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For The Birds #2

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I absolutely love bird watching.  I’ve created quite the bird habitat in my front yard and am able to enjoy several different bird species every day.  I love seeing my old friends who come and go with the change of the seasons, like the White Throated Sparrow, Pine Siskin, and the Dark Eyed Junco, but my favorite birds are those who never leave me.  I know every day of the year, no matter the season, I can step on my front porch and see a cute little Tufted Titmouse or a beautiful Cardinal.  They are always there sharing their lovely song and lively activity with me.  This post is for those faithful friends.

I recently got a DSLR camera, and I must say I can’t believe it took me so long to make the switch!  I am obsessed with it!  I may never use my point and shoot again!  Some of the first pictures I took with my new camera were of my beautiful birds (after taking pictures of my cute kiddos first, of course).  I was amazed by the change in picture quality.  I guess those extra megapixels really do make a huge difference.  And it doesn’t hurt that I have a nice zoom lens now, also.  So, without further ado, here are my first birding pics with my new camera…aren’t these guys lovely…see why I like bird watching so much?!?

 

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The lovely, blazing red, male Cardinal.  Perched on a pine in the middle of a snow storm.

 

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My very favorite bird of all!  The Tufted Titmouse…cute as a button.  You should see these crazy guys peck at a sunflower seed.  Hours of enjoyment!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day.  Try to get out and enjoy the birds for a minute…you’ll be glad you did!

For The Birds: Rescue Mission

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Yesterday, while spending some time outside with my kiddos, we encountered a little bird acting very strangely.  It was trying to fly, but was unable to.  It was also unable to stand upright and kept falling backwards.  I was immediately concerned that this bird might have a broken wing or leg, but upon inspection of the wings and feet, I found that they seemed to be fine.  I am not a vet or an expert, but the bird seemed to be moving its wings without problems, and was able to grip with its claws and move its legs.  So why was this little bird unable to stand or fly?

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I put the bird, which I believe was a Wood Thrush, on a soft towel in a box with air holes.  The box was actually a Build-A-Bear box my son found for me to use.  So sweet of him to donate his box.  I called the Wildlife Rehabilitators who referred me to a vet in Charleston who cares for wild animals.  I drove over an hour to take this bird to the vet.  I had a bit of a let down when they just took the bird to the back without me.  I guess I thought I would get to go back to see what was wrong with it, even though it wasn’t really a pet.  I didn’t even get to say goodbye.  The receptionist couldn’t give me any information about what she thought might be wrong with this little bird and told me to call later when the vet had a chance to look at it.  The bird, if it could be healed, would be released from that location, not coming back home with me to be released where I found it.  So, I left, with no answers and no bird.

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As soon as I got home, I called the vet’s office and was told that the bird had neurological issues and was euthanized.  No other answers, no other explanation.  I was very sad to hear this.  Such a beautiful bird that will never fly again.  I’m guessing this bird fell from its tree or flew into a window, as many birds do.  I know this isn’t the first time a bird has suffered from neurological issues, and I know putting it to sleep was more humane than allowing it to suffer and starve to death, but I still keep wondering if there was something more I could have done for it.

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So, today I am mourning for a wild bird that wasn’t even my pet, but was just in my care for one short day.  I’ll always remember the way it looked up at me with such curiosity and trust.  I hope it at least felt some safety and love for those last few hours of its life.  And I pray there is a heaven for animals so this beautiful little birdie can fly and be whole once again.

In The Garden

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I promised a garden post yesterday, but got a little sidetracked trying to rescue a little birdie. (More on this in a later post.)

So today, I am finally blogging about my garden.  I love time spent in my garden…  working in the soil with my hands, pulling weeds while I sing to my plants, and finally, eating all the yummy fruits, herbs, and veggies that grow.  My husband and kiddos also love working in the garden with me and enjoying the rewards for their labor.  I think there is something very therapeutic about working in the garden, whether you grow flowers or edibles, or both.  Everyone should have a garden!

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I have landscaped around my entire house with trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and annuals.  I love walking out every day and seeing the beautiful growth and vibrant colors.  Since I also spend time bird watching, all these trees, shrubs, and flowers have provided a welcome haven for the little birdies and attract more of them for me to enjoy.

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For my edible garden, I decided to build garden boxes.  Much of the soil around our house is fill dirt or red clay, and even though I was able to amend the soil for my landscaping, I didn’t want to fight with it every year for my garden.  With my garden boxes, I’m able to till the dirt every spring with a hand rake without having to break my back.  It sure makes gardening more enjoyable!

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I have four garden boxes, and this provides more than enough food for my family to enjoy in the spring, summer, and fall, plus canned food for the winter.This is my greens box.  I grew collard greens, kale, romaine, and spinach this spring.  I just put down summer crisp lettuce seeds.  Must have greens all season!  I love my greens!

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I have chives, garlic, onion, and leeks in this box.  These are my cooking staples.  I cook with garlic and onion almost every day.  And chives have so many uses…even the blooms are edible, and pretty, too.

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I just put my tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in the ground.  We’ve had a very cool spring, so I didn’t want to risk putting them in early and being hit with frost.  I have 6 different types of tomato plants including Better Boy, Roma, and Cherry tomatoes.  I plant red and green pepper, and slicing and pickling cucumber.  I always make sure to can plenty of crushed tomato to use in the winter, and lots and lots of pickles.  I love pickles!

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Although this garden box looks empty, there is a lot of work going on beneath the soil.  This box will be full of corn and beans soon.  I have 3 different varieties of corn, bush beans, and pole beans.  With boxes, you can plant the corn closer together, which helps with pollination, producing a better crop.  So even though I won’t have a large crop, those ears will be full and yummy.

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I also added a few garden pots this year for my herbs.  I have an Italian herb pot with Rosemary, Oregano, Italian Parsley, and Sweet Basil.  All the makings for any Italian dish.  I also have a pot for my Mexican meals.  I put Cilantro, Jalapeno Pepper, and a small container Tomato in this pot.  I see some yummy salsa in my future!

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I am also experimenting with carrots and squash in pots.  I found this idea on Pinterest, and decided to give it a try.  So far, they look good…we’ll see how it turns out.

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All these wonderful herbs and veggies will make for some very yummy food and some very yummy recipes for me to post on my blog!  Here is a sneak peek of my next blog post.  It’s gonna be a southern dinner you won’t want to miss.  This meal has cooked collard greens, and they are delicious.  Here is a picture of the greens just added to the skillet, wilting around a big chunk of ham hock.  Oh, they’re good!

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Flowers In Bloom

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I love this time of year when everything turns so green and lush.  All the flowers are blooming, so full of color and life.  My garden is full of yummy greens, and I am waiting ever so patiently for that first ripe tomato to grow on the vine.  The sun is shining warm and bright.  I spend the whole day outside with my kiddos just soaking up the rays.  This time of year makes me feel more alive.   Here are some pictures of just a few of my spring blooms.  I hope they bring you as much joy as they bring me.

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Have an absolutely beautiful day!

Meet Mr. Toad

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You may recall that my children are on a mission to find as many reptiles and amphibians as they can this year.  At my last reptilian post, I believe we had 16 frogs (plus hundreds of tadpoles), 5 blue-tailed lizards, 1 salamander, and one lovely little turtle named Boxy Roxy.

Now, we can add a handsome little toad to the list.  Meet Mr. Toad!

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Such a cute little warty guy!  He loved sitting in my hand for this picture.  What is it with all these photo loving animals?

My kiddos decided to name this guy Mr. Toad because of their love of the stories of Mr. Toad and the classic Disney movie.  I think he looks an awful lot like the character from the book, don’t you?

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My sweet little children were so happy with their find.  Ribbit, ribbit!

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Now, the list for reptiles and amphibians found by my two little explorers consists of 16 frogs (plus tadpoles), about 20 blue-tailed lizards (we’ve found more!), 1 salamander, 1 turtle, and….one lovely little toad!

Maybe we’ll find a few more today.  Hope your day is “toad-ally” awesome!

Meet Boxy Roxy, The Turtle

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My kids are really into reptiles and amphibians.  Those of you who have been reading my blog know this already.  For those of you who are new to my blog, you should be forewarned that there will be lots and lots of reptile and amphibian pictures posted on here because every time my kids find a new lizard or frog or salamander, they must have a picture taken, and usually insist that I post it on my blog (which they seem to think belongs to them).

So far this year, we have found 8 lizards, 1 salamander, 16 frogs (that isn’t counting the hundreds of tadpoles), and a turtle.

The turtle was found for my kiddos by their cousins.  They have been dying to find a turtle, and having trouble doing it, so this really made their day.  They finally got to add turtle to their list!  And what a sweet turtle it was.  It wasn’t shy at all.  It came out of its shell for a picture, and crawled around all of us (even across our toes), until it finally made a nice little home in my landscaping.  The kids named it Boxy Roxy!  Where do they come up with these names?

Here’s our sweet little turtle, Boxy Roxy.

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Boxy Roxy brought such joyful smiles to my kid’s faces as she crawled around and looked at us with her cute little face.

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Then, she decided she had had enough attention, and crawled into my landscaping to rest.  Bye, Boxy Roxy!  See ya later!

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What will they find next?

Homeschooling In The Great Outdoors

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Everything was thoroughly hectic and depressing last week, so much so that I didn’t even have time or the desire to write on my blog.  After taking some time to be a big baby, I’m pulling myself up by my bootstraps and living life!  And the best way I find to enjoy life is with my wonderful husband and kiddos…I love them so very much!

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One of my greatest joys and greatest challenges in life is homeschooling my children.  I feel so blessed to be able to have them home with me every day and to be responsible for their learning.  After taking an unwanted break from school last week, we were all very excited to get back in the groove.  Thankfully, the sun was shining today and it was nice and warm outside, and that means outside class!  We look forward to this time of year when we can just pack all of our books and supplies outside and learn while the sun is beating down on us and the birds are singing and the wind is blowing on our faces…perfection.

So, today, we had class outside.  And it was wonderful!  All the stress of last week just slid away as I worked with my kids.  I am always amazed at how well they learn and how much they truly enjoy learning.  Being able to soak up that happy sunshine also helped wipe away the stress!

Learning outside really has its perks.  We got to study ants as we talked about insects in science.  My daughter was able to write her spelling words on the driveway with chalk instead of using paper and pencil.

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We all worked together to make cute little leaf and flower butterfly crafts.

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And, my children used their very vivid imaginations to make “crossbows” with sticks and rubber band bracelets during their breaks.  Silly kiddos!

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Homeschooling in the great outdoors is just one of the many, many reasons I love being a homeschooler.  And it’s a really great reason!

Trek To The Top

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Behind my mother-in-law and father-in-law’s house, way up on top of the ridge, there is a really big rock, and we call it…wait for it…Big Rock!  The hike up to big rock is beautiful, even though it is straight uphill.  When you reach the top of the ridge, you can see our whole little town.  It looks so quaint from up there.  After a short walk on top of the ridge, you reach Big Rock.  This rock structure is really interesting to look at, and a little unnerving to climb on…especially when you have small children in tow!

A few days ago, my whole family decided to take the trek up the mountain to Big Rock, even my 74-year-old momma went with us!  She’s a trooper!  We really had a wonderful day surrounded by nature and family…two of my very favorite things!  I thought I’d share the experience with you, my wonderful blog followers.  If you have a mountain behind your house…climb it!  You will always see something absolutely beautiful…in your own backyard…so to speak.

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Here are my kiddos, breaking for a snack.

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I am so blessed with a wonderful hubby and two totally awesome kids.

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Up on the ridge…

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Here’s the whole gang.  Minus my sis-in-law who was behind the camera.

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This picture was taken by my 6-year-old daughter.  I think she might be a photographer one day!

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The boys…up on Big Rock.

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Big Rock!  I think it’s kinda pretty.

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Me and my girl up on the rock.

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Say cheese!  What a wonderful day.  I love time with family.  I love hiking.  I love Big Rock.  I love my life!

Spring Is Here!

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Finally, spring is making its way to Mingo County!  I have been patiently waiting to see my spring bulbs bloom and to get out in my garden and plant my spring crops.  Well, maybe I haven’t been all that patient.

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I was so excited when my daffodils and hyacinths started pushing their way through the ground, but the weather still felt so very wintry.  Unfortunately, the deer ate all of my tulip bulbs…every single one…silly deer!  My iris bulbs are sprouting, and soon I will be rewarded with their beautiful blooms.  I can’t wait!

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This week, my daffodils and hyacinths finally bloomed, and how very gorgeous they are!  It’s no wonder my favorite flowers are spring bulbs, and of course hydrangea, but I’ll have to wait a while yet for those to bloom.

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And, even more exciting than watching the flowers bloom in my yard is being able to get in my garden and plant my spring crop.  I love getting in my garden boxes, tilling the soil, and planting my own vegetables.  There is nothing better than eating fresh food from your own garden!  I already have some yummy chives popping up.  I use no fertilizer or pesticides on my plants, so I know what I eat is actually good for me.

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I am a barefoot and bare hands gardener.  I have tried to wear shoes and gloves when I garden, but I just can’t do it.  I love the feel of the dirt on my feet and under my nails.   I love the work that goes into tending my garden…I don’t even mind pulling the weeds.  I love the reward of fresh fruits and veggies, and lovely flowers, for all the work.  I just love being out in nature and being able to enjoy the rebirth and growth of spring and summer.  Bring on the warmth!

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Building A Nest

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No, this is not a tutorial on how to build a nest for birds, well, maybe…

While I was visiting the doctor yesterday, my husband watched our children play in the yard in front of the office.  It was nice and sunny, though a bit colder than I like, but my kids didn’t seem to care.  They love being outside, and I was so glad my husband could be with them so they didn’t have to sit in the doctor’s office forever…like I did.  I was a bit jealous that they were getting to run around and play while I sat and looked at copies of very old magazines.

When I came out of the doctor’s office, my children ran up to me and told me I had to come look at the nest they had built.  They said they worked on it the whole time.  They were so very proud of their accomplishment.  And, they wanted me to take a picture of it to post on my blog.  I think they enjoy this blog as much as I do…they are now in charge of my posts!

So, I walked over to the big pine tree where the nest was.  I looked down at it (this must be a nest for a ground dwelling bird), and was thoroughly impressed with what I saw.  It looked like a real bird’s nest…a huge bird’s nest.  I snapped a few pictures, and turned back to my children to congratulate them on their amazing bird’s nest, and there they were, beaming with pride at their creation.

I realized then, like I do so very often, how amazing my children are, and what a wonderful blessing it is to be their mom.  I love watching my children work together, to use their imaginations, and create something as a team.  I love watching the joy on their faces when I praise them.  I love the fact that my children enjoy something as simple as making a nest from pine needles or making pirate signs or building forts in the living room.  I love my children!

So, as requested by my wonderful children, I am posting a picture of their absolutely amazing bird’s nest…

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