Sunday, December 27, 2015

Raccoon House? Squirrel House? Who knows. 12.17.15

When the stray cats adopted us, Jim took an old washing machine and made a cat house out of it.
It sat on the back deck under cover and made a good place for them to sleep. They have since become a little more friendly so we put kitty doors into the screen porch…now they sleep there so we decided to make a house to put in the woods for the critters.
This table leg has been sitting around for a couple of years…we don’t throw anything away…just in case.
Jim put the door on the front.

A few minor adjustments and it fits on the stand. It is aluminum so it shouldn’t rust out for awhile.

 He put a small overhang to help keep the rain out. Since it will be in the woods it shouldn’t get a lot of blowing rain unless it’s a big storm.

 Now we need to keep it out of eyesight. We had some old black paint so I gave it a coat.
 Jim added some tree limbs…this should camouflage it a bit. Had an old ramp out back so painted that too.

 This is part of our view when having coffee on the porch in the morning. You can hardly see the house.
 We have at least 4 teenage Raccoons who come in each morning…maybe one of them will move in.
 I keep binoculars by my chair to see what the bees are bringing in and will be thrilled to have a Momma Raccoon move in and raise some little ones. Jim wants a Bob Cat to move in…says if he sees one eyeing it he’ll cut the doorway bigger for it…

I hope it is back in the woods far enough so the Honey Bees don’t decide to move into it when they swarm in the spring…but if they do..well..they will be back out of the way and we have a beekeeper down the road who would love to have them.
Jim decided to get artistic.
We did away with the original ramp. Used one of the boards to block the screen, it now has eyes and used the other board to make a ramp right to the entrance…it now has a tongue.
I even put one of the old cat beds inside. 

 I’ll be looking forward to a resident of some sort.

Looked out tonight and he had changed it….guess he was afraid the bees would head for the red or it might scare off his Bobcat..
It does blend in better.

 Love my critters.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Raccoon and cats. 11.11.15

We put out a mineral block about 15’ to the left of our hives…Honey Bees can get salt if they want but we were hoping to get a few deer coming into the yard.

This little guy thinks it is a stool. One of the “teenagers”.


The others have already been in and cleaned up the old cat food. Guess he slept late…so I took some of the cat food out of the “feral cat feeder” and tossed it in the weeds for him.

It’s not fancy..but it keeps the Raccoons out. The skirt prevents them from reaching up to climb inside. I read that they cannot jump and this is how they put out feeders for a colony of stray or feral cats.


Jim built this when a stray mother cat came in. It will hold 3 weeks of food…they jump from the deck into it.

The cats now have “kitty” doors onto the screened porch…Jim put one on each side so they could not get trapped if something did get in.

Here they are…..sharing a bed.

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The mother is the one on the right….she had 3 kittens but one was badly injured and had to be put down…the other just disappeared….so now we only have 2.

The cat feeder makes it possible for us to leave for a day or two. They’ve been eating there for a couple years so it’s not new. I don’t dare leave food on the porch…raccoons and opossums could get it and I don’t want to give them a reason to try and get in.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Honey Bees around the yard 11.8.15

When there is lots of stuff blooming I don’t see many bees on the plants in the yard…but when pickings get lean…here they come.

This is one of our Bottlebrush trees. There are two in the front yard and this one and two small ones in the backyard. The bush next to it is a Jathropa. The hives are behind them.


The Bottlebrush is humming with bees.

006cat least 4 on this bloom.


The Jathropa attracts bees all summer …for pollen.


It’s also a Butterfly favorite.


This is my Pagoda Bush….I have never seen bees on this till now…Swallowtail Butterflies love it.


It might be tricky with the long stamens but they’ve figured it out.

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The Wild Asters are just starting to bloom back here…blooming along the canal down the road for a few weeks. My main stand still isn’t blooming so they will have something for later.


Whenever I find a plant the bees like I dig up a few and get them started back here. I forget the name of this blue fluffy plant but the bees seem to like it.


I only have a little of this but it grows wild through the tree farms.


Powder Puff bush….looks like raspberries then they fluff out.


This is another one I hardly ever see bees on…


The Pepperbush is done and the bushes down the road have passed also…the wild Asters grow throughout the tree farm and those that are not in full sun will still be blooming….after that…guess we wait till Dec and the Red Maple trees start blooming.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Raccoons at the “Frog Pond” 11.3.15

I have a cement frog pond that sits on the end of the deck. The rain water and condensation keep it full. It was intended for the cats and the Honey Bees but since it has been dry the Raccoons are using it.

There is lattice around the deck and they climb up it…here comes the first one.


guzzling away….


I am sitting in the screen room with the door open for pictures…I think he just noticed me.

019chere comes the next one….


Normally there is standing water all around us…but I checked when I saw they were using this and it is dry out there now.


There are 3 young Raccoons that come up for water…

028c   short video

I have a birdbath with a continual drip so it stays full….the Honey Bees, Birds, Squirrels and Cats use it. There is a birdbath on the ground that catches the overflow and some of the Raccoons drink there.

Here is the squirrel.

I have Giant Milkweed and Tropical Milkweed in pots around it on the ground. I pull the algae over the side and it drips into the plants.


My first Painted Bunting of the year….been coming in for about 2 weeks.


Always interesting when I have my morning coffee on the porch….the cats and I sit and watch the Raccoons, Birds, Squirrels and Doves.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Big Swallowtail Caterpillars and newly hatched 10.23.15

My original 3 are almost full size. I keep expecting to see them gone but they are eating away like crazy…wont be long. I hope I can find a chrysalis.


I’ve been watching and today was the first time I saw something that looked like a newly hatched caterpillar. There are 3 in this picture…2 in the next.

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I love watching the changes in them as they shed and grow.


This is my first experience with these so it’s going to be fun watching them.

Monday, October 19, 2015


I saw a Black Swallowtail flying around the yard one day so I bought a couple Parsley Plants for it to lay on. Only had one caterpillar so there must have been an egg on the plant when I bought them. They were small plants and it ate one almost completely up.

The second one had time to grow.


We got back from our boat trip (   and I spotted 3 caterpillars on it. Here are two.



We also found several eggs…looks like I may have to buy more caterpillar food. I counted 10 just on this part of the plant.


I have some sprouting in my milkweed bed but they are tiny.

I took this 2 days later….they are growing up.


I have 2 Passion Flower plants for the Zebra Longwings and Gulf Fritillary's. This is a Longwing.


She lays her eggs on the tips of the vine. …in large clusters. There are 4 0r 5 that have already hatched.


This is what it looks like when they all hatch. I think there are at least 20.

048c  They tend to stay together.012c


Even at this stage they are in a group. 009c


This one is almost ready to find a place to become a chrysalis.


Not a very good photo but this is what it will become.

008c (2)It is really  a beautiful Chrysalis.

This is the Gulf Fritillary.


This is the underside…it’s beautiful…painted kind of like a clown face.


She lays one egg on a leaf…sometimes 2 but never in a cluster like the Zebra Longwing. This one is almost grown.


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4 small ones.


They hang in a “J” …then shed their skin and end up a Chrysalis.


and this is their Chrysalis…similar to the Longwing’s

001c (2)  003c (2)

I like having all the butterflies…but I love the caterpillars more.

I grow Tropical milkweed and Giant milkweed for the Monarchs and Queens….Passion Flower Vine for the Zebra Longwings and Gulf Fritillaries…and now I’ve added Parsley for the Black Swallowtails.