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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Alpine update

Nothing going on here in town but my body probably needs the rest. Tomorrow I'm excited to head back south and rescue more verbena along the highway since the four that I dug up seem to be doing fine. (I'll try to post pics of the process.)

Time to start watching for Lucifers to return. Very excited about that.

Yesterday my daughter had her store's grand opening in Dripping Springs.

My Austin son, Leonardo, made his obligatory appearance. Also my niece, Tanya, and grandson, John, Jr. My dedication to the oasis causes me to miss a lot, but it's worth it to me. Still hard, though.

L-R: Tanya, John, Jr., Leonardo, Isabel, unknown employee
I notice my grandson is standing so he won't look so tall. Not working! (Leonardo is over 6' for comparison.)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Still a process in progress

Before I headed for Alpine today I filled the bucket feeder. Then it was too heavy for me to pull up, but it's OK for now. May have to get a crank apparatus to hoist it. But I left knowing that the birds will have seed for several days. Longer than the few minutes previously when I leave ever since the bear destroyed that last feeder.

Years ago I found a brush in a dumpster that attaches to a floor scrubbing machine. Had no use for it but thought maybe someday it would come in handy for something. Yesterday was that day. It's now the base of my seed bucket. I looked through every shed for something round, sturdy, and not an eye-sore before I found this scrub-brush in the last place I looked.

Birds seem happy with it. I got the bucket up high enough to where javelina can't mess with it, but it's not bear-proof yet. I could probably get on a ladder and pull the bucket up onto the ladder and then tie it down, but I'd like something simpler. And since I know no bears are in the area, I just left it at about eye level.

Next, my verbena mission: As many of you may recall, I resolved to create a verbena (glandularia) patch for spring butterflying pleasure. But in this La NiƱa pattern, we didn't get enough winter moisture. Today was the day, after watering, that I determined to start my patch. I only found 3 plants of verbena in the oasis. I managed to dig up two of them without disturbing the roots and put them in pots for now. Also, I located a decent patch of them down by my lower dam, but Brian is coming at the end of March. He looks forward to monitoring that patch, so I left it for him. Hoping it doesn't dry up before then. One was actually blooming.

On the way to Alpine I looked along Terlingua Ranch road where there were a couple of nice patches last year, but found none.  Then on the highway about halfway to town, there was tons of it blooming in the ditch. The ditch had recently been mowed, but luckily before the verbena started showing good. Now the highway department is dumping endless piles of blacktopping material in the ditches in preparation for resurfacing the highway. So I couldn't resist at least trying to salvage a few and see if I can even transplant them successfully. I dug up four that weren't blooming yet. Three of the four I disturbed the roots on. They were mixed in with tough grass roots and I wasn't able to dig good enough around them. By the time I got them to town, and potted, those three were wilted. But after a few hours of my tender care, they seem to be recovering. The upper left one is the undisturbed one. Upper right one is the iffiest.

Next winter I'm going to plant a bunch of seeds indoors.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Closer to bear-proof

Well, at 6 AM my husband headed for his fishing excursion. I did laundry and a few chores before heading to CMO, looking forward to 3 days here. Brought stuff to cook my favorite dishes. But before noon my husband called that he got to the river and it was too cold and windy so he turned around and went back to Alpine. I decided to stay here a couple of days anyway. I had warned him today would be bad but once he got through that the rest of the week would be lovely.

So I worked on my bear-proof feeder project. I'm pleased with the results, though there's some tweaking that needs doing. For one thing, I think I got the pole too tall. When Mac gets here in April I'll have him shorten it by a couple of feet. Cutting that metal piping is a killer on my bad shoulder. The feeder should work fine for now.

Then I totally forgot to buy a cone/funnel for inside the bucket. Will shop for one back in town. I lowered the bucket a bit until the birds get used to it, but it's so wonderful to know I can keep the seed out of bears' reach without carrying bags of seed up a ladder. If bears bend the pole over, I'll put a bigger one there The bottom half of this pole has another strong one inside it, so I'm quite confident. But of course, time will tell. Probably won't have any bear activity for some time. At least, for now, birds will have seed when I go to town.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Is it possible to deter bears?

I think people have been successful deterring bears with a sturdy enough, tall enough, pole. If the one I concreted in gets demolished by them, I'll get a sturdier one and concrete it deeper into the ground. Here's some pics I found online to illustrate the challenge I face.

Update on my gun-toting neighbor outside my east gate. I've talked to him a couple of times and he seems interested in getting along with me. He said he'd refrain from shooting at times I have groups of birders present if I let him know ahead of time. I'll make sure he knows the dates I have groups scheduled. Also he claims he seldom shoots and never at birds. The game warden talked to him on my behalf and assures me he's far enough from the mountain that it shouldn't impact Peregrine nesting. I'm more likely to have road disputes with the neighbor than problems with his assault rifles.

I never cease to be amazed how people buy Terlingua Ranch tracts that have Terlingua Ranch roads running through them, and then don't want anyone driving through their property. As nicely as I could I explained my legal right to do so. He's taken to catching vehicles entering his section of the road and asking them their business in being there. He can't stop anyone that has my gate combination from coming through, so it doesn't impact me that much, but it's sure a pain.

In the past my neighbors on the other side of my property (north gate) got angry that I wouldn't let them ride horses on my land. They also talked about blocking my access and forcing me and my visitors to use my east gate. I also explained how they couldn't legally do that, but we were enemies for years. A birder didn't dare stop and get out of their car on their section of Terlingua Ranch road. (I might add there are many places on Terlingua Ranch's thousand miles of road where that is still the case.) Now those neighbors have moved away although they still own the property. In recent years they've made attempts to be more friendly. They operate their home here as a successful vacation rental and I've allowed their guests to come and enjoy the oasis upon request.

I bought as much land adjacent to me as I could, but I just can't buy it all. I've purchased over 1000 acres through the years. (I started out originally with 523 acres.) Maybe the gun-toting neighbor will be an asset in keeping poachers out.

Tomorrow my husband is going on a fishing excursion to Black Gap WMA so I'm going to CMO for a few days. It's getting time for good stuff to start showing up. Just wish we'd get some rain.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

CMO feeder failures

Made a short trip to the oasis to check feeders, etc. No Lucifers yet.

I'm still working on a bear-proof feeding system and have decided to hang a bucket, or two, real high and use pulleys to raise and lower it. We'll see if that works. These previous systems didn't work.


Note T-post bent down from where it was concreted into the ground and chained to the barrel.

This next one worked, except physically too hard for me to get a tall ladder, carry a bag of seed up it and dump it in the bucket without falling off the ladder. Also, for bird photographers, seed needs to be on the ground, not up in the sky. So the ideal is to have the bucket high, but dispense seed to the ground, like Davis Mountain State Park does.

My new plan is to hang a bucket or two from the feeder pole Mac made me last year and raise and lower it with pulleys. Today I made the pole taller and bought 4 pulleys. Now working on the rest of the plan. I was going to post the feeder stand "before," photo, but can't find one. And can't do the "after" yet because I had to concrete the pole extension's base deep into the ground and waiting for it to set a couple of days before adding the pole, and hopefully buckets of seed. Still a work in progress. I have to do something or the smaller feeders get empty when I'm in Alpine.  To be continued....

Also next time I'm at the oasis I hope to locate a bunch of baby verbena (Glandularia wrightii) and transplant them to a patch for my butterflying pleasure. I saw 3 or 4 tiny ones today, but need to look farther. I had hoped a patch would come up by itself like it did last spring, but not to be. It actually started blooming in January last year. Every oasis year is different, so you never know what new treasures are in store.

Friday, February 16, 2018

About my blogging

The last couple of days I've spent reading all my blog posts (all 1580 of them), starting with the first one in 2009. It's sure good that I blog because a lot of what I've posted I have no memory of. Such as all the details of my eye surgery. Today my vision is acceptable, but that one eye that ended up having a total of 3 Lasik procedures is chronically dry. Gets really painful. Have to put drops in it every few hours day and night. So even though I'm not required to wear the UV goggles anymore, I continue to wear them outdoors. My eyes feel better and I think don't dry out as fast.

I had forgotten how bad my hip hurt after building my mountain trail in 2016. Luckily, it doesn't bother me at all anymore. My shoulder is what bothers most. And sitting at the computer editing my blog was a killer for it. I think in the future I can use it less and it might get better.

My blog makes a good diary journal. So, as such, some of the posts are really boring. I've deleted some of the more inane useless posts. I see in the future I should do better follow-ups on some things too. Like my plants. Mexican Elders seem to survive but are always losing their leaves for some reason or another. Too dry, too hot, too cold, etc.  They're also prone to having lots of branches dying back. Also in the future I intend to post fewer photos of species that  I've already posted photos of ad nauseam.

The pomegranates that I started from cuttings from my son's house some years back are alive but not thriving. And the kumquats have all perished, as have most of the other citrus plants. The Trifolate Orange that someone sent me actual oranges of are doing OK. Nothing to brag about.

I noticed that in 2015 (I think it was) I worked so hard to rid the hummingbird garden of mallow. It's been overrun with mallow since then and is so currently.

The stucco tank seems to be just leaking its normal minimum. Last year I removed all the dirt out of the big concrete tank thinking the pond weed would soon come back but it hasn't yet.

My blog reminded me that I once had a seed feeder way up on a pole. I had forgotten. I think I need to do that again because when no one is there the ground feeder goes empty. Working on a plan that I hope to get implemented this spring.

Through the years I've seen great photos on local Facebook groups. Thinking about adding some to my blog occasionally. For example, here's one of the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park that someone posted recently. I think my followers might enjoy pictures like this as long as there aren't too many of them to take away from the CMO theme of my blog.

And here's another posted on Valentine's Day by a Terlingua Ranch resident (Tim McKenna) of House Finches. Ours are the reddest!

It's not like all my previously posted pictures have been taken at CMO by me, so I may expand that area some. Your comments welcomed.

I discovered that all the videos I posted on my blog before 2016 no longer work so I deleted them. I think I had them in Picasa and now I use Flickr. Bummer!

Gonna go to CMO tomorrow and see if it's spring there yet and if the Lucifers have arrived yet. Hard to believe they'll for sure be back within the next couple weeks. Harder still to believe I survived winter. It wasn't easy.