Friday, February 12

Birds of a Feather

The other day while working in the kitchen, I looked out the window to see a large white bird flying low above the field across the road. 
It swooped, flew in figure eights, dove, landed, flew again, circled the get the idea.  At first, I thought I might be seeing a snowy owl hunting in the field...

but I realized that this bird had black wing tips, which wasn't normal for a snowy owl.  It flew close to the road, then back to the back of the field; any time that it came close to the road I ran out the front door with my camera in hopes of getting a good photo. 

I got some, but no really good pics of the bird's head.  It was moving quite fast, and was hard to keep in the frame. 

But based on the photos I did get, I think I figured that this is a Northern Harrier.  I looked it up and here are some fun facts, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
  • These are the most owl-like bird of this family (so I wasn't that wrong by first thinking it was an owl of some sort).  They are considered part of the hawk family.
  • Their eye color changes from green (young males) and brown (young females) to yellow as they mature.
  • They hunt small animals and critters, including mice, voles, and birds, but have been known to attack larger prey as well like rabbits and ducks, subduing them by drowning the prey.  Kind of mean.
  • The adult males are white and black, and the adult females are brown, black, and white.
I love living out in the country.  So far, we've seen fox, deer, pheasants, hawks, and falcons, and I might be forgetting some things!  I just love seeing the wildlife.  But I'm always reminded that they are indeed wild, and it's a great reminder as I plan for future expansion, like chickens who will need protection and gardens that will need fences. 

What do you see most in your yard?

Sunday, February 7

Seed Catalogs

We have internet this weekend (long story--still don't have a provider for internet or cable), so I wanted to post about my current obsession:

Seed catalogs.  Every gardener gets them each winter.  Every photo of every vegetable, fruit, flower, and herb looks incredible, and conjures images of warm summer sunshine, eating at a picnic table, working the's like an escape from the gray, dreary landscape of winter.  At least, it is for me!

This is my first year of requesting and receiving seed catalogs on a large scale.  This is also the first
year that we are planning out our new, much larger garden and establishing perennial beds that will provide for years to come.  I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to really plan, not just imagine or daydream about this, and with the warm-ish winter we've had in northwest Ohio, it's even harder to wait for spring.  There have only been two snows this year to date--although I realize it's only the first part of February, so there are bound to be some more snow before all is said and done.  But I digress.

I've placed and received one order for seeds from Botanical Interests, and just placed a second order for more seeds from High Mowing Seeds.  I chose these two companies for several reasons: they offer a large selection of organic and heirloom seeds, they are both part of the safe seed pledge, they each had some really unique plants that I hadn't seen before, and very importantly, they both offered free shipping.  Plus, I absolutely love the packages of seed from Botanical Interests--an artist draws each plant for the packet, and they are just beautiful; I think I'll keep the packets to display after planting!  I still have more plants and seeds to purchase, but the rest can be found locally, so I think I'm done with mail orders.

Aren't these beautiful?  I love the illustrations!
My growing space will be in our basement, which stays relatively warm, but probably not quite warm enough for seedlings, and definitely not enough light for small plants.  Because of this, I've purchased seedling heat mats, plastic pellet greenhouses, a shoplight that will shine growing fluorescent lights, and seedling potting soil.  I also purchased a little metal greenhouse rack that was brand-new in the box from a rummage sale a few years ago, and finally have the chance to use it for my seedlings.
So, I'm ready to go!  All we need is some warmer weather.   Are you starting to plan for your garden yet?  Comment below!