Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lounging on the Grass Listening to Wood Bees in the Aviary

It was a momentous day yesterday - Brandon mowed the grass!!  I don't know if I just have spring fever, or if it's just been so long since we had a tidy carpet of green, but coming home to freshly mowed grass seemed like a really big deal.  My neighbors, who have been mowing their grass for a few weeks already, must also think it's a big deal.  I've been appreciating the green of spring for  a while now, but there is something great about realizing that the world is so alive that it must be cut back.  Spring isn't playing around anymore - it's on!  

After roaming around the freshly cut lawn admiring the blooms on the dogwood trees and making home movies of my chickens (What?! You would like to see them? Okay, since you asked...) I couldn't resist the green and had to lie down in a big patch of clover.  I have never found a four leaved clover in my yard, and believe me, I have looked.  I find them in my parents yard, and sometimes I find them when I'm out working, but never in my very own yard.  Mom and I even transplanted some of her four leaf variety to my yard years ago, but I think I planted them in a bad spot and they didn't survive.  Maybe my yard just isn't lucky enough?!  

I did have some luck catching Mrs. Hall on video as she crouched and let me pet her.  I think she may like being a movie star!  The clucking you hear is mostly me.  I wrangle the chickens by either clucking to get their attention or psh psh-ing to get them to retreat.  The key to harmonious chicken relations is to make sure the chickens stay far enough away that they aren't ruining whatever project I'm working on, but also stay close enough that if I walk away from my project they come too, thereby keeping them from ruining it while I'm not there.  It's become second nature.  

Helen seemed very put out that I filmed her while she was sitting on an egg, and wouldn't make eye contact with the camera.  Turn your sound on if you would like to hear me get a scolding.  

After my futile attempt to find a four leaf clover, I rolled to my back and was greeted with this view of the power lines and poles in my view.  You would think that having this many ugly transformers and wires in my view would be irritating, and sometimes it is, but, like most ugly things that you've lived with for a long time, I've stopped seeing the ugly part, and mostly just enjoy all the birds.  It's like I live in an aviary lined with bird perches.  I see so many birds hopping on the wires, that when I look up it's like being at one of those big zoo aviaries, where the birds are loose above.  

See how many I caught in only a few seconds of video!  When I talk on the phone in the yard sometimes the person on the other end will ask me where I am, like I'm out in the wilderness and they can hear the wildlife.  But these birds are noisy urban birds - house finches, robins, starlings, grackles, mourning doves, house wrens, blue jays, cardinals - all the types of birds that have learned to live with people and their ugly power lines.  To me, forest birds sound tranquil and harmonious.  My birds sound like they are always having a rowdy party!

Lying there in the grass, watching birds on the wires, I tried to really isolate all the sounds that make up the background noise.  I could hear neighborhood kids playing with bikes and skateboards, a basket ball bouncing and teenagers laughing, dogs barking (lots and lots of dogs barking), lawn mowers, and cars, all sounds that I didn't hear growing up in a house in the woods.  Living in the forest, if the dog barked you looked to see what creature was out there.  Hearing voices was cause for excitement.  It took me a while to get used to living in a neighborhood at first, but I've been here so long these people noises are comfortable (except maybe half of the dogs).  Will I miss all the noise when we move to the little farm?  

One of the noises that I really enjoy is the bees buzzing on the red bud tree.  I was standing soaking up the noises when I heard a small crunchy sound coming from the black berry trellis.  After several long moments trying locate the noise, I realized it was a wood bee drilling a hole!  The video above doesn't really show the bee very well, but I did like that a cloud of wood dust falls on the lens.  

I didn't spend all my daylight chasing bugs and filming chickens.  I did plant a tray of onions that have been getting long and stringy growing under lights in the garage.  I can't say I'm wholly pleased with the plastic tray I used to grow the seeds.  It was easy enough to fill with dirt, and the seeds germinated just fine, but pulling the little plugs of dirt from the tiny wells was hard to do, and I'm sure I mangled most of the roots trying to get them out.  

Since I skipped the step where I was supposed to get the seedlings used to the sun by taking them outside for a few hours each day, I invented my very own method of providing dappled light to the new seedlings.  I'm calling it the "coniferous shade" and it's created by robbing branches from the cedar tree and spreading them on chicken wire over the plants.  It's organic, it's free, it's biodegradable, and it smells lovely!  I hope it works.    

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