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Each year the huge crab apple tree in our backyard prolifically produces a plethora of small bright red fruits. While the fruit makes wonderful jelly and is also very tasty when dried, it is a real challenge to keep up. Every year I think we should cut it down as it continues to grow bigger and bigger and produce more and more little red apples. Yes, yes, I know that is what it is supposed to do, but how big is it going to grow and how much fruit is it going to produce?

Starting mid August we pick up crab apples so they don’t get crushed and then tracked into the house. Rick picks them up before he goes for his morning walk and then again when he comes back. We go out after we serve breakfast and pick up more apples, before our guests leave for the day and before new guests check in. Still, we have apples tracking into the house which adds extra work to the daily routine.

So we’re debating again…should we cut it down? We decided not to. It looks beautiful and it feeds some of the wildlife that visit us. The raccoons and the woodpeckers feast each year for weeks.

And the highlight these days are the two does and a buck that visit every day and night to vacuum up the fruit. Normally I curse at them as they destroy my tulips and eat my grapes, but right now they are a big help as they catch the fallen fruits that land on the lawn as well as the driveway. It’s much less work for us to do, and it’s really nice to watch them at work.

Last week we had bark mulch brought in and beautifully spread through the flower beds and around the trees. This week it is full of hoof prints. But I guess I can’t complain because these three beautiful – four legged vaccum cleaners don’t use electricity, eat within a hundred miles of where their food is grown, give back to their environment and are fun to watch . It doesn’t get any more eco-friendly than that!

We feed a large  number of hummingbirds each year mostly Rufous. It is a full time committment for Rick to keep them fed every day.  There is a group of volunteers that have come to band these little suckers for the last couple of years Their estimates are 50 birds per cup of sugar water consistantly per day. We have 14 two cup feeders that Rick fills every day, some days twice a day. That equates to over 700 birds. It starts in mid March with a few birds buzzing around where the feeders should be, so we know they are returning.  Within a week we go from a couple of feeders to about five and by the end of April we have the full fourteen out and filled every day.  For a while Rick is filling some of them twice a day.

Early morning and later in the evening before sunset the activity is high around each feeder.  The hummers are buzzing, chattering, chasing each other off ‘their’ feeder  and eating and eating and eating and eating. A dear friend gave me a pottery plaque “Bird and Breakfast” and for four months our bed and breakfast also becomes just that a bird and breakfast.

It is fun to watch the camera/people shy little birds trying to avoid our guests.  If the guests go to one feeder the birds go the one farthest away.  The guests move closer and the birds move back to the first one and on it goes. Those with the telphotos or a great deal of patience manage to get some great pictures.

When the were here banding the little birds they would catch them in the net then gently wrap them in a little blanket to keep them from flying off.  They checked many things such as sex, weight, length of bill, species, whether they are carrying or have laid an egg etc.  They did all of this with great care and just before they released them they put a tiny band on a tiny leg, gave them a drink then let them fly away. It was quite a process to watch. 

Around the beginning of July the birds start to move on and Rick starts taking down the feeders. By the end of July we only have a couple of pair of Anna’s that stay until later fall so we leave one feeder up for them. We always miss them when they leave but we know that next year they will return hungry as ever!

One of our guests apologized for not eating all of their breakfast. She said “it was delicious and she hated to leave it, but she ate like a bird at breakfast”.  I didn’t tell her that I heard birds ate their weight every day! 

This morning I mixed organic Apple juice and Blueberry juice and sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on top. Not a drop was left.


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January 2021