May 26, 2015

Signs of Spring

After the tornado touchdowns in central Texas Memorial Day evening, with any luck, we may be getting a break in the weather. The percentages of rain possibility for the next week don't exceed a 50% chance and experience tells us that may mean we won't get any rain this week and perhaps things can start to dry out a little.

The rains we've had in the past several months have really hampered progress on our projects. The koi pond site has been unworkable for at least the last three weeks. The excavation is holding water even without a rubber liner, just the underpadding, so that tells us the ground is saturated. The "pond" will have to be pumped out before the liner can go in. Then the rocks could go on the rock ledges that have been created in the pond, but the backyard is a sea of mud so bringing the rocks across it is just about impossible until the yard firms up a bit.

It's been too wet to mow the new grass in the front yard and it's so high now that it's become irresistible to the cattle that allow us to have an agricultural tax exemption on most of our property. Found hoof prints in a large part of the front yard this morning because the ground is so soft the hooves sink right in. Obviously it's time for some fencing and probably a cattle guard, but good luck finding workers to take on a new project when they haven't been able to work on the projects they already have.

But the surest sign of spring is birds nesting activities. The barn swallows were at it even earlier this season and it's been a constant battle to keep them from building over the door and window ledges on our porch and balcony. Rolled up plastic trash bags, held in place with tape seemed to work for a while until the little buggers figured out that they could pull the bags down and expose the ledges again. A friend told us that she read about using a suspended paper bag to repel wasps and yellowjackets because they mistake it for a hornets nest and she wondered if that might scare the swallows too. Well that's certainly worth a try. Just stuff a couple plastic bags inside of a lunch bag, tie the top with a string and hang it up. So we've had our bags in place for two full weeks now and the swallows haven't made any further progress on their construction project. Let's hope this is the solution.

But being able to work outside this morning, I discovered a bird nest in a persimmon tree very close to the house. It was off the ground to right about my eye level so I was able to take a peek and get a photo. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I've identified the eggs as being Mockingbirds, (the state bird of Texas, for all our non-Texan friends).

Mockingbirds, unlike those pesky barn swallows, are welcome here. Why? Because they have the good sense to build a nest in a tree, that looks like a woven work of art like any sensible bird should, instead of building a muddy mess on our house and leaving "calling cards" all over the porch!

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