Tuesday, February 28, 2006


All that's left of an Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus).

Friday, February 24, 2006

Time slipping

3/1 Update: I said below that we'd be on the Azalea aisle at this weekend's show. To be more specific (since there will apparently be two soapmakers on that row): Azalea 1204.

We've got a craft show coming up and life is hectic, so blog posting may be light or nonexistant for a week or so.

The show is Cottontails, at the Civic Center in downtown Birmingham - come see us! We'll be downstairs on the "Azalea" aisle.


Check out the Friday Ark for your weekly critter fix.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sweetest Little Pea

Beaker is our parakeet (budgie). I don't have a lot of pictures of him, because he's usually pretty camera-shy. This past weekend he was in a mood for it, though.

Pretty bird!

Descriptive, but also one of his favorite things to say.

Man oh man, does Beaker love him some bananas.

He's very happy about the banana. Budgies' pupils shrink when they're excited. (Compare with the eyes in the first picture.)

The skin is actually his favorite part.

I am so totally nuts about this bird!

It takes a little while to teach budgies to speak, but it's definitely worth it. Beaker does a few tricks too. "Gimme a kiss" gets you nose kisses, and he'll fly to you when you say, "C'mere". If he feels like it.

I've been bad about not teaching him new things to say lately. But he picked one up anyway. He's got a little Ferris wheel with bells that he loves to throw to the floor. We got in the habit of saying, "Excuse me!" when he does that... and now he says it too!

Notes on parakeets/budgies:
If you ever buy a parakeet, I can't recommend this enough: find one that will sit on your finger in the store. I probably traumatized our first budgie by trying so hard to make friends with an unfriendly bird. There are all sorts of taming techniques, but none worked on poor Mr. Jitters.

When budgies are first delivered to the store, they are usually fairly tame. But it only takes a day or two for them to learn (from the other birds) to flee from the hand. So plan in advance and ask your pet store to call you when the birds first arrive.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How to write poetry

"Once upon a midnight lunchtime dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore blog,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door."

"Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven muscovy duck, of the saintly poopy days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above below my chamber door.
Perched upon a bust of Pallas an ancient doormat, just above below my chamber door,
Perched, and sat shat, and nothing more."

(Apologies to Edgar Allen Poe.)

(Also apologies that I could not figure out how to make the line breaks look prettier!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Looking for spring

Update: Someone wrote me that the comments were not working... I think I've fixed it now. So please do leave a comment if you know what the mysterious grass and/or possible orchid below is/are. (Or even if you don't. I admit that I love comments.)

Odd bloom (?) on grass


Beechdrops with host

Spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata)
The leaves are evergreen... it won't bloom til late spring.

Old foamflower leaf Tiarella cordifolia

I keep wanting to make this into the remains of an orchid of some sort. Any ideas?

Say hello to my little friend


Monday, February 20, 2006

Ducks with short memories

Despite my euphoria last year when the ducks took a dip in the pond, they didn't make it a regular practice. I eventually resigned myself to the fact that they'd never be pond ducks.

It was so dry over the fall that the spring feeding the ditch dried up. Once it started raining, water flowed there again, but the ducks ignored it in favor of their kiddie pool.

At first we just tried driving them into the ditch. "Hey, remember this? You loved it last year!" Even though their feet were wet, I guess they were too scared to realize where they were.

We applied weed-eating and subtle pressure. We moved their food closer and closer to the ditch. Then one day they remembered, or maybe just rediscovered, how much they liked it there.

Happy duck

You've heard that phrase about water and a duck's back...?

One day last spring we saw them wandering towards the far side of the pond. "What in the world are they doing over there?" we wondered, but didn't think much about it. That night they came back to the pen with one less duck in tow... So we're down to seven ducks now. They may forget the ditch, but so far they've never forgotten that there are coyotes beyond the yard.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

In which I am a bad influence

Bwa-ha-ha! If it were a crime, I'd be guilty of aiding and abetting. Two of my friends have new blogs.

My friend Annie is a potter, among other things. Many other things. I've never met anyone so capable. (She comments here sometimes as "weldergirl" so that's one clue.) If you're familiar with Oneonta, Alabama, you've probably visited her downtown shop, where she sells her own beautiful creations as well as other Alabama handcrafts. Including some lovely handmade soap, wink, wink.

She and her husband are building what promises to be an extremely cool passive solar house - with a dogtrot! She's started a blog called Edifice Rex to document it.

My friend Grace is a fellow soapmaker who lives a little north of Birmingham. If you wandered the Pepper Place farmer's market last summer, you may have tried some of her scrumptious-smelling soap.

She's a fellow chicken lover, who's good at keeping me up to date on the antics of Sam - the Rhode Island Red bantam game hen who turned out to be a rooster - and his girls. She has started a blog called Roosterhen Diaries, in which she's committing her hilarious paper journals to the blogosphere.

Go say hi!


Updated: Oops. I was thinking about my own Big Red when I was writing about Sam and called him a Rhode Island Red. Sorry!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dry pond

After Hurricane Katrina last August, it did not rain until the first of October. Then it was dry again for a long while. The pond shrank.

It's deeper at the far end than it appears, but I had nightmares of fevered fish rescues... up to our knees in muck, trying to corral flopping fish who couldn't understand the concept of their own salvation.

I had sometimes wished for a little mud edge in the summer, which might prove attractive to migrating shorebirds. But that's a lot of edge, and the shorebirds are long gone.

Before the end of the year, it started raining again... better, but not yet normal. I heard it's supposed to rain all weekend, so maybe that will help.

Of course Jasmine likes it dry, since she can get right up to the edge and bark at fish.

In the background is the tree that fell during a storm. Beavers had gnawed all around the base, so even though it leafed out last summer, I suppose it was only a matter of time before this happened.


Critters at Friday Ark.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Scaredy deer

I guess I'd be nervous too, if I had to live out in the open with all those coyotes and bobcats roaming around.


Whoa! Go look at the bobcat pictures over at the Dharma Bums blog. Daytime, in-person, bobcat pictures. Our game-cam is soooo jealous.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

More obnoxious bragging

Might as well get all the rest of the obnoxious bragging out of the way in one day.

Florida Cracker told me back in December, "Hey, I was in Borders today and there was a book, 'Blogosphere, Best of Blogs'. You were in there!"

I thought he'd been eating bad mushrooms. The book wasn't due to be published until February! But then, because I'm vain and nosy, I researched and found that the book had been available as a special to Borders in November. I pre-ordered from Amazon (we don't have Borders here) and just got the book. I was in there! (Sorry for casting aspersions on your sanity, FC.)

I noticed that some of my blog friends are in it too. (If I were writing the book you'd all have been in there!) There's also a blog to go with the book, of course. (Plus extra material.)

I'm in the "Garden Diaries" section. So, that's at least twice now that I've been able to convince people that I know something about gardening...

when really, I don't!

I erased the last names to protect the innocent. I noticed that there's no date, but it's hot off the presses... I just graduated.

I still have almost everything to learn about gardening. But I highly recommend the Master Gardener course. It's one of the most fun things I've ever done. Plus, it's a fantastic way to make friends in a new place.

OK, no more obnoxious bragging for a while, I promise.

This really made my day

In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably tell you that this envelope was sent to me by a cousin. (She added "Incredibly Good Smelling" to the actual business name.)

But still. It really did make my day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bobcat Valentine

Jackpot! Two bobcats (Lynx rufus or Felis rufus) traveling together.

I'm assuming that this is a male and female, since it's bobcat breeding season.

Monday, February 13, 2006


As far as snow, north central Alabama has been skunked for several years in a row. A flurry here or there maybe, but nothing much to speak of for about 6 years.

Lately the forecasters have cruelly been getting my hopes up... Hopes that then got drowned, by all the rain that we got instead of snow:

Then late on Saturday...


More snow!

Even more snow!

Snow on hubby's back. Unfortunately this was about the only thing that it stuck to. It was in the low 40s (5 - 7 C), so the flakes all melted soon after hitting the ground.

Snow on white dog... Jasmine did not think much of the snow at all.

She barked at it. Ran around and snapped at it!

And was generally very, very worried about it.

She was definitely glad that it stopped after about 15 minutes. Even though I wasn't.

Skunked again!

Friday, February 10, 2006


We had some handsome visitors. They didn't stay long, though... Jasmine wasn't very hospitable.

When I first got interested in birds, I took a local class, where I learned that I'd been calling these by the wrong name my whole life. It's Canada Goose, not Canadian Goose! Branta canadensis in Latin.

Go see the Friday Ark for more critter pics!

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Hubby thinks the neighbors might be trying to tell us something...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Wayne at Niches wrote about his watershed, and invited his readers to do the same.

All the water on our place drains into a creek that runs through the property. We had a very dry fall, but the creek still flowed, at least a little.

Once it started raining again, it rained more than usual, and as a result the weathermen say we're back up to "normal" for the year. (Somewhere around 55 inches or 140 cm.)

Here's the creek yesterday, after several inches of rain the day before:

By today it'll probably be back somewhere between those two extremes.

Here's the big picture, showing all the major rivers in Alabama: I've somewhat shakily outlined our county in red. You can click on any of these for a larger view.

Here it is with only the Black Warrior River shown, including all its forks, tributaries and feeders. Most of the water in Blount County eventually drains into the Black Warrior. (Exceptions here.)

It's the Locust Fork that's our watershed. There are supposed to be 15 sub-watersheds, but I haven't been able to find a list online. Our little creek drains into the Blackburn Fork (a Locust Fork tributary).

Locate your watershed

The bigger picture:
South Atlantic-Gulf watershed

The really big picture:
Regional watersheds

I found a watershed lookup for Canada too, but it doesn't seem to be working. If you know of any good links feel free to post them in the comments section.

Local links:
Alabama Rivers Alliance
Friends of the Locust Fork
Beautiful photography of the Locust Fork from The Kingfisher Editions by Beth Maynor Young

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More game cam

I'm still fascinated by the game cam pictures. I believe there are two pairs of coyotes who use this road as part of their territorial boundry.

This one has a mate, but he/she usually shies out of the picture after the first shot, which invariably only captures a portion of him/her.

Talk about your evil eyes!

The two above are another pair, I think. One is stockier and lighter in color, and their tails seem a different color than the animal in the first two shots.

Another night... a raccoon is curled into a ball, focused on the approaching coyote. I don't think the camera is triggering on smaller animals like raccoons. We just see this one because a coyote happened to pass by at the same time.

And stay away!

Barking? Chewing? Coughing? Choking? I can't tell.

One thing the camera does not handle too well is bright daylight. The pictures look grainy and strange. I tried fixing these, but had limited success. I decided to post them anyway since I thought the subject was so interesting.

Deer with a withered hindquarter.

Maybe you can see it a bit better in this one. The back leg seems to be just hanging there. I can't tell if she's able to use it minimally, or not at all.

On the Cuddeback Gallery there have been some pictures of a doe with only three legs. She seems to get along just fine, but I think that she, and this doe, demonstrate the current lack of predators. (The pictures rotate off the Gallery page so they may not be there still.)