tiny watermelon on the vine

Here’s What’s Happening in My Florida Yard in May

Aside from the fact that the raccoons are helping themselves to all my tomatoes… red and green… I am still attempting to grow a garden.  The raised bed is filling slowly with dirt and compost, and right now I have cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, bell peppers, and eggplant growing.

So far I am eating tomatoes and cukes.  Still waiting for the peppers, squash and eggplant.

raised bed gardening
New Plants in My Raised Bed Garden

None of my vegetable plants were doing very well.  They had plenty of sun and water.  The problem was the soil.  I have been buying bags of organic dirt, but I don’t think it had any type of compost in it.  So I  bought a few bags of compost, and that has helped. I had started my own compost in a pail on my porch and I added that to the raised bed.  What I really need is a composter.

Now my older eggplant is flowering again.  I have some green peppers and can see little cucumbers beginning to grow. But I need more dirt and compost.

eggplant flower growing
Maybe I’ll Get an Eggplant
cucumber blossom on vine
Tiny Cuke

The Rose bush is blooming, with small, but beautiful roses.

I must go outside and check them every day, because the flowers don’t last. Just the other day I got a pure white rose on this bush! But I waited too long and lost the opportunity to get a photo.  Roses are difficult to grow and with the humidity here, I’m afraid of black spot – or whatever they get.

pink rose
Pink Rose with Peach Center

Down toward the back of my house the watermelon vine is getting longer, and baby watermelons are popping out along the stem.

tiny watermelon on the vine
Baby Watermelon

Since I’ve amended the soil with compost, the peppers are doing better. The bells are not very large yet, but I’m afraid the raccoons will pick them before I get to.

green bell peppers growing
Finally, my peppers are growing!

It’s been so dry here in Florida for months. This tropical location is in need of rain. We’ve had very few rainy days, and there have been fires all over the place.

Because of this, I decided to add a cheap bird bath to the corner of my garden. Using a big plastic pot saucer, I added some broken bricks left over from the building of our patio, and filled it with water.   It sits on the corner of the raised bed.  Each day I spray it out and refill while I’m watering the garden.

I do get birds who drink and bathe in the thing. A female cardinal especially seems to like it, and a Cowbird (I think) had a nice long bath the other day. Of course my cats drink from it as well!

bird bath
My Cheap Bird Bath

I know that if I was still living in New Hampshire, gardening would hopefully begin this Memorial Day weekend. Their garden veggies won’t be coming in for a couple more months.

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two raccoons in a tree

Okay, I Hate These Raccoons

Raccoon standing on back feetAfter we moved into our new house in Florida, we noticed every night that raccoons would come out of the woods next door and explore our yard.  They came right up to the back door, with the outside light on.

Oh, they were so cute. One time we looked out back to see three little raccoon faces peering out of the woods at us. Similar to the photo above (not taken by me), plus one.  It was adorable, and if I were any kind of photographer I would have had the camera handy and captured that image.

However, I know that raccoons are not the sweet, adorable creatures they appear to be.  And these days I abhor seeing their cute faces. They are thieves, that even wear masks as a warning!  They have no regard for the hard work farmers and gardeners put into growing their crops.

Raccoons have sharp claws and teeth. They can be vicious if need be, and the ones that visit my yard are mostly unafraid of humans and my cats. They mostly do their damage at night, but we’ve been sitting at the outside table, in full daylight,  and had one come out of the woods a mere 10 feet from us. Once he noticed we were there, he left. Rabies is common among them, but this one did not act in an unusual manner. I think he just wanted to see what we were up to.

I usually leave water outside for the cats during the day because of the heat. If I don’t empty the bucket, the raccoons always get into the water overnight and leave a muddy mess.  Occasionally they dump the bucket.

One evening after we had been out on our boat, I rinsed my expensive water shoes and left them to dry on the back patio. The next morning one of my shoes was missing! Luckily I found the shoe at the edge of the woods where apparently the raccoon decided it would be of no use to him.

sunflower stalk
My sunflower was much taller than this when the raccoons tore it down.

That same morning I discovered my tall sunflower stalk broken and dragged across the grass. It was the only sunflower seed that grew for me, and I really had hoped to see the flower bloom.

But worst of all is the stealing of my tomatoes. I just picked two ripe tomatoes and left about 4 more green ones on the vine. Today I saw that all the green tomatoes were gone! Last week they stole 2 nice red ones just before I had a chance to pick them.

They will drag pots and my fabric potting bags around.  It seems they have a grand old time during the darkness of night.  When the weather is nice, and my windows are open, I can hear them outside my window at night scampering around and occasionally “screaming” at each other.  Yes, they make noise, and it’s creepy.

raccoon and chain link fence
No doubt they can climb a chain link fence.

I’m thinking it’s time for a fence. However, I am not sure that will keep them away. I’ve read that they can climb fences, and we’ve watched them climb down from way up in a neighboring tree. The fence may have to be made of slick material, like metal or plastic, that they cannot climb.  I’m saving my money, as we had planned to fence the yard anyway.  These creatures just give me more incentive to do so.

I can only hope that with a wall between them and my yard the little robbers, or bandits as they are rightfully called, will forget about my garden and go someplace else to scavenge.

(Thanks to the photographers of Pixabay for these raccoon photos.)

gray mouse

A Little Mouse Story

I really don’t remember how I came across this little mouse. But I believe I saw my cat, Skittle, chasing something outside my back deck.

When I went outside there he was, “hiding” behind the dying nasturtium vines. Luckily for him, Skittle doesn’t seem to have the greatest eyesight. She couldn’t find him, but she knew he was in there someplace.

little gray mouse
Mouse hiding in the nasturtiums

This is skittle perched on the deck post, looking for the mouse down in the plant (lower right). The little guy stayed very still, thinking he was hidden… or maybe too scared to move.

DSC07377
His little nose was pushed into the vines and maybe he thought that made him safe.

gray mouse
You can’t see me… right?

Now, mice are cute. But up north, where I lived in New Hampshire, they always seemed to find a way inside the house for the cold winter months. I fought them every winter.

I hate to kill anything, but they can’t be left to take over the house. I set traps in my basement, and trusted the cats to help keep them away.

More than once I was up in the night because the cats were out in the kitchen “playing” with a mouse. They never killed one in the house, but Skittle liked to bring them into my bedroom – up on my bed – in the middle of the night, just to show me her treasure!

Ya… no.

I would get a plastic bowl and plop it over the mouse, then slide a piece of cardboard under it to catch the thing.  This was surprisingly easy to do.  Then, I would open the door and let it outside… where it belongs.  Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep if I knew there was a mouse running around my home.

This little mouse in the Nasturtiums got away, as Skittle gave up looking for him.  I’m sure he eventually made his way inside and scurried around my basement enjoying the warmth.  The never-ending cycle.

mother swan mothers day

The Mothers Day Post You May Not Like

mother swan mothers dayWell, here we are, another holiday to celebrate. Mother’s Day is upon us and it falls on a Sunday… oh yes, it always falls on a Sunday. Maybe that is so mothers everywhere can have a day of rest.

Nope, that’s not it.

I have four children, but Mothers Day has never been much different from any other day for me. I used to wish I had a caring husband who would work with the children to make my day special. I wished that for a few years, and then realized wishes don’t come true. Ya think?

I got gifts, and sometimes I got things I actually liked, needed or wanted. Once they were unwrapped, I made dinner. The day went on like any other.

But gifts were never what I really wanted for Mother’s Day. Like many mothers, I simply wanted a day off – a day for me. A day without meals to plan and cook. A day without dealing with the needs of the children. Without housework, walking the dog and feeding the cats. I used to dream of time for me, where I could sit and read a book, or do some drawing. That was the gift I craved. I would have accepted that gift any day of the year.

As I write this, imagining what Mothers everywhere are doing on their special day, the diversity of how they will celebrate is huge.

I can’t help but think of my own mother as well. She died of Alzheimers in 2008 so there will be no celebrating with her. She loved the attention, and believed the day was hers, no matter that her daughters were mothers too.

One year, my husband and I were invited out on a boat with some friends for a Mothers Day celebration. I asked my own mother to babysit and she never let me forget how I ruined her day by asking that.

I’ve been raising children for 40 years and I’m tired. I never got the gift of a caring husband who catered to my needs for a special day. But he’s out of my life, and that is an everyday gift I enjoy. My children are finally all grown, and they will wish me a happy day. That is enough.

Today I will stay off of Facebook and avoid reading the “I’m so blessed” posts where women will go on to brag about their fabulous husband and kids. Pictures will be shared where whole families celebrate all the moms with dinner out together. Oh I know it’s coming. Holidays – any holiday – is the time to show the world what a fantastic life you lead. I wonder if kids and husbands feel pressured to compete with other FaceBook posters?

Imagination is a wonderful thing. It’s how I come up with creations like the swan above.  I have some of those attributes, but not all.  My own mother had even fewer.

Mothers are not perfection, but if we try to be what our children need most, we succeed in giving the world the gift of more good people in it.  Sacrifice is a long-term commitment to carry on creating something we started.  From squealing baby to grown person, the trip is long and exhausting, and for some mothers, it’s a very lonely one.  In the end, I can say I did my mothering to the best of my ability.

Today, I am at peace.