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 😉 )

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Surviving Miss Daizy

She drives us crazy!…But, that’s our Miss Daizy. A puggle with a nose, that knows no bounds and a yard full of wonders with no fence that surrounds…So, guess what? This situation makes for some harrowing adventures, and sometimes, when we’re lucky, some laughable pictures!

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When the Jacktus popped out it’s ginormus blossoms, Daizy’s nose thought they were kind of awesome! Cool, too, were the bees which were flying about, until they put their stingers in her nosy snout :0

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Todd’s garden could be Daizy’s Eden…If no one was watching, she would be eatin’! But those chile’s might be a little spicy and what should come out of her other end could be quite dicey!

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Ma and the ‘girls’ think Daizy’s the shit! And she thinks likewise, especially when she can eat it!…I mean, chicken’s a great part of a dog’s daily nutrition, but chicken poop’s even better in Daizy’s opinion! Daizy would never eat these hens, because in Todd’s Backyard Dog is chicken’s best friend!

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Daizy stops at the pond when she makes her rounds, it’s peaceful, no one yells, ’cause it’s not out of bounds. The pond is a fun place to watch the fish, but this dog hates the water, so here she’ll just make a wish!

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Perhaps the most favorite of Daizy’s spaces and places is Gerti’s Garden where she can touch all the bases… Lush grass where she can lay and graze, baby buns to dig up and lizards to chase. It’s a part of the yard where there’s alot to explore and last week, there, she found something more! The strangest creature Miss Daizy had ever seen, was crawling about…was it nice?….or was it mean? Daizy crept near, with great apprehension, and when it’s head disappeared, she jumped back!…Wow! That caught her attention! So she sniffed and snuffed all around this strange shell, when the head popped back out, Gerti must have thought, “Oh, what the hell?” Gerti just kept going on her way to the grass, now attached to a dog with its nose up her ass.  I’m sure Daizy was hoping for treats like she gets from her rabbits. Just one of Daizy’s very, very bad habits!

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So, if you’re near Todd’s Backyard, you’ll likely hear, “Daizy! Daizy!… Get over here!”  Or Daizy! Daizy!…I can’t see you!”, then suddenly her little puggly face comes into view. Oh, even though our life now can be crazy, we still have to love our little Miss Daizy!

Mother Clucker!

We recently, and suddenly decided to expand Todd’s Backyard into Todd’s Backyard Farm! Thanks to our good neighbors, Pat and Tracy, we acquired a 6 month old Rhode Island Red hen. They have a large herd..(or brood…or whatever you call a bunch of chickens) one of which they kept separated because it didn’t play well with the others, (actually  I believe it was visa versa) In any case, this chicken was kept in a small cage which they wanted  eliminate because they were installing a brooder and didn’t have room. So, they were going to eat her! Of course, we couldn’t let them do that, especially since they might have brought some fresh fried chicken to our next Friday afternoon neighborhood happy hour, and that would definitely bring down my ‘happy’!

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Seriously….look at that face! And it’s not that that I have anything against eating meat/chicken….I just can’t eat an animal that I personally know!

So, with no time to lose, Todd  raced to Home Depot for lumber and chicken wire. Luckily, we had the perfect spot for a coop, under the walk-through storage area next to our shed! Todd worked his construction magic and in 2 days had built  coop fit for a chicken queen!

This is the living area… It’s a spacious 30 sq. feet, complete with perch, nesting house filled with straw and a hanging, stainless steel feeder and water dispenser. There are also wonderful floor to ceiling views of  Todd’s Backyard South!

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A door under the nesting house, leads to the outside play and party area…

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Here, we find a 25 sq. foot, reenforced and enclosed patio, complete with multilevel perches and 180 views of Todds’ Backyard North. It’s also located in the popular Javelina hangout area, so the coop residents can socialize, if so desired. (Hopefully, javelina don’t want to eat chicken!)

Pat brought the hen to her new home last weekend. She immediately took to her new living conditions!

We named her Mother Clucker, aka Ma.

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She will soon have a couple of room mates when Pat’s new batch of chicks get old enough to tell the sex….no roosters for us please! Not that we have anything against roosters, but we want eggs without ‘red eyes’! And by the way….Ma has laid an egg everyday since she’s lived here! In fact, this morning we will be having them for breakfast! Good thing that she is going to do some work for her rent! This thing cost us a small fortune! Although it’s going to take a LOT of eggs to pay this off. But, of course, we do get more than just eggs from our new, dare I say, pet…There is huge entertainment value in talking to a chicken…”Baaahck Bahck Baaaaahck?” And she talks Baaaahck to you!  The only draw baaahck I see in having a chicken…

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Uuuuughhhh! Mother Clucker!!!!

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!

Hooligans, Holes & Havoc!

I have been reminded in the past few weeks, how hard and sometimes haunting, life in the desert can be.  And, I have to keep reminding myself, that life at home in Todd’s Backyard, is not just a haven for harmony and happiness. There are more than a few residents that are destructive, dastardly, even deadly!  It may make it a little easier  to remind myself of these things, when I’m 1,000 miles away in Michigan, pining away for my peaceful desert oasis.

The  Cow Birds…

The scourge of the summer- 3 of them showed up about 2 weeks ago…now there are about 20. Next week, there will be 50! The nasty little secret about these birds, is that they look for the nests of other birds, like orioles and cardinals, dump out the eggs and lay their own.  Then, they leave their young to be raised by the surrogate parents! The cardinals and orioles must be a bit surprised when they see their foreign offspring, but nature’s duty dictates that they take care of them. We often see an oriole, cardinal, sparrow and other native birds feeding baby cow birds!

Then there are the Cutter Ants….

Ok….I’m in Michigan, can’t go take a picture of the ants. So, via Wikopedia here’s a pic-

Actually, I probably, couldn’t take a picture in Todd’s backyard anyway. These little beasts come out at night.

And….they can destroy and entire small tree or shrub in just 1 night! I was reminded of them today, when I was talking to some of my Michigan colleagues about gardens. They were talking about all of the flowers and luscious produce they will reap this summer. Todd was very excited to plant a ‘Salsa’ garden last spring. Peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, basically everything needed for a fab salsa fresco! Todd built an extravagant  cage to keep the garden protected from the rabbits and other hungry varmints. But….he did not take into consideration…..the ants!

The Cutter ants ate just about everything! So much for garden grown salsa!

Now lets talk about the Dirt Monkeys….a.k.a roundtail squirrels-

Oh, yes….they are cute!!

But for anyone who has walked around Todd’s Backyard, you know. With every step, you feel as if the entire yard will collapse beneath you!

And it could…

Holes, holes everywhere!

Yeah, we see you!

But perhaps even worse…Other creepy crawlers hang out in Todd’s Backyard’s underground laberynths.

This guy came out of his hole to hang with us on the porch one afternoon…Kind of ‘Halloweeny’!

He’s not deadly, but this guy is….

Luckily, we’ve had rattle snake traing for our dogs…but that’s a whole other story!

Ok….now I’m homesick!

Cowbirds, dirt monkeys, ants, snakes….oh yeah, I didn’t mention centipedes, scorpions, gila monsters, tarantulas/tarantula wasps, roadrunners (yes, they are vicious!) The Arizona desert can be harsh (Or ‘vicious’, as my Michigan colleagues claim) But, I love these things! Heaven wouldn’t  be heaven without a little hell! Hmmmmm? After all, it is the WILD west!

Todd’s backyard….the beginning

Ahhhh……a glass of wine and a blank blog page!  Where to begin….where to begin….

The beginning
The beginning

Well, this was it…basically. It started about 6 years ago.

Today it looks something like this….

October 2009

This is the story of how one man’s yard transformed….

Nor just physically, but spiritually.

It has been an amazing journey.

One that we want to share.