Sunday, November 18, 2007

Carolina Wren family update

Our family of Carolina Wren's, we call all of them "Nancy," have found the bucket of meal worms we bought for the Blue Birds. The Nancy's are constantly in the bucket getting worms. I have to monitor them and keep them covered sometime to avoid her decimating the 5000 worms I just received last week.

Two of the baby "Nancy's" had been spending the night in a artificial plant that we have hanging under the roof on the front porch. We thought they had found a new place to sleep when we didn't see them come to bed 2 nights in a row. Last night around 5pm we walked by their basket on the porch, and scared 2 birds away. It appears they are going to bed earlier and are still using the baskets. I think the cooler weather is bringing them to bed earlier. It was good to see they are still using baskets. It had been a ritual every night we would have "happy hour" on the porch and wait for the "Nancy's" to go to bed. It started out being around 8pm but as the days get shorted, they are now going to bed around 5pm.

This is our first fall in Cairo. The fall color is starting to get nice but is by no means at peak. Last year, we got here after Thanksgiving and the colors were beautiful. The colors may not be like they are up in the north Georgia mountains, but for a couple from Florida, we were impressed! We have had 3 heavy frosts so far. Our average first fall frost date in Tallahassee is November 17th, so we are right on schedule.

I have planted lettuce plants and lettuce seeds. I planted some seeds for Merlot Lettuce. It is a beautiful burgundy leaf lettuce. I had a few plants last year and they lasted well into the warm weather. I always had some lettuce for sandwiches or salads and they tasted good and were extremely beautiful. I also planted some romaine and mescalin lettuce. Last year was my first time growing lettuce and I found it was easy to grow, and carefree. I planted it in pots and put them on the back porch where they get some sun. I am thinking I had them last year through some very cold weather and they were fine. We'll have to see. So far there has been no frost damage.

I also planted some sugar snap peas in the garden. This is a little more difficult because we have to bring a hose over to water them. It's hard to want to drag a hose over when it's cold. I am still waiting to find the "English Peas" that I grew last year. They are like a sugar snap pea, but not as sweet. You eat the whole pod.

Feeding the Honey Bee's

I had a Hummingbird feeder still out and it was attracting bees like crazy. I noticed a late Hummingbird come to feed last week (November 10th). I only saw him once. He appeared healthy. I guess he just got a later start migrating south. They normally leave this part of south Georgia the first week in October. I quickly made fresh syrup (4 parts water to one part sugar, heat to boiling, and cool before filling feeder). The bees were thick on the old feeder so I left it there for them. We decided that they needed to eat too and since there are not many flowers for them to go to, I put a flat plastic lid down on the ground and poured Hummingbird syrup on it. The bees loved it. There must have been 50 bees hanging around. They were not aggressive and I never got stung. I refilled it for several days until I ran out of the mix. I was too lazy to make the regular boiling hummingbird syrup so I just eyeballed it, mixing some sugar and water, stirred it and put it out for the bees, without boiling it. A few days later, I noticed about 10-12 bees laying dead around the feeder, and the other bees were gone. I don't know if I put too much sugar in it or what, but I felt bad. They weren't hurting anything and are very helpful in the garden. I plan to make some more regular nectar for them today. I will use the boiling water and 4/1 water sugar ratio.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Our first fall in Cairo

Thanksgiving is just over a week away and we're getting ready for a visit from our good friends Carol and Mike. We are going to take a trip to Savannah for a few days. It will be our first visit there. We're planning to stay in the historic district even though it is more costly.

First Frost of the Season
This is our first fall here in south Georgia. It is definitely a lot colder than Tampa and there is more of a seasonal change. We got our first freeze last week, I think it was the 6th or 7th. The grass was all frosty white and it almost looked like snow. It got down to 29 degrees. We have not seen snow in many many years. It snowed one time in Tampa. The lima beans, green peppers and Jalapeno peppers all were damaged. We loved our fresh green peppers, they had such a wonderful smell that you don't get from store bought ones. The okra had been slowing down, so it's done for the year as well. We had so much okra that we were getting tired of picking it. It had to be picked every other day to avoid tough pods. The cottonwoods were also damaged from the frost but they are still blooming. The mums are fine, but a few other flowers were damaged. It has been in the upper 70's all week, and 80 yesterday but today it's raining and will cool down.

Blue Birds
We are working on attracting Blue Birds closer to the house. We have quite a few on the property and want some close to the house so that we can enjoy them. Al nailed a plastic dish on a pole near the house. We have been putting meal worms several times a day. When we go to put new worms in it, we call them and hope to get them to associate our voices to the worms. It seems to be working, after just a few days, we were getting them to feed from the worm dish. They seem to come shortly after we put new worms in. This is the method I was told to use. One man we talked to at Birdsong Nature center feeds them directly from his hand. That would be wonderful.

We ordered 5000 (we're optomistic) meal worms from Grubco on Monday and they arrived Wednesday. Great Service! They cost $20 and $8.95 for shipping. We ordered small ones and they are a little small so we will order large ones next time. I put them in a 5 gallon bucket with oatmeal and some apple slices. They will grow as long as they don't get too cool. I will bring them inside (covered) if the weather gets too cool. They don't get out of the bucket so I don't mind keeping them in the house.

Nancy (our Carolina Wren) keeps getting into the worm bucket. She and her children have learned this is a great place for a free meal. We keep the bird feeders filled with bird seed but she prefers meal worms. I don't mind her getting them but she can wipe out a supply of worms very quickly. I have to keep it covered part of the time.