the kitchen cricket

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today with all sorts of interesting things. You may remember me from such similarly-themed posts as “The Engine Rabbit”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically horticultural pose.
I’m checking the garden for voles, which I think have moved into the garden.
The guy I live with is very much against having voles in the garden, I mean like super-extra-totally against, but, well without going into any detail, he knows I’ll take care of them. We purebred border collies dislike voles intensely. I don’t know why; we just do.
This is me again, going to another part of the garden, to check again.
It’s been super dry here, and so the guy I live with has been watering, a little. Maybe you can see how dry the garden is.
And look at the field. They mowed it just a few days ago. You can actually see the mower off in the distance.
With the watering in the garden, things are changing here. I mean, things always change, which is kind of weird, since I like things staying the same, but we can see the changes with just twenty minutes’ worth of watering.

We can also tell that the seasons are changing. It’s still way too hot every day, but the nights are cooler. September and October are very difficult months, emotionally, for the guy I live with, even after all these years, but we are looking forward to cooler daytime temperatures, eventually.

The cowpen daisies (Verbesina encelioides) like a little bit of watering, depending on the soil they’re growing in. Soil types, texture and stuff, make a big difference in how plants grow and endure drought, but not many people talk about that sort of thing except to go on about organic matter, which isn’t what we’re talking about here.
They have a kind of chocolate smell, according to the guy I live with. I’m not allowed to have chocolate.

The main garden in back (not the “way back”) has lots of Aster oblongifolius flowering now. (We don’t have time to type Symphyo whatever.)
They’re purpler than the picture shows.
This aster is native to areas farther east, so it’s one of the very few plants native east of the 100th meridian in our garden. It’s also native to Colorado, in the extreme southeastern part of the state, near the New Mexico and also Oklahoma state lines. The guy I live with has never been there. He says it would involve a several-hour drive through basically nothing, just to get there to look at asters.
When the guy I live with and his wife got Slipper, a purebred border collie who lived here before me, and Chess’s first cousin, they drove out to eastern Colorado, to a place where there were no trees within sight in any direction.
Colorado, if you didn’t know, is actually three regions. The eastern plains, which are called plains for a good reason (though there is a wooded area to the southeast of us called “The Black Forest”), and then the mountains, and then the “rimrock country” and other places, out in the western part.
We live pretty much right where the mountains stop and the plains start, but not really on the plains, like where Denver is. We live surrounded by what they call “outwash mesas”; there’s a mesa within walking distance of our house. (If you want to get a better idea, see Chess’s post “Where We Live”.)

Sedum ‘Matrona’ has been attracting hundreds and hundreds of bees. The plants have been getting a little extra water, since they’re growing next to my Private Lawn (which is buffalo grass).
The colchicums have started to flower, too. They’re being devoured by the zillions of grasshoppers in our garden. I don’t like grasshoppers, because they land on me.
This is ‘Innocence’, the guy I live with’s favorite, maybe.
Let’s see…what else?
Oh, there was another visitor on the patio, but much less large than our last one. The guy I live with said this was the caterpillar of the Achemon sphinx, Eumorpha achemon.
I thought it was pretty scary.
One of the moths flew into the kitchen last summer. The guy I live with went to a lot of trouble to catch it, and then he released it out onto the patio. I caught it and ate it.
He was pretty upset with me, but I think that was because he’s never tried moths.

And then there’s the cricket. We have a cricket in our kitchen. It’s really loud. I suppose if I saw the cricket hopping around, I would try it, too.
You never really know what’s good until you try it. Lots of protein, I guess.

And now I have two fairly unbelievable things.

The first is that I have some owl pictures. I know, right? Owls? Hard to believe we have owl pictures and are going to show them, but we are.
They’re down at the very end of my walk, in the evenings. So not as close by as they were last year.
Then, yesterday evening, there was one, I think it was looking into the kitchen of the house we walk by, because we could hear that there was someone there. It was just looking and looking.
The guy I live with got its attention, and it looked at us.
Then just this evening, there was one on the fence that marks the end of the field, and the beginning of someone’s property. (I guess the guy I live with knows the people who own this property now.)
The other unbelievable thing, and this is pretty unbelievable, is that we are getting very close to our thousandth post. No, really. One thousand posts. We’ll let you know when it happens.
That’s something to think about.

Until next time, then.



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a scary visitor

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to tell you all about our scary visitor. You may remember me from such posts as “A Little Excitement”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. It’s still 90 degrees or hotter every day, but we can sense that the weather is slowly changing, because it’s much cooler at night than it was a month ago.  Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

Things have been pretty quiet around here, although one day last week the guy I live with had to go to the hospital for an echocardiogram (everything is normal), and I had to stay home, while it was thundering. The guy I live with said it was typical that on the one day he had to go out, it would be thundering. There was even a tornado warning near the hospital, but in reality several miles to the northeast (way far away from me, at home).

But the next day…. That was something else entirely. Everything was going the way it usually does, when the guy I live with heard me barking “frantically” (I was really being tough and protective) out on the patio. He went out, and thought he heard a sound like a hose leaking, but the faucet wasn’t on.
There was a snake on the patio. And not a small one.
It was hissing. At me. The guy I live with said it was a bullsnake, and completely harmless. It hisses just to pretend it’s tough, which it really isn’t. Just like me.
The guy I live with chased me all over the back yard, trying to get me to come inside. He was afraid I might try to kill the snake, but the truth is that I was terrified of it.
He finally got the leash hooked to my collar, led me inside, and then got a broom to kind of tickle the snake so it would move.
It eventually moved. Into our garage. The guy I live with said it was….five feet long. (That’s 1.5 meters.) It was so big, he said he couldn’t get his hand around it.
So he explained that bullsnakes are very beneficial. I’ve seen dead rats on my walk; regular rats, and he said that bullsnakes would help greatly in reducing the rat population.
This wasn’t the first or second one I’ve seen, but it was the biggest, and the hissiest.

So that was last Friday. The guy I live with left the front garage door open slightly (there’s a second latch), so maybe our “guest” would depart. We haven’t seen it since.

We have been seeing owls. I guess they do the same think as the snake, but from the air.
The guy I live with took what I guess was an obligatory picture of part of the garden, at sunset.
He has been thinking that maybe he should water the garden a bit more. Some watering does take place, since it’s been so fearfully dry, but possibly not enough.
Salvia darcyi really responds to watering. (It wilts otherwise.)
Hummingbirds like this one, as you can tell.
The guy I live with said that a “monsoon garden” might be a nice thing; an area that gets extra water for plants native to that part of North America, especially ones that hummingbirds like. (The salvia is native to Galeana in Nuevo León; it gets about twice the rain we get at this time of year.)

The guy I live with got some dasylirions (D. leiophyllum and D. wheeleri) from a friend. These won’t be planted out until they get bigger.
There are some dasylirions in the garden here already (D. texanum), so these will be a little different.

Back to me and my walks. The guy I live with had been wondering why I kept wanting to go along the canal road on my evening walk, when usually we go along the coyote path behind all the houses.
Today he figured out why.
I wanted to go in the water. It looked clean, as you can see (it’s been muddy for a while now, because of rain in the mountains), so I got to go in. It was pretty nice.

I guess that’s all I have. You can tell that I lead a pretty exciting life, even though parts of it are just the same every day, which is the way we like it.

Until next time, then.


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