Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Odd as it may seem, I enjoy them. Yes, I find it mildly irritating to have to clean grackle spackle off the rocks around the pond. But I've found a well placed rubber snake is effective crowd control.
Years ago, I was the chef at a downtown hotel. One day I realized I had been hearing an odd noise repeating for some time and went to investigate. A female grackle was standing at the glass entry door of the restaurant screeching for attention and occasionally pecking the glass. I gently opened the door and talked to her. She cocked her head sideways but stood her ground. I could see that she had some type of tumor or growth on the side of her head, but she didn't appear ill. Wanting to be a good host, I did what chefs do - I went inside and found food and drink to offer her (a lid from a jar filled with water, some crushed sunflower seeds, and some chopped up bacon. I mean, really, we weren't exactly prepared for this particular guest.) By this time, the staff and customers were all watching, but she ate and drank as if she'd ordered from the menu. When she was through, she flew off.
Grack returned every day, and we all began to watch for her. We learned that she would approach other adult grackles then flutter and beg like a baby bird. The other adults would then feed her.
As time went on, she seemed to become a bit unsteady but still showed up for her meals. One day, the entire staff of the restaurant watched as she flew up to the door but could not stand or remain upright. All of us, and I mean all of us, were crying when she died.
What a gift that goofy bird was ...
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Simon sounds like a great excuse to be Playin' Outside! Doesn't seem like you can call yourself a gardener if you've not met the challenge of gardening with dogs (or cats, for that matter.) And who can't identify with another being who has had a hard time and needs some snuggling. So, if you're not reading this years after it was posted in January 2008, and if there's room in your heart and home, post a comment and I'll e-mail pictures to you (that pic up there of my guys is just to grab your attention, but he's just as cute.) If you have a big heart and don't even care what Mr. Wonderful looks like, call Layla at the Humane Society for adoption info - Layla Hanna, Intake Supervisor/Foster Care Coordinator 512-646-7387 ext. 231 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
We can't stress enough the change the pond has made in our backyard. It's inviting, soothing, and very effective at masking the less enjoyable sounds of suburban living. It has truly become the heart of our garden. It's cooling in the Texas summer heat, and a great excuse to go "play outside". And no, it doesn't encourage mosquitos (the water moves too much for them to stick around.) It does, however, attract dragonflies. Above and below are pictures of a couple of our regulars ...
Sunday, January 20, 2008
The row cover over the hoja santa is just too tempting a toy for the squirrels. They seem to make a game of tearing it up. The plant freezes down to the ground, but the bit of protection provided by the row cover seems to give it a head start at coming back in the spring.
Here's Bradybeans (above) rooting around in the same corner just a month earlier and keeping the world safe from squirrels (below.) Get a good look at that right hip - there's no hip socket, just muscle holding his leg in place! You'd never know it when he rockets around the yard and jumps several feet in the air after squirrels. He's got a great story I'll save for another post.
This one Zebrina delphinium still looks great, hosting a well-chilled but tasty breakfast of its sap for a leaf footed bug this morning. Poor plants never seem to get a break from the bugs in an organic garden, but so far the bugs haven't seemed to tip the balance in their favor. Other "Zebrinas" in the garden are looking much worse from the sustained low temps, even though they're larger than this little guy. To the left are hyacinths (I think!) There are also some native tulips in this same area that start out looking much the same.
Here's my favorite polar bear - Gable, my white Labrador Retriever.
This antique rose, Sam Houston, still had a couple of buds and one open bloom. The roses Martha Gonzales and Bengal Tiger also still had blooms up until this freeze. We'll see what happens if the temps stay low for any length of time. I know folks gardening where it's really cold are laughing at all this talk of "low temps". Yeah, we know we're spoiled.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
These pictures show our pond from its infancy (three winters and one large snake ago) to this past summer when a wonderful Southern Leopard Frog moved in and began serenading us every night. The other frog (in the bottom photo) is hyla cinerea, Green Treefrog. Go to the Univ of Florida website for info and to hear the leopard frog's two unique songs at the bottom of their page: