Wildlife Visits

This past weekend, I spotted a group of vultures circling the ponds, so I knew something was out there attracting them.  


I didn't get close enough to see what they had found because I was afraid that they'd be territorial of their catch and attack me (too many viewings of Alfred Hitchcock's the Birds I guess).  The only reason the picture is up close, is not because I was brave and got that close, but because I have a great telephoto feature on my digital camera.

Once safely inside, I went online to determine what type of vulture they were and found that they are a black vulture and one of Florida's protected species.

I love seeing the various types of wildlife up at the house.  I've seen vultures and falcons, turtles and an assortment of birds, plus frogs, fish, and lizards.  I always have my camera ready, and am going to try to identify some more of the birds in the yard.  There are a bazillian.  Now that it's spring, I'll be putting out some feeders and more birdhouses.

Beautiful Sunset

Spent the weekend up in Sorrento.  Went to the New Smyrna Beach Canal Street Cruise.  It always has a big turnout, but this past weekend was huge.  When we arrived there were not "good" spots so we ended up parking on a side street, but in a short while someone pulled out and a great space opened up.


I was heading to the crop room and caught a glimpse of the sunset and had to stop and take a picture. The picture doesn't even begin to do the colors justice.  This is looking to the west across the ponds.  You can even see the reflection of the sun in the water.  So beautiful.


Today, we head back home.  Always comes with mixed emotions.  It's good to get back to home and the routine, and our fur babies, but sad to leave the peace and tranquility.  Maybe 2013 will be my lucky year and I'll win the lottery so we can stay a little longer each visit.

Welcome 2013

Well ... it's a new year.  


2012 had it's ups and downs, but overall, it was a pretty good year.  I am thankful for all the friends and family that came along for the ride with both the good times and the bad.

Looking forard to what 2013 will bring, and I know this year will be even better than the last.

Last night we celebrated the New Year with sardines and champagne.  It is something I grew up with and force hubby into eating at least a spoonful of the sardines.  Up to this year, I didn't really know the reason why we ate sardines at midnight, I just accepted it for what it was ... tradition - something we got from grandma.  This year, I have found the answer, or at least a close answer.  I found a website with eastern european customs and it says fish (especially with silver scales) are thought to symbolize money and good fortune "and is a must for Poles at the stroke of midnight".  Finally, I know the why and can rest easy.

Now, I must find a tall, dark, handsome man be the first person to walk through the door this year for "first footing" to bring us luck for the new year.  That's another grandma-ism.  I can remember her having the mailman, or a neighbor come into the house.  This one proves to be a little harder to do each year, so we'll have to see how it goes.

Finished taking down the Christmas decorations, but before I close, let me share a picture of my mantle.


I've never had a mantle before, so it's fun decorating one.  I'm on a self imposed budget, so I bought just a few things.  I figure, I have years to add to it.  I guess the next holiday is Valentines day -- does one even decorate the mantle for Valentines ?  Who knows - we'll just have to see how it goes.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.

Hawks and Moon Rings

Each time we come up the house we see something new.  A couple of weekends ago, I saw a turtle making his way across the yard to the ponds, we always see frogs, and our neighborhood cranes usually drop in.  This past weekend, we had a hawk stop by for a vist.


I know it's a hawk, but don't really know what kind.  I tried to google it but there wasn't too much difference between the varying species, so many of them looked the same.  We;ve seen them around the neighborhood before, but this time he was perched on an area near the ponds.

Then both Saturday and Sunday, the moon had a ring around it giving it a halo effect.  Pretty cool looking I though.


A little hard to see in the photo, but in real life, it was beautiful.  

Earlier in the evening we had had a beautiful sunset, the sky had some bright reds and oranges.  I tried to get a picture, but it just wouldn't come out right - so you'll just have to take my word for it.  It was georgous.




The prior owners of the house had a thing for bird houses.  They are all over the yard and part of the decor on the outside.  This weekend I added one of my own.  My mom loved cardinals, so this is a nod to her and the part she played in helping us realize our house dream.  Mom didn't get to see our final choice of houses, but I know she is looking down smiling at just how perfect a fit it is for us.

On the base it says "Welcome to our Nest".  I like it and the best part is I can see it from my porch, which is where I spend quite a bit of time.  I read, or sleep, or talk on the phone.  I can see the whole back yard and the birds and the ponds, and at night I can hear the crickets and frogs singing.

This past weekend, I had another surprise.  The roses were in bloom.  Two weeks ago, I thought they were done.  I didn't see any buds - but this past weekend the bush was loaded with flowers and buds, I think we'll still have some flowers the next time we're up there.

Man, I hope these rose bushes are mature enough to do their own thing and keep growing and blooming.  I have no clue how to take care of roses as well as the fact that I normally have a brown thumb and kill most every plant I touch.  I'm sticking with the "look but don't touch" theory for the time being.  Maybe between now and next spring, I'll have read a book, or found something on Pinterest on how to care for roses.

Frogs ... (yet again).

So recently I posted that Frogs freak me out.  I'n not really afraid of them ... (I reserve that for things like palmetto bugs), I just don't like them very much.

So, I come home and get to me door and right there is, right next to my door, at about head level, is a huge frog.  

Compared to the tiny one I was dealing with on the porch last week, this thing was HUGE!  The other one was maybe an inch long, this one was 5 inches, easy, and I'm not talking with his legs stretched out (OK ... I might be exaggerating a bit because I was not getting a ruler to make sure).  Thankfully, it's one of the "cute" kind of frogs, but still ... I didn't want to pass, I was afraid it was going to jump on my head as I opened the door, so I waited for hubby to come around from the driveway.  He gallantly nudged the frog so it would go in the bushes and instead it did what I was afraid of and jumped right at him, (and in the process peed on his shirt).  I was at least a 100 yards away at the time.


Although frogs still freak me out, I will say that the poplulation of ants and beetles was much decreased, so I'm OK with him being around ... just not in a position to jump (or pee) on me.

Bathroom ReDo

We have a very small 1/2 bathroom at the house and it was screaming for help.

The towel ring was falling off the wall, and the previous owners had an aversion to toilet paper holders on the wall.  This bathroom had a paper towel holder on a plant stand next to the toilet.

I did a quick redo and while not perfect, it looks and feels so much better.  There is actually a towel ring near the sink, and a soap dispenser too.


From the other angle, you can see the toilet paper holder and an actual towel rod, and some "bathroom" pictures.

The pictures are of cats doing bathroom things ...


We weren't going to do a big redo, so the wallpaper stayed.  It was really just a sprucing up.  

Hubby asks why I started with the most insignificant room in the house, my response was ... well it's not like we have thousands of dollars available right now for living room furniture, so for less than $100 I made the room cute and functional.  He now understands.


The Lawn Mower Saga is Finally Over

Since we bought the house in January, we really didn't need to mow until Spring.  When Spring came, we used the previous owners mower and sometimes we were very lucky that they would mow the lawn for us.  Let me just say ... 10 acres is a lot of yard to mow.

At the onset, when we bought the house, we thought it would be easy to hire someone to mow the lawn. I called just about every lawn service in the nearby areas and the going rate was a whopping $50 per acre. For 10 acres, at 2 cuts per month, the math works out to $1000.00 per month.  Not anywhere near an amount we could afford.  So, we knew we would have to cut the lawn ourselves.

The previous owners found a permanent place to live and took their mower with them.  We bought a mower from the Tractor Supply Company, it was in stock, and we really needed to mow the lawn that weekend.  Mower prices are funny ... regardless of the brand all 60 inch cut mowers are about the same price.  If you go to the next level and get a wider cut of 66 or 72 inches the price more than doubles.

So the mower is delivered, and after cutting a third of the lawn (thankfully the front part), hubby finds that the battery is not charging.  We call the store and they go to another TSC and bring us a replacement. Before it is even off the trailer my husband finds that somehow water was in the oil system, so we refused it.


Two weeks later, they send the replacement mower brand new, still in the crate.  This happens to be the weekend that Tropical Storm Debby was in town.  Hubby mowed about 2/3 of the yard, a good portion of that in the rain, again concentrating on the front so it looks nice from the street.  When the rain became too much he had to stop.

This weekend, he finally finished the lawn.  Some parts had 6 weeks of growth, so it was slow going. Basically, he had to do double work because it was so high.  He'd make a rough cut, then go back over to get it closer.


I will say that the Tractor Supply Company's level of customer service was impeccable.  We really expected to have problems with the returns but they just took care of the problem.  They also made sure that we got an oil filter because we changed the filter on the first mower, and made sure they brought gas for the mower to replace what we had put in the original one.  No problems, no issues, they just did what needed to be done.  Overall, a great company to deal with.

So now, for the next couple of months anyway, we'll be mowing the lawn. 


The Ponds are full again.

In January when we bought the place the ponds were nice and full.

By mid-June they were seriously low.  There is a culvert (not the right word but close enough) between the ponds which is normally full but now was dry and plants were starting to grow in it.


Fast forward a couple of weeks, and a visit from Tropical Storm Debby, and the ponds are now full, including the area between the ponds.


My resident Sandhill Cranes love that the water level is back up too.  They spent Sunday picking around the reeds looking for some tiny morsels to eat.


We were getting pretty worried.  The ponds are stocked with fish and we were afraid the fish would die out if the ponds got any lower.  Now we're in rainy season, so I expect that the ponds will maintain this level, or might even fill a little more - not too much more mind you ... we don't want to worry about flooding ... but staying at this level would be wonderful.  I've got a little boat so next time we're up I might take that out on the ponds.

Frogs Still Freak Me Out

I've felt that way ever since elementary school - It was at Coral Park Elementary so it had to be 2nd or 3rd grade.  I was at recess and walking across the playground when a tree frog jumped on me and landed right on my dress.  I still remember it vividly ... a pink pinafore with 3 buttons on the left pocket area.  The tree frog landed right under the buttons and left foot prints.  I suffered the rest of the day with frog prints on my dress.  I don't remember being teased about it by other kids, so I guess the frog jumping on me was trauma enough to stick with me all these years.

Jump ahead 40+ years and frogs still freak me out.

This little guy was a porch visitor all weekend.



That's him on the rocker.  My porch is more like a Florida room, it's enclosed with screens and sliding doors, but is no way sealed up tight.  I'm on the chair next to the rocker and I keep thinking he's watching me waiting to strike (or jump).

I have not idea how he got in, but I wanted him out.  I've tried and tried to catch him, but that's kind of hard when every time he jumps, I jump.  Finally late Sunday, I was able to catch him in a plastic cup and set him free outside.  

I was so proud that I was able to do it without freaking out (too much), and without resorting to calling in my husband to the rescue.