Another clueless, airhead model

Friday, April 29, 2011

Safey Tips

Back to the field with gusto after recovery from my foot surgery. And with it the stratches, bugs, heat, humity, cuts, aches, pains and accidents. Here’s a couple of tips:

1. Spraying invasive plant species with a wand that is attached to a 50-gallon tank of herbicide on a UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle).

Don’t allow the hose to have too much slack that the vehicle rolls over the hose and pulls down on the wand and your hand while you are holding it until it crushes bloody grooves into it.

2. Using a post pounder to drive t-post into the ground.

When lifting up the post-pounder after you are finish with the t-post make sure the cast iron pounder is away from the body and not over your head where you might lose your grip and it falls on your head.

3. Keep your separation-anxiety-ridden dog well medicated. Otherwise it will attempt to jump a fence and misjudge landing on the row of spikes which could put a 5 inch gash in the underside of his hind quarters. Surgery is just as expensive as for humans.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Yard - April 2011

It’s that time between spring and summer with temps hovering around 80 degrees and low humidity for this area – 35%. The winter/spring plants (spiderworts, Mexican buckeye and hairy phacellia) have seeded out and summer plants are flowering. A senior fella down the block told me that several women on the block are mad about my yard. This leaves me perplexed considering they are surrounded by sterile St. Augustine grass with a compliment of non-native crape myrtle and Chinese tallow trees. Granted the view from the road may leave one wondering if my yard is an overgrown lot but a look interior would allay that notion. I have defined paths with borders and a semblance of order. My favorite skullcap – Scutellaria ovata is blooming and has expanded over the years. Never weedy and always beautiful I wish it was the dominant plant in my back yard.

This area of the coast, much like the rest of Texas, is in an extended “draught” but my natives are holding their own. Not to say some may wither under the oppressive summer sun but by in large they will be thriving without water when the rest of the block is expending thousands of gallons of water to keep their lawns green. Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea) will do fine if it remains in the shade as will the beauty berry. My Texas Wild Olive (Cordia boissieri) is in full flower mode and loving the lack of rain. Not a true olive, it is in the Borage Family and is a denizen of the Texas border with Mexico. Plants in the Borage Family include Forget-me-not and Comfrey.

I have 4 Texas persimmons (Diospyros texana) and 2 common persimmons (diospyros virginiana). The Texas persimmons flowered in March and are now producing fruit. For the first time one of the common persimmons is flowering. I believe persimmons self-pollinate. All the fruits are edible. The red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) flowered in February and the fruit will mature all summer into November. The leaves will drop by July. Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) is a hummingbird magnet at points in the front yard.

The sedum I found those years ago in the hills of San Antonio is cascading over the rock walls. It took a few years to identify it because it’s not listed as occurring in the U.S. I found out what it was when I looked over a list of plants of Mexico – Sedum diffusum. Therefore it’s a new record in the U.S. and I need to get this published.

As I look out my bedroom window I see birds relishing the overflow of the filling of the bird feeder – grackle, cardinal, bluejay, mourning dove and English sparrow. On occasion a hawk will perch in the trees but I don’t know what species it is. No doubt this area is like a bird buffet to it. The nest box I put in the tree was on the verge of habitation by a non-native starling until I lessened the diameter of the entrance. I’m not sure if a Carolina wren or chickadee took advantage of this. Due to the lack of rain I must refill the water containers every 3 days.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A brief vacation

For 12 years or more I’ve made the drive up to Lubbock to see Joshua Carpenter during his spring break. A journey made more imperative due to his absorption in video games. In the past we would hit the road to New Mexico to dig for minerals, sled down sand hills and hike in snow at 11,000 feet. Time was not on my side as I only had 4 days available to see him. Good enough to disconnect him from the Xbox. This week he was in the doghouse as usual with his mom Andrea so it took a certain amount of cajoling to get her to agree to take him overnight to Raton where we were to meet up with Rob Graham whom I’ve known for 31 years; having met at the Univ. of Texas in 1979.

The drive consumed 6 hours, leaving a couple of hours to find a suitable hiking site. This was a bust, even after crossing over the mountains to Colorado. It seemed every bit of land was off limits. In the end we resigned ourselves to exploring a parcel of open woodland behind a hotel only to retreat when coming upon a transient camp. Rob arrived later at the Best Western with the news that Sugarite State Park was outside the city; the only direction we didn’t take. While Josh was enthralled with the boob tube Rob and I ventured out for a spot of beer only to find one bar open on this St. Patrick's Day. A noisy atmosphere with a band and a couple of beers. This is the hotspot of Raton. Seems like there's nothing else to do here except drink your life away.

In the morning we ventured out to make the most with what little time we had. At the visitor center we were greeted and given hiking advice by the park’s law enforcement officer; a female that paused between instructions to spit a wad of saliva into her dip bottle. Whatever works!

With ice still on the fringes of the lake this area at 5000ft was still in the throes winter dormancy. Josh brought his unicycle and was as adept on the snowy, icy trail as he was on asphalt. My 10 year old Catahoula/boxer mix felt like a puppy again; bounding in the snow and sniffing throughout the dead grass for traces of rodents. An hour later we parted way as Rob returned to his home in Grand Junction.

Joshua's dyed his hair red in deference to his cousin Tristan who is a hemophiliac.