Drinks On Me!

Birdbaths are kind of a pain in the butt to maintain. Mine seem to instantaneously grow algae and SOMEBODY keeps pooping in them. However, they benefit my birds, and add to the garden traffic .

This dove had a super model moment in my DIY thrift store bird bath (chips & salsa bowl plus some kind of pillar), dipping its head then doing a slow motion shake to send water droplets flying.

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I also purchased an iron framed birdbath from a local yard art artist. The birds seem to like the branches to perch on.

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Birds aren’t the only ones who are fans. Everybody’s stopping by for drinks!

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Evil Weevils

It seems like every year I get to go up against some new insect that wants to stir the pot in my garden. Fake wasps dry humping my vines, mutant Japanese beetle things a few gamma rays away from a Godzilla movie, threatening spiders, and worms disguised as leaves to infiltrate my tomatoes. 

At least the hummingbird moth hasn’t wronged me.

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This is a really bad photo. I’m sorry, but they’re so fast!

 

This summer, I’ve become aware of a higher percentage of broken off coneflower heads. The heads are left hanging by the barest scrap of stem. I’ve blamed the evidence of my new adversary on my darling goldfinches who are constantly in and out of the flowers eating seeds and screaming, “Heeeyyy, yoousse guys!!,” but the way the stem was broken just doesn’t make sense for the birds.

On a hunch, I dissected three hanging flower heads, and three for three I found evil in the form of a shiny beetle with an anteater’s nose. My gut said “Weevil” and the Internet clarified “Sunflower Head-clipping Weevil.” That’s so frigging specific!

It was time to go to war. War with a bucket of soapy water.

Warning: The following portion of this post has been approved for “mature audiences” only due to language, implied violence, and maybe an implied sex scene.

If you’d like to read a thoughtful explanation of the Sunflower Head-Clipping Weevil and how to deal with it, please follow the links above. My version is much more sweary and less scientific.

Mother pus bucket!

Here’s what the motherfuckin’ Sunflower Head-Clipping Weevil does. It really likes coneflowers, but I’ve also found them on my Black-eyed Susans and blanket flowers. It likes them so much that it uses its giant nose teeth to snip a perfect circle around the stem just an inch or so below the flower, leaving one little leftover bite so the head of the flowers still dangles from the stem.

Then.

THEN!

Then the Sunflower Head-Clipping Weevil goes inside the flower head and HAS SEX. It fucks inside a decapitated head like some conquering Game of Thrones incestuous viking, dragon motherfucker! (I don’t watch Game of Thrones. I just know there’s a ton of boobies and dragons. So I’ve heard.)

Then.

THEN!

Then they eat all the pollen on that flower, and lay a bunch of eggs inside the head where they just had weevil sex. When the flower head finally falls off, the larva crawl into the ground to winterize and repeat the whole goddamned cycle!

You can’t spray for these assholes because they invade blooming plants and you don’t want to kill the pollinators. Drowning was the only suggested solution. So I rolled up on these bitches with a bucket of soapy water, shears, and my bug squishing gloves. They have plastic coated fingertips. I spent my morning drowning weevils like some kind of gardening mafiosa.

Tired from mass murdering bugs (and doing some planting), I went inside for lunch, and that is when they retaliated with a surprise strike.

Eating in the Happy Morning Sunshine room, I glanced out the back doors to the garden. Something was off.

The head of my “Now Cheesier” coneflower (Ok, there are all kinds of varieties and colors of coneflowers. The “Mac and Cheese” coneflower which is a lovely Velveeta shade came out in 2008. “Now Cheesier” is the follow up.)  that I had planted not even an hour ago appeared to be drooping. Not drooping. PERFECTLY SNIPPED! FUCKERS!

It’s like they left a horse head in my bed! The war will continue.

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Look at them gleefully dancing! Right before I crushed them.

Burning the Garden to the Ground: Match in Hand!

This is NOT the offspring of last year’s giant garden spider that had me trapped in my house gathering flammable substances. However it is hanging out in the same location, and I have watched it grow this week and really structure its web.DSCF1883

It’s either a Basilica Orb Weaver or a Venusta Orchard Spider.

You figure it out.

Frankly, I can’t decide and looking at page after page of close up spider pictures is making me queasy. Seriously, if I see another close up of a hairy spider’s eyes, I’ll probably just faint and roll under my desk. The cats will never figure out how to dial 911, we’re doomed!

The spider is not yet at horror movie size, but I know where my lighters and matches are. Just. In. Case.

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Just Bob

MomBert seems to attract garden cats. Whenever I visit her, I usually get a snuggle from Bob nee Honeynut nee Yates. He is so soft and full of love and wiggles (He may be a long lost Wigglebothum relation) that I want to spirit him away to my house to stay indoors away from coyotes, hawks, road traffic, and all that would do him harm.

We’ve learned from his people who live four houses away through a patch of woods and yard space, that Bob and his buff colored sibling Wendell (The cats are all named after poets, but he’s been just Bob to us.) are released in the morning and expected to return home each night. We met his people and learned about their theory on pet care via a wanted poster when Bob presumably had not returned home for several days.

He camps out under a small pine by the birdfeeders or lounges on the front stoop eyeing chipmunks, but unlike Calico the previous queen of the garden, he’s never brought us any furry gifts. When he initially arrived in the winter, watching cardinals in the snow, MomBert offered him a bed and some shed space, but he declined preferring to trek back home. 

First Day: Thanks Garden

It’s the first day off no school! (I have a ton of stuff to do and will have to go back in the building, but without students!) I’ve been productively trapped by the gaping window of a delivery time. My seventeen-year-old washer and dryer set – my first big girl job purchase after adopting Bella Luna– was just not functioning like it used to and I finally resigned myself to purchasing a new set.

Workers in the house means packaging up four cats into bedrooms along with water bowls and litter boxes. Seventy-five percent of my population would panic at strangers and noises and could unpredictably decide to dart anywhere. Twenty-five percent of the population is incensed that I have locked him into only one room of HIS house when there are workers to be overseen, and spent the day banging on the bedroom door and clawing at the carpet. He had a litter box, a water bowl, a bed, a window, and his girlfriend, but oooohhhh nooooo.

I spent the pre-delivery down time vacuuming everything which shut my captives up pretty quickly. Vacuums are scary. I even busted out the Bissell and shampooed the carpet! Mostly, this happened because I had to move it out of the laundry room along with a  myriad of other items so the delivery guys could reveal the accumulation of “ick” when they removed the old washer and a dryer.

Things under and behind the washer and dryer:

  • Dust bunnies so big that I had to switch heads on the vacuum.
  • One hair tie
  • Stuff that looked like coffee grounds, but…..IDK
  • One sock
  • One pair of underwear
  • A cardboard toilet paper roll????
  • And, shockingly, only one cat toy. I thought there would be a whole nest of jingle mice.

By the time they left me alone with my new appliances, my productivity was waning and I needed food. A friends homemade hummus plus some goat cheese, with cilantro that re-seeded itself, and an entire salad of a very young onion, lettuce, kale, and spinach from the garden.

I love being able to go foraging!

Paths

I mowed for the first time this spring a couple of weeks ago. Presumably it was time to mow since the curb grass that the city planted when they repaved the road was edging towards a foot tall, the neighbor to the right had given his lawn a crew cut primarily so he could use his leaf blower WHENEVER POSSIBLE, and my much saner neighbor on the left had mowed at a reasonable length.

As I came around the side of the house to edge along the fence, I discovered well worn paths in the grass. We had an incredibly mild winter so the grass was rarely buried in snow and the critter population must have kept moving throughout the season. One path hugged the flower bed by the house and scooted under the gate. Two other paths came from different angles through the sane neighbor’s yard to converge at a point under the fence.

Given the warming spring weather and the full moon, I decided to put the game camera out, two days and nights on each path, to see who was wearing away the grass.

Unfortunately, I need to play with the camera settings or maybe invest in a new SD card because my night photos are whiting out and my day time photos have taken on a strange pinkish tint. From the night photos, I was able to discern a cat ear, some skunk stripes and maybe a opossum.

The day time photos featured some random birds landing in the right spot and plenty of squirrel action including my favorite.  I love this majestic beast stalking through the grass for a close up. WGI_0047