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  • Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
  • Grand Central Feeding Station


    home made bird feeding station 8 feeders bottom tray feeder

    He did it. I drew it, he built it – and as the old saying goes “If you build it, they will come” – they did.

    We used to have several shepherd’s hooks weighted down with 5-10 pound seed filled feeders, and we’ve been wanting to consolidate everything into one location – this design allows for 8 feeders, and we purchased coated chain link to drop some things down lower to allow for ease of access for the birds. The cool thing? The squirrels can’t get down the 2×4’s to get to the hooks very easily – so we’ve eliminated the need for squirrel proofing anything – and we’ve also got a tray feeder to catch falling seed and put things out for the squirrels, too.

    It took a day or two to build, and our new Grand Central Bird Feeding Station was up and has been well occupied for a couple of weeks now. I have to say, I’m quite impressed with the functionality and ease in changing and refilling the feeders. We’ve had a larger bird visiting – I’m not sure what kind since all I’m finding is his droppings, but they’re about the size of Canadian Goose droppings – I’m guessing it’s either the Red Tailed Hawk or the Kestrel living nearby. I think I’ll flip my lid if it ends up being the Turkey Vulture. That guy is creepy!

    It’s a real treat to sit outside on the patio and have dinner now. I love watching our birds flying in and out, the squirrels and bunnies casually walking past our feet to go eat, it’s really nice – especially considering we’re sortof in the middle of town. There’s nothing more relaxing and captivating than watching God’s creatures in action and better yet – know that they don’t feel threatened by our presence around them. We get such a great variety of birds now, from Hairy Woodpeckers to Brown Creepers, they’re all amazing.

    We went to Chicago this past weekend to visit my family, and sitting in my sister’s backyard, I heard one bird. Just one. I’m not sure if she regularly hears and sees more than that, but I noticed their absence, and it really made me appreciate our location and feeder so much more.

    I wonder why folks don’t pay more attention to nature. For example, I’ll be out taking a walk, stop and chat with a neighbor and notice a Great Blue Heron flying overhead. I’ll point him out, and it does catch my neighbors attention, but it’s not something he’d normally look for. He was talking about how they’d put up a Hummingbird feeder but hadn’t seen any Hummingbirds. A few minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Hummingbird speed right past his feeder and perch in his tree, probably waiting for us to leave so he could eat. It’s a matter of timing, and paying attention, too.

    If more people stopped more often to pay attention to, appreciate, nurture and respect the beautiful things that surrounds us in nature, there would be a lot less stress. It’s amazing what 10 minutes of sitting down in the grass with bare feet – looking up at the clouds or watching birds fly in and out of our yard to eat at our feeder can do to lower my own blood pressure. I encourage you to take 10 minutes today and do just that. And let me know how that makes you feel. You might find it addicting – I know I have.

    And if you want one of these Grand Central Feeding Stations, here are the basics:

    10ft 4×4 green treated lumber
    8ft. green treated 2×4 cut in two 4ft pieces
    Wood screws (2 inch)
    Large screw in hooks

    Jigsaw openings in the 4×4 for the 2×4 pieces. Mine are about 18 inches and 12 inches down from the top. Slide your 2×4 pieces into the holes and secure them with wood screws. Screw your hooks into place and bury your post about 2 feet underground (I have about 8 feet exposed). The tray didn’t work out – it rotted and grew some crazy plants from the seed that fell beneath – so I don’t recommend the tray. It’s really easy to build – lots of folks have used my photo to make their own! Very cool! Have fun with it!

    How To Grow Grass, Fast!


    tips to grow grass from seed, fast
    Over the past 11 years that we’ve owned our home, we’ve made several failed attempts to fill a lot of bald spots in the yard. This year, me and my new green thumb have finally got it all figured out.

    The grass pictured above is seed that I put down Sunday, July 1st. We saw growth in just 4 days, folks. Now that’s fast. This is day 5, and it’s over an inch long. I know you’re all just dying to know my secret, right? Well just pretend you are, because I’m going to tell you anyway.

    The dirt in the bare spot needs to be raked over, just a bit – I didn’t go very deep, maybe just 1/4 or 1/2 inch. I spread a nice layer of Miracle-Gro potting soil (the moisture control is good, too) over the area – then put down some generic fast growing grass seed – unless you want the special stuff, that will probably grow quickly too, but you can always seed the good stuff in the fall. Over the grass seed, spread a nice thin layer of Miracle-Gro again, then keep it really well saturated. Water in the morning and at night, and any time you notice the Miracle-Gro has dried out.

    We had a torrential rainfall on Tuesday night that washed much of the Miracle-Grow and seed both in a pile at the end of the area that I seeded. I gently raked it, spreading it back to its original spot, and added more soil and a little more seed, then drenched it all again. It’s all filling in and I’m excited to see so many bare patches filling in with bright green grass!

    And there you have it. Now go, sow some grass. Your bare summer feet will be very happy, because baby grass is very soft, and it tickles.

    UPDATE April 19, 2009

    I’d like to show you before and after photos of this area of our yard.

    mound of dirt
    Note: We added a privacy fence, and neighbor cut down all of their trees,
    added a room and a door on the side of the garage.
    Taken on overcast day.

    grow grass fast landscaping Leanne Wildermuth


    The first photo was taken in 2004, just after we’d had a room addition put on the house and were left with a huge mound of dirt. We left the mound for several years and planted on it, using it as part of the landscape. In July 2007, we transplanted everything and leveled the mound, and started growing grass. The summer of 2008 it was patchy and young, still filling in. Now, April 2009, you can see it’s thick and lush and very, very green.

    Stop back and let me know how well this works for you – and share your before & after photos!

    While you’re here, grab one of my amazing photos for your desktop, or visit my shop!

    Don’t forget your camera.


    I can’t tell you how important it is that if photography interests you, you need to take your camera with you wherever you go.

    We went for a walk lastnight, just around the neighborhood within a mile or so – particularly this one area where we sometimes see deer. I was hoping for a great shot of a different bird, and boy did I see and hear some that stay really well hidden in those trees. I ate some wild blackberries, and found deer tracks in the mud alongside the road.

    I didn’t expect this shot, though, and this is why it’s so important to strap your camera around your neck before you head out the door.

    Keep reading »

    The Hummies are Here!


    hummingbird at feeder may 28 2007' class=

    Our hummingbirds are back! This is a female ruby throated hummingbird. They’ve been around for over a week, but they’re still really skittish around me and my camera. This is the best shot I’ve been able to get so far with my upgraded camera – by the end of the summer I should have at least a dozen great shots of them, I’m a persistent little chickey momma.

    Holy Peonies


    Do you have peonies in your yard, or have someone living nearby who does? Are they slumped over to the ground? Go. Go grab your clippers, find a vase or a pitcher and cut them. (If they’re your neighbors, ask first, and give them a vase full, too!)

    These are the most beautiful spring flowers, and they make such glorious bouquets. I stop by my peony bouquets several times a day and just breathe them in, their scent is so sweet and soothing. The girls do it, too.

    There’s your Sunday Challenge. Go find a peony bush and cut yourself a bouquet before they’re done for the season. Don’t leave them on the plant to droop and wither unsmelled and underappreciated. If you find them at a neighbors house, ask them if they mind. Peonies are definitely meant to be cut, meant to be enjoyed. Their foliage is wonderful and full and lasts all season without their flowers, too.

    Next years batch ought to yield well over 5 vases full of whites and pinks. I’ll be the neighborhood peony bandit, leaving bouquets on the doorsteps of (almost) all the neighbors. (almost. heh.)

    Happy Sunday!

    Grampa Grackle


    300gpagrackle1.jpgI wish I could tell you that I’ve never met a bird I didn’t like. Thanks to Grandpa Grackle, uttering those words would be a big fat lie.

    300gpagrackle2.jpgI don’t know the lifespan of many birds – but I’m really curious about this one. He’s been around for a few years now, intimidating other birds, hoarding the feeders, dominating the bird bath. Grackles are known for preying on sparrows, pecking them in the head just behind their eyes and eating their brains. Yes. I’ve seen them in pursuit. I’ve discarded their leftovers. I know this is normal behavior, and I know that if they didn’t do it, the sparrow population would be overwhelming.

    200bigwigwatershipdown.jpgThis guy, though. He’s just plain mean. You can tell he’s in charge, he bosses the other grackles around, too. He’s been bald for a few years, so he’s not hard to identify. I figure he has to be the leader of the pack – and his baldness is his battle scar. He reminds me of that mean old rabbit Bigwig on Watership Down.

    The girls call Grampa Grackle evil. I have to agree. He scares them – in fact when I was uploading images with Chickeymonkey on my lap, she turned her head away from his photos. We’re a nature loving family – but we’re all in agreement on this one. He’s one critter we just do not like. In fact I’d love to see this pretty girl swooping in to carry him off for lunch one of these days. heh.

    What do you think? Should I give the poor bird a break, or does he creep you out as much as he does me?

    Come to the Zoo


    Of course any zoo is a great zoo in my book, and I’m thankful we have one nearby. It’s small, honestly it doesn’t take more than an hour to walk through – but I kinda hang out with the critters, talk to them, study them, and of course photograph them. I can never get out of the zoo with fewer than 100 pics on my memory card.

    chickeymonkey gibbon
    Here are some of the better shots of the day yesterday. The T-Rex is a really cool metal sculpture that lines one of the pathways. They’re doing a lot of improvements so there are a lot of critters we couldn’t even get to, hopefully they’ll be finished soon and there will be a few new animals for me to admire over the summer.

    Oh, yes, and the kids had a good time, too!

    My Brown Thumb (aka Stuff I Kill.)


    This is supposed to be Heather. I think. Seriously. Some of these are pretty scary and are giving me a complex, so I’m hiding the rest of ’em. Pfft.

    Keep reading »

    Ode to a Gerbera Daisy


    ode to a gerbera daisy' class=Ode to a Gerbera Daisy

    To my dear cheerful flower,
    You make me smile.

    You bring color to my world on a cloudy day.

    Your broad green foliage protects your young buds,

    Reminding me of a mother protecting her newborn.

    You’re a finicky flower, you know.

    Your need for hydration borderlines on obsessive.

    You call out to me several times a day,
    Starving for affection, attention,
    And more water.

    You make me crazy sometimes, Dear Gerbera,
    The slightest droop and I fear for your life.

    My hose is always at the ready,
    To shower you with H20.

    I know you appreciate me, too,
    Within minutes you’re standing tall and smiling at me again.

    Thank you, Dear Gerbera,
    For brightening my garden,
    And for your beautiful, bold color.

    If you weren’t so daggone pretty,
    I’d rip you right out by the roots.

    ~the end.

    I know it doesn’t rhyme or anything – is it supposed to? Oh well. My Ode to a Gerbera Daisy is dedicated to everyone who wants to have them, but might not understand why you can’t get them to stay alive for long. I’ve learned, by killing a few of my own. You all think I have such a green thumb – I should show you the brown stuff I’m successfully managing to kill off in my yard. It’s so depressing – which explains why I don’t mention it. Just green stuff that’s pretty, and growing, and alive! That’s all you really want to see anyway, right?

    Show of comments – who wants to be reassured that I have only a tinge of green on my thumbnail? I’m not afraid to show you the stuff I can’t grow, try as I might – I do have some pretty pitiful looking plants. Then you can laugh and laugh and know that I am totally normal.

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