Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Bluebonnet Moon

This week was our average last frost date! That means it's spring! I've also got a few bluebonnets coming up in my front yard. Not that many, so this fall I might buy some bluebonnet seeds to help them increase.

I think mine have blown over from the large patch across the street. That's how I want mine to look! I'm glad I live in a neighborhood where many of the houses have bluebonnet patches, instead of all perfectly manicured Bermuda grass lawns.

We haven't mowed the backyard since moving here, and that's probably a good thing, because now we've got spiderwort coming up back there. That's a wildflower that looks a lot like some sort of thick-bladed grass, but don't mow it down! If you don't, you will be rewarded with these nice purple flowers.

Speaking of purple flowers, the mountain laurels are still going, but they don't last long. I'm afraid they might not last until my wedding in two weeks, because I was wanting to pick some to use for decoration. I hope we still have some left by then.

I got a nice shot of a Red Admiral drinking from a mountain laurel bloom. At first I was all excited thinking it was a butterfly I hadn't seen before, because it had it's wings closed, but then it opened its wings and I saw it was a Red Admiral. Don't get me wrong, they are very pretty butterflies, but they're also one of the more common butterflies around. There was also a black swallowtail fluttering around, but I didn't get a picture of it. Those guys are fast!

There are also a lot of robins around. Great big flocks come by digging through the fallen live oak leaves for worms and grubs and bugs. I don't remember seeing big flocks of robins like this at my old house. Twice now I've also seen a Hermit Thrush mixed in with them (American Robins are also in the thrush family), but when he sees me get my camera, he always takes off. Maybe he's shy because he's a hermit. I don't see Hermit Thushes very often, and I've never heard them sing. Maybe it's because they only spend the winter here and then breed further north. It's a shame because they've got one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, second only to maybe the Veery, another thrush that doesn't live around here. I've heard recordings of them, and they give me goosebumps. Like other songbirds, they have a syrinx to make their sounds (unlike the larynx of us mammals), and that allows them to actually sing two notes at once, so they can harmonize with themselves. Their songs have a melancholy, almost eerie quality.

A couple of weeks ago we rented a rototiller from a local hardware store to till up the new garden. It was a lot harder than I thought! This beast here was a huge pain to control. Daniel thinks it's an older model that might not be built as well as newer ones. It was like a cross between a lawnmower and a wild animal. To use it, I'd have to hold onto the handles, and then dig in my heels and lean back as hard as I could as it tore at the ground and tried to leap up and take off across the yard, dragging me along with it! I was going to do this job all by myself, but that proved to be impossible. Daniel and I took turns, and when one of us was exhausted from wrestling with that beast, the other would take over for a while.
Here's the result of all our hard work, a 20' by 50' patch of well-tilled earth as the sun set. That, and some very sore muscles for a few days. Later I tried to till up the area in the front where I want to plant some stuff, but I only did a couple of passes before giving up, because my body just couldn't take it anymore.

If I ever rent a rototiller again, I think I'm going to try a different place, and see if they have one that's a little easier to use. This was supposed to be less work than digging everything up by hand, but I'm not sure if it was. It was faster, at least. It would have taken me several days to dig up that area by hand.

I also sent in a soil test to A&M's lab and am waiting for the results.

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