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Just Outside My Door 03/29/12

April 4, 2012
By ELAINE G. COLE - CORRESPONDENT ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Spring is still with us as I sit at my desk on this 23rd day of March, but if weather forecasts are right, temperatures are going to be more like March this weekend. The precipitation is suppose to be rain not snow so hopefully the buds on the trees and shrubs won't freeze. They might however, because I've often seen snow and cold temperatures in April, but I'm not going to worry about that. I'm just enjoying all the daffodils and hyacinths blooming just outside my door and beyond in our yard and also the bloodroot by the back fence.

It's also great to hear birds singing once again early in the morning and the peepers at night. Yesterday the bluebirds arrived in our yard. I've read they arrive early in March to choose a sight for their summer home and then leave again until the weather is suitable for them to settle in. I have mealy warms out and hope they will be back soon before all the sparrows come chase them away.

My "gardener" and all around outdoor lad Marlin reports that the bluebirds in their yard are already building their nest. If any of you have bluebird stories or other bird stories, I'd welcome them. Just call me at 761-6857, email me at or leave it in the box in the foyer of the Sherman Post Office.

One of our year round birds, the chickadees, are not visiting our feeders as much now and I seldom see them when nesting time arrives. I love watching them in winter as they dart to and fro, dining on black oil sunflower seeds. They seem to be cheerful little birds minding their own business. Recently however, I read an article by Julie Zickefosse in the April /May "Bird Watcher's Digest" about those birds. After observing them for some time, she discovered that they were quite feisty birds, often destroying the nest eggs of other birds and chasing the parents away so they could have the birdhouse. She gave a lot of information on how they did it and more interesting facts about them during nesting season, but I have never chickadees much in spring or fall. I've read they will nest in birdhouses although I have never been able to attract one even when the house was hung from an evergreen tree where the bird books say they often nest.

Although many birds have returned from their winter homes, I have not seen any humming birds, oriels or wrens yet. I'm wondering if some of those might come earlier this year because our weather has been so warm. Meanwhile there are many others that serenade us daily. Thankfully we haven't seen any bears so our feeders have been safe.

Birds and flowers are not all I have been enjoying outside lately. Recently I planted some flower seeds in cardboard boxes. I'll let you know if I have any success. I also anticipate visiting the Miller's Green House next door that will probably open sometime in April or May. Clara says the flowers are doing well and some are beginning to bloom.

I don't clean out my perennial bed in the fall, I leave it so the birds can dine on its seeds during the winter, and I don't cut off the hostas or sedum by the house. Thankfully Marlin did those tasks for me too.

My next outdoor trip will be to the bank beyond the creek bed to see if there might be some violets or May flowers in bloom down there. The trillions are probably in bloom on the bank and the skunk cabbages will vie for a place near them.

The rambler roses on the fence have many new shoots and the butterfly bushes are growing up again too. Unless we get a very hard freeze, maybe the other flowers in our yard will bloom earlier than usual.

I haven't seen any chipmunks, squirrels or raccoons out back yet. Perhaps the deer hunters last autumn shot them all. As for the latter two, though I enjoy watching them, they sometimes cause problems with the feeders. In recent years however, we solved those by hanging them on a wire in the yard which has no trees nearby and is high enough so the animals can't get on it. When the feeders were on poles I greased the poles with Crisco so they didn't get any traction to climb up them. It was great fun watching them go up a little way and then slide off. The trouble was when it rained or got extremely hot, the grease came off so I had to replenish it quite often.

Another sign of spring is the dry, sometimes hot, temperatures have allowed farmers to get their fields ready for planting corn. I like seeing the dark earth after it has been plowed and readied for crops. It reminds me of my childhood when I loved following my dad as he walked behind Captain and Prince plowing a field. The warm soil felt good on my bare feet. Of course that task took much longer to accomplish in those days. I can't imagine a child following behind a tractor. One may ride on one with their dad, but it would never be the same experience that I had in those yesteryears.

Yes, farming has vastly changed since those yesteryear days. In many ways it has been better and easier for them though I don't think is has been an improvement for today's youth except perhaps for the Amish children. Many of the English, as Amish folk call us, would rather play games on the computer, or some other modern entertainment, than to go with their dad or mom when they worked outside planting gardens or doing farm tasks. I believe they are missing many of life's lessons and developing a good work ethic, whether manually or in some other type job. As God's word says, man must work if he wants to eat.



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