August 27, 2012

Finally, some rain

This year's monsoon season has passed us by, or so I thought. Through July and this month it seemed to rain everywhere in the valley but only sprinkle at the WD. Then yesterday we got half an inch or so in the afternoon, and today it was about one inch! In about twenty minutes!

It brought all three families that live in visible proximity from each other out to celebrate the, as one called it, "yearly" event, and to assess any damage sustained. Nothing major, just a lot of sheet flooding well away from the house.

One muddy Oregonian horse. At least all of them had sense to stand under cover during the storm.

August 25, 2012

Busy birds

I generally do not spend a lot of time at the kitchen sink, but this morning I was there long enough to see that the cactus wrens, who have been living in either one or the other of the two nesting boxes across from the window, have another brood about to fledge. It will be this coming week for sure. I can see two young ones, and in the past there have been three chicks in each edition. This is their third brood this year!

I watched the parents bring bugs in and take fecal packages out, and then noticed a cactus wren nearby with nesting material in its beak chasing another one. MMMmmm ... Then a parent arrived with a tuft of dog hair in its beak, but, thankfully, instead of stuffing it into offered open mouths, thought the better of it and deposited it in the nest box next door. Are they really thinking about starting over again? After already successfully hatching 9 cactus wrens this year?

Precarious as the original road runner nest appeared, it must be quite sturdy after all because Roadie decided to reuse it to also raise another family. The nest is close to the walk to the coop, so it is easy to check up on them. Dan had already reported that there were 5 eggs and this morning, with Roadie looking for breakfast, he was able to take a photo of the fledgelings. One egg will probably remain unhatched with these birds already so big.

August 16, 2012

Oh, oops

I have been setting the live trap in the potting bench the last couple of weeks and have caught, and released, some wood rats that had visions of spending the winter in good shelter with an abundance of mesquite beans nearby. But this morning it was a young bunny girl that sprang the trap; no harm done.

She was most anxious to leave but when the doors were opened, she was not sure which way to go.  Once out, she was off like a shot.

August 14, 2012


Dinner prep was interrupted today when Dan urgently called me to the barn. A badger sighting, and this was my first view ever! After a good eyeful, I ran back to the house for the cameras and between the two of us we did get a couple of mugshots. That accomplished without stressing the poor animal too much, we got back to dinner.

But this is what we found after dinner. Do we have a new resident? Anybody have a good idea on how to evict a badger? Should we have him/her stay?

August 8, 2012

Three in three days

The rattlesnakes are on the move. I wonder to where? After seeing very few snakes here this summer, two bull snakes excepted, we suddenly have in influx of rattlers over the last couple of days. All of them have been big, today's was the biggest and heaviest, and, thankfully, very docile after some food.

The WD police force, the extended cactus wren family, immediately sounds the alert with loud cries. We generally go check out what the noise is all about and it is either Roadie, the roadrunner, whose life is being made miserable, or a snake. The snakes are usually on the porch, or in some other protected cool spot, taking a nap. This one was between the cold frame and the porch.

Dan is getting quite proficient in handling the snake tongs, and this snake could not even be bothered to rattle. He, or she, was a number of years old and beautiful. I am happy not to have to kill something that truly belongs in our environment, though not on the porch.

August 5, 2012

Plans gone awry

We were all psyched up to ride 70 miles this morning, but we woke up to rain. A wonderful, gentle, pitterpat-type rain. So what else to do but open the windows, feed the horses, let out the chickens, and go back to bed? Of course by the time we did get up, before 7, it was too late/hot to start a 4 hour ride. So we had a leisurely breakfast and took a little hike out back, around Blacktail Hill.

The rain has greened up the plants and gave them a second wind. One of the most obvious ones is the ocotillo, whose branches are bare most of the year, but will leaf out in 72 hours, given enough moisture. This plant is one of my favorites on this walk, it must be old, and is beautiful in, and out, of "velvet". Make no mistake, in each little cluster of leaves is a wicked spine.

Now perhaps a little reading, a naplet ...

August 1, 2012

A few days away

Like last year, we indulged ourselves and celebrated our birthdays at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. I love the place. It is in a beautiful location in the Catalina foothills in Tucson and constructed with minimal impact to the desert and blends in with the surroundings. The grounds have been kept in native vegetation, except the golf course and around the main pool where some seasonal plants were added for a bit of a tropical feel. The staff is attentive without being oppressive, the food is delicious, and the spa fabulous. And all this without driving great distances or flying to a faraway locale. What's not to love?

We brought our bikes again and every morning after breakfast (smoked salmon, bagel and cream cheese for me) rode a short, but hilly, route to a coffee shop nearby. Then it was either swimming or a massage, lunch, more swimming, watching some Olympics or napping, more food, and sleep. Serious vacationing!

The weather was more monsoon-like than last year and we had a significant rain storm one afternoon that we enjoyed from our balcony.

At home, Denise was coping with stuff: something invariably happens at the WD. One horse, Cody, recognized a newbie when he saw one and calmly walked out of his stall to the hay pile rather than into the arena. And one of the chickens decided to call it a day and keeled over in the coop. Denise lovingly gathered her up and gave her a thoughtful burial. A lot can happen in 3 days!