Winter, Winter Go Away

Bird Feeder Blurred By Snow
Bird Feeder Blurred By Snow

I love Texas. Don’t get me wrong. I was born, bred and raised here and have spent most of my life in the Lone Star State. That being said, I’m not always a big fan of Texas weather. The weather in Texas doesn’t just change from day to day, but from minute to minute. And from region to region. Each part of the state has its own type of weather. If you’re reading this post, and you’re from Texas, you can attest to that. As an example for those of you who aren’t inhabitants of this great state, here’s the weather forecast for my town (which is located in the region of Texas variously referred to as the Rolling Plains, the Panhandle Plains, the Central Plains, the North Central Plains, West Central Texas, the Red River Valley, North Texas or Texoma depending on the source) for the next seven days according to our local weather service:

Quite the mish-mash of weather to look forward to for the next week! Is it proceeding according to the forecast so far? Well, snow has been falling all day and the current temperature is 19°F, so I guess so far so good. Or bad, depending on how you look at it. We desperately need the moisture. Unfortunately, the type of moisture we’re getting right now will do nothing more than soak into the ground. And that’s great! But it doesn’t do anything for the watershed. We need a copious amount of heavy rain to fall over an extended period of time, to fill the streams that fill the rivers that fill the lakes. Hopefully some of the predicted showers and thunderstorms forecast for the beginning of next week will help with that. We can only wait and see.

Birds were out in abundance this morning, filling their stomachs with food to keep up their energy during this cold spell. These two House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) decided to stake out one of the thistle feeders and didn’t let any others near until they ate their fill.

House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus)
House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus)

There was a virtual smorgasbord of other birds as well. Those stocking up on seed below include Eurasian Collared-Doves, also referred to as Ring-Necked Doves (Streptopelia decaocto), White-Winged Doves (Zenaida asiatica), European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and House Sparrows (Passer domesticus).

Various Birds
Various Birds

The Daffodils (Narcissus) and Bearded Iris (Iris germanica) don’t look too happy right now, but the precipitation will do wonders for them in the long run.

Daffodils and Bearded Iris (Narcissus and  Iris germanica)
Daffodils and Bearded Iris (Narcissus and Iris germanica)

I’ll probably venture outside again a little later to restock the bird feeders, but with the chill factor hovering around 6°F I don’t plan on staying out there too long! Wherever you are — stay warm!

Wordless Wednesday: Share

Amercian Robin (Turdus migratorius) & European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) & European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Winter’s Last Hurrah?

Daffodil (Narcissus)
Daffodil (Narcissus)

Poor frozen Daffodil. Why didn’t I pick them all yesterday? Winter has come calling once again, bringing just enough frozen stuff to make things dangerous. Around here, it doesn’t take much!

Almond Tree Blossoms (Prunus dulcis)
Almond Tree Blossoms (Prunus dulcis)

These Almond Tree blossoms won’t be here much longer. Temperatures around 20F have likely led to their demise and they’ll all shrivel up and drop off in the days to come. The small tree was almost in full bloom. It produced a crop of about six nuts last year for the same reason — early warm spells that produced early blooms.

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Birds of various shapes, sizes and species were out at the crack of dawn today, picking their way through the yard, looking for seed left over from yesterday. They got more today as the feeders were quickly filled, food was tossed about for the ground feeders and the last of the suet was placed in strategic locations. We’re expecting another round of icy precipitation to come through later in the week so a new batch of suet will be whipped up sometime today.

Noon Temperature
Thermometer At Noon

This may be today’s high. Quite a difference from the warm weather we had the latter part of last week.

Picture Perfect Monday: Cricket In Winter

Texas Field Cricket (Gryllus texensis)
Texas Field Cricket (Gryllus texensis)

“Every man thinks his own geese swans.”
― Charles Dickens, The Cricket on the Hearth

Home & Garden Festival Time!

Today’s Arts Alive! 2015 Home and Garden Festival was a real treat! I’ve been looking forward to this annual event since the middle of January when my husband purchased tickets. Without a doubt, it lived up to all expectations again this year. More than 150 vendors turned out for the event. Though a majority of the vendors appeared to represent businesses and services concerned with home remodeling, utilities, emergency management, health care, insurance and the like, there were also representatives from local nurseries and greenhouses as well as the Texas Master Naturalist Rolling Plains Chapter. Masses of information was available in the areas of garden pest management, Texas invasive plants, rainwater harvesting, composting and perennials and shrubs for the local area.

My favorite part of the Home & Garden Festival? Free seeds! I came home with seeds for Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), Cinnamon Basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’), two packets of wildflower seed mix with possible seeds listed and another packet of unknown wildflower seeds attached to colored strips of paper (this one compliments of Atmos Energy, our local gas company, imagine that!).

I was definitely excited to find the seeds for the Standing Cypress as I sifted through a basket brimming with various offerings. I’ve read a lot of good things about this biennial and the flowers are simply beautiful. The foliage reminds me of that of the Rocket Larkspur (Consolida ajacis) that’s been in my garden for a number of years.

Also available from one of the vendors was a list of native and adapted perennials and shrubs for our area. I’ve been researching various shrubs for their wildlife attributes as well as their ability to thrive in shade or partial shade. There are a few on this list that I plan to investigate come spring: Fragrant Sumac (Rhus trilobata), Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata), Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) and American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).

I had a great time at this year’s garden show, as my poor, tired feet can attest! The garden show, along with the beautiful weather we’ve had the past few days, has my fingers itching to dig into the soil and start planting the seeds I picked up today as well as those I’ve been collecting over winter. Alas, speaking of winter, it plans to return to us with a vengeance tomorrow. So I guess my itchy fingers will have to wait a while longer!