We Are Deep In the Heart of Texas

Nomadic seasons of farming adventures with nature thrown in to include; a pinch of family, snippets of friends, counting our blessings, paying IT forward, home school, and the spicy things I decide to rant about.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Painted Lady Release, Prayers For Those Affected by Tornados Yesterday

This morning we are taking advantage of the cooler weather.  We have our windows open since it will not be in the 100s for the first time in about a week.  Our hearts, minds and prayers are with friends and family affected by the storms yesterday in South East and East Coast.  I am worried for all those folks still trapped or missing in Alabama, my folks live in the area but, are safe. 

Zephyr, Saenz, and I released our Painted Lady butterflies; we waited one day because the weather was awful here with really hot temps (over 100) and high wind gusts.  We are thrilled to report four of them are now living somewhere in our yard healthy and happy. 

Our lone hold out, I am guessing by Friday or early Saturday this lone fella will be ready to join his friends.  If you double click the image; you can see its wing outline and it has grown darker like the others did. 

Zephyr learned that when butterflies rest they fold their wings together and mostly fly in daylight hours. They have to emerge head down so their wings will not have to fight gravity and dry in the proper shape for flight.  Moths on the other hand usually fly at or near night time, don't eats as adults, have no probiscus, and rest with their wings open.  Cool eh?

I will order the catepillars again next year; Zephyr is still begging for the Hissing Cockroach kit --- lets just say I am not too thrilled with the idea. LOL 
Zephyr is sporting one of his favorite shirts given to him by Mrs. Lily (thank you!).  This afternoon, I will be placing an order for his 1st multi subject curriculum from Sonlight. After Zephyr's Kindergarten graduation in May; I will give him a week off and then start his first grade lessons.  If all goes well Zephyr will be ready to start the second grade in Jan - Feb time frame 1/2 a year ahead because I am not going to slow down or hold him back.   I am only getting Saenz the core for his 7th grade year and first year Latin from Sonlight.  We already have enough science and math curriculum to carry Saenz through the 8th grade. 

Last night, I watched a new program on the History Channel called THE SHAPE OF THE STATES.  Have you seen it?  Very interesing material, I think I am going to order the book to incorporate it into our history lessons.  Did you know that the US had more than 50 states apply for statehood; for example the Republic of Franklin in what is now Tennesee and 'Deseret (Utah)' was not sucessful in joining the union? I knew about common wealth of Puerto Rico and D.C. 

Makes you go hum doesn't it?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chrysalides, Earth Day, Egg Hunt, Confetti Eggs, Egg Golf

It has been a rather busy week; the boys and I are watching our Painted Ladies quite closely now.  The fifth catepillar was not dead but, was later than its siblings crawling to the top -- by a full three days.  Good thing I waited to transfer them into the butterfly garden.  So any day now, we will have five butterflies to release.

So now there are five; with them growing darker by the day.
BTW Did you know that trees can be wind burned?  Well we found out our pear trees are having a rough time due to all the high winds we have been having. 
We planted 2 peach trees with the help of Sid and 12 tomato, 6 zucchini, and four watermelon for our Earth Day contribution.  I just love that happy face!
 On Easter Sunday, before our grand daughters Jaylin and Sarah along with Zephyr zipped outside to find the bounty the bunny left for them.  We watched the video HE HAS RISEN as our lesson about the meaning of and importance of celebrating Easter and the life of Jesus. 

 Then the kiddos took turns whacking each other on the noggins with confetti eggs.
 Then for a little entertainment by Grandpaw, he practiced his golf swing with a few of the confetti eggs.
Sid loves golf just as much as his dad!  
Banjo of course loved all the attention he received this weekend from Sid, Junio, Jayline, Sarah, Saenz, and Zephyr.  Banjo even was the object of a few confetti eggs' attention. Thanks for bringing the girls down; hope ya'll come back real soon please.

All I know is this weekend though busy -- was just a peaceful weekend spent with family.  We will continue to pray for world peace, happiness, blessings, and guidance for all!

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We Have A Visitor - Blue Indigo Juvenile

I am thoroughly convinced that snakes are territorial creatures who; have a space in which they hunt, breed, and live.  I have seen this one right outside my window for about two weeks now but, have not had a camera to catch a shot.  Well I got lucky this time because our special guest had helped himself to a meal so I got a couple of shots of him/her.  This is a blue indigo snake and is definitely only a juvenile at just over three feet.

 I was standing less than a foot away to take these shots. It is such a lovely snake and has been documented at up to 8.75 feet long.  We had one that our second year here that was pretty close to 9 feet and its body was as thick as my forearm; heavy bodied snake.  We respect these beautiful animals and feel blessed that one has taken up home in our inner yard.  Which means less rats, mice, and possible rattlers where our boys tend to play.
 Saenz loves these.
 Crooked yellow neck squash will be ready soon.  This plant has four fruits.
We picked some snacks right out of our garden: some onion to go with our zucchini and of course right out of the garden raddishes -- rinse and eat. (We got the raddish seed from a lady in England who sent them as a gift.) 

Life is good and we are counting our blessings and saying thanks!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Painted Ladies, Ants, and a Mad Frog; OH MY!

Our painted lady catepillars have now started their pupa stage with their chrysalis forming/hardening.  Of the five catepillars we received only one seems to have died.  The rest are now safely attached to the lid of the jar.
 Day one Monday 19 April: Going to Pupa.
Day 2, April 20th: All 4 are in pupa, notice no legs or hair protrusions.
Yesterday, we got in the ants for the ant farm.  Let me tell ya, those suckers were really angry being in that tube.  Follow directions and definitely refrigerate them for 2 minutes.  Hubby was the one who put them into their farm. He did such a great job only one escapee made a run for it.  That little bugger tried to sting as soon as it was touched.  The above picture was just after one hour after farm arrival. We gave them water, a sliver of apple, a piece of bread, and a corn chip; mind you really small pieces.
This picture was taken after six hours of them being left alone in the down stairs (darkened) bathroom. Notice they now have a pantry started on the left hand side, have moved their dead, have started tunneling.
This morning, we have found them to have built several chambers, more tunnels and have cleaned up their den.  After a few days of rest, we will add a few more drops of water to see how the ants react plus maybe add a piece of mango.   
Do you see what I see? 
Zephyr is holding our first zucchini of the season.  Happy to say, he will help me chop it up for our dinner plates later.

Other garden news: we tried those battery powered mole/gopher chasers. So far, they have worked perfectly since, the little fur balls have left the area. Key to sucess with those 'chasers' is to not let your soil dry out completely since, watering helps to conduct / amplify the noise they emit.

Our newest threat are from rabbits coming into the yard.  So, we will be hanging deer netting onto our fence to keep them at bay.  Also to combat the fire & red ant problem we have; we are using orange oil mixed with water to 'kill - discourage' ants from taking up home in our garden beds.  This is not a QUICK solution; you have to keep spraying the mixture because it is not a poison, will not harm people or critters without exo-skeletons.  For those who want to know; Orange Oil dissolves the shell of the ants exoskeleton thus killing the ants.  However if you just want to ants to nest somewhere else use; corn meal or pour boiling water onto their mound.

Keep in mind, 'natural solutions' take a longer (much) period to work.  Natural solutions are not pesticides and have to be given time to work their magic.  When we have a problem with leaf eating critters, I just mix a solution of dish soap, water and cayenne pepper to spray the leaves.  Again this has to be done on the days not watering and takes time but is not harmful to humans.
For my friend John over in England.  Sorry, he did not have a box to piss in but; this is the 'Mad' frog we seen at the zoo. 

Oh and for our Jewish friends hope you have a wonderful Passover. For those who celebrate Easter; have a great service and week.  We are expecting our family this weekend: Junior and his two girls, and Sid for the weekend. YIKES maybe the Easter Bunny will make a stop at Grandpaw's and Grandmaw's this holiday.

PS: Thanks Mrs. Lily for taking us into town to buy our monthly feed and two new peach trees. Saenz and I enjoyed our lunch with you yesterday. Please stop by next week.........we love you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Celebrating 100! With A Zoo Day

Zephyr has been working overtime to learn his sight words. Each morning, we read his primary books and practice using flash cards to reinforce sounding out words.

Well his dad told him, we will go to the Zoo once you hit a 100.

 GUESS WHAT! Last Friday Zephyr made the cut off; I love the dangling carrot to ensure he works towards a educational goal that is meaningful to all of us.
San Antonio does not advocate texting and driving. Awesome!
We got a kick out of this billboard.
It was already shaping up to be a hot day. Zephyr tested the temps first. 
Dad got a boo boo! First Aid was called to clean up this scrap by a stub that was not removed from too close to the sidewalk. 
This kind employee gave him a cold soda while we were waiting. Nice people at the zoo. Then of course we always head to the reptile house; seems our boys love reptiles. (I wonder from who they got that glitch in their personality.)
Green Mamba, we could watch this fiesty snake all day. 

These Geckos were as long as my hand; about 6 inches.
Felt sorry for this bullsnake in with the western diamondback rattler. But for the average lay person to see a bullsnake next to a diamondback is a good thing.  For lots of peeps will kill a snake thinking it is venomous. We don't practice the killing of snakes just because they are venomous.

 Do you see the flamingo in the middle - take note of it standing/sleeping on its knees?
Did I tell you that is was hot? Already in the 90s with high humidity by noon.  
 I was thinking of Melodie (Laughing Duck Farm's avatar here.)
We got a kick out of this jungle fowl cock, following Saenz's every move.  
 Have you ever seen one of these Vulturine Guinea Fowl?  This was our first time.
 The San Antonio Zoo has several American Bald Eagles because they were wounded and lost a wing due to somebody shooting them.  This stately and curious bird is part of a breeding program.  Very sad way for such a beautiful bird to live out its life instead of in the sky.
 The boys and I got a kick out of looking the different types of bird's eggs and nests.  Amazing the variety that birds possess.

 Zephyr in the petting zoo.

 Our boys inside the lory exhibit.  These are some noisey little critters who eat nectar and soft fruits -- and they do bite / try to remove shiny objects like hair clips.
 Just before Zephyr and I went into the Butterfly Garden.  This is where Zephyr and I could spend many hours if not for Dad and Saenz waiting for us. LOL

(Our own painted lady catepillars are just entering the pupa stage.  We will post updates for ya'll tomorrow.)
Now this Atlas Moth, was our special find this trip.  These moths get really large with the females having up to a 12 inch wing span.  If you look closely, each wing tip has a 'image' of a snake -- to ward off predators.  Also we learned these beautiful creatures only live a few weeks, do not eat, and have no mouth parts.  Did you know farmers consider some butterfly (catepillar stage) species a pest that cause crop damage?  Who knew but, know we understand why only certain butterfly catepillars are for sale for educational purposes.

Overall, our trip was a wonderful day! Thank you Dad for taking a day off to spend learning new things with us.  So we are off to enjoy a second day with Dad home. Whoop! Talk to ya'll tomorrow.