January Notes 2019

It finally feels like winter. The wind is whipping! On such a day I’d have thought the birds would be hunkered down in the trees but low and behold there was a lone house finch pecking at the ice of the frozen bird bath. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of my friends the blue jays who took no time kicking out the finch and taking a turn at the ice. Later after they left, I filled all the bird baths with hot water.

As icy cold as it is, the sun is blindingly bright against the shimmering reds and gold of the bluestem and switchgrass. I’ve been waking up early these days while it’s still dark and the eastern horizon is just turning pink with a few planets making stark pinpoints in the sky. Everything says cold today. But tomorrow could be a dull 50 degrees and rainy.

It is the way these days. You can’t get used to anything because everything changes on a dime.

I got a letter from our neighborhood association the other day talking about mosquito traps that don’t use pesticides. It sounded good but with all the things I’ve been hearing about insect decline I wondered if it was a good idea to try and kill all the mosquitoes. Then I began wondering if mosquitoes were an exception and might actually be on the rise. It would seem to make sense. They like to eat us and there are lots of us so why wouldn’t there be more of them?

I’ve been thinking about the slope again. Now I’m back to purple love grass (Eragrostis spectabilis) and maybe prairie dropseed. I can get Virginia ecotype seed of the love grass but of course the dropseed isn’t from around these parts. But I figure it’s not aggressive and since there isn’t a local ecotype it can negatively impact I don’t have to worry about that. I mean we financially strapped so called ecological gardeners have to get a break sometime.

And I’m thinking about moving one of my many American hollies to the front garden. It will probably take much longer than my lifetime to reach any considerable size so I won’t have to worry about it taking over my vegetables.

After a month of nothing happening after I planted winter rye, I covered the vegetable beds with dead leaves. Then after a heavy rain I realized the winter rye was finally growing so I raked off the leaves. I will plant potatoes which apparently deer don’t like. I’ve haven’t grown potatoes in a while and I have a feeling I’m not going to get to any serious deer fencing this year or maybe ever. Going to have to deal in another way I think.

The hawks have been coming around. Yesterday as I was coming out of the shop in a hurry, I and what was probably a red shouldered scared the bejesus out of each other. There are plenty of doves, squirrels and voles to be had but not too many bunnies. Of course I scare the bejesus out of them too from time to time. I love how they run like a banshee for a few yards and then freeze like I can’t see them. Such a good tactic and very cute too.

But the squirrels! They run around after each other trapezing through the trees, winter coats all fluffy seeming not to have a care in the world. It’s serious business of some sort I know. Probably something to do with reproduction but boy do they look like they’re having fun.

And so the winter has sort of begun. Be warm, full and dry.