Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Cupboard Was Bare

In the wee hours this morning, a fox sniffed at a small feeding trough in my garden. Unfortunately, bluejays and neighbourhood cats had removed the chicken skin it held, so the fox got only a smell.

The little wooden trough is only twenty inches long, which gives you an idea of just how small these elegant little animals are.

Friday, 17 November 2017


Winter is upon us and I believe I'm ready for it.

My basement's propane furnace is serviced and I've changed my car's tires to winter ones. Garden hoses have been drained and put away and my deck chairs are under cover. For my driveway I've stocked up with bags of anti-skid sand/salt mixture. I've switched to winter clothing. My cat friend, Ellie Mae, has resigned herself to spend the cold nights indoors. At bedtime she sleeps on my pillow, just above my head. Sometimes it feels like I'm wearing a fur hat. Domestic bliss!

My two honey bee hives have also been prepped for winter and I'll continue to make frequent checks on them to make sure their bottom boards are open and clear. At their entrances I use the cardboard insert from a paper towel roll as a stethoscope to listen for life affirming buzzing. I'm a bit worried about the larger hive as there seems to be a larger die-off than usual. There is nothing more I can do now but wait and hope.

My honey bee hives look like badly wrapped Christmas presents.

Our exceptionally rainy summer has lowered honey production. Many days were too wet for the bees to fly and gather nectar so they were forced to stay in their hives and eat their stores. I've heard that commercial bee keepers in Ontario reported a 50% drop in honey production. I experienced about the same.

I did manage to harvest enough honey for myself, family and friends. Beside using the honey for a toast spread and for cooking, I like to make a honey/lime drink. Dissolve three tablespoons of honey in a cup of hot water. Let cool. Add three tablespoons of lime cordial and a cup of cold water. Ice cubes make a jolly 'clink' factor. Instead of the cordial, freshly squeezed limes and slices for garnish is even better.

Party in a glass!

There are always mice seeking winter shelter in my basement. And I offer hospitality by providing sunflower seeds for them -- hot-glued to the bait pans of mouse traps. Each morning I check the traps and if there are casualties, the bodies are recycled by bluejays.

In rigor mortis, a mouse's leg seems to try to fend off a blue jay.

The jay makes a test bite on the mouse's nose.

Satisfied there will be no resistance, the jay takes off with it's prize.

I have five feeders that are open to all birds and two feeders that are encircled with mesh to exclude large birds.

A chickadee nabs a peanut from a bluejay-proofed feeder.

A one and a half inch opening is large enough for a goldfinch.

Eyes fixed on the ground, a red-tailed Hawk scans for game.

Perhaps this Cotton-tail rabbit feels safer by grazing close to my house.