Archive for October, 2013

Squirrel Battles

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It’s the time of year when squirrels get even more enthusiastic about raiding bird feeders. This article has some good ideas for deterring them. You can read the full text here.

We have found the baffles as she describes to be the best defense, and we also have a squirrel feeder we try to keep stocked with corn, especially now. Corn is a lot cheaper than sunflower and nyjer, the two seeds we offer the most to our birds. Trouble is, we live on the edge of a woods, and we have so many squirrels, we could fill it several times a day. They’re in stockpiling mode right now, so after they’ve gorged themselves to the brim, they start hoarding for winter, which isn’t really necessary because we’ll feed them corn all winter, but they (and their genetics) don’t know that. They dig holes everywhere, stashing their maize treasures. Most of these stashes go unused, and in the spring we’re pulling up baby corn plants everywhere! For all their nuisance, I do find them entertaining.

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In the pictures above, the two poles on the left are well protected by baffles. We have never seen a squirrel get past them. The first is fairly near a deck planter, but because it’s so high they can’t get past it.

imageThat hanging feeder on the right side of the black pole is called a “squirrel buster” and was supposed to be squirrel proof, LOL. Those little perches are on a weight-sensitive mechanism that closes when anything too heavy gets on them, blocking access to the feed openings, but squirrels, especially red squirrels, are too smart for that. It worked for a while, but sooner or later they’d get at the seed. Of course, all the while they’re working on this invasion, no birds can use it.

The last image is the squirrel feeder, placed about 15-20 feet from the other feeders. That jar is a gallon sized behemoth and can hold lots of corn, even on its side. It’s empty now, but that’s the way it looks most of the time unless you look right after it’s been filled. They do like it, and will wait in line for access. They’re pretty civilized about it. Sometimes there’s one in the little hut getting corn, one on the roof and one on the top of the pole, waiting their turns. They behave better than many humans would.

Frost Advice

Gertens Greenhouses sent me an email yesterday warning of a frost alert. Another family owned wonderland, but a long drive for me, I’ll probably be visiting Gertens more often now that there will be no Linder’s. Here are its recommendations for a quick frost defense, short and sweet. It’s not an attempt at heroics, but may help to keep the fall colors going a bit longer when there’s still hope of some warmth ahead.

  • Cover Mums and mixed fall pots with a sheet or nursery blanket at night or around freezing temperatures
  • If temps are forecasted around or below 28 degrees, pansies need to be covered or brought in
  • Pumpkins (especially carved) will rot faster after freezing, so bring them in if you’re hoping for fresh looking pumpkins
  • First Freeze

    It was 28° when I awoke today. This is the first real freeze of the season. We’ve had a few brushes with 32° but this is serious frost. Any annuals hanging around from summer are done for it, and most perennials have packed it in as well.

    With this weather, I drink a lot of hot tea. I just got a new “Tea Quilt”, an insulated tea cozy to keep my tea hot on cold days. They come in so many beautiful patterns it was nearly impossible to choose, but I knew I wanted birds in there, so my choices were narrowed but still difficult. Many designs had winter scenes with cardinals, one of everyone’s favorites, but I decided when I’m drinking a hot potion to keep me warm I’d rather be reminded of warmer days, so I went with fruit and birds. This photo doesn’t do it justice. The colors are so much richer in person, they almost glow. Underneath is a pot of piping hot tea that was made almost 2 hours ago. It’s still so hot I need a pot holder to pick it up. Yay! It works. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll get one of the wintery patterns with cardinals, just for the holidays….

    Hand made in Little Canada, MN USA

    Hand made in Little Canada, MN USA

     

    Oh No, The “S” Word!

    We have snow today. Not huge amounts of it, but enough to be seen swirling on the highway and dusting the deck.

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    Unlike many of my fellow northerners, I do not welcome it. I think this must be a record, even for Minnesota: only 4 consecutive months with no snow.

    It’s Getting Cold

    This morning was the first time this season the thermometer was below 40° when I woke up: 38° and holding for 3 hours. Tonight and the next few nights will be below freezing. I had to get the fireplace going as we haven’t yet turned on the furnace and it was pretty chilly. Most of the summer annuals are getting dumped this weekend, and the ceramic pots that can’t survive the winter outdoors will get stored. The New Guinea impatiens are looking great, however. They seem to be loving the chill. My guess is the freeze will do them in however. The heated bird bath will get plugged in and I guess it’s time to put the fountain away, always a sad concession.

    Yesterday I visited Linder’s for what was probably the last time. I bought 2 small hostas as my last impulse purchase there. It was nice to see that, even though they’re closing their doors and the stock is very depleted, they’re keeping it neat, organized and reasonably attractive. It’s sad enough to go there, it would be way worse if it was also really a mess. They have a parrot named Baby that has lived in a huge habitat in their indoor building as long as I can remember. He talks to people as they shop. I wonder what will happen to Baby.

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    Autumn Leaves

    Last night we had some high winds and strong rain.  Results:  a lawn of leaves.

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    In Memoriam

    Yesterday it was announced that Linder’s Garden Center, a third generation family owned business that’s been part of our community for over 100 years, is closing. The changing demographics of their customer base, the advent of the big box stores, the recession, and the horrific spring season that virtually wiped out their spring income, have all helped to ring the death knell for this friendly and cherished neighborhood source of beauty. I will miss my trips to Linder’s. I would sometimes go there just to be surrounded by the loveliness. I almost always came home with some new treasure for my yard, but the visit itself was the real joy. Their extravagant outdoor displays were wondrous, changing with the seasons and often a source of inspiration. In recent years their Flower Marts would suddenly appear like mushrooms in the parking lots of grocery stores and malls throughout the area in early April, a true portent of summer.

    I visited their 50% off going-out-of-business sale today, but was dissuaded by the 2 hour checkout lines. Good luck to the Linder family.

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    They began as a celery farm in 1903:

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    Later, they became a flower store that finally morphed into a full garden center.

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