Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yard News

Yesterday for a second I had a heart attack over what looked like a drowned cocker spaniel floating in the rain barrel. It was just Anita’s sheep fleece soaking in prep for carding and spinning. She’s learning things the books don’t tell you. Apparently the experts leave a few little surprises like if you soak the fleece in cold water for two days, as they suggest, an aroma builds beneath the thin film of lanolin that seals the surface. It reminded me of cleaning the calf pen after three months of bovine elimination and bacterial orgies. But now she has it soaking in my washing machine in a bath of hot water and Dawn detergent so it should improve.

Again this spring, I’m awed by the number of bird species visiting and nesting in the yard. We’ve been on a campaign to control squirrels, (It’s a secret how, but we’ve eliminated 18 so far.) which have no natural predators in the city and, in fact, prey on song birds by destroying their nests and eating the eggs or young. Not that we, in all our wisdom, are able to expressly figure out or balance the environment in our urban existence. But fewer squirrels, plus laying off the weed killer and chemical fertilizers seems to have invited the birds back.

Wrens have moved into the birdhouse that hangs off the back porch and forced me to consider wearing jetway ear protectors. How on earth can something that weighs about an ounce awaken us like thunder from a dead sleep at five am?

A pair of doves are mourning in the pine tree. I assume that’s their happy sound. There are two pairs of robins. One in the crabapple tree and one in the arborvitae. Denis reached up and snapped a pic of their eggs. They squabble over a boundary and surrounding airspace that seems to run up one side of our house and down the other splitting our lot in half. Last night as we ate on the porch I heard a lot of commotion and ran out to police them. They are fighting again as I write. Denis is skeptical about my involvement here.

We have a bunch of English sparrows in the hedge as usual and I don’t much like them, they not only get on my nerves with their repetitive, tuneless chirping, they like to wait around until the robin parents are off doing meal prep, and then they have at the babies, carrying them off to eat them. Seriously. Not much I can do about that either. Although to shut them up, I’ve been known to run at the hedge and bang it with a broom.

The weirdest thing is a pair of mallards that keep returning to our yard as though they haven’t been able to find affordable housing anywhere else. Last night I tried to encourage them to eat polenta and oatmeal from a pan, but after standing in the street to stop traffic and directing dog-walkers to the other side while the couple waddled across, I felt I was making a nuisance of myself and Denis was definitely getting embarrassed. I’ve thought of setting up the kiddie pool. But that would entail more feeding and policing against stray cats, so I don’t think I should get involved.


Greg said...

I'd like a picture of Denis climbing the tree to take a picture of the robin's eggs.


Margie Haack said...

You know Denis. Such the athlete. Fast, accurate.

AliceRuth said...

You are loved! Thank you for the delightful images of you with broom to hedge, traffic stopping maneuvers for ducks, and Denis climbing tree for exquisite Robin egg photo...thank him for me.


Beckye said...

Margie, I never knew that squirrels would get rid of birds! It never occurred to me that as we've had more squirrels we've had less birds... :( As cute and fun as the squirrels are to watch (playing and chasing, then stretching out full length on their fat bellies along the branches), we really love the songbirds. The squirrels used to empty the birdfeeders, but I never knew they emptied their nests! I thought we could have both! :(

Margie Haack said...

Beckye, sad, isn't it? Red squirrels are even more destructive, and they're even cuter.