Burma Shave Signs

Anyone remember Burma-Shave signs?  Okay.  You have to be of a certain age.  As a kid, the signs were a highlight for driving trips through West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  If you’ve ever driven that way, you know how barren the landscape is.

The Burma-Shave company made shaving cream and came up with a unique advertising campaign along American highways.  The signs were displayed from 1927 to 1963.  At that time, most families drove for vacations and visits to relatives.

After we moved from the Ft. Worth/Dallas area out to the country, I heard a slogan that matched my sentiments about our decision.  So we decided to duplicate the Burma-Shave type of signs.

We put up signs along the road from the front gate to the gate to the house area.

The original signs rhymed.  Example:   “A shave / That’s real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel / Burma-Shave.”

Another example:  “Half a pound / For / Half a dollar / At the drug store / Simple holler / Burma-Shave.”

As you can tell, these pictures were taken in the spring time.

While signs on posts more closely matched the Burma-Shave signs, those were quickly knocked over by cows.  So now the signs are nailed to trees along the route.

Small or large, they tend to trample whatever is in their path.

When the popularity of the signs grew, the Burma-Shave company offered annual contests for new sayings and gave prizes of $100 for winners.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  C. S. Lewis




Ranch Animals

Exotic animals, big game from other countries, are common in Texas and exist mostly on private land where they live in large enclosed areas.  Although this seems like a relatively new phenomenon, the King Ranch first brought in Nilgai antelope from India in 1930.  Today it is estimated that well over 200,000 exotics roam freely on private land.

As an experiment way back in 1856, the army brought 33 camels to Camp Verde to use as pack animals to carry supplies to forts.  The building of railroads eliminated the need for them.

During the severe drought of the 1950’s, more exotics were brought in to supplement the population of hunting animals.  About half of the 254 counties have exotics, but most are concentrated in certain areas where hunting is popular.  But there are also several places where they exist for breeding and to preserve the species.

The dates on the pictures are from different years because I’ve taken pictures over the years but haven’t used them on this blog.

When we bought our property in 2001, there was a small group of Blackbuck Antelope on the property.

The most popular exotics include different species of deer, antelope, and sheep.  But the largest group of introduced animals is the European wild swine.  No wonder we have a huge wild hog problem in many parts of Texas.  They are massive, aggressive, and reproduce at an alarming rate.

Today the numbers of certain species are larger in Texas than in their native lands, where they are endangered.  The climate here is similar to Africa and other locales where exotics come from.

A few female blackbuck are gathered at the fence behind our backyard.  A buried pipe from our water softening system drains salt to this area.  It’s a favorite lick spot for native deer, cattle, and blackbuck.

The purple flowers are Tormpillo or Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), which is a common weed in western North America.  It also grows in South America, the Middle East, and South America.  A reader recently commented that it is used in some Mexican cheeses.

Blackbuck get their name from the fact that the males get darker as they age.  The top of the back of a really old male is black.

Sadly, we do not get to enjoy these beautiful creatures with their bouncing straight up as they run anymore.  They have become prey to a native animal – the coyote.  And those are not cute, humorous Wiley B. Coyote like in the cartoon.  Coyotes decimate cattle and other preferred animals.

Another popular group of exotics are Llamas from South America.  This one was given to us by the man who leases our pasture land.  Leah was to replace the mate of the widowed white male seen in the background.

The tiny purple flowers in the pasture are native Prairie Verbena.

Leah was pretty old before she died last year.

I always felt sorry for her in the heat of the summer.

A more unusual exotic is the Bongo.  These are on a ranch that we pass by on the county road whenever we leave the ranch.  The man who owns these is involved in preserving species of animals that are becoming endangered.

Both the western lowland and eastern mountain bongos are native to Kenya and are endangered.

This group is thriving and adding young each year.

We enjoy the animals that enhance the beauty of the land.

“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.”  Max Lucado










Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Autumn – Nope, Not Yet

Even though it’s autumn on the calendar, the weather here is still hot in the daytime with highs in the 90’s.  The mornings are cooler, which has perked up some plants.  There are still lots of things that are blooming.

autumn2The Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) has been covered with small flowers for months.  Garden designers suggest that wide flowerbeds look more pleasing.  And I don’t disagree, but there is a problem.  It is harder to reach into those beds and pull weeds.  Notice the green weeds.  Longer arms might allow me to pull them out with roots, but I can only break off the tops.


animals5If I am totally still, you can’t see me.

autumn3In February of 2014 I bought a miniature Kordana rose at the grocery store.  I posted a picture and commented that it probably wouldn’t survive the winter outside.

autumn4But it did – in a clay pot, even.  That one got broken, so we’ll see how it does in this new fiberglass pot.

autumnA crow has adopted our yard.  He flies away fast whenever I open the door.  At the top of this Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), maybe he couldn’t hear my stealth approach.

autumn1Orange Marmalade Crossandra (Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’ was an impulse buy.  It is heat tolerant.  That’s a plus.  We’ll see how it does inside for the winter.

autumn6Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is in the Stonecrop family.  It’s a wonderful hardy succulent.

autumnbHere’s another pot on the back porch that has been here for nine years.  I keep meaning to plant some directly into a flowerbed.  If they survive the winter in pots, surely they’d do well in the ground.

In front of the Sedum is a Purple Leaf Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii), which has also been in that pot for years.  I do take that into a heated shed for the winter.

autumnaNormally Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) isn’t that striking a plant to me.  But in full bloom, it caught my eye.

autumn7Finally, the Duranta bush (Duranta erecta) has more blooms, although not as many as some years.  The red clay pots under it were my solution to lift the branches up off the ground so I could mow beside them.  In this case, a wider flowerbed would have been better.

autumn9I really love this bush.

autumn8So do pollinators.

autumndThis is at one end of a long bed in the backyard.  The Texas sage or purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) is blooming.


autumncNext in line is a Senna bush.  The long branches with a single yellow flower or a couple of flowers on the tip is very different from the bush behind it with large clusters of yellow flowers.


autumngI think I have finally identified this bush – Cassia, Winter Cassia, or Butterfly Bush (Cassia bicapsularis).  I have guessed that it is Senna or Thryallis but have never been certain.  But I finally found a picture on the internet that seemed to match.

Beside that is a Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii).  If you want something that multiples, here’s your plant.

autumnhWhatever its name, it is gorgeous.

autumniAt the far end of that flowerbed is a Butterfly Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri).  Lovely.

Cooler days are ahead.  In the meantime, the crisp mornings are great.

“It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It’s the regrets over yesterday. And the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves that rob us of today.” Robert Hastings

Early Morning Golden Glow

In an attempt to beat the harsh sunlight, I went out early to get some pictures.  Only when I looked at them on the computer did I notice the eerie gold cast from the rising sun.

earlymorning glowBy the gate a couple of young rabbits were hopping around.  At first, they looked like cottontails.

earlymorning glow1But some of the pictures show characteristics of jackrabbits – tall ears, long front legs, and coloring.  So it seems that the jackrabbit population in the yard is growing.

earlymorning glow2In the backyard flowerbed everything is waning.  Flame Acanthus (Wright Anisacanth) or hummingbird bush on the left with slender red blossoms provides a perfect tube for hummingbirds to feed.

reblooming1The flaky bark on the branches, along with its shape, makes a nice winter accent.  Acanthus does well in sunny, well-drained soil. It is hardy throughout zone 8, and root hardy to zone 7.

reblooming3The Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) with the yellow flowers had a burst of reblooming after a few cooler days a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a gorgeous bush when covered with bright yellow flowers.

earlymorning glow4In the background of the previous picture is this new arbor structure.  The plan is for this Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) to cover the sides and top to make a shady nook.

The stats say that the vines grow 50 feet, so I think it will happen.  It also seems to be evergreen here.  Another vine in the same family, Trumpet, is greatly maligned as being too aggressive.  They both have pretty orange tubular flowers.  So far, I’m happy with the look.

earlymorning glow5The root system of this Mexican or Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) still concerns me because it’s so close to the house, and the tree itself is larger than I expected it to grow.

earlymorning glow6Bees were extremely busy in the early morning.

earlymorning glow7So active that getting a pix required some patience.

earlymorning glow9For some reason, the Duranta (Duranta erecta) has not bloomed very much this year.  I suspect it’s because I did not do a good job of fertilizing everything or applying mulch this year.  The bees were enjoying the few flowers on it.

earlymorning glow8Also, the Morning Glory only has a few blossoms.

earlymorning glowcClammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra),a  small native bush was given to me by a friend years ago.  It’s one of those plants that comes up in different spots every year.  Insect holes in the leaves appear every year.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty little bush.

earlymorning glowaA couple of wildflowers, Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbiaceae), came up in a flowerbed.  At first, I kept planning to dig them up.  Then, I decided to leave them because they brighten up the area.

earlymorning glowbThe actual flowers are yellow and tiny set in white and green bracts.

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

“Chocolate comes from cocoa which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate counts as salad. The end.”  unknown

Summer Continues

Summer drags on, but we did have a respite with rain and cooler temperatures one day last week.  And thankfully, there have been only a few 100 plus days since then.

summercontinues6Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) is doing well even though it may receive too much water from the sprinkler system as we try to keep other plants alive.

summercontinues7This one is probably ‘Santa Barbara’ since it has pale purple calyx and flower.

summercontinuesdI like that Drift Roses spread out low to the ground.  Another plus is that they almost always have flowers during the blooming season.

summercontinues8Coneflowers (Echinacea) have won a place in my heart.  These were planted late in the spring, so they’re blooming much later than the older ones I have.

summercontinues9Bees seem to be everywhere gathering nectar.

summercontinuescWhite Plumbago (Plumbaginaceae) or Leadwort looking good. That’s also Plumbago in the turquoise pot.  It was purchased in the spring and is still small but has grown quite a bit.

summercontinuesaThe Plumbago flowers aren’t as full as they were in the cooler temps of late spring.

summercontinues3The Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii) to the left looks a little weary.  The Senna from the family of Fabaceae has perked back up.

In the background, the fields are white from searing heat and lack of moisture.

summercontinuesI love this bush and so do the bees.

summercontinues2The bright yellow flowers are so cheery.

summercontinuesbWe had a seven foot tower built for a rose bush since an aggressive climbing rose tore up the old, less sturdy one.  We pulled that rose up and will replace it with something else this fall.

summercontinues4This Common Garden Spider immediately claimed the tower.

summercontinues5A camera flash was needed to capture the spider’s web.

animals5Freeze.  Let’s play statues and maybe no one will notice me.  This Jackrabbit stays in the yard and sometimes has companions.  I’m okay with them as long as they just nibble on grass.  But lately, they have ventured into the flower beds and are eating plants down to the nub.  Chasing them off is useless.  They return as soon as I go back in the house.  Ah, the pleasures of country living.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

Peter Cottontail

Remember the children’s book The Tale of Peter Cottontail by Beatrix Potter?  Peter disobeyed his mother and went to Mr. McGregor’s garden to eat vegetables.  It was probably written to encourage children to obey their parents because in the end Peter didn’t feel well, was given chamomile tea and put to bed while his brother and sisters had bread, blackberries, and milk for supper.

cottontail2We have our own little cottontail in the garden.  One evening as I was pruning, he was munching in the flowerbed and didn’t seem afraid of me.

rabbitplanterRabbit flower pots have a whimsey that I enjoy.  The plants in this rabbit is Dwarf Sanseveria.  In the background is an heirloom Geranium and to the right is a pot of Airplane or Spider (Chlorophytum comosum) plants.  Their common name comes the plantlets that grow on long stems.

The plantlets are easy to propagate.  Just stick one in a pot of soil, and another plant is created.  In fact, I was getting so many Airplant plants that my husband asked me to stop planting the plantlets because that meant more pots to carry into the greenhouse.

It’s often considered a house plant, but they do great outside in filtered light or shade where there’s harsh sunlight.  They are not cold hardy and have to be moved indoors during the winter.  But the rhizomes will usually re-sprout if there’s not a long or extreme freeze.

cottontailAs my clippers snipped, the cottontail prepared to run but changed his mind.

rabbitplanter2This pot has Kalanchoe plant, which looks kind of sad right now.

rabbitStone statuary fascinates me.  I especially like the large ones seen in old English gardens.

cottontail3This cottontail is nibbling on grass.  If that remains his sole diet, I’ll be happy to have him around to clean out the grass in the flowerbed.  His mother lives in this same area, but she is skittish and stays out of sight most of the time.

“The federal government is like a handicapped turtle trying to crawl around and keep up with the rabbit, which is technology.”  James Breithaupt

Double-Take Sights

When you just can’t believe your eyes, sometimes you’re compelled to stop and take a closer look.  It’s not quite the same as “stop to smell the roses”, but focusing is usually a good thing.

coyotehead2What in the world is that?  One of the predators on our property is coyote.  They not only feed on the wild animals but devour sheep, goat, small cattle.  They eat just about anything alive.

headSo they are killed by landowners.  Our land is leased for pasture grass, which is pretty common if an owner doesn’t want to have livestock.  So the guy who leases our land had hunters kill coyotes that were destroying his goats and cattle.  These skulls are actually all that’s left from coyotes that have been hanging for four years.

hangingcoyoteDead coyotes are strung up on fences or from trees to scare other coyotes out of the area.  That sounds to me like an old wives’ tale, or in this case, old ranchers’ tale.  But what do I know?

rustyThese are mystery ranch equipment.  Actually, the one in the center that is the shortest is a container for salt lick.  The salt is diluted with water.  On top are some wheels that turn into the salt mixture as a cow licks it.  It seems like a lot of work for nothing.  Now more modern versions of this device are used.

The other rust metal things really are mysteries to us.  They were scattered near where the house was built, so we dragged them all to one spot near the barn.

barnvaneWhat is that guy doing on the roof?  That is my husband.

As crazy as it sounds, it’s not that unusual to see people on their roofs.  When we first moved to the area and cell phone reception was poor, people sometimes had to get up high to get a connection.

vaneOne day recently we were out driving around in the Mule.  When we returned to the barn, we noticed that the weather vane was tilted.  I returned to to the yard to move water hoses while he put up the Mule.  I thought that we’d get someone to take care of the problem for us later.

vane2So when I turned around and saw what he was up to, my heart skipped some beats.

vane7He has put the horse back into place.  But several welding spots had been broken apart by the wind.  The pole into the cupola is very long.  It’s too far for him to lift it out of the hole.

I can tell by looking at his face that the wheels are turning.  Like most men, he’s a problem solver.  Okay, that sounds sexist.  But I know it’s true of him.

vane8So his solution?  Bring another ladder up to reach the pole.  What can’t be seen because there was no one to document the next event is me pushing the smaller ladder up while he pulls it with the rope.

He had actually asked me to carry the ladder up to him.  Not possible in my wildest dreams – I did give it a try.  So the push and pull method was devised.

vane3The thing that scares me about this whole scenario is that it has to be repeated sometime soon.  We took the copper horse to a friend to see if he can weld or solder it back together.

Seen any sights lately that made you stop in your tracks?

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”  Albert Einstein

Grey Fox

One evening we had some unexpected visitors in our yard.  A group of grey foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) wandered around for about fifteen minutes.  They were oblivious as I took pictures.  But, of course, I stayed on the porch and close to the door.

They usually hunt alone, so I’m not sure why they were foraging together.  They are monogamous  and the kits stay with them and hunt with them when they’re just three months old.  The family stays together until the pups’ first autumn.  That would make them about six to seven months old when they leave their parents.

None of these looked that young to me.  Maybe they were looking for fruit, which is important in their diet.  Their main diet is small animals like rabbits, mice, gophers, baby jackrabbits, insects and grasshoppers.

The females are only slightly smaller than the males.  You can see the tail has a line of black on the top ending with a black tip at the end.  The tail isn’t really rounded but a triangular shape.

Their fur has several colors with a reddish circle around the neck and red brown on the legs. The gray fox is mainly distinguished from most other canids, like dogs, wolves, and coyotes, by its grizzled upper parts, strong neck and black-tipped tail.

Hunters say that foxes are adept at climbing trees, particularly if the tree is leaning or has low branches. They use this as an escape route when hounds are chasing them.

There are plenty of grassy fields and wooded areas here for their dens.  They can hide in burrows dug in the ground, in rock crevices, under rocks, or in hollow logs.

We don’t consider the foxes to be a problem like the coyotes are.  They don’t attack small live stock like goats and calves.  In fact, foxes are usually very elusive.  We only occasionally see them darting into the woods as we pass by on the roads.

I’m not sure how the fox got its bad reputation as being mean-spirited.  Maybe it all started with Aesop’s fables.  In those, the fox  used lying, trickery, and deception to cheat the other animals and leave them in the lurch.  I guess some animal had to be the bad guy to teach those morals.

“It’s not unprofessional to give free legal advice, but advertising that the first visit will be free is a bit like a fox telling chickens he will not bite them until they cross the threshold of the hen house.”       Warren E. Burger, Chief Justice, US Supreme Court


Visitors to our place are always fascinated by the jackrabbits in our yard, especially city folks.  In the early morning and evening, there are usually six to ten rabbits munching away at the grass.  They really aren’t too bothered by people and don’t run unless you get within four feet of them.  I guess they are more worried about the coyotes, foxes, bobcats, snakes, and hawks on the property.  Those are real threats.  But jackrabbits are ever alert and can zip off with amazing speed and long leaps.Jackrabbits are actually not rabbits but hares.   Lepus californicus are the kind we have, with black tails.  They do not burrow in the ground but use shallow depressions or a flattened nest of grass for sleeping and birthing.  Their young are born fully furred and eyes open.  Soon after birth, they must fend for themselves.

Six years ago a baby was born at the edge of our front porch.  There is a step down.  We found him or her up against the edge of that step.  It stayed there for  three days.  Although the adults are pretty strange looking, this little one was cute.  I’m sorry that I didn’t think to get a picture.

Even though they mate all year and have two to four in a litter, we’ve only seen that one young jackrabbit.  They do grow quickly to adulthood within eight months.

Hares are generally larger than rabbits, with longer ears, and have black markings on their buff colored fur.  Their ears are the same length as their hind feet. Out in the field they sit  upright and still with their fur and ears blending right into the brush, or they flatten their ears against their back and scrunch down on the ground.

Jackrabbits are strict vegetarians. During the spring and summer, they feed on almost anything green that grows low on the ground.  During the lean fall and winter months, they subsist on woody and dried vegetation.   I don’t mind them eating our grass except for when they concentrate on one spot.  One year they created a 10′ x 10′ bald spot in the yard.  I tried scattering cut onions and anything else that smelled bad.  Nothing stopped them.

The jackrabbit name came from their resemblance to both a jackass and a rabbit.  They are nicknamed mule-eared rabbits.  The cowboys used to call them muleys.

A crazy mythical character called a jackalope has the body of a jackrabbit with antlers on the head.  Cowboys and early settlers told outlandish tales about jackalopes.  For instance, a female jackalope could be milked and the milk used for medicinal purposes.  Also, it was able to mimic sounds made by humans and other creatures.  They could misdirect hunters by yelling, “Over there.  It went that away.”
There are many statues of jackalopes in the western half of the US, from Wyoming to Texas.  This one is in Fort Worth on Camp Bowie Boulevard.  It was installed on the  roof of the Jackalope Store, a pottery and gardening store, in 1982.  It is 8′ tall and made of chicken wire, paper mache and fiberglass.  It is now on top of a used car dealership.

The Jackrabbit embodies the summer struggle of survival in west and central Texas.  The climate is harsh, extreme and not pretty, but jackrabbits and people are resilient and adaptable.

“The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.”  Mark Twain