Blog posts categorized as: Wildlife

Build it…and they will come…

Jul 18, 2011

Nature is smart...when you build a garden, wildlife moves in. As I've been adding to my new garden, more little creatures have started to visit me. One thing you'll notice when you start adding more plants to your garden is the presence of dragonflies and damselflies. My yard is always full of them mid-morning...I'll look to the left and to the right, to my neighbors yards...no dragonflies. My yard...full of them. It's so fun to watch. Butterflies and bees have discovered the Echinacea, basil flowers, salvias and more. Hummingbirds are enjoying the Tecoma stans. And of course, the squirrels are enjoying the tomatoes and the birds feast on the strawberries. Look, you just gotta share, lol.

Last night I saw my first exciting nocturnal visitor...a bat! He/she few right over my head in the driveway at about 9pm. It looked like it could have been a Pallid bat, but no way to know for sure. Yay bats!

Antrozous_pallidus1 Pallid Bat, Photo courtesy NPS

 

 

First hummingbird sighting…

Jun 1, 2011

Very exciting...the first hummingbird sighting at our new house! As I was peeking out the front window this morning at about 7am, a femail ruby throated hummingbird took a few zips through the front garden bed.

573748_51882867
The sprinklers were going off and it looked to me like she might be more interested in taking a quick shower than she was the flowers. She was also probably staking out some good territory. Guess I'd better get some feeders up on the front of the house...Anyone else spot hummingbirds in DFW yet?

Beehive project continued…

Mar 6, 2011

Made some progress on the beehives today. Finished getting the base coats of paint on the brood boxes, which I've painted bright green. I plan to paint the honey supers alternating colors of lighter greens and orange...with some additional decorative painting of flowers and bees. Each hive will look different so that the bees know which hive is theirs...I don't think any other beekeeper will mistake these for their hives either! lol

Broodboxes

Finished building all of the honey supers and got them coated with linseed oil. They'll have to dry for 3 or 4 days before I can paint them.

Honeysupers

We also got 40 brood frames assembled (only 56 more honey frames to go...lol) We still have to pop in the brood frame bases.

Broodframes

In order to get the frames put together more quickly, we built a jig...It takes forever putting these babies together one by one...so I definitely recommend the jig.

Framejig

Next weekend we'll be dropping off our brood boxes so that they can each be seeded with a Nuc (a frame that containes a queen, workers and drones). Can't wait!

Aren’t you getting excited about spring?!

Jan 26, 2011

I'm on staycation this week and am enjoying just the kind of morning I love. Stayed in bed until 8:30...LUXURY!!. It's cold outside (for Texas), but it's bright and sunny, which puts me in a cheery mood. I just checked on my seedlings...the lettuce is sprouting eagerly while the tomato seeds sit in stubborn refusal. I have yet to dig out my seed heating mat from the many still unpacked boxes in the garage. Those tomato seeds will sit there stubborn until I warm them up. For all you newbies out there, you really do need a heat mat for your tomato seedlings! I just picked up my new issue of Urban Farm magazine, made some strong chicory coffee and am browsing through articles about beekeeping and all sorts of other fun stuff. I'll be headed out to check on the girls (my chickens) here in a bit to make sure their water isn't frozen and they get their daily salad green buffet. It's mornings like these that really get me excited about spring. JOY.

Because I'm in a new home, with yet again an empty landscape to start with, I'm full of itch to garden. While I have cultivated one large bed that was pre-existing, it will take quite a while to get everything built back up to my prior level of urban farm food production. I do always love a challenge though. I have many raised beds moved from my old house still waiting to be situated and filled...and many ornamental beds to be built and planted, which will take a back seat to the veggie beds. My first big project will be planting what I named "Fruitopia". I have one fenced in side yard, which is street side that will become home to my small fruit orchard and beehives. I'm choosing a well thought out list of small and dwarf variety fruit trees as well as some berry plants. I imagine I'll start planting Fruitopia in early February, once all my varieties have arrived. I'll post the list of selections once it's finalized.

I start my 5-month beekeeping course this coming Saturday and couldn't be more excited! Not only will my bees be much needed pollinators for my own orchard and vegetable garden (and those of my neighbors), but I hope that my tiny effort will help boost what are devastating crashes in honey bee populations over the last 6 years. Colony collapse, brought on by a combination of invertebrate iridescent virus and a fungal organism called Nosema ceranae, are decimating bee populations everywhere and seriously threatening our entire food supply system. If you want to help out the population of pollinators, but keeping hives of honeybees is just to much for you to handle, you can encourage the presence of Mason bees in your garden. Mason bees are excellent pollinators and all you need to do is provide a simple nesting box. North Haven Gardens in Dallas, TX sells both the Mason bee houses and tubes of baby Mason bees in spring to get you started.

Anyhoo, enough of my ramblings. Hope you're getting your veggie beds prepped, your seeds started and are excited about spring!

 

Rough Earth Snakes in the Garden

May 23, 2010

This has been a bang up year for snakes, at least in Texas. I'm a herp enthusiast so I'm always happy to find reptiles or amphibians in my garden. I've had so many snakes this year it's been crazy! These are Rough Earth snakes. They are usually mature at about a foot to 14", are non-venomous and totally harmless. They love living in gardens with cultivated soil because their primary diet is earthworms.

Snake_rough_earth 

Unfortunately for the snakes, my biggest (and meanest) chicken Eunice has quite a talent for rooting out their nests and swallowing them whole! But, lucky for this little one, he/she was in the front yard and can go back to rooting around in the flower beds all it likes.

Bees on the Passion Vine

Nov 22, 2009

It was a beautiful Sunday and the bees were out makin' hay while the sun was shining. I have a lavender passion vine that is still blooming like crazy right now and the bees are much appreciative. I try to have plants blooming in my garden as close to year-round as I can so the bees have something to feed on. It comes in handy when you need them around to pollinate your veggies or fruit trees. Just thought you guys might enjoy this photo.

Beesonpassionflower

Chasing Butterflies…

Nov 4, 2009

There are worse things to do early on a Sunday morning than chasing butterflies...I spent a good portion of the morning doing just that after I discovered I was surrounded by a bevy of beautiful flutterbys of all shapes and colors. These gals/guys were not easy to get pictures of so I'll apologize for the poor photo quality. I also have not yet taken the time to properly ID the species...so feel free to vote!

Butterfly1
This giant beauty has the most beautiful splash of blue that flashes bright in the sunshine. Her she is perched on some Salvia leucantha 'Santa Barbara'. Below, perched on Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'.

Butterfly3

Some beautiful Monarchs and another orange species...the Monarch was huge..couldn't get a good photo of that one...plus another little yellow skipper...

Butterfly2

T'was such a lovely day...

Ode to Rhino Beetle…

Oct 30, 2009

So, I love bugs...all sorts of bugs. I draw and paint lots of pretty flowers, but bugs are one of my favorite subjects to render. Especially with high quality colored pencils. I can sit for hours and hours obsessing on all the tiny detail. This here is a drawing I've done of a rhino beetle in all it's glory. Aren't they amazing and beautiful?

Beetle_sm
Did you know...Rhino Beetles are the strongest creatures on Earth? The rhinoceros beetle can carry 850 times its own weight. That's proportionally more than an African Elephant can carry! That's the definition of a badass if there ever was one. Badass beetle!


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