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.

Birds, Yard and Garden

Last time I wrote I was hoping I’d be able to move my arms and back after all the yard work I’d done. I was able and got a lot done last week. I worked outside six days in a row, followed by a day of rest on Sunday. I’ve worked out there a little this week and still have plenty to do. I want to get as much done as I can before I hear our weather man say the temperature will be 80 by 8:00 and 90 by noon!

A minute ago I watched a pair of cardinals on my feeder. I guess they just got married. (God marries the animals. My mom told me so when I was three years old.) I think when he feeds sunflower seeds to her, that is how they get married. I expect to see the young ‘uns on the feeder in a few weeks. They are always funny. They look like eight-year-old boys whose hair is never combed.

I have at least one blue jay (I can’t tell one from another so I don’t know if it’s the same bird each time or not.) who comes up to the feeder and picks up a peanut, puts it down, picks up a different peanut, puts it down…he does this several times before taking one and flying away. I don’t know if he is testing the weight to see which one is best, or if he’s trying to carry more than one and can’t fit them in his beak. I bet he’s testing weight. I think blue jays are too smart to keep doing the same dumb thing over and over and expecting different results. (Unlike some humans.)

I found out that the goldfinch that I thought was a straggler was part of a different bunch of birds. The ones we had this winter left, but about two weeks later a whole bunch more showed up. Now they are turning yellow. I had two of them on my window while ago. The seed had run out and they were looking inside the house. The only time birds ever cling to my screen or perch on my windowsill and look inside is when I’ve let the seed run out.

The other evening I saw three indigo buntings in my next door neighbor’s yard. I’d sure like to see a lot of those. I saw two or three last year, but we used to see them in flocks of 20-something.

I’m waiting for an orchard oriole. I forgot I was supposed to take the bee guards off the hummingbird feeder so they can drink from it. I learned that from a friend who says the orioles like her hummingbird feeder (the kind with the pretend flowers) better than her oriole feeder, but you have to take the guards off. I took them off yesterday.

The azaleas have finally bloomed! They were several weeks late. The man at the nursery where I got my milkweed the other day told us they had an Azalea Trail Tour in Houston at the usual time for seeing them loaded with blooms, but there wasn’t a bloom to be seen. I imagine that was a bust. I watched a swallowtail butterfly yesterday who was taking his own tour of my azalea flowers. I hope the swallowtails find the parsley I planted for them.

Lat year we thought my husband’s Texas Star was dead, but it has a bit of new growth on it this year. It always dies back and new shoots come up from the ground each year. There was no new growth last year. Weird. We still think the freeze got the lipstick plant and it may have wiped out my Lantana. I’ll give it a little more time just to make sure before I yank those out and put something else in their places. Also, a rosebush that I was ready to toss down the hill and into the woods must have heard me say I was going to do that. It’s looking great now. I’m glad because it’s a Seven Sister’s Rose and it’s pretty neat.

My beans are coming up. Something is munching on the leaves. I wonder if turtles eat bean plants? Oh, but it’s not time for turtles to be in the yard yet. They come up here in the spring to lay eggs but it’s too early. I think if it was a rabbit they would just gnaw them down to nubs. The leaves look like they’ve had a bite taken out here and bite out there. I need to put a small fence around my garden.

My cat – who at times like this reminds me of what a cute little black and white rug he’d make – has eaten most of my pepper plants. He got a few bites of the peanut plants, too. I put the peanut plants outside. I’m still working on getting the ground ready; we’ve been moving some bricks so the garden can be expanded.

Well, the work goes on. I sure have a lot of plans for my yard and I’m glad it’s staying cool longer than usual so I can get these things done.

The Day After Thanksgiving

Well, yesterday there were no flames or explosions so I guess Thanksgiving went well this year. One year I had marshmallows that were not just burnt but burning with flames, and yesterday I looked around just in time to see the peas boil over and completely put out the gas flame on my stove. Glad I saw it happen so we didn’t have a house full of natural gas. Kinda’ put my mom’s forgetting to take the cheesecake out of the freezer to thaw into perspective. Besides, it was probably better to let it thaw on the counter while our meal settled. Sure was good.

I know a lot of people are hitting the stores today. Black Friday is like the first day of deer season for some folks. There’s a lot of adrenaline flowing as they are on the hunt for trophies. I’ll never understand either one of them. I had good sleep and am almost finished with my shopping anyway.You may gloat along with me if you wish.

The past few weeks I’ve been sick or injured (pulled a back muscle while reaching for a cookbook that was on a bookshelf) more than I’ve been well. Yesterday was the first day I finally felt really good in quite a while. So…what to do today?

I’ve got the little stacks going here. You know how when you’ve been sick or otherwise occupied, after a few days you look around and there’s a stack of papers and stuff here and over there is another and over there …? This is also a good day to put away fall decorations and start putting the Christmas things out. I don’t think I’ll do that today though. I’d rather wait until after the stacks are tended to. It’s just more fun if the house is clean and neat.

I think what I’ll do today is head outside. While I’m full of cortisone (to cure my latest bout of the crud – crud is a medical term in Southeast Texas) would be a good time to finish building my mulch bin and clean out the weeds and add fresh mulch to the rose garden. Between cortisone and a dust mask maybe I’ll get this done without my nose going nuts. Besides, it’s a beautiful sun-shiny day. Not to work with the leaves would be a waste of cortisone and sunshine.

While I’m out I’m going to be watching for hummingbirds. I took my feeders down but still have Turk’s Cap in bloom. My friend who lives a bit north of me had a Rufous Hummingbird in her yard yesterday. I’m not giving up.

I hope you are having a good Day After Thanksgiving, too.

Addendum—added later in the day: What wuz I thinkin’? I’ve been too still for too long to do all the physical work I wanted to do today. You may laugh along with me if you wish.