Here in St. Louis, folks often quote Mark Twain as having once opined: If you don't like the weather in Missouri, just wait a few minutes.
An odd thing happened to me this year: I got the Christmas spirit. No, I wasn't visited by ghosts in the middle of the night. I'm actually not sure why it happened. Lisa thinks it's because our son is staying with us this holiday season before he ships off to Navy bootcamp. That might be it. It might also be that I've just reached the age where any reason to feel warm and snuggly is a good enough reason.
I fell hard for the bees last year when I joined a citizen-science program called Shutterbee. So I signed up again this year, and... I think my crush has grown into a full-blown obsession!
We received our third conservation award this summer - this time from the organization Wild Ones, which promotes native plant gardening. They've designated our yard a Native Plant Butterfly Garden. We're now part of a network of gardens providing needed habitat for butterflies across the United States.
When we began growing annual vegetables last year, we came to the task with at least some experience, but we certainly had a lot to learn. Still, I'm amazed by how much food we're getting already out of our little 1/4-acre homestead habitat.
We purchase most of our meat directly from farms, a practice we began in 2015, when we lived in Chehalis, a small town in Washington state. Back then our beef came from the Olson farm, just outside of town. Here in Missouri, we had to source meat anew, so we hit the local farmer's market and found two excellent locals: Eckenfels Farms and Farrar Out Farm.
There's nothing so hopeful as an early spring flower, defiantly emerging out of the deadened winter landscape and signaling a renewal of green. Here in the St. Louis area, that usually means daffodils. These cheery trumpets sound in early March to lift our collective spirits and zing us with the energy of the season of growth.
We're excited to share that our garden has been designated as a Monarch Waystation by the non-profit Monarch Watch.
Anthony and I attended the St. Louis Native Plant Tour for the first time this year. It was a masked, socially-distanced, outdoor (of course) affair in early June, with a wide range of gardens to view. A joint offering by both the St. Louis Audubon Society and Wild Ones St. Louis, this year's tour included nine residential gardens located across the St. Louis metropolitan area, on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. We made it to six of the nine.
Back in the fall of 2018, we signed up for the St. Louis Audubon Society's Bring Conservation Home (BCH) program. A couple of "habitat advisors" came out to survey our garden, and they provided us with a list of recommendations for making it more wildlife- and pollinator-friendly. It was a long list, too: Our one-quarter acre was comprised of nothing but invasive plant species run amok, a huge expanse of turf grass, and a smattering of exotic ornamentals that did little to feed native insects and critters. Everyone agreed there was much work to be done.