Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturdays in the Garden - Dancing Chickens


Despite the fact that it got below freezing at night twice this week there were several new signs of spring that popped up!  First - I saw my first Turkey Vulture!  Maybe not what everybody would take as a good sign but they make me smile.  Their appearance in Iowa is always a signal.

Yum! Entrails! Photo by Billtacular
Also, prairie chicken lek surveys have begun!  Thinking about and doing surveys for Greater Prairie-chickens is part of my job and I have to say I have developed a real fondness for these wacky birds even though they seem tailor made for extinction.  The males gather in areas called leks where they show off and generally act all macho to try and impress the hens that stop by to check things out.  The prairie chicken dancing and the truly bizarre noises they makes (low blowing sounds, cackles and whoops) make them insanely charming.
Are my orange eyebrows sexy or what?? Photo Credit
And because it is something to see here's a video to check out:

Sadly, Greater Prairie-chickens only inhabit a small fraction of their former range, the heart of which used to be Iowa.  The birds need large landscapes of grass, particularly prairie which have been virtually wiped about by you know who.  We've been working to reinvigorate a small population of birds in Southern Iowa - Northern Missouri where the only hope of a large landscape of grass exists.

The garden is also picking up speed.  I took a chance and removed the leaf mulch off the garlic which has just started to come up along with some other bulbs.  Unexpectedly (to me) the Angelica has also emerged in the herb garden.

I started a bunch more seeds last Sunday and most have already germinated!  I'm still waiting on the peppers (Healthy and Sheepnose pimento), Basil and St. John's Wort.   Also the Butterfly Milkweed seed has to stratify (you plant the seeds than expose them to colder temperatures for 2-3 weeks - they need this for germination) so is sitting in the garage doing so.  The Kale, Calendula and Hyssop has sprouted as have both varieties of tomatoes (Juliet and Beam's Pear).

I need to get my second bank of lights installed PDQ!

Lastly, I've been thinking about going ahead and direct planting those seeds that should be sowed "as soon as you can work the ground".  I think we're there and I would like to get them out!

Work has continued to be insanely busy.  Between meetings, seminars and field work I've had about six hours at my desk this past week and the next two weeks promise to be the same.  Part of the reason I became a wildlife biologist was because I didn't want to get stuck behind a desk all the time but when you have a mountain of things on your desk to do, it sucks away some of the enjoyment in the variety of tasks my job provides.

I did get some good news this week.  My cat Rosie has been diabetic for about 3-4 years now.  This has been sad for her and has also made caring for her very high maintenance because she required two meals a day at the same time each day followed by insulin shots.  Trying to juggle this care need with my unpredictable often weather-dependent travel for work was pretty stressful.  I couldn't just leave her with some water and a big bowl of food if going away for a couple days.  A little over a month ago she started having low blood sugar episodes almost every day which led the vet to believe she may have gone into remission!  We've tried her without insulin for 4 weeks now and checked her again yesterday and her blood sugar levels were good, so it does in fact look like she is no longer diabetic!  Yoo Hoo!
Miss Rosie feeling pleased about her new found health.
And because National Puppy day was this week I'll also include a few pics of Jasper as a puppy.  Sadly I don't have any pics of Rudy as a pup because I didn't get him until he was a year old.

The old sweetheart in this pic is Darwin who I lost at the age of 14 a year after Jasper moved in.
Rudy and Jasper a couple weeks ago.


I mentioned last week that I started watching The Vicar of Dibley last weekend and I ended up sticking with it and doing a complete re-watch.  Such a delightful show!  I haven't really started anything else but was feeling called to do a Farscape re-watch and I thought I might even begin a set of posts about the show.  That requires me to really concentrate when watching and take notes however and I'm not sure I'm up for that kind of involved TV watching at the moment.

In reading news, I finally finished Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens this week and surprisingly didn't like it very much.  The hero is the ultimate, uber-macho, alpha male type and I just didn't like him at all.  Interestingly, I started another Regency romance that I got from NetGalley from a  relatively unknown author and I am adoring it! Like not being able to put it down to go to sleep adoration.  It's called The Miss Mirren Mission by Jenny Holiday.  I am also still listening to The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey and reading The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons which are both pretty great!  I also started listening to Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - this book and author have been on my want-to-read list for a long time and I'm glad I'm finally getting there!

On the Blog Last Week:

SUNDAY: Review of Avatar: The Last Airbender The Rift.  I really enjoyed this latest installment in the follow-up graphic novels written by Gene Luen Yang.
TUESDAY:  Top Ten Tuesday - Childhood Favorites You'd Like to Re-read.  It was fun contemplating which of my favorites to re-read and I was also reminded of a few more by other people's lists! Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
WEDNESDAY:  Review of Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon.  An interesting military fantasy that I had trouble engaging with because of one-dimensional characters which weren't compensated for by non-atop action.
THURSDAY:  Tough Traveling - Beloved Mounts.  This exploration of all the critters that carry heroes and heroines around in fantasy novels ended up being a total blast.  Lots of brilliant lists in this link up!  Hosted by Fantasy Review Barn.

On the Blog Next Week:

SUNDAY: Review of Lirael by Garth Nix
MONDAY: Review of Abhorsen by Garth Nix
TUESDAY: The TTT topic this week is the top ten books you recently added to your TBR.  Easy peasy!
WEDNESDAY:  Wild Card day.  Will likely have a review of some book or no post at all.  It will be a total surprise to you and to me:).
THURSDAY:  The Tough Traveling topic is Enforcers which currently I am drawing a complete blank on....  I hope to participate though!

That's it for this week. Any signs of spring or garden activity to report?  Any miraculous pet healings?  I'd love to hear about your week!

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