Sunday, September 27, 2009

Garden Surprise

Our garden is still providing us with quite a bit of produce. Yay! Look at this beautiful chile...

Just today Steve harvested zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, black-eyed peas & basil and cooked up another hubbard squash. Note in the following pictures our sunflowers are on their way out as they set seed...

then notice this little guy on one of those dying leaves:

A bordered patch caterpillar! How did I find this guy? I started to clip some of these leaves off the other day, found this little guy, looked around, found another and called it quits with the clipping. So many things we consider dead or dying are important to other life. Quite a cool moment.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's The Little Things

Yesterday at work I (Steve) was working to revegetate a small area that had been disturbed by the installation of a sewer line. I was transplanting to this spot some cacti that I had salvaged from another area of disturbance. Not even a half an hour later what did I see but...

...a mating pair of walking sticks hanging out on the warm and sunny exposure that was created by one of the cacti (prickly-pear) I'd just planted:

Sometimes its the little things that keep us at work in conservation!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Incredible Bat Flights (right now) at Carlsbad Caverns!

Last night Jennifer was to present the Carlsbad Caverns N.P. Bat Flight Program. Folks were seated in the amphitheater, the sky was incredible and we even had a rainbow! But nature - ever oblivious to the whims of man - had other ideas. The bats flew...

...before the program even started!:

While some of us got to just sit and enjoy the best bat flight of the summer (by many accounts), others still had to work: here's Jennifer answering bat questions:

Our friend Kristin Johnson also answered hundreds of questions from fixated visitors:

The bats flew out of the cave in a thick and steady stream for a couple of hours straight!:

The bats were off feeding for the night and all of us lucky folks were treated to yet another beautiful New Mexico sky:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Devil's Hall Part 2

Here's the final installment of Devil's Hall - Guadalupe Mountains National Park pictures. Such a beautiful place...don't miss if you travel this direction. Check out part 1 if you missed it before.

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar:

Spiny lizard hiding from us...

Some sort of insect larvae...maybe katydid with eggs. Not sure if the eggs are the hatching zone or the predated zone:

Devil's Hall:

A little pool in Devil's Hall provided a place of respite and a source of nutrients for these azures:

Spectacular country, really:

Blazing stars were a blazin'...

and the butterflies were a lovin'! We watched for quite a while as 50 or 60 or more butterflies (maybe 10 -15 different species) nectared appreciatively and fluttered plant to plant. WOW. Here a monarch:

two queens:
And finally, the glorious scarab beetle wandering in Devil's Hall. I've never seen a more beautiful insect.

This weekend we head up to Santa Fe and the Pecos Wilderness. Visits with friends and a nice long hike in the Pecos Wilderness are planned...can't wait!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fall is in the Air !

Sure we're still in the midst of the summer garden harvest but that doesn't mean we can't also get a jump on a fall favorite like pumpkin pie! I had to use canned stuff to make the filling but I made the crust from scratch as always. I use this Pie Crust 101 recipe but pie crust is more about the technique than the recipe (its just flower, salt, shortening and water). Its best to find somebody who knows how to make pie dough and make a couple with them. Or just go for it and don't be intimidated. Its so darn easy you won't believe it! Here they are, already getting a bit of attention:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Knitting happenings

Most evenings after work and the subsequent daily chores I plop down on the couch for some knitting. I am currently working on these penta-coasters by Lee Meredith. See her here. Her stuff is awesome! These are knitting up quickly and will be nice for all the sweating mason jars we drink out of here.

I finished this little table runner the other day. I planned on making two place-mats but alas did not have enough yarn. :)

Squash bread is on the agenda today with this hubbard squash. I am going to try this recipe and see how it goes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A book recommendation, a plea for life and other thoughts...

So it's been an interesting sort of day in that I've experienced a number of disconnected moments that are connected to one another via a similar theme. To keep this easy and to the point I will share these moments in singular events.

1 - Just this morning I finished reading Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology by Eric Grissell. This book highlights the connections between insects and gardens and all that's in between. Yes, that's right - even why you should NOT cut down your perennial stalks! I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning (& AIDING via inaction) the more intricate workings of the insects in your garden, your yard or around your home.

2 - After I finished the above book I read about Merlin Tuttle and his extraordinary work with and for bats through Bat Conservation International. Bats are essential members of the ecosystems they inhabit, with quantifiable benefits to humans, and have unfortunately long been persecuted by ignorant humans. Now besides human persecution, habitat loss and pesticide use bats are threatened by white-nose syndrome. The good news? There is a battle waging for these amazing creatures thanks largely to Merlin Tuttle. ONE person's action=world wide results

3 - A walk along the irrigation canal in Carlsbad rounded out the morning. A few weeks ago Steve and I walked this stretch and noticed a cute little patch of milkweed with growing monarch larvae (caterpillars) feeding happily. Today I found this patch mowed and shredded. "All for what?" Is what I asked Steve.

Early in the morning: tears of joy and inspiration and the impact of one human and later in the morning: tears of sadness and loss at the unnecessary slaughter of such beautiful creatures. He then commented that perhaps these events are not so unrelated. True, true.

Moments to contemplate, piece together and to gather direction from.

One idea we all need to never forget is that EVERYTHING is connected. For every action there is a reaction whether we are aware of it or not. Never will we be able to fully grasp the connectedness amongst all, but certainly we can respect the knowledge and that it is so and subsequently live in a manner congruent with this knowledge.

Glorious Scarab Beetle, Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Walk in the Park

Carlsbad Caverns N.P. is an incredible place. For most people it's about the caves and the bats. For us, it's about ALL OF IT !

The Chihuahuan Desert subtly cloaks a fascinating landscape - the largest exposed Permian reef on the planet. The reef's past is complex but suffice it to say that it's been altered a bit since it was home to marine creatures and on the edge of a sea. A bit of tectonic uplift coupled with physical and chemical (solution) weathering and here we are today:

For scale notice the road in the center of the photo. There is a car on that road. While this is by no means the Tetons or the Alps it is big country, expansive skies and magical canyons:

While most of the park is designated wilderness is does not take much of a hike to observe signs of the area's cultural past. Here's an old road that has been reclaimed by a variety of native grasses:

The road leads to an old quarry that was...

...worked by some hard labor, apparently:

Miners gotta eat:

Maybe the miners, like me, admired some even older artifacts:

How many folks in the past have taken shelter from the sun in this very spot, just like me?:

How many have strolled across this wonderful Grama grassland just like me?:

Did they, like me, notice the stockpiles of native grass seed collected by Harvester Ants?:

One thing is for sure - these ants will be here, doing there thing, long after our culture has played itself out and when some future culture wanders this land pondering the thoughts and puzzling over the artifacts of those that came before.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Patterns in Nature

Today we hiked in Guadalupe Mountains National Park:

The topography is big and breathtaking but we also enjoyed the endless patterns in nature on a finer scale. Here's just a few, enjoy: