March 15, 2009

1sts of Spring

I mentioned last year about our Firsts of Spring charts I used to always recreate every year. It's so ingrained that we all have eyes to see, without a chart. Sitting here, I just heard a flicker bird drumming his beak on our stove pipe. That's always a 'first' I look for - it's a mating thing.

I just walked around outside with my cup of breakfast tea looking for garden firsts. I'm seeing an inch of bulb greenery starting to poke through. No Glory of Snow, chionodoxa, in the grass yet. Yes, in the grass. I posted last fall about aerating my grass - I did it with a hand drill!! dropping the little bulbs in the holes (I had posted it on Facebook and my son Travis responded, "I hope you're not going to start cutting your grass with scissors!")

I had read about putting those flower bulbs in the grass, then there'd be a carpet of purple-blue first thing in the spring, and die back by the time to mow. I can't wait!

I need to walk around in the meadow and see if any wild crocus, pasque flowers, are up yet. That's another first. What else do we look for? The first robin and bluebird. In May the hummingbirds come and I love hearing them all summer, looking for the fiesty Rufous to show up early July. Hummingbirds leave Laborday weekend. We look for Aspen tree catkins, coming before the leaves. The kids would often run to me saying, "I smelled the first stink bug!"

Have you cleaned out your birdhouses? I told you to last month. Little bugs in old nests can kill this year's babies. We look for cow birds each spring, and the boys had permission to shoot them. I know that's not politically correct, but they are parasites (Audubon says, "promiscuous" - no pairing). They lay eggs in other bird nests and because their babies are bigger, growing faster, they starve out the other babies. Luckily we only have a couple that come around, my hope is, if the birdhouse hole size is specific to the bird, they usually can't get in. I do like their gurgling notes. Travis and me, and then Dawson and me, made lots of our birdhouses over the years.

Spring? I know it's not spring yet. I heard that Denver usually gets around 45" of snow each year, but only 18" this year. We are so dry, but we're probably not done yet. Unfortunately we often get dumped on in March - April (like 3 feet! Spring dumps melt fast, but not that one Christmas dump!). As the garden wise-guys I listen to on the radio have been saying, "don't let this beautiful spring-like weather we've been having fool you!" But with the warm weather predicted this week, I will go out and water again.

Monte and me already got a load of manure, the rancher filling both our trailer and the back of the pickup. That's the earliest we've ever gotten it. But with the nice weather ... and when I start needing it, we usually have snow and the ground around the manure pile is so mucky. So now we're prepared!

Dawson took the picture of my statue with snow on the back table in January when I was in Texas.
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