretty in the distance. Whatever! We had to laugh when we saw a deer munching away at them recently. I have decided in addition to erosion control, ditch lilies do serve a purpose after all. They are decoys for the hybrid daylilies.
"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you just might find, you get what you need." - Jagger/Richards
Last weekend (February 18-19) was, yet again, unseasonably warm in Wisconsin -- over 60 degrees! This gave me an opportunity to check out all my plants and see how they fared over the winter. As I walked around the yard, I had to tread carefully to avoid deer droppings. Gross!
After some online reading regarding how to collect and dispose of the droppings before mowing season starts, I learned that deer feces can carry dangerous strains of E.coli. So, worse than finding droppings in your yard or flower garden would be finding them in your vegetable garden, or say strawberry patch. Food-related outbreaks of E.coli have definitely been linked to deer droppings. (As if the deer ticks aren't bad enough!)
Deer waste should be handled carefully. Try to remove as many droppings as possible, using a shovel to bury it elsewhere, and be sure to disinfect your shovel before you use it for any other tasks.
It's hard to believe this cute little fawn can cause such dire problems. I'm getting out the deer deterrent, and ALWAYS wearing gloves!
Fawn photo from pixabay.com Creative Commons-public domain photo.
Here's a critter I always prefer to see outside instead of inside! I recently read an article about winter mice that referred to them as "tender perennials." (I had never thought of them in quite that way...) Since mice don't hibernate in the winter, they are very active outside, searching for just about anything they can find to eat. The snow cover helps them stay warm when the temperature drops, so they tunnel under the snow and make nests of leaves, animal fur and shredded foliage. After the snow we had last Tuesday, teeny mice tunnels were clearly visible in our yard.
Predators closely watch those tunnels. While working by the kitchen sink one morning I was witness to a large red-tailed hawk that swooped down and snatched a mouse from underneath the snow. The hawk soared upward with the tiny mouse squirming in its claws. A total National Geographic moment. It happened so fast I could hardly believe it!
To deter mice from making nests around the perimeter of our house we removed all of our evergreen plants. In the fall, we also trim any dead plant foliage down to about an inch or two away from the ground and compost all the remains. This really helps, and it seems to keep the bunny nests away, too.
Inside the house is another story. Ever since our cat of 17 years (Small Fry) passed on we can't help but feel at a disadvantage when it comes to mice. 'The Fry' was our vigilant sentry who would alert us immediately if she sensed any mouse activity. No mice so far; fingers crossed.
Mouse photo from creative commons.org; taken by George Shuklin and posted by Duncan Hull
Mouse tunnel photo was taken in our yard last week
Yesterday, as I plugged my laptop into the outlet by our dining room window, I was startled to see this little stinker foraging for food up close and personal. As you can see, the deer aren't shy around here! But the good news is that although she has been eating foliage around the tomato cage, she hasn't bothered the new daylily planting inside the tomato cage. And that makes me happy, despite the fact that my flower beds look like 'tomato cage-land' during the winter. Ya just do what cha gotta do!
if it's about
my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!