Our Natural Country Neighbors

The past 18 months have been a time for learning for me between my work with the newspaper, the planning commission, no full time job and living in the country. All of a sudden I’ve had enough revelations about living and life to write many columns!

First, I have to return to my recurrent theme-living in the country. Spring has sprung and the birds and bees (and all sorts of other beasties) have returned.

What I have realized recently is the inevitability of nature. I’m still fighting the weeds, honeysuckle, privet and poison ivy out in the yard. I am taming some of it but my last bout of poison ivy on my face and subsequent emergency use of oral steroids once again has definitely affected my approach to the yard. At this rate, I’ll spend the next 40 years just trying to beat back the unwanted growth! So much for my idea of 2 acres of decorative garden.

The difference between city life and country life that truly has surprised me and upset some of my long-standing assumptions. For instance, one can get rid of mice and insects inside of a home.

Well, the mud daubers really enjoy our attic space and the outside eaves and crevices. They are too many to conquer. Removing the ceiling to the front porch only revealed the dozens of nests that I couldn’t see before. Maybe by being able to see them, we can keep the numbers down. Yeah, right.

We’ve also gained some new flying pests on the back porch. Don’t know what they are. They look kind of like wasps and they gather around a particular knot in the ceiling wood but don’t seem to be building a nest. Wasp and hornet spray didn’t seem to diminish their numbers or drive them away.

I don’t even want to discuss the swarming termites inside the house.

The carpenter bees have literally been driving me crazy. (Dumb me thought they were bumble bees and wasn’t worrying about them.) The incessant drone from these creatures was getting on my nerves but the killing didn’t start until I found holes in my front porch furniture. They haven’t all gone away but at least the noise level has diminished.

We’ve got many mice. My beagle dog is a good ratter-she’s quick to let me know when she’s spotted one. One that we caught inside got loose and hid under the cedar wardrobe. My husband’s effort to remove it put it within reach of the basset/golden retriever who had a blast playing with it – inside the house of course.

My husband’s making a study of mouse trap improvement at this point. A truly macabre occupation I must say.

Occasionally even the birds can become somewhat of an irritation. Between the whippoorwill and the bobwhite it just plain gets noisy around here!!! I can’t believe how loud they are. But it is nice to hear birdsong even if closing the window to hear the TV is sometimes necessary!

Another inevitable face of nature was the bird nest on the side porch. We tore down the old next when we moved in last winter. It was rebuilt.

We tore it down again. It was rebuilt. We tore it down again. Not only was it rebuilt this spring but this weekend my husband discovered several sets of eyes peering down at him. We initially counted 4 babies crowded into a tiny nest, but realized the next day there were actually 5 piled into the space. I took pictures of the totally immobile birdies and commented that they looked full grown. They didn’t flinch through all the picture taking and our discussion. We literally got within a foot or so of them.

Today when he returned from an errand, my husband approached the porch to check on them and they all flew away.

I can’t decide whether to leave the nest this year or not. We just keep making work for the mama bird when all she’s trying to do is give us some more birdsong out here. I won’t quit trying to protect that which is mine: nibbling rodents and dive bombing stingers just have to be controlled. Otherwise, I guess, we had just better relax and learn to live with our country neighbors!