Prickling the Senses

Spring has sprung! And it has brought with it all of the wonderous desert, springy thingies, such as snakes and lizards emerging from their winter lodging, crazed rabbits zipping around the yard and shrieking birds feeding their babies. There is, in general, an overall hustle and bustle in Todd’s Backyard that we see only in the Spring. But the event that we look forward to the most this time of year, is the transformation of the usually drab desert, into an awesome spectacle of color and fragrance!

This beauty is actually in our neighbor’s backyard, where they have a fence to keep the javelina from feasting on their flowers! We had an electric fence around the yard last year, but ended up taking it down as it had been breached and broken, one too many times. So our yard has become a popular spot for the javelina to hang out! We have to get photos quick, before they come through and wreak havoc!

The hedgehog cactus blossoms are the javelina’s favorite!

Luckily, we did get a pic of this one before it was gobbled up! These, and the barrel cactus blossoms, are the most susceptible to javelinacide. Most of the other cactus blossoms such as prickly pear and cholla are out of their reach.

This  was the very first blossom we spotted, popping out just last week. It doesn’t take long for the rest to follow suit, and within the next few weeks, we should be in full cactus blossom mode!

The cacti are not the only desert foliage bursting with brilliance!

The Palo Verde trees not only look fabulous….they smell fabulous! Not so great for anyone with allergies, after about two weeks, we have a nice dusting of yellow ‘snow’!

The mesquite and acacia trees are also nice and fluffy right now! Talk about allergy misery!….

If you’ve never smelled a blossoming acacia tree, there is no other smell quite like it. The only way I can describe it is it’s like a super sweet piney scent. Wish someone could bottle it!

Everything is in bloom…Trees, Cactus…and of course the desert wild flowers! The rains this year, have resulted in a lovely array…

Bristly Nama

Penstemon

Mexican Bird of Paradise (My personal favorite!)

Needless to say, Todd’s Backyard is truly awesome in the Spring! Now….if we could just get the javelina to stop committing blossom-atrocities  we could really enjoy it!

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Orange Blossom Bliss

For the past two weeks, we have been living in a state of fragrance induced euphoria! If you have never smelled orange blossoms…well….you are missing the sweetest, most lovely scent to ever tickle your senses! Planting two orange trees right off the porch is one of the best ideas that Todd has ever had:)

We don’t even have to wait for the actual oranges to get a buzz! Currently, loaded with blossoms, you can go stick your head up between the trees and get totally buzzed…by the bees! Hundreds of bees have been having orangy orgees that you can hear just sitting on the porch…BBBZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! If you watch the trees from a distance and unfocus your eyes, it looks like they are moving, in a weird, supernatural sort of way!

In the mornings, as the sun is rising and there’s still a good chill in the air, it appears that a few bees have spent the night, too drunk on nectar to fly home. This bee was actually frozen like this on a blossom. Not dead, just really slow from the cold. When it warms up, he’ll be back at it!

After two weeks of this wild orangiastic activtiy, the trees have been, for the most part, deflowered. The ambrosian  aroma still lingers in the air….

And an orange is born…

I’m so looking forward to that screwdriver!!

Full

I think a better word for Fall, is Full. Everything is full…. the rain gauge (almost 10″ this year so far!), the billowing, late monsoon clouds, cactus loaded with fruit, trees lush with leaves, critters feasting and getting ready to  hibernate, hearts getting ready for the holidays. It has to be the best time to live in the desert!

The white wing dove’s nest’s are still full, with the 3rd and final round of summer babies before they leave for the winter.

The prickly pears are bursting with a bounty of fruit, ready to pick now through the end of October. We’ve already been picking some of the fruit for our favorite resident…

T.L.’s favorite!…and she is certainly getting her fill before she hibernates!

Our other favorite residents, Jairy (the javelina) and his buddies, are bringing their little one’s around so they can fill up for the cooler months to come.

The birds are thick….migrating through the backyard, keeping Todd on his toes, trying to keep the feeders full.

Not to mention the hummingbird feeders, which get drained every night (this time of year), with the bats coming through to feed! Although luckily, the hummers have a few other sources in the yard for their sweet sustenance.

We are looking forward to our own sweet treats later this fall.We are going to get the mesquite beans milled into flour. We’ve collected and filled two 5 gallon pails, which will hopefully yield enough flour to make…um…..something…sweet???

We should also have a bumper crop of oranges, come February! There are literally hundreds of little oranges growing on the two orange trees in Todd’s Backyard.

We are truly thank-full to have made it through the Summer to enjoy this beauti-full and bounti-full fall!

Tickled to be Prickled!

Cactus are amazing! I always thought that they were the ugliest plants…in fact, I never even considered them plants. But the longer I live in the desert, the cactus have really grown on me! And sometimes even stuck on me….not so much a cactus fan when I step on a cholla or back into a prickly pear. But they still amaze me. We have a many varieties of ‘prickleys’ in Todd’s Backyard.

Cactus are particularly beautiful when they are blooming!

“Old Man Cactus”

And sometimes they are just weird!

“Funny Bunny Cactus”

OUCH!!

The birds don’t mind the prickles! Many make their nests among the spiny arms.

The Cholla are especially popular nest sites for birds. Even though the needles are poisonous! You could even die if you fell into a cholla and got totally embedded- not just because of the poison prickes, but you probably would not be able to detach yourself from it! Danger abounds in Todd’s Backyard!

But then, we do have the healing Aloe Vera growing like weeds! Not only useful, but beautiful when they are in bloom!

“Santa Rita Cactus” or  commonly called Purple Cactus

More on cactus to come….We should have an amazing blossom season in May, as we’ve had a pretty wet winter. Springtime in the desert is truly when we are ‘tickled’ to be prickled!