Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 25, 2009) The Squirrels Invade

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I had a very busy week in the garden this week and posted the details here.

Today, I finally got the chocolate flower into the ground. Hopefully, I won’t drown this one…it’s tricky with desert plants because they need some moisture to get established when first planted. BUT…it’s sometimes hard to tell what is too much.

The big event of the week actually occurred yesterday.  The SQUIRREL WARS have begun in earnest!

After the carnage in the garden a week or so ago, when all my baby swiss chard and mesculin was munched on by bugs, I bought on the spur of the moment a 9-pack of buttercrunch lettuce.  To be safe, I planted them in the patio pots, in with the tomatoes and peppers.  Perfect, right?

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Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 28, 2009) First Hummingbird and First Cactus Flower!; Wisconsin Robin; Happy Birthday, TORO the Dog!; Trooper Shows Off)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Just because we’ve been enjoying some great spring weather lately (although the last couple of days have been cool and windy), it doesn’t mean there aren’t signs of spring in other places, too.

Kenosha Marge sent in this report from way up north in Wisconsin after reading last week’s Saturday Sanity:

SO and I have seen a couple of Robins the past few days and were getting that “Spring Is Coming Soon” spring in our step. Yes, yes I know that the offical first day of Spring was Friday the 20th. That’s what the calendar says. When a Robin is in your backyard birdbath and on one of your backyard bird feeders that really means Spring is coming. Or maybe not. Here’s some expert who just had to rain on my parade.

Steve Lewis of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Division of Migratory Birds in Minneapolis said some robins in northern Wisconsin might have come south from Canada, “but they’re not birds that are coming back early from their wintering areas.”
Some may wonder how a bird weighing under 3 ounces can survive in a climate that can drop below zero degrees without warning.
For robins and other winter birds, it’s simply a matter of sprouting a few more down feathers for extra insulation and finding a steady source of food.
Frozen ground means no worms and frozen air inhibits crowds of insects, so robins and other birds like cedar waxwings will seek out fruit from crabapple trees and other berries still hanging on branches.
If they can keep their stomachs full, they see no reason to leave, said Dick Verch, a retired DNR employee who organizes the annual Christmas bird count for the Chequamegon Audubon Society.
“If you look at a lot of the fruiting trees – mountain ash and others – they still have fruit on them, and very often at this time of the year they’ve been stripped by birds,” Verch said. “That’s an indication there’s a good quantity of food, so maybe as the birds went into the winter with a lot of food around them, it kept them here.”
Verch said participants in the 2008 count spotted 76 robins – 56 more than the previous record of 20, set in 2004.
A few weeks ago we had this in WI...

A few weeks ago folks in in WI were doing this...

Wisconsin Robin!

Last week...a Wisconsin Robin!

While we’re on the subject of our animal buddies, I thought I’d share a pic of  Toro, our first dog, who turns 10 on March 31st!  Happy Birthday, TORO!  With spring in the air, Toro has taken a fancy to eating al fresco!

Birthday Boy Toro

Birthday Boy Toro

Here’s an update on TROOPER, my betta fish.  Over the last few weeks he seems to have really “grown up” in his behavior….he’s gotten larger and more aggressive about going after his food. He’s probably reached maturity and he certainly is robust in health, especially since I change him every 4 days!  I picked up a calendar at my State Farm office which feature golf courses…and the greens and traps seem to bring out Trooper’s colors very nicely.  He’s such a dark blue that he needs the contrast to be seen at his best!

Trooper likes to hang out on the 18th hole...

Trooper likes to hang out at the 18th hole...

Disappointing news…I’ve had to give up hope that I could entice Mario, the runaway chihuahua. The food was being eaten by birds, so it seems Mario is gone.  Best of luck, little guy…

But, some good news…On Tuesday (3/24) I was buzzed. A few moments later I saw my first hummingbird of the season!  The feeder is up and it looks like it’s being used.

The desert plants are beginning to wake up and within a couple of short days, the cactus in the front yard started blooming!

Cactus flower

Cactus flower

The NM privet that was flowering last week is now leafing out and the larger privet in the front yard is also starting to show some leaves.

Backyard NM privet

Backyard NM privet

The peach, fig, pomegranate and apricots are all continuing to bud out and the baby figs and peaches are really growing fast.  And my oldest grape vine is really starting to rev up:

Flame grape

Flame grape

Finally, here’s a shot of my garden beds with a lot of the plants waiting for transplanting under the sun shade. I cover them at night because it still gets chilly and the wind over the last few days dries things out in a very short time.  By the way, I found Ichiban eggplant and those fantastic pimiento peppers this week, so I can’t wait to get all these wonderful things into the ground!!

Waiting for a little less wind...

Waiting for a little less wind...

Hope spring is happening wherever you are!