Here on Tuesday, June 22, 2004, itâ€™s time for a diary entry up here in the fabled old northwest.
Summer began today.
I am understanding our own conflicts with nature more than ever as we begin our dry season here watching the garden begin to grow, and help songbirds multiply. Weâ€™d like to â€œbelieveâ€ we are in balance with nature. Aaahh ! Peace ! Oh Really? Not so. Maybe Iâ€™m as corrupt as all the people clearing the forests and destroying habitat but just on a tiny scale. We grow â€œorganicâ€ food, we feed beautiful birds and squirrels. We also try to destroy parasite cowbirds, moles, remove raccoons, kill mice and rats, and decide exactly which plants will live or die on this property. Hm. Am I still at peace with nature? At least, weâ€™re having fun.
The Birds living around us are living life at its peak. Many have finished first broods and began second ones. Feeder activity is fun to watch EVERY evening, and pest predation is also enjoying the same bounties.
We even have a favorite back to nest that we havenâ€™t seen for two years. Markâ€™s observed a male Western Tanager feeding and bathing several times, but just today saw a female also come in to have a little bath. So we seem to have a pair, yeah! They are gorgeous birds. Hereâ€™s a pic of the Male:
The goldfinches always come after thistle, several pair are here and now beginning second families. Theyâ€™re on the deck all day long.
The Blackheaded Grosbeak Male – - we now have many breeding pair with young on the deck all day long tooâ€¦this guy makes a musical call unmatched here. A long flowing whistling callâ€¦.. mornings and evenings at dusk.
Mark was greeted by a new happening last week while mowing the lawn. Coming back from one end, he saw a swarm of bees landing in one of the Cherry Trees:
Theyâ€™re a little hard to spot â€¦but theyâ€™re in the middle of the red-leafed branch here, all wrapped up around the Queenâ€¦â€¦at evening when things were pretty cool. Weâ€™d found a beekeeper who came up just before dusk and collected themâ€¦.a cool Canadian Guy whoâ€™d done this as a hobby for years. Next day he returned with a quart of his unprocessed raw honey and itâ€™s fabulous stuff. The raw honey is just the stuff Mark remembers getting from the neighbor as a kid in the 50â€™s. So this turned out to be pretty cool.
Tucker is managing to hang on sort of, and todayâ€™s pic makes him look in the peak of health:
Whatâ€™s great is: As long as heâ€™s not in pain, and is motoring around enjoying himself, weâ€™re happy. He is showing some problems though like getting cranky in the evenings however as his joints stiffen up, and heâ€™s panting all the time which may be just old age. We fear he may just be a little too far along with his arthritis to welcome a new puppy into the house. BUT the two ladies we met at a Portland Dog Show two years ago have just announced the birth of what will become one of our new Chesapeake pups (we hope) in about 8-9 weeks. The puppy, along with 7 siblings, is doing very well we hear. Marj & Janice are fabulous people and love this breed of dog a lot. Marj runs the Chessie rescue group up there, so you know she cares about dogs period.
So July and August are going to come and go very fast. Rodgerâ€™s Dad turns 75 in August, and weâ€™re hoping we can save enough to make it down there for celebration of that fact.
I suppose a little mention of Raccoon is in order. If we ever trapped one, we had, in the past, moved them to a secret location in the forestâ€¦â€¦but we got soft and felt guilty about doing that. So in this one prowlers case, I am more convinced than ever that this is the same raccoon I trapped a year ago and held hostage for two hours while maybe yelling at him occasionally, and trying to make myself look as large as possible (the Hulk thing you knowâ€¦.) to strike fear in his heart. I also let Tucker bark at him, and finally let him go thinking weâ€™d never see him again. Why do I think itâ€™s the same one? Now we think itâ€™s just one raccoon coming to the feeder because it only happens once or twice a weekâ€¦.he will not go NEAR the trap and if he sees us inside the house move just a little, heâ€™s off that tree and gone down the hill. Methinks he has a memory of something from last year here. So. Thatâ€™s my reward for being kind a year ago and not moving him somewhere else. Oh well. Weâ€™re now electrified! We borrowed Bairdâ€™s animal control battery-charged electric â€œBehavior Modificationâ€ device, heh heh, and itâ€™s been on at night for three nights awaiting his arrival. Weâ€™re very anxious that we get to see the moment happen. Itâ€™s a very controlled wired situation. The animal will ONLY get the mild â€œeducational surpriseâ€ IF he touches both the wire running along the branch adjacent to the feeder (that the raccoon always sits on while feeding) and then reaches out with paw and also touched the screen or wire that runs along the edge of the feeder. This way, NO other animals, no squirrels or birds, can possibly experience the remedial experienceâ€¦.only the raccoon is even BIG enough to touch both these wires.
**We have not solved the predation problem in the garden. I have trapped two moles and think thereâ€™s probably two more. In years past, weâ€™ve only had one in there at a time but I think theyâ€™re evolving. They now have holes stretching uphill toward the house so seem to use those for sleeping. The â€œlooseâ€ tilled soil in the garden itself is like swimming in water to them. A trap just doesnâ€™t work there, they walk around them. The only traps that worked so far this year and last are those where I can concentrate at gardenâ€™s edge where they go into the more solid clay soil since the tilled soil ALSO gets hotter than they like. So they only seem to come into the space itself at nightâ€¦. I still have six traps setâ€¦.all around the gardens edge where holes are at. Whew. Every time we water this garden, mole holes must be collapsed and roots settled once againâ€¦.I often wonder what pioneers thought as they first encountered these animalsâ€¦.they had no information on them so I suppose it was a guessing gameâ€¦.they didnâ€™t have the jaw traps we have today either. But the garden continues, and last writing showed a little black dirt with â€œCozy Coatsâ€ around every plant, but today, there IS progress even though no corn is yet upâ€¦..still:
The deer fence shows as do the tomato cages that surround the tomatoes, tomatillos as well as the cucumbers and peppersâ€¦..looks all more metallic so far, but no question about progress. The tomatoes were about 10â€ inches tall one month ago.
The moles destroyed the corn starts (first time thatâ€™s happened) when they were about an inch high. Discovering that event took me a moment to really absorb what had happened. The plants were still standing up, but the mole had eaten everything below ground. As I watered what I thought were corn plants, they would just fall over and Iâ€™d see there was no root system or seed remnant. That was a first. If I hadnâ€™t followed the mole holes with my hand after the discovery, I wouldnâ€™t have believed moles would have done this. I have since tracked some websites that do claim they eat seeds in gardens too. Whew. So, here we are, near July time and I have new seedlings that are Â¼ inch high in little potsâ€¦â€¦.hopefully theyâ€™ll mature before itâ€™s too late.
The deer showed up last month and ate lettuce, two tomatoes (that had tomatoes still on them from the greenhouse grower), and baby carrot plants so the deer fence went up that very day. Now, one month later, just last night sometime a deer was at the house to eat three roses far enough down that I donâ€™t think theyâ€™ll bloom again this year. So up goes the Deer Sprayer (motion sensor) tonight and it will probably stay up the rest of the summer.
I cannot BELIEVE itâ€™s almost Julyâ€¦. I havenâ€™t accomplished one project beyond simple maintenanceâ€¦..There is a LONG list of things to get done while the summer lastsâ€¦â€¦. Have to see how it goes.
HOW are you all doing during this fabulous sunny time? We hope life is as good as the days are longâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦
Mark & Rodger.