This blog is about my garden and the outdoors. I am new to photography but I am trying to show some of the pretty things that grow here in Michigan. I love the wild things who visit me and I dont mind if they eat a bit here and there. I like it more if they let me take their picture. As time goes on I think I will try to show you around the beautiful area that I live in as well as my garden. I try to use my own pictures as much as possible but will also use pictures from the web. If I inadvertently use your photo or work without permission please email me and I will remove it or give credit if you prefer. I will give credit when I know who the owner is. I would ask that anyone using my pictures do the same.
... I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.......Psalm23:6
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

No Spring after all................

The snow came in like a banchee, lots of it. I feel blessed that I don't live in Texas or any of those on the other end of that storm. It spread across America from Texas to Michigan. We just got snow and wind and ice. The other poor people got floods, mud slides, fires and tornadoes. I can not even begin to understand what that must be like. One thing about Northern Michigan is its usually not extreme. Yes we do deal with blizzards and bad roads and high winds but I will take that over any of the other stuff. It seems most states have their own brands of natural disasters. We just have Winter. Sometimes 6 months of it. This year the snow came after Christmas and if it warms up just a little this will be gone in no time.
The ski resorts have had a bad year that's for sure. Our economy is based on tourism these days and no ski runs, then no winter money.
Selfishly I love it and I dont feel guilty because it is not my choice nor doing, it just is. It;s almost five years since Alexandra died on slippery roads. So the longer we do without the better I like it. It is pretty though.
I had hoped to get outside this side of Christmas once I had cleared up after the holiday. Then we all got sick with this cold/flu and its still hanging around and has been since Thanksgiving. Now the snow is here and clean up outside will not be possible just yet. I just hope for a very early Spring.
I can't wait to see the Snowdrops.
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I know, it will be awhile. I hope the birds and animals had a good chance of survival this year. I now the little birds love my grapevines. They sit and natter to themselves in there and eat their treats.
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I think it gives them some cover from the wind and elements. Next year I will put up little fairy lights, I now have some. They may provide a little heat do you think?
When this snow fell, the back deck was hard to negotiate. The poodles went to go out and had to make tracks. The little ones all but disappeared. Bodi was like a little snow plough.
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This Spring I want to dig up each garden bed and redo it. I need new soil and compost. If I have any money, and that's a laugh right now, I want to put in some shrubs. All will help the birds and give me less to maintain.
Not much news in the garden right now, have not been anywhere due to being sick so a boring post but at least everyone knows why. Wishing everyone a wonderful and Blessed New Year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Where do birds sleep in winter?..............

Do you ever wonder how birds survive in winter?
Well firstly their feathers are made in such a way that they provide insulation especially when they fluff them up. I didn't know this but each feather has it's own muscles and so they can raise and lower each feather, air is then trapped between them and so insulate the body and prevent loss of body heat. Feathers are also waterproof. That does not guarantee that they don't get wet through but most birds can find a dry spot to get them through a storm. They tuck their feet and beaks under wings to keep them warm or draw the feet up close to the body. They look so cute all fluffed up.
This Woodpecker who came in today was not cold even though it was raining.
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You wonder why ducks don't freeze standing in frigid water, often enough they will stand on one foot while tucking the other one up and sticking their nosed under a wing. That is a cold bird.
The smaller birds will often gather together and snuggle up in a thicket, brambles or piles of wood. Sometimes close to the the trunk of a tree. I wonder if they take turns being on the outside?
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If its at all possible we can provide cover for birds by leaving piles of sticks or brush for them and small animals to hide in. Pine trees are a great place for them to sleep. The outside branches overlap and provide a nice wind break. I read a story once about why pine trees should touch the ground. The small animals can sleep under them in the leaves and stuff on the ground so I let my trees grow down to the ground. I will sadly have to trim them up this year.
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The small birds seem to flock together in winter. I see the Chickadee, Junco, Nuthatch, Titmouse all hanging out together this time of year. I can just imagine them all trying to settle in at night. Sparrows especially can be very vocal about settling in for the night.
I like my grapevines on the side of the deck. The birds love to play in there when they come to the feeders, they hang out and grab a snack and take it back into cover to enjoy it. Even on wet days it keeps them pretty dry. Bud asked us to trim them this year. I would not have done so but Gerry did. I told him I wanted it for the birds and Bud rolled his eyes. Hmmmmmm. No idea why he cares its not on his property.
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I try to provide fatty treats like peanuts and suet for the birds. The Jays love the peanuts. The Woodpeckers like the suet. The bigger birds can roost in trees and shrubs to stay warm and many will sleep in holes in trees, especially the Owls and bigger birds. Even small birds can huddle in a cavity or hole. So maybe it's a good idea, if you are a bird/animal lover, to provide cover within your landscape for them.
I think the Mourning Doves must flock together this time of year too. I usually only have them two at a time, but this year they are in flocks.
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Evergreens and Ivy are a great landscape addition for a bird friendly garden. I think of this when I plan mine. I keep my feeders full and take pictures every day. The birds and squirrels know where to come. I also get Raccoons, skunks, rabbits and Possums come visit. They usually come when I cant see them though. They are camera shy apparently.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

An English Country Garden....................

One thing I know is that I do so miss the gardens of England. Most home owners (at least in the past) even if its a handkerchief size, take great pride in their gardens. That shows especially well in the small villages throughout the UK. It's what we do. It's bred in us I think. If nothing but concrete then its a flower barrel and window box.
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Most houses now do not have more than a few feet of frontage. There used to be muddy streets with horse traffic and now with cars, well the roads had to be wider. Not much but a bit. In a lot of towns the front garden was converted to a spot to park the car, a shame that but needs must.
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The English gardener also seems to like things that climb. I know I do. Roses especially. My Dad had Forsythia growing up the front of the house and Honeysuckle on the side. Then there is usually a garden gate with an arch to let things climb over. Everything gives the impression of lushness. With the English weather and the prospect of rain it's most likely an advantage.
The other thing we all seem to like is hedges. I still dream of the ones around my Dads garden and the birds that would nest there every year.
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The back garden was reserved for the laundry, the vegetable gardens and play area for kiddies. In my Dad's garden it was also his tool/work shed and more flowers. He sometimes put in a few veggies but not a lot. We were a small family just them and me.
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There is nothing so sweet as sheets straight off the line. Freshness at it's best. We don't do that here. Sigh!!! Still I must say it did have disadvantages as well as benefits. When it rained you brought in your laundry and any neighbours you could get to..........then when it was frost it could practically walk in on its own. The shirts so stiff you stood them in front of the fire to melt them enough to fold over the clothes horse.
Yes I do miss my English gardens. The weather was so much more accomodating to flowers than it is here. I do OK but its been a lifetime of trial and error on my part. Then the bugs get them if the sun or wind does not, so never a huge success.
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The garden shed was also inevitable, where else to keep the garden tools and all of the other man stuff. The old houses didn't have a garage or basement so where else could he have his "stuff". My Dad's smelled of leather and oil it was lovely. He repaired his own shoes back when people did that. You know, kept things instead of throwing them away. Usually only had one pair and so they were repaired over and over. His Grandfather was a cobbler and taught his grandson's well. Dads shed had Japanese Quince growing over it and it looked so pretty in Spring time. Yes, I miss a good garden.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Still no snow..............

Here it is December 12th and still no snow. That is fine by me. The squirrels are becoming a pest though. They watch from the tree tops, or somewhere, because as soon as the feeders get filled there they are. They are not happy with just the table they must get into the feeders too. That I don't like. Feeders are expensive and they don't care one bit.
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I was hoping to get out and take some better pictures but its been wet. So it will have to be the usual suspects.
I had to share some cute Poodle pictures, I love this one of Bella, look at her tail hehe.
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It looks like its about time for a hair cut but I love them fluffy. Brea is also very fluffy. She always yells at me when I tell her to come in. She is the only one of the 4 who tries to howl. She goes wooooooowoooooooowooooof. Her little mouth forms an O
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She is getting fat, is all squishy. Because of her knees being bad she does not care for exercize too much so lays around a lot.
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Bijou is also fluffy
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Mrs Cardinal came around. It's been hard to catch them here. The squirrels have just been too busy and no room at the feeders. I get the feeling they are enjoying the berries that are abundant and easy pickings right now.
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MRS was just getting what had fell to the ground. She didn't stay long.
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I need to get more peanuts. The Blue Jays are really loving them. They like them in the shells but will eat the others first because they can pack about 5 in their face at one time, but only one in the shell.
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They squabble a lot and usually there will only be one at a time. They more or less keep the smaller birds away until they are done
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Meanwhile we have a line up in the tree, haha. The Mourning Doves just camp out and come in when everyone is done. That is unless they are really hungry and in that case they will even chase out the Blue Jays.This day they were just dozing and preaning and waiting.
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The Blue Jays stayed until all the peanuts were gone
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They send out scouts and I hear them tell their mates come on over to Schaubs she just filled the feeders and we got peanuts today.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Crows enjoy a feast..............

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The crow was waiting for me in the tree by the deck. I came home from shopping and had to put out food before I unpacked. The Brave one came in first and filled his beak. I wish I could tell them apart once they are down. Another one who will come down once Brave one has come in also filled his beak.
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They are such beautiful birds. I don't know why people don't like them. Yes they can be noisy, so are the Blue Jays and Starlings. They are all beautiful in their own way.
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They are more cautious than most birds who come to my feeder. I am sure they get shooed away from most feeders. They declined my offers the other day when the squirrel got run over. They cleaned him up leaving only a smudge on the road. Thank you very much. I hate seeing the little flat bodies on the road.
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Anyway, enough of those chaps. Here are a few more visitors the last couple of days
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I watched as one Blue Jay put 3 peanuts in his crop and held 3 more in his beak. I have seen them go hide them in different places to. So they must go back for them once the feeder is cleaned out
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Some only manage one, so I assume they are younger and have not yet learned the tricks of the trade.They squabble a lot
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The good weather has most likely kept many away. I have only seen the Titmouse and Nuthatch recently.
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The Pileated Woodpecker came back. I was really happy to see that. He explored the whole back yard. I got a few pictures.
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The Yellow Bellied Sapsucker also made a call
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The Cardinals have come when I have not had a camera close by. They have been here though.
As I said, I think everyone is finding enough to eat. Mr Cardinal today was eating the berries on the Burning bush.
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Plenty of berries around the yard

I had about a dozen Mourning Doves hanging out. This one took a nap
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A rarer visitor was Mr Nuthatch. The lady comes about every day, but this one is rare to see. So pretty.
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Always love the Chickadee
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Those little buggers are hard to capture they flit around so much.