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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lajitas expedition

The PBS program featuring the oasis is now on a youtube video so you can watch it there.

I surveyed hummingbirds at Lajitas and checked the pond there for ducks. Found this Snow Goose at the sewage pond in Study Butte along the way. I think it's my first Brewster County Snow Goose. So I enjoyed that.

Monday, January 29, 2018

CMO time

Went to CMO for a few days. Pretty bleak when I arrived but after putting out some birdseed and watering some evergreens things picked up a bit. I photographed this Say's Phoebe because I've never seen one with the breast this bright orange before. Must be breeding plumage. Had to take the photo looking into the sun at a far distance, unfortunately.

I wasn't surprised to see the Ring-necked Duck still around, but was surprised to see this Wilson's Snipe. Seems really early for them.

Tomorrow I plan to check out Lajitas to see what's flying there.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Thoughts on the TP&W program

I watched the segment this afternoon with great anticipation and dread. All in all, I thought it was very well done. I was glad they focused on the birds as much as they did. What I like best was that a tiny snapshot of the oasis is preserved for posterity with this program. So, long after it's gone, people can glimpse what it had been like in its heyday! Who knows, that might inspire someone to create something similar in the Christmas Mountains a hundred years from now! And maybe someday the local parks will maintain feeders so birders can enjoy the hummers without having to traverse my terrible road.

The one thing I would have liked them to point out was that, unlike the other two places they featured (Sandia Wetlands & Bishop Wetlands), the oasis depends on rainfall alone. Does not get water funneled to it like the other two. But I know they can't include everything. I imagine viewers will wonder where all my water comes from. Pure serendipity that they came and did their filming right after my only monsoon of the year. Had they come two weeks earlier they would have been hard-pressed to find water anywhere.

Of course, it goes without saying that the camera makes me look older and fatter. I'm used to that. Starting to think maybe I am old and fat. LOL

In a couple of weeks the full episode will be available to watch online for people who don't live in Texas. When that happens, I'll post a link.

In other news, my daughter's business is one of the six finalists. I didn't count how many new businesses there were competing, but I'm sure at least 30. Thank you all for your votes! I'll let you know if she wins. She's the only boutique of the finalists.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Link to CMO on PBB Texas Parks & Wildlife

Last year TP&W interviewed me for a segment of their PBS series. That program can be seen here:

Weather is nice here but my energy is not great. Maybe when things get hopping my adrenaline will kick in.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Over winter's hump?

Today was a pleasant day at CMO. Even saw a few birds. Maybe winter's worst is over.

Hermit Thrush

Green-winged Teal

Ring-necked Duck
I added another ancestor photo to my ancestor wall. I've been having copies made of some of my favorites. This one is of my great-grandfather's parents (on my dad's side of the family).

Monday, January 22, 2018

Trying in town

Trying to wait patiently for spring. Made a pot of vegetable soup with the ribs from one of the piglets. Most delicious meat ever!  (After cooking the chunks of ribs in the soup for several hours, I fish them out and take the meat off the bones and return it to the soup.)

Deer are still gorging on pecans every day as more fall from the trees. I try not to think about it.

 Put aside some of the piglet meat for Brian and my son in Austin.

Trying times but could be so, so much worse.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hog butchering time

I remember hog butchering time on the farm in Iowa from when I was a kid. So much more humane now. I won't even describe the process in those days.

Pecan orchard

It doesn't look like it but there are seven adult hogs in that trap plus some babies. I know, I feel bad about the babies too, but the alternative is to let feral hogs ruin our country. Might as well eat the piglets as to release them to predators. (The land owner stayed there to make sure none were released. That's a condition of being allowed to trap there. He traps too.)

I imagine most of you only want to see your meat in plastic store displays or cooked at the table. That's me, anyway. But I persevere knowing this meat is so much healthier. And I truly believe we need meat for optimum health. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Short morning excursion

My husband has a feral hog trap at a ranch in the Sunny Glen addition of Alpine. He invited me to go along this morning while he put the grocery store's discarded produce in it as bait.

It was bitterly cold but I was desperate for an outdoor distraction so rode along. Kind of a depressing place. It once had beautiful orchards of fruit trees, pecans, and grapes. But because the owner couldn't keep feral hogs from destroying the irrigation system to the 1200 acre orchards, he gave up the effort. So mostly all you see are dead trees. But in spite of that, hundreds, maybe thousands, of pecan trees are still alive and loaded with pecans... none of which are going to be harvested.


We eat lots of feral hog meat. It tastes exactly like store pork, except leaner. And minus the hormones and antibiotics, of course. He catches more than we can use so gives some away if he can find anyone willing to butcher it, or has freezer space. (We have two big deep freezes.) 

We've been giving bushels of our own pecans away to anyone willing to come pick them up. We're close to through processing what we've kept for ourselves. One whole refrigerator in the carport is full of shelled and cleaned pecans. That's a two year supply just in case the trees don't produce next year. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mountain lion with two cubs

This video was taken on our mountain via critter cam on November 22, 2017. Just now received it so putting it on a separate post.

2017 11-22 CMO (1)

2017 11-22 CMO (2)

Winter's back

When I said one day closer to something, I wasn't thinking of winter. Maybe this will be its last gasp.

One interesting thing I noticed is that a male Allen's Hummingbird only shows up in extremely cold weather. Weather that keeps the feeders frozen. Except I keep exchanging the one outside for a warm one. That makes me think he has a preferred location where the feeder(s) is maintained by humans but they go to work and aren't able to keep it thawed out. So I dusted off my Canon and documented him from my warm indoors.

I speculate why he only comes when the weather is so cold. Only a few possibilities. Maybe he's not comfortable here because he got banded here years ago (most unlikely), or maybe he's just more comfortable at the other place where he doesn't have to share a feeder. (The female has never interacted with him or run him off.)  The only other option is that he subsists on insects otherwise, but I don't see that as a real option. The female Rufous that's here comes to the feeder regularly. Their diets would be similar I would think.

By the way, my daughter's boutique is now on the voters list if you haven't voted for it yet. Just go to this link and under UP AND COMING click on Purple Lace Boutique. Thanks. It will mean a lot to her.

Monday, January 15, 2018

One day closer to something... anything

Well, 2018 is 1/24th over and I haven't used my Canon camera or seen a butterfly yet. On a more positive note, Lucifer Hummingbirds will be back next month. Meanwhile, I watered a few things today. And did some never-ending maintenance.

Now that the leaves are all off the deciduous trees I noticed a bunch of pecans on the pecan tree. Hadn't known they were there.

Small and inedible. Maybe birds will eat them. We have tons of wonderful pecans in town so I wouldn't have used these anyway.

Eating a few oranges off the tree though.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Better day today

I woke up with my back functioning and no wind. Put a new faucet on the west one at the oasis and it's working fine now.  A lot of mud came out when I took the old faucet off but not sure if the faucet was bad or the larger diameter pipe blew it out. Main thing is it's fixed.

My son came and loaded the old refrigerator for me. I put the guesthouse back together before heading to town.

Haven't done anything about the dresser coupling yet. Mulling it over, but I did cover some of the exposed pipe. My son thinks the pipe will break if I eliminate the dresser coupling and make it one solid pipe. So I'm thinking about making some kind of sleeve as a coupling that I can clamp on. It might be out of a radiator type hose or something, but would overlap the edges like 6" or so, so that it can't come off. Maybe a bad idea. Maybe if it's glued together it won't actually break. Studying the situation. Maybe I can find a longer dresser coupling.

Heading back to town I had a 30 minute delay as an ambulance from the south (Terlingua) met up with a air evac helicopter to transfer a patient. Heck, it would have been just as fast if the ambulance had continued on to Alpine, but I don't know any of the circumstances or details.

My back hurts but I figure anytime I actually use it, it's going to hurt. As long as it's usable, that's OK.

Through the years I've posted photos from Lajitas, but this one is the best! Taken by Todd Leckie.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Life's challenges

I made it to CMO with the new refrigerator, but after that, so much went wrong that I had to just stay focused on what didn't go wrong. I managed to get it into the guesthouse without hurting my back. It's a pretty small refrigerator, but when I was messing around with it, trying it in different spots, etc., I did hurt my back. Hopefully, it won't be "out" tomorrow. I'll take some Ibuprofen just in case.

My son is coming tomorrow to get the old heavy one out. Will take another photo tomorrow when it's out and I can put the table and chairs back. I feel bad discarding the fridge because it works good even after 40 years. But the noises and shrieks it makes are horrendous and I'm sure it'll go out sooner rather than later. Better not to have a guest caught with their food spoiled when that happens. It's probably the old freon type too.

I always tell my kids to consider their problems as challenges and not problems, but it's pretty wearing on me, nevertheless. The oasis has two faucets for watering, one on the west side and one on the east side. Water won't come out of the one on the west side. Twice I turned off the pump and shut both faucets to make sure the line held pressure and nothing was leaking out. Water trickles out a tiny bit, but that's all. Maybe a new faucet will fix the problem.

Here are the tanks states of water. I usually photograph them on Jan 1st to compare years, but didn't get down here until today. The water is up to the top of that wet looking area. The reflection in the water is deceiving since it reflects the tank walls too. So the wet looking area is actually under the water. If you enlarge the photo it's easier to tell.

Next problem was the water line from the house to the well. I discovered that dresser coupling that I was sure could never come apart again, came apart. No telling how much water was lost before I discovered it. My back hurts too bad to fix it now. I'm thinking I'll remove the dresser coupling and make the line solid with just a glued in coupling. Enough is enough. No big hurry on it as I have plenty of water in the house tank. I walked the line today and discovered some sections that had the dirt washed off of them. I need to get those sections covered with something so they don't freeze. But right now there's no water in the line so don't need to worry about freezing. Even wheel-barrowing dirt to it wouldn't faze me if I had a functioning back.

As for the oasis faucet, if I have to I can hook up the east side hose directly to the west side hose and water that way. It'll take longer because I can't water both sides at the same time. But at least the trees won't die over it.  The other problems are just minor stuff, which wouldn't normally amount to anything. Maybe tomorrow will be a good day. Supposed to be real windy and I hate wind. Likely won't do anything if the wind is raging.

For what it's worth, my Anna's Hummingbirds all left early this year. They usually leave in January but the last one I saw was on the 29th of December.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Winter's over!

Whew! That was a long week out of my life that I'll never get back! The week that I had my monsoon season last year seemed much shorter by comparison. Going to CMO in the morning with the new refrigerator.

Here's the new house going up across from our house. To me it just means more noise in the neighborhood. Luckily, I have nice quiet CMO to escape to. I never get used to the cacophony of barking dogs and trains in town.

We replaced the 40-50 year old heater in the house with one that doesn't need venting and has the flames visible to enjoy. The old one was scary. Sometimes when it kicked on it would make a horrible noise. My husband was never able to fix that about it, so I'm relieved to not have to deal with it anymore.

Here's the new one. We mostly heat the house with wood but sometimes in the night or when we're gone it's good to have a backup.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Need a plan B

I'm thinking next winter I'm going to spend some time in the valley. This is the pits. I had resolved to go last fall but was sick so much that I just ended up focusing on my health and didn't push my luck, but now I'm well and really tired of working crossword puzzles. 

Today I went and bought a new refrigerator for the guest house. Not only has the one I bought for it in 1977 needed replacing for a long time, and the doors open the wrong way, and it's too big and loud, but just getting a new one got my mind looking forward to being able to make progress on something in the present. In a few months Brian and/or Mac will be staying there. That old one sounds like a tractor that's on its last leg. This smaller one will use way less electricity and pay for itself before very long. 

Here is a really cool picture of a birding mobile. This is one serious birding vehicle!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Bad cabin fever

Stuck indoors in this cold weather. Going bananas here. But just think, by next month I'll be stressing because things will be leafing out too soon at the oasis and I'll be watching for early Lucifers. Just got to survive until then.

Meanwhile, my daughter (Dripping Springs) is expanding her boutique and sent me this video.

And my son (Austin) has moved from a rented place to his own place, which was a humongous task. He does his business from home, so it's a big ordeal moving his equipment and getting it set up in the garage. He's still working on it, but I'm so glad he won't be paying rent anymore.

He's made so much progress since his divorce six years or so ago when he ended up with no place to live and lots of debt. It's been a lot of back-breaking work and no time off except his recent wedding. He had his kids at a later age than most people so he's still strapped with child support too. But I see light at the end of the tunnel.

I want to get a new refrigerator for my guest house but have to wait until I can get someone to do the heavy work for me. Soon I hope. I'm going to try to get my Alpine son to do it but he's always snowed under with the running of his businesses here.

Back to my crosswords.....

Monday, January 1, 2018

Finally 2018!

Counting the days until spring.

Managed to keep a hummingbird feeder unfrozen all day. Two Rufous partaking. This shot taken through window glass and screen. Until today there was just a female here. I assume wherever this male was feeding the feeder was frozen so he took advantage here. The female didn't seem to mind.

UPDATE: The above hummer was later ID'd as an Allen's, not a Rufous.