Mystery In The Shed

We have written about the shed before.
Click here to read that story. Tools are stored in there, as well as seed saving paraphanalia, among other items. There is a work space made up of the old kitchen cabinets with a formica premade top. Recently the shed was cleaned out, it is now ready to help with spring tasks.


(We are trying something new here, the first picture is the large size, the rest are uploaded as smaller sizes. Please click on the smaller images to see better what is being described in the text to help understand how this story is being set up. You will be prompted when to click.) ;->

The weather was extremely cooperative after a cool start yesterday. Lots of outdoor activities of the gardening sort were on the agenda, since the local meteorologist is calling for snow in a couple of days. Make hay when the sun shines, the saying goes. Let’s get to work!

This always happens. The tools are neatly stored in the shed, racks and pegs are available for each type. But as they are called up into duty, there is a tendency to leave them under the garage deck. It is dry there and we are not finished with the jobs, so why put the tools back up in the shed? The area under this deck has the leftover metal from the roof attached to the underside of the deck floor boards, keeping this space dry. Lots of things accumulate under here, promising branches for broom handles , drying firewood for the fire pit, an old grill with the insides pulled out and a coir liner inserted to hold potting soil, assorted chairs and benches, just a weird group of stuff. (Click on the image to see all the wonderful items under the deck). Many of these items belong in the shed.

One of today’s projects was the addition of another step at the top of the original steps of the house that was torn down to build the garage. We have produced a passle of home made steps , and have the technique down pat. The finishing touch is the additon of black river rock on the edges. (Click on the image to see the detail of the river rocks and ivy leaves adding their imprint on the surface of the finished product. ) There will need to be one more step added above this one to make the trip down to the area under the deck more safe as one travels on the gravel , it is loose and has caused a slip sliding fall or two.

This is to show where the shed is located in the garden. (Click on the image to see what is blooming on the hill.) It is a steep climb to get up there and that does help explain the tools stashed under the deck. But we still need to go up there and look for black river rock to add to the new step. Suck it up and let’s climb the steps.

After the black rocks were located to add to the wet concrete of the new step, I decided to sit briefly on the bench and take a rest after the steep climb up. But there was some mossy debris on the cushion. (Click on the photo to see it better). Where did that come from? This space had just been cleaned up. There should be no debris in here.

In the corner was more moss and some twigs by the can of paint sitting out to touch up the interior wall in some places that had been scratched up from the shovel and rake handles rubbing against it. (Click on the image to see what is written on the paint can top.)

What the heck is that? In the upper corner where the front wall meets the ceiling is a big wad of moss, sticks, the makings of a nest of some kind. (Click on the image to get a closer look at our mystery in the shed. ) We actually collect bird nests , and have never seen anything that looks like this. First of all, it is so big! But would a rodent be able to build a home up in the ceiling, and why would they? Is the building material not staying put when whomever is applying it tries to tuck it into some kind of form? Birders, Lisa at Greenbow, Shirl , or anyone else who knows how to identify birds by the nests they have built, can you add some information to help solve this mystery?

There is a bird sized hole near the top of this mess o’ moss. (Click on the image to see the hole.) But how are they getting in the shed, the door is kept closed and fastened? Occasionally the doors are left open when a chore requires the going in and out of the shed for various tools, and birds have flown in. We shoo them out with the double doors wide open, it is no big deal. Upon inspection of the closed doors, there is a small space where the doors come together, under the overhang at the center front, that a small bird might use to slip inside.(Click on the first image of this post to examine where we think birds could get inside.) This is the only explanation if it is birds, but why does the nest look like a huge gob instead of the neatly woven nests of our collection? One thought would be to just wait and see what develops, if more material is added, eggs laid, babies hatched, ….. whoa there, we getting ahead of ourselves. Should one be alarmed by the size of the next? Or happy that we have provided a safe, dry spot to raise some wee ones.

The inherited with the purchase of the property daffodils are blooming. This type of daff is very common in our neighborhood, all blooming in late February for a few weeks, depending on whether the weather stays cool. Too much heat causes the flowers to brown at the edges and fade faster than the nicer seasonal temps, forties and fifties during the day, hovering around freezing at night. These early yellow lovelies will bring us into tulip time along with the bloom of the fancier types of daffodils that we have added over the years. (Click on the image to see the details of the blossom.) It is suspected that this is a species type of daffodil, unimproved by the breeders and hybridizers, but the early flowering make it highly prized here.

Another exiting event of this beautiful day is the development of the tree peony buds. Normally the single white papery blooms open the first week in April. Each one of the larger buds on this seven year old plant will be a flower, it looks like a good year coming up. (Click on the image to count the buds!) It is hoped that some decent photos of these fleeting flowers can be shown to our gentle readers to record the 2008 bloom period of the tree peony, a celebratory event here at Faire Garden.

This entry was posted in Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Mystery In The Shed

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    My goodness Frances. I don’t know what might make that nest. It is a substantial structure. It will be intersting to see who is building this nest. Keep us posted.

    Your garden looks so pretty in the sunlight with daffodils blooming. I really like the mask on the post and your troughs. Did you make your troughs or did you find them ready made someplace??

  2. shirl says:

    Wow Frances, now that is a big nest!

    Okay hands up – I don’t know. But if I were to speculate I firstly may wonder if this has been something roosting out of the cold. But is it a mammal or a bird?

    I would firstly guess a bird as the structure is high up. However the small entrance hole suggests something small. That is a very large amount of material for a small bird to collect so I would therefore switch over to a mammal. By watching birds making a nest in my camera Nestbox I have seen that they are so fussy about the material, taking it in and out many times. This makes me think that is not a bird that is using this nest.

    Living in Scotland I am not familiar with the mammals and species of birds that visit your garden so this is tricky. If it was in my shed I would suggest that field mice had possibly found some moss in have used for a hanging basket and buried themselves in. Some others have then followed and the movement within has caused a bit of shape shifting!

    Mm… this is interesting I wonder what Lisa and everyone else thinks. Great post 😀

    BTW thanks for showing the peony buds I saw some on my garden visit at the weekend and wondered what they were – I look forward to seeing them flower 😀

  3. robbinscabin says:

    The nest is lovely! Located anywhere other than your shed it would probably be like living art but in the shed? Call me nervous nelly but it would have to go…

  4. Frances, says:

    Lisa…Thanks for giving your opinion. Now I am worried it is a mammal, as Shirl suggests, but how or why so high up? It is a huge glob of stuff, I will measure it today so it can be monitored for enlargement.

    Shirl…Thanks for your thoughts. As I told Lisa, it is sort of scary, just because of the size. I don’t like to think of mice in the shed, although they probably are in there. We are having a bit of a mice issue inside the main house, four have been caught in traps this week in the laundry room. I think there is a space they can crawl through where the dryer vent was redirected. The silly cats are useless as far as catching the mice, but do sniff them out, that helps us locate them.

    robbinscabin…I am feeling more and more nervous about the nest. No one has suggested bats, however. Could it be a bat?

  5. Kerri says:

    You’ve got quite a mystery there Frances. I really don’t have a clue either, but I’d venture a guess at some kind of rodent. The height is puzzling though. I don’t think bats build nests like that, but again, I really don’t know. Hmmm…I’ll be very interested to know what you find out, if anything.
    Lucky you to have gorgeous daffodils!!

  6. Dave says:

    Interesting question! Could it be squirrels? Seems like they might like a nice place for the winter. I don’t think it’s bats as they tend to just roost in high places rather than build nests. Or at least that is what I’ve always though, I could be wrong!

  7. shirl says:

    Hi again, Frances 🙂

    I doubt it would be bats as they would need somewhere to hang for roosting. I suspect they will be hibernating at this time of year anyway hanging in caves or the like.

    How about droppings – have you seen any? I think a bat’s smell – sorry 😦

    Just another thought perhaps what has been there has left. I would be tempted to set up a video camera on a tripod perhaps very early morning.

  8. Melanie says:

    As for what is living in the nest, I have no idea but my vote is for mammal. Mice get into my shed in a crack under the doors and their nests are up high in the birdhouses that I store up in the rafters.

    Did you have moss stored in your shed or is this creature bringing that moss in from outside? It sure is interesting. At first I thought a barn swallow but then I read that your doors are shut most of the time.

    Very interesting, keep us updated!

  9. Pam/Digging says:

    I don’t think bats make nests, Frances. Could it be a rat or a squirrel? See what kind of droppings are nearby, maybe. Let’s hope for a bird though, shall we?

    Your daffodils looks so cheery, making me wish I had some in bloom.

  10. Frances, says:

    Kerri…Thanks about the daffs, and welcome. I thought someone would know, but it is not looking good so far, I don’t care for rodents of any kind, but we shall see.

    Dave…We are in there nearly every day, would that scare whatever it is? Squirrels seem pretty skittish around here. Thanks for the input.

    Shirl…Thanks for returning, it is not solved so far, I will look for droppings of the rodent kind or bird kind. Not a pleasant thought, maybe we should try and seal the shed better.

    Melanie, Thanks for the ideas and welcome. I didn’t know mice could climb, so that is a good possibility. We have that moss and twig combo on our entire property, about 1/3 acre. It is native, not from a hanging basket. Whatever is doing this has this type of building material readily available. Maybe we should put out a mousetrap.

    Pam…Anything but a rat, I dislike those a lot. We have seen them when there was an abandoned burned out house nearby, but that was cleaned up several years ago. The daffs are our first real spring sign here, they have been spread to nearly every bed. I need to spread them even more, they could be a sea of daffs.

  11. Sherry at the Zoo says:

    I vote for a mammal, maybe a squirrel? We have several large squirrel nests in the trees around our house, and they always look like a big pile of leaves and “stuff”…at least from a ground persective.

    Aren’t birds nest usually a tad neater?

    I doubt a rat or a mouse. They would more likely be in the walls, or under something. I don’t think they build huge nests. You should check with Mon@rch…he seesm to be very knowledgeable.

    Good luck and let us know!

  12. Robin's Nesting Place says:

    Do you have an opening under the eaves? I’m thinking it’s a squirrel too. Squirrels do make messy nests.

  13. Frances, says:

    Sherry…It seems we have eliminated that it is a bird’s nest. I did see tiny droppings near it, up on a rafter. They were the size of pin head, very small. What do you think?

    Robin’s nesting place…there were tiny black droppings, almost like poppy seeds nearby. What could be that small?

  14. WiseAcre says:

    The nest resident is a mystrey to me too.

    I’ve never seen a mouse nest like that. As mentioned they are usually found in a confined space, not out in the open.

    I would have eliminated a mouse nest and suggested squirrel until you mentioned the size of the droppings. That sounds like mouse. I can’t say I ever noticed squirrel dropping so don’t know the size but imagine they’re bigger than poppy seeds.

    The mystery continues.

    Thanks for keeping the photo at a max size. I got a good look at the hypertufa(?) trough. Forgot who mentioned finding inspiration on other blogs. And what do you know – there it was.

  15. kate says:

    Talk about a mystery! That is incredible, Frances. It looks to me like a squirrel has been busy just because of the way the nest looks.
    I hope you’ll be able to ID the new occupants.

    Your daffodils are beautiful – it was fun seeing the tree peony bursting into life. You are fortunate to have green about you!!

  16. Gail says:


    I have the same daffodils all over my yard. I always call them February Gold even though the February Gold I planted is shorter….they shine like gold in February, love the idea that they are unimproved upon species. They seem perfect to me.


  17. Frances, says:

    wiseacre…Maybe we have mice and squirrels! We have got to close up that shed better. I think the trough post will be reposted, it was one of my first posts and nobody seems to have remembered it.

    Kate…It is possible that a squirrel has built the nest, it seems odd though. Thanks about the daffs. They bring much joy and cheer after the dreary colors of winter.

    Gail…We have lots of fancy daffodils with different sorts of trumpets and coloration, but those old ones are the most cheering since they bloom so early. Glad you have some too.

  18. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    My guess is that it is a mouse nest. Squirrels usually make their nests out of leaves & the hole looks very small. Mice nest in strange places & use whatever material is at hand. My parents had a mouse nest inside thier gas grill, which had been stored in their shed over the winter. The momma mouse had pulled apart the lining of the grill cover to use in her nest. I’d knock it down with one of those broom handles you’ve got.
    Spring has certainly sprung in your garden – hurrah! Can’t wait to see photos of your tree peony blooms.

  19. Frances, says:

    MMD…You are probably right. Instead of a sweet little bird’s nest with peeping babies, it looks like majority believes it is a crummy mouse nest. I guess we will put a trap up there and find out. A disappointment, for sure.

  20. Crafty Gardener says:

    This has been fascinating reading Frances. I don’t really have any suggestions for you, other than the ones your have already got. I sure hope you find out what creature lives there. Looking forward to further posts about it.

  21. Frances, says:

    Crafty…Thanks, but the outcome was not what had been hoped for. I wanted someone to say, “Oh yes, this is the ____ bird, builds messy, mossy nests in sheds.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I like the nest, it is unique and I think you should share your shed with whatever may have created this mystery “Faire Garden” of their own. Think of the effort and plans that were concocted to create such a masterpeice from mother nature. I see similar characteristic between the species of your garden and you. Or…… maybe the fairies built it and are messing with you.
    Much Love, CP

  23. Gardener of La Mancha says:

    It was the fairies! You attracted them into the yard and now they’ve built a winter home. Give them an inch and they take a mile…

  24. Frances, says:

    Chickenpoet…Loved your site, thanks for sending the link! You are causing me to rethink the trap thing, even gardoctor said we will never get all the mice, so why try? But, but, but….I wouldn’t want to catch a fairy in the trap, but she would probably not fall for that wad of peanut butter. love.

    Gardener of La Mancha…That’s another vote for the fairies, they are quite messy however.

  25. Layanee says:

    It is a work of art! Throw some mothballs in it to root out the inhabitants and let it live as the masterpiece it is! I think you are going to have a magnificent peony!

  26. Frances, says:

    Layanee…Many thanks! Somehow the moth balls seem like a more palatable solution than the trap, and there may be some in the closet somewhere, even better. The hopes are high for the tree peony.

  27. robbinscabin says:

    I had to check back to see if you’d gotten any answers. Before removing it (if that is your long-term plan) send the photos along to people at your local Cornell Co-Operative Extension office, or your local DEC office. The people at these offices have a tremendous amount of knowledge and are often untapped sources of information. And if they don’t know…they love a good mystery!

  28. Frances, says:

    Robbinscabin…Thanks for those good ideas. I contacted our local extension office and emailed them the photos of the nest and droppings. They are sending it on the the University of TN group to look at. The Cornell site did eventually get me to our local office, good place to start. Thanks. In the meantime I have bolted the shed doors tightly but a mouse could probably still get in.

  29. robbinscabin says:

    Glad I could help. Knowing I have no real knowledge of anything myself…I like to know where to locate the really knowledgable people. HeeHee.

  30. Frances, says:

    robbinscabin…That is a good path to take, thanks again.

  31. semi says:

    WOW! That is major nest. I vote the fairies made it. Although they probably don’t leave droppings or if they did it would probably turn into some wonderful! I hope to see many pics of Tree Peony in bloom. Love semi

  32. Frances, says:

    semi…Fairy droppings would probably be wonderful composted for the flowers! love.

  33. Annie in Austin says:

    What a post! You really drew us into the mystery with you and what great photos.

    The ‘poppy seeds’ description gets me, Frances – that’s tiny, even for a mouse, isn’t it?

    All I can do is wish you good luck and croon over the peony buds.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  34. Frances, says:

    Annie…Thanks. I will be awaiting the word from the extension office and post an update. Croon away for the tree peony, it will hopefully be deserving of your lovely voice!

  35. Meems says:

    frances: wow, I sure missed out on all the mystery fun today. Such great guesses and suggestions from your readers. I don’t have anything to add to that but I sure am enjoying your daffodils. I spotted them in the shed photo and then you gave us a close-up! Also glad you have had some nice weather to get out and about.
    Meems @hoe&shovel

  36. Frances, says:

    Meems…Thanks for dropping by, you haven’t missed anything, fun is still happening here! ;-> We are having a cold spell right now so it is hoped that the daffs can survive!

  37. Frances, says:

    Dee/reddirtramblings has left a new comment on your post “Mystery In The Shed”:

    Frances, I vote for squirrel or rat. It looks a lot like the squirrel nests here and we get squirrels a lot in our attics and tiny space. As to the hole, I don’t know, but mice don’t usually build that big a nest. I find mouse nests in my house as we live in the country.~~Dee

  38. Frances, says:

    Dee…My stupid computer rejected your message, not the first time that has happened, but it was figured out that if it gets copied and pasted into comment section that would work also. This new laptop is so sensitive that if my hand just passes over the click area is acts like it was clicked, it even has published when it wasn’t supposed to. Argh! Anyway, the squirrel sounds logical to me. I have been avoiding going into the shed until I hear from the extension office, it is kind of scary. I don’t want to frighten something into attacking me!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Looks like the widden of a pack rat!
    Look for any shiny objects in or around it as a clue. Also, it will continue to grow in size over time as the little guys can’t control themselves and keep collecting.
    Try putting shiny objects near the shed and see if they disappear.

    Have fun.

  40. Cabs says:

    Well, before the extension service gives you an answer I will throw my bet on mice into the blog ring.
    I hope my tree peony looks 1/2 as good as this when it emerges! Look forward to seeing more pictures.
    I am trying to resolve a fencing dilemma. Stop by when you have a minute.

  41. Kylee says:

    Frances, I was SO hoping when I got to the bottom of the comments that you’d know what your nest was. I would have said squirrel, since it was so messy. Could the small dropping be baby squirrel droppings?

    Love the daffodils! Another few weeks and we SHOULD have some, but right now, we’re still under snow!!

  42. Frances, says:

    Anonymous…Wow, a pack rat for real, I didn’t even know about such a thing, but we have lots of shiny objects so some will be left as a test. Thanks!

    Carol (Cabs)…Thanks and welcome. Another vote for mice. I will certainly returned to your site and pour over what’s there!

    Kylee…I haven’t even been in the shed for a few days, but whill check it out today as it is supposed to be warmer, with snow coming this weekend. The poor daffodils and hellebores lay flat with the cold, then pop back up in the warm, it’s amazing.

  43. Mary Beth says:

    Frances, I was hoping some birder would tell you it was some wonderfully exotic bird cozying in for the winter – but my vote goes to a rodent – Beautiful nest, though! I can co-exist with lots of animals – except rodents . . . Keep us posted

  44. Frances, says:

    Mary Beth… Thanks and welcome. That is exactly what I was hoping for, a wonderful bird, or even fairies, but rodents, argh! There will be a resolution of some sort to this and a follow up posting.

  45. Carol says:

    Hi Frances, I am behind on my blog reading and just getting caught up in this mystery. I don’t know what or who lives in a nest like that, but would love for it to be some garden fairies. I fear it is some kind of rodent however. I’m waiting like everyone else to hear back from the extension service

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  46. Frances, says:

    Carol…It is easy to het behind on the blog reading with so many good ones being written now. I am going to call the extension office and see what they say about it, because I have my own idea after more investigation and careful analysis of the clues.

  47. Pingback: Miracles, Mystery and Wonder | Fairegarden

Comments are closed.