May 24, 2014

The Bee News and the Bear News

The Bee news is that a swarm of honeybees has moved into one of my vacant hives at the farm!  I'm really excited about this because I lost both of my established hives over the winter.  Since I had not had time to purchase and install packages this spring I was planning to clean out the boxes and seal them up for the season over Memorial Day weekend.  Yesterday our employee was out mowing the field and noticed the bees in the hive.  Yay!  I will be cleaning out the other hive but just might leave a small opening in case another swarm passes through.

The Bear news is that we had visitors of the furry black variety in our yard last night.  They had a heyday knocking over, bending, and yanking on the bird feeder stations and the trash cans.  We recovered a few of the feeders in our neighbors yard but the hoodlums done runned off with the rest!  I normally refill the feeders on Saturdays so they didn't get much food for their efforts.   We live in a housing development but are just across the street from a powerline greenbelt that connects to a protected watershed as well as other large open spaces.  So bears are not an uncommon thing in our neighborhood although this is the first time they have caused any trouble for us.  Guess I better lay low on the bird feeding for awhile so they don't come back for seconds!  The birds are flying around in a confused dither this morning trying to figure out where the feeders have gone....I hope they know their human friends are wondering the same thing!
I hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend and please don't forget to take the time to honor all  the heros and veterans who have helped make this country the home of the free.

Aug 17, 2013

Summertime In The Backyard


There is always lots of activity in our backyard garden during the summer.  Flowers bloom in a kaleidoscope of colors. Woodland ferns and groundcovers abound.   Chickadee families move into the birdhouse and spend their hours busily carrying food home from the feeders.  Bees buzz from flower to flower.  Hummingbirds zip around defending their territory and hover about the blooms in the garden.  Tomatoes and cucumbers ripen on the vine.  Raspberries and strawberries mark the start of jam making season.  Kids  hunt for bugs and slugs and spend lazy sunday afternoons in the wading pool, blowing bubbles, or playing hide and seek among the tall trees. Adults sit in the sun or shade and enjoy the breeze.   It's a busy time of the year for everyone.  But we take time to enjoy it while we can because in just a few more weeks autumn will arrive.  I hope you are enjoying your summer too!

May 20, 2012

The scent of Spring is in the air.....

Rhododendron occidentale - Western Azalea's one of my favorite times of the year.  The Western Azaleas in my yard are blooming and their delicate sweet scent is wafting through the air.  Proof for sure that Spring is here to stay and Summer will be just around the corner.   These lovelies grow in the shade at the forest edge and practically glow with their gentle splashes of yellow and pink.  It makes me want to drop the house work and take off on a leisurely hike through the woods.

Mar 13, 2012

A Determined 'Debutante'

Camellia japonica 'Debutante'

Spring is truly coming!  Look what I spied on my way out the door for work this morning...a single bloom on my very determined Camellia japonica 'Debutante' bush!   This poor shrub has had a rough go of it this winter.  In January an ice storm  broke every limb off of her main trunk.  Then the top of a big conifer tree  broke off in a windstorm a few weeks later and landed right in her lap leaving her even worse for wear.  After that I had no alternative except to trim her way back to the ground.  I manged to leave a few leaves near the ground, tentatively hoping she might produce a few buds later in the spring.  Needless to say I was not prepared to see this beautiful face smiling up at me.....from just inches above the dusting of snow on the ground this morning.   Nature's persistence never ceases to amaze me!

Feb 19, 2012

Counting Crows

Stellar's Jay

This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count.  So for an hour or two every day I've been peering out my window at all  the birds in my own backyard.  It's fun to take notice of how the bird species differ from day to day.  Seems like every day there are new visitors to our habitat.

We have lots of native plants and mature Douglas Fir trees in our yard.  Just down the street is a natural area with a stream and wetland buffers that provides additional sanctuary for wildlife.  Being surrounded by so much wildlife friendly open space definitely offers the benefit of a greater variety of birds.

Townsend's Warbler

Yesterday I saw a Golden Crowned Kinglet.  Today's unique sighting was a Townsend's Warbler.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring?  The suet feeder seems to be an attractive spot for colorful visitors this weekend.

Of course there are lots of the common visitors like Anna's and Rufous Hummingbirds, Oregon Juncos, Chestnut Backed Chickadees, Stellar's Jays and Varied Thrushes at the feeders, too.  

So far the tie for largest number of birds in a single sighting  is a flock of Bushtits that literally covered my suet feeder for a few minutes and an army of American Crows who stopped by to call attention (LOUDLY) to the neighborhood cat that was lurking in the shrubbery.

Counting birds is fun.  It's a great way to learn about nature and a fun way for kids to join in the fun.  You can spend 15 minutes or 15 hours. If you haven't yet done so, find out more at

Great Backyard Bird Count
 I hope you will take a few minutes to get out and enjoy nature this weekend!

Jan 15, 2012


"Mr. Jewel" relaxing on a snowy twig

Ollie and Mollie watching "Mrs. Jewel" take a drink

"Mrs. Jewel" relaxing on the feeder

"Mr. Jewel" taking a drink

No....I'm not talking about the human kind who migrate to warmer climates during the winter.  We are talking real live Snow Birds.
Today has been an exciting day at my house.  I woke up early this morning...very early.  The temperature was below freezing last night, so I knew I needed to be up before dawn to take care of "The Jewels" - my resident Anna's Hummingbird family.  These adorable little gems stay here year round which means my hummingbird feeders are up twelve months out of the year.  When the temps get down to around 25 degrees F. their sugar syrup will freeze so on cold mornings I sometimes have to change their feeders so these little wonders can eat the moment they wake up.  

As the sun rose we were treated to a light dusting of fresh snow.  By mid afternoon the big fluffy flakes were really flying and there was about two inches of snow blanketing the landscape.  (In Seattle, this is enough snow to cripple an entire city and trigger round-the-clock newscasts about "The Big Storm."  Think sliding buses, stranded motorists and kids sledding on what's left of the muddy, snowy grass at the local park.) 

My two inside birds - Ollie and Mollie - absolutely love snowy days.  They sing and hop around their cage more than usual and fly about the house in a state of joy. (Yes, they are allowed to fly free in the house but rarely leave the room their cage is in.)   I'm sure it helps that more wild birds and squirrels show up at the backyard feeding station on snowy days......which they can see from their cage.  Ollie and Mollie get the biggest kick out of the hummingbirds who visit the feeder right outside their window.  They flap their wings in a hilarious attempt to imitate their tiny friends.  Silly Parakeets!

This afternoon I snapped a few photos as Mr. and Mrs. Jewel were happily zooming about the yard.   Watching them sit on snowy branches preening their feathers in the middle of a micro-blizzard is a fascinating experience.  It's a wonder how creatures so small can weather a storm that leaves humans huddling around woodstoves dressed in layers.  Next time I feel like whining about the weather I'll remember the Jewels and be more grateful for my own food and shelter resources.

Jan 3, 2012

Blue Sky and Daisies

Blue Sky and Daisies.....I'm sure you are wondering what this blog name is all about.  It's pretty simple.  One of my favorite places to be in the world is in the middle of a meadow full of daisies on a bright sunny day.  Wide open spaces...where there are no cars, no buildings, few people and  lots of beautiful mother nature staring back at you from every direction.   Are you starting to get the idea now?  This is where I plan to share musings about all of my favorite things in life.