Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chicken Mahal

I would like to say that Bob and I finished the new chicken coop/scratch yard this weekend.  But it reminds me of the little country boy saying "Pa and I killed a bear.  Pa done the shooting."

So . . . Bob and I finished the chicken coop this weekend.  Bob done the building.  The solid fencing around the bottom shows that we've learned something in our 20 years of having critters--pens don't have to be designed to keep animals in--they are there to keep animals out.  Chickens are easy to keep in--racoons and dogs and coyotes have to be fenced out.  Hence--Stalag Chicken.  The birds seem to approve.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hazardous Duty

Granted, my summer job is more interesting than most.  But sometimes it has it's own hazards--such as reaching for a young alligator and finding that he can move faster than I can. The bit isn't deep--but the little bugger has really sharp teeth and it was like getting stabbed with a dozen needles.

A couple of posts ago I put in a picture of our baby wrens.  Here's a photo 9 days later.  The parents are flying in with bugs about every 15 minutes from dawn to dusk.  These little guys will probably fledge within a week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Old Shoes

There's an ad running on TV now that shows a man looking at a wrecked car, and thinking "This Subaru saved my live--I'll never forget that."  Before he leaves, he takes the knob off the gear shift as a momento.

I felt like that today.  I was doing some cleaning up, and I tossed an old pair of tennis shoes.  They're old--the outside is grungy, the lining is torn, and the soles are falling off.

But these are the shoes I was wearing the day I was bitten by the rattlesnake.  If you look closely at the tongue of the left shoe with a magnifying glass you can see a tiny hole where one of the snake's fangs pierced it.  Only the other fang got me.  Because of that shoe, I got only a half dose of venom.  Might not have saved my life, but it may have saved my foot.  I'm grateful.

But, alas--I can't see hanging onto an old shoe.  So I'll keep the memory, and the gratitude, and let the shoe go.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Silly Birds

Little Carolina wrens--will nest anywhere.  I had hung the nest bag on a plant hanger for a squirrel that I had evicted from the release cage (six months after I released him.  He'd play in the woods by day and sleep at home at night).  But I needed the cage for the next litter that had come along.  I don't think he ever slept in it, but some wrens thought it would be a good spot for a nest.  You can also see in the background where they did actually use a bird house--by building a nest on top of it!
Today I saw that the wren was carrying a bug rather than nesting material--so I sneaked a peek.  These guys are only a few days old.  With Mom bringing bugs about every 15 minutes from dawn to dusk, they'll be ready to fledge in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The seeds that I planted in the butterfly garden have sprouted enthusiastically and are starting to bloom.

I'd like to say that it's a pleasant place to sit with a glass of iced tea and a book.  Alas--I can handle the record high heat (high 90's) but can't quite deal with the record number of biting flies.  I dash out for a five-minute admiration but that's about it. 

The poor things are growing in almost pure sand.  I did rototill in about 10 5-gallon buckets of compost when we set it up.  Border's bookstore put out their used coffee grounds for gardners, so I spread those around.  It will take awhile to have anything that resembles soil.

And we had to chase a coyote out of the yard who was eyeing our chickens.  A friend says we should call ourselves Mutual of Omaha.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's Good to Have Friends

Especially friends who have gotten a job making gourmet pasta.  We just got a package of "samples" from the Gourmet Texas Pasta ( ).  "Samples" meaning eight packages!!  Even looking at them makes me drool--Cabernet Sauvignon (having that tonight with Italian sausage), Roasted Habenero (destined for carbonara), Szechuan Orange Spice (Kung Pao Beef).  So much for the five pounds I've managed to lose this year . . .

Makes for an almost instant dinner--the garden is starting to come in so we can just see what's ready to pick and toss it with pasta.  Yummmmmm.

Less yummy--we had to dispatch another rattlesnake out by the car.  Pretty, but not nearly as cute as the little armadillos.  And we grabbed the gun instead of the camera.  I'm all for "live and let live" as long as they choose to live in the woods.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Remember those cheesy 50's science fiction movies with the  giant ants or rabbits or insects?  I thought for a moment I had stepped into one of those when I went to check the mail and saw giant rolly-polly bugs.  In a moment they resolved themselves into a family of four half-grown armadillos (nerd trivia--armadillos usually have litters of identical quadruplets).  I followed them for an hour as they busily snuffled for bugs (it was worth tolerating the mosquitoes and biting flies).  Fortunately Bob came home before they left so he could enjoy them too.

It was a lesson in our place in nature.  We were enchanted and excited.  They never even noticed we were there--even though, as you can see, I got pretty close to them.