Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Autumn in Texas

Ah, the cool crisp days of Autumn. . . they must be happening somewhere, but certainly not around here!

We've been in the humid 80's and 90's every since returning home in mid September.

Some days it's been nice enough to do this. . .

And mow the yard and trim the weeds. . . . .

. . . and other days it did this . . .

 All that rain has been great for the plant life, and wonderful for the fireflies. They are usually a spring only phenomenon, and a real treat to watch. This year we have had so many they soon became commonplace.

Things have been dryer the last few weeks, so we aren't seeing them anymore, though I did see a straggler last night. Along with the fireflies, the butterflies are enjoying all the late-blooming wildflowers.

Common Mestra
We have, literally, hundred of  Common Mestras. They hover over the grass and open gravel areas all day. The boys and the dogs all like to run among them and see if they can catch one. They are a delicate little butterfly with pale coloring, so when flying they look dull white, but when they finally sit still they have a very nice pattern.

We've seen several butterflies we've never had in the yard before, like the Zebra Long Wing. We have a wild clematis blooming, and it's the preferred host plant for the Long Wing, so that must be what attracted it.
Zebra longwing on clematis vine
Butterflies come from caterpillars of course, so the downside of butterflies is that the caterpillars have attacked most of the plants in the vegetable garden, and they now look like skeletons! The spiders have been pretty active too, and we had a huge one guarding the back porch - he really set the tone around Halloween!

It's a good thing we've had the butterflies to watch from the porch, as the birds haven't really shown up like they usually do. We've had a few stray ones, but not the huge numbers that usually show up right after we return from the summer travels.

The fall weather has held so well that I decided I'd get brave and plant some peas. Raylan helped, and so far they are looking pretty good. I hope we don't get any sneak freezes before we get some kind of a harvest.  More photos of plants and wildlife here - with captions.

On our way to inspect the hog trap
In mid-October we had a chance to take a weekend camping trip to the Krebs' hunting lease over near Pipe Creek (between Boerne and Bandera.)

For those not familiar with Texas-style hunting, it's a bit different than the west coast. There's very little public land here, so hunting on BLM or forestry land isn't an option.

walking down Fossil Lane, as Jax calls it
People "lease" an opportunity to hunt on large landholdings and ranches. Some landholders lease to so many people that you might as well be in a public campground. In this case only the three Krebs men are on the lease, so there are no crowds to worry about.

The area is interesting, full of fossils, and a variety of wildflowers and varied terrain. We had a great time just visiting with the kids, taking the boys for walks and sitting around the campfire at night.  Skot did a little hunting but it was mostly just a fun time to relax and visit.

Album with more photos of that trip here.

In late October friends from Nevada visited for a week. They hadn't been to San Antonio for years, so we headed down there, stopping first at the Alamo and then to the Riverwalk for lunch. It was a really nice day, and the crowds weren't bad at all.

 Just as they left we geared up for the AMVET Post Chili Cook-off. It was combined with Halloween event this year, so costumes were in order - pirates for us.

We won first place with the chili and the theme! Another award for the cookporch and some cool goodies.Yeah!!!

Cook-off album here.

The boys had different costumes for their trick-or-treating, so they got to celebrate Halloween twice!

And now, all of a sudden, it's November, and our to-do list is longer than ever. At least we are never out of entertainment!