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!

Chickie Birthday!

That’s right, the three chicks are a week old today! I’m actually sort of surprised they made it, since our coop isn’t fancy and I’ve just been leaving Mama Star in charge.

We like it down here!

I went out to see them as soon as I got back from Austin. They were all hanging out together as usual. They had gone through a whole container of food and most of their water, which tells me you can only stay away from these guys one day unless I get a bigger feeder. But these are easy to handle and clean, so I’ll keep using them.

When I saw this, I had to blink.

I spread some scratch on the ground for Star, then headed to the garage to clean and replenish their water holder. When I came back, I could see Star, but there was lot of movement near her. The chicks had come down! I guess they figured it out yesterday!

Bronzer, Granite, and Steel look so mature!

The chicks were eating all Star’s food and running around pecking at everything. I was happy to see them eating blades of grass with abandon. They are so confident at one week old. I’m happy.

We’re busy growing feathers.

Yep, those babies can’t help but cheer us up. Even Lee is charmed by their peeps and pops. I even catch him giving the older chickens treats. And he was asking me about my chicken food ingredients.

We’d like to get to that long grass over there. That grass is getting trimmed soon. I promise.

Speaking of the other four hens, they got annoyed by a garage light that wouldn’t shut off and quit laying on the fridge. Now they are putting all their eggs in the far corner on an old mop. It’s really painful for me to get to them, but at least all four laid in the same place. Eight eggs, no searching! Plus, Big Red gave one. Do I need more chickens? Maybe not!

By the way, for Earth Day, our local grocery store, H-E-B, gave away cool Earth Day bags. A friend in Maryland wanted one, so I went out after lunch and got one for me and her, when I knew they’d still have some.

Pretty.

While there, I got a little bouquet of flowers to reward myself for perseverance. The store flowers are reasonably priced, though not compared to the wildflowers.

I got myself flowers to cheer me up.

I hope you thought about the wonderful planet where we all live today, and the amazing animals and plants we share our home with.

Earth Day at 50

As a certified Master Naturalist, I am obliged to acknowledge that today’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. As a human being, I relish the opportunity to dwell on my concerns about the planet we all share and to remind myself to keep doing the things I do to help our green and blue mother stay a welcoming home for us all.

Thanks, Earth, for bringing us sights like this. Photo by @simogarb via Twenty20.

It’s hard to think about the Big Picture when so much little stuff is on our minds. But, it can do us a lot of good, too. We get presents from the Earth every day. Surely we can give back some, too!

This is little quaking grass. It’s seed-heads look like rattlesnake tails, or tiny Christmas trees to me. Behind it is our doggy swimming hole, which is FULL of tadpoles right now. Thanks, Earth!

What Can You Do?

Sure, we’re all avoiding big gatherings, so our Master Naturalist chapter isn’t doing an event like we usually do (actually, we’d canceled anyway). But the internet is just full of ideas. Here are some things I’ve read as well as my own suggestions:

  • Do some of these great ideas from the Kresge Foundation. They include live virtual events, social media ideas, and even a musical playlist.
  • Read a book! Head on over to my Book Reports Page and find one of the many nature books I’ve recommended over the past two years, or go ahead and get Nature’s Best Hope. We all need that inspiration sometimes, and reading takes our minds off “stuff.”
  • Go outside! Take a walk with your eyes, your ears, and your mind open to what the Earth has to share with you. Do you hear birds, squirrels, dogs, or coyotes? Do you see butterflies and moths? Are there plants growing in all sorts of places you don’t normally see? Make a list; you might be surprised at what the Earth has for you, no matter where you are.
  • Share with others. Remind people you know that it’s Earth Day and that they can do something to help. Use Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, email, your Zoom meetings…whatever! Word of mouth is always the best way to encourage new learning.
  • Start a new tradition. My friend Donna just told me that she has planted a tree every single Earth Day for the past 50 years. Hers is already in the ground. You can start your own Earth Day practice now!
  • Recycle something. Even better, re-use something you already have. I’ve made chicken feed scoops from plastic containers that have lasted months and months. I’m saving wine bottles and corks for projects (can’t wait for all my shiny bottle trees to start sprouting!). Let us know what YOU do!
Venus’ looking glass was my gift from the Earth yesterday.

I hope that’s given you some ways to celebrate Earth Day from the comfort of your property. The Earth is our home, and it never hearts to tidy her up, make her beautiful, and keep her safe.

Happy Earth Day #50!

A Hugely Successful Earth Day Celebration

Here’s Suna’s Earth Day Celebration Report.

Nature Along the El Camino Real

by Sue Ann Kendall

I’m interested in nature, too.

The 2019 Earth Day Celebration is in the books! It was a great success, too! At least 100 people and two dogs visited the Community Room on Main Street in Rockdale to see the El Camino Real Master Naturalists and their exhibits. We were joined by local Girl Scouts of Central Texas troops and the Little River Basin Master Gardeners, too. (It helps that many of our members are also Master Gardeners.)

Rosie Johnson did a great job decorating the outside of the Community Room in Rockdale.

Many thanks go out to Donna Lewis and the rest of the Earth Day Committee, who put in a lot of effort and planning to make this event successful. There were so many details, but they were all handled very well!

Donna Lewis takes a break to talk to Catherine Johnson during setup.

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Projects and More Projects

There’s not much to share today, because I’ve been mainly preparing for things.

Last night I spent most of the night at a neighbor’s house participating in the HOA landscaping committee, which I and the other member not on the board were repeatedly reminded has NO power and makes NO decisions. I’m pretty sure the other woman and I were put on the committee to placate us after running for the board and losing or something.

This is the view of Cat Creek from the landscaping committee chair’s house.

It’s okay, though, because these folks had great wine and really nice Italian furniture. We actually did come up with a list of plants to humbly suggest that the board adopt as options for landscaping. They need to be drought tolerant and things deer don’t love.

One of the plants the chair of the committee just loved was one I wasn’t familiar with, though I’d heard of it. When I saw this lovely flowering tree at work, I thought it might be that, but no, it’s an orchid tree native to just this area. Very pretty, and it’s leaves are cool.

I like these leaves.

Another Project

Next Saturday is the Master Naturalist chapter’s big event of the year, our Earth Day event. They said they wanted exhibits, so I volunteered to do one on the dangers of balloons and plastic bags to livestock and wild animals.

I’ve ended up doing a lot of research and learning interesting things, so I also developed a presentation on the topic, with a pretty good slideshow, I think. I used it as the basis for my poster display.

I’d say it’s at least up to middle school standards.

Making the display was fun, because I got to use my collage supplies. Yay.

I’d hoped to present my information to a chapter meeting, but though I thought they said they were looking for speakers, when I wrote to volunteer, I was told they’re all full. Oh well. Maybe someone else would enjoy it.

Or maybe I’ll write it up here. That will wait until I have more energy.

Getting Ready for Earth Day

Happy Sunday! Yesterday I attended a committee meeting with our Master Naturalist group. Rather than write it up twice, I’m sharing my post on their blog.

I’d like to add that I saw a huge dead feral hog on the way in, and found some Indian paintbrush flowers on the roadside between Cameron and rural Rockdale!

Nature Along the El Camino Real

Yesterday, the Environment and Recycling Ad-hoc Committee’s Earth Day subcommittee met to continue to work out plans. I was glad I could finally attend a meeting, because it was fun to see the team at work. I was joined by Ann Collins, Linda Jo Conn, Joyce Conner, Catherine Johnson, Rosie Johnson (guest and helper), Larry Kocian, Kathy Lester, and Donna Lewis (the leader of the bunch).

Nandina and Texas mountain laurel added beauty and scent too the meetiing.

What’s going on with Earth Day?

The El Camino Real Master Naturalist Chapter’s biggest outreach project each year is to host an Earth Day event, to share ways to protect the planet with the community. This year it will be at:

Rockdale Community Center, 109 N. Main, on Saturday, April 20, 10 am – 2 pm.

We were excited to learn about all the planned activities and tables. Our team leader, Donna…

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Mother Earth

EarthDay3_tree
These were prizes given out to Earth Day attendees who visited at least four of the booths.

When I was in one of those women’s groups that were popular when my kids were little, we often chanted. This one kept going through my mind yesterday:

The earth is our mother
We must take care of her
The earth is our mother
We must take care
of
her

Chants don’t tend to go too deep into details. But that one got me thinking about how much my own care for the planet has changed and expanded since we bought our rural property.

The opportunity to observe the changing of the seasons as more than just flowers blooming and leaves changing color has meant a lot. I know what birds show up, and when. I know when it’s going to rain and when it’s likely to be dry. I know that in different years, different insects are more prevalent than in others. Just sitting on the porch is like watching a nature documentary!

Celebrating Earth Day

EarthDay_art
Nature art and beautyberry brownies, courtesy of Sean Wall.

Unlike many other years, I did more than just pick some flowers or plant something on Earth Day this year. The El Camino Master Naturalists had worked very hard to create an extensive exhibit on a variety of relevant topics, so I joined them to take photos and work on a newspaper article to document the event.

Continue reading “Mother Earth”