Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Archive for water

They’re baaackkkk!

Spring is here so the hummers can’t be far behind. This video shows some easy steps you can take to make sure the ruby throated hummingbirds choose your backyard as the place to raise their families. There’s nothing like having a bunch of energetic hummers zipping around the garden and fighting over feeders. We’ve added some great still photos from Lauri Shubert, Smell Like Dirt Official Photographer. And although we didn’t include it in this video, remember to provide a water source for the hummingbirds. We find that the mister is their favorite. We also added some clips at the end to show some of the challenges in filming videos in your own backyard! Enjoy and remember, mix your nectar with a 4:1 ratio. 4 cups water, 1 cup sugar.

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Rain Barrels

Its raining in the southeast and when it does, we gets lots of hits from people looking for information on how to buy rain barrels  I decided to do a short post so that the information is easy to access.  If you live in the Charlotte NC metro area, there are two easy ways to order rain barrels in April.  In Charlotte, order your rain barrels through Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District but hurry, deadline to order is April 7.  If you miss that deadline and live near Matthews, Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK) and the Town of Matthews have teamed up to sell the same rain barrels at the same price as the county.  Send an email to HAWKncwf@gmail.com to order yours today, deadline April 15.  And if you don’t live close enough to the Charlotte area to take advantage of these sales, contact your local county extension office and ask where you can get a rain barrel .

Need another reason to save water?

This video is not a “Smell Like Dirt” production, but its definitely worth watching. I expect the sales of rain barrels to spike!

Save That Rain!

Rain Barrel

Here in the drought stricken Piedmont Area of North Carolina, its raining! And if you live in the Charlotte/Matthews, NC areas, you can order a rain barrel now for pickup at the Matthews Earth Day Festival on April 26 10a-2pm. 60 gallon rain barrels (like the one shown in the video) are $85 and the 80 gallons are $100. If you would like to order your rain barrel and start saving water, send an email to HAWKNCWF@gmail.com with your name, address, phone and indicating how many and what size rain barrels you want.   And then I’ll look forward to meeting you at the Earth Day Festival on April 26th.

Real Estate Boom

bbhouse.jpgWith all the talk about the real estate bubble bursting across the country, its definitely a buyers market right now.  And plenty of “buyers” will be visiting your backyard in the weeks to come.  February is when we start to see the birds staking their claims to the bird houses in our backyard.  The bluebirds will be among the first to check out the boxes in our backyard, so the first of February is when I make sure that I have cleaned out the houses well to welcome any pairs who may stop by.  There are disagreements among the experts about whether or not you should leave the old nests in the boxes, or clean them out, so I compromise by leaving in the old nests through the winter for insulation, but cleaning them out in February.  If you want the best shot at attracting a pair of bluebirds to your yard, start with a house specifically designed with bluebirds in mind.  There are many plans on line or you can visit your local bird store, like Backyard Wild in Matthews, to buy one.  All the books say to place your bluebird house so that it is facing an open area, preferably south or southeast.  Sometimes the birds have read the same books, but others have not.  The best way to ensure you will get a pair of bluebirds in your backyard is to offer them their favorite food, mealworms.  Although bluebirds will come to your traditional seed feeders, they are primarily insect eaters and can be easily trained to come when you whistle if you regularly offer them mealworms.   Start by picking a time of day that you consistently at home, for me, its in the morning.  Set up a worm feeding station.  It can be a dish on a deck rail, or a specifically designed feeding station that hooks onto the post where you have your bluebird house attached.  Every day, at roughly the same time, go outside and whistle, ring a bell or make another non-threatening noise and put your worms in the feeder.  Then go back inside and wait.  The first day or two, it make take a while for the birds to find it, but after that, they will learn that the time of day and the whistle or other noise you make means MEALWORMS! and they will be there waiting for you.  If you’re quiet and patient, you may even be able to stand near the feeder and watch them gobble up the worms.  Once you have the birds trained that there’s a reliable source of their favorite food in your backyard, they will most likely nest in the bluebird house you have provided for them, not matter what direction its facing.   And while you’re at it, don’t forget our other feathered friends.  Put up a variety of birdhouses. Different sizes with different size entry holes.  That will provide a place to raise young for a large variety of area songbirds and ensure your backyard is filled with beautiful birds all spring and summer.  A large variety of food will also attract a large variety of birds.  Add one final element of fresh water and you will be guaranteed a large demand for the birdhouse real estate in your yard!

Camping in January, Part 1

 congareepic.jpgI’m back from my first week camping in the Congaree National Park outside Columbia, SC.  It was the first of two weeks I will spend in the swamp searching for the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.  And while I am not sure I can recommend camping for a couple of weeks in the middle of January, if you can, you really should visit the Park.  It is the largest remnant of old growth flood plain forest in North America and the birding and wildlife viewing was wonderful.  The park has a healthy population of wild pigs and I’m not sure who jumped highest each time I came across one in the woods, me or him.  Although I didn’t get too close to one, evidence of their presence is everywhere.  They are constantly rooting around for food so walking through the forest was like walking across a newly plowed field.  And between that and the cypress knees that were everywhere, you really had to watch where you were going.  Each night we were serenaded by Barred Owls and with overnight temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s, it was hard to get out of the warm sleeping bag but the team was up and on our way to our search sites well before dawn each day.  Sitting quietly as the sun rose was a wonderful way to witness the swamp waking up.  From otter, to pigs, to birds of all types, the wildlife viewing was spectacular.  Draped in camo from head to toe, I blended in well enough to watch as the activity level increased the wildlife greeted the new day.  On Wednesday night, it started raining and rained well into Thursday, but once it stopped, I could move much more quietly in the woods because the leaves were wet and muffled each step.  I will be heading back down soon for a second week and will be posting a video on some of the sites, sounds and wildlife you can see in the swamp.  So stay tuned and start planning a trip to the Congaree soon!

Tree Seedling and Rain Barrel Sale January 26

The annual Mecklenburg County Tree Seedling and Rain Barrel Sale is just around the corner!  If you haven’t already ordered your rain barrel, make sure you do it by Monday, January 14th.  And when you are there picking up your Rain Barrel on the 26th, you can pick up a lot of great bushes and trees which are native to the Piedmont area of the Carolinas.  This sale is an hugely popular event and even though the doors don’t open until 9am, lines start forming around 8am.  There will be dogwoods, red maples, oaks, beauty berry, long leaf pine, button bushes and more on sale for $1-$5.  For a complete list and more information, click here.  Doors will remain open while supplies last, or noon, whichever comes first. If you miss out on the opportunity to get a rain barrel on the 26th, there will be other opportunities throughout 2008. For a list of the schedule, click here.