As always, for those of you who stop by here to read political commentary, you may want to skip this particular entry -- a brief personal diversion from discussing the sorry state of the nation/world. I would like to share a little nature/homestead update with those of you who are familiar with our new home and surroundings. More political commentary will follow in a week or so. :) ...
Rick and I have been living in our new home for about two and a half years now. Outside, we have been working, as time permits, on ‘building’ a lawn and several gardens, during the spring and summer months. One of the objectives in doing so has been to keep the area as ‘natural’ as possible. As a result, when we constructed our ‘water diversion project’ last year (a wall of sorts which we constructed in order to prevent water that runs down the side of our 200’-long driveway from flowing into our front yard), the stones that we used to do so are stones that we brought out from the woods, generally on a hand truck or our large wheel barrow.
We also brought out buckets of much smaller stones to serve as a water ‘channel’ at the beginning of the diversion.
We put in place, alongside the driveway, a life-size bronze horse sculpture entitled ‘The Yearling’, which was cast at an American foundry from a mold of the original sculpture, created during the Civil War era by P. J. Mené. We also enclosed that in a low semi-circular stone wall.
This spring, we also began constructing a stone border between the garden areas and the woods – a Maginot Line of sorts, between forest and civilization. :) It is only one stone wide in most parts now, but will grow to be much wider as we discover more large stones, and muster the incentive to move them. :)
We are also in the process of planting evergreens on the side of the house, and constructing a semi-elliptical pathway (again made of stones – all flat-topped ones for this project -- hauled in from the woods) from our side door to the back yard. The trees we just planted on the perimeter of the pathway are young and immature (as are all of the plants in the gardens), but will grow to 10’-12’ over the next few years, and what appears to be patchy planting should fill in nicely.
We have discovered, in doing all of this, that there is little more satisfying than working in the soil, and respecting nature. Watching projects take shape, and plants begin to grow and thrive, brings a unique and ‘natural’ kind of peace of mind that cannot be obtained any other way.
On a related note ... the wildlife we see year 'round in this part of the country is astounding -- from (many) deer, to wild turkeys, red and grey fox, coyotes, groundhogs, rabbits, opossums, squirrels, toads, turtles, chipmunks, and dozens of varieties of birds.
We erected a bluebird house in the backyard last autumn, and a male and female set up housekeeping there this spring. Neither of us had ever seen a bluebird before, and we became ecstatic upon first realizing that there was activity in the house. The pair has since hatched several young, who have left the nest. We are hoping that some or all of them return to nest again.
(This is the male bluebird atop the house during the nest building. Apologies for the grainy quality of the photo – it was taken through a screened window.)
We have a hummingbird feeder situated just beyond the front porch, and a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds visits the feeder dozens of times a day. I fill it with a cup of nectar (four parts water to one part sugar) once a week, and they drink it dry. They’re courageoous little critters, too. When they initially found the feeder, we were sitting on the porch bench, they flew in front of us, hovered not a foot from our faces, checking us out, and then, once they had decided we meant them no harm, they began to feed regularly. Yet, when someone unfamiliar sits on the porch, they will invariably check that new person out, via the aforementioned ‘hover procedure’, before feeding in his presence. :) Uncanny.
One of the miniature peach trees that we have in a front garden had maybe two dozen peaches on it a week ago. The following day, the number was cut in half, yet there were no peaches lying on the ground under the tree. That afternoon, I was able to snap a pic of the peach-thief, caught red-handed. :)
This is what we saw tonight as we opened the front door to take Bert for her evening walk. The three of us walked by, and the toad remained in place on the edge of the step. Brave amphibian he.
Two weeks ago, a box turtle dug a big hole in the shade under one of our larger garden plants and laid eggs, covering the nest with soil. The eggs should take several months to hatch, so I cannot stake up my plant for fear of piercing one of the underground eggs with a stake.
Just last week, a sparrow hatched five babies in a nest in the branches of a small evergreen near our front porch, so I cannot weed anywhere near that tree, for fear of frightening her as she flits from the woods to the nest feeding them.
Who says you need a mortgage crisis to have someone else take over your house and property? :)
And then there are the family dogs ... :)
Thanks for allowing me to share a small piece of 'our corner of the country' with you all. Back to political commentary shortly ...