Sunday, January 31, 2010

Freezing in Virginia Beach

Okay, it's cold out here. 18 degrees F by the recording barn thermometer with about 8" of frozen, crusted snow on the ground. Too cold for me to hike around and take photos, although it is lovely.

The frozen snow will insulate the garden plants, although the higher palms are looking a tad miserable and flat.  We declared an abdication on wrapping  plants a few years ago and now only those hardy enough for our area survive. Amazingly, even the bananas tend to reappear no matter how determinedly we ignore them each winter.

Tiny, delicate sparrows and juncos are cheerfully pecking at the crumbs I scattered about on the top of the snow after feeding the chickens.  The fat, indulgent laying hens refused to set a toe outside the coop and had to be fed inside. Hefty birds with thick feather coats, they're an interesting contrast to the tiny wildlings gathered where ever I have scattered a bit of food. How brave these tiny residents are and how happily they chirp and peck at the treasure they have found in my wake. 

Each year we've planted more plants that carry seeds and berries into the winter - my choice rather than feeding commercial food. And each winter I leave more plants adorned with their seed heads, looking leggy and unkempt, rather than tidily cutting them down and discarding all those bits of wild food. What we lack is good cover, out here in the open fields.  Our pines are planted - may they grow quickly! - and we leave more high weed stands but it's no comparison to the wealth of birds in friend Holly's protected woods.  Out of the winds, birds of all kinds and sized congregate at her feeders.  We settle for the small, hardy adventurers who brave the open to snatch a few precious mouthfuls of food.

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