A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


I was sitting on the front porch a few days back enjoying a warm Spring morning, watching the usual birds on the feeders and on the lookout for any cool or new arrivals.  Even though he wasn't super spectacular, this little fellow caught my eye.
Can you find him?
How about now?  Here's a close up of the previous picture.  It took me a bit of research and some serious watching of this little bird to pin down an identification.  This is an ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla), the only member of the seiurus genus.  It gets its name from the nest it builds on the ground, a small woven nest that people thought resembled a Dutch Oven.
The ovenbird is mostly terrestrial, it stays on the ground rooting through leaves, or in our case mulch.  They are very similar to thrushes in appearance, but their terrestrial habit and close inspection of coloration make an identification possible.
I was pretty happy to be able to identify this new feathered friends.  It isn't the most colorful or dynamic bird, but it's always fun to identify a new garden visitor. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bergeson Nursery in Fertile, Minnesota

Over the weekend we made our annual visit to Bergeson Nursery in Fertile, MN. My mom and dad also came along to see what goodies they could find.  They did not leave empty-handed.

We spent an hour and a half there, and picked out a bunch of new perennials and some eye-catching annuals for our flower boxes. 
Even with a wagon load of flowers, our bill was less than we thought (actual amount not disclosed), which we thought was a big win. Our perennials are starting to mature so our annual flower budget is finally starting to decrease. I think this really might be the year that all of our flower areas look really filled in. Stay tuned for pictures...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pileated Woodpecker

This handsome/pretty pileated woodpecker showed up at our feeder this morning.
We saw pileated woodpeckers almost daily for a two month-long stretch last year and were really hoping that they would return to the homestead again this year.  We'd also heard them in the neighborhood on our morning dogs walks - their rapping on trees is very distinctive. 
The feeder that the woodpecker is snacking on has peanut butter suet balls.  We've experimented with numerous kinds of suet over the years and have settled on this kind, which they seem to really enjoy. 
After having a suet snack, the woodpecker foraged for some bugs on the ground and then flew off. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Spring Birds and Wild Spring Weather

Spring is officially here in North Dakota.  Trees have started breaking buds, hostas are up, and various plants are about to start throwing off flowers.  This time of year is especially glorious since there are no mosquitoes (not yet), so we can work in the garden without the annoyance of biting mosquitoes. 
For us the change to Spring is marked by the birds that begin arriving at the homestead, some just passing through, some to stay for the duration of Summer.  The American Goldfinches arrived just a few days ago.  We love their high-pitched chirps and striking yellow, they truly brighten up the garden. 
The American Goldfinches show up suddenly, and usually in sizeable numbers.  We go from seeing one or two, to seeing dozens in a matter of just a few days. 
The Rose Breasted Grosbeaks also showed up yesterday.  In similar fashion to the American Goldfinches, they go from one or two to bunches in a matter of days.  Sadly the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks are just passing through, they'll stay for a few weeks, then move along.  At least a few of the goldfinches will stay with us though through the Summer. 
Even though it was 90+ degrees just a week ago, Spring here is temperamental.  Today being Friday the 13th, Mother Nature tried to put on an eerie show.  A cold wind started overnight and a morning rain shower turned to snow.  Brief but intense snow showers and a brisk wind have continued throughout the day.  A hard freeze is forecast for tonight and I have a few petunias, sweet alyssum, and dianthus that I need to cover.  Hopefully this is the last freeze or frost for the Spring. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Grand Forks Dog Jog

On Saturday Alycia participated in the Grand Forks Dog Jog, a 5k jog/walk fundraiser for the Circle of Friends Humane Society. Given that all of our dogs are somewhere on the neurotic scale (some more than others), it was not even a possibility that any of them would be invited to come along.

Instead, Alycia got to borrow Luna, the long-haired dachshund owned by Kelly of our local pet food store - Treat Play Love.  Whenever we visit the store, Alycia gets her special "Luna Time" and holds her while John gets to lug heavy sacks of dog food. Luna is a therapy dog and is probably the best suited dog for that job that we've ever known. She loves to be held and snuggled. 

There were probably a couple hundred dogs at the Dog Jog on Saturday, and Luna wanted nothing to do with them before the race started. She wanted to be up in Alycia 's arms out of the fray. 

Here's the pre-race photo. 
While there was some concern about whether Luna would walk the entire 5K, we needn't have worried. Luna was a champion and nearly ran the entire race. She just needed a little help on one short uphill climb. We even ran the last bit to the finish line, posting what I consider to be a respectable time for a mini dachshund of 52 minutes. 
Here's our post-race photo. You can see her eyes are a bit sleepy. She sat down immediately after crossing the finish line and received her well-deserved belly rubs.