Outdoor Mom – November 2020

My last Outdoor Mom post was way back at the end of August! I think my life hit the accelerator in September and is just now easing up as we enter the winter season here in Central Oregon. Our autumn was a little warmer and longer than normal and we took full advantage of it with hiking, kayaking, gardening, and birdwatching.

family kayak sept 2020

I kept telling the family that we needed to take advantage of the weather and get outside! We made some sweet Autumn 2020 memories.

Shevlin Park October 2020

During our outdoor time, we went

We’ve been on several new hikes since August, thanks to my new hiking guide that I bought featuring local trails. We found a beautiful park in Bend, Oregon (Shevlin Park) that goes along Tumalo Creek. The aspens were in the peak of their autumn color and we enjoyed the sound of them blowing in the breeze. We sat for awhile on a log near the creek and just took in the sounds and sights of a perfect autumn day.

We also hiked to the top of Bessie Butte on a day after a snow shower. Our son often hikes to the top of this particular butte to think and refresh himself after work. It makes my heart happy that he sees being outdoors in nature as a way to balance his busy life. We made it to the top of the butte where the wind was howling in our ears. It was cold but so incredibly beautiful!

beach collage october 2020

One morning I woke up and just had an itch to go to the beach and put my feet in the sand. My amazing husband loaded me up in the car and we took the 3 hour drive to the coast! We brought our picnic lunch and enjoyed it in the sunshine while sitting in the sand. We walked the shoreline for a long way and just took in the salt air as we did a little beachcombing. I feel so very blessed to live where I do and that I’m able to indulge my heart from time to time with a spontaneous trip to the seaside.

wedding in the garden sunflowers september 2020

The most inspiring thing we experienced was…

We had a crazy COVID influenced wedding in our flower garden in September. My son ended up marrying his best friend among my sunflowers in a simple, socially distanced wedding with a few family members and friends. One of my favorite moments of the day was when a chickadee landed on the sunflower right over their heads as they said their wedding vows. It was a beautiful way to celebrate the beginning of their life together.

 flower heads summer 2020

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…I am dreaming about…

We spent a few days pruning, weeding, and cutting things down in our garden spaces. One week of below freezing temperatures at night really hurried the process along. We saved seeds and cut flower heads and then tucked it all in for the winter.

bulbs 2020

As planned, we put over 120 bulbs in the ground for spring flowering. This is our first time planting bulbs in Central Oregon, so it’s a bit of an experiment to see how successful we are with bulbs making it through the winter. Hopefully we’ll see some crocus, grape hyacinth, and daffodils next spring. I’ll be thinking good thoughts all winter as I think of the bulbs all cozy under the ground awaiting the spring warmth and sunshine to wake them up.

mother daughter 2020

One last image…

It was a wonderful summer with my daughter living here with us. Spending time outdoors with her will be my fondest memories of the summer. She has since moved back to California and she’ll be getting married very soon. I hope she will come back next summer and spend time with me on the trails and on the river…probably with her sweetheart along as well. She’s starting a new adventure, but I know she loves it here as much as I do!

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

You can follow me on Instagram to see more of our outdoor life here in gorgeous Central Oregon.

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) …
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…


Outdoor Hour Challenge- Intro to Birds – Chicken Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Chicken Nature Study

“The purpose of all these lessons on the hen are: (a) To induce the child to make continued and sympathetic observations on the habits of the domestic birds. (b) To cause him involuntarily to compare the domestic with the wild birds. (c) To induce him to think for himself how the shape of the body, wings, head, beak, feet, legs, and feathers are adapted in each species to protect the bird and assist it in getting its living.”  Handbook of Nature Study

Do you raise backyard chickens? Do you have friends or neighbors that have chickens? Use the ideas in this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge to learn more about these interesting birds! The lessons in the Handbook of Nature Study can apply to all sorts of birds as well as chickens, so read through the lesson suggestions to find something to observe up close and then create a nature journal.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Bird Study Chickens @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here:

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Chicken.  

Chicken Notebook Page 1\Chicken Notebook Page 2

If you have access to the ebook, there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image

Sample to view: Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study 2015 Sample Pages

If you don’t have a membership yet, click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 26 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!


Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020


Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard Part 1

Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard

Part 1 – Make an Assessment

Creating a Wildlife Garden in your Own Backyard

The story of how I decided to create a more wildlife friendly backyard started a long time ago.

growing up with a manicured yard

Our Backyard – 1967

I grew up in a world of manicured lawns and formal flower beds that required a lot of care and attention.

california plot of land

Our First Home in California – 1987

Purchasing our first home back in California, we were happy to be able to afford a plot of land that had a large yard with front yard and backyard lawns and bare ground that had potential for flowers and vegetables in the garden. But in those days, I hadn’t awakened my desire to garden for wildlife, only human needs.

garden beginnings california

Fast forward a few years, we started to homeschool and to spend lots more time in our own yard. Homeschooling introduced us to nature study and I was drawn to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of encouraging lots of outdoor time for children. While my boys played outside in our backyard, I haphazardly planted more pollinator friendly plants and trees as a way to create a space where we had some things to observe and learn about together.

front yard remodel california

Then we made more radical changes by completely removing our front yard lawn and replacing it with native plants and adding additional food and water sources for the birds and other animal visitors. We were creating a more wildlife friendly habitat.

backyard before dry landscape oregon

Then we moved to Central Oregon and its harsher environment. We experienced the truly cold and snowy winter climate and the dry, dry, dry high desert climate in the summer. It was a bit of an adjustment to learn what would thrive in our new yard and what sorts of wildlife we needed to accommodate.

wildflower meadow oregon 2019 (2)

The process has been enjoyable and interesting. It takes patience and a little effort but creating a wildlife friendly habitat is worth all the energy.

Wildlife will come to you!


My husband says it’s a case of “if you build it, they will come”. This truly has been our experience.

There have been doubters in our circle of friends. We’ve had people question our choices from time to time, but once we explain why we plant certain things or leave certain plants/weeds to grow, they better understand that we really do have a plan.

My hope is that you will consider creating a wildlife garden of your own. I assure you that you don’t need a lot of land, a lot of money, or any special knowledge in order to be successful.

Think of the process as a way to invite nature right up to your doorstep.

Assess Your Yard and Make a Plan (make a headline)

Make an assessment of what you already have available in your yard. You can use either of the printables below to get started. Ask your children to help you make an inventory of what may already be working for wildlife.

Wildlife Habitat Plan

Would you like a free printable plan for creating your own wildlife habitat? I created one for you to use as you assess your yard for the four elements you’ll need to become certified.

Download and print yours here: Wildlife Habitat Plan

checklist wildlife garden

Here’s another printable from the National Wildlife Federation that has a detailed checklist for you to use: Garden Certification Walk-through Checklist.

nesting box

Brainstorm Ideas About Who You Would Like to Visit Your Yard

After you assess your yard, create a list of what you’d like to invite into your habitat. Your children may need some guidance in making a reasonable list of things that may come to visit.

collage wildlife garden

Here are some ideas: butterflies, birds, ladybugs, bees, frogs and toads, squirrels.

My next post will help you create a plan to attract wildlife to your yard by planting and creating the habitat that will entice them to visit and stay awhile.

For now, print one of the suggested printables above and make it a family project to gather information about your current backyard habitat. I don’t want you to worry if you think your yard is a barren wasteland to start with. In my next post, I’ll help you to make a start and I guarantee you that anything you do to create a wildlife habitat will be rewarded if you’re patient.

If you want to look for a good book at your public library that will help stimulate interest in this project, I highly recommend this book that I have in my personal library.

Please note that the link above is an Amazon affiliate link to a book I purchased and value as a resource on this topic.

I will be continuing this series in the months to come. I hope it will help you begin to think about your own backyard space as a possible wildlife habitat that will bring some wild things right to you.

Leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions or comments.

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