Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Industry and laziness

This past Memorial Day weekend I forgot until too late to enter the agility trial I had intended to go to; so for the first time in probably 20 years, I had a three day weekend with nowhere to go, nothing to do, no dog shows, no family obligations, nothing. It was WONDERFUL. I spent most of the weekend working in the yard, cleaning the training room in the basement, lugging my agility tunnels to the car wash to clean, and training the dogs.

Here are a couple of pictures of my project that I finally got done. Last summer I bought a fountain which has been sitting waiting for me to get to it; and even before that I had bought a kit called "poetry stones" which let you pour your own bricks and press words into them. I used them to make a brick for each of my pets who has died, with their names, dates, and titles for the dogs who had earned them. I wanted to make a little memorial garden, or really a memorial flower bed, with the fountain to double as a bird bath and hopefully backdrop for bird photos.

My dad had put the lattice up for me last summer, so I could plant more clematis which seems to love my backyard and will provide a good place for the birds to perch and hide. I had to put down weed blanket, try and level the area with sand, and put paver sand between the bricks, as well as put in a few plants. I planted two clematis which hopefully will take off and grow as well as the ones I put in last year; pickings were slim at the garden stores but I did find one coneflower and put some shasta daisies behind the fountain- hopefully they will grow tall enough to provide a backdrop there.

I put my little curled up kitty garden statue in the corner. I am not very happy with how the bricks turned out- they are not at all level and not very stable, so I may have to figure out a better way to redo them. But at least for now they are in. I need some more plants too, but I think I put it off a bit too long for this year. I did pick up some creeping phlox and a couple dianthus yesterday to add in.

All of my pets are represented, starting with my old dog Winky who I got when I was 3 and was with me until my freshman year of college. I will have to lug the kit out again and make stones for Harley to add in; though he was my parents' dog he deserves a place here as well. I did not include my many many wild critters from my years of wildlife rehab- that would have required a whole patio!

After I was finally finished, I took the pictures (mostly to send to my parents in FL so they could help me come up with what other types of plants to add) and was sitting relaxing in my chair listening to the fountain and watching the birds. I needed to go up and lug my agility tunnels down from the van through the backyard and put them back in the basement, but was struggling to find the motivation. The dogs got hot, so I had put them back inside. A pair of Carolina wrens had been very much in evidence all weekend, flying back and forth between the woods and the deck, and I thought they must have a nest under the deck but hadn't gotten around to looking for it. I see them around occasionally, but they are not usually such a constant presence. As I sat there trying to talk myself into finishing up my last chore, they really started to get annoyed by me and kept landing on the lattice, looking at me and scolding, then making their rounds again from deck to woods and back to deck again. So of course I put the zoom lens on the camera and took a few shots.

This is not the face of a pleased wren! How DARE I occupy his backyard- he obviously had important things to do and had not planned on company!

Suddenly I heard a tiny, higher pitched peep and it became apparent what the adult wrens had been distressed about. Apparently there WAS a nest under the deck, and number one son had decided it was time to strike out on his own. I looked down and there was fluffy, awkward looking baby wren perched on the lattice down near the ground.

By this time Papa and Mama Wren were fit to be tied. I can just see her nattering away at him: "Oh, you HAD to have the nest here. Right by the birdfeeder, you said. Right by the birdbath. Easy access to all the takeout we need. Too close to the house, I said. But noooo... you insisted no one is ever home here and it would be fine. So guess when they decided to be home! Next time you'll listen to me!".

Meanwhile, number one son has hopped over onto the deck steps and is looking at me very curiously, but not at all afraid. He is so close that I actually can't get him in focus with my zoom lens, and I am almost out of space on my CF card! But what are the odds that I would be sitting there with a camera in my hand in the first place?

Even a little out of focus, isn't he just the cutest thing ever? He looks like a little old man with his wild tufts on the top of his head.

I filled up my CF card and had to take a quick break to change it and the lens. NOW I could get sharper shots. Number one son made a brave attempt to fly and landed in the middle of the lily bed, hopping from plant to plant.

I couldn't believe my luck when he flew up and perched right in the middle of a full, bright red lily blossom. I love this shot! Sometimes laziness is rewarded- if I'd lugged my butt up and finished my chores, I would have missed the whole thing.

Here is the little gourd house where the nest was- my aunt painted it for me and I hung it under the deck thinking I would find a better place for it later. Summer before last it hosted a wren family and I never got around to moving it; if anyone used it last year I didn't see them. I had just looked in it a couple of weeks ago and didn't see anything, so didn't think it was in use.

If you look closely, you can see one of the three other babies still in the nest. The other three elected not to make their first flight that evening; but when I came home from work the next day the nest was empty. Good luck, little fledglings! Good thing you didn't come out while the dogs were lying under the deck- you would have landed right in front of their noses and I'm not sure about Cory but I know darn well Robbie would have pounced on you in an instant- he LOVES real feathers and fur. Stay safe from the other critters and I will keep the feeders full for you!

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