Thursday, July 20, 2006

Greening Bluebird Cove and Lake Monticello 8

We dove right into greening up our acre, unable to pass any place along the road that sold plants. We were excited to provide some habitat for the wildlife at Lake Monticello that would be here long after we would find our land and build our home.

It didn't take too long to figure out that we weren't going to get very far on the landscaping project because the deer were eating entire bushes up not long after we would plant them. The deer here at Lake Monticello certainly did not look like the deer we'd seen continually visiting The Refuge, our home in Alabama. Their growth was stunted and their ribs were showing. This female deer that visited never grew any bigger than this. We named her Skitter. She would visit regularly to drink from our bird bath for over a year and then she just stopped coming.

The lists of plants that deer don't eat offered us no real help since starving deer will eat just about anything. This seemed to propel me into more action. I decided to start a Backyard Wildlife Habitat Club here at Lake Monticello. I felt there were surely others in this community of over 2,000 homes that were concerned about wildlife and maybe together we could help to balance things out by educating ourselves and others.

The first couple meetings were held in our home and I used materials I had gathered to share with the people that attended. The community had a clubhouse so I booked a room at no cost and promoted the monthly meeting. It grew as I found speakers that provided great information and I scheduled a couple of field trips during the month so we could spend some time together apart from a meeting room and we were still wanting to see much of the natural world in this area of Virginia, so why not see it with others with similar interests.

I continued it for over two years with a few volunteers that helped with set-up and welcoming, but it became too much for me to do and pleas to divide up duties were unfulfilled so it seemed best to move on to something else. We were building a home in Nelson County by now and thought we would soon be moving, so there seemed to be no reason to keep the club going if it was going Some of our best friends have come out of that club, and it certainly educated us and gave us a lot of contacts in the area and lots of volunteer opportunites.

We had learned a lot and were also being taught by the deer what we could plant that they had no interest in. We wanted things for birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. Gradually we were gaining a bit of ground as we discovered what would work in our yard. We also discovered that many in the community simply hated the deer and other wildlife. Most of the residents had moved down from New York and Connecticut suburbs and although this is a wooded rural area, they had not considered that in the realm of landscape plans, so to them it was simply a war against the deer.

The attitudes were sad and having that environment to live in only made it harder to be at Lake Monticello, so we were really excited to have found a piece of land that was almost seven acres of great biodiversity and incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The property even had a creek on one border and it finally looked like our dream was moving forward.

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