Friday, April 24, 2015

Time to clean bird feeders!

So I can scratch THAT off my to-do list. 

After lunch today, I cleaned our seed feeders with vinegar and water (one part vinegar to four parts water). It needed to be done. Plus, I'd read a press release on the subject, "Wildlife experts urge safety, cleanliness for bird feeders." Yesterday, I chatted with ornithologist Cliff Shackelford (who wrote the release) about another topic, and we briefly discussed bird feeders. Needless to say, now James and I (okay, mostly me) are thinking of taking down our sunflower feeder for the summer months. (Read the release for more info.)

Back to feeder cleaning solutions, Wild Birds Unlimited recommends "using one part liquid chlorine household bleach in nine parts of tepid water (a 10 percent solution) to disinfect. Make enough solution to immerse an empty, cleaned feeder completely for two to three minutes. Allow to air dry. Once or twice a month should do, but weekly cleaning may be needed if you notice sick birds at your feeders."

Bottom line: All bird feeders, including hummingbird feeders, must be kept clean to protect bird health. 

A gift of bulbs

This past week, our friend Nancy A. brought us two bulbs. We got them planted a few days ago. If they make it, we'll see beautiful white blooms of the spring spider lily (Hymenocallis liriosme). Thank you, Nancy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

This and that

One lone paintbrush amid the beautiful prairie verbena in the Meadow.
The butterflies are starting to come. We spotted a monarch flitting past in the Meadow!
Wright's scullcap in the Meadow.

More skullcap....
Prairie verbena surrounded by rabbit tobacco....

An oddity that James spotted in the back yard...a little stick driven through a leaf on the Jerusalem sage, perhaps by the recent hail storm?
Our cool coreopsis that grows in a rock.

Coreopsis up close.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Major project DONE

For the longest time, we've wanted to enlarge our back patio and maybe even turn it into a covered or screened porch. This past week, we took the plunge and tackled the first phase. To make it happen, we contacted Jessie Ruiz with Ruiz Construction. 

But first, we had to do the hard part...figure out the DESIGN. We outlined a curved border with rocks.

I really wanted to get rid of this problem flower-bed area (above), where nothing ever grew. Why not fill it in with concrete and utilize it instead?

The next day, Jessie and his crew installed the forms, footings, and rebar in accordance with our rock border. After they finished for the day, we went and look everything over. Something just wasn't quite right...

Jessie agreed. He'd spotted what we'd seen but was just doing what we asked. Could he fix it? Yes! And he did.

So TODAY was THE DAY! Jessie and his great guys POURED concrete and worked their magic.

Jessie working....
James helped with unloading concrete, which had to be carted in by wheelbarrow. I stayed out of the way and watched everyone from the dining room.
TA DA!!!

Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival
Hey, this is one cool event! I gave my spider presentation last year at Wings Over the Hills and will again this year. At 1 p.m. Saturday, I'll be talking about "Spiders of Central Texas" in the Pioneer Pavilion at the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park. While you're there, check out the park's awesome butterfly garden, too.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Milkweed inventory

 Milkweed species inventory 
in our Texas Wildscape
 Seven different species
 23 total on our property

Antelope horns (Asclepias asperula) ....9 total

Two (the Meadow)
The Meadow
The Meadow
The Meadow
The Meadow
On neighbor's land adjoining the Meadow

The Meadow
The Meadow

Back yard (a surprise volunteer!)

Green milkweed (Asclepias virdis)...three total
Back yard, three purchased
Pearl milkweed (Matelea reticulata) ...three total
Back yard, transplanted
Back yard, transplanted

Back yard, transplanted

Purple milkweed vine (Matelea biflora) ....three total

The Meadow
The Meadow

The Meadow
Texas milkweed (Asclepias texana)... one

Back yard, purchased
Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)...three total

Back yard, purchased
Back yard, two purchased
Zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides)

On neighbor's land adjoining Meadow
The Meadow, purchased