I especially despise the ticks, but the no-see-ums are pretty nasty too. Oh, and the chiggers! If you get into the high grass, the chiggers will eat you up! The native grasses grew like crazy and the trails nearly disappeared in the grass. Makes one a little apprehensive about walking through the grass and possibly meeting up with a snake. We were lucky. Only saw one rattler while walking and it was stretched out in the shade on Cave Creek Road near the Visitor's Center.
August rainfall at our house was just 1.4 inches and so far this month, just .09. So things are drying up, the hills are browning and the grasses are going to seed. The creek is still running a little by us, but is dry at the Portal Road bridge.
June was so hot that most of our fruit trees didn't produce much fruit this summer. We got a good crop of apricots and a few pears, but no apples and there are only 4 persimmons on the tree! The pomegranates always seem to do well, but we don't eat them much. Bud does juice them and that's good.
Our peach tree died. One of our apple trees apparently succumbed to the fire in June. It looks pretty much dead. We are encouraged by our little fig tree we started from a cutting last year. It's looking pretty good, but is small and seems to grow slowly. We're going to try to start some peach trees from seeds, here pretty soon. Oh, and I have a tomato plant I started from a seed from a store bought tomato and it has about a dozen tomatoes on it. I ate one yesterday, but it wasn't as tasty as the ones my neighbor grows. I'll have to save some seeds from his tomatoes for next year.
It is now September and soon the winter residents will be back in Portal and we'll be busier than we have been through the summer. It seems there is always something going on here. Just Friday we had a birthday party for Bob Addison who turned 100! He's a neat guy and doesn't look a day over 80! Heritage Days was this weekend and we enjoyed a number of interesting talks and a field trip to the Cienega Ranch.
We've been trying to go Jeeping at least once a week and we've explored some really neat areas in Cochise County and in the boot heel of New Mexico. There is so much history here and we love reading about the early days of the Apache and the white settlers that toughed it out here.
We haven't been to Tucson more than once a month all summer and that's fine with us. The traffic and noise is stressful after the quiet of the Chiricahuas.
Last night was quite unusual for us, even though we have a lot of wildlife in our yard and community, it seemed that everyone decided to meet in our yard! Yesterday morning our neighbor, Laura Mullen called to tell me there was a bear in her cypress tree after her dogs scared it up there during the night. Bud and I walked down and got some great photos and he was up there all day.
Around 7:30 last night we were bringing in our feeders and a little skunk was under one of our windows and ran around the corner of the house as Bud took down the feeder. As soon as Bud stepped back, the little skunk came back under the window and picked up a dead bird that was laying there and took it around to the front of the house under the wisteria arbor and began to eat the bird. I took a couple of pics and he didn’t seem to mind. As I watched the little skunk, I heard shuffling and breathing out on the road that was bigger than a skunk, so I thought the bear might be out there. I got Bud to come out with me to check and there were 3 beautiful black cows eating in the Waser’s yard! This is open range, so the cattle can go wherever they want. It is individual property owner's responsibility to fence their property if they don't want cows in their yard. We are fenced, but our neighbors across the road had their fences along the creek washed away in the flood a few years ago and never replaced them, so the cows come up the creek into their yard.
Well, about 8pm we heard a couple of skunks having a hissy fit outside and the argument moved from under the arbor to under the wood cover on our house water filter. There was a lot of squealing and thumping in the wood box and then the parfume de’ skunk permeated the air. Wow! was it strong just outside the door! Bud went out the carport door to walk around and see if he could figure out what the skunks were doing in there and we figured there was a trespasser in the box. Apparently one of the young skunks from our neighbor's den had set up housekeeping in our filter box and another skunk wanted to move in. :)
As Bud came around the house, he heard rustling in one of our trees and then huffing and when he looked up, the bear was in our tree! We told the bear it was okay and we came into the house to allow him to come down and leave, but apparently he had other plans.
About 15 minutes later, we heard a loud sound of metal being rolled around, so I looked out the carport door window, thinking the bear was after our garbage can. There was no bear, but a diamondback rattlesnake was making his way across the edge of the cement of the carport floor! We hadn’t seen a rattler all summer in our yard. I couldn’t believe all the activity that was going on. I went into the back room and shined my flashlight out the patio door towards our gang box where we keep the birdseed and sure ‘nuf there was mr. bear wrestling with the gang box. We didn’t figure he could get it open because we had it locked and a 3/8” cable through it and around a large tree. So we both went out to chase him off and he ran up the tree instead of out of the yard! He must've been the same bear that was in Laura’s tree during the day. He huffed and moaned at us so we went back in the house and then about 15 minutes later he was really making a lot of noise, and when I looked out the back door at him, he’d somehow broken the cable loose from around the tree and flipped the gang box over! It didn’t spill a lot of seeds, but enough for him to keep wrestling with the box to shake out more. The lid stayed closed, but was lose enough to spill the small niger and millet seeds, we hoped he would get enough from what spilled out to not make noise all night because every time he made any noise the dogs started barking!
He ended up being quiet the rest of the night and we didn’t hear any more from him, but he’ll probably come back tonight since he did get a reward for his efforts. I’m afraid this bear will be killed by fish and game, because he has lost his fear of humans pretty much. He used to go over the fence right away, when he saw us, but last night he just climbed the tree and huffed and snorted until we went inside and then he continued what he was doing. I heard that yesterday in the middle of the day, the same bear was outside the cafe eating birdseed as people were eating in the patio area just a few feet away. If that happens too often, someone will eventually get too close and get hurt and then the bear will be destroyed. He’s a male, so his chances of survival are looking pretty dismal. Sure makes for an exciting weekend though!