Monday, April 27, 2015

Disturbance and Findings while Weeding

This Saturday past Vickie and I spent the morning weeding; I did the Medicinal Bed and Vickie the Idaho fescue and Yarrow "driveway" into the duck yard from our giant asphalt driveway. I have not seen weeds so tall and thick as this year. While cleaning up Tansy this is what I found:

 Oh my gosh what a beautifully constructed nest from dried flower stalks, 
grasses and such, gathered right here at MuRefuge. The nest which fit 
comfortably in the palm of my hand was repositioned low into an 
adjacent Pacific Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica). 
Early the next morning I was checking from afar the nest and 
noticed two Sooty Fox Sparrow hovering. Perhaps this was their nest 
and they are annoyed at the human disturbing their home?
What was so amazing about the nest in the Tansy is that Shasta runs 
through this area whenever the adult Indian Runner ducks are in the garden. 
She loves to jump up, lurching towards them to
see them fly. This activity brings a broad happy smile to her face.
Unfortunately the ducks are NOT happy and run out of the 
garden into their duck yard far away from that big furry four legged.
And with continued weeding both Vickie and I noticed many, many, many ladybugs. With the cool damp nights and the recent rain of almost an inch here at MuRefuge the aphids, ladybug food, seem to be thick. 
Go ladybugs! FYI: ladybugs attract aphids.
And this Sunday morning past while performing qi gong I noticed motion in my left peripheral vision. Turning my head towards the oriole feeder there upon the feeder a male Hooded Oriole perched slurping up the nectar from the feeder. I did not get a picture but you can check the link for a gorgeous one as well as information about this stunningly beautiful bird and its habitat.


As you can see the 2 youngsters (inside their enclosure)
and their older sisters (outside roaming) are ready to BE all together.
The ducklings are 7 weeks old Monday, April 27.
To be on the safe side the youngsters will be kept enclosed 

until at least 8 weeks old so they will be less likely to be 
snatched for a snack by flying predators.
A native bee at the Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea).
‘Skylark’ (Ceanothus thysiflorus) in foreground and on right
Coastal Poppy (Eschscholzia californica var. californica) in background 
and on left. Both are teaming with native pollinators.

As you compose your comment(s) take time to 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring Flowing into Summer

The flowers of the Spring natives are fading and the strawberry plants are producing lush ripe berries for our enjoyment. The ducklings while visiting the veggie garden slurped the ripest ones eagerly too. The qi is flowing from its Spring form into Summer with a more predominately yang fecund form. 

I love the diminutive Fringe Cup (Tellima grandiflora)
whose tiny fringes flutter in the gentle Spring breeze.
This plant reseeds freely if planted in a location to its liking.
In this picture a plant community is demonstrated:
Yellow eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum) 
and Fringe Cups.

Spring flowers on the California Flannel bush‘San Gabriel’ 
(Fremontodendron californicum) are gorgeous this year.

Ducklings 3 Weeks old

See what big girls we are now.
These two are a handful to transport from their veggie garden enclosure
back to their cardboard box in the garage.
Ducklings 4 Weeks old

Amidst the clover and between the basalt block veggie beds
a small enclosure was erected and covered with bird netting
to keep the hawks from snatching them up for a snack.
The ducklings, Shasta, Dwight and I enjoyed a family gathering
in the sunshine right after we had lunch each day. These forays were way
more entertaining then anything on TV, smart phone or tablet. 
And 5 Weeks old

These two at this age have gotten too big for the cardboard box in the garage
so the heat lamp, water bucket, food tray and gravel dish were moved to the duck house.
A wire enclosure, the front opening up to allow them to run out into a bigger
wire enclosure covered with bird netting, was put up since at night time
the 4 adults ducks go into the duck house, too.
Usually when the ducklings have been moved out into the duck house to share the space with the older ducks, there have been several days to a week before the big ducks go into their house easily. This time once the youngsters were allowed out of the duck house onto the native grass, all the big ducks came over quacking, quacking, quacking as though 
to welcome their new sisters. The youngsters, also quacking, would follow the big ducks as far as the enclosure would allow. These 6 BEings seem to be familiar with one another as though they have all been a flock before. The first night the big ducks went right into their
duck house . . . no problem.

Now 6 Weeks old on April 20, 2015

It is a tight fit but we both fit together in our tiny pond just fine
but we'd rather BE splashing around with our big sisters.
See below how much fun they are having .
The water in the bathtub was left running all morning so it overflowed
making a minipond where the big ducks are enjoying themselves.
So much for our water conservation efforts during California's megadrought.
Look how big my wings are.

Last week we had an outing to Pt. Reyes Station and visiting Shasta's Auntie T.  Shasta, Grace, and Gulley were congenially all together in the house. As we moved outside to enjoy the lovely garden, Shasta became very focused on the ivy hedge, walking up and down the hedge on her hind legs with her nose deeply embedded and at work in the dense ivy.

Eventually with her prodding, a wood rat vacated its nest, running off towards the wetlands below.

Once all this exciting activity was over I was able to pick a huge bag of Meyer's lemons from Tanis's tree loaded with lush, the most juice ever, lemons. Her lemon tree keeps us well supplied with lemons almost year around since her tree has one crop after another. I am ever so grateful that Tanis is willing to share with us her abundance of Meyer's lemons!

Meyer's lemon bar:
A gluten free and vegetarian (if one eats duck eggs)
tasty afternoon treat for an immediate pick up.

Recipe for Meyer's lemon bars:

     2 C. soaked and dried walnuts
     2 large Mejool dates
     pinch sea salt
     2 T. unsalted  organic Clo's butter

Coarsely chop first 2 ingredients in food processor while butter melts in 9 inch
square glass baking dish set in warm to 350 degree oven. Add melted butter and salt to
food processor, mixing until a dough mass forms then place dough in baking dish
and pat to form a smooth layer. Bake 15" in 350 degree oven. Cool completely.

     1/3 C. fresh squeezed Meyer's lemon juice
     zest from 2 large Meyer's lemon
     1 C. organic maple syrup (room temperature)
     3 organic duck eggs (room temperature)
     3 T. organic tapioca flour
     3/4 tsp. baking powder
     pinch of sea salt
With hand mixer blend lemon juice, eggs and maple syrup until well blend and slightly
frothy. Wisk in tapioca flour, adding a bit at a time to prevent lumps from forming. Add remaining ingredients and whisk just until blended. Pour over nut crust and bake for 25 to 30" or until topping is just sets. Cool and cut into squares. Enjoy! And