Water Needs for Plants and Our Wild Friends

by Donna Lewis

Right now it’s 7:00 am and go outside to put up the bird feeders and fill up all the bird baths.

The birds are eagerly awaiting my food offerings. The mosquitoes are waiting just for me! I have to wear long sleeves that I hate.

This is delicious!

Anyway, we need to remember our birds, bunnies and other critters need water that is accessible.  Putting it under some shade helps keep yhrm a little cooler. Of course, that also gives the cats a place to hide and pounce. So, use common sense about water placement.

Bird baths should be varied in height. That gives everyone a chance to drink. Make sure to put a stone in the bottom so the babies don’t drown.

I fill all (10) of them every day.  And people wonder why I have so many birds.

So many feeders!

In the evening as a treat, I will put out a sprinkler in one area and leave it on for about 30 minutes.   The birds go crazy and call all their friends.  It’s great to watch them.

The morning is also a good time to water the plants in your garden.

Remember if you use sprinklers, you wash off the nectar on a plant which takes hours to replace. So, watering under the leaves and flowers is the best.  I know it is not always possible to do that.   In that case rotate the watering, so there is always nectar on some of the plants.

Helpful rocks!

Don’t forget to place your hummingbird feeders under a shaded area and change it out every three days when it is hot. It’s always hot here in Texas.

I hope these tips help.

Remember who you are gardening for.

Summer’s End

by Donna Lewis

I took a walk in the garden and just outside to look at the new emergence that the rain we had a week or so ago had brought.  Many things I thought were dead came back to life, maybe just for a short time, but it shows us nature trying to repair herself.

Toad is happy to have some water.

Fall is here, and things will change as they are supposed to do.

Hawk on the lookout for tasty morsels.

The land will rest for a while.  We will wait for spring again.

As the saying goes…a picture is worth a thousand words.

Hey there, readers. This is Sue Ann. Our frequent blogger, Donna, has been in a lot of pain this summer, and has hurt her back again. Please send all your good thoughts her way, so that she can heal and get back to taking care of the life in her garden.

Donna, we appreciate you so much!

Herding Armadillos

by Donna Lewis

Early this morning (July 21), I was putting out my bird feeders when I heard rustling going on in my pollinator garden. For about a week I have seen evidence of an armadillo doing their thing in the garden. Some of the little critters’ actions are very beneficial to the garden. The soil is aerated, and the grub worms are eaten and removed.

But the other action is not so good. The armadillo is also pulling up some of the remaining plants I have left that the drought has not killed off. So that is not so good.

Anyway, I had not been able to find the perpetrator just yet.  So, I looked and there inside the fence was a young armadillo. We will call her Amy. I rush around the fence and open the gate to my garden.  I thought I might be able to herd her out the gate to my pasture.

This is not Amy, but it IS a running armadillo! This is by Brandon Adams on iNaturalist, just his second observation!

Also, I might add that our little 13-pound Papillon Mix dog was also outside for his morning constitutional. I kinda forgot about him.

Well, herding an armadillo is not easy. They are fast and do not cooperate with the program.  After 20 minutes, I finally got Amy to the gate opening where lo and behold…Cujo was waiting!   

The excitement was about to begin. Our little pup decided to chase the armadillo back into the garden and around and around everywhere. The dog is barking, the little Armadillo is hollering and I am shouting to the dog. What a crazy sight it must have been. I wish I had a video of it.

I had to catch our little dog, take him back inside the house and start to herd Amy back towards the garden gate again.

All this took about an hour.  What a way to get some exercise. It was not too good for my bad back. BUT, no animal or human was hurt doing the event.

Now, that’s how a Master Naturalist wrangles and saves a cute little Armadillo.

Have fun in your garden.

Here are some more photos and more information on nine-banded armadillos on iNaturalist.

Drought, Ugh

by Donna Lewis

First we have the Big Freeze, now we have the big heat wave and drought!!

I guess we need to be more careful about what we wish for. When it was cold, I wished for warm weather…

So I took a few photos around the house. It is bad. I didn’t even have the heart to take photos of my beautiful pollinator garden. I have tried to save it, but we also have to be smart.

Water for the birds, the big plants and trees. But we might just have to let the small stuff go.  Zinnias will come back from the dried seeds you can harvest now. That will save some water.

This is a good time to learn from this weather event. Put out a sprinkler in the evening, the birds love it.

And on a happy note, here is one of my neighbor’s horses watching me put out the sprinklers. He always gets a carrot for helping me!  

Take stock of WHAT is surviving instead of being so upset over the plants that do not make it. Next year we will know to plant more of the hardy things that made it.

We must always observe and revise our plans. Things change.

The Great Caterpillar Run

by Donna Lewis

On May 2, I went out to the pollinator garden to work, and all I saw was black Pipe-vine caterpillars on the march to find more pipe-vine plants. They ate all the ones I have in my garden right down to the ground and are even eating the stems right now.  It’s a feast going on….

The vines, before

I almost stepped on a bunch of them.

Off it goes!

I got my camera, took a few shots and then carefully walked out of the garden.

The vines, after

They will go out to the pasture and find their native vine until they are big enough to make a chrysalis  and then become a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly.

Nothing left but future butterflies.

In several weeks, my plants will completely grow back and the process begins again. Last year I had four complete cycles.

The caterpillars can be black or dark red.

That is amazing.

PS: Out near where Donna lives, Suna saw at least a dozen of the adults enjoying Indian blanket flowers. Sadly, she was unable to stop the vehicle fast enough for a photo, but it was a beautiful sight.