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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Enjoying nature

Today I was startled by a sparrow trying to build a nest under my window air conditioner.  This is not uncommon.  In the past, they have even built under the cover.

I thought maybe just putting in pictures of the critters around here might be fun.  It's springtime right now, meaning it goes from snowing to 80°F (27°C) about once a week here!  Icicles form from the rain sometimes.

We have a wide variety of critters around:




Tiny bunny

Bunny right outside my door

The tiny bunnies are now about one and half times the size shown in the photo.  These bunnies live under the platform outside my door (seen in the above photo).  I have nearly stepped on them several times.  They have no fear of me.  Nor do the deer.


The grackle comes to where I toss bird seed out the window.   There's no feeder, I just toss the seed on the ground.  I have gotten a surprising variety of birds to come in and eat.  April and May are the best time, as the birds are migrating through during that period.

Last spring snow:

Pigeon in tree

Springtime daffodils:

Head outside and see what nature has to offer where you are!  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The roller coaster weather of Wyoming

Wyoming's roller coaster of weather is in full force.  We have had two snow storms in the last couple of weeks.  The first was 12 inches of snow, followed by 40 mph wind.  That snow stayed around for a few days, then the weather warmed and it was gone except the drifts.  Then March 6th, when .5" of snow was predicted, there was 4.5 inches of snow, 40 mph winds with 50 mph gusts.  The next two days had high wind warnings with winds in excess of 40 mph and gusting over 60.  The temperatures rose, the snow is melting and we're in the 50's now, above average for this time of the year.

Today, the 12th, it snowed a bit this morning and now it's sunny and kind of windy.  Ah, Wyoming in the spring!

I bought supplies to start plants indoors when we went shopping.  It's a bit early and I'm still waiting on the seed, but I figured I should start the peppers and eggplants early.  I have an eggplant and a pepper in containers in the house from last year.  The pepper still makes little bitty peppers but the eggplant hasn't produced.  I guess it's not getting pollinated.

Soon enought it will be planting time and I can go outside and "play".  This week I'm going to clear the asparagus patch.  The tulips and daffodils in there will be coming up and blooming in less than a month, barring more nasty snow storms!

Deer using a drift as a wind block!

Antelope in the yard (photo by my husband)

Fox tracks


Scene driving back from Rawlins Feb. 27, 2017

Driving back from Rawlins    February 27, 2017

Then there's the adorable dog:

There's a nose in there somewhere! 
Arent' I soooo cute?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Myth of the non-flying male muscovies

Perpetrator of escape is on the left

While I have read over and over and over that male muscovy ducks cannot fly, that information is actually quite inaccurate.

Extreme cold is coming and my hubby and I were trying to move the ducks into the greenhouse due to impending subzero temperatures when New Male decided he did not want to go in.  He took off, soared 20 feet in the air and landed 100 yards away in the neighbor's yard.  He had gotten off the ground once before, but only about 6 feet.  Every blog I've read says males cannot fly.  They obviously have not met New Male.

My husband manage to chase him down and corner him.  I notice when Tiny flew off to the neighbor's yard earlier this summer, she wouldn't fly back over the fence.  When I penned her close to the fence, she finally flew over.  Then, I just waited until she walked back to the duck area and she went right into a pen.

Since cold was coming, we wanted to catch New Male and stuff him in the greenhouse now.  After being caught (the neighbor has a lot of piles of junk'n'stuff) in a dead end area, New Male was brought back to our yard and his wings immediately clipped.  He was then tossed into the greenhouse.

There is one more female whose wings are not clipped but I couldn't catch her in the greenhouse, so when it warms back up, we'll run them out one at a time.

Ducks are an endless source of new and different experiences.  Henceforth, I shall assume ALL muscovies can fly and clip away on those flight feathers.

Happy new year!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Winter finally arrives

Seems like my blog posts mostly rely on the weather for names.  It's been busy here, so I'm going with mostly photos and a few comments.

Winter is here and it's COLD out there.  December 8th it was -33F overnight.  Today, the wind is blowing and it's around 17 degrees.  The snow we had Friday is moving all around now!

Before the wind

Before the wind

December 29th update and finishing!

The deer are back:

Scratching an itch

Bedded down for the snowy night

Winter also returned with very strong winds and snow.  The road that goes around the south end of Casper near Casper Mountain had gusts to 88 mph this week and nearly that high last week.  Many places had hurricane force winds.  Clark, Wyoming, topped 100 mph at least twice since the start of December.  There is a high wind warning for tonight through tomorrow at 11 am.  It's welcome to Wyoming Wind time!!

We also have had snow, which blows all over and closes roads.  The snow then blows into rock hard drifts and leaves open spaces everywhere.  It's a white and tan Christmas!

After the wind

Before the wind

That's it.  More next year!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Summer's here

Okay, time for cute pictures of the dog.  As you can see, she sleeps a lot (she's asleep right now in the chair beside me).  When not asleep, she enjoys chewing on empty soda bottles.  As you can tell, the dog has TEETH!  Yorkies have remarkably large teeth for their size!

This spring we had a couple of heavy rains and flooding.  This was followed by almost no rain in July.  It's been hot—today it's 93 degrees.  So far the evaporative cooler has been able to keep up most days.  We do have a window air conditioner in case the swamp cooler malfunctions or can't keep up, but other than when the pump basket clogged off (that happens from time to time) and when it was hot day after day and I had to close the curtains and hang blankets for a couple of days, we've been okay with the cooler.

My garden is hanging in there, in spite of the heat.  Earwigs are another story.  Looks like I'm going to have to powder the corn and so forth if I want to kill them.  I've drown tons of them by putting down wet sheets at night and then throwing the sheets into a bucket of soapy water, but I can't kill enough to make a dent, it seems.  I've gotten peas, the beans are almost ready and the tomatoes have tiny tomatoes forming.  I also say a small zuchinni.  I can't eat fried zuchinni yet because I have no bottom teeth, but it's good for other dishes.

The ducks hatched a couple of batches of ducklings.  "Mama" hatched three babies around June 7th, then "Broody" hatched ten on the 26th of July.  All three of Mama's are alive and one, the drake, is larger than she is now!  So far, six of the ten Boody had are still alive.  I added shade, a shallow water  dish and a food dish to see if that helps keep the remaining six alive.  It has been so very hot for the ducks.  Broody is often seen panting and the babies spend much of day inside their house.  We let some ducks out one day and others the next.  Otherwise, they tend to fight each other.  We now have one duck per cage, except the mature drake and one hen are housed together.  This is much easier than trying to keep all six together.  When the hens go broody, fights erupt often and I was tired of fighting ducks.  So, they have their own little "happy places" and harmony rules!

These are two of the nighthawks that fly around during the day eating mosquitoes and other insects.  There are five altogether.  They do a good job of keeping the flying insect population down and they're fun to watch!  

That's it for this post.  More later.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

It's now May 1st, though with the weather, you'd never know it.  We have had snow three times in April, once nearly a foot.  I had been putting my garden plants out in my portable greenhouse until the snow started!
What happened to spring?????
Deer in snow

Duck pen covered in snow

Actually kind of pretty!

This year the duck pen survived the snow, in part because I had redone the top and tied everything together and in part because we knocked as much snow off as possible.  The dusk are doing fine.  Two are brooding—well, kind of three.  The one we call Broody who hatched a bunch of babies last year has been sitting for over three weeks.  Then there are two sitting in another pen.  They both sit on the eggs, at the same time.  We had a third duck in there, but fights broke out, so she's now in the greenhouse at night until it dries out and I can put in another divider.  If anymore fights break out, whoever is fighting is on their own outside the pens.  I have no more room.  Or said duck gets a room in the freezer.  Muscovies are interesting ducks, but they do have a lot of interpersonal disputes.

The daffodils were blooming, but I had to bring them in when it got cold.  There are more getting ready to bloom soon.  Weather is forecast to hit 78F by Thursday.  It has been a roller coaster here for about two months.  Still hoping for spring soon!

These are the additional duck houses.  We started putting them outside the pens with just an opening into them because the ducks don't make as much of a mess.  All are hinged on the back for easy removal of eggs and bedding.  We are learning ways to make the duck keeping easier as we go along.

This is my makeshift greenhouse.  I put the small, portable one out by the corner of the house for hardening off my plants.  The plants are doing well.  Some of the tomato plants are over six inches tall.  Last year at this time, my plants barely had their second leaves.

Lastly, it's Sasha doing what she does best—sleeping!

That's all for now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It's already March

Seems like things just keep getting in the way of updating blogs.  My teeth and mouth are a constant source of distraction, what with dental visits and so forth.  Hopefully, that's over soon.

Sasha is doing very well.  Cute little critter, we think anyway.   She's all of 3 1/2 pounds but very sturdy for such a small dog.  She likes to jump from chairs onto the dining room table and then jump off when caught standing on the table.  The chairs now stay pushed up so she can't do that!  Sasha is also confined to walking on a leash because she just can't resist bunny chasing, right through the fence.  While she has learned sit, stay and off fairly well, stop or come is not yet in her list of accomplishments.  She does tolerate snow better than at the beginning of the winter, but still doesn't like "the white stuff" on her ramp and in her yard.  She does love coming in and jumping on Jim or I while she's soaking wet, however!  She will not wear a sweater.  I tried it and she just sits still and won't move.  We'll work on it.

It's been an interesting winter.   There have been a couple of very strong snow storms and a huge amount of wind.  My garden greenhouse had the fiberglass torn off the frame, so I will be rebuilding that.  There was a prairie fire this fall (courtesy of the landfill not knowing what to do with a burning compost pile in 50 mph winds—burned down 12 houses and many, many acres of prairie) so when the wind hits the 25 to 30 mph range, we get sand blowing everywhere.  Much of the area looks like sand dunes.  When spring comes, the grass will come back somewhat and it will look better.

Winds have hit 38 mph sustained several times and have taken their toll on structures out here.  One trailer lost its roof (fortunately, it was a "false roof" built over a metal trailer roof, so no leaking or raining in).  We now have a weather station to tell us how fast the wild is blowing and a wind sock so we can tell direction.

This month, we had several antelope go through our yard.   It's kind of unusual for antelope to be in so close to houses, though they have become less afraid of people in the thirty years I've lived here.  

The ducks have been doing well this winter.  A couple of times they had to go in the greenhouse and off and on they had to go in their pen due to a great horned owl in the area, but most of the time they were in the garden area.  Our "pet" duck, Baby, was alone in her pen as she does not like the other ducks (I saved her by bringing her into the house, but in doing so, kept her from imprinting on other ducks, so she's a pet).  Then the male decided he liked the duck we called Tiny (hatched last summer as a single egg by one of our female ducks) and proceeded to show his interest by breeding her almost exclusively.  As a result, he pulled out a ton of her feathers around her neck.  She looked so sad and pathetic, I decided to separate her from the others.  She and Baby did okay together—they don't like each other, but they don't fight. 

Now we are getting to the season where the hens start laying eggs for broading, so I have the ducks divided into pens and Baby and Tiny are in the garden.  Tiny is laying eggs, but I don't think she's old enough to actually raise baby ducks.  The male is alone in a pen since he seems to be the source of the most angst in the flock.  He's not happy, but when the weather is better, I will let him out with a couple of the hens at a time, so he can enjoy female companionship.

I planted seeds for garden plants.  It's a bit early, but with the warmth of the house and a flourescent light, I think I can get the seeds to come up.  Last year I waited too long and the plants were not big enough by May/June.  I really love growing tomatoes that I can eat.  They are all heirloom varieties and I freeze them for making soups and sauces in the winter.  Homemade tomato soup can't be beat!

That's it for now.  Happy Spring!