Rockin’ the hood!

I don’t know if I ever mentioned…We live on a mine! Todd’s Backyard sits on the east side of Freeport Copper and Gold. When the city decided to improve our main thorough fare, we had heaps of rock piled along side the road. It looked like piles of  brown dirty rock. Our good neighbors, George and Eileen, suggested that we take a hammer and go investigate. Armed with hammers and a wheelbarrow, we journeyed to the road, determined to uncover something amazing. We were not dissappointed!  Below the brown, mud encrusted debris, we uncovered treasure!!….

I bet there’s gold in them, thar rocks!

If not gold…beautiful color for sure!

Turquois?

Azurite?

One of these days, we are going to prospect in the wash that runs behind Todd’s Backyard! Even if we don’t find gold, Todd’s already developed a treasure above ground! But it’s always fun to find what might lie below!

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The Jacktus

A little over 2 years ago, Todd’s dad Jack, passed away after a long painful bout with cancer. On the day that he died, Todd wanted to plant something in memory of Jack. There happened to be a cactus nursery, across the way, going out of business. At that point in the liquidation sale, there wasn’t much  left. Todd spotted the arm of some sort of cactus, just laying on the ground. It was about 25″ long. He got it for $25. When he brought it home, I thought that $25 may have been too much, but the nursery owner assured him it was well worth it!  So Todd cut the arm into 2 pieces, let the ends scab over and planted the top part of the arm in a pot. He left the other part laying down on it’s side in another pot. We called  it ‘The Jackuts”. Little did we know, that in about 4 months, it would put on a flowery show, more awesome than we could have imagined!

The reason we were somewhat stunned, was that the blossoms started out as little fuzzy balls.

The little fuzzles grew and grew….

Until one day, they just popped open, right at dusk!

The next morning, they shriveled up. It was just one night of glory!

We found out later that the Jacktus is an Argentinian Giant…A night blooming cactus.

The other part of the Jacktus remained laying down in another pot. Amazingly, it started to sprout cactus arms…not flowers. About 8 new little cactus grew off of that one. When they got to be about 5″ long, Todd cut them off, let them scab and replanted them. Now we have little Jacktus cactus all over!

The original Jacktus looks like this today…..2 years later….

It has 4 arms and, we counted 8 little fuzzies on it, that should blossom around June or July.

I know why the  Jacktus is so happy in Todd’s Backyard….Before Jack died, especially when he was so sick, he enjoyed sitting out on the porch and watching the wildlife and peaceful beauty. He loved Todd’s Backyard so much, and always reminded us how incredibly blessed that we were, to have such a wonderful yard! And then again, we were blessed to have such a wonderful Jack!

We miss you Jack….thank you!

Happy Hummers!

Hummingbirds can always make you happy! Unless, of course they dart into you and poke your eye out! But, luckily, that’s never happened in Todd’s Backyard!….Yet!

We have at least 6 varieties of hummingbirds through out the year. Sometimes there’s a few others that migrate through in the fall and spring. But, on any given day, there are a least 25-30 hummers. During migration season, it’s Hummingbird wars!  You have to be on your toes and literally dodge out of their way, as they chase each other around the yard, fighting for feeder time!

This is a  ‘Costa’s’ Hummer…It’s  too bad we didn’t capture this shot in better light. The dark areas on his neck are deep purple. Amazing!

This is one of our favorite little jewels…..a Broad-billed hummingbird.  A dazzling blue-green, these guys are the most easily recognizable. Some species look very similar, so we keep our hum-dentifier handbook handy!

In the spring and the fall, our hummingbird feeders look like this…all 6 of them!

Todds’ hummingbird food recipe: 1 part sugar, 4 parts water. Bring to a boil, then cool.

An ‘Anna’s’  Hummingbird- A gorgeous redhead for sure!

This is one of my favorite shots!

Violet-crowned Hummer

We still haven’ t got a great shot of a Rufus hummingbird- They are gorgeous- A fiery orange-red! They are vicious!

This is a special little hummer! She was imported from Tucson.

Trapped in a warehouse where Todd works, she spent hours of panicked frenzy trying to find the way out. Todd’s only solution, was to wet her down, so she would land. Todd could then catch her and release her back outside. The plan worked, except wetting her down put her into a hibernation mode- she was too cold! Because it was the end of the day, and the sun would soon set, Todd had no choice but to bundle her up and bring her home!

When Todd got her home, we put her on the porch in the waning sun. I kept trying to force a dropper of life-saving sugar food into her beak. Finally. her little tongue started to flicker. It took about 15 minutes of feeding and sunbathing to revive her. Suddenly, she flew up onto the nearest branch and took in her new surroundings. Immediately, several other hummingbirds swarmed around her. The little buzzing bullies tried to chase her away. But still too weak, she stood her ground. As the sun was setting, we saw her buzz off into the dusky desert.

The next morning, we were delighted to see, she was the first one on the feeder! She hung around for several days, made some friends, and possibly made here home around here. I don’t actually know if  she’s a she or a young he.  We think that it is a Broad-tailed Hummer. Slightly different than many of the other hummingbirds that frequent Todd’s Backyard.

All-in-all, it was a happy ending!

The hummingbirds in Todd’s Backyard are very willing models! We’ll have lots of shots to share in posts to come….hopefully the elusive Rufus will be featured soon!

A Jairy Javalina Tale

Tonight one of our Javalina buddies stopped by to say hi. It’s illegal to feed them, but it’s hard to resist their pleading little beady eyes, dancing snout and permanent smile. The Javalina are so ugly, they’re cute! This guy is a regular visitor. We call him Jairy- (The J is pronounced H, as in Javalina)….

On his frequent visits, Jairy usually finds time to take a quick nap!

Sometimes we get the entire family. There’s about 5 in a group that come around fairly often. This guy is a loner. Maybe because the males separate from the group when it’s mating season…but honestly, I don’t know for sure. What I do know, is they stink! I mean really, really stink….like skunk! We love them anyway!

However, on a sad and serious note, we believe that someone in our neighborhood is setting down traps to keep them away. We’ve noticed more than a couple that seem to have injured feet. We also had a bloody trail crossing our driveway in the front. We know that the Javalinas can be a pain in the neck. They’ve caused lots of damage in Todd’s Backyard, but we solved the problem by putting up an electric fence…not ideal, but effective! It’s doesn’t seem to have hurt their feelings what so ever!

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!

Peckasso lives in Todd’s Backyard

Those little peckers have some talent!

Todd decided to put a seed block out for the birds. He thought it might cut down on the massive $$$ we spend on bird food every month….I think the birds eat better than we do!   The seed block was a big hit with the local quail, thrashers, cardinals, woodpeckers and other assorted birds that come to feast in Todd’s Backyard. Little did we know, that the birds like to play with their food….In a very creative way!

"Translation and Transformation"“Translation in Transformation”

We thought this was pretty cool!……

Until we saw the next one!…..

"Rabbit in Repose"“Rabbit in Repose”

I can’t wait to see what they do with the next block!

Dirt Monkeys

It’s that time of year when all the little dirt monkeys come out of hibernation and start multiplying.

babies

Sickeningly  cute when they are little, they do grow up and tend to overrun the yard eventually. They do get thinned out a little by fall, since they provide a nice feast for the hawks, roadrunners, coyotes,  and snakes!

Zoe would love to get her little paws on one!

Come on out little dirt monkeys!….We’re ready for you!