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!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 25, 2009) The Squirrels Invade

Originally Posted at InsightAnalytical

~~By NM-GRL (IA)

I had a very busy week in the garden this week and posted the details here.

Today, I finally got the chocolate flower into the ground. Hopefully, I won’t drown this one…it’s tricky with desert plants because they need some moisture to get established when first planted. BUT…it’s sometimes hard to tell what is too much.

The big event of the week actually occurred yesterday. The SQUIRREL WARS have begun in earnest! After the carnage in the garden a week or so ago, when all my baby swiss chard and mesculin was munched on by bugs, I bought on the spur of the moment a 9-pack of buttercrunch lettuce. To be safe, I planted them in the patio pots, in with the tomatoes and peppers. Perfect, right? Wrong! Yesterday afternoon I caught not one, but TWO squirrels brazenly eating the lettuce!

Last spring they also ventured far into the yard. It may be that they are raising a family and need a lot of food. Since the dogs are out for most of the morning, they stay away. But their past behavior has to start coming over the wall from about 1 or 2 pm until about 4. In the morning, the white-tailed doves eat most of the cracked corn I set out in this old plastic fountain that I found in the trash, so this afternoon I put more out and guess what? The two buggers munched happily on the corn and didn’t wander onto the patio. Of course, I had put up some gerry-built chicken wire to deter them…but… Here is a shot of how they peek over the wall…

Surveying the food situation...

Surveying the food situation...

Enjoying the free grub…

Wallowing in the food dish...

Wallowing in the food dish...

Frankly, I do have a soft spot in my heart for any animal that sits in its food dish. I had gerbils that did the same thing…the enthusiasm of the act is rather endearing.

I don’t know if I can keep them from my peaches for much longer. I’ve developed a new strategy. Instead of picking up the dog poop and putting it in the garbage, I’ve been tossing it along the other side of the wall near the burrow entrance that is hidden by big rabbitbrush bushes. Why I think any squirrels would be deterred by this, I don’t know…but I figure it’s worth a try! This year I have the most peaches ever and they are already HUGE!

Peaches waiting for squirrel visitors...

Peaches waiting for squirrel visitors...

I still haven’t finished the new trellises for the new grapes and I have to start training the Flame grape which is already full of little bunches. And, if I had time, I would be bagging those peaches now…my luck can’t hold out!!