Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Giant Hole

There is no filling the hole Mabel left when she left us.

Well, life goes on and all that.  Grieving is a time consuming process.  Why not fill it with something worthwhile.  Like training a puppy?  Or two?

So.  We've taken in a couple of baby giants that would probably cause Mabel to roll her eyes.

Lily is a Great Pyrenees.  Clover is an Irish Wolfhound.

Meanwhile, Lois is not the sort of gal who rolls her eyes.  Still, sweet Lois is ten and feeling the years.  Even so, no.  Lois didn't roll her eyes.  At first, Lois was not thrilled with the appearance of these two wild babies.  But Lois being sweet Lois, has warmed up to them. 

Perhaps she remembers when Mabel was a pup.

Things have a way of working out.

Monday, July 13, 2015


A member of the Woodpecker family, there are two types of Flickers in North America: the yellow shafted Flicker and the red shafted Flicker. 

Shafted?  This refers to the tail feathers (shafts).  The color of the shafts are visible when the bird is in flight.

The red shafted Flicker's range extends from Canada to Mexico.  The yellow shafted Flicker is found in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico.
Some red shafted Flickers migrate to northern parts of their range in spring where they mate, raise a brood or two before heading south in the fall.
Individual birds typically return to the same area year after year and often to the same tree where they drilled a hole for a nest the previous year (sometimes they use the same hole, sometimes they drill a new one).
The males and the females travel in separate flocks of up to one hundred birds.  When they get to the breeding grounds, the males drum their beaks on trees and sing to call to his mate.  Flickers usually mate for life but the couple are only close for a few months of the year, during breeding season.
After mating has been accomplished,  the female lays 7-9 eggs.  Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the young.  Unlike other Woodpeckers who feed the nestlings live bugs, the Flicker feeds by regurgitation.
Flickers eat bugs mostly- ants and beetles are favorites- which the Flicker digs out of the ground with his bill.  When the youngsters are a couple months old, they are able to dig their own bugs.
The Flicker's habitat is open woodlands, suburbs (red shafted) cactus country, desert woodlands (yellow shafted). 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ducks Redux

Just three months old, they've got their grown-up feathers.

Here's a couple of fun facts about these ducks. 

With a snap of their beaks, they can catch a bug in mid air.

When in the presence of a human being holding an open umbrella they run wildly in circles and make frenzied vocalizations.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer is Here

That is certain.

For here is our annual It's Hot Enough for Malcom to be Outside picture.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Meanwhile, at the Homestead

What happens when Henry barks at a deer?

The deer pauses briefly, then returns to eating apples off the tree.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Five Minutes More

It was difficult to set the alarm clock.  My eyes were watering and it has been so long since I'd had to set it, I'd forgotten how.

You see, Mabel used to wake us promptly at 4:55 AM.  Thus, we had no need to set the alarm clock.

But Mabel had to leave us.

Now the alarm clock goes off at 5:00 AM.  I never dreamed that an extra five minutes of sleep in the morning could make me feel so sad.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Pop Culture Frenzy, Round 36

Welcome once again to Pop Culture Frenzy.  Today we look at a photo that has gone viral.  It features US President Barack Obama and the Italian Prime Minister standing outside of an office on a balcony.  Mr. Obama has an object in his hand that looks very much like a pack of cigarettes.  When Press Secretary Josh Ernest was asked if this was indeed a pack of cigarettes, he said no.   Then he got snippy about it.

OK.  It wasn't cigs in the photo.  What was POTUS holding in his hand?

A Dime Bag?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.

An I pod?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.  Though it does seem likely that he'd want the Italian Prime Minister to hear all those speeches that he missed.
The press secretary has more important
things to know about than what Obama
has in his hand.
Hostmaster:  alrighty.
Even when he is smiling, the
 president looks crabby. 
He's probably hungry.
  He had some cookies?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.  Though the crabby part is correct, it seems to me.

A mirror compact so he can
look at himself?
Hostmaster:  incorrect.
This is so racist.
They never questioned
Bush this way.
Hostmaster:  yeah, right.  Bush was never questioned.  Ever.  But when he was, it was always respectful.  Cuz he's white or something.  
E cigarettes?
Hostmaster:  incorrect. 
You know, this isn't a joke.
Cigarettes are more addictive than
So the President of the United States
feels he must deny his addiction?
No wonder he's crabby.


If e cigarettes weren't defamed,
regulated and taxed so much
maybe Obama could use this less
toxic alternative of nicotine.
At least until, you know, he's out of
office and isn't subject to the awful
scrutiny of the world.
Hostmaster:  that makes too much sense, Bryan.
It is outrageous that we
are even talking about this.
There is so much rape and
injustice happening on college
campuses and we are talking
about Obama's personal life.
Cyndi's right!
We could be watching Mattress Girl's
performance art instead of speculating
on this piffling matter!
Since the White House is not likely to tell us what the president had in his hand, we don't know the answer.  This round could go on forever.  Let's end it. 
There are no winners.  
That is true in so many ways. 
Round 36
Fluffy/Molly  16
Bryan/Cyndi  13
 Special thanks to Misred and Sonny for their unintended assistance!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Ducks and Drakes

Ducks are ducks, ducks are drakes.  The female duck is called a duck (though ornithologically speaking, the term hen is correct).  Male ducks are called drakes.

The sex of ducklings is not always obvious.  Sometimes the color of the beak is a clue to the sex of the duck.  This method is not always reliable.
In some species that feature brightly feathered males and drably feathered females, the sex of the duckling is pretty clear when the feathers come in.
When you can't tell by obvious feathers, there is the quack test.  When very young, all ducklings make a squeaking sound.  After several weeks, the voice changes.  Females begin to quack.  Males lack the voice box construction to make the quack sound, so they pretty much continue to squeak.
There is another way to determine the sex of ducklings.  It involves grabbing the duck, turning it upside down, locating a certain opening on the lower abdomen and pressing your thumb and fingers around the area.  Under this pressure, if the duckling is a boy, a body part will poke out of the hole.  If nothing emerges, it's a girl.
Or you could wait a few more months and see if you can catch a gal in the act of laying an egg.