Monday, December 17, 2018

a bird in the garage is worth a look

Back in October, I accidently left the side garage door open when I grabbed some gardening stuff.
When I came back in, I heard some loud rustling and squeaking.  Struggling to get out a window it didn't understand was this lovely bird.

I couldn't figure out how to get the bird out of the garage.  I thought about throwing a blanket over it, but I didn't like the looks of its claws and beak. When my husband Wayne came home, he came up with the obvious:  just open the big front garage door.  He went around to the outside of the window, gave a little tap on the glass, and the bird finally got the idea.  It swooped out the door and into the blue sky.  What a treat to see this magnificant bird up close, and I'm so glad all ended happily.

The visitor was a ruffed grouse. I have never seen one before.  Here are some facts about ruffed grouse from

  • adults are about 40 cm long and weigh 500 g
  • less than half make it to one year, and their lifespan is 2-3 years
  • live primarily on the ground, but are strong short-distance fliers
  • eat the buds and leaves of poplars, birch, and alders
  • live in areas recently clear-cut.  Old growth forests do not provide food
  • foxes, coyotes, hawks and owl eat them
  • males are territorial and make a drumming sound to attract a mate
  • males do not help raise chicks

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

robin in the fall

I have never seen a robin in the fall.  This guy was hanging out in the grape vines the other day, looking for a snack.  Unfortunately, the grapes were not plentiful this year, and they have long since been picked over by the blue jays.

American Robins eat invertebrates and fruit. In spring and summer they eat earthworms, insects and snails. Robins also eat a variety of fruits, including chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood, sumac fruits, and juniper berries.  For a list of food suggestions to attract robins and other birds, visit

Most robins move south in winter.  However, some stick around in their summer locations.  They migrate more in response to food, or lack of food, than to changes in temperature.  Fruit is their main winter food source. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

mystery plant

This guy magically appeared in my back yard, right against the foundation. 
It's huge - almost 3 feet across.
I have never seen anything like it.
I have posted it on facebook and asked the Garden Club, but no answers.
The leaves are rough, scratchy, dull, and smell bad when you pick one.

Here is one leaf, almost 20 inches long!

I plan to wait till next spring, when I hope it will bloom, which will make identification easier.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

potato bonanza

I have never grown potatos before.  Some volunteers come up occasionally, and are immediately attacked by potato bugs.  But this year I purchased some special coloured seed potatoes brought from the Andes by a world traveler.

I thought I would try growing them in a special potato bag.  this way, all those little guys are corralled into a small space, and I don't have to go digging for them.  The bag was on my deck, and the sprouts were really pretty all summer, until the plant started to mature and die back.

I watered the plant like I would any other, and no potato bugs found it!

I lugged the very heavy bag out to the vegetable garden, dumped it out, and opened a door on the side of the bag to find my booty.
Out popped a great variety of spuds, from the size of marbles to the length of my finger.  And the colours:  dark purple, white, speckled pink and white.

The soil left behind goes on the veggie garden.

I started with six spuds, and ended up with 75. 
A pretty good haul!

I will let them dry on the newspaper for a few days before putting them in a dark cool spot.

blue jay wants a peanut

Last week, I was washing the dishes when a blue jay repeatedly beat its wings against the window where I was standing.  This morning, I was having breakfast when a blue jay perched on the thermometer outside the window where I was sitting.

I immediately knew what it wanted:  peanuts and lots of them.
It must have a very long memory, because I had not fed them since last winter.

I grabbed the bag of peanuts and tossed some on the frosty glass table top.  The birds landed with a skid on the slippery surface, but it took no time at all for the crowd to make off with every one.

I have been feeding the birds for years, but this is the first time the jays have communicated  their hunger with me.

So yes, they are demanding and bold, but I still like the idea that they trust me.  I laugh every time they pick up a small peanut, only to reject it for a larger one, or try unsuccessfully to fly away with two.  The entertainment is worth the bird harassment!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

spring peeper in fall

Last night, we found this little guy clinging to our front door, about four feet off the ground.  With the help of a great resource for PEI plants and animals at I was able to identify it as a spring peeper.  It is tiny - just about 2 cm, and almost transparent.  Its eyes are red, and it has a faint dark x on its back.  I can't imagine how it thought climbing up on a pane of glass was a good idea, but who knows the mind of a frog?

I wish the picture was clearer, but it was taken at night with a flash.

from Wikipedia:  The spring peeper is a small chorus frog widespread throughout the eastern United States and Canada. They are so called because of their chirping call that marks the beginning of spring. There are two subspecies: The northern, P. c. crucifer, found all over the eastern United States and eastern Canada. Wikipedia

Monday, September 17, 2018

tomato holes

When I was ready to can some tomatoes this year, I checked out last year's remaining jars and found one that was caked with mould and just half full.  Of course, a jar that isn't full will not form a good airless seal, and will go mouldy, but this mould was on the outside, not the inside. 
When I washed off the mould, I found what looked like a bullet hole in the bottom of the jar.
In all my years of canning, I've never seen such a thing.  Maybe the stress of the hot water bath opened a hairline crack that was already there.  And then maybe it banged against another jar.  It took a whole year for just half the contents to seep out.