April 28, 2015


A lovely day in the desert after 0.7 inches of rain on Sunday. Plants are happy, happy.

But what I really wanted to show off is this

Spectacular, and it always blooms in honor of Kath whose birthday was a few days ago.

April 23, 2015

April in the desert

It was a bit gusty this morning so we opted for a hike out back in favor of a bike ride. The banana yuccas (yucca bacata) are still blooming in the desert, but there are many other flowers in bloom now too. Not everything is as conspicuous as the yuccas, the ocotillos, or the cacti, but there is a variety of small flowered, small leaved plants all new to me that I will have to look up for identification. Our ample winter rains have popped up all kinds of interesting stuff.

Yucca bacata

The find of the day were some just-laid Gambel's quail eggs, right along the trail, and I hope mom returned. This is probably just the beginning of the clutch as quail families here are quite large with up to a dozen chicks. All eggs hatch at the same time to produce a wave of fast-running, fluffy, golfball-sized birds, right out of the egg.

April 22, 2015

Small windfall

It was high time to clean out the winter garden today. There are seedlings growing in the cold frame that need planting soon: tomatoes, basil, peppers, cantaloupe, flowers. There are already carrots, beets, various kinds of greens, green onions, beans, cucumbers and zucchini in the ground, but we were still eating winter carrots and more scallions from a couple of beds.

I hate pulling up plants. They have always done their stuff whether they are edibles or not, so the least we can do is honor them by enjoying them and sharing. Little goes to waste: the horses enjoyed extra carrots and will do so for the next couple of weeks and the hens were happy with the spinach that just did not fit in the fridge.

On to summer.

April 20, 2015

A new lease on life?

It is Spring and our hens are laying. We are getting about 5 eggs every other day with a couple in between. Not bad for 4 new girls and 2 old ones, of which one is truly "henopausal" because we are getting all shades of blue eggs, and her egg would be brown.

The new hens are "easter egg layers", so named because of the blue eggs. I had some of these chickens in my first flock in 2007, and one hen remains: Goldie. Some of the new girls are just as gold-colored as Goldie, or even more so, but among the old flock Goldie was "it". She has always been calm and friendly, and now the new hens are here she seems happy and in her element. They all sleep around her on the roost and she never appears to peck at them or chase them off. And when the new hens started laying, Goldie started up again too. Her first egg, much bigger than the newbie eggs, was double-yoked and she has been going strong ever since. What a hen!

I do indulge her as her favorite routine is eating oats out of my hand. Other hens want "scratch", but Goldie pulls up her beak at that and only want oats. I wonder if I should get her some reading glasses because I am not sure she sees that well: she nails me with her beak trying to get the tastiest grains.

April 10, 2015

How green is my desert

When I tell people out of state that I live in the Arizona desert, they sometimes think the landscape is dry and sandy. Not so. Before humans came here to do agriculture, the valley was primarily native grasses and that must have been lovely, watching it sway in the wind. But people decided all that good grass needed grazing and brought cattle. We get limited rainfall however, which is why this is a "desert", and the place was overgrazed in a short time.

With cattle came the mesquites and that is now the majority of the vegetation. This month it is leafing out. When left alone it is shrubby, and thorny, but when it gets supplemental water it grows into a nice shade tree as shown below.

It is a lovely time of year with the desert in bloom, and the mesquites will remain green until frost.

April 3, 2015

And blooming here today ...

… a small selection, besides the now-everywhere chocolate flower and other blooming "weeds".

Echinocereus ?
Salvia greggii
Melampodium leaucanthum
Salvia greggii
Zinnia acerosa
Chrysactinia mexicana
Calliandra eriophylla

Yucca faxoniana