Thursday, May 29, 2008

The wildflowers are still glorious - if you know what kind this one is, let us know as we haven't figured it out yet.

We got some lovely rain this past weekend – we measured 1.49 inches by Monday night when we left and our neighbor measured an additional .94 the next day! Normally we don’t get rain this late in the season, so this was very welcome, although may only be good for encouraging the tarweed to grow more. Lots of weeding in the upper garden got done, how well the weeds do grow! I was amazed at the huge heaps that my husband had gathered at the end of his weeding bouts.

In spite of the rain, we got out for some nature walks and spent some good time watching a wood duck family on the river. This mama had five ducklings (we think it may be the same family that used to have seven ducklings a couple of weeks ago, yikes.) A friend observed that it is just impossible to be angry or upset when watching ducklings, and that is so true. Good thing we’re vegetarians, or we might feel hungry though, poor things have so many things that want to eat them, the mama duck must be anxious at all times. This is a shot of the Chowchilla River, near our favorite spot by an Oregon Ash tree and where we have been seeing the wood ducklings. This shot is looking upstream.

We also spent some time getting distracted by a hole in an oak tree wherein, based on the amount of peeping noises emanating from it, were lodged a brood of acorn woodpecker babies. We sat on a log some distance away and saw an adult come to the tree, but we believe we were still too close for comfort so no one entered the hole. We gave up on watching and waiting because we didn’t want to disturb anybody to the point of not being able to visit their nest.

In other bird news, the ash-throated flycatchers have returned and are very busy catching things. Hopefully whatever grasshoppers may be around. We also saw a killdeer just off the road on our way out of the ranch as we were heading back to the Bay Area. This is the first killdeer we’ve seen around here, so it was exciting to be able to add a new name to our ranch list!
Killdeer photograph in the public domain US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Attending the Roundup

Each year, our neighbors up the road gather all their horses and have an all-day event where basic horsy maintenance is performed. Hooves get trimmed, teeth get checked and rasped if necessary, appropriate vaccinations are given and everyone is given a general once over. There are some wonderful pictures of the day at our neighbor Tom’s interesting blog.

Only one of us was able to attend this year (sob sob, I had to stay behind) but it’s always fun, if often hot and/or dusty. We get to visit with the neighbors, catch up from last year and of course – see all of our horse buddies also!

The horses will be gathered up again soon and will make a journey to the High Sierra, where they live at Muir Trail Ranch, the guest ranch run by the aforementioned neighbors (and also relatives!).

And now for some strictly Dryad Ranch updates:

A tree frog was discovered lurking in the shower over the weekend, and was duly and appropriately moved outdoors, where evidently it took off like a shot to more appropriately tree-froglike terrain, i.e. the trees. He may have been waiting for one of us to leave so he could use the shower enclosure as an echo chamber like some of the 50's do-wop groups purportedly did. That would have really impressed the target audience, but we're not sure how he would have met his groupies.

The wood ducks have successfully brought at least two broods of ducklings into the world this year, and boy are they cute! One pair has seven babies, and the other pair has three surviving ducklings. No photos unfortunately, because wood ducks are nothing if not wary.

A juvenile red-tailed hawk has been spotted on numerous occasions and is very vocal about activity under its purview.

The grasshopper population is unfortunately and infuriatingly well ahead of the protein eaters, like the lark sparrows, phoebes and wild turkeys. Shakes fist at the grasshoppers! Stay away from our garden!

Shockingly enough, the weeds continue to grow. On the agenda for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend: hand weeding the gardens.
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