The Woodpecker Wars of 2010

23 04 2010

Here is a recap of last Saturday:

Mrs. Downy Woodpecker: Oh sweetie, I just love our new place! Our hard work has finally paid off. I can’t wait to move in and start a new family. Let’s get frisky up here on top of the roof and start making babies.

(Mr. Downy obliges.)

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Red Bellied Woodpecker: Wow, this yard is very posh. It has an All You Can Eat Asian Palm Nut Buffet. I think I’ll hang out for a while.

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Bluejay: Wow, this place is great! It has a birdbath in my favorite color!

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Bluejay: Um…a little privacy, please!

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Red Bellied Woodpecker: Hey, What’s this? A luxury condo and move-in ready. All I need to do is enlarge the doorway a bit. Good thing I didn’t waste my time building one of my own.

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Red Bellied Woodpecker: Hey you little pipsqueaks, I’m taking over this place. Go get yourselves another.

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Great Crested Flycatcher: Hmmm, I wonder about this place. The perching is nice, and it has a spa, but the woodpecker neighbors are almost as bad as mockingbirds. I think I’ll look for quieter digs.

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Mr. Downy Woodpecker: Take that you evil home invader!

Red Bellied Woodpecker: Ouch! You’re pretty tough for a little guy. But I’m not leaving!

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An epic battle ensues.


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Feathers fly and little woodpeckers strive to defend their abode. The Red Bellied Woodpecker is unflappable.

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A stupid human interferes with the natural order and tries to chase away the big invader by squirting with the hose. The Red Bellied Woodpecker returns again and again. The Downy Woodpeckers pant with exhaustion but refuse to relinquish their home.

The next morning, the nest is abandoned. No baby woodpeckers in our yard this season. The meddling humans lose!

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This place is so Seedy!

10 04 2010

Things are looking messy in the Oasis and O2, because the cold weather crops are flowering and going to seed.

Since many of my plants are open pollinated heirlooms, I’m letting them complete the cycle in order to save the seeds.

The broccoli has been a steady source of goodness from day one. I didn’t really like broccoli until I planted my own. It didn’t take long to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to get those big, compact heads like you find in the grocery store. I learned to be thrilled by anything the size of a golf ball. However, had the plants produced lots of broccoli, I may not have discovered all of the wonderfulness of this completely edible and boisterous plant.

Broccoli-Flowers

Broccoli is like the Golden Retriever of the garden; a gregarious, versatile, attractive and loyal plant. I made cream of broccoli soup from the leaves, stems and diminutive florets. We had cooked greens and stuffed leaves, we had broccoli on salads and as tasty snacks while walking around the yard. Even the flowers are sweet and yummy! The old plant has been around for a year now; and as it goes to seed, it has one more trick up its seed. (That’s no type-O.) I anticipate collecting enough seeds to keep us in tasty broccoli sprouts for the duration of the summer!

Broccoli-Florets

And like a Golden Retriever, this plant wags its tail all over the garden bed, innocently trampling everything nearby. Next time I will give the broccoli plenty of space to spread out.

broccoli-gone-to-seed

Broccoli Seed Pods

Broccoli-seed-pods

OK, I guess that’s enough about broccoli. I do have other things going on, too.

Lettuce gone to seed

Lettuce-to-Seed

Lettuce Seeds

Lettuce-Seeds

Tatsoi Seed Pods
If these look familiar, that’s because tatsoi is an Asian relative of broccoli. I know, I know…I said I would shut up about the broccoli!

Tatsoi-Seeds

Dill Flower Head

Dill-Head

Wax Beans

Wax-Beans

Speaking of seeds; see those gray things around the base of the bean plant? Those are the nuts from the Asian Sabal Palm. It puts out a huge mass of pretty blue-green seeds, which are stripped bare by squirrels and mocking birds and tossed all over the ground. They even throw them at the roof of the RV, making lots of loud “thunks” throughout the day.

Well, that about wraps it up for this post. Next time I will share the fun I’ve had with a gallon of milk. Hint, we’ve gone all Mediterranean with our diet.

I’ve also got a bunch of photos of the babies in the garden, although they won’t be babies much longer. Fertilizer and Atomic Grow are making sure of that!

And today is Carrie’s birthday. She’s got her hair done, so I will get a good picture of her. I’ll also post an update on the electric bill and water heater issue.






“United we stand. Divided we starve.”

10 04 2010

…or so they would have you believe.

The cats have learned to band together in manifesting their food. If they stare at the bowls,

Dinner-Time

or a human, with just the right amount of concentration, the food will magically appear.

Trio

And it works like a charm!





A Good Snag and our New Neighbors

10 04 2010

It was to be either one very, very looooonng post or a series of smaller ones all in a row. I chose to break it up, so that you can skip past any (or all) that don’t interest you.

We moved to this lot because it had some nice trees and lots of shade. Then something began happening to the hickory trees throughout the park. We had one in the front. It was the base for my first gardening attempt (the fern bed). Well, it died right away. AJ and I went round and round about that dead tree. I wanted to save it for the critters, he wanted to chop it down before it toppled over and smashed the RV. We had hit a snag about a snag. Fortunately, as we are usually prone to do, we arrived at a compromise.

AJ cut the tree back, leaving most of the stump, but not enough to pose danger to any structures. It isn’t very attractive, so we planted a large wild bromeliad in its crook and hung a bird feeder on one arm and wind chimes on the other. As the tree has gradually decayed, it has developed a nice patina of lichens on the trunk and sprouted a spectacular crop of shelf mushrooms. I especially love the mushrooms because the lizards use them for basking and the squirrels use them as a staircase. I believe that the old tree has never been more full of life than after its death.

Doomsayer that he is, AJ frequently comments upon the increasing instability of the rotting snag. “One of these days that think is going to fall over. It’s already so loose that you could push it down.” Then he threatens to cut it down. I resist and point out that the poor woodpeckers depend upon these dead trees for their food; and that there are so few already, because everyone cuts them down. Sure enough, the woodpeckers began to take notice and often visited for a meal. They are so shy and skittish that they could see us inside and would flit off if we moved around.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed a pair of Downy Woodpeckers carving a perfect circle right on the branch closest to the window.  As the days passed and the hole got deeper they became more bold. Eventually they got so brave as to keep working even if we went outside and walked around. This only confirms for me the scarcity of suitable nesting sites.

Meet our new neighbors who live in the snag next door. Can’t wait for the babies to arrive!

Woodpecker-Hole

Excavating

Sawdust

Downy-Mama