Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh, hail!

The summer monsoons are here! Normally, that generates a "YAY!" but there is sure a notable exception. Hail.

It was bad enough last year when I just had my 8 foot stocktank water garden to worry about. Hail and lily pads do not mix! I recall shrieking for John to come help me fling a tarp over the tank. It was painful but we got the tank mostly covered and the damage wasn't too bad.

Earlier this spring, the very day after planting my new tomato plants, hail struck when I wasn't home shredding the poor tomatoes and puncturing all the lily pads. They've all pretty much recovered now.

Yesterday, I'm at the computer listening to the thunder get closer and wondering if I should shut down when I begin to hear hailstones plink off the attached greenhouse. A very distinct sound. I don't even wait for John. I'm shrieking "Hail!" as I run out the door to grab my tarps. One was flung over the stocktank. The second one - well, I found myself wandering around the garden in the driving hail with this blue, plastic tarp over my head. I'm panicked out of useful action because I can't decide where to put this thing. It was like choosing which child I was going to keep!

Should it be the lotus pond that also has the dwarf waterlily doing better than ever? What about my pretty little rock garden? And - oh no! The vineyard! 17 expensive vines just starting to climb onto the new trellis!

Finally, I realize the only thing this 12 foot square tarp has a chance of covering is the little rectangular bed of tomato plants. I drag the tarp over the horse-fence cages as fast as I can and dart back into the house to watch and wring my hands. (And take a picture.)
Almost immediately, the hail begins to slow and it's just a hard rain which also soon slows. The sun comes out, then another storm (no hail, this time), then one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've seen in a while. Oh, those monsoon sunsets can really make you forget the hail!
The vineyard and the lotus and the fame-flowers in the rock garden all survived pretty well. This time. Supposed to be storms again today. I'm going to need more tarps.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bucket of Tadpoles

There are some things that, if you allow yourself to outgrow them - well, it's damn shame. Raising tadpoles is one of them.

So I have this sherbet tub on the back porch with 20 or 30 tadpoles in it.

My neighbor stopped me in the street to congratulate me for attracting frogs to my pond. I had no idea because they didn't start singing till about 10 pm and I couldn't hear them from the living room. I checked the lotus pond after work and there were thousands of eggs covering the leaf stalks. The next day they were starting to hatch. Two days later - not a tadpole to be found.

What I did find was A) baby minnows. What the...? I was keeping fish out of that pond! B) Lots of dragonfly nymphs. As I watched, I saw the nymphs lunging for the baby minnows. They missed then but dragonflies are serious predators. I don't think the tadpoles had a chance.

A couple days later the frogs laid eggs again. The next day the already wiggling eggs were being grazed on by my too many pond snails. Poor froggies! They weren't not going to be able to reproduce. I ran for the sherbet tub and good thing. No tadpoles in the pond again but I have them on the porch!

These are the Couch's Spadefoot frogs, I'm pretty sure. They bury themselves in the ground most of the year and come out to frantically breed only when the summer monsoons come. When it rained all night and into the morning, we were able to spot 3 adults in the pond still singing away with their pale throats bulging. Too cute!

The babies are clearly algae eaters and I've never been so glad for the wide assortment of algae in the ponds. I can't wait till they get legs but I'll be sad when they leave home. Nothing like a bucket of tadpoles!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My new website

I'd built what I think is a really nice real estate informational site, I wanted to put on all the gizmos that I wanted on the main Old Westland Realty website but I had no control over it. Well, I guess it's mostly about control. I like it!

Still, it was limited because it was a free site through the local ISP and through the business account. If something happened to either of those things, I could lose all my hard work. Oh no! So I bit the bullet and bought my own domain - can you believe was available?

I just uploaded my website straight over but here's the plan:
My lovely and potentially profitable Real Estate site remains and gets better but I add a separate section for my artwork and perhaps another for the gardens and the adventures in winemaking. All of them linked but kind of separate. There's something about sub-domains I get to learn. Hoo-boy! I love to learn new stuff! Keeps you young, ya know.

Well, I'm excited. I haven't got a picture for this post so let's do some font colors!