Tuesday, July 29, 2014


We have had a couple bats flying above our back yard 
sanctuary at dusk.
Yes, we are excited about having another misunderstood creature in our garden.

My bat encounters have been limited.  We see them while camping.  And  
while visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Texas, I was all atingle when they took me to see a million bats emerging from their roost under the Congress Ave. Bridge. This is the world's largest urban bat colony.  My sister knows what I like!

Also, on my list of bat experiences, I have loved the illustrated bats in Brian Lies "Bats" books...Bats at the Beach, Bats at the Library, and Bats at the Ballgame.  (A new one, Bats in the Band, will be released in August.  I will be adding it to my children's books shelf.  And I will be reading it to my grandchildren.)

Like bees, bat populations are in decline.  And like bees, they hold vital ecological roles.  A little knowledge about these mammals will help calm the fears that myths and scaremongers perpetuate.

Nearly all the bats in the continental United States and Canada are insectivores.  They are too busy hunting and eating flies, mosquitoes, beetles and cockroaches to want to fly into someone's hair.
A single bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour.  

Of the over 1,200 species scientists now acknowledge, only 3 species are vampire bats. All 3 of these species live in Latin America. 
These blood eating bats do not "suck" blood as Hollywood would show it, but lap it as a cat would drink its cream.
Protein in a bat's saliva prevents the host's blood from clotting.  The properties found there have lead to positive use in medicine.

Coincidentally, my niece and her husband had a bat in their yard last week too. They live in Texas.  
This bat was hanging upside down, which is normal, but it was, abnormally, rather close to the ground.
They wisely called animal control.  Bats can have rabies.  And just as any  wild animal should not be handled, you should not touch a bat.
Most bat bites occur while a sick or injured bat is being picked up.

Bats play a crucial role in insect control, in pollination, and in the spreading of seeds.  They are the only mammal capable of true flight.  Their wings contain the same bone structure as a human hand.   Their velvety skin stretches across these bones like the fabric and ribs of an umbrella.  The thumbs cling to surfaces when the bat alights.  The sensitive touch-receptors on the surface of their wings are also found on human fingertips.
Bats roost upside down, because the bones in the hind legs cannot support their body weight. 

A female bat usually has only one pup a year.

 The females congregate together to bear and raise the young.  The pup weighs 25% of its mother's body weigh.  This is proportionate to a human mother giving birth to a 31 pound baby.  Ouch!
On top of that, the mother gives birth while hanging by her feet, and she must catch her baby with her wings as it drops.  The pup drinks its mother's milk from birth and up to 6 months.  A young bat cannot forage on its own until its wings are fully developed.
Where's dad during all this?  He's hanging out with his buddies in some man cave.

Any of you familiar with Brian Lies' illustrations have seen the baby bat being carried by its mother while she is flying.  Pups do ride along with their mothers.  When mom is flying, the pup holds on with its teeth.

In insect eating bats, a highly sophisticated sense of hearing is used for navigation and finding prey.   Fruit bats do not use a echolocation system because fruit doesn't fly move.  Fruit bats have excellent eye sight and a good sense of smell to find their food. 
 But, insectivores emit sounds that then bounce back to the bat.  In a split second, the bat can determine the size, distance, speed at which an object is moving.  Even the texture of an object is known from the sound waves created.

These gentle and intelligent mammals, that live for more than 20 years, deserve our appreciation and respect for the many ways they help us humans.
I hope you can enjoy seeing some bats soon, be it in a book or in the twilight sky.  

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

animal odds

a poem by jennifer:

there used to be five
   3 cats 
   2 dogs
back when the children were none.
as the next decade passed, that number came down until there was only one


the number of children has now reached three
the cat met her fate,
live fast and die young
and suddenly, the pets number none.

but all is set to change
in the upcoming days.
each child with it's heart set

  one wants a bird
  one wants a mouse
  one wants a fish

all want a cat....

and i can't help but question the tempting of fate
three pets that one cat could put to an end.

the animal odds show that we are left with
what else, 
but one
uneasy mom.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

3 good things right under my feet

Sometimes a small household management issue will bug me and a solution eludes my searching for an answer or in finding a new purchase.
Then when I'm least expecting it...tap, tap, tap...I look back at my shoulder and there's the answer smiling back at me, having been there all along.

With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.
                                                                                      Chinese Proverb

Letting the solution come to me, in its own time, has happened 3 times recently.

The first time involved this cherry tomato plant.

Back in the spring this tomato plant was looking healthy, but not at all promising that it was going to bear fruit.  For many weeks we watched for blossoms and none appeared.  As sunny vegetable garden ground is precious dirt around here, this plant was slated to be pulled out.  We thought the plant was deficient in some way, for some reason unknown to us.

(I have a hard time pulling any growing thing out, with the exception of weeds.  I hate thinning seedlings!  Poor little plants yanked out and tossed aside.  It's distressing to see the end of something I had nurtured from seed.)

  Anyway, I was going to remove this plant.  But I ran out of time the day I was going to do the deed. 
Life got busy and I didn't get back to it, and then it just didn't get taken out.

 I picked this lot of cherry tomatoes a few days ago.  And, needless to say, I am so happy that I didn't have time to clear that space and plant something new a few months ago.

#2 thing that solved itself...
The space where our clothes dryer had been was under-utilized for a year.  I put a bookcase there, but I just wasn't feeling the feng shui.
Last week the raccoons were at our pond again.  Duke was digging around in his stock pile of wire looking for a piece to strengthen the cover, when he discovered a cool wire rack that was given to him years ago.

There it was!  Just what I had been looking for, and I didn't even know it until I saw it.

and #3 dilemma solved, without much effort, required only a shift in the location of a picnic table umbrella.

We use our garden swing a lot in the summer.  Last year the large, leafy branch of a loquat tree, that had shaded the swing area, broke off.  This left the swing in the hot afternoon sun.  A split bamboo fencing canopy was a temporary fix, but there were problems with it.  
It came to me that our tilting table umbrella might fill the need and it does.
One thing we like about the new swing shade-maker is that it leaves the sky view open.  This not only enhances the view of clouds, birds, and butterflies and also provides great air circulation.

Paul McCartney's words, Let It Be, are having more and more significance the older I get.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

half way to christmas.... half off tag sale!

posted by:  jennifer

it is that time.  christmas in july!  we are more than halfway to christmas, and so i am celebrating by having a tag sale in my etsy shop: etsy / strawberryoaks

each one of my handmade, unique, heirloom quality stockings are 50% off their original price.... wholesale prices for everyone!

here is a peek at what i have to offer:

if you want to see the whole picture, head on over to my shop.  happy july!