Thursday, September 26, 2013

New project

New "mini" patio, under construction....

Look what James spotted

The other day, a great horned owl in the back yard!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Suet day

A few months ago, I bought a suet feeder from Joanne, a fellow Master Naturalist, who makes them as a fundraiser for Friends of Blanco State Park. Finally, this morning, I got after it and made some suet myself. But I think I still have some learning to do. I made the recipe below, then set the small pot in the refrigerator to cool. I guess I thought it'd have a cookie dough consistency. Well, not completely. Twas a bit crumbly to mash together into small balls. But I'm sure the birds won't care. We'll see what they think.

I came upon this recipe in a nature blog that Charlotte T. emails to her subscribers. Thanks, Charlotte!

Charlotte's No-Melt Suet

1/2 cup lard
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup cornmeal

Melt lard and peanut butter in large saucepan. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Put into molds; chill in refrigerator until firm. Charlotte uses recycled commercial suet molds to form the cakes and then stores them in ziplock bags. 

UPDATE–Charlotte sent me a nice email after reading this post and some additional comments on her suet recipe....

"Regarding the suet recipe, you sometimes need to "fiddle" with it.  If mine is too soupy, I add more cornmeal or flour. If it's too crumbly, add more melted peanut butter or lard. It seems to vary as I use different brands of ingredients (buying whatever is on sale at the time). But it does set more solid the longer it stays in the fridge. I form little cigar shapes for the cedar hanger and just cram it in tightly. Also, sometimes I add raisins or chopped pecans or shelled peanut pieces just to give the birds a bit of variety. It's an easy recipe to tinker with."

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 26, 2013–Well, one of our local woodpeckers has discovered the suet. Yesterday, I heard one call as it got closer. Then, bingo, it landed on the suet feeder! This morning, I recognized the same call. Sure enough, here it came, right on the suet feeder. Yay! 

UPDATE OCTOBER 4, 2013-Not a great video. But hey, you can see the woodpecker.


Evening in our Wildscape

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kids Day Out!

Thank you, Sue, for taking photos of me and the spider exhibit I put together for Kids Day Out in Burnet. At this year's annual event, our Highland Lakes chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists gave away 200 Mexican buckeye saplings!

Friday, September 13, 2013

A new-to-me bloom and an odd seedpod

Dwarf Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra)
Alamo vine (Merremia dissecta)
We purchased both of these natives at last April's native plant sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. Their fall sale is coming up October 4-6!  

I salvaged what was left of seeds in the Alamo vine pod. They're HUGE.

Spider lady #3

This spider lady (Argiope aurantia) lives on the other side of our Wildscape between a barbed wire fence and an esperanza. She is gonna give birth SOON! Yesterday, she ducked under some leaves to escape the heat. They evidentally make their egg sacs during the night. I thought she might embark on her project last night, but I checked on her after dark, and she was in the middle of her web.  Not yet!