Friday, February 13, 2009

Signs of spring

It was late last spring when my CAMN class made bird houses for wrens and screech owls. I took one of the wren nest boxes and put it in the garage with bunch of other stuff. It was too late for wrens to be nesting so I figured I would assemble it and put it out this year in my new back yard. Today my nephew came over to use my computer to do his taxes. On a pass thru the living room I mentioned to my son and nephew that it was probably time to put the wren box out. I had no more uttered those words when I looked out back and saw a wren hopping around the top of the chiminea, turning his (or her) little head to the side to look inside and see if it would do. The mate was a few feet away on the fence. Of course then I worried they would find a home in the neighbor's yard before I could find all the pieces and assemble my own wren nest box.

I retrieved the wood pieces with the pre-drilled holes and the three of us made sense of what was by now a collection of puzzle pieces. "No, this is the top." "This goes like this." And so on. My son, who has always been good at that kind of thing, got it right and shortly after my nephew left for home we assembled the nest box and put it out on a hackberry tree. I hope the wrens find it suitable and raise up some little ones in there.

Motivated by that, I finally got out the staple gun out and stapled the chicken wire to the posts I purchased a while back. Now my outdoor compost pile has a fence around it. I wasn't living here this time last year so I missed the beginnings of spring. Besides the wrens, the white wing doves are cooing loudly, two little mourning doves sipped water out of the bird bath. The henbit and bedstraw are coming up, along with the rain lilies, the latter climbing out of the earth to celebrate the gully washer we got this week. I'm sure we'll have more chilly weather but today it felt like spring.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Today is the first day of…

…the rest of my garden; the rest of my life and so on. I'm in a state of change right now. I guess I always am but I'm aware of it these days. In the last week I've started a bunch of new things, all positive, self-nurturing endeavors - this blog being one of them.
Recently I made a mobile from some items I've been gathering. It's made of sun-bleached bones, a big stick, a bell made in India and a little dragonfly paperweight. On my hike thru Stephenson Preserve (SP) today I picked up stuff for future mobiles or assemblages.
I go to that preserve regularly. It's near my house and I love walking there. Few people go beyond the first part of it so I usually have the trails to myself. Today I found an area that was new to me. The SP sculptor had been there though. Attached to trees were masks made of found objects. I didn't have my camera along so you'll have to take my word that they were a little creepy. The masks looked like the kind of things that tribal people post to warn trespassers they are on sacred ground. I stood still, listening as the trees scraped against each other in the strong winds, sounding like wind chimes. I will definitely revisit the spot. I didn't have my GPS with me but I memorized the route thru the maze of trails back to main trail.

Earlier today I grabbed my friend Kathleen and we went over to the Natural Gardener. I got some really great ideas for my yard and I picked up some rosemary and lavender plants. I can't make much progress on my big yard plan until March since I'm going to be out of town for most of the last two weeks of February. But I had a spot for the herbs so they're in the ground.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Worms are eating my veggies

Many, many years ago I had a worm compost set up. I kept it going until a visiting pet sitter overwatered my bin and ended the life of all my worms. Last week I got a bin of worms going by procuring red wigglers from a local worm farmer. His "farm" is in his kitchen. I bought some coconut husk material from the pet store because that's what he was using but newspapers and plain old dirt works fine too. So far they're happily crawling thru lettuce, strawberry tops, coffee grounds, and other material from the kitchen. It will take months to make compost but I'm happy to be recycling those materials instead of adding to landfills. If you want to try a worm bin yourself, this little tutorial is the shortest and sweetest I've found. Happy worm farming!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Today I was in my backyard throwing a beat up tennis ball for one of my dogs when it hit me - the design for my backyard. This is where I will share the progress of realizing that design, describing the successes, pitfalls, and encounters with nature in my own backyard and beyond.