Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sue's suet recipe

Here's an email from Sue K. with our Texas Master Naturalist Highland Lakes Chapter:

I am seeing a lot of our fall and winter birds on migration starting to show up at our feeders and out in the lake! This is my very favorite time of the year and we can start counting birds again for the Cornell lab of Ornithology. So it is also time for y'all to start making suet if you haven't already. I am sending out my recipe and the birds will love you for making it for them. Don't forget that FeederWatch starts on November 8th. Happy fall, y'all, and start counting those birds!

Suet Recipe
1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 cup of lard

2 cups of quick cook oats

2 cups of corn meal

1 cup of flour

Melt lard and peanut butter in microwave or over low heat. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into square freezer containers about 1/2 inch thick to fit your suet baskets. Store in freezer until ready to use. This makes about six suet cakes. If you want to add nuts to this recipe the birds love the addition.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Friday outing to our land

Zizotes milkweed going to seed!
Plenty of healthy antelope horns, another milkweed.

We LOVE our Indiangrass!

A mystery species.....probably sweet everlasting
(Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium).

Lindheimer muhly is also gorgeous and TALL.

A teeny tiny mystery species.

A greenbrier without thorns?

And a MAGNIFICENT twist leaf yucca!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Master Gardeners tour our gardens

Carol Rankin and Glenn Bishop gave us a copy of How to Grow More Than Rocks in Blanco County, Texas, published this year by the Master Gardener Association of Blanco County.
This afternoon, we enjoyed hosting the monthly meeting for members of the Blanco County Master Gardeners. Everyone arrived at 1 p.m., then James and I gave garden tours. Afterward, they held their business meeting. The weather was PERFECT! Thank you for sharing our Texas Wildscape with us!

James helped set up chairs. I counted more than 20 heads.
They loved our new patio and fire pit.
I gave a brief overview of our native gardens and how to certify for a Texas Wildscape.

I warned our neighbors that there'd be lots of parked cars along our street today!

During the meeting, members discussed their first Gardening FUNdamentals event held last Saturday at the Blanco High School. (I was there during the morning half to share about spiders and had a great time.) They're planning to host another one next fall. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Brick patio update (we've got a fire pit!)

Our newest garden addition is, I'd say, officially complete! Last week, Matt Rios with Matt's Custom Welding in Fredericksburg delivered our custom-made gas fire pit. See the emblems he had cut out in each quadrant? They represent our Texas Wildscape! With James' approval, I selected: a lizard to symbolize the lizards, frogs, snakes, and other crawly critters that inhabit our gardens; a hummingbird for our birds; a leaf for the plants and trees; and OF COURSE a SPIDER for the insects, butterflies, caterpillars, spiders and other buggy creatures (the spider's for ME, too!). Matt did a really nice job on our pit.

Today, we drove up to Progress Waste Solutions (IESI) south of Johnson City to pick up some crushed glass to go around the fire pit. The glass is free; you just have to take your own containers and load it up yourself. As you can see, they've got TONS of it! Then James arranged it around the pit's base. Looks pretty good! 

New additions (native plant sale!)

Well, folks, I wasn't gonna do it. I even told James that I wouldn't. "James, you're in luck this year," I said. "You don't have to go to the October native plant sale at the Wildflower Center." I just figured whatever we'd plant probably wouldn't make it over the winter. Then I looked back at last fall's purchases....we only lost two.

So off we went Sunday morning! As always, we had the best time. Here are our new additions:
Golden dalea (2)  
Salvia greggi 'Raspberry'
Snapdragon vine 'Red' (2)

(also a baby yellow yucca and tahoka daisy)

I also received a tropical butterflyweed from the Blanco County Master Gardeners chapter Saturday (I talked about spiders with visitors during the morning half of their Gardening FUNdamentals). Thank you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Monarch kids!

Look what I just spotted on our butterflyweed! Not one but TWO monarch caterpillars! Ran into the house to grab my point-and-shoot. That's when I noticed the second child. Yay! I think they're close to pupating. They're definitely very well fed, as you can see. 

I also took a short video (posted below) of some strange "head knocking" behavior. I'll ask some experts what they think about that and get back to you.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A story about a girl and her bike

A little more than three years ago, James and I attended the dedication of a new historical marker at Blanco State Park. With permission, we drove up the big hill to the park residence, just recently vacated by the then current park superintendent. I was curious to see the house, where I'd lived many years with my former husband and raised our two children. The house was locked, naturally, so we peeked through the windows and walked around the yard. So many memories! In the back yard, I saw what used to be my herb garden and the stone patio where we sometimes picnicked. Then I turned and saw an old, badly rusted bike parked against the chain link fence by the garage.

"That's MY bike!" I gasped, completely stunned. I'd forgotten that it even existed. Evidently, my former husband had left it when he moved to another park. It was a wonder that no one had thrown it away! 

Even more memories came flooding back....  I was eight or nine, growing up in Corpus Christi, when we returned home from a Christmas trip to visit relatives. I remember walking into the front room where we always put up our tree and stockings. I couldn't believe my eyes! Santa had brought me a brand new big-girl bike! But how had he gotten it into the house while we were gone? He really was magical! 

In no time, I'm sure, I had that bicycle–a Western Flyer bought from Western Auto–out the front door and rolling down our street. Me and that bike were nearly inseparable. I rode it up and down Dogwood Street either by myself or with friends, like Dylynn and Karen. For a time, I even dubbed my two-wheel "Silver" in honor of the Lone Ranger's faithful horse by the same name. That bike carried me on countless trips to Circle K and Maverick Market, where I picked out a sack of penny candy and bubble gum. A dime went a LONG way back in the late 1960s and early '70s.

I think I even took my bike to college for a semester. From the git go, I was always careful to use the kick stand and not drop my bike on the ground whenever I got off. I loved my bike.

"You should get it, and we'll take it home," James said. I nodded.

So with permission from the interim park manager, we loaded up my old bicycle and then parked it in our back yard. Every time I'd see it there at the corner of our house, I'd feel guilty about leaving it outside. But what did more time matter at this point? My friend was already in sad shape, as you can tell by the photos below. Now and then, I'd research bike restoration people and put out inquiries on Facebook (remember, Irene?). But I got nowhere.

Until this past July, when I finally came across Chris Mallett and his Red-D Bikes restoration company in San Antonio. For many pretty pennies, he'd be glad to get my bicycle restored and back to riding condition. James said yes, DO IT. A few days later, he cheerfully made a delivery run to the Alamo City with my bicycle in the trunk. "Take your time," I told Chris. "No hurry!"

Just last Saturday, Chris called. My bike was finished! So this morning, James and I headed south and picked it up. My friend is BACK! Thank you, Chris!

So yes, after all this time, my bike and I are reunited. For now, as you can see, it's parked in our front bedroom until we can figure out how to best store it in the garage (preferably hanging). I'm looking forward to cruising the neighborhood. Watch out for us!  

P.S. Mom couldn't quite remember how Santa got the bike into the house while we were gone that Christmas. But she thinks Dad (who left for heaven in December 2008) might have run back into the house before we left on our trip because he "forgot something," when actually he pulled the bike out of his car trunk and set it up in the front room. For years, I thought maybe he'd enlisted the neighbors to do it. :-)

My mother found one vintage photo of my bike (complete with white basket) and Sambo, our then cat. Circa November 1971 in our Dogwood garage.