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Leafless Trees

November 26th, 2014

This time of year I’m always on the lookout for bird nests. With the leaves off the trees they’re easy to spot. I walked by this spot a million times in the summer and had no idea there was a nest here. It’s only about 2.5 feet off the ground.
tiny Bird nest 2
I also loved seeing that the little bird used shredded paper from my compost pile along with birch bark. I have not idea what kind of bird built this beautiful nest, I’ll have to do some research to see if I can figure it out. Or perhaps one of you can give us the answer.
tiny Bird nest 1
Bird nests are truly amazing to me. I could never build something so intricate with 10 fingers and birds manage to build them with their beaks. You can be I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for more of these little beauties. This one might be cut from it’s perch to put on a shelf in my office.

What do you like most about the trees being leafless?

That Turkey

May 17th, 2014

Mr Chiots is a hunter and it’s spring turkey season here in Maine. He’s been out a few times without any luck.  Of course this past Sunday morning there was a BIG tom turkey right below the house trying to impress our guinea hens with his display.
Needless to say, they were less than impressed and went about their business of eating bugs and grass completely ignoring him. Lucky for him, it was Sunday morning, no hunting allowed. Otherwise he’d be in our fridge.

What wildlife have you spotted in your garden this week?

When Do I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder in the Fall?

September 15th, 2011

If you put up a hummingbird feeder in the summer you may wonder when you need to take it down. It has been rumored that if you leave it up the little birds will stick around delaying their migration, but this is not the case. There is no need to worry that you’re keeping them around. It’s actually a good idea to keep the feeder up well into fall for the opposite reason. Even though the hummingbirds that frequented your feeder all summer may have left already, migrating birds from farther north may use your feeder for a quick pit stop on their way south.

Here at Chiot’s Run we leave the hummingbird feeders up until mid to late October (I wait 2 weeks after seeing the last hummingbird). They get taken down and washed in a non-toxic soap every 3 days and then they’re filled with homemade organic nectar. Making your own hummingbird nectar is quick and easy.

Simply mix 1/4 cup organic sugar with 1 cup of filtered water in a cup or bottle. Mix until combined, fill feeders, store any extra in the fridge (although I make just enough to fill the feeders each time). Contrary to popular theories, you don’t need to boil the water or use hot water.  The nectar does not last longer if it is boiled since bacteria is introduced the first time a bird drinks.  It is also not necessary to add red food coloring either.  In fact the red coloring can be detrimental for the little birds.  I make sure I use organic sugar and filtered water because birds are more sensitive to toxins (read through your oven manual and they say to never clean your oven with a bird in the house and think about the canary in the coal mine).

To give the little hummingbirds a helping hand you can also make sure you have some late blooming flowering in the garden. Nicotiana, or flowering tobacco does very well at seeding down and blooming through frost here at Chiot’s Run. I also have Cardinal Climber vines and a few other nectar rich flowers for them.

Keep those feeders up and have some late blooming flowers in your garden for the little birds traveling the LONG way down for the winter!

Do you feed the hummingbirds in your garden? When do you take down your feeder?

Future Butterflies

July 9th, 2011

Last week I was at my mom’s and she mentioned that she had some yellow swallowtail caterpillars on her fennel. I had seen a few tiny caterpillars on my dill, but they were too small to tell what they were yet. I’ve been keeping my eye on them, and sure enough – they’re going to become yellow swallowtails. These caterpillars are quite striking with their lined and bright colors. They’ve been munching away on a bronze fennel plant I have growing in my front flowerbed. It’s amazing how quickly they grow!

This is one reason to include a wide variety of plants in your gardens. Fennel seems to be attractive to a lot of insects, as does milkweed. My mom has been working on establishing a nice stand of milkweed for the last 15 years and last year she was finally rewarded with monarch caterpillars on hers.

Do you have any herbs or plants that seem to attract certain insects?

We Have a Frog

July 5th, 2011

I was trying to catch a small frog at my mom’s last week but we couldn’t find one. This weekend I was out working in the garden and found a frog in a container I keep under a small leak by the rain barrels. I figured he’d be much happier in the garden pond, so I took him up there.

Frogs eat all kinds of insects so they’re great to have in your garden pond. I’m very happy to add frogs to the list of amphibians I have in my gardens. Hopefully he’ll stick around as I sure enjoy seeing them sitting on the water lilies.

Do you have any amphibians in your garden?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.