Friday, April 29, 2011

Science Friday!

   It all began in the parking lot at Kroger. I was sitting in my car, trying to figure out what to make for dinner. The radio was on NPR, I wasn't really paying attention until I heard a voice say something about counting roadkill. That ought to get anyones attention. So I listened and it turns out that particular show was part of the Science Friday program and they were discussing Citizen Science Projects.
   I've always loved science, gardening, our natural world, but I've never had any direction or ultimate goal or purpose. I knew at that moment I'd found my calling, a way to give meaning to my various hobbies and interests and tie them all together.
   Over the next few days I went crazy looking at all the things I could get involved in at The tough part was narrowing it down to just a few. So far I've participated in Project Feeder Watch, the Great Backyard Birdcount, the Great Sunflower Project, and the Monarch Waystation program. If I can I'll also work on the Lost Ladybug Project. I've also had our home certified through the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. It's very easy to get involved in something, there are dozens of different types of projects, from easy to highly involved, and in every field of interest imaginable. Check it out! Also if you love science like me, check out the Science Friday program on NPR at 2-4pm eastern, or
   Well, I'm happy to report my baby monarch caterpillars survived the latest horrible storm, which included a tornado watch. I have no idea how at one day old they managed to hold onto those plants through such terrible wind and pounding rains.

   In a future post I'll tell how all about my critter cam, but for now I'll just show you last nights visitors. First was Foxy, then came our regular raccoon (pointy nose, short ears, we have others but they're not regulars), and then two possums. They're scavenging under the birdfeeders for fallen seed bits and tasty morsels.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Plant it and they will come!

I didn't even have all of the plants in the ground yet. Last Saturday the Monarchs arrived and laid eggs on my puny milkweed plants. This seems a bit ahead of schedule, but according to some sources, the crazy storms we've been having lately have blown the Monarchs further north than the plants were ready for. Hopefully there will be enough leaves for the caterpillars to eat, I may have to move them from plant to plant as they feed.

By the way, in case you don't know what I'm talking about, Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on plants from the milkweed family. The caterpillars then eat the leaves (which are poisonous, in turn making them poisonous to predators), grow, from a chrysalis, and voila! morph into a butterfly. Google it, it's awesome!

Consider adding some milkweed plants to your garden to help the threatened Monarch butterfly!

My eggs hatched yesterday, photos were nearly impossible. The tiny baby caterpillars are smaller then a grain of rice at this stage.

Can you find it? Look in the top center, this one just barely shows its stripes.

A Tentative Beginning

I've hesitated for long time to create a blog because I'm quite resistant to putting myself "out there" on the internet. I have no Facebook page nor do I Tweet and I never will. I would however like to share some of what we've been doing with friends and family, and if nobody cares what we are doing or why, then at least we have a documented history for ourselves. I'm not a talented writer, photographer, or gardener, so I'm not here to brag. We are however passionate about what we're doing and I hope it shows.

Welcome to our Suburban Wilderness.

We're trying to give back a little to our ecosystem and our Mother Earth. Native plants, native insects, birds, and mammals, will all find a welcome habitat on our properties. A place to live, find food, and reproduce. You don't have to live way out in the country to experience the joys of nature, we're proof of that.

Suburban, because we are in the county but right on the corner between two city limits and less than a mile from the busiest road in the city/county.

Wilderness, because we have attracted and nutured a vast array of species on our tiny lot that most people wouldn't see on walk through they're favorite parkland. Foxes, deer, raccoons, bunnies, possums, skunks, dozens of species of birds, many with nests right now, all are regular visitors. Don't forget the wildflowers. Yeah some species can be destructive (deer and bunnies most famously) but we are learning ways to live harmoniously with them. It is possible.

Hi! My name's Foxy, I'm cute aren't I! I help control the rodent population.