Pat posted on May 24, 2010 10:07
Newly-hatched cardinal

Location, location, location: A pair of cardinals here made a clever choice. There's been a nest just outside the front windows - opposite the pair of rocking chairs that look out on the front - up in a holly tree. Just inches from the window, giving us a front-row view of the nesting female, and finally, the hatched little ones, and the parents feeding them. Local friends told me sadly that a black snake had gotten their cardinals' nest. What a great choice this holly tree is: a hard spot to fly into, discouraging predatory birds, not sturdy enough for the cat to navigate the branches, and too thick with small branches for a snake to slither up, I'd guess. I kept the cat in for many days to give them peace, put a bowl of water on the porch railing near the tree, a small feeder with sunflower seeds nearby in the yard. It's now an empty nest: another generation successfully launched.

Posted in: Diary , Wildlife  Tags:
Pat posted on May 19, 2010 12:37

Ever since acquiring this property, it's been my intention to turn the small patches of lawn on the entry side of the house into never-need-mowing herb lawns. After all, there's not much grass really there, certainly not much of any desirable kind; what goes on there is a march through the progression of perennial weeds. And it takes too much last-minute trimming for the area to look good for guests. A main concern for a B&B is to keep things looking good while reducing the labor involved. Quite a few people have tried to tell me that there's nothing easier and faster to deal with than a simple patch of grass, but anyone who's been here knows that I haven't been convinced. So, since I got to stay here year-round this year, I thought this would be the spring to do it. I did clear out the southern patch, the one bounded by the entry walk/ramp on the north, house on the west, wall of English ivy on the south. Hoed out the grass roots and the weeds and got a pretty clear area to work with. I started moving lemon balm, monarda (bee balm), thyme and spearmint to the four edges, to work gradually inwards. Moved bluebells to encircle the weeping cherry but they didn't like it a bit: those glossy, taut lily-like leaves lost all signs of life, but I'm hoping that the bulbs survive and we'll get a nice display next spring. But then the temperature started nudging 90 degrees every day - just too hot to start small transplants, unless I put a sprinkler on every day, and that's a wasteful method. I'm holding off, and that means large patches of dirt, and grasses creeping back in. Will work on it as I can, and in the meantime: apologies ...

Posted in: Garden  Tags:
Pat posted on May 12, 2010 00:31

We thought we'd have it made with this new system. We've been told that the heating and A/C will respond to whichever zone has the greatest need (heaviest call on the system). So, it should be possible to let my parents' suite heat up in the morning and then air conditioning start cooling the rest of the house as the sun starts heating rooms up. The good news is that the house seems nicely cool in these recent 90- and near-90-degree days, and, hurrah! guests are finding the upstairs truly comfortable. But the dampers to my parents' zone are certainly not closing tightly as I believed they would and should. The air conditioning leaks - gently, but constantly - out their registers, so that they are not protected from the cooling. I'd like to hear from others who have zoned their houses (with a single furnace, heat pump and A/C unit, rather than completely separate systems). Do your zones close off tightly? Do we just accept the leaking air flows, or was it a bad installation?

Posted in: Home Improvement  Tags:
Pat posted on May 3, 2010 19:12
Chimney swift image from the internet, not here at Chick Cove Manor

Last spring, just after buying a large plasma tv for the living room, and setting it up in front of the unused fireplace, for want of other quick options, strange noises were heard from that spot. A funny sort of chattering or extended staccato whistling ... what on earth? Then a small bird plopped onto the floor one day and I discovered that the noises were from chimney swifts nesting here. I couldn't move the tv and heavy stand to put the bird back up the chimney as I should have, so I tried to put it in a safe spot outside. Probably never made it, although I never saw proof of its demise. If it fell after an unsuccessful attempt at flight, perhaps the next try was a success. It seemed mature enough. Interestingly, they need to be offered something vertical to cling to, as they don't perch on other surfaces. Brick and mortar chimneys are ideal.

So, this surprise was reason to learn something new. I found that chimney swifts are endangered, and protected by federal and state laws. tells us that, "Chimney Swifts are extremely beneficial. Two parents and their noisy offspring will consume over 12,000 flying insect pests every day. These include only small things like mosquitoes, gnats, termites and biting flies. Unfortunately Chimney Swift numbers are in decline due to loss of habitat -- first large hollow trees, and now open masonry chimneys."

Now, after rearranging the furniture, I've got access to the fireplace again and am all ready to retrieve and replace any fallen little ones this year. But so far, so good. The chattering goes on and no arrivals on the floor. I hope there's a large family enjoying any and all mosquitos!

Posted in: Diary , Wildlife  Tags:


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