Wettest July at Hermits’ Rest – How Do I Know?

Guess what? There’s still rain in the forecast for today. That means it will have rained every day so far in July. So, we’ve had no friends over, no family celebration…not much of anything. But that’s okay, I’ve had time to read and clean. Yesterday, it really rained a lot. We knew it was at least two inches, because the tanks filled up.

The overflow was overflowing!

If it just rains a little, the water rises just a bit in the front tank. It doesn’t usually overflow unless there is runoff from its main sources:

  • The small pond by the house (we built a ditch to funnel the water thee)
  • The big tank over at the Wild Hermits front pasture (that comes through the arroyo)
  • The cotton field across the road (there is a culvert, and it also just comes over the road)
  • Runoff from the tank and other areas by Sara’s house (they are higher than us), which goes down their driveway at quite a clip

One reason we built the tank where we did is we knew it would have a lot of water flowing in, so it would not dry up too often. So far, it hadn’t totally dried up yet.

Water is swiftly flowing down the driveway, taking lots of road base with it. Photo by Lee.

All of THAT water quickly fills up our little tank, which then sends water down our stream to Walker’s Creek. This is all pretty spectacular right after a hard rain. When we went to feed the horses (by car, because it was flooding), water was over the road and much of the driveway to the horse pens. It was flowing strongly. By the time we went back, it had already settled down to a brisk flow.

After the rain. Photo by Lee.

Now, in the fall and spring, this is going to happen a few times. That’s how it rains here, with dry spells followed by floods. However, it rarely rains much at all in July. In fact, today is July 5, with rain in the forecast, and it is already the wettest July we’ve had since Lee started tracking it right after the Big Drought in 2011-2012.

All the years but 2021 are for the whole month. And no, I don’t know why Lee tracks data with the current year on the left, but I’m just grateful for the data.

One of the things people are noticing about this year is that everything seems to be skewed a month late, thanks for the Winter Storm Uri event in February. Maybe we are getting June’s usual rain pattern, just a bit late. Or Global Warming. I don’t know; I’m not a meteorologist.

Here’s our rain pattern since we’ve been here. You can sure see when we have floods! From Lee’s spreadsheet.

This year started out like it was going to be one of our dryer years, but who knows at this point? All I know is that the later the tanks fill up, the more likely they are to not go dry until the rains start up again in the fall. (Don’t let August fool you; most years it barely rains in July OR August.)

Hey, fellow cattle, isn’t this the most dangerous area to be standing, right where the culvert spurts out water and there’s scary clay? Yes! Let’s all stand here. (Last week, there was just a small puddle by the culvert.)

Texas weather is quite variable, so we’ve enjoyed tracking the patterns here in the Post Oak Savannah region. My guess is that the patterns where you live are also interesting, so I encourage you to get a good rain gauge, like the one we use, the Stratus Precision Rain Gauge, and start tracking. You can learn a lot about trends, as well as exceptions! I’m grateful to Lee for his diligence in his own Citizen Science project.

Built to the National Weather Service specifications, the Stratus is exceptionally accurate. It is the rain gauge of choice for official weather observers in the United States.

https://www.weatherstationadvisor.com/best-rain-gauge/

Now to go check on chickens and move Apache to the dry pen. It’s rather sloppy over there, so all of us slip and slide. I will be very glad when we can get back to work on the pens so we can move him, though I’ll wager our pens will also get muddy and slick, because they are on the clay soil, too. On the other hand, someone said that a couple inches of good rain would really pack down the new driveway. I’d say it’s pretty packed now.

What Did I Want to Do When I Grew Up?

Hello from the road to South Carolina. I love road trips. You can sure think a lot. You can also knit a lot. I’ve actually arrived at the end of the pattern I’m making, but because I’m using different yarn and needles, I’m going to repeat the lace pattern.

Best picture I could get in the car. You can get the idea.

I have plenty of yarn left. I enjoy knitting without disturbances. It lets me think of new techniques to try, modifications to make, and things I want to try next. I was wondering if I could crochet a border off live knitting stitches (not bound off). I think I’ve seen socks done that way, with crocheted cuffs.

I can’t wait to block it.

I could knit for my job, if I’d taken that choice when it came to me. I love the science of designing patterns, love teaching it (so much, oh so much), like to go to conferences, and all that. And I do technical writing, which helps a lot. I’d have to have figured out a niche and done a lot of marketing, like so many of my knitting friends did so well. Knitting blogs got a lot of folks started, and I loved doing that, too.

So much comfort.

That dream ended as abruptly as my work in La Leche League did. I didn’t have the self confidence and hadn’t healed enough to figure out a way to get through the hard part and start again, which I now can do. I no longer just disappear when I’m unfairly treated and no longer believe what other people say. Woo!

What Else Did I Want to Do?

But, who knows, I have a lot of years left! There’s another alternate route I could have taken, like the road less traveled. Yes, it’s exactly like two roads diverging in a woods, because I didn’t choose the one leading into a forest.

I do love those plants!

In college, I concentrated hard on classes leading to an interdisciplinary degree in linguistics. I loved studying all the different areas, and was strongly tempted by neurolinguistics. Brains fascinated me. (Still do; notice what I read about now.)

But, I had to get those darned prerequisites out of the way. I did most of them in the wonderful honors program, but I got burned by an awful teacher in Biology who gave exams that were ten essay questions where if you missed any part of the answer, the whole thing was wrong. That ended up ruining my boyfriend and his best friend’s GPAs. I was like, “You ain’t messing with my summa cum laude, asshole,” and got the only A in the class. I gave him one scathing evaluation.

Crimson clover to cleanse your palate from that guy.

That preamble was intended to explain why I took my second biology class as a normal class, with a grad student TA instead of a mean full professor. The class mostly covered genetics and biochemistry. I ate it up like ice cream. Figuring out chromosomes and proteins and all that was like figuring out puzzles. It was so fun.

I always wanted to know how plants worked. This is a beautiful invasive vetch in Georgia.

I stayed after and asked the teacher questions. This guy was studying bees for his doctoral research, so I asked a lot about insect genetics. All I now remember is that he always wore incredibly wrinkled shirts, apparently because his girlfriend didn’t have an iron. There was much good-natured kidding, and he rewarded us with wearing an ironed shirt to the final exam.

Like this wild azalea hiding in a prissy trimmed hedge, I was nature girl stuck in academia.

Because I answered all the extra credit questions right, I didn’t need to pass the final, but I did it for fun. Then came the fateful question. The TA took me aside and begged me to switch majors. Biology needed me! I said I’d think about it. With my love of trees and springs and swamps, I imagined becoming a wildlife biologist and working with a State agency.

But, by that time I was already accepted to grad school in linguistics with a full fellowship. I had to take that path. Plus I was following my boyfriend. Hint to young people: your vocational choice should be determined by your brain, not hormones. I’ve been stuck working with language a lot longer than I had my boyfriend (a great human, don’t get me wrong).

The Good Part

But, all was not lost. I came to the Hermits’ Rest and got to hang out with Sara, the genetics PhD. And I met Dorothy, who’s not only a blog/podcast sponsor, but also got me into the Texas Master Naturalist program! I now get to do biology every day if I want to, I get to study the natural world, and if I can’t BE a wildlife biologist, at least I get to hang out with them! And I do work with a State agency.

Like this fine plantain, I’m choosing to find beauty wherever I am and grow where I’m planted.

It took me a while, but I did get to be what I wanted to be when I grew up. It just took patience.

So, have you attained your goals? Does your vocation match your avocation?

Always Something New at the Ranch

One of the things I like about being a Master Naturalist is that I have learned to be a more careful observer, wherever I go. I’m happiest that I’ve been entering what I see on our ranch into iNaturalist, because I can see when flowers bloom or go to seed every year, when butterflies arrive, etc. Today’s butterflies included these:

Even though our observations on our own property no longer are approved by the state office, I still observe for my own study and analysis. I have a project where all observations here are stored, and I hope some day to be able to do some analysis.

My expedition yesterday was helped greatly by something that had originally broken my heart a little. You see, Lee’s brother likes to mow, and he decided to mow all those “weeds” on the side of the road. Thank goodness Lee saw it and asked him to stop. Apparently the conversation was sort of funny, with Jim insisting it was weeds and Lee saying, “Don’t you see the flowers?”

Oops, there go some flowers. There are plenty more, of course.

The good thing about it is that it made a little path that enabled me to easily see all the butterflies and bugs and get closer photos.

Also, the public right of way counts as not being on my property, so I can get at least a few volunteer hours out of my cataloging!

This year’s been pretty interesting, which shouldn’t be surprising after the weird weather. I’ve been quite surprised to see common plants, like Indian paintbrush, not as prominent, with some new plants popping up.

What’s this white stuff? And what’s Penney pointing at?

One plant we have in super abundance is this annual trampweed (Facelis retusa). It’s really pretty in early spring. Then, when it blossoms, you don’t really see the flowers, just white buds, followed by exuberant star-shaped seed heads.

The little seed fluff sticks out and looks like a flower bud.
Here’s what the plant looks like, with leaves circling up a stem.

I’d never noticed this plant before, and it’s everywhere this year. Now it’s one of my favorites.

They look so cheerful!

Another plant I’d never noticed around here is small-flowered catchfly (Silene gallica). It’s another one of those tiny flowers from up high. At first I thought it was that chickweed or something.

Small-flowered catchfly.

Once you touch it, though, you know it’s different. You also know how it got its name. It’s sticky! It could certainly catch a fly. You can see all the hairs in the photos.

Here it is growing with some Carolina bristle marrow, trampweed

The little flowers range from pink to white. I had honestly never seen it before. Did I not notice it or did it come in with floods? Is it something that grows better after a hard freeze or two? I’m sure I just didn’t notice it, even though I’ve been trying so hard to identify everything here!

The third “new” plant I wasn’t even sure of its ID. None of the things that are suggested on iNaturalist really match the way it looks, but since I know plants can differ in color from place to place, labeled it dwarf blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium minus), and hooray, I was right! Linda Jo identified it for me. It’s another tiny little fellow, but it’s really pretty.

Another “new” plant really isn’t new. It’s a pink evening primrose. But I never saw one so white. I thought it was a petunia from a distance.

That’s quite a contrast to the usual ones, though they do come in many shades of pink. I always love to look at the clouds of them on the roadside or in fields, with all the shadings.

One of the really pink ones. I know we’ve seen them a lot, but still, they’re gorgeous.
Look at all the bugs on this Black-eyed Susans!

I really enjoy seeing what’s blooming every day. It was great to see the black-eyed Susans have started to bloom, and apparently the bugs that enjoy their pollen are also happy.

There are a few things I can’t get close enough to take a photo of when I’m wearing sandals (I only do that on the grass Lee and Jim have mowed), but I’ll get to them at some point this week.

I’m glad it rained, too, because that will keep the ground moist and let more plants get going before everything turns brown.

Can you see the turtles?

I’m glad to see that the bluebonnets are going to seed quite well, so we will have lots more next year, and my favorite patch of Engelman daisy is in full bloom. There’s always something pretty to look at here, and when you’ve just gotten yet another blow at ye olde workplace, I’m glad for all my new and old plant and animal friends at the ranch.

For you blog readers, here are more things I saw yesterday. I hope the flowers and bugs are fun to look at.

Let’s get out there and “do the needful” as they say in India. I guess I’ve had enough coffee to be strong and carry on!

Exploring with Friends, Safely

GO AHEAD, CLICK THAT PODCAST LINK!

Our Master Naturalist chapter is slowly and carefully starting to do some activities that fall under our guidelines for safety. We really wanted to do something for Earth Day, so a few members got all organized and set up some tables over at Bird and Bee Farm, where our Wildscape project is located. I headed over there, since I had some little pins to give out, and since I hadn’t seen most of them since last year.

By the way, check out my hair. It’s SILVER, from Overtone. No more 1-inch roots!

Our members had put together all sorts of stuff to give away for adults and kids, and by the time I left, they’d had nearly 80 visitors! Luckily, they were spread out over 4 hours, so we didn’t have any scary germy crowds. We were all very glad to see each other, which was a nice feeling.

Some of our members, very well spaced out.
All decked out with my Master Naturalist shirt, new wrap, and Earth Day tote from H-E-B.

I even got presents, including a festive wrap Catherine (from the comments on the blog) found while thrifting with her daughter, and a great book on roadside wildflowers by the woman in charge of the plantings in Texas.

As always, I enjoyed talking to people about Earth Day, but I enjoyed even more the fact that Catherine took me and Joyce C. on a little hike to look at the bird-watching station they are creating in the woods behind the chicken housing. It’s in a pretty, circular area surrounded by a variety of native trees, including one very large oak, under which I got a photo of me looking very tiny.

I got to do some plant and insect identification with my scientific buddy, Eric, which I’ve missed a lot, and we all discussed rainfall amounts from yesterday (we got close to a half inch).

And of course, there were chickens and guinea fowl. We even found some guinea eggs, and I got to take a few home, courtesy of the really nice young man who works there helping out. There were a few hens who really looked interesting, and I was pretty much awestruck by the coop the Weks built for their personal chickens. Photos were taken as examples for future projects at the Hermits’ Rest (distant future).

It was just plain great to go somewhere, see different scenery, and get to say hello to my friends. This is one case where I’m really glad we’re all so old, because everyone’s vaccinated! All we have to do is take the reasonable precautions. Whee!

Tanks? Ponds?

I live in Texas, on a cattle ranch, though none of the cattle here are mine. The cattle here mostly drink out of artificial ponds, because as any Texas naturalist knows, there’s only one natural lake in Texas (Caddo Lake, on the Louisiana border). Thus, any pond you see is made by a human or beaver.

There’s a tank in the middle of those flowers down the road.

However, any native Texan will tell you those cattle aren’t drinking out of (and cooling off in, and pooping in) ponds. Oh no. Those are tanks. Stock tanks or cattle tanks. You sound like a city person if you call them ponds.

Our lovely small pond that sometimes merges with the creek.
I don’t know how long they stay so pristine.

I’m telling you all this because I’ve recently had a couple questions about what the heck a cattle tank is. First, stock tanks in most places are like big water troughs made of metal or plastic. People like to make them into swimming pools. But that’s a normal tank.

These are attached to water supplies and have valves to keep water at the right level. We have some here, as well. The goldfish in there have really grown, to my happiness.

There ARE fish in here.

But most properties have one or more of these in-ground tanks, made usually by damming an arroyo or other place where water naturally goes, then digging out a big hole. This is how we made our front “pond.” Our driveway is the dam.

The tank we made. Those trees grew up since we built the dam/driveway.

All the other tanks on the property are much older. Our neighbor’s son remembers swimming in them. Um, I see too many snakes to consider that. The big tanks have very tall dams around them, created by digging the holes. The dam around the front tank next door is really tall, and Fiona freaks out at it. I still don’t know why.

Looking down the ditch that drains into the big tank. Look carefully on each side to see the dam.

Because I wanted to know more about the history of tanks in Texas, I looked it up and found a fine article from Texas Monthly that fascinated me. For example, I learned that 80% of the tanks in Texas have fish in them, even ones that haven’t been stocked. I’ve seen catfish in ours!

The tank behind our house has plenty of fish for the herons, and is popular with cattle and dogs for cooling off. There’s only a dam on one side, but it’s tall!

I also learned that there are subsidies for building tanks that prevent erosion. That may explain why Texas has more of these man-made bodies of water than any other US state. I actually think that’s what my neighbor does, advise people about building tanks. I should ask, huh. My friend Phyllis confirms this; I’d call them tanks, too, if I got paid!:

My Dad always said that the government would pay farmers to put in stock tanks in the early 1900’s. So if you built a pond for your livestock you paid for it, but if you built a “tank” for your livestock the government paid for most and sometimes all of it…

Of course, as my friend Lynn also pointed out, when you build a tank, the State owns the surface water. That’s one of those weird Texas technicalities.

One thing I do know is that it’s easier to build a tank when you have some clay in your soil. In sandy places, you have to add a layer of clay so it will hold water. We have a couple of dry tanks here, too. Animals like to hide in them. See, I paid attention in my Master Naturalist classes. I obviously think tanks are cool.

Some old tanks look pretty darned natural, like the one next to Walker’s Creek cemetery.

And finally I was happy to read my favorite thing about tanks is not just mine and my naturalist friends. Tanks now attract all kinds of plants and animals that might not be there if we hadn’t put the water there for them. Long after the cattle ranches are gone, the tanks will remain, drying up in drought and refilling when there’s lots of rain.

The little front pond in a drought. Not much water (2013)

Yes, pond, tank, or whatever, these artificial watering holes will provide us with ample nature watching opportunities and provide habitat for so much life. Hooray for tanks!

A Familiar Bird All Dressed Up

It’s much cooler this morning than it was yesterday, so I wish today was the massive hay-bale unloading day. And, yes, I have a sore back and arms, but that’s not gonna stop me from getting out and doing things! Um, and theoretically today I’ll finally have time to work on the newsletter that’s going sort of slowly this week.

Anyway, I have a bird story. Every day when I wake up, I head over to our second-story bedroom window that faces the chickens and the pond to see what’s going on in the world. I can see dogs, hens, horses, cattle, and often birds.

Today, I saw two white birds by the pond. Seeing a white bird is not uncommon, since we have a Great Egret who visits often. These two looked like egrets, but not so great. They were smaller and had patches of a pretty salmon color on their heads and backs. They looked like this:

Photo from iNaturalist, copyright (c) Charlotte Bill.

I couldn’t get a photo, since my phone was updating its OS. The nerve. I wracked my not-really-awake-yet brain trying to figure out what it could be. It had a poky bill, so it wasn’t a duck. It had a long neck, but not THAT long of a neck. And it looked like an egret with a short neck and a short bill.

Isn’t that a pretty bird? Photo from iNaturalist, copyright (c) Charlotte Bill.

The phone finally finished updating, so I could look it up on Merlin Bird ID. That is one helpful piece of software! I entered its size as smaller than a goose, and its colors as white and orange. I couldn’t wait to see what exotic creature I’d seen, but not been able to photograph. I had to laugh when I saw what came up. The birds are a pair of cattle egrets in breeding plumage!

My own best picture of cattle egrets, in a large flock.

My gosh, I’ve been seeing these birds my entire life, but the color fooled me. Now I know they get all colorful this time of year. Looking through the photos on iNaturalist, I could see they can be quite colorful. I read that they get more colorful in some other parts of the world, too.

Learning about these guys (Bubulcus ibis) on Wikipedia explained to me why I’ve seen them my whole life. It turns out that they were first introduced to the US (escaping captivity) in Florida, where I spent my childhood! They were observed breeding there in the late 1950s, and had spread to Canada in just ten years. Wow. They also busily expanded from their native Iberian peninsula, too. I guess where there are cattle, they follow.

I have a vague memory of my mom mentioning that they didn’t see them when she was younger, which makes sense to me now. I strongly remember finding these birds very funny when they rode around on the backs of the huge herds of Hereford cattle we’d see in north Florida in the 60s.

I guess it pays to wake up and look out the window, because it can lead you to learning a lot more about a bird you’ve enjoyed your whole life! It pays to stay curious!

Feeling a Little Better about Nature’s Survival

After that unusual series of cold fronts, snow, and ice, I (and others) have been pretty worried about whether out friends out there in nature are going to make it through to spring and keep going. In the past day or two I’ve seen some happy signs. So, as long as I’m out in nature and not dealing with technology, I’ve been pretty happy.

Vlassic is happy, because I’ve been sitting on the porch with him and running around a lot.

My heart skipped a beat when I finally saw some Indian paintbrush plants in the field. Now that there are two or three of them, I know we’ll have at least a bit of our usual field of orange in front of the house (as long as we can convince Jim the brother-in-law not to mow until they are going to seed).

A brave pioneer in the big wildflower meadow (until someone turns it into a pasture).

The field is already lovely to me, with a whole lot of mock verbena mingling with crow poison and field madder, once you look close enough to see them. And I know more’s coming! That’s why I like this time of year. Every day something new starts blooming, and I record them on iNaturalist so that some day I can analyze the data and see if the weather changes when the wildflowers start up (that will be when I retire).

I don’t remember having so much of this charming plant in the field before!

A new “blossom” coming up yesterday was this dwarf plantain (at least that’s what iNaturalist identified it as). I thought it was the annual trampweed (which is also in the picture, along with chicory, burr clover of some kind, and a grass, but I was wrong).

But it IS something new blooming, whatever it is!

Another new bloomer is one I’d been worried about, on behalf of my stomach, and that’s the dewberries. They really got knocked back by the cold, but by gosh, they have recovered and started blooming. Even though there are only a few blossoms right now, it already smells good over by the stream.

Future fruit! Yay!

How about the non-plants?

Adult green-striped grasshopper that is brown.

I’ve been anxiously looking for butterflies and grasshoppers and such. Judging from the sounds I’ve been hearing, the green-striped grasshoppers I’ve been watching grow up have matured. I see them flying around the back yard and making their grasshopper noises. Here’s one that happens to be brown.

I’ve been seeing a lot of these hairstreak butterflies, along with some sulphurs and one red admiral that was too far away to photograph.

Hairstreak with chicory and tiny bluet.
This blurry shot is the best one I could get, as the butterfly never landed.

But, I had heard people were already seeing monarchs, but that there was nothing for them to eat. Sure enough, as I sat in the back yard yesterday waiting to go to the phone store, a steady stream of them passed by, but never landed on anything. I sure hope they find some nectar!

I know pear trees are blooming (native ones, not just Bradford pears), so the bees are doing well.

Maybe Carlton has some hunting dog in him. I caught him pointing (he turned his head when he saw me).

I’m never alone when I’m out looking at all these plants and insects and such. Carlton and Penney are especially close to me wherever I go, while Alfred and Vlassic explore more. It always makes me happy to see that the pets have as much fun as I do. We are all really lucky to have acres and acres to explore and nobody to tell us what we can and can’t do out here. Ranch living may have poor cell reception, but it makes up for it in the kind of freedom that matters to me, which is freedom to observe nature and be a part of it, not try to dominate it.

As usual, Penney was by the water.

I hope you are enjoying the signs of spring where you are (and if you’re in Colorado, I hope the snow is melting).

A Chickweed Festival for Birds

It was a beautiful morning here, with mist rising from the ponds and a very heavy load of dew, so the grasses and flowers were all shiny. As soon as I went downstairs and sat at my desk, I realized that there are even more birds in the field in front of the house than usual.

Some of the birds I scared off when I walked outside. Mostly starlings, but there’s a meadowlark at left.

The meadowlarks have been all over the fields for weeks now, but I realized that there are also a lot of European starlings, along with some of the red-winged blackbirds that I’ve mostly been hearing and not seeing. The savannah sparrows are also participating (a few white-crowned sparrows are at the edge of the woods, but they don’t like to come out in the middle of the field). Joining the crowds are our breeding pairs of mockingbirds and cardinals. This creates quite a cacophony.

Where I see all the birds. You can see some flying back by the trees. I scared them.

I wondered why there were more birds today than in the past couple of weeks. I put on my Master Naturalist thinking cap and thought there must be some kind of thing for them to eat now that wasn’t there last week.

The male cardinal is in the center. The mockingbirds flew off as I took the picture.

Sure enough, I recalled mentioning to Lee last night that the chickweed was all yellowish and looked like it had gone to seed. Could that be it? The name implies birds like it.

Chickweed in bloom.

So, I went off to search the internet and look at that. I found an article that told me chickweed is not native, but is good to eat for us humans, too. It’s chock full of vitamins and minerals. Most important:

Chickweed is also grown as feed for chickens and pigs, hence its common names clucken wort, chicken weed, and birdseed. Wild birds also love to eat chickweed seeds.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Can You Eat Chickweed – Herbal Use Of Chickweed Plants 

Well, there ya go. I used my brain and got my answer. It looks like I’ll have plenty of bird-watching fun for the next few days, right out my little window. Chickweed is my new friend, and officially a wildflower and NOT a weed (even though I already figured it was).

This is not fascinating, but does show some chickweed seed heads.

Anything exciting going on where you are?


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I Found a Spring! And Pollinators!

I started out my morning nature break trying to find pollinators and check for damaged flowering plants for a survey of pollinators and plants used by monarchs on iNaturalist. I was very happy to have found bees and a butterfly, and was watching the water flowing in the stream with the dogs.

Then, Lee showed up, wanting me to help get the dogs back up so he could feed them. I said, okay, but look how well the stream is flowing! He noted that the runoff from the pond did not seem to be flowing, but the place where it dumps into the stream WAS making nice little waterfall sounds. So, where was the water coming from?

The stream is flowing so nicely and consistently that actual aquatic plants are growing.

Lee pointed out to a new puddle or marshy area that seems to have (no pun intended ) sprung up since the snow event happened. I’d been meaning to check on it, too.

The newly wet area. You can see it doesn’t have any water plants yet, so it’s new.

The puddle was very full, not like all the other ones that have dried up. Then, lo and behold, I spotted a little hole. That little hole was full of clear water, and it was bubbling up! I finally found the source of one of our intermittent springs! I was pretty excited.

Not much to look at, but it is full of bubbly water!

So, water is coming up from this hole (perhaps from the pond, who knows?), then flowing to the marshy puddle, then heading to join the pond runoff water, and on into the big hole that starts the stream.

I labeled the new spring’s path, since it’s hard to see for the grass.

Yay! Farther down, the water is running really fast, thanks to at least two other springs. We had heard that there have been springs all through that area, but most of them have not flowed since we got here, which was when the big drought of 2011-12 happened. I guess the aquifer has finally recovered! Wow!

This springy area has been holding up since last year.

Anyway, I was happy to find a Sulphur butterfly, a hairstreak and lots and lots of bees outside. They were pollinating the henbit and dandelions.

Also, one of the young willows in the small pond has started sprouting, plus I saw a bullfrog in that pond (and heard another one jump). I found one wolf spider and another insect that got away. That means some of them lived. This all makes me very happy.

I do hope to see turtles soon. I am worried about them. But, wow, so happy to have found a spring!

What’s Recuperating from the Cold and Snow?

Since the weather is warm and it hasn’t started raining yet, I decided to see how the life around here is faring after last week’s bad weather. The first thing I found was that, indeed, the cold has messed the chickens up. Look what poor Buttercup laid!

Buttercup’s little egg, next to the normal one I found this morning.

Not all is bad for them, though. While they seem to dislike something in their scratch grain mix, the damp weather has been perfect for sprouting whatever it is. That will make good browsing for them or new chickens that we get!

At least the chicken run won’t be all dirt!
We prefer bugs.

I wondered if any insects and such were out, so I was happy to find a checkered butterfly and two lady bugs! I saw a moth, but it was too fast for me!

I found that most of the usual plants for this tome of year were blooming, but I was surprised to see a cranesbill had already managed to produce seeds!

Here are a few of the other blooming plants I saw. It was good to see them recovering.

I also found the wildflowers in good shape, including my favorite yellow daisies and bluebonnets. We’ll have color this year! And speaking of color, the cold gave some unusual leaf colorings.

I heard a lot of frog sounds from across the road, and plenty of birds. I heard a whooshing sound and turned around to see I’d disturbed some ducks on one of the tanks/ponds. I did get a photo of them flying, though I don’t know what kind they are.

Ducks, trees, clouds.

Spring is coming. Winter can’t stay forever. I’m glad I got some entries for iNaturalist today!