Thursday, July 28, 2011

I love dragonflies!

Robert bought me a new lens for my Nikon D60 in May.  Lenses are very costly and being I'm new to photography, I was overwhelmed with choices for my first lens purchase, but settled on a very low end Sigma 70-300 mm F4-5.6 APO DG MACRO lens.  (less then two hundred dollars)  This purchase has opened me up to a whole new world of photography.  I'm able to get a lot of close ups (macro) shots of bugs.  I don't know that I ever appreciated a dragonfly as much as I do now, they are my new favourite thing to capture.  

checkered setwing - dythemis fugax (male)

checkered setwing (female)

Eastern (Common) Pondhawk Erymthemis simplicicollis
This was my first macro shot of a dragonfly and it was thrilling experience!

a lot of dragonflies hangout down by the big pond...

sun shadow fun

Eastern Amberwing

common whitetail 

I thought this one looked like garfield dressed up a like a

....this one looked like it was good enough to eat - I called it a chocolate dragonfly

blue dasher

not the best capture, but the first and only one that I have them mating.....

carolina saddlebags (female)

black setwing

This series of photos were one of my prize finds this summer.  It's a Halloween Pennant dragonfly being devoured by it's captor, the yellow crab spider!  I was amazed at the beauty and darkness all at the same time.

This last photo was shot down by our little pond.  Although our big pond has shrunk significantly, the smaller pond that is connected still has some water and it's a haven for dragonflies, toads, frogs, and so many birds.  It's a little oasis.  

If you're interested in learning more about dragonflies.......  here's a quick link

Asilidae (Robberfly)

Since living on our land, I've started to use my camera a lot more.  First it was to capture the children enjoying themselves, then it was to document our building process and lately it's been insects.  Although the drought has really gotten me down, because I was looking forward to taking photos of wildflowers it has forced me to look for other things that I'd enjoy photographing.  I had no idea what a robber fly was at the beginning of the summer, but I sure have found them fun to hunt and capture a variety that seem to be prevalent on our land.

They are "bearded"having fine hair that covers their piercing mouthparts.   

Things I'm learning about the robber fly, is it's a member of the family Asilidae. There seem to be nearly 1,000 species in North America and 250 of them live in Texas.  Their prey seem to be a variety of pests: beetles, wasps, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, bees and others. They range in size from 3 mm to 50 mm (about two inches!)

Robber flies are among the few insects that catch their prey in mid-flight. 

After injecting the hapless meal with saliva that paralyzes and digest's it's prey's bodily contents, the robber fly will find a place to perch and slurp its insect smoothie........which is what I witnessed this morning.

one of my favourites and first close up

light as a feather.....notice how it's balanced on blades of grass

It's amazing how much I've learned in the last month about a few new insects.  Having a camera in tow has allowed me to capture images and being intrigued to learn more about them.  I originally found the robberfly scary, but after photographing them, I started to look forward to more encounters. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I wasn't feeling very inspired to write a blog entry for July.  The process of building the house and the heat wave mixed with our worst drought since the 1950's has brought us a little down.  However........

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. Circumstances and situations do color life but you have been given the mind to choose what the color shall be. John Homer Miller

We have been so down about the drought and the heat this month.  Our pond is about 7-8 feet down.  Last summer it was an acre, now it feels like a rather large puddle, however we're very fortunate to still have water.  We were down looking around the pond and I suggested the children take the kayak regardless how low the pond was and it didn't take but a moment and Audrey had jumped in and was swimming around.  

Betty is back! (we hope pregnant, but we'll have to wait and see...)

 Betty spends time down by the pond - there is a lot of green grass for her to munch on. 

 Our guineas keets  

 six weeks old

Birds & the Bees........

Country life and having an assortment of animals gives the children an interesting perspective on nature.  Our four ducks are doing well.  We learned last month that we have three drakes (males) and one female.  We were told we needed to re-home or rid two of the drakes, because apparently it would be too much for one female.  However, our female seems to be a sturdy gal and the larger pekin seems to protect her and has become her partner.   There is a lot of 'lovin' going

Another thing we've learned and probably suspected is our five black sexlink chicks are ALL roos! They're actually quite fun at this point to have run around and as long as they keep eating the grasshoppers we're quite happy to keep some of them, but I suspect there will be some freshly made chicken dumplings in our future. (smile)

 Although we need 13 inches of rain to bring us out of our drought, we did have some of these lovely yellow sunflowers growing in one of our fields.  I had fun taking photos of this very busy bee.

The children having fun and keeping cool on these 100 degree days - we've been over the 100's for the past month it seems and no break in sight.

Some of the neat things we're seeing around the land........
 cicada shell

 Our little pond still has a little

mesquite tree sap
The light-amber colored gum that oozes from the mesquite bark in the fall was used as a glue to mend pottery.  Indian women made cuts in the bark to gather a darker gum, full of tannins, to use as hair dye or to decorate bark clothing.

On the house front, we are slowly putting our kitchen together.......we still have a long way to go.

My soon to be pot filler - it's something I've wanted once I realized there was such a thing.

Our original stove that we ordered was damaged in transport and when we re-ordered a stove, we choose something smaller - thankfully, being our kichen is not large.  We're excited to have an oven (electric/convection) to use, however we still have to set up a tank for the LP gas, which won't happen until later in the year.  Our list of things for the house is LONG...we learned this month we need to look at this project more long term, it won't be finished by the end of the year, but slowly Bud promises we'll get there.

Although, July was nothing like last year, we're learning more about our character, how resilient or not so resilient we can be during harder times.  Our family has only grown closer....I can imagine the crazy stories our children will tell one day to their children.

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