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Category Archives: Nature

A White Little Christmas

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So, on the Feast of the Epiphany we get snow. About 4-5 inches on my patio table. That’s the best place to measure it. At least we have the luxury of not having to commute anymore.

For me, January 6th is the final day to leave the Christmas decorations up. Before we do that recycling thing and take down the tree, to drop it off at one of the Merry Mulch sites in the county.

My problem this year?

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The tree is still fresh looking, isn’t dropping needles, and it’s just hard to take it apart yet. At least I have until the 16th to make it to a Merry Mulch site, or if I’m still loving it, we just will haul it to the landfill wood waste area for it to be mulched.

As for the rest of the decorations.

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There’s something magical about those tiny white lights out there with the snow in the background. I think they will stay up a little longer too. Besides, the good excuse is how cold it will be for the next couple of days. Way too cold to try and wrestle down those nets of lights.

On this 12th day of Christmas, I think I’ll go open the last pint of Eggnog and play Christmas music one more time.

Getting Out There

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In the middle of winter. I just checked the upcoming events page, and there are quite a few activities at the Howard County Conservancy, where I volunteer.

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Belmont January 6, 13, 20- Pre-school Programs: Nature’s Song- with Conservancy naturalists. Celebrate nature with your preschooler! Hike, sing, dance and craft. For children ages 3-5 with a parent/caregiver. JAN 6,13 & 20- Tuesdays 10am $10/class.

Mt. Pleasant January 10- Backyard Birding with Robin Todd & Mike Kerwin. JAN 10- Saturday 10am FREE.

Belmont January 17- Saving the Places We Love with Ned Tillman. JAN 17- Saturday 10am FREE.

Mt. Pleasant January 24- Wildflowers in the Understory: A Perspective on “Painting” with Nature’s Light with photographer/curator Jackie Bailey Labovitz. JAN 24- Saturday 7pm $.

Mt. Pleasant — Wildflower Photography Gallery Show JAN 21 through MAR 13- Wed. through Sat. 9am-3pm. please call before visiting.

Mt. Pleasant – January 27 Volunteer Open House, looking for new volunteers to help with the expanding programs and field trips. 9:30-11 AM.

Belmont January 31- Youth Bird Count with Sue Muller. JAN 31- Saturday 9am FREE

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With two sites now, there is something most weekends, and a few week day events. I hope the weather cooperates for our three volunteer hikes that allow us to get out and stretch our legs. Tomorrow may be dicey though, if it decides to snow.

As for events, I am particularly interested in seeing Ned Tillman’s event out at Belmont.

See you out there, I hope.

Mother Nature’s

Focusing on those small businesses and trying to sort out the dozens of items on the page I want to create. Today I decided to highlight one of my favorite Howard County family owned businesses.

Mother Nature’s.

For years we have bought things from Claire and Dave. We have taken bird watching hikes locally and in northern VA with Claire. We bought our best bird watching binoculars from them.

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If you go there often, you may stumble upon their binocular clearance sale. Half price for these awesome Nikon binoculars.

Right now, it is inventory season and a recent email told us they didn’t want to count it or pay taxes on it, so there were great bargains to be had.

I buy seed from them. Books. Like my bird compilations, and this one.

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This one is fun. It teaches you how to attract certain birds. How to make your own suet.

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How to make nachos.

Claire runs a Facebook Friday contest. To win prizes from the store. She is convenient to those in Columbia. Just around the corner from the post office, and just across the way from Bon Fresco.

For us, in the winter, attracting lots of birds to our yard is entertaining, and the goodies from Mother Nature’s keeps them healthy and happy. Even when they get into fights at the birdbath.

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Over the River

Yesterday I headed out to combine CSA and Friends and Farms basket pickups with a few Christmas preparation errands. A cold blustery day, but sunny for the most part. After the third time I crossed the Patuxent River, I realized how dominant the branches of the river are in our landscape, and in our travels.

With the leaves down you can see more of the trails along the river. From Rte 32, Broken Land Parkway, Guilford Road, Murray Hill Road. Over and over, I crossed the Patuxent and thought to myself, we really need to get out on those trails along the river and reconnect with this part of our community.

Howard County is bordered on most of its south and west sides by the Patuxent River, and on the north and east sides by the Patapsco River. Both rivers have thousands of acres of parkland and pathways.

I decided for my New Year’s resolution this year to get back out there and hike the parks on the rivers. And, to learn more about those rivers.

If you are still looking for stocking stuffers, or last minute gifts, check out a couple of books that Ned Tillman has written. I already have the first one, The Chesapeake Watershed, and need to get one of his new book, Saving the Places We Love. Ned is a local resident and one of our Howard County bloggers.

You can find his books at Barnes and Noble, and Shoemaker Country in Ellicott City, at the Robinson Nature Center, and at the Howard County Conservancy.

I first met Ned when he was a hike leader for a HoLLIE class. He still leads many hikes in the area. He also teaches one day at the Legacy Leadership Environmental Institute, which is the newer version of the HoLLIE curriculum. Check this out if you are inclined to learn more about our community.

Me? I just think I’ll spend more time out on our rivers. It’s a big part of why I love living here. The Triadelphia Reservoir and the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area are close to home, and good places to start. Maybe I’ll see that eagle that was in our yard the other day, and was down the road again yesterday.

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The Eagle Has Landed

Literally.

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In the back yard. Less than 100 yards from the kitchen window where I took this really awful picture, but I rushed it hoping he wouldn’t fly away. Which he did, about 10 seconds after the picture. The crows went nuts and he flew down the side of the property and hung around for a few minutes high in my neighbor’s tree. Then, tired of the crows circling and yammering at him, he headed off back towards Triadelphia Reservoir.

What brought him here? The dead deer out there. Probably a car-deer casualty. Which is now mostly hide, hoofs, head and chest cavity. The third one we know of, in our almost ten years here. Usually, we only know about them because of the turkey vultures.

But this morning at 7 am, my husband yelled up the stairs. EAGLE!!! In the back yard.

I’ll have to get up early tomorrow and see if he’s returned.

Just another Saturday in the rural western part of our little Central Maryland county.

Ethanol Free

We finally gave up and had to find an ethanol free gas station. I swear that ethanol is doing us more harm than high fructose corn syrup. Neither one of them is good for us.

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The closest place for us to buy it is in Littlestown PA. Full serve. In the rain today we drove up to fill up the gas cans for the snow blower, the lawn mower and the leaf vacuum. So far, in the past year, the string trimmer, snow blower and lawn mower all had carburetor work, because of the E10 gas gumming them up.

Other than the Eastern shore of MD, where the marinas are located, there are few choices near us. Charles Town WV. Front Royal VA. The one above in Littlestown. All on our short list are sources when we go on other trips in those areas.

We were really careful with our small engine equipment, draining when not in use. Using the additives. This has been the year we had major issues, including losing the lawn mower for 10 days while it was fixed. Thankfully, the tractor is diesel powered.

So, on a rainy Monday we drove 40 miles to get gas. Decided to stop on the way back at Baughers in Westminster to get a few items. Like my husbands favorite ice cream. Pumpkin.

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The last quart in the case. Perfect for his birthday dinner this week.

As for Littlestown, it is just up Rte. 97 a few miles north of the Mason Dixon Line. On the way to Gettysburg.

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Downtown is already decorated for Christmas. It reminds us so much of my husband’s home town in PA.

As for finding ethanol free gas, here is a great website.

And if you aren’t using ethanol free gas in your 2 cycle engines, it’s only a matter of time before it bites you too. Now, back to our regularly scheduled leaf removal.

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Autumn in West County

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Sure signs that autumn has arrived in western Howard County.

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Boarman’s changes their signs from beer specials to ordering meats for the holidays. I was there today to order my Maple Lawn turkey, some of their homemade pork sausage for stuffing, and oysters to make an oyster stew. To be picked up for Thanksgiving weekend. Also to get a BotaBox to use for cooking. One stop shopping, including wine, beer and spirits. Gotta love the place.

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WSSC has their signs up, telling us when deer management hunts will take place at Pigtail and Big Branch (on our side of the reservoir). The water level is low. Not sure how easy it is right now to get canoes or kayaks in at either of these sites.

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Further up the road, TLV has their tree sign next to their pumpkin bale.

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As for hay bales, it looks like many of the farms have their hay cut and baled for collection.

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And then there are the last of the leaves coming down, and the sound of leaf blowers and vacuums. Like here at home.

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Over 100 bags already done this season, with our rake and take partners picking them up regularly to use in their compost piles. We have a small one behind the shed, but trees this big and this old put out one heck of a mountain of leaves.

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It is pretty, though, isn’t it?

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