sunsets, seeds, and owls

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you some news from our garden and its environs. You may remember me from such posts as “Our Winter, This Far”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.As you can see, the sun was out today, but it wasn’t hugely toasty. In fact, it’s supposed to snow again for the next three days. You can imagine the complaining.  But then it’s supposed to warm up again, to almost sixty degrees (F) by Thursday.

Just like always, not much has been happening, but in keeping with what the guy I live with called “an excessively sibilant title” to my post, a few evenings ago we had a nice sunset, and here are the pictures to prove it.
This next one is the owls’ favorite tree. It’s kind of creepy with the big broken branches, and holes drilled into it by woodpeckers. The sun went down all the way after that, the way it does around here.

And, finally, we did some gardening. I’d been waiting for this for quite a long time. There was a little bit of gardening yesterday, with some grasses being cut down, and stuff like that, but today, some seeds were sown.
These were mostly penstemons from Alplains, which were purchased last year. The seeds are still viable, and some people say germination is even better with older seeds, and, anyway, the guy I live with has been doing hardly anything (trust me, here) for such a long time, it was a relief to see he could function at all.
I’ll show the method, even though it’s been shown before.

The seed pots (the same B.E.F. Grower’s Pots as always; they’re about thirty years old) are filled with a soil-less mix, which in this case is leftover stuff from last year and the year before. Some peat moss, coarse sand, perlite, and so forth.
Then they go into almost-as-old dish pans, to soak up water. The water is poured into the bottom of the dish pan; hot water, which cools off rapidly.I watched all of this, which is why I know.
When the soil-less mix has become damp, labels with names written on them go in first (always), then the seeds are sprinkled on top of the soil-less mix. Then the surface of the soil-less mix is covered with fine gravel (called “squeegee” here, for some reason), and the pots are placed in trays on the shelves on the patio.I guess with some seeds, once they have imbibed and it freezes, the seeds can be killed, but it doesn’t seem to bother penstemons.
An alternative method would be to stratify them in the refrigerator for a few months, but this method, being the lazy one, is the method the guy I live with likes the best.

Ideally, the pots would go into an open frame, made of two-by-fours, but there weren’t any around, and the guy I live with couldn’t figure out a place to put a frame even if he did have the lumber handy. The theory is that snow helps insulate the pots, and when it melts, it’s like the way it happens in real life.
But putting the pots on shelves is the way it was done for about twenty years, so it’s kind of like revisiting the past, or something.

And now the owls. We still see them on my evening walk. Not every evening, but most evenings. If we don’t see them, we still hear them.
These were taken on two different evening walks, but the owls were always in that same tree.
The pair of them, on a gloomy and chilly evening. Here, the lower one is about to hoot. You can see how they raise their tail feathers; next they thrust their heads out and hoot away.
A couple more pictures.
We both like the owls a lot; I guess I’ve given up trying to catch them, but I still growl at them from time to time. The guy I live with says the owls aren’t afraid of me.

So that’s it for today’s post. I hope you found it incredibly fascinating.

Until next time, then.

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yet more weirdness

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you up to date on almost nothing at all. You may remember me from such posts as “The Long Lead”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. Having a biscuit on the couch.I sometimes like to go upstairs and get on the bed, and have the guy I live with bring me a biscuit, which he does, even though he says that’s pretty spoiled.
I don’t think of myself as being spoiled, at all. I mean, look at all the things I have to do around here. I can’t make a list of them right now, but maybe I will someday.

Things have been weird. The news has definitely been weird.
And about ten days ago, on one of my walks, I got attacked by another dog, not on a leash (I wasn’t hurt), but the guy I live with got knocked down onto the ground, protecting me. He was okay, too, but he was sore for a few days.

The other thing, which was extremely weird, was that just a few days ago, the guy I live with noticed that there was a blank space at the top of the blog. He said this was a space for a header. He couldn’t remember that the blog had had a header for quite some time, but there was the blank space, which he couldn’t get rid of, so he uploaded a picture of snowdrops, which you now see, even though they aren’t flowering right now.

Which brings me to my usual theme, the endlessly dismal winter we’re having. I wouldn’t know this, except for all the complaining. I think it’s perfectly okay, except we don’t do a lot of gardening. We had one nice day in the sixties, with wind that evaporated a whole bunch of the snow, but then it got cold again, so there’s still ice on the paths.
The guy I live with told me that when he was working, he would always take a week off at this time of year because the weather was so warm, like sixties or almost seventy, for at least a week, sometimes longer, and he used to daydream about taking his wife to this restaurant he always wanted to go to. (At one time it was a place that served things called “Philly cheese steaks”, but the last time he and his wife went there, she was slightly put out because the waitress was so friendly to him. He told his wife he hadn’t even noticed. I don’t understand that.)
The restaurant is gone now, and the last few years haven’t had anything like those warm spells of the past.
So there’s almost nothing in flower now; it’s supposed to snow again, and be cold for another week.

Thanks to the pandemic, he can’t go see his friend if it’s this cold all the time, but they did meet in a park last week, to look at the geese and stuff.
They also saw this fairly huge Yucca elata.He says this was obviously planted as a large specimen. He’d like to have one in his garden, but large specimens are very expensive.
We have some smaller ones here.

And very small cactus:
Some of the cactus seedlings are doing better than others. The guy I live with said they’d probably like some fertilizer, but we’re out of it right now.
I guess the days where he would just get in the car and drive to get some fertilizer are gone, too. But hopefully not for good.

By the way, those are the same B.E.F. Grower’s pots which he’s used outdoors and in for about thirty years. You can’t get them any more.

He was going to sow some seeds outdoors, in more of those pots, but he didn’t have any labels, and looked all over the internet for some. They had to be just the right kind of labels, four inch plastic ones, which last for a very long time here. He finally found a place, and ordered a couple hundred, which should be more than enough.

My walks, aside from that one incident, have been about the same.
We still see owls. This is a male, and was hooting when we saw it. They look like big chickens when they hoot; they lean forward, with tail feathers held high, and hoot away.
There are hawks, too, but they almost always fly away when we get close to them. I must really frighten them.So that’s it for today. Hopefully things will return to normal before long.

Until next time, then.


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