You Can So Do This

February 23, 2009 waxwings 042 (2)

Do What?

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You are most likely already doing it….

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….If you garden, if you love the earth and the creatures with which we share it.

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If you mulch, compost and stay away from chemicals.

July 7, 2009 011 (2) Did you guess what is so easy to do, that you are probably already doing it? ……. Join the thousands of wildlife enthusiasts across the country who have been recognized for creating havens for neighborhood wildlife in their very own yards. These individuals have provided the essential elements for healthy and sustainable wildlife habitats and have earned the distinction of being part of National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitatβ„’ program. Click here to find out more and get your very own fancy schmancy signage! June 28, 2009 014 (2)

The first requirement is to provide food sources – For example: Native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, nectar.

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Water Sources – For example: Birdbath, pond, water garden, stream, and yes, Fairy swimming pools do count in this category.

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Places for Cover – For example: Thicket, rockpile, birdhouse.

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Sustainable Gardening – For example: Mulch, compost, rain garden, chemical-free fertilizer.

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Places to Raise Young – For example: Dense shrubs, vegetation, nesting box, pond.
There are several choices in each of these requirements to help you qualify. There will be some changes to the way the Fairegarden is managed to help us be even more wildlife friendly, like switching over to all organice fertilizers. Since we began the veggie growing last year only bagged Black Kow compost is used to fertilize those beds along with our own compost. The spraying for pests and diseases was eliminated several years ago. If something gets eaten up too badly, it gets composted. There are plenty of plants, many of them natives that will grow well with not enough pest damage to bother us. A few holes are expected, some even welcome, as in the case of the passionvine, Passiflora incarnata, the larval food of the splendidly dark orange Gulf Fritillary butterfly. July 7, 2009 018 (2) The holes are in the leaves and even the petals, but there have been no sightings of the orange and black spiky caterpillars…yet. In the meantime, the birds and other critters keep us company in the refuge we have created for them.
The photo of the snake skin was taken using the new camera, the Canon Powershot sx1 IS soon after the bodyless outer covering was discovered inside the rapidly decomposing trunk of the deceased Red Maple, Ferngully. At first we snuck in close to get a better shot, then realized that the owner of that skin might be taking a nap in the rotting wood. Standing back a ways and using the zoom seemed the wiser option.
The photo of the skunk family, Mamma, Daddy and four young ‘uns was taken just at dawn while standing safely behind the sliding glass doors in the addition. This parade of wildlife went under the garage deck and behind the crafting table. Cleaning out this area needs to be added to the jobs list. We do prefer the wildlife habitat to be a little farther away from our own.

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28 Responses to You Can So Do This

  1. Joy says:

    Frances .. I didn’t see the skunk until I read the narrative, then I went back and said Holy Moses !! LOL
    I love those Cedar Waxwings .. that picture of them in your header is gorgeous (I think I keep saying that to you don’t I ? LOL)
    I do all of the above .. but as long as I know it and the critters know it .. we are “good” with that ? LOL
    Great post to get lots of gardeners thinking : )

    Hi Joy, thanks. The Cedar Waxwing day was one to remember. The skunk day too, but with a different perspective. You are quite GOOD to offer what the wildlife needs and don’t need a sign to advertise it. I am hoping to persuade some of my neighbors to think about their use of chemicals and huge lawns as maybe something that could be tweaked a little. Only if they ask about the sign of course. Also the National Wildlife Federation does good work. Public awareness is a good thing and that is their goal.

  2. LindaLunda says:

    Is that a SNAKE??? Huga! Brr….
    And skunks?? Are they shy? We dont have them in Sweden… But they do look so sweet..:o)!

    Hi Linda, yes it is and I feel exactly the same way. The thought that the owner of that skin might be in ferngully made me jump away and go get the zooming camera. I don’t ever want to be that close to one. The skunks are here, I have seen one traveling through. I hope they are just passing by on their way to some wilder areas in our neighborhood. Seeing the whole family was exciting and a little scary. They are not into meeting people so I kept my distance. πŸ™‚

  3. What a great scheme. Well done you for being part.

    Does your compost get hot and kill the weed seeds?

    Aren’t the Waxwings beautiful?

    This year I’ve grown a border with Cosmos and Verbena bonariensis, opposite is an area with Echinacea and behind Buddleja. I’ve never seen so many butterflies and the fantastic ‘airy’ feel they bring to the garden. Interestingly, there are stacks of hoverflies and the odd wasp which I’m assuming have been keeping the aphids off the roses.

    Lovely post Frances, those Skunks are cute, I’ve never witnessed their smell when threatened. Is it effective?


    Hi Rob, thanks for that. There is no manure in my compost and I don’t throw weed seeds in there because I don’t think it gets hot enough to kill them. There are piles of brush all around the property that are perfect places to throw the weed pullings. The waxwings are majestic. Your combos sound divine. The Cosmos and Verbena are a great idea, I might have to borrow it. As for the skunks, we do our best to not threaten them. Kitty is sometimes out and he seems to stay away from them as well. We only detect a faint odor but know it can be quite strong if something bad happens, like when one gets hit by a car. Pepe Le Pew.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The skunks probably live where you saw them. They love to get under sheds. There is a family of them the next street over from our place. They come through our garden occasionally. Poor Luna has been sprayed in the face. They really aren’t bad neighbors unless you have a dog or cat that could be sprayed. Luna thinks those bunnies are just natures snacks for her. I think they look so sweet but they can’t live in our fenced area.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for that info. Sometimes Kitty is out and I worry about him having a run in with the skunks, so far he has not been sprayed, but he is pretty much a coward since he has been neutered and all. Under the garage deck is full of hidey holes for all sorts of things. I do plan to clean it up a bit, hoping to not see any snakes. I will be very careful where I saw the skunks go. Poor dear Luna! πŸ™‚

  5. Janet says:

    Good morning Frances, I think I could handle all the wildlife until it comes to the skunks…that would be a doozey of a smell to get out of three dogs! Congrats on the Wildlife Certification.

    Hi Janet, thanks. It is somewhat scary to have the skunks here, even though I know they are good guys. Luckily we don’t have any dogs. πŸ™‚

  6. Darla says:

    Very nice Frances. I see that ALL living things are welcome in your gardens. I’m trying to do better this year about not using chemicals myself. Kind of like to see nature at it’s best/worst. There is a purpose for all life cycles.

    Hi Darla, thanks. They are all welcome, but some more than others. I am afraid of all snakes, not just poisonous ones and have a moment of panic when one crosses my path. There are so many alternatives to the chemicals for fertilizer. I just bought some liquid Sea Kelp and will be giving it a try. I honestly don’t really fertilize anything but the veggies anyway. I agree about the purpose, it is a grand plan and we should allow it to run without our interference most of the time. πŸ™‚

  7. Gail says:

    Frances, Excellent post my friend…and you are right, most of us already are “doing it”. The scurrying skunk family is wonderful…and behind a closed patio door is the perfect place to capture their photo! Are they still in evidence or were they passing by? Thanks for reminding me to hang my sign in the garden, that’s on the to do list, in the meantime, I did post it on the sidebar of my blog…Have a sweet day, we finally got rain, it’s been glorious for the plants! gail

    Thanks Gail. I haven’t seen the skunks again, but they are probably in the neighborhood somewhere. There are plenty of places for them to live undisturbed around here. I will have to look into the sign on the sidebar, although it is pretty full already. We have been having wonderful rain as well, hooray!

  8. Dave says:

    I will happily do without the skunks but the rest of the wildlife is welcome here! I think you are right, most gardeners are already doing those tips for attracting wildlife. It’s interesting that much of what the animals like we do too.

    Hi Dave, the skunks don’t scare me as much as the snakes. The skunks saunter around the garden at night, while I am safely asleep or in the house looking at the sunrise. The NWF gave lots of leeway with the requirements too. It is easy to qualify and such a good idea.

  9. tina says:

    My garden has been certified for a few years now. I display the sign proudly and take it all seriously here. I wish all gardens were certified. I love that bunny picture. It is SO sweet!

    Good deal Tina. I know you are such a good influence on those around you. Those little baby bunnies were hidden under some brush and squeaked when I stepped on them. I thought it was a child’s toy until I uncovered the spot. I covered them back up and ran for the camera. This was a while ago but there was a blog post about it. I’ll look for it and give the link. Here it is:

  10. Randy says:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many critters in one place before. How lucky you are!

    Hi Randy, that’s not all of them either. The turtle photo didn’t make and the cut and I couldn’t find the opposum one in my files. We are lucky to have so many. I have noticed many more since we stopped using all chemicals too, including Roundup.

  11. Phillip says:

    I just wrote an article about a woman’s garden and she has this designation. We get a lot of wildlife in our garden but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a skunk.

    Hi Phillip, it is quite easy to qualify for this, you are probably already doing all the things yourself. I am so proud of the sign and hope my neighbors hop on the bandwagon too. The skunks are only seen because we get up before the sun comes up, they are night creatures and must be just heading for bed I think. Their path goes around the deck.

  12. Great post! We have a large rat snake that lives above the waterfall. I think our frog population may be down this year! I don’t have skunks here, but when I lived in the middle of the woods, there was a family of them.

    PS Our garden was certified several years ago (now, if the NWF would stop printing calendars, note pads and other paper products and use the $ for wildlife – my only rant about the org and I’ve told them several times).

    Hi Cameron, I knew you had a very wildlife friendly spot. Maybe those paper products are how they raise more money? But I agree, it could be better spent on less wasteful products.

  13. Kanak says:

    Hi Frances, loved reading this wonderful post. And to see all the wildlife in the haven you’ve created…how lucky to have cedar waxwings visiting. Snakes freak me out and I did have one on the mango tree recently. The colour on the first photo~~amazing.

    Hi Kanak, thanks. I know you would love seeing the waxwings, with your love of nature. Not the snake though. They freak me out too.

  14. Yep, already doing it, all of it and for as long as I garden. For me there is NO other way, ever!

    Great post Frances and I wish we had schemes like that (NWF) over here as well but sure glad we don’t have skunks. πŸ˜‰

    Hi YE, thanks. We have been doing it for years and will try to improve even more. The skunks are good guys, and since we don’t have a dog feel okay about them. Kitty is outdoors at night on occasion and must know to stay away. He is not very aggressive, sort of a lazy lout. πŸ™‚

  15. Catherine says:

    You have a lot of interesting wildlife in your garden! I certified our yard quite a few years ago, and agree with you it’s definitely changed the way I garden. I’m even more conscious of how different plants will be useful to the wildlife and use no chemicals. I figure some plants eaten by bugs are better than poisoning birds or visiting wildlife. I think sharing this process is great and hopefully more people will be inspired to turn their yard into a wildlife habitat.

    Hi Catherine, glad to hear it. It seems several of the bloggers and/or readers already are certified, it makes perfect sense too. Most seem to care about the environment and want to attract birds too. They already love gardening, it is just the next step. Plants with a few holes don’t bother me at all. The reason for the post is to encourage others to do it too. Hope it works. πŸ™‚

  16. Genevieve says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Frances! I appreciate the reminder – I think a few of my clients qualify and others are only a step away. Perhaps the idea of a sign and acknowledgment might convince some of them to take the extra step of providing water.

    Hi Genevieve, thanks, it was intention to give some who are already there a nudge to make the commitment. I love the sign, maybe it will help your clients too. Adding a birdbath is so easy. Placing it where you can enjoy seeing the birds from inside is such a good way to enjoy nature too. Hope it works. πŸ™‚

  17. Rose says:

    This is a great post, Frances! I will have to check out the website later; I might even qualify, especially since we still haven’t cleaned up the pile of pine branches collected in eary spring–there are certainly lots of places for wildlife to nest here:)

    The photo of the bunny nest is adorable! And I admire you for taking the photo of the skunk; glad to know you were safely behind glass doors:) I saw the first skunk here near our barn the other night; since then, Sophie has been on her leash–I don’t want to have to do any tomato juice baths! The only wildlife I haven’t seen this year are possums, but they’re another animal I prefer to see at a longer distance.

    Hi Rose, thanks so much. If even one person gets certified because of this post, I will be thrilled. Sounds like you already qualify. The skunks are disconcerting to see, but the little babies waddling along were pretty cute. If we had a dog we would feel differently. We have possums around, they were on the deck this winter eating bird seed that had been scattered. We then began putting the seed in dishes on the deck table. They are scary looking!

  18. I love this post, and I love this organization. Your pictures for this post are so encouraging, I felt calm come over me as I looked at them so thank you!

    Hi Urban, thanks and welcome. So glad you enjoyed the wildlife we have here. Your trip to Washington sounded wonderful. πŸ™‚

  19. Joanne says:

    Lovely photos as always and quite right one of the bonuses of gardening is the wild life we attract.

    Thanks Joanne. Sometimes we take the wildlife for granted, but it adds to the diversity and gives yet another reason to take good care of the earth. πŸ™‚

  20. This was quite the informative post about being a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Thanks for the information and inspiration. I’ll be looking into this a little later! (Meanwhile, I’m bookmarking this post!) πŸ˜‰ Have a great day!

    Hi Shady, thanks. Good deal on finding out more. There were several ways to qualify and you are probably already doing them anyway. πŸ™‚

  21. commonweeder says:

    Such an encouraging post. Many of us, me included, are already doing it. My grandson Rory and I were out planting daylilies today, marvelling at all the earthworms, and other bugs in the soil. He thought maybe I’d want some poison to kill the ants, but I explained all the reasons why I don’t use any poisons in the garden – including my concern for his safety. He had already made sure I drove slowly down the road to make it safe for the recently spied bunny. And the ruffed grouse. We are out in the country so we see all those other animals, but they don’t choose to live too too close. Fortunately. We even have a pond full of newts and frogs. We are very fortunate all around.

    Thanks Pat. Teaching the younger folks about the earth and everything in it is very important. It will become second nature to them instead of having to relearn like our generation has had to do. I remember when people would throw their trash out the car window and think nothing of it. Now recycling is a way of life. This way of gardening can be too. I knew that this would be preaching to the choir for many readers. πŸ™‚

  22. Beckie says:

    Frances, wonderful photos! the skunks are cute when they are babies, but don’t really want them around as neighbors. I think I qualify on most counts except the organic fertilizer. Will have to check that out. This sounds like a great organization and spreading the word is so important. Fairegarden is certainly a model we could all follow.

    Thanks Beckie. The skunks have not caused us any problems, not having a dog helps with that. There are lots of fertilizers that qualify. I just bought a bottle of sea kelp, supposed to be really good for the plants.

  23. Hi Frances,
    The wild animal is one of the things that belongs in a complete garden.
    It is nice to see when the bird is in the birdhouse even in the winter.

    Hi Ken, thanks for visiting, so nice to see you. It sounds like you are of the same mindset too. πŸ™‚

  24. Racquel says:

    I’ve been meaning to apply for this certification for my own yard. I already have all the requirements necessary. Just need to get off my butt & send in the paperwork. πŸ˜‰ Good for you for being a good steward of nature & wildlife!

    Hi Racquel, thanks. I did mine online, no paperwork involved. Or do you mean virtual paperwork? πŸ™‚

  25. fairegarden says:

    Hi All, faithful reader and great story teller Jean mentioned about her bird experience in a comment previously. She emailed the story and gave permission for it to be shared with you all. Here it is:

    Hi Frances back in the 1970’s before the earth’s crust had cooled…we had a pretty cold and snowy winter. Hoards of evening grosbeaks apparently were starving and had come further south than their usual winter home. I had several feeders here and there…and every day more than once a day those big birds were covering the feeders up, cleaning them out and keeping most of the other birds away.
    My niger feeder had run out and so knowing that goldfinches cannot crack a big sunflower seed and to get them fed away from the grosbeaks I started running the sunflower in the blender just a few seconds to crack the seed so they could eat. I would sprinkle it on the ground away from the other feeders and one day…as I was doling out my rations one little bird lit on me. I was flabbergasted. Wheels are turning in my head…Soooo every day I would take my offerings out…and if I stood or sat perfectly still they would come and sit all over me. The siskins apparently travel with goldfinches. They got so used to me that if I went by the sliding glass door…they were fluttering at the door as if they were saying….are you going to come out and feed us? You know I did. I spent more time out that cold and snowy winter than I ever have. They would even follow my car as it turned in the driveway…hanging onto the antenna.
    Once the UPS man came bringing the niger seed…and on cue…the little flock decended on him…sitting on his shoulders and clipboard. I dont think he knew exactly what to do about that.
    The evening grosbeaks left and all was back to normal. Every time I hear that sweet little sound a goldfinch makes it brings me back to that time. Let me tell you…it was one of the most amazing things I have ever experience.

    She added this: to tell you just how much they were eating…i fed 50lbs of sunflower seed every 2 weeks. I couldnt keep up with them. The co-op loved me!

    This is an amazing story and well told too. Hope you enjoy hearing it as much as I did.

  26. Mosaic Queen says:

    Thanks for the info! Very informative!
    I really like your composter. I may copy that idea.


    Hi Michelle, welcome and thanks for visiting. My son, Gardoctor built the compost bin for a mother’s day gift. He used some leftover 6 x 6 for the posts. 4 x 4 would have been fine. It is so heavy with all that lumber, difficult to move around. Feel free to make any other improvements! πŸ™‚

  27. Margaret says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Thanks, Margaret, and welcome. πŸ™‚

  28. I do it, you do it, let’s everyone do it. Great post Frances. So true about the sign, and it gets lots of attention around here from the human visitors. As for the plumed and slithering ones, they don’t seem to notice. πŸ™‚ They do love the food, water and shelter though.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks, let’s all do it! The sign does get noticed by visitors, good advertising for the cause. πŸ™‚

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