Friday, July 29, 2022

July 2021 vs July 2022 = SAD

If you happen to feel brave, take a look at these comparison photos  from July 2021 and July 2022 photos of our native plant gardens. I tried to shoot photos this evening from the same angle as the 2021 pictures. Since May, this has been the longest periods of hot and dry conditions in recent memory. We'll be losing plants this summer....





Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Hard, hot days


This is hard. Real hard. Since early May, we've hardly had any rain and every day temps in the high 90s or sometimes 100-plus degrees. Even if we put faucet water on plants that are struggling, it does little good. At least during our 2011 drought, the dryness and heat started later in the season. Last summer we KNEW we were blessed to have the rains that we did, even in August. It was amazing! Now here we are with no rain in sight. My mother's water well struggles. How many others have dried up? And yet we continue to build, build, build, and bring more people into a region that cannot support the rapid growth. I'm trying to be optimistic. As they say, this, too, shall pass. But it's just hard right now. Real hard.

The Meadow...very few wildflowers this past spring.

Antelope horns

Zizotes (milkweed)

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Another froggie tale(s)...

Treefrog from the dryer
Remember my recent post about the treefrog above our front door? Well, I've got another frog story(ies) for you! Last week, I washed sheets, a normal thing that we do every week or so. After a wash, I  throw the sheets into our dryer and turn on the machine. But not this time. Because there was some leaf debris in the washing machine that got onto the sheets. So, one by one, I shook the sheets and pillowcases outside (while I inwardly grumbled at my husband for not shaking out his work clothes, which I know he does but still...just being honest). Before placing them all in the dryer, I leaned down to clean out some little pieces of leaf debris. Then a lump of what I thought was gray lint caught my eye on the bottom inside of the drum. I reached down to get it out, and HE JUMPED! A Cope's gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)! In the dryer!? I was stunned! How'd he get in THERE? I still don't know. After a few photos, I released him near our little stock tank pond. Thanks to James and the leaf debris, that frog lived to see another day. Or else he'd have cooked in the dryer with the sheets! Oh, my, would that have traumatized ME if I'd found him!

Back to my frog tales.... Two days later, James texted me the photo above. A treefrog in the WASHING MACHINE!? Then a day later, he reported that he'd felt something slimy under the kitchen/garage exterior door knob. A treefrog! Another release in our pond.

Fast forward to this morning, when I was about to drop a load of towels in our washing machine. Just to be sure, I looked down to check for frogs guessed it...THERE WAS ANOTHER FROG! I have no clue what's going on with this "frog infestation," but I find it all rather entertaining and very mysterious. With the lack of rain right now, where are they tadpole-ing? I don't see any little frogs around the pond. If you've got some ideas, let me know. In the meantime, I'd better go check the dryer before I throw in the towels. 

UPDATE June 22, 2022 

Another treefrog in the washing machine this morning!



Friday, June 3, 2022

A beautiful bearded iris

Isn't that a beautiful bearded iris? I thought so when I saw them blooming by the dozens in northwestern Arkansas last month. Now you know me–I'm a native plant person. But, I confess, we do have a bed of bearded irises in the front yard, most of which were originally planted by our home's former owners. Why not add some more to our yard as a reminder of our trip? So I got online and sleuthed around for the variety name. What I came up with was 'Indian Chief.' After a few searches, I found a good deal on the rhizomes on eBay. They arrived in the mail Tuesday. Yesterday, we read up on how to plant the rhizomes. Uh, oh, major project time! Which got done after supper. Looks like a little cemetery, right? Fingers crossed they all take and put out some beautiful blooms next year!

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

When wasps go to bed

In July 2014, I observed some bees snoozing upside down on a salvia stem. So interesting! Well, one evening last week at my mother's house, I sat down on a porch swing and immediately observed what I thought were some upset wasps, flying above my head around the chains that held up the swing. I got off the swing, thinking I'd jostled their nest. I stood nearby and watched the wasps. The more I watched, the more I realized that there was no nest. Then it dawned on me–the wasps were jockeying for a sleeping position on the chains! Just like the bees had done. A few hours later, I went back outside after dark and checked the chains. Sure enough, the wasps were snoozing there together. So I was right! These are a species of Chalybion, a blue mud-dauber wasp. I found a paper on the behavior: "Nocturnal clustering of the solitary wasp, Chalybion californicum." Isn't nature so cool?


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

What's a mama to do?

Two days ago, I decided to take down two hanging buckets because we were SUPPOSED to get a lot of rain during the night. I set one bucket upside down on the ground. When I went to pick up the second bucket, a wren flew out! I peered inside and found a NEST. Then I peeked inside the nest––babies! Oh, dear! If we did indeed get a downpour, the little ones might surely drown! What to do, what to do? I looked around our backyard and pointed out the squirrel guard to James. Might that work as a roof? Sure, he said. So we finagled the guard over the bucket. No rain came that night. But LAST night, we had one and a half inches of much-needed rain. I rested well knowing that our wren mama and little ones were safe and protected.

Pink little bird bodies in the bucket nest.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Ode to an old AC

Okay, folks, you won't find any native plants or odd critters in this post. Instead, I wish to pay tribute to an old friend of mine–our air conditioning outdoor unit. This morning, I bid farewell to our Rheem compressor, which was dated July 1998. Wow, right? I've lived "with" it since April 2002, when I moved into this home. (James arrived in 2006.) That adds up to more than 20 years!
I remember back more than ten years ago when James and I toyed with the idea of selling and moving. One interested couple came over to tour the house, inside and out. The husband took one look at the outdoor AC and shook his head. "THAT will need to be replaced," he said firmly. Well, as you likely surmised, we didn't sell or move. What's more, we kept the AC. Bless its heart, it kept running and running and running, year after year after year. Until this past March, when we had to have more Freon added, which was a bit of $$. Then more was added earlier this month, which meant more $$. That's when James and I decided not to prolong the inevitable any longer. We especially didn't want to be without air conditioning in blistering July or August and possibly have to wait on equipment to arrive (always iffy in this era of supply-chain woes).

As of this morning, meet our new AC unit, part of an American Standard heating-and-cooling system installed by the friendly and crew of Will, Blake, Nathan, and Mason with Apache Air & Heat here in Blanco. After the install, owner Stephen Myers came back to inspect their work and answer our last questions. Kudos to Apache!