Opening Doors or Gates

I love this quote by Emerson. Though the picture shows a gate on an Irish path I once walked, the application is the same as though that gate were a door.

Emerson’s words can have different meanings. Simply put, when we open a door, we do two things:

  1. Invite something to happen
  2. Give someone opportunities

I didn’t have to open the gate in the picture, but I did choose to walk through and siege the opportunity. On the other side, I found a farmer with his dog, and we had a lovely conversation.

When you encounter a door or a gate will you do what Emerson suggests and be an opener?


Living in a Certified Wildlife Habitat

We tell people we bought the massive hundreds-of-years-old live oak tree in our front yard and the house came with it.

So far, all who see the tree agree we made a wise decision.

But the wonderful tree is not the only thing that attracted us to our lovely little cabin house in a wooded development.

There was this sign.

The real estate agent explained the owners had landscaped the yard to provide a sustainable habitat for wildlife then submitted their yard design elements to the National Wildlife Federation and received the certification.

I loved that!

Coming from the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado, I didn’t expect to see bears, moose, or fox like we had there, but a mama whitetail deer and her twin fawns can be seen in our backyard. Several other does, their fawns, and a couple of bucks are usually around on our early morning walks.Sitting on our back porch glider, songbirds serenade us, toads croak, colorful butterflies dart among the flowers while squirrels scamper in the grass. We constantly dodge hummingbirds zooming to feeders.

We recently spotted a blue jay in the front birdbath with a chickadee patiently waiting his turn on the ground below and a cardinal at the birdfeeder hanging nearby—all at the same time.

And there are always birds and butterflies in the waterfall the previous owners created as a water feature for wildlife.

It’s so relaxing. It almost makes the heat and humidity of the Texas Gulf Coast bearable. Almost. I’m a native Texan, but I don’t think I’ll ever fully adjust to Texas weather.

Curious about how to invite wildlife back to your own yard and neighborhood? It’s not as hard as you might think. Your landscape must include:

Food: Native plants to provide nectar, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, foliage, pollen and insects for wildlife. Feeders can supplement natural food sources.

Water: All animals need water to survive and some need it for bathing or breeding as well.

Cover: Wildlife needs places to find shelter from bad weather and places to hide from predators or stalk prey.

Places to Raise Young: Wildlife needs resources to reproduce and keep their species going. Some species have totally different habitat needs in their juvenile phase than they do as adults.

Sustainable Practices: How you manage your garden can have an effect on the health of the soil, air, water and habitat for native wildlife as well as the human community.

Already have those things? You might be eligible to have certified wildlife habitat status too. Check out the National Wildlife Foundation website for all the details.


More Lace and Shimmer

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I recently posted pictures of the silver and gold laced Wyandottes.  They are quite lovely. There are also other laced chickens.

This is a blue laced red Wyandotte..This is a splash laced red Wyandotte.Not to be outdone by the lacey chickens, here is a Welsummer rooster.  His feathers almost shimmer.  As with most species, he is more beautiful than the female Welsummer.

We hatched these birds from eggs we bought from a hatchery in a nearby town.  I think it was worth the drive and the money to add them to our flock.


Fall’s Shrinking Daylight

Fall means our sunlight hours are shrinking a little more each day. I will miss sitting on the porch and reading.

What will you miss now that the season has changed?


How Many Tote Bags is Too Many?

Totes are usually free. I guess that’s why we accumulate them. I must have fifty or more.

I love winning loaded totes at silent auctions. I’m thrilled to attend a conference or fair and receive a tote  with goodies. Then I get home and have to wonder what do I do with them?

There are the shopping totes.

These are useful. I refuse to feel guilty about the dozens that live in both cars.

Living in Colorado, where we had to travel over an hour to do grocery shopping, I needed the insulated ones. Here in Texas, living with heat and high temperatures, I still use them.

The recycle tote I use to collect items to carry to the bin. It’s necessary and functional too.

Definitely a keeper.

The totes I wonder about are all the rest. The ones that sit in a large canvas bag at the back of the pantry.

There were two large canvas bags full. We gave away totes with purchases at our moving garage sale. People were thrilled to get them. I was more thrilled to see the stash of totes diminish.

I keep (and use) favorites like ones from writer conferences I’ve attended. I do admit I carry those to writing meetings with pride.

One tote keeps all my needlework work projects and makes it easy to find when I’m in the mood to do embroidery. Another tote carries my iPad to doctor or dentist appointments.

The bag with grandkids handprints and the one Chicken Wrangler Sara made from a chicken feed bag – those I could never get rid of it.

But the rest, well, I’m not so sure. Do I really need them?

There’s another issue too. As totes are known to do, they’ve starting to multiply again. So how many totes is enough?

YOUR TURN: What do you do with all your totes?


Good Night Mum

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I love mums. So do snails. Every fall I get a mum. Every fall the snails eat my mum. This year I planted marigolds. The snails ate them also. I really don’t like snails.

I won a door prize at a ladies event Saturday evening – a mum. I was very excited. It is even purple – my favorite color.

I decided this time I am not going to feed my mum to the snails. I checked with Bill – our resident expert on all things slithery. He told me that snails are most active at night and suggested I bring my mum inside after dark.

So now every night I put the chickens up. I put the dogs up. And I bring my mum inside.

So far this addition to my routine has been successful. It is Monday and my mum is still alive.


Advice: To give or not to give

I read this poem by Phyllis McGinley in the comments section of a blog. I found it whimsical and sobering and created this graphic, which you are free to share. McGinley  ends her poem: “But do not give advice at all.” The premise of columnist Parker J. Palmer’s blog titled The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice was “Don’t give advice, … Instead, be fully present, listen deeply …”

Giving advice can be a sticky wicket. Which route would you take?