Baby, it’s cold outside

In one of Pratchett’s best novels, Nightwatch, Sam Vimes travels back in time and takes part in the “Glorious Revolution” (twice, actually), with its motto of Freedom, Reasonably Priced Love, and a Hard Boiled Egg, and its symbol of lilac in bloom, which happens on the 25th of April. I remember Caine being very fond of that day, posting pics of lilac. For me, living in a place where spring comes earlier than North Dakota and wherever Pratchett lived in the UK, by that time, the lilac had already bloomed, taking its sweet perfume with it.

Except this year, with its extraordinarily cold April. This year, the lilac has not yet dared to open its flowers.

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Most nights still had freezing temperatures and lots of plants are four weeks behind their usual schedule, which creates a problem for your dedicated hobby gardener: I planted the seeds according to the usual timeline, and most beds are also ready, only that it’s way too cold to plant anything outside:

©Giliell, all rights reserved The garden as o two weeks ago. The lower terraces are ready for planting, but the weather isn’t.

This means everything is still inside, although I usually carry about 50 plants outside in the morning and carry them back inside in the evening. Say hello to the cocktail tomatoes.

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I’m also running out of pots, because most of them have now been replanted three times and had to ask my mum for planting pots. What I really couldn’t keep inside for longer is the squash, so I planted it outside, hoping it would survive. By now, none of the plants look happy, some of them also don’t look alive:

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I can only hope that it will regrow those leaves, otherwise the squash will be entirely shop bought this season. As they were last year, when all my plants insisted on having male flowers only.

In the meantime I’m taking joy in the growth of my corn. Intellectually I knew that in order to get that high, it had to grow like mad, but knowing and seeing are two different things.

The two upper terraces in the garden will become “milpa” beds, also known as the “three sisters planting”, an old central American planting technique where you plant corn, beans and squash in the same area (hopefully the squash will survive…). The corn provides stability for the beans to grow on, the beans provide nutrition for the ground, and the squash protect the soil from drying out and being washed away. This was the little one’s idea and I must say, the idea of fresh corn on the cob is intriguing. So, cross your fingers for warmer weather and surviving squash (also the fucking slugs have been at it already. There’s a whole garden for them to eat, they can’t tell me they need to eat my squash).

Winter Wonderland 5: Miscellaneous

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Well, it’s not the Arctic sea, but for a frozen puddle it looks dramatic enough.

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A little chaffinch used the open ground under the trees to look for food.

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The Nile Goose knows how to pose with a frame of tree branches.

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Aaaand, save the best for last. It’s my absolute favourite. Taking pics of crows is damn hard, because the pitch black will just throw off your auto focus and they rarely keep still for long enough to adjust it manually. But in the bright sunlight, the auto focus caught on and the blue and green frame it perfectly.

Winter Wonderland 3: More Swans

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The two juveniles must be about the same age. They are still smaller than their parents, although they have grown a lot since they first arrived, but they have always been about the same size and started out the same cygnet grey. Yet one of them keeps clinging to its baby colours, only reluctantly letting go of the grey and slowly turning white.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Winter Wonderland 2: Swanlake meets Frozen

The swans are the mascots of the whole village. The old pair divorced and moved out some time in 2019, so last autumn they got a new breeding pair with two juveniles. They have shelter on a little island and get fed and I must say, they are remarkably relaxed for swans, especially since the pond has been busier than I’ve ever seen it. Can’t wait for Covid to be over and people going elsewhere again.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Winter Wonderland 1

We’ve been having some snow over the last week, but on Friday we had snow on the ground AND brilliant sunshine and the good thing about home office is that you can decide to take a long break at midday and work when it’s dark. So I packed the camera and the Pokémon and went to the pond for a walk.

It’s too many pics for a single post, so you’ll be getting them over the next few days.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

That’s the same pic, more or less, different camera settings. Takes you from brilliant to gloomy.

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I love icicles. I was not that easy getting this perspective and afterwards jeans were wet.

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Take a pic in the shade, and suddenly everything looks grey…

Bullfinches!

We have no snow yet, but the temps are below 0 °C sometimes, so we are filling the feeder with sunflower seeds. And at least bullfinches are here again, I had four pairs show up simultaneously this week, although I did not, unfortunately, get them all in one picture. I got seven individuals at once, but unfortunately, the focus was not on the tree with birds but on the tree behind them.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Degupdate: Lady Grace of the Lost Toes

You know that we’ve been having lots of worries with our newest degu, Gracie. A new degu needs to be integrated into a group carefully, as they are very territorial. If you just put a new degu into a habitat, the result will often be a dead degu, so we separated Candy and Estelle from Gracie by means of a fence between their part of the habitat and Gracie’s. That way they can see, smell and hear each other and get used to each other.

A couple of days after Grace moved in, I found her foot bleeding with what we thought was a torn claw. Our breeder assured us that this was a common injury acquired while playing and no need for worries. A few days later another foot was hurt and I thought “hmmm, maybe the fence has an unsafe place?” and yes, since everything there is made from leftover material, the new fence wasn’t sitting plain, which created a narrowing gap where she could get stuck with her feet. I fixed that by adding another piece of wood in front, and it looked like it worked, but then came another injury. I was both worried as well as puzzled. Was there yet another gap where she could injure herself? Did she maybe hurt herself because she was still not integrated into the group, like we may bite nails? I contacted our breeder again and she didn’t have any more ideas either. I was about to go out and buy another cage and possibly another degu to start a second group for poor Gracie when I finally found out what happened: Whenever her feet had mostly healed, Grace would go to the fence that separates them and climb there. Then Candy would come and bite her feet, and because those incisors are sharp as hell, she’d take off the first knuckle. That way poor Gracie lost several toes. But at least now we knew what was happening and I put up another fence on the other side so Candy cannot reach Grace at all. Whenever Candy and Estelle are out, we have to put a piece of wood in front of Gracie’s door so Candy cannot reach her there.

It looks like Grace is finally healing, and I still love Candy to death (can’t blame a degu for being a degu), but I really could do with some good developments here. I’m still keeping them separated until Grace has fully healed and then we’ll have to see. Currently there seem to be two possibilities: Either they do finally get used to each other, or I’ll have to start a second group. I will also probably have to make the habitat more accessible for Gracie, because I don’t think she’ll be able to climb as well as the others with basically half a front paw missing. I feel bad about her having lost those toes while under our care, but I swear to the Great Degu, I always did my best. Anyway, she’s cute, and active, and curious. She grows and her fur is shiny and sleek, so I think she will grow up a strong degu.

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Gracie, being sneaky

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©Giliell, all rights reserved She’s pretty trusting with us, but the pea chips were not enough to lure her closer

©Giliell, all rights reserved But she found a nut. You can see the missing toe on the hind paw pretty well here. She can still use her front paws to hold food, obviously, and doesn’t seem very bothered by her injuries.

 

Estelle, btw, is an absolutely chill degu by now. I think she has realised that she has a warm, safe home, always enough food, and doesn’t care at all about her place in the pecking order. Here’s her and Candy running in the running wheel.

Mushroom Hunt

Yesterday we met our friends at the park, and this time I took my camera with me. The whole thing is currently overrun by mushrooms, toadstools, whatever. It’s not like I can identify any of them apart from the red toadstool that says “do not eat”. One day I#ll sign up for a “learning about mushrooms” class, but until that day, I will just collect their pics. the big advantage here is that they’re all good that way.

 

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

 

Enter the Muskrats

The town our friends live in has a really nice park, with an amazing playground that even the resident teen is happy to visit, so we declared it our meeting place while the plague is on. Apart from the playground it also has a pond with a muskrat family. Unfortunately I only had my phone with me, I promise to do better the next time. They’re neozoons in Europe, but cute.

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