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October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Canadian Friends (Monday October 11, 2010).

Is turkey a main stay for your thanksgiving feasts like it is here?

I may still be afraid of my own shadow, but at least I look good.

(Ziggy the Toy Poodle sporting his new haircut.)

Ziggy is brave as long as there is a door between him and whatever, but take him for a walk and it is still a different story.

Much to my delight, the killing frost in surroundings areas only nipped a few impatiens, so I'm still harvesting a few tomatoes, peppers, some herbs, and one last cucumber (maybe 2).

Is it still considered Indian summer if I didn't get nailed but surrounding areas did?

The rest of last week was almost perfect weather wise as temperatures often climbed into the 70's

The hot summer and dry fall has allowed many of the local farmers time to harvest corn and soybeans ahead of schedule this year.

Do get out if possible and enjoy some of the fall festivals and while your at it, find a festival that favors some of the local bird migrations.

There are hawk migrations to see as well as Sandhill cranes.

This past weekend there was a Sandhill crane festival at Baker sanctuary here in Michigan.

Fall can be a very busy and exciting time for everyone.

I have heard and read comments about a lack of Northern cardinals and American goldfinches at backyard feeders.

This happens with other bird species as well, but we seem to notice more when our real colorful birds are lacking.

If you are new at feeding birds, American goldfinches have pretty much changed colors by now.

No longer will you see a bright yellow bird, but instead you will see a drab olive green bird.

Add to that that these are wild creatures and nature's bounty (seeds) is in full glory, your birds are busy gleaning what God put there for them.

This is why I am slow to cut back spent flower stalks, birds are busy and seem to prefer what is natural for them or still on the stalk so to speak.

Northern cardinals seem to be almost embarrassed to be seen when they are molting and go into hiding.

How can such a Regal bird be seen while looking a mess.

(A juvenile cardinal in molt. Notice the patch work of color and the gray bill and feet are changing colors as well.)

Even if they are a bit ashamed to be seen in this condition, the truth is this.

When birds molt, they lose some of their ability to fly and maneuver.

The loss of a few wing and tail feathers make for dangerous times and an open feeder can spell trouble.

Your cardinals are in hiding to some degree until they have molted and once again, nature is providing food for them as well.

I have several juveniles cardinals that visit, but they aren't as wise just yet and they know where the "easy pickins are".

(A dragon made of trash and a painting depicting the Underground Railroad)

Karen and I managed to get downtown for a couple more hours of ArtPrize.

Please humor me as I once again share some art with you one more time.

Truly amazing some of the talent these artists have.

You will see a mosaic made of glass tile,

A wooden sculpture from an old tree root and added drift wood (selling for $200,000).

Art work made from pieces of crayon.

A painting made from a series of dots.

A Monk made from resin and other material that looks so real, you almost expect him to open his eyes.

For the gardener, a piece called wheelbarrows and shovel.

Voted as ArtPrize winner ($250,000)was indeed the 28'x10' pencil drawing of the 1921 American Calvary Officers (pictured last week).

I might add, that the public viewers (you and me) choose what piece of art wins.

(Picture made from pieces of crayon and crayon shavings.)

If you live in the northern or temperate regions, now is a good time to check out your birdbath heaters to make sure they are working.

The last thing you want is a cracked birdbath from ice expansion.

If you don't have a heater, look into getting one that has a thermostat control built in.

You pay a few more dollars for for a good heater, but it runs only when the waters reaches 40 degrees F. and below.

It turns on for cold nights and shuts off when it gets above 40 degrees.

It should also have a 3-4 year warranty with it.

(Made of colored glass tiles.)

Fall is also an ideal time to clean up and repair bird houses or nest boxes.

Clean and sanitize your boxes and leave them out for winter birds to use as a roost box.

Repair and loose nails or screws.

Less costly boxes are put together with staples and will always separate and fall apart, look into better quality boxes that use screws.

Are you thinking about painting or putting a toner on your boxes?

Think about this before you do it.

It is natural for you and me to want to paint them in bright and decorative colors.


Instead paint or stain in neutral and earthy tones.


While we enjoy the bright colors, and birds will use a bright colored box if they have to, birds prefer the natural tones (think nature here).

Add to that this issue.................

Predators can see the bright colors better than we can and that is not what you have in mind.

Next, paint or stain with a water base product, not oil base.

Oils and toxins can harm your feathered friends.

Allow to dry completely before you hang them out again.

As tempting as it is to use bright colors, please don't for your birds sake.

You are only making a bright target for all to see.

(Grandfather Monk made of resin and other materials like real hair.)

One thing nice about 'Gardening For Wildlife" is how simple and easy it can be.

No longer do I worry about the perfect looking and weed free flower beds.

If plant material is free of disease, it goes right back into the beds.

Right there and right now.

Flowers and plants make a thick ground cover that choke out most weeds before they can get started.

Shredded tree leaves are right there as well.

There it decomposes, making the soil a bit richer and offer a home for wintering insects which in turn, feed my birds.

Another bonus.....................

In early spring, some of this debris is used by birds as they build nests.

More bird action and isn't that one of the reasons why we garden?

Continue your program of getting house plants ready for the long dry inside winter.

Continue digging and prepping your tender bulbs for winter.

Continue to water as needed.

By all means, keep feeders filled.

(Made and carved from driftwood.)

Prayerfully, Yolanda, Karen and I will be gone Tuesday through Thursday on a color tour and other things.

The weather is always an issue this time of year, but we aren't able to simply get up and go now.

Plans are for the Grand Traverse Bay (MI.) area and if Karen is up to it, I'm sure some time will be spent at a few stores.

I will get to your mail when we return home.

, I haven't done this for a while, but with so many new readers, I think this is a good time and hopefully you will jump in.

From time to time I ask you for your favorites.....................

This time it will be your favorite thing about Autumn.

Me, I'm already looking forward to spring, but I can still enjoy some things about Autumn.

I like the sight and sounds of Sandhill cranes as they slowly fly over.

White-crowned sparrows that stop by for a visit.

God's color pallet is beyond compare.

The feel of cool air with the warmth of the sun beating on me.

Visiting one of the Great Lakes is always special for me.

Fresh apple cider.

Fresh air and other things.

Okay,, give it some thought as I will post your favorites over the next several weeks if I get enough responses.

Remember, this is your newsletter too and you make it work.

Along with your favorite things about Autumn, I will need your

First name (last optional)

City or general location,

State or Province

Just think, you get published in a newsletter for all to see and you can share your fame with others.

Well, it is time for me to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American Writer

All too often our small tasks and tasks we deem meaningless are great and noble.

Who is watching when you lend a helping hand?

Who is watching when you smile at a stranger and say hello?

Simple tasks you may not even think about, but may be life changing to someone else.

Much like planting a seed.

A seed grows into a plant to produce fruit and more seeds.

Your noble deed or task just might produce more than you can ever imagine.

Treat every day, every little thing you do as a noble and possibly life altering task.

Until next time,

God Bless.

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

Jesus Christ, Matthew 19:29 (New International Version)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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