Sunday, July 9, 2017

Yukon Gold, wildflowers and baffling squirrels

This morning was a perfect, not too hot day, just right for July tattie liftin'.  Translation:  digging up the Yukon Gold potatoes I grew in a container, from a  potato with eyes.  Typically I get one or two meals of homegrown potatoes from my container efforts, and an unlimited sense of satisfaction from being able to do it. The foliage was starting to yellow, which usually means spuds are up.

A number of our readers have real gardens, or actual land, and probably look affectionately on my tiny little efforts, but I bet they get how thrilling it is to pull out potatoes from the earth.

And I replanted one potato (there are probably other tiny ones I never found) in the hope of a second crop this year.

Meanwhile, back at the feeder, I realized that if squirrels hate the smell of essential lavender oil, and won't go near plants which have it on cotton balls strewn around, or in feeders same thing, that maybe they would be deterred from my feeder with the lavender bunch thing I made.  They have recently discovered the feeder, and one of them cracked the code of how to swarm down the s hooks and knock the feeder off. 

They still can't open it and eat the food, but having the food on the deck puts the birds off, since most of them prefer to feed high off the ground, safer in mid air.  A bird's default safety move is to fly upward.  This is why when you get a wild bird into the house, they bat around at ceiling height, and daren't come down far enough to escape through the doors and windows you've obligingly opened for them. 

So here's the lavender thing in place, and it definitely put off the squirrel who came out to check, ate off the deck then ran.  But it also worried the red bellied woodpecker and the nuthatch, both favorite visitors, who are nervous about this object hanging near the feeder.  I hope they'll get used to it and return to feed. They keep checking but not settling on the feeder.  

I believe birds don't have a great sense of smell, so that's not the problem.  They do get skittish about new objects, though, and want to test and see if they're safe before feeding. They're vulnerable when feeding. 

Since we were the original owners of this property, bought from the builders, and have never sprayed anything, ever, the patio has developed into a miniature nature center. 

I help it along by saving seeds and replanting, from wildflowers I grew years ago, and the cherry branch you see here is a native cherry, growing happily, doubled its size this year, and will give shade soon. And what's left of the old cherry still gives blossom for bees and cherries for the wild birds.  In winter, birds and squirrels also chew on the branches, and if anyone knows why, please tell me.  They specially like the little thorns on the twigs.

We see toads, dragonflies, butterflies, all kinds of birds, as well as pesky chipmunks (they chew through wires and water pipes) and squirrels.  The groundhogs are numerous, but don't get onto the patio, can't climb nor squeeze under the fence.  

And I've observed four different families of wild birds feeding young on the patio.  Downy woodpeckers -- the baby got himself attached to my window screen and couldn't figure out how to get free, so he climbed up to the top, and sort of fell into flight from there-- cardinals, bluejays and starlings.  Oh, and a family of plain old sparrows, where, I noticed it was the male who fed the baby endlessly.

Yesterday I cut back the lavender which had finished blooming, and saved the cuttings for future use in paper making.  Drying out now.  And I collected dead flowers off daylilies, with a view to possible paper making.

All's well with field and fen!

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