22 March 2009

A New Backyard

Six months after my last post I moved, lock, stock, and barrels of wood, to Scottsdale, Arizona.

I soon discovered that I had merely traded one grounds crew for another. In the space of two weeks, this young desert cottontail nibbled the few scrawny patches of grass in the graveled backyard down to divots where he had dug out the roots.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the great number and variety of birds in the neighborhood. Once I started scattering bird seed several times a week, it wasn't long before many of the local doves (three kinds!), and sparrows were making regular stops to dine, along with great-tailed grackles, curved-bill thrashers, and others.

My yard, like all the others in the neighborhood, is bordered by a six-foot block wall on three sides. One corner has overhanging vegetation from the yard behind us. The ubiquitous Gambel's quail use the walls as parade routes and they can run quickly into the protection of the shrubbery if a threat is sighted.

The quail can be rather noisy and they have a wide variety of calls. They also tend to stay in pairs, and both males and females will fend off perceived competitors, chasing them vigorously around the yard!

The regular feeding and the reassuring presence of three large mounds of yellow-flowering lantana in the yard paid off. One morning, just a few weeks after moving in, I was totally delighted by this sight!

It was great fun watching the chicks grow during the next few months. Only a few days after this picture was taken, their wing feathers had grown long enough for them to flutter frenetically up to the top of the wall, with much encouragement from their parents.

Of course, I also stayed on the lookout for interesting wood to turn. This little bowl (~5" diameter) came from a small log of Chilean mesquite that was originally destined to be just a chunk of firewood for a barbecue. I rescued that piece and two others and diverted them to a more noble fate!

My workspace here is much smaller than in Washington, but turning doesn't require much room. I did bring almost three tons of seasoned wood with me, so I won't run out of cascara or maple anytime soon! And locally there is mesquite, and acacia, and honey locust, and olive, and . . .

Last, but not least, I have upgraded my website, Teak Tocks, and it is now an online store for my woodturnings. I invite you to stop in and browse!

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