An Unlikely Home Economist…

We’re told hummingbirds can remember every flower and feeder they’ve visited, as well as how long it takes for a certain flower to refill. This is one of the author’s hummingbird feeders (just filled) and its first customer.
Photo by Diane Taylor

A long time ago, I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics-Journalism. I have used the journalism, but the home economics studies–well–they haven’t meant as much.

Over my lifetime, I can’t remember anyone complimenting my cooking or housekeeping. Yes, I learned to make giant chocolate chip cookies and they are popular, but otherwise…My late husband Paul was the cook when we were together and he loved to cook, even owning his own fast-food restaurant. After Paul’s death, the “cooking” was me frying a hamburger or chicken breast on the stove (hoping to remember to turn off the stove), warming up something in the microwave or earning enough points at a local casino that I could eat at their restaurants.

Today I have two chihuahua-mix dogs and they enthusiastically eat lunch every day. I actually buy cooked chickens for the dogs because one of the dogs, Kelly, only has four teeth. Kelly barks at landscapers and others as if she is hungry and can eat THEM for lunch, but the truth is…four teeth and the necessity of “tender” food. The cooked chicken ($7.95 each at Smith’s in the daytime or $3.82 at 8 p.m. or later, my time, or $5.00 each at Sam’s Club) lasts two to three days. (I like chicken, too, so I occasionally…)

At any rate the dogs love my “cooking”.

And then there are the hummingbirds. Two years ago I bought my first hummingbird feeders. My friend Jack was with me a year ago and every morning we’d go outside and look at the flowers and watch the hummingbirds. At first I changed the feeders every three days and then the feeders got more popular and I was “cooking” the juice (4 to 1 water to sugar) every two days. And this year? By golly, my feeders are so popular, I am having to change those feeders every day! I am almost finished with a 10-pound bag of sugar and I have another 10-pound bag ready to go.

Hummingbirds’ wings may “hum” when they fly, but I hear a sort of “click” when they vocalize. They fly and hover beautifully. I understand there are 350 hummingbird species–some beautiful–but my birds will win no beauty contests; they are quite plain in terms of color.

My hummingbirds have found a sucker however. “She gives us fresh juice every day”, they say to their friends. As a result, we have a bunch of birds hanging around. They chase each other; they sometimes fight and they are a hoot for me AND the dogs to watch in the mornings when the temperature is moderate.

Tomorrow morning I will be giving the hummingbirds fresh juice again.

I don’t have real children or grandchildren, but this old girl has “responsibilities” for live beings.

Thank you, Iowa State, I am now a new kind of home economist, preparing 8 p.m. “economical” chicken and daily fresh sugar water…for my family.


2 responses on “An Unlikely Home Economist…

  1. Thank you for the heart-warming article, Diane. I am a nature lover myself and to feast my eyes with flowers and to fill my ears with music from the singing birds sound like the ideal life. You truly have a wonderful life and am so happy for you. May you enjoy your “children” for the longest time!

  2. The humming birds are a treat. The dominant bird here is the osprey. Saved from extinction by protected nesting sites they are immpressive. They follow a set routine and route. They spend their winters in Venzuela and return to the same Vermont home each spring. If they accidentally drop a fish on the way to their nest with their catch my neighbor’s dog is highly appreciative and stinks of fish for days.

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