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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

This too shall pass

A cool rainy day in town. Hugh said he heard on the radio that this is the wettest October on record. Wouldn't surprise me.

The company that sells the floating hex tiles to prevent evaporation contacted me that they won't deliver to a residence. They wanted to refund my money. Said they don't like to do little jobs. (Only big million dollar jobs I guess.) But I'm going to try to get them to deliver it to a delivery business in Alpine, since they require a loading dock. A loading dock for a mere 300 lbs, would you believe? So I'll faint dead away if the delivery actually happens this week. I've never used a delivery service, but my son recommended it. It's called Tex Pack of Alpine. I don't want to pay them to actually deliver to me. I want to pick it up there. That's my plan anyway. I'm not going to give up on this. I have to persevere.

Tomorrow I'm going to go to the delivery service with its loading dock and try to arrange delivery there. Then I'm going to CMO to service my hummingbird feeders and get a few hours breather from the city. Probably not warm enough for odes and butterflies, but maybe some interesting birds will show up. It'll be November so I can start my November species lists.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pressure building

Another month is over and still no tank installed. Today we took my husband's repaired loader down to the oasis and left it by the sand pile.

The plan is to get some help and spread the sand on the pad on Saturday. Then more sand is going to be delivered in a week. That will be for extra padding or leveling if needed, just in case. The installation is scheduled for the 15th of November. I'll have to see it to believe it.

Meanwhile, the tank covering tiles I ordered for the rock tank to prevent evaporation are supposed to be delivered this week. So maybe things will start happening.

I posted this photo on Facebook of more yucca leaving the Big Bend area. I'm amazed at how many comments are so pro-harvesting. Some of the people get real nasty about it.

But it's worth enduring the hateful remarks to know people are being made aware of this anyway. Maybe that'll help things move in a more positive direction sooner. Not optimistic though.

The pioneers confidently slaughtered bison, believing they could never make a dent in their numbers. And the same for other species. Passenger Pigeons come to mind. I do think the United States is better at preventing extinctions these days than many other countries, for what that's worth.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Oasis is quite birdy

Working on the pad yesterday wore me out so I came to town this morning. Makes my back hurt too much. I got the worst part done anyway. I just don't even dare think about the tank project anymore or I get too stressed.

Before I came to town I watched birds for awhile. Finally got a photo of an Ash-throated Flycatcher that I had been hearing for a couple of weeks. It could possibly be a Brown-crested, I guess. My photos aren't really good enough to determine, but it sounds like an Ash-throated.

Here's a male Lucifer Hummingbird that seems to be growing a new tail.

A ways south of Alpine today I saw what appeared to be a huge dead Black Bear along the highway. Because this spring and early summer were so hot and dry my oaks didn't make acorns, so at least I didn't have to deal with bears this October like I did last October.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Trying not to stress

I've called about getting a tank installation date but don't hear back from anyone. Now it's the weekend so nothing is going to happen. Maybe next week things will look up.

I did what little I could to try to prepare the pad for the 2" layer of finish sand. I used finish sand in some of the spots that were a little low, hoping it'll make the final step easier. All new territory for me.

During rest breaks I watched butterflies. Quite a few around since everything is in bloom. Brian had to help ID the skippers for me.

Red Admiral

Julia Skipper
Eufala Skipper

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Waiting impatiently

The rains seemed to have stopped, and I want the tank installed before I lose any more water. They say possibly in 2 weeks. I'll lose enough water in that time to fill the tank half full. I never dreamed it would drag on this long.

Here's the new parking area after a night of slow soaking rain. In the background is the pad with a few little puddles in it. I think we'll wait until the tank is installed to fix the parking area. The water stayed like that all day. The tank lost way more water than the parking area did today. It must be clay. I'll have to cover it with gravel when we get it done. Right now it's temporary until the tank is installed.

Still a crazy number of hummingbirds swarming at the feeders. And most of them are all fattened up for their imminent migration trip.

Male Lucifer Hummingbird
Female or juvenile Lucifer
I always dread when sapsuckers hang around during migration. They're really hard on the trees.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
And so are the caterpillars that are consuming the mulberry leaves again this year.

A lot of fresh butterflies too.

Cloudless Sulphur

Painted Lady

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Same old same old

Still cool and rainy, which ordinarily would be great..... if I wasn't trying to get a new tank installed.

Bummer to realize I can't go dragonflying or butterflying until next spring and summer. This winter may be spent getting the perimeter around the new tank rocked and concreted so no erosion can impact it, and also so I can save the water running off the tank roof.

Meanwhile, I have my photos to reminisce with. Here's one that Brian sent me recently of the lovely male Orange-barred Sulphur he collected in Alpine in August.

He only collects butterflies that he catches and mounts himself. Look how much better his Orange-barred Sulphur looks than this antennae-less one for sale on Amazon.

It's interesting how some years, for whatever reason, there'll be an influx of a species normally considered rare for an area. Like in 2013, CMO had an influx of Ornythion Swallowtails, but none before or since.
2013 9-11 CMO
Here's Brian's female Ornythion Swallowtail specimen from Chapeño, Texas, Oct 29, 2016

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sand delivered

Weather cool and wet but got the pad sand delivered today. One less thing to worry about.

Sunday we're going to level the pad better, but can't put on the finish sand until right before installation so we don't chance rain packing it. I'm trying to get the installation done sooner than mid-November.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Beyond my control

All the rains and flooding in central Texas have caused the tank company to get behind on installs so the soonest they can do mine is mid-November. Just have to change what I can and accept what I can't. It does take pressure off me as far as readying the pad is concerned, but just gotta hope for spring rains next year because I won't have the abundance of water in the leaky stucco tank by the time the tank gets installed. Nothing I can do about it. I certainly tried.  I think the oasis will make it until next year's rainy season. If next year isn't a drought year all should be well.

Got about a quarter inch of rain today and more forecast for the next week or so.

Monday, October 15, 2018

No good news

Well, it was winter today, as forecast. I went to CMO to meet the contractor who was to deliver the sand and level the pad today. He showed up promptly but declared he couldn't work in such terrible weather, and left. Cold, wet, windy. Said maybe he'd be back Wed. or Thurs. So I turned around and went back to Alpine. A week until installation day and still no level pad or sand. On top of that, the stucco tank is still leaking almost as bad as before I drained and refilled it. (Was 5" in 36 hrs and now 3" in 33 hrs.) I knew too much water was leaking for me to have found the leak. Has to be under the mud somewhere. That's over another foot I'll lose by installation day. If I have to postpone installation, that'll be worse.

Oasis shrouded in mist

More rain is forecast all week so maybe the tank will fill up, even if it's too rainy to work. This weekend will be slightly better and I should be able to get the pad ready then. And they don't want the finish sand put on until the last minute so rain won't pack it. Any other time I wouldn't have a chance of rain in October. Go figure! But my son will be back from his vacation and hopefully will help. Also the rep from the tank company said he'd come a few days early if need be to help get the pad ready. So it just has to happen.

I would never have taken on the tank project if I'd had a choice but the recent incidences with the stucco tank only go to show I procrastinated too long to do this.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Last day of summer

Winter begins tomorrow and I didn't get to enjoy this last day of summer at CMO, but at least I did get to enjoy yesterday there. It seems after summer rains when you think things can't get more beautiful, then a norther strikes and it's all over for another year.

Today in Alpine we brought the Bougainvillea inside for the winter.

Tomorrow back to CMO to hopefully get the sand delivered and pad leveled. And see how much the stucco tank is now leaking. Scared to look, actually. Supposed to be cold and windy, so I'm not looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Lots of migrants today

Ahead of the impending cold front, due in two days, lots of birds dropped by the oasis. Since I'm pumping water back into the stucco tank, I had time in between gassing up the pump to snap a few photos. Here are a couple I took of some of the many warblers.

Townsend's Warbler

Black & White Warbler
I see quite a few Fiery Skippers in Alpine but none at CMO, so was surprised to find this nice female here today.

I've been pumping water into the stucco tank all day. Hope it pays off to have drained it, but I don't think the lost water can be made up by the time I get the new tank installed. Oh well, never again!

Feels good to be putting it in instead of taking it out, though. No recent snake encounters along the overgrown walkways.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Very discouraged

Yesterday I pumped the water from the stucco tank and didn't see any major holes, just lots of little pinholes. I don't think that's enough to cause it to lose so much water. There could be a bigger hole in the bottom, but in order to determine that I'd have to totally drain it, let it sit for a couple of weeks until the 6" of mud dries out, and clean out the dried mud. Not doable. Too bad the worn out tank couldn't have lasted another 10 days. Then I could pump the water into the new tank and let it dry out good. I'll still need to use it as much as I can, but shouldn't ever be under pressure to hurry and patch it. As it is, I'm losing a foot of water a day. By the time I get the water pumped back in it, it'll only be half full. I'd have been better off to not drain it at all and just suffer the water loss until I get the new tank. I figured there was a big hole that I could patch quickly and refill it. I've been using hydraulic patch on the pinholes today but unable to stop them from leaking. Tempted to just refill the tank and live with the holes. So stressful!

There's a big cold front coming Monday and lots of birds are surging ahead of it. Got some of the wintering White-crowned Sparrows, and lots of other birds but no time to look. Here's a Vesper Sparrow.

The mistletoe berries are ripe and I heard the Phainopeplas at them all day today. I've hated how the weeds are taking over the pathways at the oasis, but no time to worry about it, or energy to mow them. Not priority. But when the mallows bloom, it does look lovely. Just worried about snakes with the vegetation encroaching onto the paths.

Oodles of butterflies, but just the ordinary ones. Very few dragonflies.

Red Admiral
Southern Dogface

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Another torturous day

Got to CMO this morning to discover the stucco tank had apparently sprung another leak, since it had gone down  5" in the last day and a half. Sure too bad the new tank isn't installed yet. Would have been great to pump the water into it. As it is, I had my sister come over and help me move the 3 pumps. Then for the next several hours I strung the hoses to get it into the dirt tank. Will probably be pumping most of the night again tonight. The stucco tank is just worn out. Only good for temporary holding water until I can get it into the new tank.

I'm ordering some hexagonal tiles to cover the rock tank so it won't lose water to evaporation. Cost is $1000, but I have enough after paying for the new tank to do it, thanks to all who donated to the tank project.

At 9 PM I finished pumping. Dozens of small leaks but I couldn't find any real big ones. I need to scrub the area where most of the leaks are and then coat it with Dryloc. I just don't know if I physically can do all that tomorrow. Don't know if I can get help on such short notice. While the water stays in the dirt tank I lose probably 10,000 gallons or more a day, so time is crucial. Just two weeks until I get the new tank and my problems will be greatly reduced. Hoping I have plenty of water to fill the new tank plus some left over in the in-ground tanks for wildlife. I'm working hard to make that happen.

Since the rain a few days ago the new parking area has settled down and not a dust bowl anymore. I'm glad the worst of that mess is over.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Life and death in the fast lane

I pumped water until nearly midnight, then headed to town because I was expected to go to Odessa with Hugh for his melanoma surgery. En route to Alpine I hit what I thought was a paper bag laying in the road. Turned out to be a Great Horned Owl.😟 I didn't know it was plastered to my pickup until I stopped at the border checkpoint and they told me.

I didn't quite get done pumping last night so heading back tomorrow to finish. Then Friday the sand is supposed to be delivered. 

The Mexican Sunflower is still covered with butterflies. Gotta plant more of them next year.

Fall form of female Southern Dogface

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Big rain

It was great to get a big rain this late in the season.. I've got enough water to fill both tanks, which will last until next rainy season. I would have enough to fill the new tank too, so that if rainy season doesn't come next summer I could get by, but the tank is still two weeks from being installed. And in two weeks the extra water in the dirt tanks will be nearly gone.

I'm really stressed thinking the tank pad isn't level enough. Gonna try to get someone out to level it. Too scary waiting until I have the installers here and the expensive finish sand on it and then learn it can't be installed because it's not level enough.  Would cost a bunch to have them reschedule and come out again. I'm really stressing over this. Per my measurements, the highest part of the pad and the lowest part are 6" apart. Has to be level within ½."

I spent many hours today digging a ditch to hopefully drain water from the low end of the new parking area. I'm sure I didn't get it deep enough and an exercise in futility, totally exhausting me. Gotta stop doing that stuff.

Yesterday went to Odessa with my husband, and have to go again tomorrow. He insists I go along in case he wants help with the driving but he never does. Also cleaned a rent house yesterday afternoon. I'm killing myself, but things should slow down after the tank project is done.

Right now I'm focused on getting the pumping done. Dealing with the pumps and hoses is always a big pain. When it comes to water, no pain, no gain. Pumping water from the upper dirt tank to this lower dirt tank because it holds water better.