Really, I hadn’t planned on going as Tom’s girlfriend said she was driving out from Michigan to take him down for his surgery. So, I didn’t blog on Tuesday as I figured I would on Wednesday. Things change all the time; she hit a deer about 20 miles from Tom’s and her car was un-drivable. Tom called me Wednesday morning and ask if I could drive both of them down, which I did. His surgery went very well and he was released to go home on Friday. I was a little worried as they had been predicting a winter storm with freezing rain and up to a foot of snow. It is a six-hour drive. But we made it safe and sound. Sandy had been in contact with her insurance company and was able to rent a car in Duluth, which she drove back home to Michigan this weekend. She hit the snow — we didn’t. But we did get about 5 inches of snow, and it’s gotten colder. The high today was only 25 degrees F.

This is how our driveway looks today. When I left, it was all bare trees.

We’ve been getting visits from a very rare-to-our-area bird, at the feeder outside the porch window. She’s a female Cardinal! She’s the first Cardinal I’ve ever seen in Minnesota. My sisters, one in the Duluth area and the other near Sturgeon Lake, get them from time to time. But throughout the years, even when I lived near Sturgeon Lake, I never had seen one on my feeders. We’re so excited! I sure hope she sticks around and brings her boyfriend. We are getting Evening Grosbeaks, the pretty yellow and black birds who flock to our feeders from time to time. We enjoy seeing these birds so much.

We were so thrilled with our visitor — a female Cardinal!

Tomorrow is my clean-out-the-pantry day. Of course, it’s one of my least favorite chores. But it’s necessary to get rid of the few jars which have come unsealed through the years, rotate the dated stuff to the front and kind of chart what we have down there. I always find some surprises. Like “I didn’t know we had any more of that!” Gotta vacuum the cobwebs, sweep the floor, and get rid of some extra boxes and cartons. I know I’ll be glad when it’s done. Maybe I’ll even find a bit more room down there? — Jackie


  1. There is the belief that when you see a cardinal it’s a lived one that has passed on coming to visit you. Last spring I had a persistent male cardinal sit on my garden fence while I put in my garden. Pretty sure it was my dad. He passed on his love of gardening to me.

  2. Kratky Note: I’ve been growing the best lettuce this way for a long time. It really works! My twist: I use 2-inch ‘net pots’ which can fit into the top of a 1-gallon milk jug or holes drilled into a sweater pan. I have found that filling the net pots with peat/soil mix works great to start the seeds off. Resist the temptation to allow more than one plant per pot after the seedlings get going. Once started in a tray, then I put the little pots into the Kratky pans. Sometimes I have to put a piece of wicking fabric into the pot to get them started in the hydroponic jug if the pot can’t touch the water in the beginning. Once off and running, the roots will find the water! Try it!

  3. In response to Val and the Kratky Hydroponic method ….on my 3rd year with good success and lots of salad greens all winter . Best are Kale , Turnips , Broccoli, Spinach , Beets and Broccoli seeds . Peat Pots in Hydro baskets seem to be better then the screen rounds suggested on YouTube. Mineral Mix for water can be purchased on e-bay for very little ! Happy Salad Greens !

  4. We get cardinals around me. Usually a couple of pairs at least. The cardinals will ground feed but usually after one has been on the feeder to knock some seed down. They love larger seeds (black oil sunflower).

    kathy in MS

    • That’s what we feed. I have a platform feeder outside the window and also throw seeds on the ground to entice ground feeders. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen “our” Cardinal for two days but keep hoping.

  5. I’m sure others have seen old pictures like this too – vehicles from the 40s/50s hitting a deer and *maybe* the bumper was dented but the vehicle wasn’t totaled. Yeah, lighter vehicles get better mileage but it seems any accident results in a totaled vehicle. At the price of vehicles, they should not be disposable!

  6. Might want to try the Kratky method (a sort of “poor man’s hydroponics,) to raise the lettuce.
    Lots of info on Youtube.

  7. I am glad your trip went well. Folks down here hit deer all the time and it always tears up the cars/trucks. I’m sure glad she was not hurt and his surgery went well. As for birds, I use safflower seed. The Cardinal is supposed to be a ground feeder but I see them on my feeder all the time. I have a circular tray around mine and they eat what has fallen. Today I saw a bright red Cardinal and a Tennessee Blue Bird feeding together. They were joined by a gray Titmouse and two frisky black topped Chickadees. The cold rainy weather makes for friendly sharing these days and I keep the feeder full so they can fatten up. Speaking of fat, I had two really big peach Mourning doves trying to balance on the narrow tray around the feeder. They were hilarious to watch and they would get one peck and then fall. Then they would get back up and try again. Guess I will spread some seed on the ground tomorrow.

    • If “our” Cardinal shows up again, I’ll buy some safflower. As it’s expensive, I have previously always bought Black Oil sunflower seed. I always spread some seed on the ground to spread out the horde of Blue Jays. You have such cool birds!! We get mostly Blue Jays, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Canada Jays and a few Evening Grosbeaks.

  8. Well some “mindless” work as I call it isn’t a bad way to pass time on a cold day. I wasn’t sure if you were in the blizzard area or not based on weather map on the news, five inches isn’t too bad. Glad the drive to/from Rochester was uneventful and Tom’s surgery was a success. Bummer on hitting a deer but a year round hazard for those of us in the north. We’re cautious as we drive (saw one on Election night on the outskirts of the big city near us) but extremely cautious when we are driving along corn fields that have yet to be picked or near the rivers. Can’t speak for your area but the deer got dark brown earlier than normal in my neck of the woods.
    I do hope your Cardinal’s mate shows up – we have a lot of them as well as Blue Jays – both enjoy safflower seed (which are not inexpensive but birds consume bugs which is welcome in my book) and the Blue Jays love sunflower seeds (not as expensive but prices increases have affected all forms of bird seed). Both will eat cracked corn. We seem to not have quite as many squirrels but that could be because still quite a few nuts available. Gonna need them in a couple of years when the cicadas return – I was amazed at how many cicadas they eat! Have the heaters in both water sources and again, we need the wildlife to maintain the balance of nature.
    I’m not sure where this year went – can’t believe it is almost Thanksgiving. We got a bit of snow this past Saturday (right after we got the last of the winter prep done) and will get a few inches tomorrow into Wednesday. Sounds like the slushy variety but regardless, time to get out the snow shovels.
    Alas I did not win the lottery but my promise still stands!

    • Yep, we didn’t either. But then, I didn’t buy any tickets. We have tons of Blue Jays and almost hate them. After all, they’re one of the birds who attack our corn patches every year, making us hump to get ahead of them. But, even though they eat like chickens, they are a pretty blue.

  9. So glad the trip went well and no one was injured by the deer. What a relief!

    I am traveling to Chippewa falls tomorrow, 2 1/2 hours, for dentist appointments for my kids. Gonna be a long day for sure!

    I just picked my carrots and last of the brassicas on Saturday. Finally got a hard freeze that put an end to my garden. But I do have celery that I brought in the hous growing, as well as basil. With the cost of lettuce I’m gonna plant some in my living room. Plenty warm and light in there. Winter is knocking on the door and I know soon enough it’s going to blast it down. Good luck!

    • We’ve got nearly a foot of snow on the ground. So our gardening has come to a stop for this year. I, too, plan on growing some lettuce inside, as the price of a regular head of lettuce here is now nearly $5. Holy cow!

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