January 27, 2019
Sunday, January 27, 2019
The owl box is up. It is a fine structure made of cedar and mounted on a high pole to keep squirrels out. Tim painted it a light tan to blend in among the oak trees and the rest of the backyard; it even fits in with the color of the house. So now we wait. A camera inside the box illuminates the inside, but so far the fresh sawdust has not been tamped down, though a titmouse did sit on the perch and peek in.
There is still time. January is quite early for screech owls to nest or even guard a box. My old box where the male showed up in September and roosted in the box until nesting season was an exception. Very unusual. In our new neighborhood the owls will need to discover this house first. One night during the summer I walked out the back door and stopped short when I saw a screech owl perched on one of the shepherd’s hooks, so screech owls are here. We’ve seen several owl boxes throughout the neighborhood, but many are placed quite low on trees; probably too low for a screech owl’s liking.
Today a striking blackback goldfinch fed from the sunflower seed feeder with his olive green friend. We have been waiting for weeks for birds to visit the backyard feeders. The greenbelt is such a strong attraction for all birds and with fall’s bounty of plants and trees and seeds, our backyard is little competition. We hung a feeder near the street that has attracted a mix of birds – titmice, cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, just with its millet and sunflower mix. In an effort to attract more birds to the backyard we switched feeders, adding one with a tray. We’ll see what happens. Still, wrens and yellow-rumped warblers nibble on suet and now the titmice and goldfinches are returning.
A cold front blew in yesterday afternoon bringing yet another full inch of rain. I hoped Manor and Scattered Oaks would be spared, but the arenas are soaked again and Willis’ paddock is muddy and slick. I slipped as I walked toward Willis who was standing in the far end of the paddock. In my private lesson Willis began to limp when I asked him to trot. Stacie had warmed Willis up just fine, cantering as well as trotting. Then I mounted and he’s lame. Turns out the problem is thrush which doesn’t surprise anyone considering all the wet weather, but it still makes me feel guilty. I should have anticipated it and at least tried to prevent it. I applied Koppertox, but his paddock is so wet I wonder if it isn’t an exercise in futility. Today I washed mud off his hooves and applied it again, hoping it keeps his hooves from getting worse, if not better. Out he went, back into his paddock. I hope he stays in his shelter.
This winter has been mild by most standards. Mornings begin at 38º-42º and rise to 50º or so; sometimes 60º. I love the cold weather. Each evening around 5:30 pm. when the sun begins to set, Daisy and I walk through the neighborhood. Daisy does not like to walk after dark. She plants her feet and won’t budge. We believe she is afraid of the coyotes. Whenever she sees one, she races back and forth in the house, or if outside, lunges at them, barking and growling.
Deer visit every night. The bucks are fine looking – muscular with 6- and 8-point antlers. This year’s fawns have grown so much it’s hard to tell the does apart from the adults or yearlings sometimes. The foxes visit each night, too, but the coyotes have disappeared for the past few days. It’s breeding season; maybe that has something to do with it.
I noticed white iris blooming along Juniper Ridge. It seems early and our warm spells are usually short, but our yard is looking healthy and all the holly we planted looks vibrant as do the begonias. The broccoli looks great; I never saw such healthy-looking leaves last year. The lettuce is catching up – it’s about 2-3 inches tall now, almost ready to harvest. Today I planted onions that one of my barn friends shared with me. I know nothing about growing onions, so I hope this works out.
– Christine Baleshta