A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

The End of Winter?

While sitting on the lawn, looking for signs that the bulbs that we planted are starting to pop their heads up, my daughter and I sat to watch the wonders of the world pass us by. She has been insisting that we go up into a tree house to watch the clouds, but the wild things are making their way back into the garden, so we spent time on the grass as well as in our perch.

This winter has been no winter in Houston. My daughter and I already have set out flats with the seedlings in the yard, and everything is doing well. We are watching the baby plants grow. My little girl is demanding that I eat the culling from our thinning of the plants. She giggles and laughs as she shoves them into my mouth. She has decided that feeding the dog is more fun. He, at least, is more receptive to these meals.

Watching the birds fly into our lives again has been the great enjoyment. The pigeons are buzzing us, since my daughter wishes to pick the berries off of the dwarf bamboo. The sparrows are working on redecorating their nest. I have built simple birdhouses from scraps that were around the house. One house was made from twigs, twine, and some chicken wire. I am planning another from fence boards. I paint them with left over paints from projects. You do not need a fancy design, or anything that looks like a house. Most birds just want a little covering from the elements. I put these houses on poles or hang them from a limb. The favorite bird house sits outside of the kitchen window, where can watch the daily events of the family while we work on dinner or clean the dishes.

The bees have been a source for fascination for my girl. She competes with them for flowers. She likes showering me with the petals as I lie down in the grass. I have informed my wife that there is no point in my including more flowering plants into the beds; we will never be able to enjoy them for long. My daughter grabs more flowering plants every time we are at the nursery. You try arguing with a one year old. She always wins. As for the bees, she has not been stung yet, but she does say “uh-oh!” when she spots them. Apparently they have been buzzing her to force her away from the blossoms. I am encouraging more bees in the yard by building bee houses. This is such a simple home, and the kids love watching the bees. Take some wood and drill 3/4” holes into it. Just make sure it is not pressure treated wood. Bees do not need the poison. I place these on poles in the vegetable garden. The poles are already there for the blackberry vines.

We have also been on the hunt for frogs and lizards. Frogs illicit squeals of glee from my little one. We use old shoes strewn under bushes to create homes for these friends. I consider it recycling. I am hoping these guests to our gardens will consider any mosquitoes their main meal. I can always hope.

With a little thought, you might just find some objects around your home for wildlife homes. I still want to build a place for the bats, but my wife has put her foot down on this one. No bats. I know that they will go after the blood suckers, but my arguments fall on deaf ears when it comes to bats.

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