September 30, 2014

About to fledge, …. gone!

This is the third brood of road runners this year, but the first one incubated on the roost in the horse barn. The parents are young birds themselves, and I questioned their parenting skills but they have done a good job with these two youngsters. I don't think there is a lizard alive within 2 miles of the WD. There is a food delivery about every five minutes.

The road runners being rather tame, it is fun to watch the goings on while you are cleaning horse stalls or giving horse spa treatments. The roost/nest is above Buggsy's stall and the parents squawk a bit when you are there for an extended period of time, but they tolerate us as well as the farrier and his helper, and just go about their business.

This morning it was evident that the biggest nestling was about to go venture out, but we missed the actual first flight. I saw him a little later in the stall, with the parent in the nearby round pen, totally unconcerned. I hope they remember there is still a young one up there.

September 29, 2014


This is the first year our pear trees have borne fruit. Nobody's fault but mine that it has taken some years to get here, but I won't go into that. I was so excited to see pears that I asked Dan to put fencing around the most promising tree so the coyotes would not be able to help themselves as they do to the apples. These babies were mine!

I picked them still green as I was afraid of them falling off the tree and ripened them in a bag with some apples. This weekend they were ready. After sampling one I decided that the texture of these would allow these to be used in a dessert as they were quite firm, even when fully ripe. They are sugar pears, and reminded me of my grandmother cooking pears as accompaniment to pork. So good.

There were about 5 pounds of fruit and I found a great recipe in Fine Cooking for ginger-pear cobbler. I am no food stylist, and suffice it to say it is delicious even if it looks, well ….

September 24, 2014

Family additions

I got new chicks today! They are day-old Americanas (aka Easter Egg Layers because they lay blue eggs). They were shipped last night from Ohio, we picked them up this afternoon at the Tucson post office and installed them in their temporary quarters just now.

My first flock (2007) had some Americanas and we found them pretty, friendly, and good layers. They all have different looks, as opposed to a flock of just red or black chickens, so you get to know them better, which has pros and cons (when they pass on). I am currently down to 7 non-laying, henopausal hens, and these new girls will be ready to start laying this spring.

It is amazing to me that these little birds, who are not so little when you compare them with quail chicks which we see a lot here, are hatched and shipped without water or food, surviving on the nutrients in the egg and can live like that for a couple of days. Lots of cheeping in the box though.

First thing after unpacking is to dip their beak in some vitamin-fortified water and sprinkle some chick starter on paper towels that they can pick at. So done, and they immediately tucked in.

Dan took some "chick pics", and I think I will call this photogenic blond "Cindy".

September 18, 2014

Holy vaca!, as my friend Pat would say

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest we know what rain looks like, especially this kind of rain which is basically living in a cloud. No light, no visibility, just wet drip. Outside humidity is 98%, and UV is 0 out of 12. To right now Odile has left us 3.9 inches and it will not taper off until later today. At this rate I am happy that it is just a steady drip, rather than a downpour. It has been an amazing 10 days in the desert.

There are puddles everywhere, the horse stalls are flooded, and Emma is reluctant to venture outside as the towel will be waiting. How can a Labrador who loves water take exception to a bit of rain?

Buggsy: what has happened to my room and to the world in general?

September 17, 2014

O after N

It is a bit unusual to have two tropical storms in a row give us rain, but it was Norbert last week and now it is Odile. Norbert roared in and out with heavy rain and was gone in a day, Odile is slow and gentle and appears to hang around for most of the week. Temperatures are in the 70's and we are enjoying having the house open day and night.

The hummingbird migration continues unabated, which seems longer than past years, and I am making a lot of sugar water. The bats come at night to the one feeder I leave out and that contributes, but bats need to eat, and migrate, too. Can't supply nectar to those with pretty feathers only.

The garden is enjoying the rain, though I have pulled up a lot of plants already because they were "done". Peppers are still going strong.

September 9, 2014


Leftovers from hurricane Norbert arrived here late yesterday morning and dumped 1.75 inches in a couple of hours at the WD. Thankfully nothing like the record setting amount in Phoenix, or the more than 2 inches that fell in Tucson. We were driving on I-10 however and, in reading the reports this morning, we were lucky that we made it to our destination in one piece.

Rain in the desert does disappear quickly and this morning all is moist loveliness. Fog in the valley, so rather that take a chance on the bike, we walked around Black Tail hill.

September 5, 2014

How green it is

The plan was to go to Tucson today for some shopping, but it does not take us much to come up with an excuse why this trip should be postponed and something more fun to be undertaken. We opted for the Stronghold hike.

This past weekend the Forest Service opened the Stronghold campground after locking out campers from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Go figure, though I must admit that I welcome the closure as it allows the vegetation to recuperate from the hiking and horseback traffic during the rest of the year.

And green it was. There is still water running in the creek and Halfmoon Tank was full. Emma took a quick dip but the mosquitoes were a bit thick, even for her.

You would think that the desert is a tough place with the vegetation being forbidding and all defense-oriented with stickers and thorns, but when there is enough moisture it produces the most delicate flowers on the thinnest stems.