Natural Landscaping

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Two years ago, our new home was a blank slate. Nothing grew on our lot, not even weeds. We’re located on a hillside, and the summer rains were eroding the subsoil left by the builder. It could have been discouraging, but I couldn’t wait to get started.

Landscaping is so much fun! It’s a chance to be creative and to express one’s personality. While I had some help with the overall design (the builder provided a voucher for a professional designer), the result is exactly what we had in mind. Our little piece of Colorado Springs reflects my love of birds and other aspects of nature, plus my husband’s desire for a place to relax.

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Making a List

LAH_0464I recently helped two long-time friends become birders. It was a thrill introducing two of my favorite people to a pastime I enjoy so much. We went birding and I offered ID tips. We discussed how to use binoculars, which field guides they might want to purchase, and some of the best places to look for birds. And inevitably, the topic of listing came up.

One friend really wasn’t all that interested in compiling a personal “life list,” but was eager to know what species were on her five acre property. The other friend has a small city lot, unlikely to attract much diversity, but was keen to keep track of the birds seen on our outings. That got me to thinking about all the different ways birders keep lists.

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Welcoming Juncos

dark-eyed-junco_lavetaco_20100320_lah_0458nefI just added bird #19 to my yard list. That may not sound like very many, but we only moved into our new house in May, and we had no landscaping until August. Birds are rarely attracted to bare dirt!

Not surprisingly, #19 was a Dark-eyed Junco. Vertical migrants, Juncos spend the summer up in the mountains, nesting in the conifers, and descend to lower elevations for the winter. At 7,100 feet , our house barely qualifies as a lower elevation; the park up the road, a mere 200 feet higher, hosts juncos all year.

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A Visit from a Covey

Scaled Quail_ChicoBasinRanch-CO_LAH_3016I have a new yard bird! Having only lived in this house since May, adding a new species to my yard list isn’t normally that big a deal. In fact, the previous entry (last week) was Eurasian Collared-dove. Big whoopee. But this new species got me so excited I went running around the house, texting all my birding friends. (Can you tell I haven’t been out birding in far too long?)

Yes, I glanced out at the feeder late one afternoon and spotted a small covey of Scaled Quail! In my yard! They were happily pecking through the shredded bark mulch looking for millet seeds that had fallen from the feeder overhead.

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From Dirt to Soil

20150509_180820Three weeks have now passed since we took ownership of our new house. Three weeks of lugging heavy furniture from room to room until it looks “right”—or ends up in the “to sell” pile. Three weeks of unpacking boxes only to find we need to add shelving to closets before the contents have a place to land. Three weeks of making decisions—picking out new bar stools for the counter in the great room, choosing a table and chairs for the deck, researching what kind of window coverings we might want. Three weeks of spending every spare moment indoors, settling in.

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Starting Over

12175 Howells Rd viewI miss my birds. Until a month ago, we lived on almost five acres outside of town, with huge Ponderosa pine trees and a two-acre field. My yard list numbered over 60 species. I could stand at the kitchen window and watch three species of hummingbird at the feeder hanging from the eaves, and enjoy the antics of the Bluejays, Steller’s Jays, and Scrub Jays as they competed with the magpies for peanuts left on our balcony railing.

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Coops (continued)

hen_blkforest_20090729_lah_7828Last week I wrote about the design and layout of chicken coops. Today we’ll talk about the inside.

Lighting

If your coop is large, you’ll need some light inside so that you and the hens can see. Also, chickens lay eggs when days are long, then stop and molt when fall arrives. If you want them to continue producing eggs into the darker months, you’ll need an artificial light source (and electricity).

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