Saturday, December 27, 2008

What A Week!

During the ice storm, Friday morning a tree fell on the house and around our car. We were not able to get out of the drive and most of the street was blocked. Pat and Mikael spent the afternoon on Friday walking around the neighborhood as many of our neighbors checking out the damage from the ice. I worked in the basement finishing the stained glass windows I was making for Christmas presents. The city crews were great; they had the tree off the house Saturday afternoon so we were able to get out. There was minimal damage to the house. The car only has a very small dent and a few minor scratches. Compared to many we are very lucky. We had electricity and heat.

The tree did smash Pat’s favorite burning bush. I am worried about the damage to the plants in the rain garden. I am hoping that because many of the plants were dormant that they will be okay. The berm is broken down and a lot of the tree is still lying in the garden so I know we will be making some repairs to the garden in the spring. I am hoping there will be minimal damage to the plants and garden when the tree is remove from the front yard.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Backyard Bird Watching

Pat and I really enjoy watching the birds. We have a very small pond and waterfall we allow to run all winter so the birds have water. We have a couple of feeders hung from our fence. We keep the area fenced off with a small fence to keep Daisy our dog out. Daisy really loves birdseed and peanuts, but Daisy’s vet said she could get sick from the bird droppings mixed in with the seed. We jokingly call this little area the pet cemetery even though there are no pets buried there. Normally there are the usual sparrows, finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers, juncos and cardinals and of course the squirrels. We really don’t intend to feed the squirrels but they do clean up the seed the birds drop so even though they can’t get to the feeders, they get their share. Occasionally we see a hawk in the yard, but it is rare. Imagine my surprise the other morning as I was doing dishes to see a Peregrine falcon sitting on the fence. My mother was visiting so there we are, the three of us excitedly watching the falcon, trying to be quiet so we wouldn’t scare it away. After a few minutes, a small finch flew off with the falcon close behind. I thought the falcons had migrated for the winter but I went to Soarin' Hawk Raptor Rehab web site and there is a falcon on the web cam. For now, the falcons are still in town, I hope we will have the opportunity to see another one this winter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Summer's End

I always have mixed emotions this time of year; I love the turning leaves, I but hate knowing that days spent on the front porch are postponed until spring. It is now time to drain the rain barrels, take in the yard art and plants we want to save. It makes me sad to see the last of the flowers. Fall also means less time on our bikes. The Rivermet Gang and our friend Carla did ride our bikes to Foster Park one early fall day for a picnic. We had so much fun; I hope we can do more similar activities soon.

Nice weather is predicted for this coming weekend, which means riding our bikes much as possible. Pat and I usually ride our bikes for errands as well as pleasure and it is my goal not to let the cold weather keep me off my bike. I have made a commitment to being green so as well as getting some much needed exercise I will ride this winter. Pat always rides in the winter, but I plan to brave the cold also. I hope Mikael and Jay will ride with us also. If not for errands just to enjoy being out. Now that it is getting dark earlier we have cut back on our evening rides, but we still have the weekends.

I am grateful that this is such a beautiful fall. Pat and I have spent time walking in the woods enjoying the fall color. Recently a friend told us about Bicentennial Woods Nature Preserve. We took our dog and spent a few hours enjoying the trails, what a great place. I am from a small town and I had forgotten how much I enjoy being in the woods enjoying nature. Pat hasn’t spent a lot of time in the woods but he really enjoys it. I am looking forward to going back for some winter hiking.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What We Have Learned About Rain Barrels

A rainfall of 1 inch produces 872 gallons of runoff from our roof. Before we installed rain barrels and our rain garden that water went directly into our storm sewers. Collection of the rain water gives us soft, mineral free water for plants, bird baths and other non-potable uses.

I was going to tell you how to make a rain barrel until I realized there is a plethora of information on the internet on making rain barrels. Choose the instructions that best fits your needs. You can make your rain barrels from food grade drums or large trashcans. I would recommend you find the container that works for you and find the instructions that will work best for that container. I also recommend that you make your rain barrel over buying one. It is my experience the ready-made ones are over priced and use inferior components.

Here are some things we have learned since we installed our first rain barrel.
  • Place your rain barrel in a location close to where you will be using the water.
  • Make the stand as high as practical to increase water pressure and allow room to place a bucket under the spigot.
  • Make the stand sturdy and level. A rain barrel can weigh 550 pounds when full.
  • When connecting two or more barrels together, make the connection on the bottom of the barrels instead of the top. The barrels will fill evenly and reduce over flow.
  • Use a splash block or hose to direct the water from the overflow away from the house.
  • Use a spigot with a quarter-turn lever handle because they fully open and are easier to use.
  • You can easily hide your rain barrel with screens or a trellis and vine.
  • Use silicone calk to seal the pvc fittings. This will allow you to take it apart at a later time.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Critical Mass

Friday Aug. 29th found the Rivermet Gang joining about 170 other fine folks for the Fort Wayne Critical Mass ride. We had a lot of fun and look forward to more rides which will probably attract a larger group. From what we learned; the group has grown with each ride and based on the number or people that asked about the group during the ride I imagine it'll be over 200 for the next ride.

For anyone unfamiliar with the concept and purpose of Critical Mass rides should visit which provides a pretty good overview and primer.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video should save me a lot of typing. Check out this video made by David Spaulding and posted here with permission from the guys at What's Going Down(town). Be warned that it is in warp speed so you may get dizzy.

Critical Mass Ride Fort Wayne, IN 8-29-2008 from David Spaulding on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Why Do We Need Rain Gardens?

Why do we need rain gardens? Rainwater run off contributes to about 70 percent of the pollution in our rivers. Cleaner rivers are a goal of ours and we love to garden, so planting a rain garden, and installing rain barrels is a natural solution for us. Rain gardens are low maintenance and we are keeping the water where nature intended. The water soaks back into the soil and into the aquifer. Planting a rain garden may seem like a small part, but once you realize the amount of run off from you roof you would be amazed. Fittingly we planted our garden in the pouring rain on Mother’s Day and we know we kept over 400 gallons of rainwater from going into the sewers in that one day; we have not had standing water for more then a few hours.

I am so glad we installed rain barrels. Not only have we kept a large amount of water from the storm sewers; we have had free water for out plants during this dry August.