June 30, 2016


Big deal, you say? Yes, a Big Deal, as we have not seen any measurable rainfall at the WD in months. It has been cloudy this past week, and it has rained other places (mostly on asphalt). It always seems to take the weather a bit to figure out how to rain again after a long layoff. It spatters a bit, just enough to have you think it may work itself into something, and then it quits.

Now that it has rained 0.25 inches, I hope it remembers how to do it some more, the desert needs it and it is time for "monsoon".

June 21, 2016


It is dry. It is hot. And today is the start of summer.

Everybody is seeking relief: birds, including chickens, are holding their wings away from their body and find shade or a moist indentation (made by someone watering vegetation) to spend the time. The bunnies and hares lay sprawled under the trees, all legs to one side, with only the ears showing.

The ones apparently taking the heat in stride are our horses and the young quail. The horses have ample shade available but stand in the sun by the hour. The baby quail seem unaffected and scratch under the feeders as their parents stand with beaks open trying to stay cool.

Everything appears stressed to me. Plants and trees seem to crisp in degrees around 100 F. I do some extra watering, especially to plants that have many, and thin, leaves. This weather shows who really belongs in the desert. Even our Arizona ash, though native, belongs at a river's edge; here it stands next to a water dish which only supplies water to wildlife.

I would love to know who all comes to the water dish, especially at night. We have seen a bobcat visit in broad daylight, and our neighbor called at dusk last night to report that he surprised a mountain lion at his birdbath. We should hang a night time camera in the ash.

So garden and orchard are getting extra water, and the wildlife appreciates it. The hares have started eating the bottom branches of the apple trees, the birds keep testing the ripeness of the peaches. Still, all is well right now. We are looking forward to monsoons.

June 13, 2016

Remembering Buggs

My Oregon friend Linda loved Buggsy. He was her "ride" when she would visit and she had some memorable moments with him. Once, on a ride that included lunch we took the horses to graze by the banks of a river, the grass was lovely there. Buggs had other ideas: why eat grass when you can beg a bite of a ham sandwich instead?

When Linda came over last month to take care of the WD while we were in Costa Rica she brought her own tribute to him.

Buggs was the gentleman, and we are missing him.

June 11, 2016

By the grace of the animals

The garden is doing well, June not withstanding. It is the month I, and the plants, dislike the most in this generally lovely climate. It is hot (90's to 105's Fahrenheit) and it is dry, and we all sort of shut down in anticipation of moderating temperatures in July and August, helped along with more moisture: our "monsoon".

The animals are having a rough time too. We did not have a lot of rain in the Spring so there are few tender grassy bits. The garden is under siege as it is the only place with tender vegetation. We do our best to protect the plants but rodentia and the birds are highly motivated and they have some time on their hands.

In spite of fortifications in my broccoli raab bed, I still have mice living there that insist on eating the growing tips out of the plants, so I am giving up on them. Too late in the year to be fussing over them anyway and so far the lettuce also growing there is unmolested.

I have had to remove the fortifications from the melon beds as the plants were outgrowing them, but now the quail are eating the new blossoms. I just call it "pruning" and hope that the plants hang in there long enough for the rain to entice them to set new flowers. At least there is some fruit that made it past the initial nibbles.

Tomatoes are doing well, so far. I was able to rescue one plant that was having its main stem eaten by a ground squirrel who dug his way from outside the garden to come up right under the plant. A piece of hardware cloth fixed that one, at least for now.

One thing does boggle the mind however. One of the pepper plants collapsed overnight, looking much like the tomato problem above and I was about to pull the plant up the next day to have it totally disappear from the garden. Please note the spot where it used to grow and the fortifications with the chickenwire. Where did the plant go? No nibbled pieces or other evidence. One of the June garden mysteries.

I am hoping for rain soon, and for new vegetation in the desert, so the garden will be for just humans, please.

June 6, 2016

Costa Rica

We have been on vacation. Last fall Dan's niece asked whether we would like to participate in celebrating her mother's birthday by joining her for a week or so in Costa Rica. I thought this a grand idea and rented a house outside of the small town of Atenas. This being our first time in Costa Rica and with various parties arriving at different times I did not see much value in spending a lot of time driving to and from the airport and staying in the more popular, but further afield, tourist locations.

The added benefit was that people in and around Atenas grow a lot of vegetables, fruit and coffee, which appealed to me. There is a weekly Farmer's Market which I really enjoyed visiting.

May marks the beginning of the rainy season, but living in the desert this was a welcome diversion for us. The mornings were generally dry and sunny, as the day progressed clouds would roll in and it would rain.

We made a number of interesting outings, saw beautiful country, drank outstanding coffee and ate delicious food. The fruit was amazing: huge mangos, pineapples twice the size of the ones we see here in the store, beautiful papayas. Dan even got used to driving the Costa Rica roads with the essential GPS. I would love to visit again, especially if I gain some proficiency in speaking Spanish. Working on that one.