Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vernal Equinox

OK . . . it is well past time to post something to get the Blizzard off the top of my page.

Today is the Vernal Equinox.  It is Equal Day / Equal Night.  Going forward, the days will get longer, and warmer.  That said, there will still probably be many cold, sometimes very cold, days ahead.  It got into the 40s today, which felt wonderful on my sunny porch.  It is to do the same tomorrow, but I'll be at work.  Over the weekend it will get cold again, into the 20s.  We still have a lot of snow piled up, and the frost is not out of the ground yet.  Next weekend it will get into the 50s.  It has been a long winter, and Spring is much anticipated, however there is still many weeks before we can count on it staying nice outside.  I did see one of the first true signs (for me) of the impending Spring . . . my first red-winged blackbird this morning, making his territory call at the top of one of my trees.  Welcome!

Sassy has a timer on in her mews, and full spectrum lights.  She's getting 12 hours of electric lighting, with those going off to allow normal sunset, which adds about another two hours.  I am pushing to try and stimulate her molt to start early.  I would really like her to be done, and well into getting into shape so we can tackle next year's season as soon as small game opens.

On nice days, like today, I put her out to weather.  My weathering yard is still deep in snow, and in the shadows.  This is my tall perch, which I feel comfortable putting a bird out onto while I'm around to monitor.  I don't feel comfortable putting Wasp out on the tall perch, and as already indicated, my weathering yard is not usable yet . . . so he just got a window opened for the day.  His mew has a nice view, and is very sunny as it faces South.  He does not have increased lighting, other than what is coming in from outside, because I plan to play with him some more once it warms up.  He'll need to be worked with, trained again, as he has gotten wild over the winter with minimal handling, while we were all shivering trying to keep warm.  I'd like to see if we can chase some birds, sparrows and starlings.  He needs more work, as hunting with him shut down way too quickly this past winter.
In celebration of the Equinox, I started some seeds I picked up yesterday at the Seed Savers Exchange.   We are fortunate that we live so very close to this wonderful organization.  I found a really nice video to share for anyone that may be interested.  All of their seed is Heritage, or Open Pollinated.  This means that seed collected from the plant will breed true to the next generation.  We picked up a couple varieties of tomato and peppers, and I also had some seed saved from last year from a cherry tomato that volunteered in my brothers-in-law's garden.  They probably planted it a year or two ago, but some of the fallen fruit from the previous year germinates, and up comes a new plant.  The tomatoes are very tasty, and I preserved some seed from last year.  We'll see if they germinate for me.

I had been wondering where I could start some seed in my house, as it is rather cool, and then the other night I had an epiphany while waking from sleep . . . why not use the hawk shack . . . it's being kept rather warm for the birds, and I go in there every day to feed the birds and the rats and mice.  It will be easy to not forget to check on / water my seedlings.  So I cleared off a shelf, and my seeds are being incubated with a warm base.  Once the seedlings sprout, I'll give them light as well.  By the time I no longer need to provide warmth for the hawks, I should be able to start hardening off some small plants out into the garden.  So if all goes well, I'll have tomatoes and peppers this year.  Oh, and Okra!  But that has to be planted directly into warm soil, so will be awhile till that can be planted.

I also, finally, planted some tulips into some planters outside.  They may not bloom, as I waited way too long to deal with them, but at least I finally did something with them.

So, Happy Spring to Everyone!  Hopefully it won't be a wet or too cold for too long Spring.  I hope for successful breeding of Red Tailed Hawks.  I would like to trap one this fall.  So get busy breeding, you parent hawks!  I'll be waiting!