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…


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!


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


Bob has been hanging out  a lot!


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!


Awww…One bun’s just no fun!

So we decided to get a couple of our own!


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…


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


Like Feline ala Furreir


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…


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


Last Sunday, the first day of the new year, I sat on the porch trying to get inspired. For some reason, I’m just not that into 2012. Not just because it’s supposed to mark the end of the world on the Aztec calendar (in fact, the big New Year’s Eve party in Tucson was called Aztec Apocalypse) which in itself, is not a very optimistic celebratory title.

I had to shake my malaise, so I grabbed the camera and headed out to explore the backyard, thinking that I could capture that New Year’s Cheer in some beautiful photos. I had missed the New Year’s Eve excitement the night before, going to bed at 9:30 pm, trying to stay awake watching Dick Clark’s New Years Bash, or whatever the hell it was. I had to give it up when they started extolling the virtues the occupy Wall street idiots….Gag! Yeah, that’s great….let’s encourage self pity and class warfare…that’ll surely bring great things this year!

So…anyway… on New Year’s day, I thought I would just occupy Todd’s Backyard and be happy! But, as I scanned the yard, looking for some lovely photo ops, I was having a hard time. The winter blahs have started to ‘brown out’ the lush greenery of Summer/Fall past. And many of the critters are hibernating or gone for the Winter….Ok, a little self pity here…

 I was however, a bit startled when focusing on said dreariness, there was something beautiful here!

I continued my photographic exploration…

I was discovering very interesting,  almost otherworldly  scenes through the lens of the camera! A kind of beautiful ugliness, if you will.

My imagination started to kick in, my spirits lifted!

The moon among the rocks?

A coyote head in the cholla bones?

A rock garden atop a weathered table!

I was on a roll…then I smelled him…

I turned around, and of course, what could be more thrilling than a javelina snuffling among the garden sculptures…

And the aroma!….Immediatly  brought me back to thoughts of the ‘occupied’ people….Aaauuurrrrrggh!

Ok, snap out of it!

Life is good!

Be Happy!….Beaugliful!

Wingin’ It

February in the desert. It’s that time between Winter and Spring  (I like to call Wing). Or perhaps ‘swing’ would be a better term, as Mother Nature is afflicted with wild mood swings! A few days of freezing cold, iced feeders and blanketed plants. Then a few days of wonderful warmth…all the critters lounging in the sun,  including us, as we don our shorts and flip flops.Then back to our jackets and fleece for another few days.  Every week seems to bring the same crazy temperature cycle. On those freezing days, we opine for the hot days of summer, easily forgetting how we opined in the summer for the cold days of winter! Whatever…we shouldn’t be complaining at all, after watching the national weather news. I mean, really, come on Todd….snap out-of-it! (Ok, I’m just as bad!)

Really, the kind of only depressing thing about this time of year is the rather dreary landscape. Most of the vivid colors have been sapped away, replaced by shades of brown and greenish-grays.

After the frost, the trees have dropped most of their leaves and the cactus are drooping….This is the first year the frost has actually effected the cactus. We hope they will bounce back, otherwise Todd’s gonna have fun clearing out tons (literally)  of dead cactus this spring!

The frostbitten aloe vera have turned into clumps of odd-looking alien plant life….

The barrel blossoms have petrified into spiney little pineapple-like pods….

And  the bones scattered across the yard have become more prominent in the withering landscape.

We should only have to endure our ‘unfavorite’ season for another month or so, but until then, we will keep wingin’ it, week to week! And we can certainly keep optimistic and inspired by the abundance of beauty that still surrounds us , even this time of year!


What the F?

Frozen, Frantic, and Fierce!  Never in the history of our desert region (supposedly since 1913) has it been 15 degrees! We woke up this morning to a frozen desert.Which meant frozen solid hummingbird feeders…which turned our local hummingbirds into some fired up, frantically fighting food fighters!  In other words…they were pissed! We could hear them before we opened the door to a blast of frigid air. Todd rushed out to collect all of the feeders to defrost under hot water…pronto. I went out to help, and could not believe it!  I had not felt this kind of bitter cold since I last visited Michigan last year at this time. And the poor little hummers, in their frenzy for food, were whizzing about. Probably the only way they could stay unfrozen. One little guy buzzed by my head so close I felt his wings on my cheek. The hummingbird  ‘chatter’ was deafening…..We quickly concluded there is nothing as frightening as a huffy heat-deprived hummingbird!

Brrrrringing in the New Year!

As 2010 came to a close, and a new year began, the temperatures dropped. Todd’s Backyard saw its first frost  of the year and even a few snow flakes! There’s a new dusting of snow on the mountains, creating a dazzling desert winterscape.

The  reptillish residents and small ground dwellers are hopefully tucked away, safely sleeping underground. This time of year, the most activity we see are the hummingbirds buzzing around, fiercely guarding their feeders. And the wrens and thrashers busy pecking around the frozen ground trying to find a little grub. Some grub eaters have even resorted to an easier meal…

Our desert landscape has thinned out. The vibrant colors have dimmed except for the festive red dotting the China berry bushes.

With the temperatures plunging into the teens at night, and not getting above 40-something during the day,  some things  prone to freezing,  had to get bundled up…

Yeah….I know…what a pussy!

Winter Glow

Todd’s Backyard is starting look a little different as Christmas approaches and winter sets in. Surprisingly to some, it’s very festive even before we’ve put up our Christmas lights! Of course, we don’t have the snow, (but then, you never know!). However, we do enjoy the winter glow…

The chilly mornings take on a different hue as the moon rises with the sun. At the same time, to the west, the ‘Christmas Tree of Lights’ sits on the hill overlooking Todd’s Backyard, still lit in the early hours of the morning…

The  winter days tend to warm back up, but the evening and morning chill has taken it’s effect on the desert residents. The dirt monkeys, squirrels, lizards and tortoise are burrowed in, hibernating until spring. Some of the other residents have put on their winter coats….


And for those of us who are not ready to put on our winter duds…Todd created a cozy hangout where we can enjoy the winter season in the warm glow of  friendship, fine wine, and a toasty fire….ahhhhhhh……

We are so looking forward to the Holidays!