Our First Day of Summer 2019

I decided to observe the first day of summer by taking a tour of our yard to look for interesting things to note.  First of all, the temperatures have been cool again…really cool at 33 degrees when I get up in the morning. I haven’t lost any of our plants yet to the cold temperatures so I’m hoping they will continue to grow.

sunflower seedlings renees garden

Our transplanted sunflowers are looking good in their new box. I think we may have over planted but my husband just can’t bear to thin the seedlings. I’m dreaming of the colorful flowers to come. The only thing to be concerned about are the deer that may somehow get inside our fence and eat the flowers like they’re at a salad bar. It’s happened before!

I don’t think I have mentioned that the sunflowers we are growing come from Renee’s Garden. I have once again received some complimentary seeds from them to use in my garden.

Chocolate Cherry Sunflowers

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Birds and Bees Sunflowers

I also have a container filled with Junior Sunflowers.

I will share my results once they flower!


wildflowers in the yard june 2019

We’re blessed with an abundance and variety of wildflowers in our yard this year. Partly because we have kept the deer out and mostly because I convinced my husband to let a few areas just grow wildly. This has revealed a number of plants we didn’t know we had growing along the edges like the penstemon, the goosefoot violets, and the salsify.

leaf rollers aspen june 2019

Along with the increase in flowers, there are many more insects to observe. Right now there’s an insect that is rolling itself up in our aspen tree leaves.

We have ground squirrels that are burrowing into our landscaping berms. They are trying to tunnel their way over to the birdfeeder. Our dogs then take the opportunity to dig the tunnels out and chase the squirrels away. This is a problem because they unearth so many of our newly planted flowers in the process. I’m trying to resolve this problem without harming any flora or fauna.

chickadee june 2019


The babies are all hatching in our nests and nesting boxes. There have been a few casualties along the way but I think for the most part the birds are thriving and it has been a successful year of supporting the birds in our habitat.

mushroom june 2019

On a more serious note, we almost had a tragedy involving our puppy and mushrooms growing in our yard. We didn’t realize we had any mushrooms until I started looking carefully when Sierra started acting strangely. She was stumbling around, very agitated, and drooling. I found the mushroom near where she had dug up a small tree stump in our backyard. We rushed her to the vet’s and they were able to get her stabilized with fluids and oxygen. They tried to induce vomiting but were not successful. But, in the end, after a long and scary night, she came out the other side and seems to be recovering. We were very relieved that we caught it in time to get her help and that she’s a strong, healthy puppy.

sierra june 2019

PLEASE check your yard for mushrooms. Doing more research on this topic, I’ve learned that mushrooms are a common cause of poisoning for dogs. You can bet I will be mighty vigilant from now on and pluck any mushrooms up and throw them away as soon as I see them.

We’re looking out over the next couple months with anticipation for all the summer things we want to do while the weather is warm.

What did you do for the first day of summer?

Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Weather @handbookofnaturestudy

Here’s a link to the original challenge for many ideas and printables to use as part of your early summer weather study: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Weather



Nature Observer – June 2019

In complete honesty, I’ve spent every available minute this month outdoors enjoying the beauty and unexpected variety of life that seems to have been drawn to our yard. It’s very true that if you create a natural space that provides shelter, food, and water, the living creatures will come to visit.

Birds – over 20 kinds!

Insects – mostly bees, butterflies, mosquitoes, snakeflies, gnats, and ants

Amphibians – frogs and toads

Mammals – elk, deer, ground squirrels, Douglas squirrels, gray squirrels, bats

Arthropods – a variety of spiders

The effort to create an inviting environment for nature to come to us has been worth every minute and achy muscle. We’re excited to see what the rest of the summer brings to us!

Here are some nature highlights from our month.

kayak june 2019

We started the month off with a family paddle down the Little Deschutes River.  The sky was amazing! It doesn’t get much better than this when you’re out for a smooth water ride: the wildflowers were blooming, the birds were visible (including about a hundred cliff swallows), and the river all to ourselves.

wildflowers june 2019

Everywhere I looked this month I spotted a colorful wildflower. I’m keeping a list in my nature journal of all the flowers we see and it’s getting rather long. My favorite flower of the month is the wild blue iris. The meadow behind our house came alive with irises for about a week. They stand just above the grass so it looks like a sea of lavender-purple.

herb garden containers june 2019

As I have shared here before, we don’t live in a place that is highly favorable for growing a traditional vegetable garden. Instead, I’ve opted to grow fast germinating flowers and some potted herbs. Everything is starting to really shoot up with our warmer weather and I’m anxious to see how they fare over the next few months.

transplants on the berm

We’ve been busy transplanting native plants to our newly created garden berms. Each time I find a good candidate, I try to observe the growing conditions so that I can put the transplant where it has a good chance of taking hold. I’ve moved lupine, salsify, violets, columbine, and grasses. It’s all a great experiment to see what does well and what we can move in the future.

I’ve observed so many pollinators this month in our garden! Mostly bees, but also butterflies have come to land on our flowers. This is a great success for us because we’re thinking a lot about the design of the different areas of our yard to be more pollinator friendly.

wildflower sprouts

On that note, here’s an image of our freshly sprouted wildflower garden that we seeded a few weeks ago. We’re taking a gamble that we can get these plants established before the fall frosts come. If we are successful, this should reseed itself each year.

trout june 2019
Let me set the record straight. I am not a fisherman. But, I am married to one. This month the season opened on our river behind our house and we were out there several evenings walking and fishing. We had all the boys with us on one of those nights and that was the night my husband caught THE biggest rainbow trout we have ever seen. Look at my hubby’s face…joy! In the spirit of fair play, he released this big daddy back into the river to live a little longer. This is why I love him so very much….he knows the nature lover in me admired that fish’s beauty and freedom more than I would have a few delicious bites of trout.



Now for a couple of pages from my nature journal.

wildflower nature journal page

There are so many wildflowers growing on our property this year after the rains of May and early June.

may 2019 bird list nature journal

I could call this the “super bird list” since it has so many birds and the addition of a new bird to add to our life list.

Porcupine nature journal page

I’ve been eager to spot a porcupine in the habitat behind our house but have been unsuccessful so far. But, we have seen two dead porcupines on the road near our house. I stopped to look at one of them up close since he wasn’t run over but just bumped. This was a first for me to see a real porcupine this intimately and to see the quills and the fur. My admiration grew for porcupines after learning about their unique features and then having the opportunity to see one in real life. This is how advanced preparation is beneficial!


Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge

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Handbook of Nature Study Subscribe Now 2

Are you eager to see the new year plan for the Outdoor Hour challenge for 2019-2020? I’m going to be posting a blog entry soon that outlines the plans for the next two years. If you subscribe to my blog, you won’t miss it!

Benefits by Level Updated size 500

Use the discount code SUMMER5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Membership. This will give you access to all of the ebooks, newsletter, and printables available only to members. Your membership is good for one year from the time of purchase. Don’t wait until September to purchase your membership!


Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Weather and First Day of Summer Ideas

I don’t know about you but I’m so very ready for the summer season! We’ve had a LONG and WET winter and spring this year and finally we’re experiencing a bit of summer temperatures. The most noticeable change is the amount of daylight. The sun is up early and it lingers in the evenings.

While you’re just starting your summer nature study planning, please consider completing this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge and observe your weather and perhaps make a special day of activity on June 21st as we all usher in the summer season.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Weather @handbookofnaturestudy

Link to the Summer Weather Challenge in the Archives: Summer Weather Study.

In addition, here are some terrific ideas for your First Day of Summer Activities.

sunflowers in our containers

First Day of Summer Flower Field Trip: Take a trip to your local garden nursery and let your child pick a plant to add to your backyard garden or patio container garden. After you plant your flower, sketch it into your nature journal along with the name of the flower and the date you planted it.


You can combine this activity with this Garden Flower Nursery Field Trip ideas and printable.

Summer Photo Challenge

First Day of Summer Photo Walk – Take a camera outdoors and find some special First Day of Summer subjects, take a photo, print out a few and safely tuck them into your nature journal. You can combine this with the Summer Photo Challenge.

First Day of Summer notebook page

First Day of Summer notebook page – After a nature walk, preferably under a shade tree, complete this notebook page for your nature journal.

Lava Butte

Are you as excited about summer as I am?