Arbor Day

Alabama celebrates Arbor Day during the last week of February.   We attended an activity in Daphne this morning and picked up several trees. 

Check this link for Arbor Day activities in your state. http://www.arborday.org/arborday/arborDayDates.cfm

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Bird Casualties

I love the winter here. Aside from being short, what I like best is when the trees that drop leaves become bare I can scope out the bird and squirrel nests.

One is high up in a tree on my front yard. I was looking at the garden below to see if any of my daffodil bulbs were growing. I’m pleased to report they are. However, I did find a dead fledgling just below the nest in the garden. How sad. It’s a Pine Warbler and looks like it’s been there for about a week.

I’m leaving it where I found it although the boys and I are discussing giving it a proper burial. Having the bird  has provided a great science lesson for the boys. We’ve identified the bird from its color, beak, size and wing bars. They also got to observe animal decomposition up close: we turned the carcass over and saw maggots moving inside it. Ugh.

Travis is working on a poem to memorialize the creature. Once it’s done I’ll post it.

An Armadillo is Eating My Yard

I finally got to work on the back yard this week. How fun in this great springtime weather. We had such a layer of pine straw and live oak leaves that I was able to completely mulch the two, large bermed areas in the yard. Under it all I found a tennis ball and holes, holes, and more holes. 

Oh, yeah, my husband told me he sees the armadillos out there early in the morning. They’ve made a complete mess of the yard. And where they’ve missed, the moles have taken over. Do armadillos eat moles? No, they eat mole crickets which we don’t have. Moles eat grubs and armadillos eat grubs so I’ll have to find a way to eliminate the grubs. 

Meanwhile, the local garden center owner told me to spread something called Esposa Plant-tone on my yard in the areas the armadillos are destroying.  It should keep them away because it smells bad. 

It’s been two days since I spread a fine layer of Plant-tone on the back yard and there are no visible signs of armadillos.

A Beautiful Day for An Earthquake

While coaching the boys through their school work, I managed to get outside several times to work on my garden and my plants that I’ve started from seed. I replanted some butterfly plants that my Jr Master Gardener students pulled from our community garden to replant in the butterfly garden we’ll be working on. I sat in the sun, counted birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count and even counted a few butterflies. These were the first butterflies I’ve noticed this year which reminded me that the northward Monarch Migration is about to occur. The first butterfly was bright yellow, the other two were orange. Later, I headed to the Fairhope Pier with the boys to meet up with some friends for a walk. What an awesome and exciting day.
Around 5pm we had an earthquake.

I didn’t feel it. It was located just off of the Ft Morgan peninsula, from what the reports say. Folks along the beach felt swaying but I felt nothing. The immediate coast is sandy and our land is clay so I’m guessing, from what I’ve learned in my kids’ science classes, that the sand absorbed the trembler before it reached us.  But after further investigating, I’ve found that folks all over the area (west to Pensacola and north to Coffeeville) have felt it.  Guess I was too busy relaxing to notice. 

Alabama does get earthquakes. The article I’ve linked at the bottom of this blog notes several over the past few years. 

I’ve lived in earthquake prone areas but never gave much thought to coastal Alabama having any. I experienced several small ones in Maryland and knew of several in the Memphis/North Mississippi area when we lived there.  I would often take the boys to the Pink Palace Science Museum and we’d check out the seismograph for recent activity.  And while the kids were really young we spent over 6 years on rumbling coastal South Carolina before someone told me they happen very often there.  Except for the one during the Civil War which almost destroyed Charleston, the earth rumbles constantly and the sand just absorbs it; so I’m told.

So, for an exciting and fun day, an earthquake in South Alabama or off the coast just topped it off.  http://blog.al.com/live/2011/02/alabama_earthquake_fort_morgan.html  I’m just glad I’m not in Arkansas: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110218/ap_on_re_us/us_arkansas_earthquakes

Stink Bug Invasion

I hate stink bugs.  They stink!  They’re annoying.  They show up where you don’t want them (in your house and in your garden).  They know I hate them and so they’re after me.

I’ve written before about my encounters with the Leaf-footed Bug.  I’m already dreading next fall because of them.  Today I read about a new stink bug that some how caught a flight from Asia to Atlanta and loves to eat kudzu. 

To a southerner, what could be better than a bug that eatsenough kudzu to inhibit the plant’s growth a little bit?  Well, there are major drawbacks.  This stink bug STINKS.  From what I understand it’s really smelly.  It’s small, pea-sized, so it can get in your house undetected when you open the door.  It’s prolific, this species swarms and eat crops other than kudzu.  Not good for the backyard gardener.   So chances are you’ll have more than one enter the house.  I’m doomed.

These bugs were detected last year in Atlanta and North Georgia.  This year they’ve been found in the Carolinas and Alabama.  It’s only time before they end up on my property.  I’m praying they take the long way to the coast.  Thankfully, though, I don’t have kudzu anywhere close to my house, although there is plenty around town, but they’ll find me.  All the other stink bugs do.

But, here’s another thing: a second invasive stink bug was recently found in Birmingham.  It, too, is from Asia.  Too bad we can’t deport them.