Fall has arrived… and it’s still August!

Our porch is now monarch free! I actually miss walking past the habitat every day and watching the caterpillars busily munching, but it was a great feeling to watch the last monarch flutter over to the zinnias to dry his wings. Although it quickly turned to panic 45 minutes later when a freak rainstorm blew through and I had to round him up and put him back on the porch until it stopped.

I’m very excited for the next monarch season! Since Gene kept muttering about how much space the habitat took up on the porch, I’ve been drawing up plans for a screened in monarch palace/refuge that will be freestanding in the yard. I’m envisioning an aviary about the size and shape of a few gym lockers, and it’s going to be awesome. I’m sure Gene can’t wait to build it, and have his porch back to normal.

It’s just as well the monarchs have moved on, because I’ve got a new full time job – keeping the hummingbird feeders filled. They are preparing for their fall migration, and drink sugar water at roughly the same rate beer disappears at a frat party. At dusk, 9 of them will swarm around the one by the living room window, all vying for a drinking spot.

We have another feeder right outside the office window, but that one has been claimed by Pong. Named for the ping pong ball he closely resembles, Pong refuses to share.

Sometimes he’ll lurk just around the corner, then ram rival birds off it as soon as they perch. But usually he’ll just sit all day on the rope holding the feeder up and watch me type. We finally bought two feeders for the front yard, so hopefully that will help ensure everyone gets their fill of sugary goodness.

In other bird news – the chickens have started laying! We’re only getting two eggs a day so far, but it’s a start! I’ve taken to keeping them in their enclosure until mid afternoon, then unleashing them for a romp around the yard. That way they’ll get used to laying in the coop, and be safe from predators most of the day.

We unfortunately lost one to an owl; they were all hanging out in their favorite shady spot, and I came out to give them their scratch grains treat. As I was walking up to the woodline, I saw a gray shape flap way up into the trees. My first thought was “Wow, she’s flying pretty good for a chicken.” And then I saw what had happened, sigh. But I’d still rather have them be happy and ranging than safe and cooped up all the time.

The pigs, on the other hand, don’t seem to mind their pasture one bit. They’ve got their pool, a nice clean barn to stay in at night, and all their favorite napping spots. Quite frequently I’ll go out to feed them, and as I get close to the barn I can hear them snoring in the sunshine, in a happy hog pile.

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