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Category Archives: Nature

The Pre-Storm Frenzy

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Backyard bird version.

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Reminds me of the local grocery stores around here at the start of any snow event. Last minute frantic behavior. The flakes had just begun when the birds (and a few squirrels) descended upon the feeders and the ground by the bird bath.

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This was somewhat tame as it did get pretty intense up on the major feeder.

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I could almost imagine the parallels to the competition to get that last loaf of bread or gallon of milk.

It’s not like I don’t have food out there constantly. They just get so intense when a storm comes.

And, this one.

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Similar to the behavior of hovering for that choice parking spot in the store lot?

I have to admit, the birds that live here in our woods provide us with much entertainment. They know this is a source of food and water, year round. Today they were out there while I was rinsing dishes, and I had to go get the camera to record them.

I do hope this is the end of our winter storms. Enough is enough. And I’m glad we pruned the dead wood out of the tops of our shade trees. If we get a quarter inch of ice, like predicted, there will be branches breaking all around us. Crossing our fingers that Friday’s maintenance prevents any significant damage.

Stay warm and safe out there. We are almost into spring.

Preventive Maintenance

I have the greatest respect for those who work outdoors in weather like this. Who don’t seem to care if it’s cold, windy, or there’s a foot of snow on the ground. They just do their job. And, most of them love what they do.

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Including climbing and pruning very large trees.

We have used Bartlett to do the really large jobs around here, for years. They have also climbed trees just to put antenna wire anchors into the very top of them. Like this one.

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At the very top of our boundary tree, you can see the ropes where my husband attaches the extremely long wires to use for the lowest frequencies for his radio contacts. Thankfully, today, in the snow, we didn’t need that level of climbing, but we did want the trimming work done before the leaves start coming in. This work has been moved more than once due to weather, but today, they thought, we can do this.

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Let’s just say one of the harder parts of this job was getting the truck in the driveway. Yesterday, my husband and Marty Adams, our local representative from Bartlett, cleared the driveway wide enough to make it navigable for the truck. Marty is a Howard County native who is great to work with.

For us, this work yearly by Bartlett is important to maintain the health of our largest and most valuable trees. They do the difficult stuff for us. Pruning out the dead portion of one of my prized Japanese maples.

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Shaping and pruning the ornamentals. Climbing and pruning the 50-60 foot tall hardwoods. Like the maples and the pin oaks. So far, crossing our fingers, we haven’t lost any of our largest shade trees in the hurricanes, the derecho, and the ice storms. Because we do take the time and effort to do the preventive maintenance.

Our trees are part of the charm of our property. They can’t easily be replaced.

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The maple in springtime. Here’s hoping it gets here soon.

Cabin Fever

Are you tired of all this snow and ice? Ready to get outside and do something different? How about joining some of the volunteers at the Howard County Conservancy as we train to lead field trips for elementary and secondary school children?

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Next week on Thursday the 5th of March, the volunteers will be playing the “students” and learning the new kindergarten program. On the 10th, it’s the new 6th grade Storm Water program at Belmont. On the 12th, the new 3rd grade program training at Mt. Pleasant, followed by one of our famous pot luck luncheons.

Bio Blitz training at Belmont on the 17th. And, finally on the 19th at Belmont, refresher training for Wings, Stings and Leggy Things, the 2nd grade program. New volunteers will be joined by those of us who appreciate the chance to revisit the activities and get out with friends, old and new.

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This volunteer effort, which is fairly robust (the Conservancy hosts thousands of school children from pre-K all the way to high school age) is one of my favorite activities. Particularly, since we end up learning as well. The Bio Blitz is being done for the second time. It is one amazing multi-day program. I can’t wait to get outdoors in the meadows and the Patapsco Valley. Here’s hoping spring arrives soon.

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Choosing Community Again

I really do dislike that slogan around here. The “Choose Civility” one. As if civility is all we need to show to those we encounter. Whether on the roads, in the stores, in our neighborhoods.

For us. A sense of community is what is important. A sense of neighbors helping neighbors. Of being there for each other when we need them. A civil nod, and “Have a Nice Day” doesn’t resonate.

Case in point. This past weekend, and that overachieving snow.

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For us, it couldn’t have come in a worse time. Our snow thrower bit the dust.

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Last week, during the minor snowfall (how many of these buggers are we going to get?), the cable that turns the augur, broke. On order. Slated to come in tomorrow. Enter Saturdays 10 inches of snow.

We called two neighbors. And, one of them, we called their son’s cell. Sunday morning, bright and early we get a response. The son, on the RTV helped us clear out. He had just come from the widow’s property up the road, where he plowed her driveway for her. After ours, he did another neighbor.

Later that day, his parents did get back to us. They checked their messages from their vacation in Hawaii and wanted to make sure we could get in touch with their son. Later, our other neighbor came over to tell us, in the future, when they are away, which they were, we should just go in the barn and take their snowthrower to use.

Now, that’s community. Not being civil. But caring about one another.

I do love it out here. The people make it special.

Notify Me Howard

OK, we have to do something about Howard. He keeps emailing me. SEVEN times in the last 24 hours. And, he keeps changing his mind. 6-10 inches. Followed by 4-8 inches (just a few minutes after the previous prediction). Now, he’s back to the 6-10 inch thing.

So, will he be right or wrong? Will we wake up to this?

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Notify Me Howard sends us emails. Mostly about weather and cancellations and notices. When the weather is about to go ugly, they can overdo it.

I am so tired of winter. Tired of the cold. The wind. The snow. I keep hearing Jimmy Buffett in my mind. You know, BOAT DRINKS!

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I haven’t shot any holes in our freezer. Well, because we haven’t got any guns in the house, and the freezer is safely in the basement.

Time to go make something good to sip while waiting for the snow to really arrive. Can you tell it’s frustrating around here?

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

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On a Tuesday afternoon. About that snow?

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We did get the 3+ inches predicted for our area. Even though I know the southeastern portion of the county didn’t get much at all. Maybe we need to divide the county in half in order to have two school districts. Then, those unhappy about the schools being closed because of us could not miss another day. I have to wonder though. What do they do at the end of a school year if one half the county doesn’t meet the minimum number of days? Interesting.

We got enough snow for our neighbor’s little ones to build a snowman. We even used the snowblower on the driveway today. So, the storm wasn’t a bust out here. That extra couple of hundred feet in elevation from here compared to the southeastern county makes a difference in temperature and snowfall.

In other news. They postponed the volunteer fair at the Howard County Conservancy until February 3rd. Same time. Same players. If you have the time, and want to hear more about volunteering, come join us. They need office support, event support, field trip leaders, animal feeders and more.

Finally, one more picture from this morning. I have learned how to keep the birds happy without having to go too far into the yard. I also learned to use mess free bird feed on the patio. No hulls or shells.

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The red bellied woodpecker even came up closer than normal.

Storm Hype

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It never fails. They predict snowmageddon. We get nothing. They miss it completely and call for insignificant snow. We get blasted.

Who knows what Monday and Tuesday will bring. Will our volunteer day at the Conservancy get canceled? I hope not. I was looking forward to REI’s presentation, and to that free breakfast. The Conservancy is looking to add volunteers. You know, for when we aren’t :rolleyes: snowed in.

Just in case though. We are prepared. Snow blower ready.

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Comforting food made this weekend, like this split pea soup, so we can easily heat food while trying to deal with the weather.

It was 2010 when we got slammed. Twice in one week. Right before I retired. Open your door to this.

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Try to find the grill in case the power goes out.

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It is under there somewhere. I swear.

We won’t be getting this kind of snow tomorrow or Tuesday. I wonder if New York and New England will. No matter what. I hope they have staples to eat while they deal with snow.

Now, what was this nonsense about Thursday night?

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