Little Kitten

 

My husband. George. We’ve been married thirty-nine years and he still surprises me, astonishes me. We have history, we went to the same high school, started dating right out of high school, went to TCU together, got married right after I graduated in 1978. We know each other.

So last weekend, Labor Day weekend, we are sitting at the kitchen table drinking our morning tea and George says ” I have something to tell you.” “Okay”, says I, not expecting anything earth shattering, but we do have a project pending (the sale of my mother-in-law’s house for her). I was expecting a problem with that.

“Do you remember the story of Ferdinand the Bull?”, he asks. “Yes.”….I said slowly. “Did he have a friend?” “No”, I said, “He was rather solitary, he just like sitting and smelling the flowers.” “Well,  I need you to see something down at K.J.’s pasture.” Now, I’m slightly alarmed. K.J. is our thirty-year-old horse. He had been really ill last year but has recovered and is fat as a pig and doing great. Then it hit me. “You’ve adopted a cow?” I asked, thinking I’m in a scene from City Slickers. Our neighbor’s cows have broken through the fence before. “No.” he said, looking down.

“What?” I looked at him. “K.J. has a friend.” ” WHAT IS IT?”, I ask. “A cat.” he says. ” A black cat.”

I laughed. I laughed until I cried. You see my husband is really allergic to cats. We live in a country house that we bought from my dear Aunt, who had thirty-five cats. She was the cat lady you read about. Thirty-five. Twelve in the house, seventeen in the garage and six in a pen in a corral. She loved them to a fault. Enough said. George took a year off from work when we bought this house, completely gutted, repainted and refurbished it before we could live in it. He’s really allergic to cats. We can’t have a house cat.

We’ve been through this scenario before, by the way. The twenty acres where K.J. is pastured is separated from the acreage our house is on. It’s a short drive down the county road from our home, but isolated enough that people dump things on the road. Like cats. There is a particular brand of cretin that thinks it is ok to dump defenseless kittens or old dogs in the country and that somehow they will survive. Or they just don’t give a damn and they think starving defenseless animals is a thing that people do. There is a hell waiting for folks like that. My husband is not one of those people. The last time it was a box of four kittens that someone left in the drive to K.J.’s corral. They were weaned, but just barely. They stayed in our garage until we could get them built up enough to stay around the yard. We vetted them, neutered and spayed them and kept each one as safe as we could. Our population of coyotes and owls got them one by one. It is heartbreaking, but they had a happy, well-fed cat life while they were here as loved country cats, catching field mice and our pond frogs and the occasional lizard. I started feeding another stray cat that presented us with two kittens and years of love, so I’m guilty too.

But at the moment we were a cat-free family. Until now.

“How long has he been down there?” “Three months.” This what I mean about my husband surprising me. He has been feeding this kitten on the sly for three months because he didn’t want to tell me. After I could catch my breath from laughing again I asked, “What’s his name?” “Little Kitten.” he says.

We’re going to have to work on that. I think Ferdinand. Welcome Ferdinand.

 

 

 

 

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And the Sunflower is Setting

Lord have mercy, who knew these mammoth sunflowers were so heavy? I am resisting staking these giants and watching the natural maturing process of the seeds. I fully expect the massive stem to break and come crashing down. If not, I will harvest these giants soon and dry the seeds for the birds and squirrels to eat.

Sunflower/Moonflower

Bloom

 

 

I am an accidental gardener. I plant something and it accidentally grows. Or grows accidentally. Whatever. This year I had two plants that went completely nuts in my Texas back yard.

SeymourI grew sunflowers. Mammoth Russian Sunflowers. Now you may be thinking , ” What kind of knucklehead would grow sunflowers in north Texas when they sprout in every pasture by the droves?” Well for the seed for the birds of course. And because I love watching the flowers follow the sun. Hum the Beatle song here. (If you have to ask what Beatle song, you’re too young to read this.)

The sunflowersI planted these from an old package of seeds from at least ten years ago. I had twenty-four seeds. I have two sunflower plants left, but as you can see they make up for their small numbers in size. The deer and rabbits ate the rest. It went like this. I was excited when the seeds  all sprouted and the seedlings seemed to grow two inches a day. Then one morning I went out to look and I had stubs. Somebody likes the taste of sunflower leaves it seems. While I never saw the carnage happen, I did see my rabbit friends avoiding my gaze. DSC01161 Anyway, the two plants I have left are about six foot tall now and one bud looks as if it will open soon. We had to fight the ants for these two. Ants like to burrow into the stalks. They killed my okra plants that way last year. I was ready for them.

The second of my garden champions of a sort is the Moonflower Vine I planted from seed at the same time as the Sunflowers. I planted them on the north side of the cage we have placed on a berm to keep the deer away from our tomatoes. I had about the same amount of seeds and every one of them came up.

The first picture is the Moonflower Vine in early June.

June 6 Moonflowers

The second picture is August.

OMG

 

To say that they are vigorous is an understatement. I’m kind of afraid to get to close for fear they will say “Feed me Seymour, Feed Me! (If you don’t know Little Shop of Horrors you have led too sheltered a life.) We still have no flowers, which I fretted about until my very wise sister told me the plant has one job. Make more Moonflowers. It will bloom when it is darn good and ready. If we get the same amount of blooms as we got vine, it ought to be pretty spectacular. I’ll post.

The gate
The Moonflower Vine is eating the gate.

Note to self: Don’t plant Moonflowers next to the gate next time unless you like uncurling ten thousand little Moonflower tendrils every day.

 

Notch

I have a thing about this rabbit that keeps coming to our front porch. I call him Notch because obviously he has a notch in one ear. Every evening around 8:30 I step out onto our front porch to take in the sunset and see what’s going on with the weather. There he is, in the exact same spot by our patio steps. There must be something really good growing there, or he just likes that spot. He’s gotten so used to me now, he’ll let me sit in my patio chair and take pictures of him. My husband is behind me now saying “You can NOT buy feed for that rabbit.” Who asked?

Bun resting
Notch

 

DSC01341
Notch’s buds in our driveway.

 

Lots of rabbits in the yard this year. I spook them as I begin my morning walk.

But Notch is may favorite. Not that I’m getting attached. No not me.

Riding the Waves

Frog PairWe lost most of the pond frogs in my front yard pond last winter when an unexpectedly hard freeze sealed the top of the pond for too  long. I missed their chirping in the evenings. Now all of a sudden we have a population boom in my Texas pond. A dozen or more frogs make a splashy exit every time I get too close. This morning I was lucky to snap a few family shots. They have my permission to eat all the mosquitos they want.

Family Group

 

July in Texas

I love July in north Texas. Sure it’s hot, but there is B-B-Q and the garden is picking up steam. I like getting up early to take my walk in the summer. So after dousing myself with repellent to keep away the hummingbird-size mosquitos and the chiggers lurking in the grass, I walk up and down my country road for my requisite thirty minutes. I am serenaded by my four donkeys as soon as I walk out the front door; our built–in intruder alert system. This morning when I got back Indy came up for a little snuggle time and to see if he could finagle a treat.

Pretty Boy Indy
Indy

God had a good day when he made donkeys. These little miniatures are loyal, affectionate; they keep away coyotes and kill the bad snakes before they get into the yard. Indy is a little stud donkey we keep on our back pasture. He is by himself (not counting the deer) on about four acres, we keep the Jennys fenced on another pasture (we have four miniature donkeys and that’s enough) and his sire, Poco in the pasture up front. Where have you been momIndy has a thing about smelling my shoes. His version of asking “Where have you been?” So after he investigates my shoes, he gets his scratch and poses majestically for pictures.

Bette Davis eyeI think donkey eyes are beautiful; rimmed with black and with the longest eyelashes! Donkeys are perfectly adapted for the rocky, cedar-covered hills that surround our home.

Just one inch more
If I could just reach that piece of grass.

This summer I have been trying to get the back garden going again. We have a few tomato and green pepper plants in our garden berm that has fencing around it to keep the deer out. I have not done much else but plant a beautiful Purple Fountain Grass plant (my new favorite plant) yarrow (which the rabbits are eating) and Moonflowers.

Purple Fountain Grass
Purple Fountain Grass

 

 

 

Moonflowers
Moonflower Vine

The Moonflowers have made it so far I think only because they are poisonous and the animals know that. They will have large white flowers that bloom in the afternoon and smell wonderful. The rabbits or deer ate all but three of my sunflowers as soon as they sprouted. But those three are the colossal kind so they will be enough. On the other side of the patio is a huge berm where the trick is to pick plants that like partial to heavy shade, hot weather and resist grasshoppers and hungry rabbits. So far, the dianthus, zinnias, coleus, begonias and cosmos have done the best. There is a large red oak tree over this spot that shades these plants.

 

Zinnas
Zinnias
Cosmos
Cosmos
Coleus Beauty
Coleus
Begomia
Begonias

I’m especially enjoying today because my sweet husband of almost forty years is smoking ribs and a roast in the smoker today. He is a talented and passionate griller/smoker and from the looks of things I won’t have to cook meat for a while.

Green salad and potatoes to go with, plus I baked a two-person size red velvet cake for dessert. Yum. I’ll have to walk for an hour tomorrow.