Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 16, 2009) Cactus in Bloom! Gorgeous!rtw

~~By NM-GRL (IA)

Temperatures are heating up…we went into the 90’s then it cooled and today I caught a sign saying 95.  So…summer is on its way!

Which means the desert plants are starting to come into full flower.  Before I moved here I didn’t realize how wonderful cactus plants could be when they bloomed!

But before I get to some pictures from my house, I have to report on the squirrels. One is particularly bold, heading onto our back porch a mere couple of feet from my back door!  The same guy, I think, was caught on my little “couch” (actually a storage unit) picking up corn that had spilled from the containers I use to fill the feeders.  Today, I caught one at the side of the yard and I’m betting he’ll be at the pomegranate, which is not starting to form flower buds. (Last year, a squirrel nibbled on those.)  The squirrel contingent has devoured petunias and I bought a few more hanging containers for portulacas and cardinal creeper vines, whose red flowers are also a tasty treat. Meanwhile, in the veggie garden, a squirrel has nipped at the sweet potato plants!!!  And, I found a big, unripe peach half eaten!

This is getting nasty!  I’m seriously thinking of getting an electrified fence around the vegetables at this point!

This weekend I should start bagging the grapes, which are now the size of peas…the work never ends!!

At least the cactus flowers aren’t being eaten!!!!  So enjoy!  These pics were taken over the the course of a few days, so they are in chronological order…

First, we have a few from 5/8:

Here is a cholla. I picked up a small section and planted this myself a few years ago and now it’s HUGE!

Cholla budding...

Cholla budding...

A bee wallows in the yellow flower on this cactus:

Bee in pollen...

Bee in pollen...

Another version of a yellow flower, but with a splash of red!

Red and yellow flowers in full glory...

Red and yellow flowers in full glory...

A couple of days later I took this picture with the cholla bursting into bloom:

Cholla blooming...

Cholla blooming...

Cactus Flowers

Cactus Flowers

The next day on 5/11:

A cactus pad full of flowers...

A cactus pad full of flowers...

Finally, a shot of the ocotillo now leafed out and the cholla:

2009_0512CactusOther0057

Except for the ocotillo which we had planted by a nursery, all the cactus have grown from a single pad that I stuck in the ground.  Needless to say, I’m extremely please with the results!!

P.S.–that long “stick” on the left is the base that hold up my longwire antenna that brings in my shortwave radio signals!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 9, 2009) ROADRUNNER in the Yard!

~~By NM-GRL (aka InsightAnalytical-GRL)

This week I planned to post some pictures of all the cactus blooms, but an unexpected visitor changed my plans!  For the first time in the 10 years I’ve lived here, a roadrunner strolled onto my patio and hung out for a long time in my backyard!  I’ve seen them on the wall and sometimes they’ve hopped down into the yard, but they’ve always stayed away from the house.  This time was totally different…and I got to see this visitor attempting to find a meal, too!

I ran to grab my camera as soon as I saw this fellow on the patio. He (she?) then hopped up on a flower pot:

Perched on the petunias...

Perched on the petunias...

Here’s a closeup:

2009_0506FrontRoadrunner0036

For a moment I thought this wild thing would take a drink from the fountain…but, it didn’t happen.

No drinking today...

No drinking today...

Getting bored on the patio, our friend decided to head on over to the side of the yard, toward a couple of the bird feeders I have there (I have others on the wall facing the arroyo toward the back, too):

Heading toward the feeders...

Heading toward the feeders...

Once at the feeders, the visitor eyed the situation and decided to stay awhile. I watched him/her lie in wait for small birds and try to fly up and catch them.  He/she literally hunkered down and then “launched” in pursuit.  Didn’t catch anything this time around…

Planning an ambush strategy...

Planning an ambush strategy...

Finally, I decided to try out the video function on the camera. Toro came out of the house to bark and the bird didn’t care at all.  A short time later, Toro figured out that there was a big bird and he went over to bark at it directly.  Without any panic at all, the roadrunner decided to take leave of the yard. Unforunately, I couldn’t figure out how to get the video over into WordPress…

Amazing!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 2, 2009) Orioles!

~~By NM-GRL (aka InsightAnaltyical-GRL)

I’m trying out something new…posting directly to Open Range Ramblings with a link over at IA for visitors to that blog.  Hopefully, folks will find their way here!

Well, this week I bought a product at Home Depot called “Critter Ridder” which is supposed to “deter” pests lik squirrels. After my local little devils munched on petunias and newly planted lettuce in pots on the patio, I got frustrated. So I bought this stuff (organic) and sprinkled it on the other side of the wall, hoping to keep my squirrel invaders at bay.

WITHIN 10 MINUTES…I was in the house and glanced out the window…and there was the ringleader on the wall and down on the ground taking a drink of water in the bowl I have there.

So much for “Critter Ridder” when it comes to squirrels!!!  However, it MAY help with another problem…my two little ones, Toro and especially Tico,  have be digging in the garden for some reason. Tico seems to love digging holes and sits in them.  I filled in the one in the grassy area near the house and covered it with a flower pot so now he (with assistance from Toro) is digging by the wall under the plants and hanging out there.  So, I may have to use the rest of the “Critter Ridder” to discourage Tico…it’s safe for dogs, so I’ll see if I’ve wasted my $15.

The Big Event of the week is the arrival of the orioles on a regular basis to my yard!  I’ve been hearing them for a couple of weeks and my neighbor had them in her yard. Now, I’ve got at least two males visiting. One goes to the feeder, the other likes the grape jelly I set out.  The females will start visiting soon, I hope.  Last year I decided that the two types visiting were the hooded and Bullock’s orioles…

Hitting the bottle:

Enjoying the sugar water...

Hooded Oriole enjoying the sugar water...

Grape jelly!!

Jelly!

Jelly! (Bullock's Oriole)

Out in the plant world, the mesquite trees are finally leafing out…and doing the pollen thing.  I’m allergic so the last couple of days have been a bit stuffy…and the high mulberry pollen counts haven’t helped much either.  Mulberry trees aren’t being planted anymore but the ones that are still around are pretty potent especially when the wind blows.

Mesquite Tree

Mesquite Tree

Lots of sweet smelling pollen going on here:

Pollen Attack!

Pollen Attack!

We’re also beginnning to see a lot of yellow cactus flowers popping out…

Cactus Flower Duo

Cactus Flower Duo

There is a lot more yellow in store from cactus plants. The cholla is beginning to get ready to blossom as well. I’ll be posting some pics of other flowering plants soon!

In the vegetable garden, the first banana pepper is about and inch long and I’ve already started picking basil for drying. I finally have cheescloth down over the sprouting squash, okra and chard in a last ditch effort to keep the bugs away!