Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

The Birds and the Bee Mimics

I know what that sounds like, but I only have a few pictures and none of them are even slightly risqué. Those of you who accidentally stopped in for something else are invited to stay and take a moment to look at the critters. :D

I think I’ve mentioned that it’s been a wet(ish) spring. In fact it has rained twice more, just since the last time I complained about it. I’m starting to wonder how we’ll know when the summer monsoon starts if it just keeps raining? And that reminds me of the Country-Western song “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?” I know, I know, Climate Change, el niño and all that, but overcast days make me sad.

These birds are not helping. They’re White-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica).

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Seen here sitting on the garden fence, trying to figure out a way through the bird netting over my vegetable bed. They were not successful, hah! They look nice and fat from all the food they’re finding in this wet(ish) spring we’ve had. They just add to the general melancholy of overcast days with their calls though, which are honestly the saddest thing I’ve ever heard in nature. Like this: Boo hoo-hoo-hoo hooooooo. WAY more sad than mourning doves; like they’ve truly lost their last friend. Just what I want to hear while I’m waiting for the sun to come out. And look how dark it is out there in that picture. It just ain’t right! Heh.

On another and sunnier day, I caught this pair of Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) walking along one of the paths.

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When I lived in Florida, I used to watch the sandpipers at the beach. They walk around scanning the wet sand near the water’s edge, looking for bubbles that indicate some likely food just under the surface. When a big wave comes, all the sandpipers quickly walk, as a group, away from the water, and then gradually drift back down to the edge after the wave recedes. They only fly when some bigger creature (bird, dog, people) approaches them.

Similarly, the quail walk everywhere and only fly when disturbed. Often you see them in large family groups, as if they’re out on a nature hike or something; mom & dad & six or eight babies, strolling around the yard or along the paths. The funniest part is the big commotion when they actually do fly: there’s lots of whirring and flapping and hooting — much more noise than seems necessary given the actual threat level, at least when I’m the one disturbing them. And they all fly off in different directions, like a startled school of very noisy fish.

Other threats to them are very real and deadly. One afternoon I saw a family of quails exploring the back patio, and suddenly they all took off, half of them bashing themselves into the windows and walls in their frantic effort to get away. When I looked out to see what the commotion was about, I saw a Harris’ hawk standing alone in the middle of the floor. Lunchless, at least that time.

Around here, the Harris’ hawk is identified by its long tail and yellow feet. The hawks below don’t have very long tails. They also have stockier bodies. These are Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). They sit on that pole at the top of the yard, scanning for likely snacks.

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(There’s a nice blue sky!)

They come by most afternoons. If they see me in the yard they become peevish, and keeeer at me for scaring away their meal. They sound just like on TV! Lol. Too bad we can’t see their bright red tails from here.

And hey, look at this guy: it’s a resting honeybee drone! Well, probably not (see the comments). Should have more eyes and longer antennae if it were a bee.

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He let me get really close with the camera. He even got flashed on that picture, and didn’t seem to mind at all. I got a couple more pictures of him before he flew away:

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Speaking of bees which this is likely not, I’m not seeing any mites on any of the bees around here. I think these are an escaped swarm that have found somewhere nearby to live. Now that the mesquites are blooming, I see them out there all day — even when it’s near 100°!

This guy looks healthy too. I tried in the next picture to get a good look at his face: extra big eyes & small antenna. You can see above how big and rounded his body is.

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This next one also only looks like a bee, but it’s really a bee-mimicking wasp. Tricky!

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So the weather has finally turned, and we’re expecting temperatures in the hundreds or hundred-teens all week, and plenty of bright sunshine! Yay! This is very good news for us, seriously. The secret is, all that heat and sunshine is the pump that brings moisture up from the Gulf of California. No heat = no pump = no monsoon. See? I’m not that crazy…

Garden Update & Root Harvest, June 2015

So the spring garden is coming along nicely. We have new tomato plants:

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Already showing some small fruits, under the bird netting and (that day) backed by the bed-net shade. We also have some new wax bean plants:

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With many flowers! Soon there will be beans — yum! I’ll be planting more of those really soon. This is me, being “bold”: pollen dies when the temps are over about 95°F, so usually one wouldn’t expect a good bean crop in the dead of Arizona summer. But this year is turning out (as predicted) to be cooler and wetter than usual, so I think it will be a long and prolific bean-producing season. Which is good, because I really like the wax beans.

Not shown: my onion!

I buy one onion per year. OK, this is like “confession time” now: I really like just a few vegetables, and so the extremely small size of my garden is really enough to cover most of my vegetable needs for a year — in this case, one onion. So I bought an onion at the grocery just before Thanksgiving 2014, and I used half of it and put the rest in the vegetable drawer in the fridge (just in case I found a use for it around Yule — which, as it happens, I did not). Two weeks ago, I discovered that half-onion in the vegetable drawer of the fridge, and it had grown roots and a bit of green shoot. As it happens, Arizona is apparently the perfect climate for onions, in that we plant onions here at all times of the year, and they do great. So I just took that onion from the fridge and (after 24 hours of temperature adjustment), buried it in the garden behind the carrots. Now, a week later, the green top is 8″ high, and I’m thinking I won’t need to buy a new onion at Thanksgiving this year! So yay, LOL.

Potatoes

Last year, I planted three potato chunks with eyes on 23 February, hilling them up right away and not adding height thereafter. Two of the resulting plants were attacked by birds and died. The last plant gave me 12 potatoes, shown here. So I got 12 potatoes, and a few were quite large.

This year, I planted the potatoes earlier, on 20 January, and added dirt over them as they grew over the next six weeks or so. All three plants survived (thanks to the bird netting), and in the last week of May, I got this:

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(Same bowl.) That’s still about 10 potatoes per plant, but they were generally smaller than last year and some really look like they were left in the ground too long. Recently, I learned that some potatoes like to be “hilled up”, and some don’t. So my take-away here is that my particular potatoes (from the grocery store) are the ones that aren’t so keen on “hilling up” (which is why last years’ crop was better), and my next experiment will be not to do that. As I took out this crop near the end of May, I planted another two chunks, over which the dirt is currently smoothed flat and on top I will add some, but not a lot, of dirt when they start showing leaves. It’s also summer, so I’ll see how they like growing in this weather.

Carrots

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I planted the carrots on 23 October, which is the end of summer here. I didn’t really see any clear carrot action (by which I mean sprouting) until the end of the year. As advertised, carrots take a long time to sprout, but maybe it shouldn’t take quite that long. I can probably wait until December to plant the next round.

Confusing me further, there is some information out there that says that carrots are better the second year after they are planted. Maybe those reporters live in Canada or some cold place? And then, I got word that carrots are like beets or radishes, in that one harvests them at the point when they start pushing themselves out of the ground. Finally there are those who say that you harvest carrots like onions: just before they flower.

Second year? That opinion got a low rating. Pushing themselves out of the dirt? OK, I watched carefully for that to happen, and I kinda expected that might be a good clue. But that never happened. Flower stalks? OK, that looked like a really good indicator, and you can see the tall, thick stalks shooting up in the picture above. At that point, I couldn’t wait any longer, and pulled up the carrots. And this is what I got:

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Wow! Here’s what they looked like after trimming:

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(Same bowl again.) The big one in the middle is the size of a sweet potato! Yow! And they are sweet, and crunchy and honestly the best carrots I’ve had in ages.

And here’s my problem: I’ve somehow lost two seed packets, the sweet bell peppers, and the carrots. ROFL, I shoulda let at least one of them go to seed I guess…

Mesquite in Recovery

OK, this is more like it!

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Read more…

Wildflower Season 2015 — Part 2

Greetings from the wet and wonderful Sonoran Desert!

I mentioned that I moved to the desert because it was supposed to be dry and sunny most of the time. Clouds make me sad. I like to see that endless blue sky, day after day all spring, and the whole Milky Way at night. This year, though, not so much of that.

OK, it’s mostly sunny, most days. But we’ve been getting a shower about every two weeks — which means there are three days out of every 14 with clouds, and a half hour of light rain. Clouds! And Rain! In May! Yeesh.

As of the end of April (latest figures available), we’re six tenths of an inch above normal, making this the 36th wettest of the last 120 years! Well, yes, we measure rainfall in the hundredths of an inch here, and when the totals are so small (3.48″ average YTD), there obviously can’t be much variability. The wettest of all those years (1905) only had a bit over six inches by the end of April. Woo. Shoot, once when I lived in Florida, it rained 36 inches in a single day! Sure, it was a hurricane that day, but still. I honestly think most of my yard would wash away if it ever did that here.

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Wildflower Season 2015 — Part 1

I specifically moved to the Sonoran Desert for the weather, or at least what I imagined the weather would be: hot and dry. That’s how I like it. Other places, such as Sweden, Denmark or even Canada seem like better places to live in general, but they all look so cold and gray (in my imagination), and cold and gray sounds depressing. Besides, it’s going to become increasingly expensive to heat a house to my comfort level (say, 80°F) in any of those places, so here I am.

That said, Arizona is probably heading for a much hotter and much drier climate later in this century, and I’m supposed to be thankful for whatever rain does happen here, and rain it did this winter! I would prefer less, but then my garden likes the rain just fine. I already mentioned that we’re ahead of normal precipitation this spring, and that translates into a bumper crop of wildflowers, many of which were new to me this year.

Read more…

Winter Garden 2015

Rumor has it, Southern Arizona has two gardening seasons: the winter season when we grow root crops (potatoes, carrots, etc.) and the leafy vegetables that burn easily (such as lettuce, spinach & peas), and then the summer season, when we grow tomatoes, beans, peppers & cucurbits (cucumbers, gourds & melons). In my ever-futile attempt to learn how to follow instructions, I planted lettuce, peas, potatoes and carrots in late October.

And then I waited. And waited.

The winter monsoon started. During the winter monsoon, the clouds close in and there is drizzle for about two days per week. At least, this is my impression of the winter monsoon these days. When the total yearly rainfall is around 13.5″, it’s hard to feel like it’s adding up when the weekly value is somewhere between trace and 0.05″. Months went by. The lettuce was barely sprouted; the peas were leggy and pale from lack of adequate light.

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First Year in the Garden

According to my (spotty) records, I planted the first vegetables in the garden on 23 February last year. So it’s time to assess.

That day I planted a row of lettuce, a row of spinach & three potatoes. All but one of the lettuce plants and all of the spinach became bird food. Darn! Two of the potato plants were also lost. But the third one did eventually give me a dozen potatoes, and they were the best-tasting potatoes I’ve had in years!

Read more…

WordPress Changes – Your Poll #1 – Herded ?

yellopig:

For those of you affected by the new WordPress “enhancements”, plz add your vote & thoughts to GrahamInHats’ post. He may be able to help us. More voices may get TPTB to listen.

For others, please excuse the meta. The WordPress blogging interface is being changed, and mostly for the worse and with much consternation amongst the small bloggers (such as myself), and without “consent of the governed”. I’d like to keep this blog going, and the changes will make that cumbersome. More than the “stats” page is involved…

Originally posted on Freed from Time:

Duck back 2This is your opportunity to vote on the recent changes to WordPress and there are two vital reasons to do so.

Firstly, the survey is unlikely to be published, so this is your opportunity to be heard. Secondly, by ourselves it is unlikely that we can bring about improvement but, investors and allied businesses do not like management that alienates it’s customers and fails in new endeavours.  They can make a difference.

Our endeavour is to rescue WP, for desktop users and for the new mobile market.

Workarounds are here , more articles are here and, for surety, you might wish to note my standby blog:- http://freedfromtime.blogspot.co.uk/


The subjects for these polls will include: Herded ?,  Democratized Blogging,  Transparency,  The New Interface Failures,   Misleading Claims,  Censorship,  Privacy/Security and Management.  Each will have a Link when available and I will post every couple of days.  So if you don’t…

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About WordPress Changes and What We Can Do

yellopig:

Greetings!

WordPress is implementing changes. Feedback concerning these changes is uniformly negative. In fact, the changes make it impossible to for me to tell if you have seen my posts unless you “like” them or comment. So please: I know you have been reading, but in the future I will not be able to tell, so again please, drop a “like” or comment (even if empty), to let me know you came by. Thanks!

Originally posted on Freed from Time:

For Help with the changes (workarounds) please click here.    This content is about Underlying Motive, The Problems, Probable Cause, How We Can Make a Difference and Remaining Questions.

*** There is now a reply from CEO Matt Mullenweg, (Jan 29, 2015 at 17:57) in comments and your very welcome to respond. ***

Underlying Motive

Matt Mullenweg, owner and recently appointed CEO of WordPress, has himself indicated a wish to pursue the mobile market which is made clear in and interview with Forbes click here ! (page 5/6) .  However that interview does not indicate any intention to abandon desk top users.

Add to this, Tiger Global now have at a total of $110 million invested in WP here !.  Tiger Global also have investments in the expanding Indian and South American mobile and e-commerce markets.

Amended/Addition:  From WSJ/Digits  “We both have a long term…

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Midwinter Blues

I knew it would come to this, and I prepared ahead.

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These are Desert Tansyasters (Arida arizonica), and there are almost always some of these blooming around the yard somewhere. Since I get pictures of these almost every month, I hadn’t been showing them, since there was always something else to show you. January, though, is flowerless this year — dreary and cold. OK, not cold compared to other places, but enough to make me feel a bit cranky. And I so miss the sunshine.

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