A Summery Summary

It seems just like yesterday Spring had sprung, but before we knew it, Summer had begun. The mild temps and gentle  Spring breeze suddenly turned to a searing 100 + degrees!  But even over the Summer we love our desert home and will recount this season’s events with this little poem…

We  were pleasantly surprised around mid June with an early debut of the Summer’s monsoon! Quenching the desert and keeping it wet…

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And the cloudy skies painted the most brilliant sunsets!

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Everything slows down in the monsoon’s muggy heat. An afternoon siesta is a sweet Summer treat!

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Unfortunately, there’s some creatures that just dont’ relax…Like the pillaging, plundering, leaf cutter ants…

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In the darkness of night they march by the billions, causing so much destruction it shocks us human civilians!

IMG_7658The remains of a pepper plant in the garden.

Every night through the Summer Todd goes on the attack, with a flame thrower and flashlight he torches them back. It’s Todd’s futile fight and a nightly ordeal, but I guess playing with flame thrower holds some sort of appeal?

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We have a new resident we see quite a lot. He’s out and about when the day is most hot. But, lizards do love the heat, that’s in their code, I just can’t figure out why they call this lizard a toad?

POEM11Horny Toad 

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Summer brings hordes of tiny baby quail, lined up behind mom, with their dad on their tail.  Sadly, quail babies are easy snackable fowl, for hungry hunters out on the prowl. As the Summer moved on we watched their numbers shrink, but those young ones remaining have grown larger, like these getting a drink…

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The baby quail , if not born into a family that’s wary, could end up as unfortunate Road Runner quarry. Some folks think Road Runners are really cool, but we think they’re creepy, sneaky and cruel. Small baby critters snatched away in a wink, even humming birds are not as safe as you think!

POEM6Road Runner- (Primary baby quail eater).

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After our pond had been ransacked by a wayward heron last year, we  couldn’t bear an empty pond, as Summer drew near. So, Todd restocked the pond with some simple goldfish, hoping the heron won’t come back for another fishy dish.

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Todd then decided to put his construction cap on and build a shady shelter over the pond. It’s an attractive addition the backyard scene, keeping the fish happy and the pond from getting too green!

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With all the rain it’s felt almost like the tropics, making it seem possible to grow something rather exotic. However, a lush rain forrest we are not,  but something like pineapples, guess what, we got!

This is our neighbor’s amazing apple-of-pine…We helped them eat it, and it was divine!

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pineapple

Last year I bought this plant that already came with it’s fruit. We let it ripen, then we ate it, then planted it’s top to take root.

 Below is the plant thats growing from that little top. Who knew pineapples were such a yummy, recyclable crop!

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However, we won’t expect a fruit for another whole year… Lots of patience required for this kind of farming career!

Todd definitely has some magic ‘green thumb’ power…. Early, his garden produced some lovely cauliflower.

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There were also some broccoli and some nice chili plants. The chilis would still be chillin’ if not for those damn leaf cutter ants!

We do have another crop that’s just now ready to pick…the prickly pear fruit…we’ve never them so thick!

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We will pick and deprickle them, then squeeze out the juice, which we freeze in ice cube trays for later use! (…like margaritas;)

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Our Gerti has had an enjoyable Summer, hanging out with old friends and a few new comers.

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She’s shared her house with lizards, rabbits and mice. And we uncovered some rattlesnakes in her garden, twice!! Thankfully, she didn’t seem at all destressed , but we totally freaked out, I must confess!

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Gerti was introduced to her strange mini twins, she was not at all impressed, to our chagrin. Now, they’ve had a chance to get to know each other, I think the little ones think Gerti’s maybe their mother?

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This Summer was the first after many changes last year, the loss of loved many ones we held so dear. But, we’ve been nourished by all of our many blessings as the desert’s season’s keep on progressing. The Summer rains have washed away the tears and renewed our strength with hope and cheer. Cheers!

Life keeps on going as time marches along…

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And to this hot muggy Summer, we say so long!

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Hot Chicks!…Cool Chicks!

There’s a cool new Summer night spot in Todd’s Backyard!…The party starts at 6pm, nightly at Gerti’s ‘Goody’ Garden, where Gerti (our desert tortoise) host’s a nightly event… the Chick Party! Girls only!!!

And the guests?…

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3 hot chicks, one hot dog and one ha ha hot mama 😉 With the daily temps of over 100 degrees for about the past 2-3 weeks, everyone is looking for a little cool down…which we’ve found at sundown when the shadows start to cool the yard and the sprinklers shut off on the grass. Daizy (the puggle) and I round-up the chicks and head off to Gertie’s!

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There, the smaller guests enjoy a nice veggie salad while lounging in the wet grass. I enjoy a nice glass of wine, while putting my bare feet in the wet grass…ahhhhhh. But, things can get pretty wild when the chicks finish their snack. This is when the fun and games begin! Daizy never actually eats her snack, she just likes to claim it, nibble on it a bit, then wait for her feathered friends to come after it….a great game!

And quite entertaining to watch the chicks, relentlessly chasing Daizy around until she gives it up, which in the end, she always does!

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After the games, there’s time to catch up on some gossip…

chickparty3And time to rock out!

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Daizy usually likes to see if she can dig up some other friends (lizards, baby bunnies, etc.) to join the party…

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You may be asking, “where’s Gerti?” while all of this parting is going on? Gerti is pretty much a ‘legs-off’ hostess. She’d much rather hang out on the sidelines than get involved in the friendly frolicking! And she really does NOT enjoy the pecks on the cheek!  But she will do a little mingling when there’s a special guest!

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Gerti stuck her neck out to join the party when my niece Megan was here! Gerti adored her and the chicks thought Megan was pretty cool too!

Gerti’s House

We always get a little nervous in the Spring, because you never know, after 6 long months, if Gerti, our desert tortoise, survived the Winter. She heads into her den around mid November and sleeps until the heat starts kicking in mid May.

Gerti’s House

This year we were especially nervous because  it’s hit 100 degrees and we still hadn’t seen her. That, and she has collected a variety of roommates that are sharing her den! So we didn’t know if they’ve moved in because she had ‘checked out’! Finally, this past week, Gerti did emerge!

Gerti emerges from her winter digs in need of a bath!

And it seems that her being awake does not bother her live-in friends!

A pair of large collared lizards have made their home in Gerti’s den and have been busy populating the tortoise garden with baby lizards.

Lizard Love

Apparently, so have some rabbits! I don’t know how Gerti feels about this, but her roommates seem to be very comfortable sharing a space with a large, shelled reptile. There have been 2 baby rabbits born somewhere in the tortoise garden, maybe even inside Gerti’s house, but whether they were born in or out of the den, they hang out in there! It’s funny seeing a tiny ball of fluff sitting inside Gerti’s house! The first one grew and moved out several weeks ago, and now there is another one! I would imagine that mama bunny knows that she’s found a pretty safe spot to spit out her babies, so it will probably become a pretty common occurrence.

Unfortunately, not a great photo, but you can see his little eyes aglowin’!

So, it could be a Summer long party at Gerti’s house!

Gerti and her roommates

Hare Racing Moments!…Go Gert, Go!

You could cut the tension with a knife!

Who would have thought a small patch of grass would cause such a sensation! Todd has been working on the Tortoise garden since last Spring, planting and landscaping. Gerti (our desert tortoise) loves it! But then, so do all of the other critters in the yard! The lush little patch of grass is nirvana in the desert! Needless to say, I don’t think Gerti is real happy to share…. but then, how fierce can a tortoise really get to defend it’s territory?

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She can be somewhat creative in her tactics!

But I think she may need to come up with another plan for the dirt monkeys….

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She may just have to let Todd take care of that little problem!

A Tortoise Adventure

Our torti girl is getting ready to hibernate…but she doesn’t like the burrow that Todd built her.

At least not for her winter hibernation. (She loved it this summer!)

Todd talked to an expert today, and he said that the desert tortoises winter burrows need to face south. Unfortunately, the wonderful summer burrow faces north….and Tortalee does not like it!  She has not been sleeping in her house with the temps staring to dip!  I found her the other morning, under a bush on the south wall of the house, groggy and grumpy.

Sooo…. we are going to embark on the construction of a  new enclosure, that’s just off the back porch, with lots of sunny southern exposure for the winter. In the mean time, TL came in the house today (through the doggy door), to make her laps around the house. I think that she may be looking for a good place to  hibernate in the house.

We have friends that keep desert tortoises and they let them hibernate in their house….in a box….in the closet! I just don’t see that happening here! But, I guess if that works, it works. But, hoping that TL will adapt to Todds Backyard (Outside the enclosed potty garden where she lives now),  I thought that I would let our little torti girl out on the porch to investigate her future home. And, she had quite the time!

One of the first things she did, was wander off of the porch and  find the pond. When she is attracted to water it usually means that she’s thirsty. So, before she plunged head first into the pond to drown, we turned the hose on the pavers and she waded and drank to her heart’s content….then made her way in the opposite direction, to explore some more!

Ohhhh! Prickly pear fruits…TL’s favorite! So, she made her way into the yard, finding all of the fallen fruit, (prickly pear). But what was really cool is that she got to discover the fruit herself, instead of being offered on a platter of  veggie delicacies. She sampled various fallen fruits as she made her way deeper into Todd’s Backyard.

But then, to our surprise, she found her way back to her favorite spot!

Tomorrow, Todd will be working on TL’s new space….It will be outside! …It will be facing South! …..And she will be sleepy, sleepy, happy, happy, there this winter!

The Torta Lisa

Our lovely tortoise girl has become one of the family. Although, we have not been able to settle on a name, ( Todd calls her Gerti, Donna calls her Daisy, Mom calles her Torti), I call her Torta Lisa. It fits, as she is beautiful and she always has this mischievous little smile!

Or perhaps she’s just pissed off!

She really shouldn’t be!…Todd’s built her a spacious tort-house with designer touches and beautiful tortoise-friendly landscaping…She seems to find it very agreeable as she is spending a lot of time there!

She has a lush yard of grass and clover for grazing. We’ve found that her very favorite treat is prickly pear fruit. Lucky for her, it’s just starting to ripen, so she will be able to get her fill, before she hibernates.

Plus, the prickly pear provide a soothing facial treatment, perfect for her delicate complexion!

She finds her way in the house about every other day, where she does laps around the kitchen and living room. Torta-L is committed to keeping in shape! Although, she sometimes finds a comfy place to take a little nap from time to time…

Her obvious vanity rears its head when she constantly flirts with her admirers as she makes her rounds!

For Baily, it’s a severe case of puppy love!

But how could anyone not love her! She may be a little vain, but she is funny, friendly and well-mannered…(Well, she did potty in the living room once!) But, luckily, her shit doesn’t stink! (Lulu obviously doesn’t think so either, since she likes to eat it!) (Gag!!!) Bad Lulu! Maybe it’s just a jealousy/girly thing?

But, we really do love having Torta (gerti-daisy-torti) Lisa as part of our family. We will miss her, for a few months, when she goes into hibernation this fall. I’ve got some great pics though, so we can gaze into her lovely face from time to time, when we are pining for her!

‘The Torta Lisa’…Classic!