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It’s almost June in our Sonoma County backyard and the flora and critters are acting out; trying to get the most out of spring.
The gopher invasion, for now anyway, has been beaten back. Dealing with the traps is not pleasant but is not so bad as to be classed with traditional diet suppressants. I also know that this may be only a pause for the invaders because our neighbor across the fence tells me that the hoard is still active in his large unfinished yard. Our fenced demilitarized zone could easily be compromised overnight. sigh . . .
The manic robin, amazingly and despite his daily efforts at plowing through our windows, has not managed to knock himself fully out, well except for out of the air. In our 20 years of living here, we’ve never seen this conduct from our flying critters. Each of our mornings are punctuated with his excessive attempts to either break in or kill that other bird in his reflection. This guy is making his whole species look bad.
At least he’s not like the woodpecker who did his best to kill two of our trees last year. These guys are beautiful and very smart. They also know that you can’t really disturb their work with noise, visible shaking of sticks or scarecrow type devices.
Thus, this guy was finally dispatched when he failed to dodge a BB and so he left his task to others – who have apparently chosen to peck and suck the life from someone else’s tree.
We have hawks now! They guys are big and cool, but have not proved to have any appetite for helping with the gophers. I’ve seen them circling high above our property. My oldest son went through a ‘bird of prey’ phase where he was on the look out for any hawk as we drove about the county and we managed t capture a few photos for one of his scout projects. Because these birds helped him earn his eagle badge – they are honored guests who already know how to socially distance their visits. They can be startling when walking in the quiet of the sunny yard and suddenly a huge hawk-shaped shadow crosses over.
Our lizards, our scaled non-creepy-crawlers are both prospering and seem to be enjoying their private bug hunting grounds. The feral cat seems to be gone by the time the sun comes up and they are not early risers. They have been spotted wrestling and chasing each other on the aggregate path or back fence. They company is always welcome and they compensate me by chomping down on lots of bugs. I wish I could get a shot of them right after they shed their skin because, in the right light, their colored scaly hides are amazing complex tiled patterns of metallic color. They are not terribly annoyed by my passage through the yard, but would prefer that I not get too close.
Our spaghetti squash plants have regained their footing after being transplanted into the backyard crater and are growing great. This group has all but covered the original crater hole. From seven sprouts I’m seeing either 10 or 12 vines that, if they grow like last year, will sprawl out to about 15 feet each with 8-12 fruit per vine by the fall. They really are bright and attractive plants but their leaves and stalks are prickly to touch and these plants are now mature enough to begin to be prickly. Here’s the old shot, about 3 weeks old and a new shot taken just today.
I was able to give 2 batches of sprouted plants to nearby friends who were both quite jazzed to be growing their own spaghetti squash. I hope to hear of their success later this year. If you ask around and find either a squash in the store to cook up or someone who has one, try to get a few of the fresh seeds. They readily sprout in decent soil and, if you can give them enough space, will prove to be a fun part of your garden and almost everyone I know who has tasted the noodle size fruit loves them as much as they do normal pasta.
Finally, we have some nice high hedges around the property that help with privacy. This year, because I’m noticing such things, I’ve paid attention to their small flowers. Here are some of the photo’s I’ve captured.
First up: the buds before they bloom.
For scaling these miniature miracles, I used my fingers since you can’t from where you’re sitting. Then a couple of shots of the real workers who make things work around here. The second one below, I zoomed in to try and capture those details that are rarely noticed by the naked eye.
Please ignore the bee in this next shot. He’s obviously a bee teenager who thinks mooning the camera is somehow funny. He and his peers were all around me while taking these shots and I counted myself lucky to get what I did. My encouragements for him to turn around and just smile were completely ignored.
These blossoms are almost too small to see in detail but this shot really did capture a few in focus enough to enjoy. Despite his rudeness, the bee is helping to establish the scale of those blossoms.
And that’s the update for the weekend from my backyard. I’m pretty sure there are worse places to be sheltering in place. Have a great weekend all.