Friday, June 29, 2012

Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary

My backyard wildlife sanctuary is registered with the Department of Fish and Wildlife for Washington State.
To give you a little background, my location is considered the Pacific Northwest, but more specifically, I'm in the foothills of the Olympic Mountain range on the Olympic Peninsula - that western most chunk of land you see when you're looking at a map of us.  I'm located on the eastern slope.

My property borders the Department of Natural Resources land, which is all forested.  This is perfect for creating and enhancing the natural landscape for wildlife.  The truth is, it was already perfect before the humans arrived, so I feel grateful and humbled that the wildlife are willing to share their land with me.

You can create your backyard wildlife sanctuary almost anywhere however.  Animals and birds are quite adaptable.  Even if you only have room for a bird feeder and bird bath, you will have many grateful visitors!

My little piece of paradise only takes up a few hundred square feet.  It's located on a clear, leveled area near heavy brush and tall trees.  Lucky for me it also includes a trail that is frequented by deer, coyote, raccoon and the occasional bear, bobcat, or cougar.

Originally I had my bird feeding system on the inside of the fence - but then I had my first bear visit who pushed the fence over to get to the feeders.  After that I created the new area outside the fence.

The big picture

The bigger picture

I consulted with my pal Christie at WildBirds Unlimited in Gardiner, WA. about a feeding system that would survive the elements and wildlife here.  She suggested this pole system which is free standing, with a squirrel and raccoon baffle, and attachments can be added on.

Next I added an old spool table to the area for the "platform feeders" like pigeons, with cracked corn and black oil sunflower seed.

Turns out the squirrels and chipmunks are most fond of it!

I placed a rock under one end of it to allow a back door for the chipmunks who often pop in to the hole from the top for a quick escape.  (There is a Merlin Falcon in the area.)

I also recently had to implement some fencing pieces which are not easily seen in the photos.  This is protection from a recent cat who has been skulking around.  The fencing allows the birds and small animals a chance to escape and slows down the cat. 
Most people around here don't allow their cats to roam free as there are too many larger predators.  So my guess is he is an unfortunate stray.

The feeders hold black oil sunflower seed and thistle, and accommodate goldfinches, nuthatches, purple finches, grosbeaks, bluejays and more.

I also scatter cracked corn and black oil sunflower seed on the ground for towhees, doves, sparrows and the occasional raven.

In the winter I put out a suet feeder for the woodpeckers and gray jays.

Even the pigeons like it!

Another very important aspect of your backyard wildlife sanctuary is water.  I have three ground water locations and one bird bath in the yard.  You'd be surprised at the favoritism of these.
The midsize birds like the ground birdbath (sorry no photo, renovating that area), while the smaller birds prefer the tiny concrete water hole or the saucer.

The larger birds prefer the ceramic bird bath in the yard - like a Jacuzzi?

I have added a fun piece of driftwood I picked up at the local beach just to see what they would do with it.  Turns out the squirrels hide seeds in the holes, the chipmunks love playing on it, and many birds perch there waiting for a drink at the water hole.

You can retire your old birdhouses to your sanctuary as well.  This is a great cache for seeds or a hiding place.

If you're lucky enough to live near the woods, don't disturb the nearby brush as you'll be welcoming wrens and warblers.  I have yet to get an un-blurred photo of a wren as they are very small and quite fast, but the warblers often hop right past my window!

MacGulivray's warbler

Orange Crowned warbler

Once you have food and water available, you can register your location.  Here in Washington you can register with the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife here .  For a small fee you can also order a sign and a certificate like these:

indoor certificate

outdoor sign

You can also register as a Certified Wildlife Habitat here , with the National Wildlife Federation.  (I just applied for mine as of this writing!)  This is national., so anyone can apply.

I have only just scratched the surface of what your Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary can mean to you and your family.  You can also attract bugs and butterflies, frogs and snakes, who all work together to create a perfect ecosystem.
I'd love to hear your stories of how you have invited wildlife into your life.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Blog Tune Up

The inspiration continues and the ideas are flowing!
I've been tweaking the blog today to ease navigation, organize and de-clutter!

I've added new pages:  Nature Cards and Books, and renamed others.  What used to be the Mission Statement page is now simply called About New Pioneer, and NP Styles is now About NP Styles.  
This makes it easier for newcomers and general reference.

The Nature Cards page is a big deal!  I first took the best of my recent images and created a new gallery on my artist website at Fine Art America (you can view it here ).  These images are only available as greeting cards at this time.  If you are interested in enlargements please contact me.
Then I created the new Nature Cards page on the blog (view here ) which is the full collection with several links for purchasing.
I have been with Fine Art America for almost three years and they do beautiful printing, timely shipping, and secure purchasing.

The Books page was a terrific way to get them all in one place!  I have several photo collection books available through MagCloud;  great coffee table books or gifts.  I also have my second poetry book and the Backyard Bird Sighting booklet available.  You can view that page here .
I'm gathering recent poems for a third book, coming soon, and I plan to reprint the first book from 2004 in this new format on MagCloud - so stay tuned for that!

Additionally, I have cleaned up the side bars on the blog.  The images to the left under the first house photo are all available as greeting cards and click-able to that page.
On the right side bar under recent posts I have added easy access links to the pages as well.

Other new surprises coming soon will be a Nature Kit, The Shift oracle cards, and several new ideas for quick downloadable guides!!

Whew!  What a great day for cleaning blog house.
Thanks for being here!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Fairies Made Me Do It!

 Living closely with nature on a day to day basis one becomes accustomed to strange noises and unusual events.  I have come to accept these as the routine activities of Elementals and Fairies, hard at work (or play) in the garden and nearby forest.

Recently my hearing has become more acute, a clairaudient level - above the ordinary sounds.
The wildlife are getting tamer, and many eat out of my hand, they seem to recognize me as one of them.

I've definitely been more creative lately and so inspired that I had to make a list of all the ideas I have!
Today I feel inspired to share the message of the fairies and elementals, not so coincidentally on the same day of the Venus Transit, which will occur only once in our lifetime!

The message is not new and many of our well respected sensitives are receiving this information as well.
The earth needs healing.  It's not new news, everywhere you read or see the stories, good and bad.  I'm not going to get into that - you can find them on your own.

More importantly I think my message is about accountability, just start by taking care of your own back yard, so to speak.  Eat and grow organically, don't poison the earth or your bodies.  Grow trees, make habitat for wildlife.  Buy local, use less, enjoy nature more.  Pretty simple.

My mission has always been about simple living, getting back to what really matters in life;  quality of life, healthy life.

So the fairies want you to know they are there for you, in your own surroundings, tending to your gardens and bringing you pleasure and beauty.  Don't forget to thank them!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Spring'n Around the Homestead

I got a little trigger (shutter) happy today while testing out my new camera and documenting the latest blossoms and blooms around here.  So this post is all visual - enjoy!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Return of Cottage Industry

(imported from my former photo blog)
We've become a world of virtual shoppers, virtual communicators and virtual identities.  As an optimist I'd like to think there are still "real" people out there, with real integrity and honest motives.

I loved the movie Jerry MaGuire, where he has had a quantum moment and writes a mission statement about getting back to the real meaning of doing business;  less clients, more quality service.

I've been thinking a lot about my art business and how it has become virtually too virtual.  Most everything I've done in the last couple of years has been online - cyber galleries, websites and facebook promoted.  Sales have been dismal.

Instead of making assumptions like people just aren't buying art because of the current economy, or God forbid, my art just isn't good enough, I've decided it's time to reformat.
 I want to return to a more grass roots, cottage industry operation.  More personal relationships, meaningful service.

In both of my previous brick and mortar galleries, I sold more real art to real people.  They could see the art on the wall, or as greeting cards, tangible, real.
We would talk about their tastes, preferences, collections.  Art isn't just decor, it accents the furniture and surroundings of a home or office.

From the business angle, this idea gives me more control of my business, however it also increases my responsibility to market myself.

In this day and age everyone is a photographer, so we've got to find our niche that speaks for each of us.  Mine has become limited edition prints that are hand signed and numbered, as well as greeting cards, so it just makes sense to return to some of my former strategies for sales and marketing - in the real world.

So as I convert most of my online viewing to private galleries by password use only, I will also be creating a home studio space and a mobile studio that will come right to your door if you live within 60 miles of me.
I also hope to organize a few small local shows and at least one annual open art studio tour for Hood Canal artists.

I have a feeling that I am not alone in this endeavor.  I think other artists are also becoming disenchanted with the virtual world.  
Let's take a step back, regroup, reassess and get more personal.

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