Trash Pickup – April 27 – 10am

Buzz and I are going to pick up trash around the entire loop next Sunday. I did it one year and it really makes a difference. There is a lot of trash on the side of the road. Would you want to come with us? Do you know anyone who hates litter who would be interested in helping?

Basically, we would just walk around the loop and then come back for the bags.

If anyone is interested, please meet us at 10 am at 170th (dirt Rd by Donna Greens) with a couple large garbage bags.

I’m thinking it would be important to wear gloves and pants in case of poison ivy.

The Marsupial sees his shadow

Every year, we know Spring has come when Momar, the Marsupial, makes his first appearance. He slowly made his way up to the feeder and ate the seeds on the ground. Possums are very slow moving and can’t seem to run. The way they react to danger is to feign death by ‘playing possum’. Possums (short for opossum) are built for comfort – not speed.

Opossums have claws on all fingers fore and hind except on the two thumbs.

Possum foot

I noticed that Momar had a tattered ear and wondered with whom he had had an altercation. He didn’t seem any worse for the wear.Possum with torn ear

A few days later, Momar was in a life and death situation. Two black labs were making their way over from the pond as Momar slowly made his way down the path. I flew into action, ran down the stairs and out the back door. At that point, Momar was already ‘playing possum’ as the lab was heading right towards him. I screamed at the dogs and they were startled and ran away.

A minute later, Momar started his slow journey again. I watched until he disappeared into the horizon.

Oliver, the Owl

As dusk was approaching, I walked by the window and looked out and took a double take. Right outside my living room, was a magnificent Barred Owl in our small black cherry tree.

Barred Owl

Evidently, the Barred Owl does not mind the cold because Minnesota winters can be extreme. Today was rather nice out though, a balmy 25 degrees, and I’m sure the owl decided to go for little spin of the neighborhood in pursuit of his evening meal. As the owl sat rotating his head round and round – looking for something to eat, I began to fear that Trixie, the mouse, might be on the dinner menu. Fortunately, I did not witness the demise of Trixie or any of our other small critters running around the yard – at least today.

The next evening, Oliver came back to the exact same spot, patiently sitting for over an hour in the small Black Cherry tree. Finally, he hunched over, stared down at the ground and made his move. He carried away what appeared to be a vole. Once settled in a new tree, he swallowed his evening meal whole and just sat there for what seemed like an eternity. Later, as I walked by the window again – I looked out to see Oliver sitting back in the cherry tree.

I like to keep my windows open in the summer and have often heard the owls calling out to each other, hoo-hoo-to-hoo, usually around 3 in the morning or so. It is an amazing sound. They must live close by but where, I do not know. They are truly a sight ot behold.

Tree Bargains—Planting for the Future

Every year we buy bare root trees from Dakota County, MN and plant them everywhere we think a tree should be. There is a wide selection of trees and shrubs and they are about $30 per bundle. Everything from pines, spruces and cedar to maples, oak and walnut.

The tree planting program was started many years ago to promote conservation and help folks create a more beautiful, healthy and ecologically balanced environment, the SWCD’s Tree Program is considered by many to be a true community service. Many of the county’s shelterbelts, farmstead and field windbreaks, wildlife habitat, and reforestation have been started as a result of this program. In more recent years, housing developments, community beautification projects, and boulevard plantings have been added to the list of uses under the tree and shrub program.

You can fill in a simple tree order form, and send it in by April 1. You will be notified when the trees come in. Happy planting!

Check with your local county to see if they have a program for people to buy trees at bargain basement prices. It’s well worth the small investment.

The Frog in the Bluebird House

Last year, a family of bluebirds nested right outside my office window. It was so much fun to watch them build their nest. The eggs hatched and mom and dad both helped feed the babies. The first clutch was successful and they all flew the coop. Typically, bluebirds will have 2 clutches a season. The nest needs to be cleaned out and they will build a new nest.

Soon after building their second nest, I observed the bluebird poking his head in and out but not going inside. He looked perplexed. I went out to investigate. When I opened the door to the house, to my surprise – I found a frog inside the house. I assisted in getting him to a nice safe place and figured it was just a fluke. The next day, I observed the bluebird doing the same thing – poking his head in and out over and over again. I opened the door to the house and who do you suppose was there? Mr. Frog was back in the exact same spot. I discovered it was a Gray treefrog who happens to be very fond of wood, trees and bark. I moved the frog even further away and the bluebirds had another successful clutch. Perhaps Mr. Frog turned into a handsome prince and lived happily ever after.

Frog in bluebird house

Frog in bluebird house

The Bird Sanctuary

After we moved in, we started putting up bird feeders and bird houses. Aside from the fact that we have every squirrel in Lakeville feeding at out house (sure they like to eat and run), there are a few other interesting animals that swing by on a regular basis. Plato, the Pileated woodpecker, comes by often. He really likes the suet feeder. At times we have seen 4 pileated woodpeckers together. Plato is the leader. I feel honored that he makes this one of his regular stops. What a majestic bird.

Pileated Woodpecker

The Cast of Characters

About 3 years ago, I started taking photos of the critters we have running around in the yard. It is fun to see how wild animals respond to people. Some are not phased at all and don’t flinch a feather or paw when humans are close by. It is as if we are all living in perfect harmony.

To start the new year off, here is an introduction to one of the regulars.

The Squirrels – Pinky and her baby Winky.
One day I saw Pinky moving her babies into the brand new woodpecker house. They really liked their new digs.

Squirrel in woodpecker house.

Baby Squirrel in woodpecker house.

The squirrels in the yard are numerous and provide hours of amusement with their antics and gymnastic feats. We have had some incredible jumpers who we have dubbed Rocky and Waldo. My husband is constantly trying to outwit them by strategically moving bird feeders around and as he says, “The squirrel always gets the last laugh.”