Captured Moments – Succulent Treasures

Good morning,

I love gardening.  All types of gardening, whether it’s flowers, vegetables, water gardens or cacti and succulents.    My succulent collection has been steadily growing over the last few years.  I keep telling myself to say no to friends offering starts from their succulents, or those “too cool to leave at the garden center” plants I keep bringing home.  So of course, I found an Etsy shop this week called Succulent Treasures.

They sell succulents and cacti and even have gift boxes.

These are wonderful!  Click on the images above or here: Succulent Treasures

I will definitely be dropping some hints about this shop for the holidays. 🙂


Captured Moments – Raising chickens part one

Good morning!

We have been raising chickens for about seven years.  When we first started, we were living in the city limits and there were no restrictions on keeping chickens.  My sons class had an egg hatching, so we were okay with him bringing some home.  He brought home five little chicks of unknown sex.  They were a mix of two Rhode Island Reds,two Brabantersand a Barred Rock.   We later bought three Black Copper Marans  from the lady that had hosted the hatching for the class.  As luck would have it, we ended up with three hens and three roosters.  Two of those were the meanest roosters I have ever met.  They were the Rhode Island Red and the Barred Rock. (But that is much later).  One of the Rhode Island Red chicks didn’t make it and the other was almost blind.  We were able to nurse her back to health, and she was able to be self-sufficient in our small  fenced yard. We named her Goldie. We were given another Rhode Island Red to replace the one that died.  We are not sure what the issue was with these particular chicks and it did not seem to affect any of the other breeds of chicks.  We kept them in a stock tank that was  2 ft tall x 2ft wide x 4ft long.  with a light to keep them warm.  This is a nice week by week guide I found at Community Chickens. (Click images to enlarge)

We came up with a temporary coop once it was warm enough and they were old enough to go outside.





We were completely new to this, but we did realize we were going to need a bigger and better coop so we bought a mobile coop.   It was a fun project to paint it and get it ready for our new pets.

We also had cats, a dog and a bunny.  Once the chicks reached almost full size, we let them out with the cats and out dog.  Luckily our dog loved every animal or in this case fowl, that we brought home.  He took them in stride and settled in to be their protector.  The cats were curious, but wary.  We never had any problems with cats.  The bunny had a problem with the chickens.  They were not very friendly toward our bunny ,so we had to let them out into the yard at separate times.  

The young chickens were great in the gardens, not wreaking much havoc.  This changed as they matured and no kale was safe from them.

Young Brabanter hen






All went well until the roosters grew to full size.  The first to show his aggressive side was the huge Rhode Island Red, aptly named Red (among other things, mumbled under ones breath) He attacked you head on, no stealth attacks for Red.  All claws and beak.   No one was safe. A man with a farm and large flock agreed to take him.  We were all very appreciative.

These are the three roosters. Front right is the Brabanter, Behind is Spot, the Barred Rock and in the back is Red, the great and terrible.

The Boss – Spot







When Spot started attacking everyone but our son, we found a home for him too. He was a stealth attacker.  He waited until we walked away and then came with claws up.  I had wounds on the backs of my legs for a while.  He liked our son, but we could not keep one so aggressive.  Again, we were lucky and the lady that donated the eggs for the hatching traded us for a Barred Rock hen.  

We also ended up giving away the Brabanter, which in hindsight was a mistake, as he had the best personality.  Unbeknownst  to us at the time was how rare the Brabanter breed is.  They are smaller chickens and lay medium white  eggs.  The hens have a lovely feather top knot instead of a comb and the roosters have seriously cool combs and wattles.  

My son loved these two but the crowing at all hours of the night was wearing on the good will of the neighbors, which was a big factor in not having roosters.

A boy and his chicken


Before we decided Spot needed a new home, one of our Black Copper Marans went broody.  She sat on everyone’s eggs.  We decided to let her sit on three eggs which we hoped were fertile.  None of the eggs were hers.  She did not care one bit. This is a nice article on broody hens at Hobby  (many articles are about breaking the brooding habit but this one was about the positive side of broody hens)

Mama Marans and her first chick.

Mama Marans and her two chicks in their own pen until the chicks get older.

Of course one of the two was a rooster. Here they are at almost four months old.  Luckily we had an easy time finding a home for him. Isn’t he pretty?

Life continued to go smoothly, until we were dog sitting.  We had the dog in the front yard but one of the barred Rocks liked to fly over the gate.  We did not anticipate this and it was too late to save the hen.  It was at that moment that we truly appreciated our gentle giant of a dog.  

By the time we moved to our place in the country, we had three Black copper Marans,  a Rhode Island Red, one Barred Rock and the Brabanter hen.  They were all reliable layers, but did slow down during the hottest part of the summer and coldest part of winter.  The Black Copper Marans lay the prettiest dark brown eggs. 

Up next:  Raising Chickens part two. More things we did not know.

Hardy pink waterlily.

Good morning,

Photo of a waterlily in a small pond in my yard.  No editing. I have had this waterlily for about four years.  It is in a six foot long oval stock tank that is two feet deep.  It is very hardy.  I set the pot on the bottom of the tank to keep it over winter.


The photo below has been edited with Topaz Studio and Topaz Labs plug in, Simplify, using the finger painting effect.

Icebox Watermelon – Heirloom Sugar baby melons

When we put in the vegetable garden this year, we also made an east facing bed for a flower garden. This garden is about 16 feet wide by 9 feet deep.

It was too late in the season to start the flowers from seed, so I planted a pot of heirloom sugar baby watermelon vines from Bonnie Plants.  They carry this brand at our local home improvement store and I have had good luck with their peppers and tomatoes.    The peat pot container had four seedlings in it.  I planted this in the center of the garden and then added zinnias and portulacas along the perimeter.

Young watermelon vine June 09 2017

watermelon vine 6-19-2017

Young watermelon. The young melons are a lighter green with pronounced stripes. 6-19-2017

Looking into the garden from the front 6-19-2017

Watermelon patch 7-01-2017

Almost mature watermelon. The skin has gone from bright green to darker dull green.  These only grow to  8-10 pounds.

As the watermelons grew, the chickens found them more interesting especially as the watermelon vines ran outside the fence.

The chickens enjoyed the escaped watermelon

The first melon we picked was not ripe.  The little curly tail on the vine was dry but the leaf off the stem next to it wasn’t.  There are all kinds of ways that are supposed to tell you if it is ripe. I think the signs vary with melon variety and other factors.  The one below is the only ripe one we have gotten so far.  It was very sweet and the texture was good.  I think if we had left it any longer it would have had the grainy texture.

Unfortunately our watermelon patch looks to have a deficiency or a type of viral leaf wilt.  we may not get too many more melons, although there are about 9 good size ones growing at the time of this post.  The temperature has also been in the upper 90’s for the last couple of weeks and petty much everything is suffering from the heat.  This could be another factor.


Overall it has been a fun experiment.  I will research more about watermelon vine diseases and types of melons for our area.  We have found that they require a lot of nitrogen, water and space and that no matter where I put the fence, the vines want to grow on the outside of it. 😉


Captured moments – Travel – Blanco Gardens

I love visiting Blanco, Texas.  It started out as being a halfway mark for my best friend and I to meet for lunch and spend the day together.  We have an early lunch, then walk over to one of our favorite places, Blanco Gardens.

Blanco Gardens

It is a short walk from the cafe, and we always end up bringing back trays of plants on the walk back. 

Amelia Lintner, the owner, is wonderful.  Friendly, knowledgeable and fun.  Her gardens are colorful and invite you to explore.  She carries trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables.  She also has a wonderful selection of succulents, which I love!   You will also find a nice assortment of planters, garden soils and amendments too, as well as a lovely gift shop inside.  It is a wonderful place to relax and browse.  The zinnias and succulents I bought from her this year have been outstanding.


Looking at the store from Highway 29

The porch on her shop is a cool, shady place to relax while contemplating your purchases. 😉


Inside the shop

Amelia has a beautiful selection of planters and slag glass in the shop as well as seeds and other gardening supplies.


Amelia trying to escape my camera. ❤


This is an amazing selection of lavender. To the left is a room with some of the succulents.

One of her succulent arrangements. I love this ice plant.


Recycled tires. How cool is that?!

Love this bat!


Slag glass in a fun display.

That’s a big boot!


A fun area with various decorative items.


If you are out and about in the Hill Country of central Texas, stop by and say hello to Amelia, take a stroll through her gardens, relax on the porch and take home a plant or two.  

Blanco Gardens

Address: 500 Main St, Blanco, TX 78606


Saturday 10AM–4PM
Sunday 10AM–4PM
Monday 9AM–5PM
Tuesday 9AM–5PM
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 9AM–5PM
Friday 9AM–5PM
Phone: (830) 833-2433


Gardening – Spring 2017

Late this winter I started seeds in the house.  I planted some of my favorite vegetables and flowers.  The seedlings were looking great, but as time passed, I realized that I had started them too early.  They did not get enough light and were just very unhappy plants. ( this photo is before their unhappy demise)

During this time we also decided to make a proper garden area.  This involved bringing in soil and installing fencing.  We are on limestone which made digging holes for the fence posts a challenge, but we persevered, and in a short while we had a garden site.  The soil is not perfect and we are adding organic matter to it as we go.  One area is doing great.  It was the old compost area and has our mystery squash growing in it.

I also decided to take a chance and get some plants in the ground early.  Historically, the last frost date is around March 20.  I planted the garden February 26, 2017.  It was a risky decision, but I was optimistic because we had a mild winter.  I also had very early spring fever and wanted to see growing things.

This is the first photo I took on February 26, 2017.  I planted seeds and plants.

This is a view from our porch.

We were lucky and there were no freezing temperatures for the remainder of the winter or early spring. The photo below is from April 09, 2017.

This is the garden layout. Click the image to enlarge the photo.  There are labels to indicate what the plants are.

We are already getting some vegetables.



Dragon Pepper – Cayenne


Bush beans


Sweet Million cherry tomatoes

Hopefully we continue to have good luck with this years garden.  Updates on the mystery squash next month.



The mighty mystery plant, or the power of compost.

Last year I started a compost pile in a re-purposed kennel that was given to us when we took in some chickens in need of a new home.  During the fall and winter we allowed our chickens to forage in the compost area.   They helped aerate and fertilize the compost, plus they enjoyed finding tasty treats of the insects and worms that also came to the compost.

This spring I noticed that we had some plants sprouting in the compost.  They looked so healthy and strong, I couldn’t bring myself to turn them back into the pile.  So I decided to let them grow.  I am fairly certain that they are some type of squash.  What kind  of squash is still a mystery.

The young mystery plant March 27, 2017


A very happy plant(s).  April 07, 2017

It has escaped the kennel and is climbing a tomato cage that is outside of the garden area.  The small plants at the bottom left of the kennel are bush beans.  They are benefiting from the compost too.


One of many small fruits on the vines

Click on any of the photos to enlarge.

Happy gardening,


Ladybug, Lady beetle or ladybird beetles. Whatever the name, they are welcome in my garden.

I scattered dill seed from last years crop all over the back of the garden area.  We had a very mild winter and the dill came up every where.  I had hoped for a good crop to attract butterflies.  One insect I had not considered I might attract were ladybugs.  I went to check the garden and noticed several lady bugs on my dill.  Then I noticed a large number of aphids.   I was thrilled to see the ladybugs happily working their way trough the pests.

Lady bug on dill flowers

Lady bug on dill flowers



Ladybug on dill stem


Albert Phineas Drache

Raised bed garden and trellis

I like the idea of reduce/reuse/recycle.  So when we get a chance to use any of those principals, it is a delight.  I built a garden area in the spring using cut limestone we had brought from our house in town when we moved, as well as rock from here on our land.  I finally got around to filling it with soil in early July.   I moved most of the herbs that I had in pots – basil, oregano, chives, garlic chives,Mexican marigold mint, some irises, day lilies and a few small trees into the bed.  Then we built a trellis behind it using some eight foot tall chain link fencing that we had obtained over the years.  I planted passion vines and moved the cypress vines over to the trellis hoping that once established, they would provide some shade from the west sun in the afternoon.  One of the nice things about the cypress vine is that it re-seeds easily.  This will make for a lovely mix on the trellis next year with the large purple passion flowers and small dots of red from the cypress vine.

Side view of garden

Side view of garden


View from potting shed

View from potting shed


Added a Turks Cap last week. (Malvaviscus drummondii (M. arboreus var. drummondii)

Added a Turks Cap last week. (Malvaviscus drummondii (M. arboreus var. drummondii)


Close up bloom on Turk's Cap

Close up bloom on Turk’s Cap


Narrow bed for vines

Narrow bed for vines


Cypress Vine

Cypress Vine


Close up of Cypress vine flower

Close up of Cypress vine flower




First Passion vine flower

First Passion vine flower


Passion Flower 'Incense' (Passiflora hybrid)

Passion Flower ‘Incense’ (Passiflora hybrid)


I planted a second passion vine that a friend shared from her garden about a week and a half ago.  It is finally taking off and  I can’t wait to see what the blooms look like.

The main complaint that I have with the new garden bed it that the chickens like to take their dust bath in the dirt.  It looks like I will be adding more fencing to the area.