Baby Robin


We’ve been quite lucky this spring.  We’ve been graced with an Eastern Phoebe nesting in our sheep barn; building her nest atop a light fixture.  She successfully hatched 3 babies, who seemed to take very little time at all to go from tiny creatures to full fledglings flitting about the barn for a day or two, and then poof – gone into the wild.

We also had a couple of tree swallows who nested in the bird house situated between the orchard and sheep pasture.  I just noticed a couple of young ones flying about with the parents the other day.  They’ll be heading out soon as well.

Lastly, we had a female robin take up residence in an old robin’s nest atop out front door. She gave it a little make-over (everyone’s a critic) before settling in to lay her eggs.  There were 3 eggs, but the babies have hatched and as of yesterday, I’ve only see two heads pop up whenever I’ve stepped out onto the porch to water the container plants.  This morning, Nora noticed that one of the young ones (photo above) had left the nest.  

Mom is still very much around, bringing a constant supply of worms and screaming vociferously whenever we even contemplate stepping out the door.  I expect we’ll see the 2nd one venture out soon.

Butterflies are arriving

Now that we have so many flowers in bloom, the butterflies are back in force.  Nora captured some wonderful photos yesterday, including some of a very photogenic goldfinch.


Monarch butterfly on Sweet Rocket
Clouded Sulphur
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


Love the dive



Weekend Wildlife


As spring continues to warm, breathing life into the foliage and blossoms, the birds and other wildlife are becoming more active around the house.


We spotted two types of birds that we’ve never before seen on the property, the Eastern Kingbird and the Eastern Phoebe, and even saw a coyote trotting down the side of the road early yesterday morning before it ducked into the trees surrounding our “logging” road.


The Eastern Phoebe has taken up residence in the sheep barn, building her nest atop one of the lights in the rafters.  When she first moved in, she would fly out of the barn every morning and evening when I would approach to take care of the sheep.


Now she just sits in her nest, like a little queen on her throne, and glares down at me as I move about mucking out the barn and cleaning water troughs.


Nora also spotted the first hummingbird on Saturday (above), flitting between the partially opened alliums.  She also spent a half hour stalking our pair of tree swallows and captured some good shots (see below).




Spring blooms


Spring is definitely here.  The days are warming, as are the overnights (a little too quickly for my taste).  I wake up to the chorus of song birds, and fall asleep to the lovely sound of the spring peepers.  The bunnies, chipmunks and squirrels are frolicking around the yard, and we had our first siting of Mr. Woodchuck yesterday afternoon as he ambled over to the apple trees from his winter burrow.


All of this is wonderful and magical to witness; every year feels like my first experience of spring.


As magical, is the awakening of the garden.  Green is evident everywhere now – in the grass and all of the flower borders.


I finished cutting back all of the dead perennials yesterday and was astounded at the amount of basal growth I was uncovering.  Even the roses, which are usually very slow to awaken up here, have little, pink buds.

Daffodils, Hellebores and Scilla are blooming, and the tulips, camassia lilies and alliums show a fair amount of growth (although none should bloom until I return from Ireland, I hope).


I was delighted to see this pansy growing in the peony border, although also somewhat disturbed as it’s evidence of our increasingly mild winters (i.e., climate change).  Pansies are generally annuals up here and do not over-winter. 


Signs of Spring


We put two nesting boxes in our orchard a couple of years ago.  They sit on opposite sides of the space, probably 200′ or so apart.  Last year, a tree sparrow couple took up residence in the one closest to the house and graced us with a family of 5 that spent the summer pirouetting over the orchard.

A bluebird couple moved in to the 2nd home shortly after the tree sparrows arrived.  The bluebirds are not that common around here – at least not in backyards — so we were delighted to have them move in.


About a week ago, we noticed 3 tree swallow males vying for one of the houses (tree swallow in photo above).  Within a couple of days, the bluebird couple returned (I like to think it’s the same couple, but honestly, how would I know?) and claimed the very house the tree swallows had been sparring over.  The female has been bringing nesting materials into the house for the past couple of days, as the male sits watch (see below).


The tree sparrows have stopped fighting among themselves and now have taken to sitting on the fence or the power line overhead, watching in disbelief that they have been supplanted.  No more sparring.  I’m hoping one of them will eventually realize that there is another empty house in the area.


Not bird related, but Tilly, our corgi, was enjoying the beautiful spring day yesterday as well.  It’s wonderful to see new life all around us.  And did I mention the peepers returned on April 10th!  Always a delightful sign of spring.

See additional photos below from yesterday morning.  It’s so wonderful to finally see the plants breaking through the ground and sending up new shoots. From upper left to right: peonies breaking ground; basal growth on sedum and alchemilla mollis; and on the bottom, rhubarb.

Garden update

As usual, it’s not been a stellar start to March.  The month arrived with its typical, unpleasant  fervor.  Cold temperatures — in the negatives yesterday with wind chill and a toasty -2 this morning on wake-up — with some snow showers off and on over the past couple of days.  Looks like were heading for some warmth (30s and 40s) over the next few days though, so we can all thaw out once again.  The ducks and hens will be eternally grateful.

So, as you may imagine, not much happening in the garden, except for the necessary pruning, which I will get back to today.  I pruned the young fruit trees and Japanese Willows last weekend.


I also started my inside seed sowing last weekend, and will plant another cell pack of 50 today.  To-date, the following have been sown:  salvia (Victoria, Flare, and Fairy Queen), pinks, Sweet William, Echinacea, Gaillardia,  foxglove, 4 varieties of sweet peas and cauliflower (“Purple of Sicily” — I love the color of this cauliflower!).  I won’t sow any additional seeds for another 3 weeks.


Sweet William, grown from seed, and planted last spring in the new rose garden


Wildlife update: the spring/summer birds are returning to the area.  As mentioned, I’ve seen flocks of Canadian Geese flying overhead, and our family of very large crows have returned, as have the starlings.  We love having the crows back.  They are marvelous watch dogs and keep the circling hawks from eating the hens!  Granted, I become somewhat less enamored with them with they start helping themselves to my edamame seedlings – apparently a delicacy in their world.  But life’s often a trade-off, right?