I have missed you. My apologies for dropping off of the planet, but I needed some time to rethink the blog. Backstreets and Alleys began in a small town on the plains of eastern Colorado—gosh—it has been seven years now. I initially wrote to survive culture shock, loneliness, and horrid treatments for Multiple Sclerosis. Although the blog was then titled Tumbleweed Alley, I merrily wrote about anything that came to mind. After a few months, a pattern emerged—plants, wind, trees, harsh temperatures all came to the foreground, and the blog formed its personality.
Four years ago, I moved to a rental house on a small lot in a small city. The blog name changed, and I chronicled the seasons, my community garden plot, and the startling nature just outside the door. Then I became a little stuck for a theme with the blog, so I let it rest for a season, planted many failures, composted some ideas, tossed in a few new seeds. I believe the time yielded some new ideas.
The new, long-term project is creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. Guidelines for the certification program are aimed to help transform outdoor spaces away from lawn-dominated areas that contain invasive exotic plants and chemical pesticides/fertilizers. Instead, the habitat moves toward a native plant-based, chemical free, wildlife-friendly habitat. As a result, a yard, a school, or even a balcony (if you’re a city apartment dweller) can receive national certification as a wildlife habitat.
Goals are simple: Provide basic habitat elements for wildlife. The property must include: 1) food, 2) water, 3) cover, and 4) places to raise young for local wildlife. In addition, the site must meet sustainable landscaping practices. This involves practices such as water conservation, growth of native vegetation, building healthy soil through composting and other methods, and eliminating chemical on the property. (More details will follow in subsequent blog posts.)
I find I have moved in this direction all along, but the property presented many immediate difficulties that needed resolution. My target is my backyard (of course), so you will step along with me in this journey and perhaps advise me on overcoming challenges, rerouting directions, and redeeming a small plot of this planet.
Along the way, I will showcase a myriad of challenges, blunders, and failures. Some of those challenges are personal—like my tiny retirement income, knotted/arthritic joints, and Multiple Sclerosis. Other hurdles have been imbalanced nature: ants, weeds, rotten soil, itchy bug bites, extreme temperatures, and a herd of squirrels. What to do with a backyard junk pile? Or the biggest challenge of all: What if for years, a property owner’s idea of landscaping was to roll out landscape fabric (and shower curtains and carpet remnants…) then dump rocks on top of it. When weeds grew, the process was repeated (as near as I can tell–four times on the ENTIRE property).
So come along with me to my backyard, backstreets, and alleys—where the only success has been the Buffalo Grass, and the wildlife consists of chiggers, mosquitoes, and abandoned feral cats hiding in a junk pile.