Monday, May 23, 2011

Cats and Flowers and Birds, oh my!

Purple martin house awaiting paint job, and Ace

The kittens born last spring have names that start with an A, so we'll be able to figure out how old they are in years to come, and maybe even remember who their mother was. Last year we had one batch of kittens— a litter of five— and three have so far survived farm life, which takes its toll on barn cats. Perhaps when they go hunting across the road or in the fields, they get lost. But I doubt it. It's more likely that foxes and coyotes get them. Even the odd speedy vehicle past our driveway hasn't left a cat carcass yet.

Everett holding Alice; Ace has to get into the picture

We seem to have two year-old females, one of whom, Ash, is shy and timid compared to her siblings. I expected they'd both have kittens this spring, but no ... no sign of plumpness in either of them.
Their mother, however, is busy with this year's offspring in the attic of the tractor shed behind Everett. She's got all the little Bs well hidden.


Holey sheet, it's cold out there today. The thermometer in the Chev said 6 degrees, according to Scott, who left here shortly after seven this morning to meet with a customer. I will be bringing my one tray of bedding plants indoors tonight, in case it freezes. Did you notice I said one tray? When I say I am simplifying and paring down, it is no joke.

I have been digging holes under the oak trees and digging up perennials to relocate there. It may well be the only safe place in the yard, if Scott does as he intends to, which is re-level the entire lawn and garden area so that the ground slopes away from the house. Last summer it was too wet to do anything; this summer we wait and see what happens groundwater-wise.

Under trees is not the best place for flowers, what with the heavy shade and the thirsty roots of the oaks, so only plants that I think can handle it are going there: delphiniums, columbines, maltese crosses. They may not thrive, but at least they won't be plowed under... they'll have a chance. They'll get lots of light in early spring before the oaks leaf out, and in the summer they'll enjoy dappled shade, which flowers seem to love, and the rays of the evening sun will slant beneath the oak branches.


No use talking to me. All I think about at this time of year are flowers ... and birds. A male baltimore oriole visited the oaks this morning, black and bright orange. There are about two dozen American goldfinches around the yard, chasing each other at lightning speed through the branches. Chipping sparrows have arrived, and last week I saw a couple Harris sparrows. When I sit out on the deck overlooking the slough, a song sparrow perches nearby in the lilacs and sings for me. There are woodpeckers about, and a pair of magpies is nesting in the tall elms on the west side of the yard.

Out on the dugout yesterday I saw—aside from the redwinged blackbirds and the numerous species of ducks and the Canada geese pair, who only seem to visit long enough to preen themselves on top of the muskrat house— a sora sneaking along behind the thin grass on shore. A sora is more often heard than seen. This one plopped into the water and swam across to my side of the dugout, just like a duck. It's small, about the size of a robin. If you click on the link you can see a photo and hear the sound it makes. There are few things I like more than leaving the window open at night and listening to it, and the frogs. Have I mentioned that I often fall asleep with a smile on my face?

This is the life.