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 (April 18, 2009) Glorious Organ Mountains; Apricots; Quail on the Wall; Sneaky Slick the Min Pin

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s been a frustrating week in the garden as the winds have continued and the temperatures have dipped the last day or so.  I’ve managed to put a couple of veggies and flowers into the patio pots, only to cover them up again to protect them from the weather.

Yesterday I bought a new Belle of Georgia peach to replace the one that is languishing.  I’ll get that in the ground over the weekend.

A big surprise is that I found a little apricot growing.  One seems to be finally showing on the flower I saw…but this one never seemed to have a flower that I ever saw, so imagine my surprise to see a an actual baby apricot!!  Let’s see if anything more shows up!

Last Tuesday I took advantage of the short trip over to my chess teacher’s house and took some wonderful pictures of the Organ Mountains. These views are literally a couple of minutes from my house…I’ll share one with you now:

Organ Mountains 4/16/09 Looking Like a Painting...

Organ Mountains 4/14/09 Looking Like a Painting...

New Mexico has wonderful light, which attracts a lot of artists.  The changes in the skies and the light that changes from second to second are things which never cease to amaze me.

Closer to home, the quail are beginning to show up on my wall.  I love these guys and their plaintive calls.

A Curious Quail...

A Curious Quail...

Finally, Slick the Sneak was into all sorts of trouble yesterday.  We left the house for an appointment and when we got back we found garbage all over the floor!  This hasn’t happened in quite awhile.  It really was close to the boys’ dinnertime, so I guess Slick was the leader of the pack in search of some grub.

This picture, which I took a couple of days ago, shows the little flash of the devil in his eyes:

Sneaky Slick

Sneaky Slick

Let’s hope the winds die down next week! I have to put up the new grape trellises, plant a chocolate flower and really have to decide if I should bag the peaches. So far the squirrels haven’t shown up, which is amazing. I see the papa or mama when I look over the wall and they gobble up the lettuce and other veg scraps I toss over right away.  I suppose they’re busy with babies and as they grow, I’m sure they’ll be hunting for a lot more food…including peaches!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 11, 2009) Carnage in the Garden; Blossoms; Harvesting Water; Empty Clouds; Spoiled Squirrels

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

This has been such a windy week that it’s been hard getting plants into pots, but by yesterday I had planted petunias, dianthus and a couple of peppers I had split off and saved for their pots on the patio.

In the raised beds, there has been absolute carnage as the little crickets are out in full force and the pill bugs have been nipping at lettuce and chard. In fact, I was horrified today to see some very nice chard seedlings GONE!!!

Over at our sister site Open Range Ramblings, we’ve been focused on fruit. Here’s a bit more…

Apricot blossom

Apricot blossom

So far, that blossom is the only one on the tree.  In case you’re wondering what that odd thing in the background is, it’s my new “rain barrel”.  What rain we get comes mostly in the form of huge downpours during the monsoon season during the summer. So, I’m hoping “harvest” about 50 gallons of water this summer.

Yesterday was rather cloudy but no rain! This is typical of this area…you really think there’s a chance…but nothing materializes most of the time.  However, the sky does do some interesting things…the light here is always fascinating.

No rain after all...

No rain after all...

The squirrels are out, but I don’t see them too often. I’m thinking there’s some day care going on for little squirrels.  The squirrels have been knawing at a cactus I planted last year, so I put water out for them near the wall.  Nearly every day I toss the vegetable scraps over the wall for them to feast on.  They must be fairly happy because this is the first year I haven’t found a huge hole being dug in the raised beds.

Obviously, my rock squirrels are pampered, in the hopes that they don’t have to rely on marauding through my garden TOO much. Chicago Correspondent Leslie sent this along awhile ago, and it describes the kind of life my squirrels receive:

 ...at the spa

...at the spa

Even though they need constant pampering, I have to admit the little ones are adorable, so I’ll be looking out to their debut and will hopefully be able to catch a few shots!

Have a great week outside!

Take a Ramble…

over to our new “sister site” —  Open Range Ramblings!


Sometimes we just don’t have the time to do a “serious” post everyday…and sometimes we just feel like taking a break and doing something relaxing and fun. And there are the times when we’re so pooped that we NEED to take a break…

That’s where Open Range Ramblings comes in…

We’ve enjoyed doing the “Saturday Sanity” post lately so we thought we’d create a new site to provide a “haven” to escape to.  And our gang here at IA will be contributing pics and other things as time goes on, so we’ll be able to see what’s going on in other parts of the country, too.

The site has more additions planned and it will be developing as time permits. Plans are to get the live cam set up there, too, and to have pages for gardening, health topics, and pets and other lovely animals.

Today, we’re looking at the fruits that are already taking shape in the garden…so, especially if you live in colder areas of  the country, stop by Open Range Ramblings to lift your spirits!

ENJOY!!!!!

***

Here’s the URL:

http://openrangeramblings.wordpress.com/

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (April 4, 2009) Spring Winds; Squirrel Wars; Bees Invade Feeder; Wounded Butterfly; Sunrise Over the Organs; Slick Lounges Around

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s been a tough week for the garden in some ways.  The spring winds have arrived so I’ve had to put wind barriers up around the raised beds. I’m using the sunshade for this, because it’s bright and I don’t want my plants to dry/fry!!!  The temperatures are still in the 40’s overnight so with the winds coming through, although they weaken overnight, I don’t want too much of a temperature shock.

Still have some of the plants saved for the pots…a couple of peppers, an eggplant, and a couple of tomatoes…but I’m keeping them inside overnight. I bought some annuals…zinnias, petunias, a new geranium and an interesting spirally plant called “Rush.”  But these are all sitting safely under protection for now…

The squirrel wars have started. They’ve been gnawing at the cactus in the far corner of the yard and nibbling at the eggplant and lettuce. I’ve got tons of peaches on the tree in the warm corner and I’ll have to “bag” the fruit soon or else the squirrels will be busy there too as soon as they start smelling something sweet.

The hummingbird is coming all the time now…until today. The feeder was full of swarming bees!  This happens every year and I think these may be Africanized bees. So, the hummer and I will back off until they go.

A few days ago I spotted this butterfly on the ground. I picked it up and placed it in the Texas Ranger.  The poor thing obviously had some problems with its wings. A short while later it had gone…

Wounded butterfly

Wounded butterfly

This past Thursday I had an early morning blood test.  The Healthplex branch of one of the hospitals is near our house and has stunning views of the Organ Mountains.  And being up so early, I knew I could catch the sunrise….

2009_0401sunrise0037

As I write this, I’m just back from a rendezvous with Animal Control. This morning I was walking Slick and Toro in the arroyo and suddenly spotted a golden lab (?) who had obviously recently given birth. I thought I had seen this dog barking from behind a wall on the far side of the arroyo. We left in a hurry and I figured she could easily jump back over the wall and get home.

At 8:30 PM as I as out with Slick and Toro again for their last walk, I thought I saw the dog near the path into the arroyo. It seemed to go back down into the arroyo.  I immediately call Animal Control and I took the officer down to the path and pointed out the house I thought the dog came from. We scanned around with a flashlight but didn’t see anything moving.  The officer was going to stop by the couple of houses where she could have come from to find out more from the owners.  I sure hope this all turns out OK, because if there are puppies involved, I’d hate to have the mother wandering lost for days or sitting in the shelter.  It’s expensive to get dogs back these days and I wouldn’t want her to be left there and the puppies orphaned.

This sort of thing always makes me go and give mine a hug…I’m not bragging, but they have a really good life…because they run mine!!

Slick lounging, safe and sound

Slick lounging, safe and sound

Let’s hope next week bring less wind so I can finish planting…and that the lost dog is found.

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!

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 14, 2009) (Lost Dog; Budding; Pruned Grapes; A Robin Visits; Clouds Around Town; Biker Chic) Pics!

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Last week a little chihuahua from across the street was roaming and I picked him and returned him a couple of times. Then, he disappeared and it seems that the owner is happy to get rid of him; she prefers the large Rottie she inherited from her son.  This angered me a great deal, to say the least, because if I had known I wouldn’t  have returned him to her.  Last Thursday and Friday neighbors told me that they had probably seen Mario about a block away.  I’ve been walking in that direction with my dogs but haven’t seen him.  I decided to put out some food and water just in case a few days ago.  This morning the water dish was pushed off the big rock were I had put it and the food looked disturbed. I thought it might be the birds.  Then, just a few moments ago when I was taking Slick out for his last short walk before bed, I saw that the food was gone (except for one kibbie) and the water was almost gone and the bowl was lopsided again!

I don’t know who’s visiting, but I’m hoping it’s Mario. I’ve talked to the neighbor across the street who just lost a dog and he said he might consider taking Mario if I find him, depending how he gets along with kids.  These folks already have an old boxer named Sugar who has met Mario with no problem. Mario, used to big dogs,  has just strolled through the gate on one of his jaunts.

So, I’ve moved the bowls to be in the range of the cam. I bought the cam to try to spot another dog (to no avail) so we’ll see what happens this time!

***

I’ve been following the little flowers near the adjacent driveway for the last couple of weeks.  A couple of the original blooms have died, but…Now there are 7!!!  From 3, to 4, to 7 and still going strong!

Now there are 7!!

Now there are 7!!

In the backyard there’s a lot of budding and flowering going on and today I saw the first flower on one of the sage plants!

2009_03131stsagecloudsmall0042

This week I finally pruned the main grape vine. This vine yielded about 25 bunches of “Flame” grapes last year…

Flame Grape after Pruning

Flame Grape after Pruning

We don’t really have robins that stay for too long up here at about 4500 feet although we have a pair or two that seem stay for part of the winter. They seem to stay down in the valley but up here they pass through in late January on the way north.  I happened to catch this bird up in the tree in the arroyo behind our house a couple of days ago, but I think he/she was just passing through.

A Robin is a big deal here...

A Robin is a big deal here...

Today I was out doing errands and wound up at the Mesilla Valley Mall.  Since I had my new camera handy, I decided to take a few pics.  When I first moved here about 10 years ago, I remember feeling constant awe every time I came out of the grocery story and saw the Organ Mountains looming beyond the parking lot.  I’m still amazed!  And yesterday the clouds were rolling in.  One thing I’ve noticed is that at a mile high, you see the SIDES of clouds, not just the bottoms, like in Jersey. It’s another thing that often amazes me even after all this time…

Here’s a view from the back of the mall looking out toward the west…That’s Picacho Peak, the remnant of an old volcano…

Looking West

Looking West

A closer look at Picacho Peak…2009_03131stsagecloudsmall00102

JC Penney and the Organ Mountains…

2009_03131stsagecloudsmall0013

As I went home I caught this biker in front of me at a traffic light…she went into my development so she must be a neighbor!  Wonder who she is??  Look at that helmet with the pigtails attached!

2009_03131stsagecloudsmall0029

Finally, I got home and checked out how the clouds were looking from the backyard…

2009_03131stsagecloudsmall0032

This weekend I have to get the garden planted and set up the plastic covers again.  The temperatures still go down into the 30’s sometimes although the days are lovely. This is typical and soon the spring winds will really start, so the plants have to be protected so they don’t get battered and dry out…

Even though those clouds look ready to burst, usually they don’t give us any rain…just great excuses to take pictures!