Desert Horses

Welcome to my horse blog, Desert Horses. We live in the desert southwest, near Palm Springs, CA, but board our horses up in our local mountains where it is cooler in the summer. I have 4 horses, all rescues. Here is the ranch up the mountains where the horses stay, October, 2015. That's Scout in the arena.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Idyllwild getaway

Hubby and I got away for 3 nights up in our local mountains, in Idyllwild.  We rented one of the cabins that our family loves to visit.  It has a nice east-facing porch, which also has a railing, so we took our dog, Ripley, with us.

We drove up Monday morning and checked in a 2 p.m. and relaxed on the porch.  There were blue jays, woodpeckers, quail, gray squirrels, rabbits, a chipmunk, and even a tiny chipmunk!  I enjoyed watching their antics.  The local market sells peanuts by bulk and I bought some for the blue jays and squirrels.

It got up to 91 degrees up there Thursday, but it is 116 down here in the desert today and will be for the next couple of days.  Ugh.  We drove home Thursday morning and we are hibernating for the next week.

Ripley really enjoyed the cool mornings and evenings.  Of course, she HAD to go for walks at midnight, but at 4 a.m. one morning, I heard a saw-whet owl calling!  I didn't hear any coyotes this trip, but the red tailed hawks were out every morning and afternoon.

It was good to get away from the desert for a few days.

 Ripley enjoying the porch.
 The porch
 Reflection of pine trees in window
 pine trees! :-)
Shady porch

Monday, July 18, 2016

Quick visit to the horses

Hubby and I went to Temecula Saturday night and returned to the hot, hot, hot desert Sunday afternoon.  We stayed with our son and his family.

On the drive home, we stopped by the horse ranch for a quick horse visit.  I needed to buy more pellets for Quad and Gigondas anyway.  It was HOT by the time we got there (about noon)...dry, dusty, and HOT!  Ugh.  And, next weekend, it will be 115/116 here in the desert.  Oh, joy!

Anyway, it was good to get out of the desert for an overnight trip and see the fog roll in down in Temecula!  I miss the fog and the cool mornings.

 From our Saturday evening after-dinner walk
 Another twilight view
 Early morning fog...
 and more fog...
 Fog started to burn off
The year round pond by their house...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Beyond Julian

Julian is a little country town in the mountains of San Diego County.  It is east of Warner Springs, east of Lake Henshaw, and east of Palomar.  It gets snow in the winter and has lots of quaint hotels, cafes, and shops.  It is an apple growing center and wonderful pies come out of Julian.  It is also the home of the California Wolf Center (which I have yet to visit...).

Anyway, after we left Julian, we traveled down the road to Lake Cuyamaca.  You can either take the road down to Imperial County, through the Anza-Borrego park, or go out this other road to the lake, on Highway 79.  We chose to take Highway 79.

We passed open meadow after meadow and then came to the lake.  I was surprised how full it looked.  And, after the lake, we came upon the area burned in the big 2003 fire.  There was also another fire down this way recently, because I remember reading about Lake Cuyamaca.  We found some nice picnic spots and campgrounds, but we continued until we drove into Pine Valley.  Pine Valley is a paradise among all the dry fields.  It was pine trees and is quite lovely!  Good horse country, too!  By then, however, I had been driving for 3 hours, so we walked through the market and turned to drive back home.  We saw 2 groups of wild turkeys near the road on our way back through Julian.  It was a long day and it took me 2 days to recover from all the driving!

Here are some pics:

 Lake Cuyamaca
 It even has a bridge!
 Another view of the lake
 Nice rock outcropping...lots of burned trees, however...
 Woodpecker...
 dead trees
Lots of grassy meadows...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Julian visit

So, Tuesday hubby asked if I wanted to take a drive that day.  OF COURSE!  We both had been stuck in the house for days, first getting the air conditioner replaced and then a couple of days after that to make sure it was working (it is, thank goodness!).

So, off we went.  He wanted to drive down to Julian to have lunch and check out a couple of houses on Air BNB.  Of course, his table wasn't working properly, so we never did find the houses!

We did, however, take a ride around town.  Julian is such a cute, quaint little town!  I found a couple of barns outside of town and took some photos of the Julian Bakery and Cafe, where we stopped for lunch.  We wandered over to the bird shop in town and I bought a new hummingbird feeder and an oriole one, since a big, beautiful male oriole stopped by the other morning.  (Of course he hasn't been back!)

 This old barn FINALLY fell down!  It is on the road outside of Aguanga.
 Farmer out plowing his fields...
 We drove out to Lake Henshaw.  Someday we'll take the grandson to the Palomar Observatory.

 Nice barn outside of Julian
 The town...If you go there, DON'T go on a weekend!  Too many people and no parking.



Cute town.  Lots of restaurants!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Morning chores

Everybody here in our desert runs errands EARLY in the morning or in the evening.  The rest of the day, we just hibernate.  I awake about 4:30 a.m. and my chores are done by 6:00.  Then I sit at my computer for an hour or so and watch all the birds outside my office window in the front garden.  This morning, a beautiful male oriole came for a visit and right now a hummingbird is at his feeder.

I wake up, put the dog out to pee, and feed the 2 outdoor cats, who are always waiting for me, demanding breakfast.  Then I feed the dog.  Then I get to pee.  Then I go out front and feed the birds.  I have several feeders to fill and 2 finch socks.  I also put out mealworms for the mockingbird family in  the neighborhood.  Then I come in and put the coffee on.  I usually wander around until the coffee is done, then I check my email and facebook.  By the time I've finished my coffee, all the feeders need to be filled again.  Oh, and I clean and scrub the hummingbird feeders at least 3x a week so black mold doesn't grow on them.

I bought two new feeders at WalMart the other day when I was buying mealworms.  I went to our neighborhood WalMart, but they don't keep their shelves restocked very well, and they were out of them.  So, I had to drive 7 miles at 4 p.m. (the HOTTEST time of day!) to the nearest Super WalMart.  They had them, so I bought 2 bags.  They also had 3 packages of Tithonia (Mexican red sunflowers), so I bought those as well, since the hummingbirds really enjoy the Tithonia that I have out front.  By the time I got home, I was too pooped to buy dinner, so hubby ordered a pizza for himself and a ham sandwich for me from our local pizza place.  We watched TV until 10:30 p.m. and I woke up at 4:30 again this morning...back to my chores!

Here's a photo of my male feral cat.  I call him "Little Man". You can see how feral he is now.  One of these days, I will capture him and take him in to be neutered, but we aren't at that point in our relationship yet...



Friday, July 1, 2016

Birds stories

First, we have a cooper's hawk that lives in our neighborhood now for several years.  It is the bird that killed the scrub jay who lived in our neighborhood for 3 1/2 years...sigh...Anyway, I've seen two adults now and 1 juvenile hawk.  I believe the females are larger than the males, so this one must be the female.  She comes and goes and gets a dove every now and then.  Apparently she now spends most of her time down the street because I was talking to the neighbor down there and she flew out of his elm tree.

Then, we have a family of mockingbirds.  These birds have been in our neighborhood for 40 years.  We USED to have quail, but they are long gone.  Oh, and a family of roadrunners, but they are gone, too.  Too many houses nearby and now we have NO open space.  The mockingbirds, however, have adapted well to "city life".  They live in our neighbor's yard right across from my office window, so I can look out and see their antics.

They first came to the yard when I put out a shallow bowl of water.  Then, I started putting out mealworms, which I buy by the bag at WalMart.  They were hooked.  Now they appear every morning looking for their breakfast.  I feed them next to the water bowl and on the dead tree trunks (2 of them).  Even the young one comes and does a dance demanding food, although it is capable of getting its own.  They are quite entertaining.

And, there is a family of ravens up at the horse ranch.  Apparently they have been there for YEARS.  They used to have a nest in one of the oak trees next to the house, but an owl chased them out of that nest this year.  They have 3 babies, for a total of 5 in the family group.  They are quite loud and bossy!  The ranch owner feeds them the dead mice that she catches in her aviary. I always enjoy watching them.

Last time I was up there, an owl and a hawk were going at it.  The hawk was diving at the owl, who was trying to make an exit.  Apparently the hawk has taken over the owl's territory at the ranch and the owl isn't too happy about this, but has now moved on.

And, we have 4 or 5 hummingbirds in our yard.  I see a couple of males and 1 female.  We used to have bees visit the feeders and drink ALL the nectar, but they have disappeared COMPLETELY in the last week.  Not a bee in sight.  I wonder where they all went because they could sure empty the feededrs in a day and I have about 4 feeders in the yard, 2 out front, and 2 in the back.  If I leave the hose dripping into the water dish out back, the hummingbirds show up every morning for a drink.  They visit the feeders in the morning and late afternoon and seem to disappear during the heat of the day.

Such is the bird life in our neighborhood.  I actually got a photo today of one of the mockingbirds.  And, just as I snapped my tablet, a hummingbird appeared at the feeder outside my office window~~ a 2-fer!

You can see the hummingbird easily.  The mockingbird is perched on the stand where the water bowl is located.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mockingbird and hawk

I bought a bag of mealworms a while ago and I've been putting them out on a tree stump left over from when our 25 year old eucalyptus blew over in a wind storm back in May?  June?   (I forget...).  Anyway, the mealworms disappeared every day and I finally figured out that a mockingbird was eating them.

So, I watched and yup...there he was!  He now enjoys them twice a day.  I went through my first bag and had to make a Walmart run to buy another one yesterday.  I moved the tree stump to where I can observe it and I also put out a shallow bowl of water out under our sumac tree for the birds to enjoy out front.

There are now 2 mockingbirds that come to eat the mealworms.  I think they are mates.  One is smaller than the other one (the female, I believe).  They seem to live across the street as I see them flying over there several times a day.

Anyway, I looked out yesterday and to my HORROR the damn hawk (Cooper's hawk) was standing in the water bowl having sips of water!  AYE!  He stayed for quite a while and kept sipping and dipping.  The male mockingbird landed in the sumac and was scolding the hawk and I watched for a few minutes until the hawk also went up ionto the tree and I went outside.  Hawk flew down the street, all the while being chased by the mockingbird.

I don't mind if the hawk visits the yard IF he doesn't eat the mockingbirds!  He killed my blue jay (remember "Burt" the blue jay?)  Burt visited us for 3 1/2 years until the damn hawk got him.  Now the mockingbirds imitate his calls, so I always have to look and see WHO is making those calls!

Anyway, this morning both mockingbirds are in the yard, taking turns eating the mealworms.  It's a cloudy day here (monsoon moisture is coming up from Mexico), so I was able to go out this morning and rake up piles of mesquite leaves at 6 a.m.

I hope the mockingbirds survive the hawk.  From what I've been reading, they DO chase hawks and they DO seem to survive, so I'll be crossing my fingers.

I got about 20 photos of the hawk, but I don't have a single photo of the mockingbirds.  They are just too fast.