August 24, 2016

The August Garden

I'm still here, in case you've been wondering. Life's responsibilities and unexpected events (which always take priority over blogging) have left me with very little time or energy to compose a real post of any kind.

But, right now I find I have a minute or two to spare and a desire to share some photos of the beautiful flowers in our garden...because flowers have a way of making me smile, and I hope they'll do the same for you.

Esperanza 'Bells of Fire'

Giant Milkweed, also known as Crown Flower

Brazilian Buttonbush

Fennel

Salvia 'Indigo Spires'
Are you smiling yet?

August 11, 2016

Egg Tally for July

Queen of Eggland
Thank you, Queenie, for giving us 20 eggs last month. You will never win an egg laying contest in this flock, but you're the clear winner when it comes to beauty. That's why you're number one in my book and the queen of Poultry Palace.

Princess Lay-a
Well done, Princess. You laid 27 eggs in July. Even though the heat set you back a bit, you didn't let it it knock you off your game completely. I'm very happy with your results. And, I'd be even happier if you would learn to stay off the back porch and out of my geraniums.

Duchess of Yolk
Settle down, Duchess. There's no need to ruffle your feathers. You are Hen of the Month once again with a total of 28 eggs. You also laid the largest egg. It's not the biggest you've ever laid, but it's a respectable 1.87 ounces. When the weather cools off, I'll be expecting you to reach the 2 ounce mark...no pressure, though.

That makes a grand total of 71 eggs for July—just one egg shy of six dozen. Not too shabby, girls, not too shabby.

August 3, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday :: Happy Camper Butterfly Garden

Last Saturday I spent the morning sitting out by our little butterfly garden at the travel trailer on the banks of the Colorado River in Matagorda, Texas, snapping photos of the garden wildlife that came my way.


A Sickle-winged Skipper was the first to arrive.


Soon there were two flitting from flower to flower.


Every garden needs a spider...or two. 


The milkweed is full of aphids and a bit ragged looking, but that didn't stop this Queen from laying her eggs. Hopefully the new leaves at the base of the plants will grow quickly and be enough to feed the hungry caterpillars that will be hatching soon.


Deep within the milkweed jungle, I came across a grasshopper. He was just hanging out, but I imagine he'll probably snack on some of our plants. I don't expect he'll do too much damage all by himself.


A cute little Dun Skipper stopped by for a sip of Gomphrena nectar. It must be quite tasty considering how popular it is in the garden right now.


Our RV park management has neglected to mow the grass for a few weeks. And though I'm not thrilled about that, it's probably a lucky thing for this newly emerged Queen butterfly. 


I didn't find her empty chrysalis, but I suspect it's attached to a blade of grass nearby, since this is where she stayed for most of the morning before flying away.


And just when I had decided it was too hot to stay out any longer, a Checkered White showed up. It made the rounds from lantana...


to zinnia and other flowers in between. 

On the zinnia are ants and some unidentified bugs under the petals (mites? yikes!)—just another bit of wildlife in our pesticide-free butterfly garden.

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Today's post is my contribution to Wildlife Wednesday—a meme, hosted by Tina at My Gardener Says...that celebrates wildlife in the garden on the first Wednesday of every month.

July 22, 2016

Look at It This Way

Two photos of the same flowers taken from different perspectives.


One facing the setting sun. This is probably my favorite.


The other facing the rising moon. Also lovely, but different.

It all depends on how you look at it.

Have a great weekend!

Photographed at Seabourne Creek Nature Park, Rosenberg, Texas.

July 20, 2016

How Many Eggs in June?

The grand total of eggs collected from the Royal Hens of Poultry Palace in June was 78.

Egg collecting is a favorite pastime of the toddler set. Just ask Myles.

That's six less than in May and is to be expected during the hot summer months.

I'm not sure how, but not a single egg was broken in the process. 

Queenie gave us 24 eggs. Princess and Duchess are tied at 27 each.

The quicker we get there the more fun it will be. Rose was a joyful helper.

It all comes down to the largest egg laid to break the tie.


Queenie is out of the running, but for the record her largest egg in June weighed 1.73 ounces.
Princess Lay-a's largest egg was 1.80 ounces. And, Duchess beat them both with an egg weighing 1.94 ounces.


Congratulations, Duchess of Yolk, you win the Hen of the Month award for June! Extra mealworms coming your way.

July 12, 2016

Rose and the Chickens

Rose wakes up first thing each morning ready to check on the chickens.


 If there are eggs she collects them, but usually it's too early for eggs.


She's big into offering them treats. It doesn't matter what kind, even a flower will do.


She would be happy to pet them all day long...if only she could catch them!

Mornings are so much more fun when Rose is here to check on the chickens.

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I'll be absent from the blog for the rest of the week while our granddaughter and daughter are visiting. Have a great week!

July 8, 2016

Monarch Memory

Earlier this year John made an insect hotel and hung it on the garden fence.


We've been waiting for our bee guests to arrive, but not a single room has been rented out yet.


However, a Monarch caterpillar thought the underside looked like the perfect place to form a chrysalis. 


One morning last week John noticed the butterfly was close to emerging, so he moved the hotel to the back porch and took this photo while I was waiting for my camera lens to defog.


Even with the chrysalis right where we could check it frequently, we still missed its emergence. This photo was taken very soon after. 


The butterfly's wings are still in the process of unfolding.


It took about an hour for it to reach the point where it was ready to fly.


During that time I was able to snap a shot


from every angle


imaginable.


When the time was right we brought Myles out to hold his very first Monarch butterfly.


He probably won't remember this.


But, we'll never forget it. 

July 6, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday — Purple Martins

You may recall from last time that one pair of Purple Martins had built a nest in our house and laid eggs.


We spent many hours in June observing them and their brood. We had high hopes for their success, but unfortunately, sometimes there's not much that can be done to change the outcome.

HATCH DAY (6/3/16):


We were excited to find three hatchlings and one pipping egg. Baby martins aren't exactly cute—they are born featherless with eyes that are grown shut. It will be 26-32 days before they are ready to leave the nest.

DAY 7:






All four babies appear to be doing well. They have grown quite a bit, but still do not have feathers and their eyes are still shut. That little one poking its head out the entrance seems to be smiling at me.

DAY 14:



Finally, there is feather development and their eyes are open.

DAY 18:




Mama and Daddy Martin both take part in raising their brood. This pair seems experienced and are very good parents. Even with the two of them working together though, it's not easy to satisfy this hungry bunch. It looks like dragonflies are on the menu today.

DAY 20:


Feed me! 

DAY 21:





Up until this point the baby martins seemed to be fine. However, on this nest check, the brood is split between two apartments and that makes me suspicious that something is wrong. It is very hot outside so perhaps it's cooler for them this way. 

DAY 23:




The next day the babies are on the move and have free reign of the lower three apartments. Before we left for church one fell to the ground and we had to rescue it. When we got home there was another one on the ground. We could see no trace of mites or other parasites that might be making the babies jump ship early, but something is wrong. One of the babies stayed out on the birdhouse porch all day in the hot sun and the parents refused to feed it. By the end of the day, it had succumbed. The next morning, we had also lost a second one. 

Day 24:


Once again there is a baby bird out of the nest. It can flap its wings and run, but cannot fly. I put it back, but I don't expect it will stay put. 

DAY 25:
Sure enough, the very next day it was out again. When I tried to help, it ran away from me and hid under the storage shed. I knew this was a bad choice and hoped it would come out before nightfall. I went inside and watched from the window. After several hours of urging from its parents, it came out of it's hiding place, but changed it's mind and went back under. I never saw it again. This left only one baby bird and it didn't look well to me.

DAY 26:
This should have been fledging day or close to it, but the last remaining baby didn't make it. I have no idea what went wrong. The martin parents were diligent in feeding and defending their brood all the way through and we saw no sign of parasites.  

Obviously this is not the story I hoped to share with you and I hate ending on such a sad note, so here's a photo of a successful fledge from July 2009—a reminder to me that sometimes things do go right.



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Today's post is my contribution to Wildlife Wednesday—a meme, hosted by Tina at My Gardener Says...that celebrates wildlife in the garden on the first Wednesday of every month.