Armadillos, Dogs and Garden & Yard Mishaps

Yesterday morning when I opened the back door I saw my neighbor’s two dogs in my yard. That’s really unusual. I told my husband so he could go tell the neighbor so he could put them back in their pen before he left for work.  My husband thought maybe the dogs took care of the armadillo problem while they were out.

Oh, the armadillo problem. I thought if we put some concrete block things around the garden, the armadillo that has been tearing things up would just sort of nose around the edges and not bother to climb over. HA! I did a bit of reading on Texas A&M’s horticulture site and found out those critters can climb fences! The fellow who wrote the article said they were tearing up his yard and he thought they looked like possum on the half shell. He found out his neighbors didn’t appreciate the gunshots they heard in the night while he gathered his main stew ingredient. I decided if the armadillo doesn’t go away soon (had this problem off and on over the years) I’ll just put up a little electric fence outfit and that will keep him out.

So, yesterday afternoon our neighbor whose dogs were out knocked on our back door. He was holding a pair of tennis shoes in one hand, a single tennis shoe and a single garden glove in the other. “Are any of these yours?” he asked. I looked at the glove because we have some that are similar, but none of it was ours. I said something about his dogs bringing treasure home to him last night and he said he didn’t know who to return all this stuff to.

Then he noticed our garden and told me it was looking good. I told him how my cat ate the tops off my pepper and eggplant seedlings before I even got them ready to go outside and the armadillo has been tearing up the rest. It’s a wonder I have anything left. He said he put some mulch out in a flower bed and the next day there was a big hole and mulch piled up next to it. He said he was going to kill that armadillo and make chicharrones. (I knew I was familiar with that word but couldn’t place it. My son’s girlfriend said it’s fried pork skins. Oh, yeah. I’ve been eating that all my life.) My husband had come outside by this time and we told him that sounded good to us. And if I hear a gunshot from my neighbor’s house, I’ll head over there the next day and see if I can try his armadillo dish.

Had a couple of mishaps yesterday. I read in a magazine that an inexpensive bird bath can be rigged up with a 14″ round wire plant support and a 14″ plastic tray that goes under a potted plant. You know those plant supports that have three legs and a circle for the plant to stick out of? All you do, according the the article, is put the three support legs in the ground and put the tray on the top. I got these things and tried it. I’m glad I only bought enough to do one. When I put the water in the tray it fell through to the ground. So much for that. I just set the tray on the ground with some water in it. I do wonder sometimes if the folks who talk about all these great ideas in magazine articles ever actually try any of them before they tell millions of people to do these great things. Maybe they had a bigger lip on the tray and a stiffer tray than I had but mine didn’t work. I still want two bird baths – one for the front yard and one for the back.

Now, this mishap…oh, boy. We have expanded our garden this year and I decided if we move one more plant (it’s a Texas Star) we can take in another 10′ x 4′ area of what is now yard. I decided where to move the plant and it was only about 20 feet away. Yesterday after my husband got off work I asked him if he wanted to move the Texas Star and he said sure, so we did. Our garden is in our back yard. We put the Texas Star in the front yard.

Later, when I was thinking about some bricks I have stacked near the garden and the next project I have planned that I will use some of them for, I thought about the plant we moved and how I wanted to put that plant close to where those bricks are. Uh, oh. I had my husband put the Texas Star where I wanted to put the butterfly weed! (The only thing worse than being confused and knowing you are confused, is being confused and not finding out till later.) You know, this isn’t like saying, “Oh, honey, I think I might like that chair better over here. Can we try this spot?” He had to dig holes in the ground to move that thing. You guys reading this might suggest that next time I move it myself. My answer to you is that we have not had any decent amount of rain since I don’t know when. My yard is hard as a brick. I could put the shovel to the ground and jump up and down on it and it might break the grass but I don’t think it will break the ground. I haven’t told my husband yet.

Final note on the armadillo – My garden looks undisturbed this morning! There is only one freshly dug hole under the bird feeder. I wonder if there were two armadillos and the dogs got rid of one of them?

Well, I’m looking at hungry house finches, sparrows and doves, and have had a red-bellied woodpecker trying to drill holes (banging on the table is more like it!) on the wooden platform so I guess it’s time to take their breakfast out to them. Then I guess I’ll see what I’m going to do in the yard today.

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Good Morning, Scarlet Tanager!

Our mulberry tree has been attracting a variety of birds this week! A few days ago I saw a rose-breasted grosbeak and yesterday my husband saw a red and yellow bird that he said looked like a tanager but the colors weren’t right for either the summer or the scarlet tanager. Those are the two we are likely to see – if we see one at all.

This morning when he was leaving for work my husband called me to the back door. There was a male scarlet tanager in the mulberry tree. I started watching and here is what I saw: cardinals, a wren or two, several chickadees, a male scarlet tanager, a male summer tanager, a female who was one or the other of those two tanagers (They are hard to tell apart for me – I’m not that good at this yet.), a red-bellied woodpecker, two male Baltimore Orioles and one female. I saw a few birds I couldn’t identify, and also saw the bird my husband described to me yesterday. It could have been an immature male summer tanager, or it could have been what my friend told me about, which is a cross between those two tanagers. Once when looking through binoculars, I could see a male scarlet tanager, a male Baltimore Oriole and the red-bellied woodpecker without even moving the binoculars. It was so stunning it was hard to believe I was really awake and aware. I also saw a black and white warbler (Only the second one I’ve ever seen!) in the trees at the edge of the woods behind the mulberry tree.

I haven’t given up on those I don’t recognize yet. Persistence pays off with learning about birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great site if you want to learn more or see photos of the birds I’ve named. Here is the link in case you would like to check it out: Your online guide to birds and birdwatching, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.