August 31, 2008

Shop/Shed Update

We have been working 19 consecutive days on the building. We are having fun! But I think that today we are both tired. It is true that we work about 5 hours a day on it, but that ain't loafing! Yesterday we finished all the walls.

The roll up doors and the windows have also been installed.

So, today we started on the roof; with my fear of heights, not a favorite part. But, it has got to be done, and if nothing else today we found a method on how to proceed. Now if I could just quit wimping out and keep Dan from having to go up and down the ladder 4 times for every roofing panel we need to install.... That will be tomorrow, if the wind does not pick up.

August 30, 2008


We may not have seen the number of hummingbirds that we have in the past, but this year the butterflies are spectacular.

I know very little about them (never saw many in Oregon), but just in trying to photograph them for this blog, I found out several things. Some of them don't care to be photographed, whereas others do not seem to mind. Some feed with their wings folded, some with wings open. Some appear damaged and obviously on their last legs (wings), whereas others are brilliantly colored and "new". They all have their preferences as to flowers, but I find it interesting that the native butterfly bush (Buddleia marrubifolia) is totally ignored in favor of the non-native one (Buddleia davidii).

August 29, 2008


Even though I consider myself an outdoor type, I did not realize the importance of weather until I came to live in the country. Here skies are huge, sunlight in summer ultra-bright, and spring winds are powerful.
Being in the desert, the topic of conversation at this time of year is the rainfall (did you get any?). We live in the northern-most tip of the Chihuahuan Desert, which is older, cooler and wetter than the Sonoran or Mojave Desert, and during a "normal" year we can expect about 12" of rainfall. Most of that falls in July and August. This year we have had good rainfall, although I cannot say how much rain has fallen exactly.

To remedy that situation we bought a new weather station, and managed to get our data uploaded to Weather Underground on the Internet so anyone can see what it is doing here at that moment. I called our station Blacktail Bajada, because that is where we are located. If you are interested in our current weather, please look here

Last night we had a large storm going by just north of us. Dan managed to capture some of the lightning.

We only got 0.04" of rain out of it, but there is a lot more water in the Willcox Playa, the dry lake north-east of us, this morning.

August 28, 2008


On our daily morning walk the dogs came across a rattler. I heard it rattle and called them off, and they came right away. We made a wide berth, and that was it. I was proud of them not harassing the snake (bad manners), and for coming when called. Both Shawna and Emma have been vaccinated against rattlesnake bites, but it is so much better to leave the wildlife alone.

Later in the morning I found a rattlesnake impostor, a bull snake, in the potting shed. He is most welcome to stay there. Aside from being non-venomous perhaps he will catch the pack rat that I have been trying to evict for the last month or so. I am not particularly fond of the pack rat because he makes a mess of my stuff and currently brings in hundreds of mesquite pods for his winter forage. If the bull snake does not catch him, I will put out the live trap. Poisoning pack rats is not successful as they just hoard the bait rather than eat it, besides, I would just as soon not kill him.

I am sorry for not having a snake picture to share, but I did not want to get too close with the dogs in hand, and the bull snake was curled around some pots. Or perhaps I should include a photo of one of my chickens..... :-).

August 27, 2008

Today's wildlife

This morning the toadlets, all of them thumbnail sized, left their birthing ground to find new homes! (Or become a meal for another desert critter :-( ).

We have a pond, or rather a fair-sized depression that gets filled with rain runoff. Because we are in our "monsoon" season (we get the majority of the year's rainfall in these summer months), the pond has had some water in it for a number of weeks. I noticed the water teeming with tadpoles about 10 days ago, but they grew up and left home today. We saw most of them close to the pond, but some of them even made it to our driveway, about 300 feet away.

It is amazing that at the end of August we still have new life. A Canyon Towhee made a nest in the corner of my garden, among the grapevines, and I saw 2 chicks today. All fuzz and beak.

August 26, 2008

Hummingbird migration

Last week the number of hummingbirds at our house started to increase about 10-fold. This has not been a particularly hummer-rich year for some reason, but it is obvious that the hummingbirds are headed south. They come to fatten up for the journey: some of them go as far as southern South America, some cross the Gulf of Mexico to their winter habitats, and some just go to Central America.

I am going through 8 cups of nectar a day, and I put up some extra feeders to minimize the territorial battles. I am always happy to get them in good shape for the journey as it is an amazing feat of such a small bird. And the migration just lasts a month or so.

August 25, 2008

The Shop/Shed

Our current project is setting up a metal building that will be used for storage as well as a workshop. The whole thing was delivered on August 12 by flatbed truck, and we are putting it together like an erector set. Our best decision was to have the foundation and pad poured professionally, which makes the building process easy (other than some heavy lifting), and the result is great. Here is what it currently looks like.

August 24, 2008

So, here goes....

I am setting up this blog to keep track of the happenings in days of our lives, and to share them with whomever is interested in life in the Arizona desert. We have lived in this amazing place for 4 years and are still in awe of its grandness and diversity.

Here is where we live, the Whoadammit Ranch,
the horse barn,
and here are the dogs, Shawna and Emma,

and our horses, Bueno (and Dan, the one with the hat :-)),

Cody, who is my main ride but is here strutting his stuff with Dan, and

Buggsy, who was Dan's wrangler horse when he worked at the Grapevine Canyon Ranch. When Dan quit his job, so did Buggsy, who is now in semi-retirement.

Rather than going back and go over what we have seen and done during our time here, I will jump in and show what we are involved in from this day forward.