Friday, June 10, 2022

Birds and Budgets


I’m sure you’ve seen the signs, hand-written on spare pieces of corrugated board, held by someone at the side of the road who looks tired and worn:

Will work for food.

That is not me. I am okay. Even if I did have to retire early, I have some social security income and my husband is still working. 

But early retirement means I am looking out the front window a lot more than I used to and savoring the time to observe nature. So I got a bird feeder, a fairly cheap one. The birds loved it. The squirrels destroyed it. So I got a different kind of bird feeder. The birds loved it, the squirrels loved it, and the deer came down in the night and ate right out of the top of it and chewed off all the little perches to get to the tasty treats inside.

So we got another feeder, and attached several Slinkys to the standing pole that holds it up. That just about takes care of the squirrels. And we bring it in every night. That takes care of the deer. 

When the weather got hot I began to worry about my little birdie friends and went online looking for birdbaths. The really solid, functional ones are expensive. I was lucky enough to receive one through my Buy Nothing Group. This video was taken within hours of my setting it up outside: 

This was pure joy for me to watch. I sat with that feeling for about an hour when I realized I needed to do something to prevent mosquitoes from taking over by laying their eggs in the water. Back online again, I weighed the merits of special “mosquito dunks” as compared to bubbling devices that keep the water moving. 

My husband bought me one of the latter. Solar powered. It’s arriving today.

And the bird seed. Have I mentioned the bird seed? The good stuff is expensive. I’ve gotten some great advice from folks more knowledgeable than I and have found a good variety that is not quite so exhorbitantly priced, but still. 

This retirement hobby is getting expensive. 

When I worked out my basic retirement budget, I didn’t have this in mind. To put it bluntly: birds are not in my budget.

So here I am, putting a call out into the universe:

Will work for food. Bird food. 

There must be a part-time job out there for a responsible person with relatively good native intelligence who just can’t work around preschoolers any more. If you can think of something, or want to help me brainstorm, let me know. 

At the moment I’m looking to put stone pavers under the feeder so I can sweep away old seed to keep the birds healthy. And I read a great article about installing a tray under a hanging feeder to catch stray seed. It reduces waste and gives an opportunity for feeding to larger birds who can’t use perches.

Oh, boy.

It’s not the world’s most expensive retirement hobby, but it looks like I’ll need to put some hours in to keep it going. 

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