Tag Archives: Cactus

Prickly pear fruit

There is a super-abundance of prickly pear fruit this year. I have never seen the eruption of fruit like this year. I buy an Italian sweet soda made of prickly pear. ‘Tis the season! It is 102F in field at 7:04 p.m.

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Filed under Life in Balance, Plants and Shrubs, Salt Creek, Succulents

Turkey Tangle Fogfruit: Flowers of Flying Hat (32-38)

In my continuing project to photograph all different species of flowering plants on Flying Hat Ranchito during 2012-2013, I give you seven more Flowers of Flying Hat (32-38).  Please correct my identification if I make an error, for I want my cataloging to be accurate.

32. Tall Coneflower, Rough Coneflower, Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia grandiflora)

As the Tall Coneflower matures, it loses the green-gray cone, becoming brown.  These are immature, but mature Tall Coneflowers erupt throughout the ranchito.  These immature coneflowers suddenly sprang up after the last rain along a terracing ditch for stock ponds.  The large spindle-like purple flowers in the background are horse mint, previously photographed.

No. 32 Family of Tall Coneflower

33. Texas Frogfruit, Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, Frogfruit (Verbena family), good nectar plant for butterflies, bees

No. 33 Sprawling Texas Frogfruit

This odd-named plant is a host to several larval: Phaon Crescentspot, Buckeye, and White Peacock butterflies.  I find butterflies and bees abounding on its blossoms.  The sprawl is located in front of my C&C livestock trailer and my Big Texas flatbed.  It is flooded and dried by the sun, time and time again, and still remains robust and flowering.  Frankly, I nearly passed over the blossoms for they are quite small — about 1/4 inch across –, but decided to go back this morning and photograph.  Upon looking up its characteristics, I am impressed with its connections to bees, butterflies and larvae.  I wish I knew how Frogfruit got its name.  And it is Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, not Frogfruit, in case you are interested.  Fogfruit, Frogfruit — what nomenclature our ancestors tagged on flora.

I can’t wait for someone to ask me down at the barn, What kind of plant is that?

My answer, Why don’t you know?  Everyone knows that’s….

34. Tasajillo, Christmas Cactus, Christmas Cholla, Rat-tail Cactus, Pencil Cactus (Opuntia leptocaulis), edible fruit

If I have been stuck by this cactus once, then it is for sure at least a hundred times more over the years.  I may have been bucked by a horse long ago into a bunch of these Christmas cacti.  I have eaten the fruit carefully.

35. Coreopsis, Golden-Wave, Tickseed, Goldenmane Tickseed

I went down to the Grove this morning to see if the Wine Cups blossom in cooler temperatures — 70 F.  The Wine Cups were gone, but these Goldenmane Tickseed had sprung up about the area where the Wine Cups had erupted.  Fair enough, I think, for the soil is rich, the shade is cool by the creek, and there is room for several blossoming plants.

36. Soft Golden Aster (Chrysopsis pilosa)

37. Texas Thistle (Aster family)

38. Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus, Aster family)

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Filed under Flowers of Flying Hat, Wild Flowers of Texas

The quail, the deer and setting the lesson

Scaled quail on cholla bush (photograph by Marcus G. Martin, Photo Gallery).

Quail are sociable, staying together from birth to death as a covey, and when one lone quail, separated from the group, calls out plaintively, the covey circles back and joins the solitary being, bedding down all together in the evening so that they appear to be one animal, not fifteen or twenty, when observed closely.  (I have reared quail and know their habits.)  The quail also make for a fine gumbo, or with a brown sauce on top of white rice, a delicious entree.  They are beautiful and interesting to watch, but they are also food.

Deer, buck or doe, appear majestic in the field as they scan for predators and graceful when they arc over fallen timber or fence.   Fawns scamper and play about their mothers like children at the playground.  The backstrap or tenderloin of the deer is one of the finest cuts of meat on earth.  The liver of venison when soaked in milk overnight becomes delicate to the taste when fried and offers potency to the sick.  Deer are beautiful and interesting to watch, but they are also food.

Two years ago, in 2009, I chose the name of my blog, “Sage to Meadow,” based upon a post by Coffeeonthemesa, a blog published out of Taos, New Mexico. Coffeeonthemesa uses a phrase in her post that describes a covey of scaled quail moving from “sage across the meadow” near her home.  I like that.  It describes plant and terrain, sage and meadow: expansive geographic images and symbols of the American West.

Here is the post of Coffeeonthemesa — the italics are mine — that gave my blog its name and a setting of a lesson about food.

The covey of scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) that pass through our yard on their mesa rounds is smaller this year. It seems there are only a dozen or so, but they are quite plump. They move north to south from the sage across the meadow, stop to graze under the sunflower seed feeder, move through the little shed (have they ever found anything to eat in there?) and out again, in a little row. They search around the wood pile and cross the barren summer garden, before heading down the road towards the mesa edge. Last week I found the feathers and scant remains of one on the north side of the house where our woodstove ash pit lies.

They’re short-tailed, chunky birds with a cotton top crest, and the lookout quail sits atop a sagebrush or low fence post and barks out warnings to the others. Generally they run when something nears, zigzagging through the underbrush. Although the covey can explosively flush when startled.

I cannot help, when watching them under the feeder, but imagine how their plump little breasts would make a fine gumbo.

Coffeeonthemesa blog, Taos, New Mexico, November 13, 2009.

The eloquence of Coffeeonthemesa’s prose brings the eternal cycle into her final sentence:  “I cannot help, when watching them under the feeder, but imagine how their plump little breasts would make a fine gumbo.”

I have never been a consistent hunter in the food chain.  I shop the food chain.  I go to the supermarket for food, but I know it is not the supermarket that gives me food.

I have hunted in the food chain.  In the 1970s, I went deer hunting with two friends, shot my deer and dressed it in the field.  Oh, I had known the one-life-for-another axiom for a long time, but the buck I shot set the lesson inside me, inside my body so that all the literature and thinking I had ever done about one-life-for-another seemed faraway, alien even, to the beautiful, majestic animal I knelt before.

Beneath me, still breathing, eyes open, the grey coat shimmering, lay the deer, my first deer, its antlers hard and white.  No longer would he browse the field, sniff the wind, eat acorns beneath live oaks.  His animation was near end.  As I put my pistol to his heart, I promised myself that I would prepare all of him for me and my wife and my friends to eat.  I would honor this being, this deer, this day under the sun near Van Horn, Texas.

As I dressed the deer, I retched and threw up.

Must all lessons be assimilated like this?  Or, expelled like this?  Can’t very well drop the class can I?  Can we?  How do I get out of this university (universe)?

The regret and sadness I had that day recedes when I ponder the lesson the deer set in me.   In my anthropology classes, the lesson is taught every semester, every class, to every student.  I don’t grade them on it except for the economics of reciprocity in a society.  I set them on a path to learn the lesson — they will have to go into the field to have the lesson truly set, but here are the words:

We all take life to sustain ourselves.  To obscure that fact is profane.  To recognize that we take a life to sustain ourselves is sacred.  The sharing of food with another, next to laying down our life, is the greatest gift we can give others.  Who feeds you?  And, what do you do for them in return?

Jack Matthews, author of Sage to Meadow, Introductory Lecture in Physical and Cultural Anthropology.

____________________________

Notes, corrections and additions:

The New Mexico State University Scaled Quail Management Operation.

Marcus G. Martin Bird Photo Gallery.   The quail on cholla bush is from Martin’s gallery — permission pending.  Click his link for other photographs and website.

This post started out only as a post describing how my blog got its name.  From quail gumbo, however, the post grew into what it is now.

Along with the more somber lesson herein written, there are other lessons  from an anthropological perspective that relate to to food:  (1) by giving food, parties, spreading your resources, you enlarge your social network and friends; (2) gifts make slaves; (3) by giving of gifts, including food, you create obligations.  I think that we could go deeper into the psychology of harvesting animals, but for the moment, this is it.  One aspect that bears mentioning is that if you take life with respect, you probably won’t harvest unnecessarily, and you will get beaucoup angry with those that do.  You may even go to war with agencies that take the fat of the land and hold it in reserve, extracting a price for its distribution.  Read most any history on the opening of the American West, the partial closing of the American West. 

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Filed under Deer, Life in Balance

Field Log 4/16/2010

North Erath County, Texas, 32.43 lat., -98.36 long. Elev. 1,086 ft.  Turkey Creek Quad.

Light mist this morning.  Probably 0.20 inch of rain since yesterday.

Lilly, Star and Fanny browse front pasture.  Lilly shows age with slower gait and right back leg limp.  Sweet Hija still at ESMS on Brazos.  Shiney is at Jimmie Hardin’s in Aubrey, Texas, for ground training and conditioning for Triangle Sale, Shawnee, Oklahoma, June 5, 2010.  Miss the little guy more than I thought I would.

Pasture grasses are erupting well.  Vetch in far field is waist-high in places.

This week, Mourning Doves (Zenaidura macroura) are cooing.  No calls before then, but noticed their presence.  This morning the doves were ground feeding in the front yard.  From Peterson: has a pointed tail, most widespread dove in the West.  As to the call, Peterson says it is a “hollow mournful ooah, cooo, cooo, coo. At a distance only the three coo‘s are audible.”  The color of the dove in our front yard was a reddish-gray with black spots.  The two dove would ground feed a moment, then hunker down in the grass and loaf.  I must have watched them for ten minutes and then had to come back to office and work on college Blackboard classes.  I will have to focus on their call to hear the 00ah.  I am practicing on imitating their call better.

We have a larger dove that is whitish that appears in late summer.  It is untyped.  The two dove will perch on the power pole by the barn and watch me feed the horses.

The following are some photographs I took this morning.

Vetch and Clouds Far Field, April 2010

Prickly Pear Bush, April 2010

Cactus Fruit, April 2010

These photographs were taken last week.

Round Pen and Twin Mountains in Distance, April 2010

Harris' Hawks at Play, April 2010

Field grasses obscure pasture lanes.  Minimum shredding planned this year, indicative of lower carbon footprint.  In addition, taller grasses can harbor wildlife.  Hand cut mesquite brush this season, using clippers and large cutters.  Lessen vehicle use in pastures.

Lilly, Star and Fanny have browsed their way to the front pasture and are now standing close together, switching their tails to keep the flies away.  They have all this space to lounge around in and they prefer to stand together with their bodies almost touching.  Herd animals.  I worry about Lilly during the night and have corralled her so she can avoid predators.  One mountain lion sighting three months ago on SH 108 near Gibson place.

I must get the duct tape down in the barn and duct tape my Peterson’s Field Guide.  The binding is coming off.

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Filed under Field Log