Sunday, March 25, 2018

birds, birds, birds...

I had hundreds of birds at the feeders this weekend.  The crossbills hog the feeders and the red polls eat all the seeds the crossbills drop.  I bet there were at least 75 crossbills and 50 red polls.  Then add the chickadees, juncos, red breasted nuthatches, white breasted nuthatches, and 4 blue jays.  It made for a pretty busy day at the feeder.

I am trying to patiently wait out March and April.  It was beautiful on Saturday and then snowed on Sunday.  Snowshoeing or hiking isn't much fun, as the snow is so rotten Ella and I fall through.  It is especially hard on Ella's old joints.  Two more months.  

What birds are you seeing? 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Another new bird...

I just happened to look out the window and notice this fella hanging around the bird feeder.  I knew immediately it was a type of shrike.  I got a photo just before it flew off.  After comparing the Loggerhead Shrike and the Northern Shrike, I have come to the conclusion it is a Northern Shrike.  The only way I can tell the difference is there is a little white patch above it's black eye band.  I have not logged a shrike yet at the cabin.  I think I saw one a few years ago, but it flew away too quickly to identify.   I don't really want them hanging around the feeder, as they eat other birds.  I'm pretty surprised that I have logged two new birds so far this March. 
 Friday was 8 inches of wet heavy snow.  Saturday was a beautiful balmy day.  Today it rained all morning and then turned to snow in the afternoon.  The weather is driving me nuts.  I checked on my greenhouse plantings and nothing is up yet.  

 I had a question about the bottles in my greenhouse.  I bought these adapters at Gardener's supply.  You poke holes in the plastic according to your soil type.  Mine is clay all the way.  You then attach a bottle.  You can use plastic bottles, but they don't seem to last as long.  I like the look of colored glass, so I opt for glass bottles.  They work nicely.  It takes about two days to empty.  

I have wanted to make this cake for a long time.  It met expectations.  I saw it at this pin:

Hot Milk Cake
4 eggs (beat for 5 minutes)
2 c. sugar (add to eggs and cream)
2 1/4 c. flour
2 1/4 t. baking powder
1 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. milk
10 T. butter (melt in the milk then add to mixture above)
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Delicious!

Saturday was beautiful.  I took advantage of the sticky snow and made 3 little snowmen.  I thought they would be a nice welcome for my husband when he came back from work.  Unfortunately, the little suckers melted and fell off before he even got home.  Glad I took photos.  

That is all I have going on.  It is snowing pretty hard now, so I guess spring is on a pause.  I'm keeping my camera with me when I go to work this week.  On Friday, I saw 18 bull elk while driving home in the snowstorm.  The weather was too treacherous to take a photo.  I didn't want somebody running into me.  Maybe I will be lucky enough to see them again this week.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

Have you tried any new recipes?  When was the last time you made a snowman?  If you are smart at bird identification can you double check my shrike identification skills?  I appreciate it.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I'm in...

I am not a fan of March: snow, melt, ice, snow, melt, and ice.  Ella and I have been doing a lot of snowshoeing to get outside.  Once in awhile we get to sit on the porch, but it is only for a day.
Yesterday was a blizzard. and today was beautiful.  I couldn't take it any longer, so I shoveled and chipped my way into the greenhouse.
You guessed it.  The smell of earth was too powerful.  I had to plant something.  Lettuce, spinach, and bok choy were in the ground before I knew what I was doing.  
Labeling clothes pins and using them to group seeds has made planting easier.  The square foot planting template also worked great.  I planted several different types of lettuce.  We will see which is the hardiest.  Odds are good nothing will come up, but you never know.  
It was very warm and dry in the greenhouse.  I hauled water from the house and watered my little salad patch.

I also watered my little experimental carrot patch.  I planted these carrots last fall.  We'll see if they revive in the spring.  I had some success with this last year.

We had some horrendous winds earlier this week.  The wind actually snapped my sign in half.  I am very unhappy about that.  I know it tipped a semi on the interstate, but really, did it have to snap my favorite sign?

The sun sets on another weekend.  I am so ready to be outside gardening.  I guess the best I can do is focus on the greenhouse.  Do you have anything growing?  

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A new bird...

I have logged 47 different species of birds at our cabin.   The last entry was a Merlin falcon in 2012.  This afternoon I noticed a few birds hopping around under the feeder that I didn't recognize.   I stalked them with the camera and then used the photo below to figure out what they were.   Turns out they are American tree sparrows.  I'm always excited when I can identify a new bird.  Especially, when it has been six years since my last new entry.

 Also on the bird front, the chickadees are still trying to break in through the windows.  I watched this deviant checking for flies in the sills.  
I had several comments about the lack of snow in my last photos.  Trust me, that was a sunny hillside in Deadwood.  We are 600 feet higher than Deadwood and our snow is still here.  We did get a good melt yesterday, as it really warmed up.
 Don't worry, I won't be gardening anytime soon.  Today we watched the cold icy cloud slowly work its way up the valley and we are back to cold and snow.  We were supposed to get two feet, but now they changed the forecast to a few inches.  We will see.  
 The deer, like us, are done with winter and ready for spring days.  Just a few more months.

 I love my morning French press coffee (huge thanks to Gumbo Lily for teaching me the joys of French press).  The only thing better is coffee with biscotti.   Since I was out of projects, I made two different types of biscotti.  One was orange & chocolate and the other was oreo.  I used a blood orange for the orange biscotti and it was amazing.  

Orange and Dark Chocolate Biscotti
1/4c. soft butter                                       3/4 t. vanilla extract
1 c. sugar                                                 1/4 t. almond extract
2 eggs                                                       2 1/2 c. flour
2 T. orange zest                                       1 t. baking powder
1 T. fresh squeezed orange juice           1/4 t. salt
1 c. dark chocolate mini chips

Beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes, then add eggs.  Mix in zest, juice, and extracts.  Slowly add flour, powder, salt and chips.  Divide dough in half and shape into two flat loaves.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Take out of oven, cut into strips, and bake another 15 minutes.

Oreo Biscotti  
1 c. sugar                   1/3 c. soft butter
2 t. vanilla extract     3 eggs
3 c. flour                    1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt                    1 c. cookies and cream chips pulverized

Mix butter, vanilla, sugar, and eggs.  Add flour, powder, salt, and chips.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cut into strips and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Sit on the porch in a sunbeam with a hot cup of coffee and enjoy.  I hope you are enjoying a warm up in your neck of the woods.