Time to Count Birds..

I will be starting my counting again now that the kiddos are back in school. Routines are starting up again and I will start filling my feeders probably within a week or so.

But, here are a couple more images of the hummingbirds. I have seen up to 6 at a time buzzing my feeder. They’ll be here about another 4-6 weeks until migration forces them all south of me. No count for today. Just letting you know the counting will make a comeback soon.


Prepping the Fall Garden..

Things are picking up speed now that our 100+ heat wave has broken.

Just thought I’d add that some things have sprouted. The transplanted, leggy lettuces are slowly recovering. I have radishes again! And, my Salad Bowl lettuces have popped up. Still waiting on broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots to show up.

But, I went ahead and vermiculite started some stuff today, too. More lettuces, spinaches, and carrots. I should have a dozen fall squares planted soon. For you non-SquareFootGardeners, I have 4 squares of potatoes doing well. That will yield me somewhere close to 20lbs of potatoes around Thanksgiving. I have 16 radishes growing to garnish salads. I have about 96 carrots on the way. 45 lettuce plants I snip from regularly. Add to that the 32 spinach plants I just seeded today.

The object is to load up for cooler weather when things stop growing. I will harvest some plants and they won’t recover for a month or more instead of a week. So, I need to sound overplanted to get what I need.

And, all this in about 48 sq ft….about the size of a bathroom. I spent a grand total of $19 on seeds for the ENTIRE year, and have bought a total of 3 heads of lettuce from the store. So, you keep shopping. I’ll keep growing my own. The cool part, imo, is YOU could do this too. I don’t have a green thumb.

Let’s hope the weather holds!

Summer means Hummer..

I have been trying for weeks to get a hummingbird feeder set up. A few weeks ago, I had one up, but no one visited but the wasps and downy woodpeckers. I asked a neighbor that seems to be overflowing in them, and he mentioned they camp in his magnolia tree for shelter.

A couple of days ago, though, I noticed my other neighbor’s flowers blooming. The vincas and lilacs are the perfect colors to bring the hummers over here. We got a little break in our vicious heat wave one afternoon, and here they came. First I noticed a male sitting on an electrical wire. Next, a few hours later, I noticed another buzzing a honeysuckle bush. I immediately filled up the feeder (one part sugar to four parts water, mixed well) and hung it on my deck. Presto! Within 2 minutes, I saw one drinking. I was so happy….vindicated.

Over the next couple of days, I finally got some shots in. First on the feeder. Then, in flight. They aren’t the greatest, but I haven’t ever had the opportunity to shoot hummingbirds before. With my 250mm lens, I have to be REALLY close. I sit in the kitchen window and shoot through the glass for now. The feeder hangs about 5 feet outside the window. I am about 7 feet away, at most. And, even with being that close, they are impossible to get a full frame image of. So, these are cropped pretty heavily in the computer.

On top of that, I have to use a very high iso speed of 1600 just to be able to shoot on a fast shutter speed and have ample depth of field. If that bird so much as flinches in flight, the shot is a dud. So, although I know I can do better with better equipment, these are pretty nice shots….for me.

I’ll still work on some action shots because these little guys are uber territorial. They fight and scrap constantly. Over time, I hope to add some nice images with action in them. Until then, I plan to work on improving my lighting and basic image quality until I have something worthy of putting on my wall. (With these heavy crops and the iso set at 1600, the IQ (image quality) doesn’t print well, but we’ll get there.)

Keep chuggin’!

Chinese Slaves..

On rare occasion, a political rant of mine will find it’s way onto the blog. Here’s one for you..

Thank you, Standard & Poors, for sending our nation the wake-up call we need! Now, that we are officially exposed as idiots that sold our souls to China, they will come calling. Asking us to cut our military and domestic, social expenses to remain solvent is a political attempt to weaken us. So, here’s the solution: Turn STL, a central point in the US and strategically close to pretty critical Air Force arsenals, into a major shipping hub so China can gain access into our center. Nope, our politicians already did that to us. Why? Because we are such whores for a falling dollar. Please, God, give us leadership with more foresight, not more politicians. Usually, I let you do things in your time, but can you put a rush on this one? We have an election coming in a couple of years, and I don’t trust our citizens to make the right choices anymore.

My grandmother was absolutely nuts, politically speaking. But, she turns out to be right again. If we keep heading down the road we are on, we will literally sell our country to Communism…..and they won’t even fire a shot. They will take us through our children’s educations and do so with engraved invitations from our STUPID political leaders. My vision of this formerly incredible country is becoming blurred by it’s insatiable appetite for immediate gratification.

Planting Lettuce…Prepping for Fall..

Now that the summer travels have concluded with the fam, I figure I can devote a bit more focus to getting something started for fall. My plan was to start some things indoors for a couple of weeks and transplant them out.

The calendar is going to force cauliflower and broccoli soon. And, I need to get stocked up on lettuces, spinaches, and carrots. And, of course, peas.

But, when I think of the 100+ heat out there the past few weeks, I’m all but discouraged. Will it stop in time? Will it crush my seedlings if it continues? Most likely. But, what a fun experiment to see if we can’t roll the dice with Mother Nature again. After all, we had great luck in getting the upper hand with her this spring. Let’s see if we can’t beat her at her meanest. Well, again, that’s an exaggeration. We can be somewhat successful in the dog days of summer. We can’t do a darned thing with the sled dog days of winter….lol.

I was going to do vermiculite trays again, but decided I need to keep things indoors a bit longer than that technique allows. So, I ran outside and grabbed some MM from a couple squares lying fallow at the moment. Perfect! I have a growing medium that I can sprout in and transplant from with no problems, right?

Dead WRONG! The soil is so hot currently. I stuck a meat thermometer in there and it came out reading………Medium Well! Haha…gotcha. But, it may as well have. It said 96°!!!

Not much I want to plant will sprout in that. So, I just set up my lights for indoors and set the tray aside until tomorrow. My basement is a perfect 72° right now. According to Mel’s appendix on pages 252-3 of All New Square Foot Gardening, my lettuces will pop in 2-3 days at a 99% germination percentage.

I’ll post pictures as I give this a shot. Just wanted all to know what I was thinking. I may not be able to do much at the moment, but I’m still thinking of fall gardening.

Someone in the spring mentioned the Indian traditional way of checking the ground for planting corn or something. They mentioned if the Indian can sit on the ground for a bit with nothing but his loincloth to protect him, the soil is warm enough to plant. Well, I assume the reverse is also true. I don’t know too many Indians. But, I would imagine NONE of them would sit in 96° soil in just the loincloth, either. I guess we just wait for things to cool off a bit……..indoors. (Talk about hot enough to fry eggs…. )

Fall Planting Updated (July 16, 2011)

Quickie update on the fall planning. For me, it’s on delay. The heat is crushing anything I put in the garden right now. I need to wait for the 100’s to break first. I have a new found appreciation for Elliphant and those that have to shut down in summers down in the deep south.

I planted two rows of lettuce and carrots (one each) and nothing germinated. I thought it could be Murphy the Chipmunk, but it could also be the heat. Soil temps I have not checked, but anything in the upper 80s may be contributing.

I may need to start somethings indoors in vermiculite cups again to give them a couple weeks in the cool. Hopefully, the timing will get me past the worst of the heat. I will likely give this week a break and re-evaluate next weekend based on the extended forecast at that time.

Finally some birds!!

I have been waiting all summer long it seems for my birds to come back around. I just haven’t had any volume to speak of since the Cicada emergence. I don’t know if it timed with fledging and/or if the 2nd fledging happened as they died off or what. Either way, they are finally back a little more consistently this week. I grabbed the camera and started shooting. And, it dawned on me that I need to show you all my new setup.

Platform feeder about 4 feet away from my kitchen window. It sits on an arm bolted to my deck railing.

I plan to catch some hummingbirds here, too. However, there just aren’t that many around MY feeder. My neighbor has them constantly around his. I grew impatient after 2 weeks of waiting and decided to toss some peanuts and black oil sunflower seeds in a platform feeder instead. The results were instantaneous. Here are some of the better pics after less than 24 hours. This setup will also help me hand train some of the birds if I take the time to do so. Hand training requires more time and committment than I am likely willing to put in.

In case they aren’t in the pics, here is a brief list of what I’ve seen today alone. Cardinals (taking nuts which I didn’t know they did), Blue Jays (the main reason I set this up), Nuthatches, Chickadees, a Dove, House Finches, a female Goldfinch checking things out, and Titmice. The action has pretty much been nonstop. The Blue Jays are finally figuring out I have food available. As I type I am watching two Blue Jays (never seen more than one at my feeders) take turns with a Cardinal…..and a House Sparrow that just discovered the feeder, too.

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I also need to do an update of the garden soon. Summer veggies are taking off!

Random thoughts…

Every once in awhile you have old lyrics hit you in a different way….almost as if for the first time.

Diamond Rio “Imagine That” (in case you want to hear it)

What is the world comin’ to when lovers can’t believe,
They got a love comin’ true then they up and leave,
They say they will…when they won’t
They say “I do”…and then they don’t
That ain’t the way it’s got to be…with you and me.

Imagine that, a love that lasts forever
Imagine that, for all the world to see
That….two people stay together
The way it ought to be, oh oh oh imagine that

I don’t intend to change the world, I couldn’t if I tried
As long as I’ve got you with me girl, I’ll be satisfied
Let’s do what we can, mean what we say
Now, we’ll just take it day by day
‘Cause I want to prove to everyone that it CAN be done

Imagine that, a love that lasts forever
Imagine that, for all the world to see
That two people stay together, for all the world to see
The way it ought to be, oh oh oh imagine that.

Birds are back!

Wish I had some pictures to share, but the birds are back to the feeders. Just as soon as the cicadas started dying down they started reappearing with their fledglings.

Yesterday, I saw a male Cardinal feeding his baby. I had to run for the camera twice, but once it had no memory card (common mistake by me) and the other time I had the wrong lens on. I raised the window, and they flew off.

I may have to retrain them to the window all over again because it’s been several weeks and the raising of the window may spook them for awhile. But, hopefully, I get some decent shots in the near future.

I have seen doves, sparrows, house finches, nuthatches, a blue jay, cardinals, a couple species of woodpecker, titmice, and my chickadees all in the last 24 hours. The traffic flow isn’t as high, but at least it’s back.

I may put a count in soon to compare, too. Keep Chuggin’!

Cicadas in Pictures…

13 year cicadas have been emerging and doing their thing around St. Louis, MO, this spring. Here is a quick chronicling of the event. It would likely look better if I titled the pictures, but I just don’t want to take the time. I figure a slideshow accomplishes almost the same thing.

I will tell you this: This is precisely the reason I’ve seen no action at the feeders lately. And, precisely the reason our wildlife is seeing a very good year. Populations of things will likely see a nice bump. However, I’m ready for the buzzing to stop after a good 4 weeks of this stuff.

Keep Chuggin’!

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