May 2004



This is my loot from Kettleby Herb Farm. More than two flats of herbs – think it’ll be enough? ;)

Early this spring, a male Robin claimed my backyard – and parts of the inside of my house – for his very own. All day, he fluttered from fence post to fence post, singing his heart out for his mate and for the whole world. In fact, the only times he wasn’t singing were the times he was knocking on my kitchen or family room windows (depending on which room I was in) to make sure that I got the message that I was in his territory.
We worked it out though. After putting balloons and windchimes in the windows in futile attempts to get him to stop rapping at them, on days when he was so frantic to get my attention that I was worried he’d hurt himself (or days when I grew weary of him following me from room to room doing his best to intimidate me), I’d close the blinds. Out of sight, out of mind seemed to work for him and he’d go back to his fence posts. He loved it when I was digging and moving pots in the yard because there were more worms and grubs than he could eat.
We developed a kind of rapport, the Robin and I. I got so used to the sound of him, or should I say, the sounds of him, that I knew when there was a cat in the yard by his call. Sometimes, he would even call me. It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I knew what he wanted. He’d call and call and I’d go out and move a pot or turn over a spadeful of earth for him and he’d get the juicy grubs that appeared.
I never saw his mate or a nest, so I assumed he didn’t have them. But one day, I heard the calling again… only it was different. I went to the bedroom window to see where he was. After a minute, I pulled a chair up to the window and watched. He wasn’t calling me this time, he was calling two fledgling robins, his babies, as he taught and encouraged them to learn to fly. He hopped along the top rail of the fence, with an enticing grub in his beak and he rewarded each chick as they made the inaugural flight up to perch with him.

That was weeks ago. The babies were soon gone and the Robin resumed his serenade-sentinal duties on the fence posts. Today was cool, overcast and drizzly. I was in the kitchen when I heard him calling in an alarmed way. Another cat or somesuch, I assumed. But a couple of hours later, he was still at it. I went to a window to see what was up.
It took me a few minutes to see the problem. The Robin had another baby in the yard, but the chick was caught under the netting I use to keep my greens safe from rabbits. The baby would hop around, looking for an escape, then freeze. Hop and freeze. The Robin was frantic. Calling and calling…. and bringing grubs to the baby and feeding him through the netting. It was a remarkable sight.

I went out to see about freeing the little bird who became as still as stone at my approach. The Robin screetched at me from a post. I was worried that the baby’s legs might have become tangled in the netting, but luckily, he was just under it and once I lifted it off the ground, he scooted away to hide under some cedars where his dad was waiting for him.
I watched from a window as he eventually took flight, first joining the Robin on the fence, then gradually exploring further and further.

Close to suppertime, I went back out into the yard to put scraps in the composter when I saw this:

A second baby robin, just out of the nest, perched on the edge of a bucket full of water and afraid to move in spite of the enticing grub held in the Robin’s beak. Fearing the baby might topple into the bucket and drown, I gently pushed him off the edge of the bucket backwards with a garden hose attachment and then emptied the bucket.

It can be a lot of work when you have a Robin for a boss ;)

mmmmmmmmmmm.. Free compost!
There were rows and rows of compost and car after car backed up to them. The engineer part of my brain says, ‘Great waste management!’. The gardener part of my brain says, ‘Yay! Compost!’

For four days there was a 10ft hornet in my Teeny Tiny Little Greenhouse. Twice I grabbed hold of it by mistake while moving flats around. Being allergic, this is an issue. I couldn’t get it out, but eventually, it landed in my trap. Poor 10ft hornet.

Jordan and I have made good progress at the garden. This weekend I’m putting in lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard and, um.. something else. I have the rows hoed and mulched and ready for seed. Half the edging is done. Jordan has been weeding and digging up and transplanting any sunflowers he finds. Today, we are gardening at home. I have to move some shrubs so my brother can finish my walls. Anybody want some spirea? I have a ton of them and I hate them. And I have to figure out where to put the magnolia. decisions decisions.

Being the clever impatient person that I am, I didn’t want to wait until I got my garden plots to plant greens. I want them sooner AND later ;) So I planted 3 window boxes with greens: lettuce, kale and spinach. The spinach is ready to go. Guess what I’m having for dinner tonight ;)

And the plan begins to take shape.

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