Tag Archives: photos by peggy

Winter Weariness

photo by peggy

While we may not be having the horrendous weather some of my friends on the East Coast are having, we in Chicago, Michigan and the rest of the Midwest are having our own winter frustrations.

This winter started out not too bad, but January and February have really kicked it up a notch.  Record snow, record cold, Old Man Winter is really piling it on, especially tough on top of last winter.

Today’s news…

weather chart

It’s hard to even think about the garden.  I haven’t really been in the mood to look at the seed catalogues that are piling up or to get ready to start any seedlings yet.  I feel like spring is never going to come.  But I know, all of a sudden this will be over and spring will sneak up on us.  Hopefully sooner than later.

My mom made use of a recent blizzardy day, where she couldn’t even see the neighbors house, to takes some photos of the feathered and furry friends who are thankful for her food.

photos by peggy

 

Photo by

 

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I think these photos made the cold, snowy, wintry day a lot better!  Hope you enjoyed them, too.

(Photo Credit: Weather graphic from Tracy Butler/ABC 7 Chicago)

A Disturbance at the Birdfeeders

Many of us are used to having unwelcome visitors to our feeders and gardens. Squirrels, rabbits, even deer are common visitors to our yards.   Whole businesses are out there dedicated to creating garden pest deterrents and squirrel-proof bird feeders.  But, nothing is a match for what came to visit Peggy’s feeders.

Here’s a before…

Bird feeders on a pole

Then, one morning a couple of weeks ago, this is what she woke up to…

black bear damage

Never in the more than 10 years in her house had she ever seen anything like this.  The only thing that can do this kind of damage is a black bear.  And a very large, strong bear it must have been given the size and sturdiness of the feeder stand.  The cross beam had been ripped right off the bolts holding it on.

black bear damage

 

black bear damage

Feeders were ripped apart.

black bear damage

This homemade suet feeder was impressively ripped open, bending the old steel hinge and ripping off the wire cage.  This was actually the bear’s favorite.  He carried it off into the field behind her house where Nikki, Peggy’s dog, was able to track it down.

Black Bear damage

Peggy put out a animal-cam to try and get a photo of the bear if it decided to come back.  Mostly she just got shots of herself working in the yard and mowing the grass.   It took her while, and with the help of some friends she was able to get everything fixed and back together.

I’d like to show a “ta da look how great it looks’ photo,  but wouldn’t you know, the bear chose THAT NIGHT to come back again.  Not just to her feeder, but to a few others on the block as well.  Unfortunately, all she got on the animal-cam was a big black blur.

black bear damage

 

bird feeder

This time, the bear wasn’t able to rip down the arm, but did do some pretty bad damage to her more expensive feeders.  Again, with the help of friends, she was able to repair them and now takes them in every night.  It’s a nuisance, but having a bear visit your yard is a bigger nuisance.  Once it gets cold and the bears head into hibernation, she can start leaving them out again. Nikki will be happy too.  She hasn’t been too thrilled about going out at night.

July Meadow Wildflowers

We were out on a bike ride over the weekend enjoying the meadow wildflowers that were in bloom (or prairie wildflowers as we call them here in Illinois).  I tried to take some pictures, but between the camera lens being dirty, the mosquitos being so ferocious we needed to keep moving, and taking moving shots of flowers don’t work so well, no good shots.  Luckily, my mom Peggy was out hiking in a meadow near her house in Michigan and saw many of the same flowers.  Here’s some great shots of what she saw.

Photos by Peggy

Common Milkweed

Photos by Peggy

Yellow Goatsbeard

Photos by Peggy

Oxeye Daisy

Photos by Peggy

Queen Anne’s Lace

Photos by Peggy

Bladder Campion

Photos by Peggy

Crown Vetch

Photos by Peggy

Common St. Johnswort and Spotted Knotweed

Photos by Peggy

Prairie Fleabane

Photos by Peggy

Everlasting Pea

If I had been able to show my pictures, I would have added Wild Bergamot, Tall Bellflower, Red Clover and Yellow Coneflowers.   It was also a day for interesting birds in the bike path.  We scared off Robins (of course), a Catbird, a Brown Thrasher and Red-Winged Blackbirds.  Maybe next time I’ll get some prairie pictures! In case you’re wondering what mine turned out like…

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Next bike ride, I’ll clean my lens and bring bug spray !

 

Uh Oh, Frost in MI Last Night

Last night the temperature at my mom Peggy’s house was predicted to get down to the low 30’s.  That means frost was a real possibility. If you saw her gardens in my post a couple of days ago (Gardening: All in the Family), you know her plants are well underway and many not able to survive a first.  So what to do?

Every plant has its own tolerance to cold.  Zinnias, Impatiens, Petunias?  Forget it, they like it warm.  Cold weather vegetables, strawberries, perennials?  Maybe leaves and flowers damaged initially, but they’ll be just fine.  The seed packet or container tag will give you some insight into what they can tolerate.  When in doubt, cover them.

garden frost

If you know that the plants are likely to be damaged by an overnight frost, you need to cover them with a sheet or blanket.  My mom has a whole collections of sheets just for this purpose.  By tenting the sheets over the garden, it creates a warm air pocket around the plants.  If it’s thought to be colder than a light frost, you can add a a layer of plastic over the blanket to trap even more warm air (never right on the plants).  Be sure to remove the coverings first thing in the morning before condensation starts to form on the inside.  If still cold enough, the moisture could freeze on the plants and cause harm as well.  An actual freeze requires even more elaborate weather protection, or you may just need to sigh and start over.

Then say a little prayer and hope for the best.  Peggy’s plants looked good this morning.  It did get down to 31°, but warmed up quickly once the sun came up.  Hopefully that’s it for the cold weather.

Gardening: All in the Family

For as long as I can remember my mom had vegetable and flower gardens, sometimes big, sometimes small.  So did my grandparents.  All this interest in growing things rubbed off on me and hopefully I’ll pass it on to my kids.  With that in mind, I had my mom and daughter take us on a tour of their June gardens.  First my mom, Peggy, in northern Michigan.

So lucky to have the space of all these raised beds (check out all the raspberries in the back!).

photos by peggy

 Petunia garden protected from the rabbits

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

Zinnias!

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

Hummingbirds are enjoying the flowers right now.  Soon they’ll be looking for some extra food.

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

A more natural garden.

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

 

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

A lovely visitor–Tiger Swallowtail

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

Salad in a bag!

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

 Succulents!  This is a creative work in progress. I can’t wait to see what she does with this.  I know she’s got some great ideas.

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

 

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

 

photos by peggy/stephi gardens

My daughter Emily lives in an apartment with some friends downtown.  When we were talking earlier in the spring, she was complaining about the price of tomatoes.  Soon after that, I happened to see a great looking potted patio tomato plant that would fit on her porch.

stephi gardens

She couldn’t have been more excited and has taken lovingly care of this plant.  It gets a hello and a glass of water from the mason jar every morning.  Recently I got a text that read “Mom!  2 of my tomatoes hatched!”  I hope they grow big, red and juicy for her.  I think she’ll be hooked then.

Do you have someone who inspired you, or have you inspired anyone else to garden? 

Spring in Northern Michigan??

While I’ve had my share of bad winter and spring weather here in Chicago, it still isn’t nearly as harsh as it’s been at my mom Peggy’s house in Northern Michigan.  She’s still patiently (??) waiting for the soil to get warm enough to get her plants in the ground.  Just yesterday morning, there was yet another dusting of snow and overnight frosty temperatures in the low 30’s.  While it may be a nuisance, Peggy did get some beautiful pictures that for the moment make you forget it’s mid-May.

Michigan

 

Stephi Gardens: Photos by Peggy

 

Stephi Gardens: Photos by Peggy

Keeping the Orioles alive in the cold!

Hummingbird Feeder

Yum! Fresh oranges for the birds are a hit.

Hummingbird feeder

Everything is ready, except the weather!

Gardening in soil bag

Photos by Peggy

 

Stephi Gardens: Photos by Peggy

Has spring truly felt like it’s arrived at your house yet?  

 

Photos by Peggy

 

An Unusual Visitor to Peggy’s Feeders

Ring-Necked Pheasant

Over the last month or so, a male Ring-Necked Pheasant has taken up residence near Peggy’s house in Michigan.  He’s been visiting the front porch feeder, enjoying the corn she’s been putting out for him.  Haven’t seen a female yet, but maybe they’re just shy. By the way, this is a view through the front porch railing–the snow is piled so high he’s at up almost at eye level!

Because of the timing of his visit, the male Ring-necked Pheasants may be establishing his breeding territory.   A male will become the “king” of his territory and exert dominance over any other males who try to intrude in his territory, which may cover several acres.  Breeding females, who are rather dull brown in coloring,  will gather in small  groups in the territory of a single male.  The females will nest in the fields or borderland areas and lay a dozen or more eggs.  Within a few weeks, the young will head out on their own. Unfortunately, there is a high mortality rate from predators and humans of both the eggs and young birds. Hopefully there’ll be some baby pheasants wandering around Peggy’s yard this spring!

 
Ring-Necked Pheasant

 

Ring-Necked Pheasant

 

Ring-Necked Pheasant

 

Ring-Necked Pheasant

 

Photos by Peggy

 

Peggy’s Snowflakes

 

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With all the snow that Michigan has received this winter, my mom Peggy decided to try and make something fun out of it.  On days that it was warm enough to endure being outside, she experimented with taking pictures of individual snowflakes and came up with some amazing shots.  I’ve always heard that every snowflake is different, but it’s hard to believe the individuality, complexity and beauty of each snowflake.   Enjoy the wonders of nature–

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Photos by Peggy

Trips Down Memory Lane

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed while blogging is having my memory jogged by reading other blogs.  For example, reading about lichens and mushrooms on  another site brought back memories of when I was in high school and my family went to a huge Audubon gathering in the Allegheny State Park called the Allegheny Nature Pilgrimage.  Even though we went more than 30 years ago, I remember it being an amazing weekend gathering of nature enthusiasts.  Everyone got to choose from lots of interesting walks led by specialists in their areas and participate in scheduled group events.  I was really surprised to see that it is celebrating its 56th year.  If I lived closer, I would definately be going!

Turkey Tail Fungi

One walk that really stood out and stuck with me was one on mushrooms and ferns.  I really enjoyed learning about their biology and how to identify them in the field.  That afternoon was probably one of the reasons I sought out taking Botany as a biology elective in college.

Puffballs

Then somewhere along the line that interest was forgotten.  I still have a bookshelf full of bird and flower books and always carry them along with me on hikes and trips.

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But the ferns and mushrooms, forgotten.  There on the bookshelf is also my fern book, bought in 1984 according to the date written on the inside cover, but barely touched.  I guess I never actually bought any of my own mushroom and lichen books either.  I must have just used my mom’s “library”.

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I think it’s time to open this untouched book and see what is inside.  I think it’s also time to take a trip to a local bookstore and see what local reference books they might have to offer.  I find that specialized bookstores, like the one at the Morton Arboretum or in a National Park, carry the best local flora and fauna books.  They tend to stock what their local experts recommend.  I’ll let you know what I find—

 

Great Backyard Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird Count
February 14-17, 2014

Cardinal

Since 1998, birders of all kinds have come together for a four day bird count in February. Counting birds at the same time every year provides a snapshot into the overall health of bird populations around the world.

Chickadee

Years ago as a service project,  my Girl Scout Troop participated in this event.  It was really fun teaching the girls about what they were possibly going to see in their backyards, and introducing them to thinking a little more about their natural surroundings. The girls loved it!

Downy Woodpecker

It’s super easy to participate. Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, You can count from any location, any time of day, anywhere in the world.

To get more information and register your observations, go to the GBBC site.

GBBC

This project is a joint venture between the Audubon Society, The Cornell Lab,  and Bird Studies Canada.  It is also made possible by support by Wild Birds Unlimited and the National Science Foundation.

Are you participating? Did you see anything unusual?

This Painted Bunting would be highly unusual to see in my backyard, but it was one of my most exciting sightings!

Painted Bunting

Photos by Peggy and Stephi