April 5, 2013
We have been blessed with the same Spring guests for the last 6 years. They arrive about the end of February to the first of March. They are rather noisy so you cannot miss their arrival. They are such a large presence that they take over our acre and a half in the Montford Historic District of Asheville, and are very hard to miss. They are not intimidated by our daily activities, Spring clean up or even supervising my Silkies (Maggie and Lila) in the back yard. If I make too much noise they will yell at me; a daily occurrence since I am always directing my little stubborn dogs around the yard.
They cannot be rushed, they are very particular about their lodging and always select the same location to call their own. In fact they are so particular that they insist on completely rearranging, adding furniture and reinforcing their bed. This is a bit annoying as they are so particular about structural adjustments and constantly voicing their opinions loudly. This continues daily until they settle down and finally are satisfied.
We are not a child proof Bed and Breakfast but our guests always sneak in their off spring after they settle in. Actually, we are not that bothered by the unauthorized addition of family members but they do add excitement to our usually sedate and quiet location. Though they are very attentive parents, there is still a constant concern in providing sufficient food to keep their brood satisfied.
The most honored visitors are a pair of Red Tailed Hawks or Chicken Hawks. They have been using the same nest in the same white pine that sits in our front yard for six years. This particular pine had it’s center stalk broken so as the tree grows, it does so with its branching limbs. The center is perfect for a huge nest that these birds of prey require. They usually lay 3 eggs, and patiently sit on the eggs spreading their huge wings if there is sunlight to warm up the nest. I have observed them exchanging egg sitting time so that each gets a break and can feed. They are carnivores and have seen them bring food to the chicks that look like large fuzzy white kittens when they hatch. The attached photo is one of the hawks being badgered by a curious squirrel.
We must not be a threat to them as they watch us from tree limbs tilting their heads in concentration. I have been able to approach withing 10 feet of one that likes to sit on the top of one of our umbrellas in the back yard. Even the babies will look at our guests peaking over the edge of the nest quietly or squawking for food. The parents are large handsome regal birds, with white and brown tufted broad chest, large curved beak and a wing span the definitely leaves a sun blocking shadow if they fly over you. The balcony off the Granny Smith room has the most perfect view for bird lovers. I will keep taking photographs of the progress of the parent hawks to post on my blog.
The next time you stay with us, make sure you bring your camera!
March 22, 2013
It is that time of the year in Asheville. Larry purchased bags of grass seed and fertilizer this last Spring. Spending hours aerating the acre and a half, he meticulously spread the seed over our back and side yards. His timing was perfect and before the crows could gobble up the seed, Mother Nature provided us with a gentle thorough rain and our wild guardians.
For the last five years the Chicken Hawk family makes their nest in a special Pine tree in the front. They take over our back yard perching in our huge trees. They scare away black birds and crows, therefore if Larry spreads the seed after they come back for their Spring mating ritual, these Chicken Hawks protect the lawn.
I thought Maine seagulls are big, well the Crows out weight Maggie and Lila by a few pounds! They are noisy and bossy. They do not even run away when Maggie and Lila are outside. I think they know the girls are afraid of them. The Chicken Hawks, on the other hand, just sit and watch and do not bother the little Silky Terriers. They rid our yard of snakes, rodents, and like.
So again, Mother Nature co-operated and provided us with plenty of gentle nurturing moisture. The yards began to green and appeared lush. Soon the seedlings began to take on a non-grass appearance…and then even to flower. Upon closer inspection we suddenly had a yard of clover with pink and white flowers. Any and all bees were in ‘bee-heaven’ and littered the yard gathering pollen (someone must have a bee hive near by). Besides the clover, we had purple wild violets, another yellow tiny flowering plant and WILD STRAWBERRIES!
I have to admit it was fun to go outside with the Silky Terrier girls and count all the tiny red strawberries that would spring up over night. I tasted some and that was not pleasant, relatively no flavor and a lot of grit. So we always had a lush green yard but not with that longed for grass but all kinds of little plants.
I am sure any wild rabbits, chipmunks, field mice, moles and other creatures that live around our yard appreciated the daily new crop. By the time the tiny strawberries appeared the Chicken Hawk Family had moved on.
So now that Spring is soon here, Larry just aerated and fertilized again. I wonder what we will grow next? I bet it will be green but not necessarily the hoped for lush grass.
Next time you are visiting Asheville stay with us and I promise Larry won’t put you to work in the yard.