September 29, 2015

At the lake

We did a favorite outing yesterday: Patagonia Lake State Park. I enjoy it because it is a lake with many inlets and birds, and I love a picnic. The latter is always part of the plan because it is a two hour drive to get there.

Linda, being an Oregonian as well as a paddler, loves the water and Emma, being a Lab, loves the water too of course. To top it off, we also have Emma's sisters staying with us, so it was 3 humans and 3 dogs plus supplies in one Subaru.

(The video does not run on iPad or iPhone. Click HTTPS:// to view.)

We no sooner got to the lake and had chosen a picnic table and the dogs plunged into the water. Much to my surprise one of the sisters came out of the water and tried to dry off in a pile of dirt before hitting the water again. Linda had brought a ball, and the dogs had a great time retrieving.

When they were too tired to get into any trouble we had our picnic lunch, another dip in the lake with a towel dry and we headed home, tired but happy.

September 26, 2015

County Fair

We have lived here 11 years and never made it to the Fair. There is no local newspaper, when we shop we go to Tucson, so in short, we are a bit out of the loop on county activities. I seem to usually find out about this event after it is over but I was determined to not miss it this year.

My friend Linda is visiting and we drug her along hoping that it would be fun and worthwhile. This is a large rural county, where beef is raised and crops irrigated. There used to be a lot of growing of hot peppers but most of the irrigated land is now dedicated to cattle feed. Still, this is the Old West and there are still horses and cowboys.

We watched some of the horse events, visited the vegetable, flower and photo exhibits and went through the small animal and poultry barns. We ate fair food, I got an airbrush tattoo, and we had a great time.

September 21, 2015

Tropical Depression 16E

Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning. This is what the sky looked like at 6 am, with TD16E moving in. It has been raining ever since, the kind of rain that plants love: steady, gently, and so far about 0.5 inches.

Last year around this time we had TD Odile, which gave us almost 4 inches of rain. Why does this storm not have a name?

I am not really surprised at having it rain right now: my friend Linda arrives here tomorrow. She is a born and raised Oregonian who always bring rain when she comes. We have named her The Rain Goddess.

September 17, 2015

Good horsey day

It starts, after breakfast of course, with spa treatments. A brushing cum massage followed by a gentler treatment followed by body (fly) spray. The mane and tail are tended to, and a mini pedi performed. Then there is a facial, complete with a warm cloth rub of eyes, nostrils and lips. Finally, we are turned out to graze for a couple of hours. Life is good!

There is not a lot of grazing on our property, it having been woe-fully overgrazed before we bought it. But, over the years grass has sprouted here and there and we encourage it by mostly letting it be. We do let the horses graze these small spots in the late summer, and it is much appreciated as it is a nice change from the dry hay. It is great to have corral panels that can be easily moved from one location to another.

In case you wonder what's with all this sudden blogging activity on my part, I have a new camera. Replaced my worn-out (again) point-and-shoot with an iPhone. I am in love: best camera technology yet.

September 14, 2015


It takes just a little bit of rain to green things up in this desert. We have recently only had traces of rain, no good monsoon gushers as it is toward the end of the season. In all the green a variety of weeds are in full bloom, most of them in shades of yellow, and the desert is fragrant early in the morning.

But I was surprised to see this cactus blooming in the yard. Does it think it is Spring or is it a celebration of Fall? A last hurrah for this year?

September 9, 2015

Chicks. Again.

My neighbor Dave wanted to replace his flock this fall and gave me the opportunity to piggyback onto his order if I wanted more chickens. Last year I got 6 easteregg layers to replace the older chickens I had lost to coyotes. The chickens and coyotes had lived in peace for a number of years, but suddenly hens disappeared and we saw evidence of coyote entry into the chicken yard.

We fortified the yard of course, and all was well until Valentine's Day when a coyote climbed the 4 foot gate and squeezed himself between two sections of field fencing to make off with Marilyn and Hazel. Not a happy day. The remaining 4 hens are now grown and laying eggs, as is Goldy their older (2007) "sister".

This time I opted for Golden Buffs as they were well rated by the hatchery and these birds will be the same size as the current flock.

Dan and I had to be in Tucson on Apple business so we were able to pick up the box of chicks that were shipped from Ohio just yesterday. They were a lively bunch and ready for food and water.
Dave and I quickly installed them in their new home in Dave's coop and it took no time for them to drink and eat. I am sure they will currently be in a "nap attack".

September 8, 2015


The cactus wren is one of our favorite birds. It is a big wren, certainly bigger than any other of the wren family, and it is a bird that is always busy investigating and gathering. It also sounds the alarm when the roadrunner is nearby or when there is a snake lurking. Dan and I dutifully go out when we hear his special alarm call to see what the problem is and, if necessary, mitigate it.

A lot of the cactus wren's time is spent building nests. They are not always nests in the traditional "let's raise some kids" sense, it is a bird that likes options. Some of the nests are used as roosts and perhaps a number of them are built as decoys?

The building happens very quickly: the project is completed in a day or so. I know this because a cactus wren decided that a pot of epiphyllums would be enhanced by a nest and for a week I removed nesting material every day. I have now given up, at least until Spring, and as long as he/she does not mind the nest getting wet every morning when I water plants.

There are also cactus wren nests in the sotol and in the pear trees. Quite frankly there are cactus wren nests in every kind of tree around the house. And in the desert the preferred building site for a cactus wren nest is of course a cactus: all varieties of cholla, all of them very thorny.

September 5, 2015

Hummer migration

It is the time of year when we are carefully stepping onto the porch, making sure we are not hit by some hummingbird eager to get to a feeder, or by one defending a feeder. It gets a bit wild with between 15 and 20 hummingbirds zooming around and loading up for migration south.

Most of them are females or young birds: Anna's, blackchins, and the odd rufous. The rufous are the ones to look out for as they are little but fierce, and will defend "their" feeder with vigor and persistence.

We have four feeders out in various locations that I keep well supplied with nectar, going through about a cup of sugar a day. At night I leave one of the feeders up but take the others inside because the bats will empty every single one of them during the night. The one left out is for bats, after all they need to eat too.