Meet the Varmints- Episode 1- Rocky

Todd’s Backyard is filled with an assortment of furry little creatures….Varmints, if you will. In fact, we seem to have created a varmint paradise. Supplying a plentiful bounty for our birds, of course invites these little bastards. But, they keep the hawks, snakes, bobcats and coyotes fat and happy around here! You could call it Todd’s  Backyard Wildlife Diner!

Now, ‘Diner’ really fits since we got our new little Bird Photo Booth (www.birdphotobooth.com)- a feeder that is attached to a motion activated camera! We decided to introduce the contraption to the ground dwellers, as they might provide some entertainment before the jaws of nature snap them up.

The first varmint that decided to check it out was our resident rock squirrel, as we so dubbed him Rocky. Not totally original, but fitting….

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He figured out quite quickly, this was pretty cool…

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As did a few others.

Rocky got a nice dinner and gave us some great mug shots…

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

 

And that, my friends is Rocky!

 

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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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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!

Eat, Drink, Be Merry…and Some Other Shit

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The heat is starting to prickle here in the desert. This week promises temps between 100 and 110…. aaauuugggghhh! So, it’s not surprising that the feeders, water dishes and pond are popular hangouts for the local wildlife. Every morning and late afternoon we see it all! Birds, rabbits, squirrels, javelina, lizards, bobcat, coyote, and just the other day our ‘creature from the desert hollows’ (the toad), crawled out of his hole to find refreshment. When it’s just too hot to do anything else, just eat, drink and be merry!…

Eat…

Five finches find food at the fully filled feeder.

A quail couple chow down on the ‘Peckasso’ block seeder.

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Baby buns have fun nibbling in the cool grassy place.

A red winged black bird gets photo-bombed while stuffing his face!

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Hummingbirds flirt and hover around their honey hole hangout.

This Baltimore oriel takes a sip stop on his way-back-home Northern route.

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Drink…

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This starling likes to take a sip and a dip.

The bunny takes a drink to put the hop  in his hip!

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 The hawk  takes a water break and claims his domain.

 Mr . Toad  took a sip and a dip now just waits for the rain.

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The coyote gets a cool drink, soothing and calm.

A closer look reveals…yes it is…another photo bomb!  (Silly quail!)

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And be Merry…

 

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 The javelina , you would think, might want some water to swallow. But, they would rather tip over their drink and make a nice mud wallow!

Eat, drink and be merry, then what do we do?

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Guess the only thing left…. you just gotta poo!     (Pictured above, a lovely specimen of javelina shit 😉 )

The Bobcat that Ate the Owl

Based on a true story….

There once was a bobcat that ate an owl. You might ask why….or you might ask how?

It was nine o’clock this fateful night, when all was quiet and dark. The stars were bright. Nothing was stirring, the landscape serene, except for the darting eyes watching and waiting, unseen.

Finally, a small noise broke the silent surveillance.The watcher’s gaze zeroed in, hungry and intense. A shuffle came from the porch where humans sit by day. But tonight, it was where little mice came to play!

Another night stalker’s ears perked as well,  perched by the pond where his thirst, he would quell. Mice would be nice, perhaps for a snack.  But, would it really be worth his time to attack?

As he pondered at the pond, a drink?… or a swim?… His revery was cut short, when a silent swoosh flew past him.  Oh my! What’s this? A bird out at night? And it landed right by him, to his feline delight!

The mouse, by the house had eaten a crumb. The owl ate the mouse, but this move was quite dumb. The cat ate the owl…Dumb luck may say some. Nay, I cry foul!!…Or fowl?, this should not be! If you are an owl, please, stay in the tree 😉

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Owllelujah!

We had a visitation!….Well, actually our neighbors, George and Eileen had a visitation, but they were nice enough to share it with me! They called yesterday afternoon to suggest I sneak over and bring my camera in hopes that I might get to see their special visitor!

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And it was indeed a very rare site! He let me get pretty close to get these amazing shots!

He has been hanging around our area for a little while. In fact, there have been other owls in area as well.The other night we were awakened by a conversation one was having with his friends. We heard the call coming from the mesquite tree right off of our porch, then from afar, another was responding.Todd went out with a flash light, and spied a small owl. I thought it was our chickens at first, because it really didn’t sound like and owl, more like a baaagghhhk, baaaaaaaaggggk, baghk! But, then I guess that was probably because these owls knew whooooo they were talking to 🙂

Hummazzzzzzzing!

The other morning, my neighbor, Eileen, came to my back door holding a tiny hummingbird in her hands. She was afraid it might have hit her window and broken it’s wing, because she found it on the ground and it couldn’t fly. We were both at a loss as to what to do! We tried setting him in a warm spot on one of our patio chairs, but he just toppled over. So, I got some hummingbird food out of our fridge (we keep a gallon on hand), and tried to get him to drink out of an eye dropper . We were relieved when he put his little beak in and drank up! That was a good sign 🙂

So I grabbed a box, a towel and one of the feeders off of a tree and stuck him in the sun sitting next to the feeder, hoping he would have enough energy to get on it. But he just sat awkwardly on the towel, tipping over because he couldn’t move his wing…

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He preferred to sit on my finger…

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So I put him next the feeder and he drank…

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We had spent a better part of the morning with him, Eileen had to go back home and I had to get back to work, so we left him on the towel in the box, next to the feeder. I set the box inside a big cage so a cat or road runner wouldn’t come and snatch him. As I went back to work, I kept wondering what I should do. If his wing was broken, I would have to call the wildlife rescue and see if he could be rehabilitated.

After about 20 minutes I went back out to check on him…

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He was facing the sun, wings outstretched. his colors blazing. It appeared that he was soaking in the rays, recharging his batteries! He looked up and in one fast zzzzzip ascended to the nearest tree. Needless to say, I was elated! I watched as he flew to a feeder, got his fill and sat back on a branch.

 I proceeded to dismantle his recovery station, and hung the feeder back on the tree. As I did so, the little hummingbird came buzzing over and just hovered inches in front of my face, chirping! I believe this is what he said ” Thankzzzzzz for defrezzzzzzzzzing me!”

It’s a Wild Life!

Well, December 21st came and went. The Mayan calendar ended, the planets aligned, 2012 is coming to a close and life is going on without any major events…Except some nice stormy and wintery weather for the Holidays! For the most part, its been a good year. Todd’s projects have yielded a lot more landscaping, a beautiful revamped pond complete with fish, an outdoor potting/work bench, a chicken coop with chicken and a large garden plot ready for planting this spring! Our little desert acre is a mental sanctuary that keeps us from dwelling on the pressure and stress of ‘real life’! We have been so blessed!

Of course, one of the things we most enjoy about living here is having all of the wildlife that we can watch from our living room or the porch! This time of year, all of the reptiles, squirrels and dirt monkeys are safely tucked away in their underground homes, sleeping the winter away. We lose some of the variety of birds, as most go south, but we still have the quail, sparrows, mourning doves, and the cardinals…

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The cardinals dot the winter landscape with their brilliant color!  (I just missed getting the 3rd bird in this shot!)

The javelina are thick and having lots of babies!

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But, the baby javelina are good eatin’ for some during the winter…

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Bob has been hanging out  a lot!

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Although, we have not seen the bobcat get a baby javelina, we have seen him get rabbits! Quite gruesome!  I think the coyotes are more interested in the baby javies than the bobcats! (This next year I hope to get a photo of a coyote..the only pic that I don’t have!) We rarely see coyotes during the day, but almost always hear them at night, yipping and yelping! The other night Todd ran outside because we thought they might be trying to get into the chicken coop! Since then, Todd has put lots of reinforcements on the coop to prevent that from ever happening! I think the coyotes and bobcats have been a major contributor to the dwindling rabbit population! Now, we are lucky to see just one or two bunnies at a time!

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Awww…One bun’s just no fun!

So we decided to get a couple of our own!

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Meet C-Lo (Carrot LOver) and Odie

They are living happily inside,  and hopefully, we might train them to be good house rabbits (i.e. to use a litter box). We got a big portable  pen to put on the porch so they can go out and run around a bit. It’s a riot watching them running and hopping around! They are little hip hoppers! We can’t leave them unsupervised for a moment though.

Fresh buns  would be delightful delicacy for this guy…

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More than once, Mr. Hawkins has flown under the porch to check out our other possible menu items…

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Like Feline ala Furreir

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Or perhaps just a plain hot dog!

The only other possible pickings we had to offer was Petite Puggle…but I believe that she is no longer on Mr. Hawkin’s  menu…

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But Daisy had better watch out! Plump puggle would be a lovely dinner for Coyotes!