Thursday, February 25, 2021

James' snow photos taken in the snow

James went outside several times last week and captured a LOT of snow photos. These are some of my favorites.


Sheryl's snow photos taken through windows

Boating down a city street!

Kill that thistle!

Musk thistle rosette

After our terrible winter storms last week, I stayed with my mother for four days to relieve pressure on our limited water supplies (our town was without water for seven days). While at Mother's, I continued my efforts to remove invasive, non-native musk thistles (Carduus nutans) from her property along her subdivision's main road. I'm hoping I didn't pull any Texas thistles (Cirsium texanum). I don't think I did. There's not many photos online that compare the two as seedlings and rosettes. But I did find this photo of a Texas thistle rosette. Here's another and another. One more.

If you're interested in learning more about thistles, check out these sources:

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: A Guide to Distinguishing Texas Thistles

Thistle Identification

Same musk thistle...they can get huge!

Musk thistle seedling

On the back side

It is Thursday afternoon, some six days after last week's devastating winter storms ended. I am so grateful. Our home and pipes escaped damage. As for our native gardens, only time will tell who survived and who didn't. Our live oaks didn't lose any branches or limbs. 

This morning, James drove out to see our rural land northwest of Blanco and returned home deeply saddened. Many oaks, junipers and other trees suffered broken limbs. Several were even uprooted from the ground. He said it will take him a year to make repairs.

Last week....I really don't want to relive those scary days. Rolling power outages. Snow, snow, snow. Freezing temps down to single digits and the teens. No water starting Tuesday, Feb. 16, when the city abruptly depleted its reserves. James shoveled snow, LOTS of snow, and dumped buckets of it into a bathtub to flush commodes and wash dishes. Thankfully, we had enough drinking water to get by. Dear neighbors across the street on Friday rented a hotel room in Johnson City and invited us up for showers. The hot water on our bodies felt HEAVENLY.

James sent me to my mother's on Saturday to relieve pressure on our limited water supplies. The water was restored Tuesday, February 23. I returned Wednesday afternoon to find our home cleaned up and back to "normal," all thanks to my precious husband James.

Oh, my gambusia? I was sad but not surprised when James texted me that they'd died, probably around two dozen (thank you, James, for scooping out their little bodies). The next day, though, he sent me video.....of two fish swimming in my stock tank pond! At least THREE survived! Hip hip hooray! A little happy ending for this post.

Leftover snow water

Prima Donna didn't care much for the weather either.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

On the front side...

As I write this, we are under a winter storm warning that’s predicted to set historical records. It’s forecasted to arrive this evening. I can’t remember ever being this nervous and....I’ll admit it....afraid. Understandably, folks up north may be chuckling over our worries as Texans about temps falling down to the 20s and lower. JUST the 20s, they say? But we’re not used to this kind of severe weather, and our homes aren’t designed for it either.

As best we can, we have prepared. Which means James has covered and recovered our three outdoor faucets. He even leaned wheelbarrows over the two that protrude from exterior brick walls of our house. Indoors, we are dribbling sink faucets (it sounds like a rain forest) to keep the pipes from freezing. (I HATE wasting all that water, but it’s for a greater good right now.) Across town, some friends have shut off their water completely and drained their pipes. But we were advised not to do that because any residual water left in the pipes could cause a break. In the event we lose water, we have filled up containers with water and left bathwater in a tub to flush the commode with. If we lose electricity, we’ll light candles and use flashlights. Thankfully, we have propane, which fuels our stove and guest bathroom heater. Our heating system uses propane too, but I think it also uses electricity to run the motor.

I cannot bear to look out our windows because I’ll see our trees and other plants. Ice accumulations are weighing down many of our live oak branches. What will this storm do tonight? What will it leave behind? Added ice and snow accumulations.... I pray our oaks come through as intact as possible. We’ll likely lose a lot of plants in the ground. We’ll see what spring brings. After this storm, I may let my stock tank go if my little gambusias don’t make it. The pond will never be pretty again like it was in years past, thanks to resident coons (which I do welcome because it’s their neighborhood too) and possibly leopard frogs (which I welcomed, too).  

On a more positive note, I made suet and am keeping a feeder supplied with it for our birds.

So thank you for listening. I just thought I’d write a “before” post and share my worries. I KNOW I’m not alone. You are worried, too. I can’t wait until we’re on the back side of this mean weather.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

Ice and freezing temps

Photos by James Hearn 

We're taking a big hit this week in Central Texas with freezing rain and freezing temperatures. Maybe snow again later?

Our evergreen sumac...

Praying that we don't lose any live oak limbs

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

YOU are nature's best hope

It's true. We are ALL nature's best hope. Today, Dr. Doug Tallamy presented a convincing case as to WHY it's SO IMPORTANT to plant natives in his online program titled "Nature's Best Hope." Our yards and other lands, both large and small, offer opportunities to host and benefit insects, ESPECIALLY CATERPILLARS. Yes! We WANT AND NEED caterpillars in our yards, primarily to feed young birds (see slide below).

Dr. Tallamy, who's an agriculture and natural resources professor at the University of Delaware and author of Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens (plus other books), turned his 11 acres of former farmland in Pennsylvania into a haven for wildlife. He restored the worn-out land with native trees, including many oaks, and other native plants that attract and support moths and their caterpillars. (Need help finding plants? Check out the Native Plant Finder in the slide below.) I love Dr. Tallamy's story. It's what we've done with our yard here in Blanco. To date, I've documented 1,015 species on iNaturalist in our yard.

Dr. Tallamy also introduced his new project called Homegrown National Park, a grassroots effort to restore biodiversity across the United States one habitat (yard or property) at a time. The project's official mission states: To restore biodiversity and ecosystem function because every human being on this plant needs diverse highly productive ecosystems to survive. James and I will likely be one of the first from Blanco County to sign up. Join us!

First blooms!

Pink mint

Fragrant honeysuckle

Purple hyacinth