Fly Away Robin, Fly…Toward Spring! UPDATE 1X (new pic)

~~By NM-GRL

(Cross-posted from InsightAnalytical)

UPDATE   March 15, 2010

Robins faked me out….after being gone for several days….they were all back this morning hanging out!  This time I counted about 16…and got a pic of a large group frolicking in the bath!  I have no idea where they went off to…they must be floating around the area rather than sitting in my yard all day!  Still wondering why they are still here–unless the weather is cool enough for them and they also think further north isn’t so great yet!

***

Things have been very busy here, what with my trying to learn how to invest in the stock market with some new efforts at self-education and Slick’s bout with the vet-dentist and 10 days of tracking multiple meds.  He finished everything and his follow-up on Friday gave him the all clear, but he will have to have his teeth cleaned every year from now on.

When I came up for air on Friday, I noticed something curious.  A small flock of robins, about 12 in all that had been hanging around my yard, were suddenly gone.

Here in southern New Mexico, robins usually have come through the city lower down in the valley by the end of January, which is much more lush and a bit warmer. In past years we’ve seen a few up here (we’re maybe 1,000 higher in elevation) but most stay down lower and all pass through the area within a few days as they continue heading north.  We have had a couple up here that have overwintered in the arroyo over the last few years, but this year was not one of them.

So, it was quite surprising to see the robins appear in late February (instead of  January) and stay…and stay…and stay in the arroyo and my backyard!

A Robin Indulges…

At times about 6 robins at a time were crowded into the birdbath partying all at once!

This character was simply adorble…

Now it may not be such a big deal to most people up north, but down here this is a big deal for me.  Coming from New Jersey, I was used to seeing robins all the time but it’s so exciting to see them hanging out in my yard, which they never have done before.  But this is an El Niño year, so odd things happen!

So heads up, they’re heading your way up to all of you way up north!

Another odd sight I haven’t seen that often is this:  the peach blossoms open (way too early as usual in February), and snow on the Organ Mountains at the same time:

Peaches and Snow...

Meanwhile, this is the first spring that I’m using the porch that we enclosed last summer.  It’s doing exactly what I wanted it to do, housing all my plants in preparation for planting.  I buy “doubles” of plants and split them to get 2 for the price of one!  Several varieties of tomatoes, including a new one for me called “Solar Fire” which supposedly can take the heat, Ichiban eggplant, and basil which I still have to split, are all waiting patiently for things to get a bit warmer.   Now, I just have see if I can get pimiento peppers, my favorite for growing in these parts.

Waiting…

The geraniums started blooming well over a month ago and continue to look wonderful as we wait for official spring on March 20!

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Oh, The Heck With It All…It’s GREEN CHILE TIME!

By NM-GRL (IA)

Things have been so incredibly busy here that my blogging at both of the sites has been slowed in the last week or so. Also, I’m in one of those moods where I just can’t stand politics anymore!  But, the one bright spot?  CHILE!!  To be specific, Hatch ORGANIC green chile peppers, roasted, rushed home, and stashed for the next year!

If you’ve never seen how it’s done, here are a few pics of what happened on Tuesday (9/1/2009) in my kitchen…

First, I went down to the co-op, Mountain View Market, with my receipt for my pre-paid chile and waited for a few moments as the attendant fired up the chile roaster.  Within about 5 minutes, wonderful aromas wafted through the air as my 25-lbs. of  peppers were tossed over the flame. When the roaster stopped, the peppers came down the chute into their box, now lined with a plastic bag.

I rushed home and began getting them ready for the freezer. In past years, I’ve spent a long time peeling the skins off the peppers, but this year, on the advice of regular visitor “ea” I just popped them into bags.  Funny, for the first time I also ran into someone while we were watching the roasting who also said that it was easier not to peel them until use.  So, here’s how things unfolded:

First, here’s the box they came in…direct from Hatch, NM, our local “chile capital”:

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Here’s a picture of what the chiles looked like as I opened the bag/box when I got home:

Chiles ready to go...

Here are a couple of roasted chiles, close-up:

Roasted chiles with charred skins...

Of course, highly specialized tools are needed to process these beauties!!  I get 10 bags at a time opened and ready, then use a gloved hand to pick up about 6 oz. of chiles.  That portion size yielded 55 bags of chile for the freezer, to allow for 52 weeks of chile plus a few spare bags to make sure we have enough until the next roasting day next year.  I still have a few bags of last year’s peppers that we have to finish off before we start on the new batch.

You’ll notice a straw…since I don’t have a vacuum sealer and won’t get one (way too expensive!), I simply close the bag around the straw, suck in hard, then pull the straw out quickly and seal up the last small section of the bag. Voila!  A pretty good vacuum seal!

Tools of the chile trade...
Tools of the chile trade…

Finally, here’s a shot of some of the bagged chile ready to go into the freezer!

Packages of joy...
Packages of joy…

Just before I closed up the box to throw it out, I fished around the line and lo and behold!  a few errant chiles hiding in the corners!  I popped them into a bag and that was it!

Another year of good eating lies ahead–always something to look forward to!  I usually open up a bag on Sunday morning, then have another day of chile later in the week.

I have to say, as a transplant from New Jersey, I had no idea that I could become so hooked on green chile.  But, am I glad I picked up on this New Mexico tradition.  It’s just plain delicious!!

***

Related site:

New Mexico Chile

Last year’s report:

Exhausted….from GREEN CHILE!

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:

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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:

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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!

Spring Finally Arrives in New York! Hurray! Photos from Highland Park (Near Rochester)

~~By Grail Guardian

After the longest Winter I can remember in quite a few years, Mother Nature has finally blessed Upstate New York with her bounty once again. Temperatures Saturday soared into the high 80s, and I actually was able to turn off the furnace and sleep with the windows open!

NM-GRL may have the New Mexico weather advantage, but we have the glorious eruption of a never-ending cascade of color and foliage that reminds us why we still live here. Basically, I think most of us will move once Governor Paterson figures out a way to tax the flowers and trees (I’m sure he’s working on it…)

So until then, let’s start with the sea of daffodils!

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This photo was taken last week, and many more have since come out. These are some early blooms at Highland Park (my favorite place to enjoy nature until my Dad gets his yard finished – I’ll do another post when his artistry is in bloom).

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The first Magnolias starting last week – they are now out in full force and walking through this section of the park sends you on a sensory journey that just has to be experienced! I love to just stand there with my eyes closed and breathe in the sweet fragrance…

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More Magnolias, surrounded by an incredible blanket of blue Glory of the Snow…

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A splash of Spring colors blankets the old Oak tree…

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I think this is a member of the Dogwood family. This park features an abundance of flora from around the world, and many unique species of lilacs created here for the annual Lilac Festival

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These pics were taken just before the 2008 Lilac Festival. I cannot even begin to describe the heavenly aroma that surrounds the park when these babies are in bloom…

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Some white Lilacs (photo from 2008)…

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Since I’m taking the trip down memory lane, here (again from 2008) are a few of the magnificent Azaleas that are taller than I am!

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Back to this year, Spring wouldn’t be complete without the forsythia. Again, this was taken last week, so they’ve filled in quite a bit.

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And here’s a preview of the Lilacs! Starting to leaf out…they’ll be glorious in a couple of weeks!

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And today the Bradford Pear outside work is in full bloom…

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And our birds’ favorite tree – they love to eat the flower buds, but the tree seems to withstand their assault quite nicely. The cardinals keep trying to build a nest in it, but it’s too close to the building so they give up every year. Thanks to the security coating on the windows, we can watch them quite close up. We have to hang feeders off the windows to keep them from flying into the glass, but our male cardinal still tries to fight the “other male” he sees in his reflection at least once a day.

***

Editor’s Note:

Highland Park in Rochester was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead:

Renowned park designer Frederick Law Olmstead was responsible for final development of Highland Park. Among his other accomplishments was the design of New York City’s famous Central Park.