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Wholly Canadian Blog

Friday, August 29, 2014

Front Porch Song: Feed the Birds

My front window has a story . .. Come on and grab a chair, neighbour, and listen in!

A few months ago my Aunt Sara (whom I was named after in my middle name), and former school teacher, encouraged me to set up some bird feeders for my baby to watch. I loved the idea. . .and the challenge. My mind immediately began spinning. . .how can I make this project full of shalom? I knew this would be a worthy project, because it is year-round and not just a summer venture.

Remember Wholly Canadian’s shopping paradigm of goodwill? Well, I incorporated it, and excited to share how. . .

Buying Local - Canadian:

I was so pleased to find many of the items on my wish-list made in Canada. And immensely enjoyed the journey of locating them.

  • Braecrest Design birdhouse. . . I got a Braecrest birdfeeder to match my house’s green shingles.
    • These artisans, from Winnipeg, came to deliver it to me personally at no extra charge. What incredible, friendly service. And they have no idea I am blogging about them. I love that. . .when people deliver good service without knowledge that they will receive public praise.

  • Three-arm garden hanger--sold by Lee Valley Tools
    • Made in Canada, I like that this hanger has multiple hook options. Also, very elegant.
    • I have to say I have simply enjoyed the customer service at Lee Valley Tools. Such friendly people with all kinds of tidbits to share.  It actually feels like a neighbourhood. The one man I met (who wasn’t helping me directly) just started chatting, telling me about this pony of his in the Maritimes, that escaped his pen, and ate from his bird feeder. He looked like “Heidi’s” grandpa with his long grey beard. I found out that he's into wood crafting.  {It made me smile} Another woman told me about her challenge with squirrels, and soon there were a few employees all gathered giving me tips. (I had not idea at the time what a challenge squirrels would be--but more on that later). It was like a conversation over coffee.
  • Victorian Scroll Wall Bracket--to hang my hummingbird feeder

    • I purchased this at Lee Valley Tools. I appreciate their emphasis on retailing so many made-in-Canada products.This bracket is made of strong cast aluminum--tough but still light.  And I love its traditional flair.

Buying used/ upcycling:

  • Vintage Canning Jar Feeder:
    • This upcycled bird feeder I found on Etsy. It’s main component is a canning jar. It amused me, because I am known for all my vintage canning jars. It's a great example of re-purposing.
    • This one happens to be the most popular feeder at this time. . .


Buying Fair-Trade:

  • Coconut bird feeder:
    • I bought this tear drop bird-feeder from Ten Thousand Villages. Crafted from a coconut shell--it not only is upcycled but pays fair wages to the artisan--love this double whammy of goodwill!

Curiosity and goodwill go hand-in-hand. People always say, everything is made in _____. Here's just one project that paints a different picture. 

Get curious--get curious about the journey behind your projects. Quick purchases are inherently connected with consumerism. And consumerism is about "me" not about "we." Give a fair trade to those around you--whether local or international. Get curious! Delight in purchases of goodwill!

Also check out Ten Thousand Village's plant & garden tools. We love our terracotta plant watering sticks.


Now about the squirrels (as promised). . .we live in a nutty neighbourhood with many of these squirrelly critters, due to the old oak trees that surround us.   First I thought, being new to bird feeding, surely they won’t crawl up this tiny pole. . .yup, they did. And managed to clear the entire buffet. They tipped over every bird feeder except the squirrel-proof coconut feeder.  My baby was supposed to learn about birds, not squirrels! But that’s not all, they left a huge mess on the ground by tipping the feeders. . .and then the seeds started sprouting in my flowerbed, and making tons of work! For a day or two, we watched their antics, and I tried to make this educational. We are currently reading about Peter Rabbit and his friends, and so I pointed out “Squirrel Nutkin” and taught my baby the sign for squirrel. But these antics only amuse to a certain point, and then, you’re fed up (no pun intended).

So, I went back to Lee Valley and bought the squirrel baffle (made in the USA).  The squirrels were baffled--temporarily. They had a new scheme. They climbed up the post of our front porch and made a giant leap above the baffle, grabbing any feeder they could.  What a mess! The seeds flew--and the plants grew. (I was more shocked than amused at this point)

So, after several days of watching this new escapade, we moved the hanger further away from the porch. I didn’t want it too far so it was out of sight, and didn’t want it too near the neighbouring tree as another means to the feeder, and of course not near the porch post. It was a delicate balance.

It worked. And now I was highly amused. The squirrels stood on my front porch post and tried to psych themselves up. . .they would twitch their tails, do a little dance, do the hokey pokey and turn themselves around, all the while imagining the delicacies awaiting them. . .But they couldn’t bring themselves to jump!  Have you ever been in that same position? “Any moment now, any moment now, I will jump . . .” You tell yourself to move, and nothing happens! Ah yes, did I already say, I was amused?  I had outsmarted them--and it felt good. Temporarily.

Then one morning I saw a squirrel (I have no idea if this is the same squirrel. . .I’m no expert on identifying squirrels), on one of my feeders--making a huge mess. I charged out yelling--and this squirrel leaped for his life. I was in disbelief.  I watched out my window to see how this occurred. How had they out-squirreled me again? What I observed, minutes later, did amuse me. Their tenacity and agility is second to none. I saw a squirrel gather speed, run straight under the baffle (I thought he --or was it a she--would get a concussion), and then at the last second reach out one of his arms around the baffle (a really, really long reach), and with just a single claw, extend his arm far enough around to hang on the weave of my coconut bird feeder by what appeared to be a mere thread. And then in a second he was next to his favourite feeder--the wooden house--tipping it upside down.  I was in disbelief--baffled actually. The squirrel baffle was baffling me.  This trick was no accident--it was mindful intentionality exemplified.

But I was not done. I would not to be outsmarted. I had come too far. It was time for me to be intentional. My baby was going to watch birds! I moved the bird feeders around, so that the squirrels could not latch on to the weave of the coconut feeder.I put the coconut feeder on the highest hook. And it has worked--so far.  But I’m sure they’re devising a new scheme. But in the meantime, my baby and I are watching birds. I often face his highchair towards the window so he can watch . . . and then I sign bird for him, and a feeling of deep contentment washes over me. The joy of this project has been hard-earned. . .so much that I can nearly break into song: “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag. . .” (Mary Poppins)

The view from inside. . .

But this mama thinks this view is so much better!

Do you feed the birds?

Do you a have story?  A song?

How have you incorporated any of Wholly Canadian’s paradigm of goodwill into a project? Leave a comment and share!

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 4:53 AM 1 Comments