Sunday, July 24, 2011

Living and Learning

Massasuga rattlesnake photo courtesy of TimVickers, Wikimedia Commons.

There is always something to learn about the environment and our place in it.

There was a full house at Laurie Hall's presentation on snakes last evening at Lake Arrowhead State Park (LASP). It was an interesting program with lots of beautiful photos she and some friends have taken of snakes that live in our area. The massasuago rattlesnake (left) was one of the snakes she talked about in her program.

The next program at LASP is on zebra mussels. It is focused on boaters to help stop the spread of the invasive zebra mussel in Texas. If you're a boater or just someone who is interested in learning more, be sure to attend the educational session on August 6, 9:00 AM at LASP Dining Hall.

Zebra mussel photo courtesty of US Geological Survey.

Also, the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists will award 3 hours of advanced training credit for the Water Symposium on October 1. The Master Gardeners will get 5 hours credit.

I haven't heard any thing about adult education programs at River Bend lately--I'll pass on the information as I get it.

Don't forget the opening of A Walk on the Wild Side at the Museum of North Texas History on August 13. In addition to the exhibit there will be a lot of other vendors and displays at the grand opening. The Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists will be helping out.

The details on all of these programs are in previous posts.

Friday, July 22, 2011

More Complete Information on the North Texas Water Symposium

Fred Hall sent me the agenda/registration for the North Texas Water Symposium so I wanted to share it with all of you.

Texoma Living Well With Less Water 2011
October 1
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Registration $40 by September 1
Registration $55 between September 2 -16
No registration after September 16


Bryan Rupp, meteorologist: Weather Outlook Now and in the Future
Scott Calhoun, author of gardening books, Strategies for Water-saving Gardens
Michael Parkey, landscape architect, Drought Tolerant Native Plants for North Texas
Kevin Gustavson, OCC/WQ, Water Conservation with Xeriscapes and Rain Gardens
Dotty Woodson, Tarrant County Extension Agent, Irrigation Efficiency

I think we all recognize the importance of conserving water in our gardens and landscapes--this should be an interesting workshop.

If you are interested, you can contact the county extension office or a member of the local Texas Master Gardeners for a registration form or you can email me at I hope there is a large turnout for this event.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

North Texas Water Symposium

A symposium on water conservation strategies for agriculture and home gardeners will be held on October 1 at MPEC. I am hoping to get the agenda and registration information today and will pass it on when received. This is an important topic; I hope a lot of people show up.

Watering Trees in a Drought

We are definitely in a severe drought. Although everyone should be cutting back on using water, the trees (even native ones) are under severe stress. You can see the evidence all over town; many trees are dying. Austin Parks and Recreation has put out a nice handout on how to water your trees to help them survive without overuse of water. I thought it would be useful to readers.

If you do lose trees this year, consider replacing with drought resistant varieties this fall.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Local Business of Interest

Wendi often comments on blog posts, so regular readers have at least seen the name of Restless Prairie Farms--there is also a link to their blog on our blogroll (right). I hope you have been keeping up with the happenings at Restless Prairie Farms and plan to check out the store opening in August.

There was a great write up in the Times Record News on Sunday. If you missed it, here is the link.

Wendi is also a contact for the grass fed beef coop, Holy Cow Beef. You can contact her at for information and an order form.

Congratulations to Wendi and her family and best wishes for success in their business.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Save the Date! A Walk on the Wild Side

A new exhibit, A Walk on the Wild Side, will open to the public at the Museum of North Texas History, 720 Indiana, on August 13, 10 AM - 4 PM.

It will feature the wildlife of our area and emphasize how people who have lived here interacted with and depended upon these animals. During the grand opening on the 13th, also present will be people with jobs that focus on the outdoors, a number of special activities for the family, and vendors of food and hunting/fishing equipment.

The museum is open free to the public, although donations are welcomed and encouraged. Come on out!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Some Programs of Interest

A couple of upcoming programs at Lake Arrowhead State Park that may be of some interest to readers. These programs are sponsored by the Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park and the Rolling Plains Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists. These programs are free, but admission to the park is required ($3 per person.)

Saturday, July 23, 6:00 PM, Education Bldg: local Texas Master Naturalist Laurie Hall will be giving a program on snakes.

Saturday, August 6. 9:00 AM, Education Bldg: Assistant Fisheries Biologist Robert Mauk will be doing a program on the invasive zebra mussel.

A Clever Idea

I came across this Bee-a-Thon to promote awareness of the plight of bees and other pollinators. Sounds like fun. I don't have 12 hours to sit online to learn more about bees, but I will probably check in, and I may decide to conduct a count. I think this is a clever idea to get people talking about an important topic.

If you check out the website, you'll find lots of resources and interesting information about bees and pollinators.

A reminder that there are lots of resources as well at the Xerces Society website (that reminds me, I need to get my membership renewal done.)

Will We Never Learn?

Will we never learn? I came across this article today about a herbicide that infects the lawn to the extent that the grass clippings cannot be used to make compost. Is that insane or what? What a stupid idea.

The only good thing I read in the article was that Imprelis apparently not sold "down south" because we don't have the right kind of grass. One good thing about enduring this awful heat I suppose.

Join Me Thursday Night

Last week I was elected by default (i.e., no one else wanted to do it) to appear on Paul Dowlearn's Gardenline program to talk about the Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park Thursday evening. If you would like to know more about the organization, please watch, Thursday, July 14, 7 PM on cable channel 15.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Red River Sierra Group Meeting

For Sierra Club members and others interested in environmental topics, the local Red River Sierra Club group will meet Tuesday, July 12, 7:30 PM at Atlanta Bread on the corner of Maplewood Avenue and Midwestern Parkway.

Article on "Ecosystem Gardening"

This is really a follow on to my post a few days ago about working to make our new yard more wildlife-friendly. If homeowners can do it, why not businesses, cemeteries, schools and churches?

I came across a website I think will be of interest to readers. Why not talk to your employer, pastor, etc. about making the empty lawns around most public buildings more ecofriendly? After the intial planting, I'm willing to bet that for most organizations, the maintenance costs would be less than the regular mowing, trimming, watering and fertilizing of the typical lawn, and would have the added benefit of attracting wildlife.

Note the 5 pillars:

  • Sustainable gardening

  • Soil health

  • Water conservation

  • Remove invasive plants

  • Plant native plants

Friday, July 8, 2011

Great Idea!

I found a story on a great grocery idea out of Austin. I hope they are successful! Regardless, show grocery stores that less waste in packaging is important to you by considering the amount of packaging in your shopping decisions--and let them know.

It's a Start

When we moved into our new house, I was a little bummed because the yard just wasn't the best for birds and butterflies. So, one of the first things my husband did for me was to set out the bird bath. With water and a feeder, the birds have been coming to the yard--white winged doves, mostly, but also house finches, blue jays, robins, western kingbirds, cardinals, Inca doves (once) and red-bellied woodpeckers. So not a huge variety, but it's a start.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband dug up the area for me to put flowers around the birdbath. I am trying to stick with natives that are drought/heat tolerant and preferably plants that attract birds and butterflies. My hummingbird feeder has seen no hummers--there just aren't enough flowering plants around to bring them into the neighborhood. Anyway, I planted some lantana, blue mist flower, turks cap, pigeonberry, and red ruellia. Some are perennials; others annuals that will self-seed.

So we begin. It will be a multi-year project to make the yard as pretty and as wildlife friendly as I would like, but you have to start somewhere.

What are you doing to improve the habitat in your yard?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Downer and An Upper

I was looking to experiment a little in the kitchen while my husband is gone and went to Sunshine Natural Foods to look around. I haven't been there in a while and boy what a change! The store is now half the size and very little of it is food. I was very disappointed. What they do have is replicated by United Supermarkets, which is probably why they downsized--it is hard to compete with United since it went into the organic lines. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to try to carry a lot of specialty things that United doesn't sell.

However, I was looking for some tahini to make hummus and ended up at the International Market in the little strip mall on Southwest Parkway and Fairway (Caesar's Pizza is probably the best known of the stores there.) I have been meaning to stop in and finally had a reason. I found my tahini, but also found a lot of spices and other items used in Middle Eastern, Indian and Oriental cooking. It isn't a big store, but check it out. The store doesn't open until 11:00 AM, so plan accordingly. A lot of interesting items and some fresh produce--not a lot, but some. First place I have seen mung beans for a long time.

I used to sprout mung beans, although I prefer alfalfa sprouts. There would be something that would be wonderful for Sunshine to carry--alfalfa seeds for sprouting. Have you seen the price of alfalfa sprouts in the store? They are great on sandwiches and salad. Never made your own sprouts? It's easy. I found a good YouTube video that shows the process. Give it a try!