Saturday, December 23, 2006

the little goldfinch

You can't tell by the photo, but this little guy is only about half the size of the other goldfinches that come to our feeder. So small, that I'm expecting someone more bird knowledgeable than me (plenty of those to choose from) to tell me - "that's not a goldfinch you idiot - it's a ...."


Monday, December 18, 2006

What a difference a day makes -

December 8th...

impatiens before frost

December 9th...

impatiens after frost

The petunia is a little hardier...


And just for the record, today was a balmy 77F degrees - I love North Carolina!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

5 girls, 2 boys & popcorn

My sister and her husband stopped by for a quick overnight visit a couple of nights ago. Their 3 canine children accompanied them. I've mentioned before what gracious hostesses our pups are, so as you might expect, the arrival of these visitors caused quite a commotion. This photo was taken a bit later - we found that a little popcorn could bring peace among the cousins.

chihuahuas & daschunds

Yes, the photo is a bit blurry, but blurry is good when I'm wearing pajamas that look like a sleeping bag. Plus, I like the red hue - very Christmasy!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Low maintenance pups

OK, I'm going to admit this right up front ... our pups haven't had a bath since August 2004.

Before we bought Pup1 eight years ago, I bought a little "how to" book about chihuahuas. One of the pieces of advice was "chihuahuas only need to be bathed about every 6 months." Having grown up with a golden retriever, I thought "yea, right, no dog of mine is going 6 months without a bath." So, I dutifully bathed her anytime I felt like it, which was a lot. She loved it - that warm water pouring over her, then being carried around by Mommy for the next hour or so swaddled in hot towels that I had warmed in the oven. If the towels started to cool down, I took fresh ones out of the oven. Yes, baths were good for Pup1!

A few years later, Pup2 came along. We bought her while we were in Florida and so her little "puppy physical" was done by a new vet - a wonderful vet who leaned toward a holistic approach ... the first vet we'd ever been to that talked to us about nutrition and who recommended books and who recommended a raw meat diet with whole grains & fresh veggies and using garlic and cider vinegar in their food instead of Frontline to deter tics & fleas.

So, what does this have to do with baths? I'm getting there ... well, we took the vet's suggestions, all of them, and quit using Frontline and started adding apple cider vinegar and garlic to their food. No fleas...ever! That is, until we bathed them. It seemed that whenever we bathed them, they would end up with a flea or two the very next time they went outside. And a single flea was enough to drive Pup1 absolutely nuts. Were the baths washing away the natural protection that they seemed to be getting from the garlic & vinegar??? That was the conclusion that I came to, so I quit bathing them. It's been over 2 years and there have been exactly zero fleas.

Pup1 probably misses her luxurious "spa days", but Pup2 never liked baths anyway. Any process that takes more than 90 seconds bores her and she gets agitated. So instead of a sink full of bubbles and oven heated towels, it was a cursory scrub & spray, then running around the house at full speed (her, not me) until she was dry.

So how do I keep them from smelling like dogs? Well, they're not exactly big roll-in-the-dirt dogs, so it's not that hard. They love fleece blankets and sleep on them and under them summer & winter. As long as I keep the blankets washed using heavily scented detergent (I like Gain) and fabric softener (April fresh Downy), our pups smell just like fresh laundry all the time. And it doesn't hurt that their favorite place is in a basket of "fresh from the dryer" laundry.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Remember Monkey?

The hard drive on my 4 year old computer is just about full. So, tonight I decided that I needed to sort through my huge photo collection and start thinning it out. I haven't gotten too far. One of the first folders that I looked through had hundreds of photos of Monkey, the orphaned squirrel that I raised last spring. I'm quite sure he's the most photographed squirrel in North Carolina ... maybe the world.

I released Monkey around Memorial Day and he came back to visit most days until Labor Day. Then we went away for 5 days. When we came back, Monkey was much more skittish around us - he would come close, but would no longer eat from my hand. After that I started to leave a couple of peanuts on the deck for him each day. The peanuts would always disappear, but I saw less and less of him. Now we see lots of squirrels around, but I can't be sure that he's one of them. I talk to all of them, just in case.

Here are some of my favorite "baby photos"...

He loved his fleece blankies!

Checking out my mealworm farm...

Meal time...

Here he is - slightly bigger than the peanut he's trying to eat -

Seconds before his leap to the counter top...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Stephanie again

My young friend Stephanie and family came down for a quick visit over Thanksgiving weekend. They visit here every July, so the weather this trip was a little cooloer, but still beautiful. No swimming, but great weather for boating and fishing.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

puppy door phobia

Pup 2 will be 6 years old next month. And for 6 years she's been going in and out through her puppy door. Until last week. Last week she decided that she's afraid of way only. She would go out, but wouldn't come back through. Instead she would whine until we opened the door.

We tried tempting her with ice cream ... nope.

Hubby removed the frame ... nope.

Not shown in photo - hubby ended up cutting a bigger hole. Even then she would whine instead of coming back in. It took us a few days to realize that she would go in and out just fine if we weren't around, but if we were home, we would lure her through with treats. Smart dog. Dumb humans.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas cactus & the birds

My Christmas cactus doesn't wait until Christmas to bloom. I keep it outside on the deck all summer, then bring it inside when the fall night temps start to dip below 40F - usually early November. A few weeks later - voila!

Christmas Cactus

Here's a close up view ...

Christmas Cactus

Most summers, the Carolina wrens build a well-hidden (except from me) nest in the cactus. This photo was taken in July 2005 -

Carolina Wren babies

Now that it's inside, Honeycomb is enjoying it. He likes to pick at the spider webs.

Chrismas Cactus & Society Finch

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Snake haiku

I often check my Site Meter to see how people find my blog. Sometimes it's a referral from another blog that links to mine - (thank you Sharon, Laura, Lynn, other Laura ...) Often people find it through a Google search - usually the search terms are something like "Lake Gaston", "gouldian finches", "finch aviary" or "indoor aviary". Every once in awhile it's a little wierd like the person who searched for "snake haiku" and found their way to my blog. Hmm... yes, I had a post about a snake in our house last year and a totally separate post about my nephew winning a haiku contest, but alas, no snake haiku in this blog.

But in the event that another googler comes looking for a snake haiku - here's (a very bad) one about the black rat snake that we found in our house last year, who was kind enough to leave through the same little hole (now plugged with caulk) without eating any of my little finches.

Black snake slithered in -
And left with empty tummy.
My finches thank you.

I don't have a photo of the snake, but here's a photo of some of the finches that he didn't eat.

gouldian finches

Oh, and for the record, mine was not the only blog that showed up when I googled "snake haiku" - two of my favorite blogs also made the list - Julie Zickefoose & Dharma Bums. I didn't delve into them to see if they had really posted a snake haiku, but I suspect not.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wierd Bird

A woman from Wake Forest North Carolina sent this photo to me in July. She had titled the photo "wierd bird." Of course it did not look wierd to me - I usually have 20+ gouldian finches flying around in my indoor aviary. What was wierd, was that these birds were seen flying free near a resevoir in Wake Forest and not in their native country, Australia. A man at the museum told the woman that she had seen a gouldian finch, probably an escaped pet and that it probably wouldn't survive the winter. He's probably right. My birds really like warm temperatures.

gouldian finches in the wild

The woman who sent me the photo, never mentioned the bird on the right. I'm 95% sure that it's a juvenile gouldian finch, even though its beak looks a little strange in this fuzzy photo. So was there a breeding pair on the loose that raised babies in the wild??? or did Daddy & baby both escape from their cage or aviary???

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The sight of this dog in our driveway...

black dog

really got their hackles up!



Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lake Gaston views

I took these photos from our dock yesterday. November 11th - beautiful, sunny, and probably record high temp for this time of year - almost 80 degrees. It was also probably the last of this weather for the year. Right now - rainy, 50 and tonight's lows are supposed to be in the 30s.

Jetski - Lake Gaston

As nice as the day was, I still think the waterskier (above) and the wakeboarder (below) are crazy! That water is cold!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

a little protein for the bluebirds

Mealworms are a popular snack for the birds around here. Titmice, Carolina wrens and bluebirds all love them. The bluebirds are the bossiest (most bossy?), so if they're around the others seem to back off.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Best friends

A couple of months ago Susan posted a comment on one of my posts about my tame society finch, Honeycomb. She was disappointed that her two parakeets weren't very tame, and thought it might have been different if she had gotten only one. She ended her comment with "But I wanted them to be happy".

Right then I decided that Honeycomb needed a bird friend. Sure, he was happy as long as he was out of the cage and hanging around with us, but what about the times when we weren't around? Enter Taffy... I hand-raised Taffy a few years ago. Like Honeycomb he was very tame and I kept him in the flight cage with my other tame birds, letting him and the others out each day for some play-time. Last fall his best bird friend died, and I moved him into the aviary so he could make some new friends.

Would he be a good companion for Honeycomb? After a year in the aviary, would he still be tame enough to hop onto my hand so I would be able to get him back into the cage when play time was over? Yes and Yes.
So now Honeycomb has a roomie. I think the motto for society finches is "love the one(s) you're with" and it took them about 2 minutes to become best buddies. Honeycomb still loves hanging around with us. Taffy's a bit more independent but he still loves his head rubs.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Web sights

I took these photos on a very foggy morning at Lake Gaston..

spider web

spider web

Close ups...

spider web

spider web

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Because you just don't see vulture photos in blogs...

turkey vulture

When I cropped this photo and zoomed in, I noticed a hole in the top of his beak - what's with that??? To see it, you may need to click the photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Snake skin

My husband has been putting insulation under our house and he found this snake skin on the rafters. Glad it was only the skin...

Here's a close up view...

snake skin

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Duck, Duck, Goose ... and Heron???

Our neighbors dock on a foggy morning - mallards on the left, geese on the right, and a great blue heron on the roof...

mallards, heron, geese

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Harold is back home!

Our stray beagle, Harold, has been reclaimed by his owners - wonderful news, because hubby really meant it when he said we couldn't keep him. (Contrary to what my nephew thinks, once in awhile my husband does say "no" to me.) Turns out that Harold (whose actually name is "Baby") had taken a 12 day vacation from home and wandered really far! The fire station where we found him was 12 miles away from his home. The owners answered our ad in the paper. Anyway, I thought I'd post a few photos that I took of his last day with us. Below - he was wandering around our property tracking something and paying no attention to the geese on the dock.

beagle & geese

His nose at work...

beagle tracking

Below - resting on our front steps. He was so calm and sweet that even our chihuahuas didn't mind him hanging around.