Nature Friday ~ September 4, 2020

Holy cow…September already?! Where did this year go? Oh yeah, to Blursville is where it went. Well at least I KNOW where I went this week. A few days in the mountains gave me a whole fresh outlook and rejuvenation. You may have remembered I said I was going to Glenwood Springs to celebrate my Dad’s 90th birthday with family which meant that I’d be driving near the fire ravaged area to get to my brother’s house. Fortunately their new home is located southwest of the burn area and while I-70 finally opened up to traffic, it seemed a better option to take the alternate route over Independence Pass (through Aspen) being far more scenic. Boy was I right. Although it took a little longer, it was well worth it.

So let’s join our weekly hosts, sisters Rosy, Sunny, & brothers Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on their link and check out what Blogville dished out for our enjoyment on the blog hop.

I can’t remember the last time I drove over Independence Pass-it’s not a direct route to Glenwood. A smattering of rain was encountered but then I noticed some peaks with a dusting of snow. With the summer that we’ve experienced, it was such a welcomed sight. The whole state needs the moisture.

Mountains

Mother Nature was kind of enough to wait until everyone arrived to begin to cloud up. A small shower rewarded anyone who had recently washed their vehicles but then this happened. I can’t remember such an intensely bright double rainbow.

Rainbow

Pretty cool clouds, huh? Mt. Sopris is hiding behind those clouds just out of frame to the right. The rainbow and clouds cleared enough to allow the almost full moon to begin to rise. The view from the patio was gorgeous and relaxing. Bring on the margaritas!

Moon

My brother’s home is a stone’s throw from the Roaring Fork River which means ‘wildlife’ is never too far away, both domestic as well as non-domestic. Meet Angus, the resident (but still kitten) cat who follows the uprights around and thinks he’s the dog brother of the two resident Chessies, Rudder and Axel (they were featured in our Meet the Breed post recently). Angus is enormous being a Maine Coon, but I’ll always think of him as a Puma rather than a house cat. He’s a big boy and still growing. Rudder tends to avoid the hustle and bustle of our family get-togethers (we ‘may’ be considered a tad rowdy) but Axel is always close by, ever ready to swipe your sock to play a good game of keep-away with you.

Cat
Angus, the ‘kitten’ Maine Coon (aka the resident Puma)

Angus is learning how to hunt and I expect to hear he’s nabbed his first humming bird soon. He nearly caught this guy a couple of times while I was there.

Hummingbird
‘Future’ meal for Angus
Axel
Handsome Axel
Moon
Almost Full Moon

Anyone who is an angler knows the Roaring Fork River (a 70 mile long tributary of the Colorado River) is a great place to fly fish with an abundance of rainbow, brook trout, and browns to catch. While we were there, several family members snagged some gorgeous fish, including a 20″ Rainbow trout that was caught by my nephew.

Roaring Fork River
Roaring Fork River

After a few days of family, fishing, food, fun and rejuvenation in the mountain air, it was time to head back home. This time the route was  over I-70 to check out the fire damage along Glenwood Canyon. The canyon is rugged, and even along those sheer rock walls you could see the burnt silhouette of trees along the top ridge line as well as along the lower elevations. It was super sad to see wide swaths of dead trees.

Wildfire
Grizzly Creek fire ~ Glenwood Canyon
Wildfire
Grizzly Creek Wildfire

We hope you are able to check out Mother Nature’s good, bad and ugly this Labor Day holiday weekend but above all, stay safe.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 21, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our friends, Rosy, sister Sunny as well as her brothers from LLB in our Backyard to take a gander from around Blogville to see what Mother Nature served up this week. We’re still in the grips of the Dog Days of summer yet and continue to look forward to autumn’s arrival in 31 days.

The garden is looking more than a bit parched, supplemental watering hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference with the crunch, crunch look of dry straw and not much is actually blooming right now beyond the Plumbago. The sunflowers are the only plants that seem to be thriving in the dry heat though a quick walk around early this morning showed some of their leaves are showing signs of heat stress. Hearty Plumbago  (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is my all time favorite ground cover, and is now sporting its signature blue flowers and its leaves will soon begin to morph into a lovely shade of mahogany red. This plant naturalizes well, is deer resistant, and will survive well with minimal supplemental watering, and is one of the most versatile groundcovers for cold climates growing in both sun or shade and most soil types, making it a perfect perennial to add to any garden.

Plumbago

With the heat and lack of rain, it’s been more important than ever to keep the fountain filled for the occasional thirsty visitor. For every wasp that takes a drink, one invariably will fall in.Wasp

As I watched this bee for several moments, it seemed as if he was using his front legs to beckon the solar fountain to provide a bit of a shower. I can’t help but wonder how he manages to hang on without falling off the side of the fountain. One fell in recently but I managed to fish him out; he flew off to dry out and then continued with his pollinating work in the garden.Bees

While I’d even be willing to put out a water bowl for guys like this, I think the Ranch hands would scare it away whenever it was seen. I came across him on a walk about the neighborhood a couple of days ago before the heat kicked in. He looks like he’s holding up okay and is probably finding water that has pooled on sidewalks or gutters.

Bunny

The fires here in Colorado and throughout the West continue to burn with little abatement. I read yesterday that California received nearly 11,000 lightning strikes in a 72 hour period this week and no doubt, more fires will result from that kind of meteorological activity. We hope everyone who is affected by them remains safe and especially pray for the safety of firefighters who are working hard in brutally challenging conditions. Stay safe, sane and keep smiling.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 3, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. For uprights in the U.S. we’re entering a long, July 4th holiday weekend. Due to COVID cases spiking throughout much of the country, it may be a very different kind of Fourth than usual (though we have our paws crossed it means less fireworks which both dogs detest but we’re not holding our breath). Anyway, let’s check out Nature’s finery around the city.

Nature FridayDespite temps in the 90’s again all week long and for the foreseeable forecast, you’d think I’d plan running errands a little bit better by doing them early in the day, but you’d probably be wrong. Yesterday afternoon I needed to get something out in the mail missing the early mail drop so I had to walk over to the nearby Post Office. As I got closer, I kept hearing a strange bird making a ruckus but couldn’t figure out from where it was coming but lo and behold, I stumbled upon this fella bathing in a puddle of runoff water. Wha….wait, what the heck is that?!

Hawk

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Seeing red-tailed hawks (which is what I think this guy is) in the city isn’t a frequent occurrence, at least not in my neighborhood. I stopped to watch him bathe and sip some water. Slowly I moved a closer being  careful as to not startle him. That noisy bird I heard must have been part of his security detail and was on the overhead powerline I soon discovered.

Hawk

Cropping this photo pixelated it but I think you can see a fairly decent profile. Isn’t he something special? Last week the dogs and I were treated to raccoons and rabbits and now this week, a hawk. Pretty amazing considering the ‘Ranch’ is just a couple of miles from downtown Denver’s central business district.

On the way back from the Post Office I came across this garden beauty, Kniphofia, often called Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker. That last moniker seems to describe the weather…hot! And since it is frequently windy, it’s very dry. Fifty-six percent of the state is under severe drought conditions, while 68% of Colorado is experiencing at least moderate drought. With the majority of the snowmelt gone, it’s clear that it will be a rough summer. We can only hope monsoons will arrive later this month to help in the short term.

Flowers

The Ranch Hands and I hope you will be able to enjoy some nature this weekend and enjoy a happy and safe ‘howliday.’

Norman

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nearly Wordless Wednesday ~ June 24, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

Morning walks are always interesting around the Ranch.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ June 17, 2020

Butterfly
Swallowtail

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 8, 2020

Monday

No prob-llama. Hope yours is terrific with no drama!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 29, 2020

With everything that’s happened this past week, coupled with pandemic blur, is it really Friday? If it is, that means we’re joining our ‘fur-iends’ Rosy, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. We hope you’ll click on the link to see what the Gang and others around Blogville have showcased this week.

Last week we had planned on sharing some views from around our neighborhood but alas, Norman’s emergency put everything on hold. So this week we’ll share sightings from earlier days when we were out and meandering about. We call that time BNE, or ‘before Norman’s emergency.’ Spring arrived and exited nearly as quickly over the past couple of weeks moving straight into summer. One day it was in the 40’s and the next near 90’s. Mother Nature sure knows how to give a Ranch hand whiplash!

This week, let’s take a look at some of the critters that are showing up in mega numbers. After a four-year absence, the Army Cutworm has arrived. What is an Army Cutworm, you ask? In the Mile High area, we call them, among other things not fit for a GP audience…Miller Moths (Euxoa auxiliaris). Why are they called miller moths? Fine scales which easily rub off, cover the wings of all moths reminding people of the dusty flour that covers the clothing of those people who mill grain. Most people think they’re nasty but they tend to be merely a nuisance for urban gardeners.

Moths
A Miller Moth hanging out along the garage door

Once again, weather patterns are responsible for their abundant migration. According to CSU entomologists, a dry, late winter and spring to-date most likely are responsible for boosting populations as the moths look for nectar to feed off before moving to the high country where they will summer.  With fewer plants due to drier conditions, moths are more likely to concentrate in areas where vegetation is already in place — like backyards and gardens. But it’s not just the unusually dry weather, a harsh mid-April freeze killed off a lot of potential vegetation for moths to feed off. That freeze killed many blossoms from a wide variety of plants that would have been in peak bloom in May. Moth populations have been generally below average over the past four years which seems to make them seem there are far more now. They are notorious for vexing city dwellers, flitting out from behind window coverings, lampshades, closets and doorways.

Another critter that we sometimes come across on our walks are snails. They have always fascinated me until I saw just how destructive they can be. Notice these freeloader shredding a bearded iris leaf and the other one munching on some Delosperma (Ice Plant).

Snail

All is not lost in nature though, as our garden poppies finally made their presence known in today’s early morning light. They seem to glow from within. Whatever you do this weekend, make sure you get out and enjoy the weekend.

Poppies

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all your sweet comments, thoughts and prayers regarding Norman. He continues to improve and as of pre-dawn today, he’s ‘stormin’ back. The trick now seems to be how to contain this “bull in a china shop” until the cone comes off and stitches are removed, scheduled for next Wednesday. Lord help me contain this boy while he bashes the dickens out of furniture, walls and the back of my legs. But that’s a far better place to be than last Friday where I worried he would not survive GDV. Make it a great weekend with many thanks again.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾