It Must be Spring

The weather has been perfect the last week or so and I’ve made some headway in my outdoor chores. The rock garden (AKA Rabbit Salad Bar) is looking better and I’m planting more aromatic plants that rabbits won’t eat. I discovered the Curry Plant at my local pueblo nursery. It has a strong curry aroma from the leaves and it can be used in cooking but it is actually part of the daisy family. It looks a little like lavender or rosemary but gets small yellow flowers. I have lavender, Mojave Sage, Yucca (red), and Agave in the rock garden right now along with the curry plant.

The goldfish pond is looking better but still needs a lot of work. As best I can tell all of my goldfish survived the winter. The pond never actually froze solid. Right now I have too much vegetation in the pond and need to remove about 60 percent of it but that is going to be a major effort. I’ll need to hire somebody to help with that. (ca-ching).

The storage building roof has been repaired — good for fifty years they say. I won’t have to ever do that again. I repainted the doors and the wood trim but it needs a little bit of stucco repair in the back…local critters must have tried to get inside. I’ll patch that up for now. Eventually the house and storage building will need to be re-stuccoed as well as the garden wall. Big bucks for that.

Rabbits are at it again. We will have a bunch of babies. I’ve seen more coyotes the past few weeks than I can remember. They tried to lure my neighbor’s dog away, a big dumb pit-bull, and he was happy to go but the neighbors were able to corner him in my back yard and take him back home. Coyotes have sort of a Lorelei effect on dogs…they lure them away and they eventually become dinner. My lizards are lined up like soldiers on the rocks and the garden wall soaking up sun. Roadrunners will get them later in the season but they seem to be having a couple weeks of peace.

My quail are back in droves again. They seem to be all paired up — no bachelors calling for a mate. Sometimes the women are fickle and will keep looking for a better match but things seem settled. We have Gambel’s Quail and Scaled Quail and the two can hybridize. Gambel’s have a dark plume on their head like a California Quail. Scaled Quail have a scaled feather pattern and a white tuft on their head. No babies yet that I’ve seen but the pairs keep running back and forth across the road in front of cars like it is some sort of game. They only fly in an emergency or if the car is getting too close.

No hummingbirds yet…at least none that I’ve seen. My flowering plants are still a month away from full bloom so hummingbirds are hanging back or visiting the valley orchards further south. I have never been able to tell the species apart — we only had one type where I used to live but there are six or seven varieties here.

Goldfinches are here in big numbers. I’ve noticed quite a variety in them as well. It might be different types or it might be that some birds are changing to summer plumage at different schedules.

 

The windy season came and went. Tumbleweeds were flying and bouncing down the highway. I have a few tumbleweeds that I need to get hauled away along with some overgrown sagebrush and four-winged saltbush that are encroaching in various places. Shortly after I moved here I was bragging to my neighbor about the pretty green shrubs I had growing along the fence. They were bright green and had a uniform rounded shape…nice I thought. He informed me that I was growing tumbleweed. It gets thorny and brittle as it matures and then snaps off at the base and spreads seeds by rolling along in the wind. I sheepishly pulled up my pretty green shrubs.

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The Wolf at the Door

It snowed last night and it has been snowing today for almost ten hours and hasn’t shown signs of stopping.  It isn’t heavy…just persistent. Much of it will melt tomorrow but we have to get through the night and it’s about 16 degrees out there in the dark.

I have no interest in going out when it’s like this. I didn’t even walk out to the mailbox today. I peer out the windows from time to time…nobody is out.

Nobody except the local Coyote pack. They either really like the snow or really hate it…I can’t tell but they are very vocal about it. They are out in the driveway about twenty-five feet from the house howling and singing at the top of their lungs. These are big guys. They look like German Shepherds but are a little shorter and have bushy tails, like a fox. They probably aren’t as big as they look because they have heavy winter coats but they seem like they have been well fed. I turned the porch light on so they know that someone is here and they grudgingly went across the road to wait for me to turn off the light. They are still out there somewhere. My indoor cat is a little concerned but he stays close to me and figures nothing is going to disturb his peace.

Coyotes are very bold this year. I saw one carrying off somebody’s Shih Tzu a few weeks ago. This is Coyote land and we just trespass on it as far as they are concerned. The three guys out in the yard run together and are pretty good at what they do and seem to look at us humans as a nuisance more than a threat. They probably have a family somewhere. I saw them heading home one morning crossing the road. They were out in morning traffic but it didn’t seem to be a problem. Their boldness and frequent appearances don’t seem to have had any impact on the local rabbit or jackrabbit population.  We still have two or three rabbits in the yard every day. I’m used to seeing Coyote tracks around the house and they come up to the garage door for some reason. This is about the closest that they have been in a singing group. These are desert dwellers and they are usually active in the daylight when it is cold and hunker down somewhere at night then reverse their habit when the weather warms up. I guess I hope they like the snow because that’s what they have to deal with tonight.

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Across the valley