Tuesday, December 30, 2014

KITTY CAT IN A BAG & MONARCH CHRYSALISES READY TO OPEN

KITTY CAT IN A BAG & MONARCH CHRYSALISES READY TO OPEN

Brrrrrr it's cold!!
The two owls hoo-hooing in my trees have left for a few days because of the cold.  They always come back when the really cold weather passes.
Last week I found a huge owl nest in my tall montezuma cypress tree.  
I HOPE, HOPE, HOPE they are going to nest there.


Yes, this is a kitty cat in a plastic garbage bag.
My outside cats have very warm beds in the garage and garden shed, but they like to stay curled up by the front door.  A couple of days ago it was very windy and cold and the bag idea came to me.  I put a very fluffy beach towel in each bag and curled the yellow tie string around a metal table to hold it open a little bit.  Immediately this little neighbor cat (who lives over here) climbed in.  Every time I walk out the front door, she meows and comes out of her cozy bag.  She loves it!


There are 6-9 monarch chrysalises now.  I'm worried about them because the next two days are going to be very cold.  The weather lady said sleet  and ice.  I hope they don't freeze to death. 
For some of them, tomorrow will be 14 days since they first started their chrysalis. 
Like any fertile egg, as the embryo grows the egg will darken.  
Three of the chrysalises are dark now because the monarch wings have formed.  I'm not sure if they will come out in the cold or if they know to wait for better weather.  
I'll be watching closely.
The picture on the left is a caterpillar a few days ago getting ready to start spinning.  You can tell because they attach themselves to something and form a perfect J.


The monarch chrysalis has very shiny metallic gold on it.  A gold band and little metallic gold specks here and there.  They're really beautiful, especially in the sun.
 In the beginning, they are very light green, but this chrysalis is dark now because the wings have formed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

LUKE THE LION ENJOYING SNOW AT THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOO

LUKE THE LION ENJOYING SNOW AT THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOO



"LUKE"
"A real lion in winter. In this photo Luke looks up at snowflakes gently falling around him. Lions can tolerate cold temperatures—the African savannah can be a very cold place at night—but our lions always have the option to spend time in heated dens or inside on very cold days."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

SOPHIA BAKING COOKIES FOR SANTA & FRIENDS

SOPHIA BAKING COOKIES FOR SANTA & FRIENDS

My beautiful little friend Sophia was baking cookies for Santa and baked extra for her friends.  I was on that list!  She has flour on her nose.
Isn't she adorable!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"PLEASE DON'T THROW MY LEAVES AWAY"

"PLEASE DON'T THROW MY LEAVES AWAY"

Your trees are begging you not to throw their leaves away.
Their roots are deep and bring up the minerals and good things in the earth for nourishment.
Those minerals go straight to the leaves.  Then in the fall as they flutter to the ground, they are putting those minerals and good things back into the soil to nourish the roots.
Those leaves are organic matter and as they decay, all is returned to the soil.
Healthy soil is what makes a healthy garden.
(Be organic~no chemicals, please)
Most of the leaves in my yard are soft and will decay pretty quickly.  I don't mind the look of the fallen leaves.  If they bother you, you can mow over them to break them up.  Then you can rake over them and they will settle to the ground and be a good mulch, then compost for the grass and your landscape.
If you think you have too many leaves for your grass, rake them into the flower beds and extra piles around your trees.  Or, you can share them with your neighbors.

FALLING LEAVES IS HOW THE EARTH REPLENISHES ITSELF.
PLEASE DON'T THROW THE LEAVES AWAY.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MONARCH CATERPILLAR CHRYSALIS IN DECEMBER

MONARCH CATERPILLAR CHRYSALIS IN DECEMBER


I'm amazed!!  
This monarch caterpillar finished spinning her chrysalis in less than twenty four hours.
I think she will leave her chrysalis in about 14 days.
So, I'll let you know when she has her wings.


It really touches my heart. 
To me, it truly is a wonder of nature.
Several of the other caterpillars still have not moved since yesterday.  I think they need the sun and we might not see the sun for another couple of days.  
I'll be watching closely.
One time, there was a monarch chrysalis in my garden in direct sunlight and I saw a metallic gold ring around it.  I don't see that gold ring on this one, yet.

I just googled the difference between a cocoon and a chrysalis and this is what it said:

"Butterflies hatch from a chrysalis, a life stage made of a hardened protein. A cocoon is spun from silk and surrounds the pupa of many moths."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MONARCH CATERPILLAR SPINNING HER CHRYSALIS

MONARCH CATERPILLAR SPINNING HER CHRYSALIS


One of the monarch caterpillars is ready to start her new life.


She attached herself to the bottom of this birdhouse by my rock walk, so I'll get to see it all the time.  Right now, she's slowly moving and I'm guessing she's spinning her chrysalis.  I'll be eager to look in the morning to see if she's all covered up.


Several of the other caterpillars are still on the butterfly weed and on my window frames.  Today, they're very still and I'm thinking it's because it's been a cool day.  I'm worried about them because by the time they come out of their chrysalises, it might be really cold.
Their mission is survival of the species and I really hope they make it.  
The monarch butterflies who laid these eggs were here kind of late and I was thinking some of them actually hatched in my garden.
Good luck to these little ones! 
 I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"NATURE IS GOD'S FIRST MISSIONARY" MAX LUCADO

"NATURE IS GOD'S FIRST MISSIONARY" MAX LUCADO

"Where there is no Bible, there are sparkling stars.
Where there are no preachers, there are springtimes.
If a person has nothing but nature, then nature is enough to reveal something about God".
Max Lucado

Saturday, December 13, 2014

LOOK!! IT'S DECEMBER 13, AND I JUST FOUND MONARCH CATERPILLARS ON MY BUTTERFLY WEED

LOOK!!  IT'S DECEMBER 13, AND I JUST FOUND MONARCH CATERPILLARS ON MY BUTTERFLY WEED


LOOK what I just found!!
Monarch caterpillars.  
I counted nine of them, but there are probably several more that I didn't see.
I saw some droppings on my window sill and thought it was seeds until I looked closer.
Then, I saw the caterpillars.


Just a few weeks ago, a few monarchs were still here and I kept thinking they'd better move on or they would get caught in the cold.  They finally left for good when a really cold front came through.  But, they left behind some eggs.
These caterpillars are probably at least two weeks old and just big enough that they had better hurry and start their cocoons.  It's going to take about two weeks for them to become a butterfly and it might be really cold by then.  
They need to get on down to Mexico!


When it started getting really cold, I put all of these butterfly weed plants close to my studio windows.  I was hoping it would keep them warm and they wouldn't freeze.  
I guess the caterpillars have been warm, too.
Thank goodness they had something to eat.

KITTY CAT BEDS FROM FALLING LEAVES

KITTY CAT BEDS FROM FALLING LEAVES

The cats love when the leaves start falling.
These are crepe myrtle leaves and they're so soft.  I keep big flower pots around and don't put flowers in most of them.  The cats love to curl up and sleep in them.  So, when the leaves start falling, I keep piling newly fallen leaves in the flower pot beds.  


Right here you can see how much Elijah loves his soft leaf bed.
He's kind of fragile, so I love how the little angel is always watching over him.


I rake the soft crepe myrtle leaves up close to the house.
This is the neighbor cat who is here most of the time.  (Next door is not a good home for our animal friends.)  If you look closely, there's another cat nest next to the kitty cat.
I have a huge montezuma cypress tree and when those fronds finally start falling, the cats think they're in heaven!  They are so soft and I pile them really high.


It has been in the 30's a couple of times, but  not cold enough to freeze anything in my garden.  That is a pink trumpet vine that I have growing on a 6' chicken wire fence.  It loves the cooler weather and has the most beautiful pink blooms until it freezes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LOOK AT THIS CUTE TINY BABY LEAST TERN CHICK TRYING OUT IT'S WINGS OMgoodness!

LOOK AT THIS CUTE TINY BABY LEAST TERN CHICK TRYING OUT IT'S WINGS OMgoodness!


Can you believe this is real! 
 It is sooooo cute!!

PHOTO BY MELISSA GROO
"So much energy, life, and yearning in one little ball of fluff. 
This is a tiny Least Tern chick trying out his wings in NJ last week, while mama looked on."

Monday, December 8, 2014

HAWKS ATTACKING BIRDS IN MY BACKYARD

HAWKS ATTACKING BIRDS IN MY BACKYARD

Thy Bun
is 
THY WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

I follow him on Facebook and he shares the most beautiful pictures of birds and raptors.


He just posted this picture and not that this one is so beautiful (to me), but it reminds me of hawks in my backyard.
For many years I've fed the birds close enough to my house that I can observe their habits.
One time there were lots of birds on the feeders and lots on the ground eating dropped seeds.  
Suddenly, I saw EVERYONE of them suddenly fly down to the ground.  Usually, when a bird is startled, they will fly upward, but this time they flew to the ground.  I had seen them do this two or three times and thought it was unusual.
This time though, I saw a hawk suddenly swoop down and land on a dove and the hawk rocked back and forth a few times.  I'm guessing he was digging his claws in the bird so it couldn't get away.  Then, he flew up with the dove.
That wasn't fun to watch, but then I understood why the birds flew down to the ground.  I think they were making it harder for the hawk to see and attack them.
I just thought it was really interesting.

Friday, December 5, 2014

NEW LATTICE FOR MY HEART GATE & BEST FRIENDS CHARLIE & PUNKIN

Gus is my "go to guy".  
He's worked with me for many years.


He's been really sick for almost a year, but he's feeling better and wanted to come by and help me do a few little things around my yard.  While he was sick, I tried to find someone, but couldn't find anyone who could do everything like he does.
He's attaching that lattice over my heart gate and it looks so nice. 
 I built that gate.  Many years ago, I found one like it in Victoria magazine and knew I had to have one.  I cut out the shape of a heart, skipping every other board.  But, the empty space of one board is just big enough for possums, raccoons, skunks, everything to climb through.  To keep Charlie safe, I stuffed lots of chicken wire in those holes.  It looks so much better with the lattice, now.


Charlie and Punkin are best friends.  They love to be nearby while I'm working in the yard.  And they love Gus, so they kept moving around the yard to be close to wherever he was working.


There is an easement between my heart gate and my neighbor's fence.  It's my property, but it is a utility easement and I have to take care of it.  While Gus was working on the gate, I saw this fake/decorative apple.  When I picked it up, I saw that someone had tried to take a bite out of it.  I guess it must have made them mad because they threw it over the fence.
Gus said they were probably drinking and didn't realize it was a fake apple.  
Funny, huh!