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September 10th, 2015

Where I lived in Ohio for many years there was a big Wooly Bear Festival. The wooly bear caterpillar signaled what kind of winter we were going to have (see more over at the Farmer’s Almanac), they were harbingers of what was to come. As a kid, we’d look high and low for them and compare notes as to what they were saying about the upcoming winter. Earlier this week I spotted an all blonde one in the garden and had to think about what exactly that meant. That means a mild winter, the middle of the wooly bear is supposed to signal the milder portion of winter, the dark brown the harsh parts.
Wooly Bear Caterpillar
Of course I’ve seen my share of regular ones too. It’s certainly not scientifically accurate, but it’s a great way to get young ones interested in nature and to help keep them from killing every insect they see.

What are the wooly bears in your garden telling you about this coming winter?


September 8th, 2015

One of the things I love about gardening is all the wonderful wildlife you get to see while doing chores. This weekend I was weeding and mulching the 5×5 Challenge garden and was startled by a frog.
frog 1
frog 2
Then, Mr Chiots called me out the other morning, he found this amazing salamander while he was out working.
I just love seeing this beauty all around when I’m outside working! Frogs, toads, and snakes are probably my favorite things to see while out working. I know they’re hard working creatures that are doing my garden loads of good.

What’s your favorite kind of wildlife to see in the garden?

Tiny Wonder

August 24th, 2015

Yesterday, as I was heading out the back door, a little hummingbird flew inside the house. As it was flying against the windows trying to get out, I debated what to do. Thinking I could herd it outside, I walked around to the other side. When I got close, it stopped fluttering and perched on the windowsill. I reached for it and it just looked at me while I grabbed it softly.
I took it to the living room to show Mr Chiots (who took the photo). When I took it to the back door and opened my hand, it flew away. No doubt these little birds are used to me in the garden, they hover close to me when I’m filling their feeders or weeding. I’m glad it was an easy process to rescue this little lady and send her on her way. No doubt she’ll be flying south soon.

Have you ever had to rescue birds or other wildlife?

Oh Boy

August 13th, 2015

Mr Chiots has been spotting a big flock of wild turkeys down at the end of our driveway, which is about a third of a mile from the house. The day before yesterday I looked out and saw them in the grass below the house.
Wild turkeys
Yesterday morning when I got up they were all under the apple tree, about ten feet from the house. I counted 22, which is a lot of wild turkeys! This many turkeys can do a lot of damage to a garden in a hurry. I don’t worry too much about the upper garden because Tara is up there, but the potager behind the house is probably at risk. That means I’ll be out putting up the pig fences that we’re not using for pigs this year.

What pests do you have to worry about in your garden?

A Beautiful Solution

June 4th, 2015

I was having trouble with ants getting into my hummingbird feeder. Not only were they drinking all the syrup, they were chasing off the birds. Research on-line recommending an ant moat, others highly recommended using packing tape around the hook, still others used poison, which of course wasn’t an option here.
hummingbird (1)
Since I had packing tape in the office, I decided that was the easiest and cheapest solution! It didn’t work – at all. The ants walked right across the tape without any problems.
hummingbird feeder moat 3
I decided to buy and ant moat. After looking at so many plastic and metal ones that received mediocre reviews, I came across this beauty.
hummingbird feeder moat 1
hummingbird feeder moat 2
Now the hummingbirds can enjoy their drink without the ants and I don’t have to make nectar as often. I love watching these little guys from my kitchen window as I do dishes.

Do you have issues with pests at your hummingbird feeders? Any tips to keep them away?

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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.