Monday, November 21, 2016

Gratefulness and Common Nighthawks

'Tis the season, friends, that reminds us to see the beauty in our lives and offer our gratitude for this life that is gifted to us. We wish you all much happiness and joy and, of course, many moments outdoors experiencing the natural world that makes our lives not only possible, but so very rich.

We have so much to share, but today we offer a recent magical moment featuring one of our most favorite birds - the Common Nighthawk. Here's the link for You Tube and better viewing quality. Happy Thanksgiving all!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Gardens 2016 & Great Late Season Nectar Plant

It is still quite warm here in North-Central Ohio so we continue to accomplish lots outdoors, but not much indoors (if you pop over, you've been warned about the cat fur). The vegetable garden looks so great; we love spending time tending the plants and enjoying the sunshine.

We have our hardy winter greens growing under our low tunnels (beets, spinach, kale, kohlrabi, & carrots)...

and Crimson Clover, an excellent cover crop, protecting our soil for winter.

We harvested a decent amount of winter squash this year given our drought and got our first ever luffa gourds (long green skinny ones) to mature - I will do a separate post on those. Exciting!

Much of our summer and fall was spent driving our mower pulling our water tank rig round and round watering our spring planted trees. We kept 2/3rds alive we think and hope. When Mother Nature doesn't give you the rain you expect, life gets a little harder, but we do think our arms are a lot buffer than they were this spring - thanks to all the 5 gallon buckets of water we hauled - so that's a bonus.

Towards the end of September we received a glorious (seriously!) 2" of rain and annuals that never grew much after sowing as a cover crop in the spring, bloomed very late in September and into October. These flowers were used readily by migrating Monarchs so there is some goodness in the challenges too.

By far, our hottest, most used annual flower by Monarchs is the Mexican Sunflower or Torch (Tithonia). Plant it! It's so beautiful, provides nectar for butterflies and bees and seeds for birds. You can see it in the back of the photo.

After a couple of hard frosts killed all these late blooming annuals, nectar got a lot harder to find. In this VIDEO, I highlight a great late season perennial bloomer and tour you around the garden a bit.

Also, in my avoidance of the computer and all things indoors, I forgot to add our bat house video to our last blog post. So sorry!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Celebrating Bats

In honor of our love of bats (that started long ago but really solidified at Carlsbad Caverns) and to celebrate Bat Week 2016, we put up two more handmade, Steve-special bat houses and made a VIDEO about them.

Per instructions from Bat Conservation International, we installed a treated post at least 10 feet tall. Ours ended up with about 3 feet in the ground and 12 feet out.

Progressive back-filling and tamping while watching for plumb using a post leveler (strap-on plastic level) is essential to getting a good post installation. Our post was scrounged and had a bow on one end so we made a wide hole and put the bowed end under ground.

Using opposing ladders and installers provides some additional safety measures. 

A-OK and ready for inhabitants, rent-free!

In addition to attracting more bats to our orchard and nursery area, we gain a cool vertical feature. 

This shot shows the second bat box opposing the one shown above. One is wider than the other so we placed the wider one facing north so that the overlap would receive some sunlight from the south and help keep it warm.

Ready for your own bat house? If so, start here