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Category Archives: Nature

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?

Meesy Micey

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A fact of life out here in the rural communities. Field mice. This year I thought we had thwarted them. We did make it much farther into the winter before they struck.

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A brand new bag of tortilla chips. Of course, we had become complacent. Forgetting to put everything in jars of canisters in the pantry. We thought that our two resident hawks, and the neighbor’s outdoor kitty, who pops through daily to check out the bird feeders and anything else that looks interesting would take care of it.

The cooper’s hawk hunts daily in the meadow. For long stretches. On the tree. On the ground. On the tree. On the ground. I can empty the dishwasher and watch him hunt. He isn’t interested in our birds.

But, one little field mouse (hopefully just one) managed to infiltrate this past weekend. We found the evidence Tuesday. Besides the tortillas, they got into a brand new bag of rice flour I bought for a cookie recipe I found.

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This was on the second to top shelf in the pantry.

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At least the brown sugar is still intact.

We haven’t trapped him yet. He eats the peanut butter right off the trap. Three times now.

Ten years ago on my first evening coming into the house. Right after settlement. I saw my first field mouse who had squeezed up through the opening where the water line feeds the refrigerator. The laundry room and the dishwasher connections, and sometimes the downdraft vent opening under the stove. All have to be protected. We have stuffed steel wool. We have plugged holes in the crawl space. They still manage to squeeze in. At least this year we made it two months farther into winter than in the past.

I will win this battle. It may take a few more days.

Just another fun week in the country. Oh yeah, it’s going to snow and sleet again twice this weekend. I am so ready for spring to get here. How many more weeks to go?

Plus, somebody has to start doing a better job around here. They show up nicely against a snow covered landscape.

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Yes, you. Mister sharp shinned hawk. Keep those mice out of my house.

Fun for the Whole Family

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I hear the pileated woodpeckers are back. At the Howard County Conservancy, this Saturday at 10AM at the free program, Backyard Birding, you just might get to see them.

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I took this picture a few years back when I was leading a program in November. Winter is the best time to find the birds, when the leaves are off the trees.

I was visiting with the program leaders Wednesday. They tell me they have all sorts of great things lined up for this weekend. The program will be given by two Howard County Bird Club members. Additionally, one of the children’s favorite hike leaders, Caroline Kosisky will have activities for the younger attendees. Bird related activities, but geared to the preschool set.

The other attendees will get the chance to use binoculars and a couple of birding scopes to look for those elusive woodpeckers.

Most of the program will be done upstairs above the Nature Center. There, protected from the cold and wind, through the large windows, you are at tree height. Just above the feeders.

The program leaders, Robin Todd and Sue Muller have lots planned for those who want to come out and learn more about how to attract birds to your yard, and how to identify them by sounds and sight.

If we’re lucky the woodpeckers will show up, since we will be indoors. They won’t know we are behind those glass walls.

If not, you will definitely find some of our abundant local birds.

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Like the bickering blue jays trying to find the heaviest peanuts while trying not to share. You never know what you might see.

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