Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tornadoes and severe weather yet again

We spent yesterday (Monday) watching the Weather Channel and preparing for possible tornadoes. We never had any warnings near Cairo, but there were watches and strong storms. We have to load the cats in the Storm Shelter ahead of time since it takes a while. fWe can't wait until there is a warning in the area. It is a pain but the cats are getting used to it. We ended up with over 3 inches of rain but the storm was pretty much over by evening. We slept soundly all night so if any storms had have come in we may have slept through them.

Al is on his way back to Tampa. There have been some tornadoes touch down in the Tampa area, in Wesley Chapel. He felt he would be behind the storms so headed south. It looks like the storm have now moved south. He and Steve are going to a Devil Rays ballgame tonight.

Our Blue Bird and Chickadee babies fared ok during the storm. We're waiting for them to fledge.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

It was a beautiful sunny day. We went out for lunch at Cedar River Seafood and then home for a nap. We had worn ourselves out yesterday. We went to Thomasville and did the 3+ mile Rose City Walk. We hadn't been doing much walking lately and with the hills, it was a workout. We worked outside, weeding, trimming trees and general clean up work.

Al was supposed to go back to Tampa tomorrow, but we're getting more severe weather with possible tornadoes, so he may delay the trip.

The baffle on our bird house had fallen down. We were afraid the babies may have been gone, but Al looked inside and we have at least 2 Carolina Chickadees. We jury rigged the baffle and will fix it once they fledge.

We also have 4 baby Blue Birds. They must be 10-12 days old so they should fledge soon. Momma and Daddy feed regularly from our seed bird feeder right by the back door. Our meal worm supply hasn't kept up so they have learned to eat the seed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cold and windy

The cold front arrived along with the wind. It stayed windy all day. It was 39 degrees when we got up and got into mid 60's for the high. It felt much cooler with the wind.

Went to Verizon and got a new cell phone for Al. I wanted him to have one with Bluetooth capability for the next time he goes to Tampa. It is safer driving. I will get one later, after I check his out and see if I like it.

We then went to the little Mexican restaurant in town that we just discovered. As long as we were out...

We came home and I needed to start laundry as my 5 days of being off are ending today and it's back to State Farm tomorrow. I don't know why I always wait until the last day to get in gear but I do. Anyway, the dryer started smelling like it was burning. We decided to change out the venting. We had the thin foil like venting which I remembered was dangerous and could start a fire. We went to Stones hardware in town rather than having to go all the way to Thomasville and hit Lowes. Fortunately Stones had what we needed. We got it all back together, tested the dryer and still smelled smoke. I happened to notice behing the dryer by the cord was a red/orange color and I saw smoke. Al took the cover off and noticed the cord was burnt and melted where it attaches to the dryer. Lesson learned...check the cord connection, clean the vents and underneath the dryer drum on a regular basis. I don't know what caused this problem but we were very close to having a major fire. It may have been fixable but we weren't comfortable with that so tomorrow it's off to buy a new dryer. When Al replaced the venting, we looked inside the old stuff and noticed a thick lining all the way around of built up lint. I rarely use fabric softener, which I heard can cause that, but it was there just the same.

Our friend came to visit again. (The neighbors German Sheppard). He is a very nice dog and we have gotten attached to him, despite our best efforts. We come inside and he sits out side and stares inside waiting for us to come back out. Yesterday, he took off with some paint rollers and shoes Al had on the back porch. I went out and explained nicely to him that he was not supposed to do that. So far, so good. He helped me hang laundry out, helped Al change kitty pans and just kept us company. He finally went home. We have been calling him Max. First rule..don't name them. Second rule, don't feed them. (we haven't)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Cold Front

This is our 3rd winter in South Georgia. It's sure different from Tampa. We spent over 30 years in Florida and are learning to adjust to south Georgia. It's amazing how different the weather is since it's only 275 miles north.

Here we are the week before Easter and we are getting yet another cold front. We have predictions of temperatures down to 32 degrees one night this week with day time temperatures in the lower 60's for a few days and then mid 70's by the end of the week.

We don't really mind because at least it's not tornadoes again! We have had more than our share of them in late March and so far in April.

We met out neighbors German Sheppard yesterday. He came to visit. He is very friendly and a bundle of energy. Evidently they have no problem letting him run loose. We took him back towards his home but this morning he was at the back sliding door looking in as if to say, "come out to see me." I guess we started something. We'll have to not be so welcoming. We don't want him hanging around and getting on the highway and getting hit by a car.

One thing I have noticed here is people let their animals run and don't believe in keeping them in the house. Spaying and neutering is not too popular from what I have seen. It's a shame.

Our seasonal Brown Thrashers are back. We have named them Ike and Tina. Tina has made a nest for the 3rd year in a row in exactly the same spot in our arbor. We don't know if it's the same pair or one of their children coming back to nest where they were raised.

Our Mockingbirds are apparently getting ready for their nesting season. Their mating habits are a little different. Each year after they raise their 4-5 broods, the parents and most of the children leave. It appears that the babies from the last batch stay and then the dominate one stays to make this his home and the others go elsewhere. It appears he chases them out. That is what we have figured from their history. We know the parents leave because the first year, our Mockingbird, we named Ivan the Terrible. He was the WORST behaved bird we have ever seen. He constantly chased all of the other birds and once even ran into the oak tree while chasing another bird. I almost hated him because he would never let other birds eat peacefully. He eventually mellowed out when he fell in love, and was way too busy when he started helping raise the children. After we saw what a good Dad he was, we started to become very fond of him. We know it was Ivan that left because the one that stayed was a much nicer bird. We will call them all Ivan and the female is Ivana. So now, our Ivan is here and I witnessed a little rift yesterday between 2 birds. I don't know if it was a mating dance or a territorial dispute. They fluttered around as if in fight, then both landed on the ground right in front of me and stared at each other, chests out. It looked more like to alfa males to me.

Spring Bloom
Tampa sure doesn't have the wonderful spring flowers like Georgia. Mom came to visit and was here at the peak bloom season for the first time. We took her to Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee. The Dogwoods and Azaleas were at peak bloom.

We discovered a beautiful pink and red blooming tree. Some of them had both colors in the same tree and were loaded with blooms. We stopped to take photos of one and noticed a lady working by the tree. She told us it was a Flowering Peach. She was nice enough to let us dig up some seedlings. Hopefully we won't kill them and will be able to have some of our own. They have to be the prettiest of all the flowering trees. The next few pictures are of them.

The Wisteria were exceptional this year. Everywhere you looked they were blooming.

The peak bloom season appears to be sometime after the middle of March.

We decided to scale down our gardening this year. The past few years we were way too ambitious and ended up with very little produce and a LOT of weeds. We have tried not to use chemicals and do it the organic way. This year we decided, less garden, more MULCH and hopefully less weeds. We have a lot of different items, but no green beans or lima's. We can get them cheap and in large quantities at Longs U-pick in Bainbridge, Georgia. They have great produce and it was $6.00 for a 5 gallon bucket. You have to pick it yourself, but we enjoy it. You feel like you worked for it! You can get enough so that you can can them.

We currently have planted the following: potatoes (in Georgia they are called taters), snow peas, eggplant, onions, spinach (probably too late in season), tomatoes, Jalapenos, green peppers, cayanne peppers,and corn. The corn went inside the chicken coop as the deer liked it too well the first year. We won't have much but we can also get that at Longs.

We have apples for the first time on our Anna apple tree. The Dorset apple it supposed to be a pollinator for the Anna but it has yet to flower or bud out. We bought another Anna that was flowering and self pollinated the Dorset. After we did that, we noticed their were small apples on the Anna. Some literature has said they can self pollinate and others said you need a pollinator. We don't know if it pollinated from something else like a neighboring crabapple or what. We don't have a lot of apples though, so maybe it helps to have another pollinator. Hopefully we well be able to have a few to eat before the insects, birds and deer get them.

Al bought 3 yards of mushroom compost to the garden, and tilled it all in before we started planting anything. We them put 4 yards of mulch on top. Of course it then rained heavy and a good bit of mulch washed away. We may have to get more. We're hoping the mulch will help with the weeds.

Our oldest peach trees have bloomed nicely and are loaded with peaches. We now have 5 peach, one nectarine and this year we planted 2 plum trees. We have 2 pear trees, one we just planted last fall. We planted more asparagus as it seems to grow well here.

This year the garden has plenty of rain, hopefully not too much.

We lost 4 of our 5 Dogwoods. They were growing like weeds and appeared to be healthy. After our 26 inches of rain in 3 days from Tropical Storm Faye, they started to wilt and lose their leaves. Then we noticed the bark peeling off and them the trunk splitting in half. We kept hoping some miraculous recovery but it appears they are dead. Such a waste.

The Spirea is doing well.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Squirrel Nest in shed

Mamma squirrel made a huge nest in one of our sheds. Al was in the shed last week and hears squeeking noises coming from nest. He looked inside and found baby squirrels.

Later that day we noticed a raccoon walking through the pasture during the mid part of the afternoon. We were concerned it might come after the squirrels. Last year the squirrel nest in the same shed was destroyed. We never knew what happened to it.

Al went outside to check the shed 2-3 times that night, once when the local cat came around and never saw anything disturbed around the shed.

The next morning he went to the shed and noticed the nest had been disturbed and there were no babies inside. He did notice there was another nest in a different part of the shed and there were babies in that one. We are choosing to believe mamma squirrel moved her babies. Cats will do that and hopefully that is what happened.

You can't save them all...but we are sure going to try!

Blue Bird fight

Last week before one of the storms, Al put the truck over by the pasture fence to keep it away from the big oak tree in case the wind caused it drop branches. It was nearby a nesting pair of Blue Birds.

I happened to notice a male Blue Bird by the truck and went over to investigate. He was seeing himself in the side mirror and was getting very upset at his reflection, not knowing he was looking at himself. It was cute to watch but I was afraid he would hurt himself. He kept attacking the mirror. After we watched him a few minutes we got some Wal Mart bags and tied them over the mirrors. That solved the problem.

Our Blue Birds are nesting in the pasture box this year and the one by the side of the house is vacant so far. Our Bluebirds are now coming to the bird feeder we have by the back door and eating sunflower seeds and other nuts. It's easier then trying to get them to eat mealworms and keep everyone else out. It works out well. However, it appears there is another pair that has discovered the house by the side of the house. Unfortunately the nesting male has spotted the new male as the feeder is pretty close to the other birdhouse.

Yesterday we discovered our nest now has 4 babies inside and one egg not hatched. We saw 2 adult males and one female hanging out by the birdhouse by the house. The one male kept sticking his head inside the house, then coming back out and fluttering around (fighting?) with other male. This went on for a while yesterday and today we noticed it again. This time one male had the other one on the ground, with one on his back and the other on top. We didn't know if it was a fight or they were mating but decided to break it up just in case it was a fight. When they flew away it turned out to be 2 males so we assumed it had been a fight. We understand this is nature but if we can stop someone from getting hurt, we are going to! They have four babies now and they need both their mom and dad!

So we decided that likely what is going on is the old male Blue Bird has spotted the new one who is in the area checking out the real estate. We decided the best thing to do is move the nesting box far enough away so that they couldn't be seen while they were at the feeder. So that is what we did today. Hopefully we will have another nesting pair. We have 11 acres but as territorial as they are you have to keep the nest boxes a good distance from the others.

One Blue Bird nest box in the pasture has a Titmouse or a Chickadee. Al made the mistake of opening it and finding a mother sitting on her nest. He closed it up quickly so as not to frighten her any more. He thinks it was a Titmouse.

All of our houses are on poles with baffles to keep the predators out. We made a mistake last year and a snake got 5 BlueBird eggs. It had the baffle but there was a small hole which had to be large enough for a small snake. We remedied it this year with silicone glue. The thought of a little bird sitting there with no way out while a snake comes in to get her and her babies makes me determined to help however we can. These manmade boxes are much more visible and predators easily can learn what to look for. It is up to us to make them as safe as possible.

Tornadoes, Severe Thunderstorms and Flooding

We have come to the conclusion that south Georgia has crummy weather in the spring. We have been having tornado and severe storms hitting very frequently throughout February, March and now into April. We have been using the tornado shelter (hidey hole) frequently. It's not so much that tornadoes have been touching down here but there have been severe weather warnings with the possibility of tornadoes. In order to be safe and to keep the cats safe, we have loaded them up in cages and taken them to the hidey hole. We have been there 4-5 times in the last 10 days.

So far all we have really had is a LOT of rain. On Wednesday & Thursday we had over 7 inches. The entire yard was squishy, the streams in the front woods have overflowed and washed rocks off the driveway. The Ochlocknee River overflowed at Barnett's Creek, as usual. When we were driving over the river on Hwy 84 the river was almost as high as the road. We've never seen it so high

We have been thankful we purchased the tornado shelter last year. It was expensive but does give us some peace of mind. There are pictures of it in earlier blogs.