Starting in the Fall of 2021, I started to collect almost a full five-gallon bucket full of Black Walnuts that were falling from our Black Walnut trees in the backyard. The goal - with that collection - was to try to make some home-brewed Black Walnut stain. I ended up making a batch and gave it away for Christmas in 2021 . I wanted to try the process again this past Fall, so I was out there - in the backyard - picking up the Black Walnuts all Fall. And started to fill the same five-gallon bucket. That was a once-or-so-per week activity of pickup up a couple handful of green balls and dropping them in a bucket. I topped the bucket with another bucket with holes - so it would breath. And left it out in the landscape. Then, winter came. And I never did anything with the walnuts. No stain-making. I was out back splitting some Norway Maple firewood and noticed the bucket. I lifted the lid to see that it is loaded with walnuts. Rotting walnuts. Or, at least...rotting husks.
Showing posts with the label critters
Last Summer, we had a Rabbit create a little baby bunny burrow right on the edge of our patio . While it sure was fun for the kids, it created some problems with the dog. Frankly... as I said back then : it was a bad spot for stashing some tiny bunnies. All Winter long, we've had rabbit damage, so they're not on the top of my 'invite list' when I think about critters making a home in our yard. But...I have to remind myself that one of the criteria for a "Certified Wildlife Habitat" is having 'places to raise young' . So, I suppose having our yard used for a second-straight year as a place to raise tiny bunnies speaks to the conditions. I said second-straight year. Yep. They're back. But, this time, the Mamma Rabbit picked a MUCH better spot: tucked in against the house, behind our air conditioners. Here (below), you can see the little fur she's provided as a blanket in the corner and how she puts the leaves and other landscape materi
I used to not mind rabbits. Now? I do NOT like them at all. Earlier this month, I showed off some Oakleaf Hydrangea damage from some critters . Today, I found a LITERAL MOUND of evidence of who is doing it: a bunch of stinkin' rabbits. How do I know for sure? Well...Here's a look at what they left behind - right next to the Oakleaf Hydrangeas. Bunch of jerks. They gnaw off my hydrangeas and then leave their turds all over the place. Why I oughta....
We have a pretty active NextDoor online community. And as you'd expect, there's TONS of animal/critter sightings on there - including the occasional coyote ( Here's one that I saw on my walk to the train on our block ). But, Downers Grove has what I think is A LOT of foxes in our town. We have so many that there's now a restaurant named after the phenomenon (at least, I think that's why they named it that way). I've posted about some of them on the blog including earlier this year when there was one sitting on the driveway across the street from us early one morning . This past week, The KotBT and I were out in our front yard dragging our garbage cans down to the curb in the early evening when we spotted the Fantastic Mr. Fox crossing our street - from the creekside of the block to our side. Here he is trotting across the street: I have a series of other posts about critters/wildlife on the blog including a close-up encounter with a fox up in Wisconsin
I was out moving the lawn sprinkler around ( the gear drive one that I bought this Summer ) and I noticed someone watching me from across the street. It was this guy - a little Fox - sitting on the driveway watching my moves. I looked down and then when I looked up, he was gone. For reference, this is the driveway that you can see in the video here from 2017 with the same white garage door peeking out . Not the first fox we've seen - but I mostly see them closer to Maple Avenue - behind the Lincoln Center - but a good reminder that they're around and our neighborhood is home to plenty of wildlife. Two years ago, I posted this photo of a Coyote on my walk to the train . Last Summer, a duck laid an egg in our yard . And earlier this year, I spotted an Owl up in a large tree early one morning . We've had a bunch of run-ins with foxes up in Wisconsin - in fact I saw one up on the porch one Winter morning . Foxes are talked about all around town on places like N
This past weekend, I wandered in the back part of our yard and was stunned to see the bare trunks of our tiny Canadian Hemlock trees. They have been totally ravaged by what I presume to be rabbits. Freaking rabbits. Last year, I planted six small (like 18" tall) Canadian Hemlocks in two spots of the yard. We lost one of them before Winter , but the other five appeared fine before Winter. Today, the three in the very back are the ones I'm posting about and two of them have been totally attacked. One of them you can see above with just the trunk remaining along with few lower branches. This is the first real set of animal or critter damage that I've see on the trees in our yard. It is interesting...I've noticed that almost every morning when I take Lizzie out, we have a pair of rabbits that are hanging in our yard. Up until now, I thought that was nice to see the wildlife. I mean...we're feeding the birds and squirrels, so I assume that the rabbits a
We have an owl that lives on/around our block. He's been around for a while and we hear him hooting in the overnight hours during the Summer when we sleep with our windows open. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there are/were multiple owls in the neighborhood. I've heard them call and respond. Maybe Momma and babes? Or pairs/partners? I don't know. Our neighborhood is called Randall Park in Downers Grove and has a large pond at one end of it and a creek running through one side of it, so we have plenty of wildlife. And we're doing our part by participating in the 'Certified Wildlife Habitat' program from the National Wildlife Foundation where we've provided the necessary components of food, water , places to raise young , shelter and some sustainable practices like composting and what-have-you. So, it is a good spot for something like a family of owls to make a home around our block. They have plenty of water, large, mature trees for shelter
Seems like this is the week for (finally) some action in our garden/yard that indicates Spring is actually arriving. Yesterday, I posted a photo of what I think is a 'clump' 1 of Ostrich Ferns. Today, let's talk about bulbs. Last October, I planted 50 Tulip bulbs in one of our beds out in front of the porch, just underneath a giant Norway Maple . At the time, I did my best to protect them from various critters, but as time went on, I noticed some digging in the area. Between the skunks looking for grubs and perhaps squirrels with their eyes on the actual bulbs, somebody was pretty active shortly after I planted these bulbs. And the soil? I've talked about the soil we have close to our foundation. It is terrible right now. All clay. If you read my Top 10 2019 Spring/Summer Gardening To-Do List , you'll remember that #1 on my list was to continue to improve the soil . But, I've only have had one full garden season to work the soil and the
With the hardest part of Winter here for us humans, I am trying to find things to make us a little bit happier during the dark, cold, wet days of January. And one of those ways is dealing with our feeders for the birds and the squirrels. In an attempt to keep the squirrels off of and away from our feeders, I'm trying to enhance our offering. Those of you following along at home might remember that earlier this Summer, we added a 'Squirrel Bungee' feeder . Now we're going further: feeding them in neat little piles along the top of our fence - which is where they seem to run along all day. This ten pound back of cracked corn was just a little over $10 on Amazon and is, I hope, just the ticket to keeping our squirrels and ground-feeding birds happy for the rest of the Winter. And it gives me something to do with the boy every once in a while. So that's nice, too.
There I was, minding my own business, walking to the train one recent morning at close to 5 am and I notice a little guy kind of prancing across the street. He sees me, turns tail and scampers off. He got to a safe distance, then turned and inspected me as I continued to go on my way. That's him right there in the red circle. Not super clear, but you can get the idea. He's pretty skinny, isn't he? If you read the Nextdoor section for our neighborhood, you'd know that these coyotes are all over the place, but this is the first one that I've witnessed myself. I've come across quite a bit of wildlife in our backyard (skunks, rabbits and even our Black Squirrel ) and on our block (foxes), but haven't seen a coyote...until now. Down the block from us is a large pond that spills over into a creek that runs behind the homes across the street from us. With an abundant supply of water, plenty of wooded cover and what I would presume to be a good supply
Back in March of this year, I posted a photo of a couple of Milkweed seed packets that we received from the Save our Monarchs Foundation that are appropriate for our 5B zone here out in the Chicago Suburbs. I also had t his older packet of Milkweed seed that we received at a parade in 2016 that I never planted. With Spring here and the back of our yard still a mess, I just decided to sow them directly in the ground and cross my fingers that we'll see some action on them as the weather warms up. I put them in a staggered row with the two Foundation packets on the right and the parade packet on the left. I put the empty packet envelopes down in the soil and took this photo so I can go back there later this Summer, see if anything is happening with them and then know which type is which. I'm hoping that a few of seedlings will emerge and we'll get a nice first year plant that can help the Monarchs this season. I took the Bird and the KotBT out there and they helped
As you guys know by now, we've become bird people . We're now running four different feeders, a birdbath and even installed a water wiggler to attract the birds with moving water . And while we have plans to install even more landscaping , trees and (gasp!) even a water feature , we have quite a bit of existing trees , shrubs and brush in our #newoldbackyard. We're pretty lucky to live on a mature and wooded lot with close proximity to a big pond ( Barth Pond ) and a creek that runs north from the pond behind some of our neighbor's houses. That water source is a big factor in our neighborhood being able to attract and support wildlife. Some of it is great! Like birds and owls and hawks and rabbits and even foxes. Some not so great? Skunks and coyotes are also around. Little Lizzie was skunked last fall and I'm sure it won't be the last time. Now listen...we're not camping people. Or at least I'm not a camping person. But, I do love cr
There I was minding my own business early one morning recently reading on my phone when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some movement out on the back porch. I looked up and saw this guy's head peeking out from behind a post. Those pointy ears and his bright coat told me he wasn't a coyote. He was there for just an instance. Then off he went down the stairs. I shot up and made my way to the window to see where he was heading. After some frollicking in the snow, he made his way into the neighbor's yard and disappeared. Nat tells me that she's come across a similar fox last fall up there - so he's a known neighborhood member. Turns out... they don't attack dogs . So they have that going for themselves...
I've posted about all the various brass critters that we've come across and (most of the time) picked up at garage sales, estate sales and antique malls/stores. This one, an elephant that is rearing it's trunk up was at the Naperville antique place on Ogden. Earlier this year, I posted a couple of candle holder brass deer critters here on the blog . These have always been gifts for my sister-in-law, but at some point, she said that she had *enough* critters, but now that she's moved into her big, beautiful house, I think we're back on in terms of getting her more critters.
We've lost six or so pumpkins (that we grew ourselves!) on our front porch to critters this year and after the girls had carved their pumpkins last night, I figured we had to find a way to make them last until Friday. First....I filled a spray bottle with bleach and hit every 'cut' surface. We'll see if that does anything to stop the mold? Then...as you can see...I took out a little bit of fencing and wrapped them up. You can't eat what you can't get to, right? Come and try me, squirrels. I dare you.
It is with mixed emotions that I can report that we caught a skunk in our raccoon trap overnight. The raccoon hasn't been using my garden as his toilet for more than 10 days, so I moved the trap out front to where I last saw the raccoon - in an attempt to catch him. Instead of the raccoon, I found Mr. Stinky in the trap. As most of you know, I'm Mr. Anti-Skunk so this is kind of a feather in my cap, but seeing him in the trap makes me kind of sad. The grass around the cage is all torn up, so he fought like heck to get out and when I found him in the morning, he was mostly just laying there, tired. One less skunk on the streets of Elmhurst is a good thing, but now that the trap has been taken away, I'm almost certain that the raccoon will show back up again, won't he?