Against my better judgement, went on a cactus rescue Sunday. SWITBO instructed me. So no real choice. She reads this sometimes. Turned out to be a hoot. I went with my cactus mentor, Jessie. She's a buddy of DnT. I knew she was an accomplished cactus lady. What I did not know was she was the Cactus Queen (henceforth she will be refered to as Jessie the Cactus Queen, JCQ). She drives a bright red pick-up. Fits her personality to a tee.
You turn-up at the cactus rescue with Jessie and you have street cred. Unfortunately your musist has no relevant skills to back-up that up. Was going to get embarrassing PDQ, so owned up to it right away. My only alternative, once I sorted the lay of the land, was to go to toting and schlepping. So got some cred as not the brightest bulb on the dig, but willing to work! Also turns out I'm on the younger end of the cactus rescue spectrum. JCQ is far and away the chronological pup. The group skews to the older. So, my toting and schlepping was appreciated.
SWITBO is the gardener. I'm a blunt instrument. Turns out, a blunt instrument is plenty to transplant cactus. I'm sure some of you plant people will take issue, but my experience so far is that these are some tough hombres. The cactus. Treat 'em like hell and their fine. They have already lived a tough life, so not much more we can do to hurt them.
The diggers have to be pretty tough as well. After "A" Mountain, the digging was ridiculously easy. Lean on the shovel and it goes in to the hilt. Not the way we roll here in the barrio. The cactus that end up here may prefer to take their chances back in their native desert. The price we rescuers pay is the cactus are passive aggressive. Those spines are a bitch. Finally today (Tuesday) I can look at a cactus and my hands don't hurt. They just lay there, or stand there, as the case may be. Then punish the hell out of the diggers when we have to pick them up to do anything with 'em.
And we handled them a lot. Function of managing a gaggle of volunteers is like herding cats. Many are interested in THEIR cactus. Problem is on the order of 80% of the cactus dug go to the club and into plant sales and a cactus botanic garden (they call it a park). Things get thrown into trucks and trailers. Then have to be moved and moved again and again... My hands are find though now.
AND, SWITBO ended-up with two not quite 4 foot tall saguaro's and a hedgehog. What I know now that I did not know then is these buggers are dense. It's all 2 people can do is carry a 4 foot cactus. 3 or 4 is better. Then lift it in and out of a bright red pick-up. You can imagine the fussing and cussing.
We were digging barrel cactus, hedgehog cactus and saguaro's. Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is running a distribution line up to Casa Grande. Casa Grande is about halfway to Phoenix on the Interstate. There will be towers every 300 yards or so. The pads for the towers and the future access roadway were where we were rescuing cactus. The construction guys leave a path of destruction in their wake. The TEP folks were out supervising and appeared to be quite well prepared.
Turns out barrel cactus are easy for one person to carry. You grab the root with one hand and spread your other hand as wide as you can and press it against the top. The spines at the top seem to be curled over so not too bad. If you grab it any place else you get stuck. I know that now. Trouble is one person can only carry so much.
Hedgehogs are cake. Just grab the root and carry it upside down. Not to distinguished for the hedgehog, but beats being crushed under a tire.
The saguaro's get special treatment. Wrap with carpet before you start. Dig out the tap root. Then use a sling to wrestle it to the ground and carry it back to a truck. Went looking for a link for the sling and can't find one. Must be why the guy in charge of the rescue was vigilant about the location of his slings! Going to have to keep looking...
At the end of the dig, ridiculously small amounts of money change hands for cactus licenses. The gendarme get a little fussy if you're caught messing with native cactus. So, our reward for rescuing the cactus is for a token amount we can select a predetermined number of each type for your home garden. Sweetie's new cactus have provenance!
Bit of an emergency at the end of the rescue. We were moving cactus for the upteenth time. Patsy, the Mrs of the guy in charge. Goes down hard. Ambulances are summoned. No mean feat since we were in the middle of the desert. So someone had to go out to get a phone signal and guide the ambulance in. Meanwhile we did our best to make her comfortable. She went down in the middle of the road and we could not even lay her down. So someone sat back to back with her so she had something to lean against. Several others stood on the sunny side so she had shade.
Then JCQ went to work with money collection and license issuing. I helped by holding her license box. At one point someone asked me a question like I had any idea what was what. I told her I just held the box. I could be replaced by a table. Then JCQ wondered off. I chased her down. My lady said, see, a table could not do that! It was a proud moment.
Yesterday we found out Patsy had shattered her leg above the knee. I think she was twisting with something heavy and the bone just unwound. I can't imagine...
JCQ will come over when Ann is next down here to supervise the planting process. One thing I know for sure the new holes will not be as easy to dig as the ones they came out of! Meanwhile these things just lay in the shade. Don't require anything else.
Prickly. Not Picky.
Meanwhile at the Quail Manor, DtW sealed us in. We have the gate on the North side (by the trash cans). He tacked a piece of mesh over the south gate last night and is busy down there now. I dare those Javelina's to just even try their shenanigans again. Just try.
There were a couple of bunny's in the back this morning. This week the critter cover, a highly designed custom hinged thing of beauty by the way, will go over the passive rainwater harvesting grate in the back wall. Any bunny's caught on the Quail Manor Grounds will have no escape. Dinner anyone? We'll have a bunny drive before we put the cover in place...
An (I'm sure) unintended consequence of The Javelina Attack is that bird seed has been scattered far and wide under the dead tree. We have become a destination resort for any kind of bird that likes seed. There have been at least 50 at a pop out there eating away. I can't get any good pictures. If I go out, they head for the hills. My little camera is just not up to the task of zooming that far. So. You'll just have to take my word for it.
Here are some pictures.
- Gates are up so the barn door is closed. Small animals can still get in through the grate in the back wall, but that's next. Note DtW had some the Quail Manor Crests made for both gates. Very cool.
- Put up a wire shelf above the garage sink. Had some shelf left over so put one over the water heater too.
- Been trying to figure out where to put a coat rack. Finally dawned on me. Beside the garage door dummy. Done.
- The big eye bolts with carabiners in the end of the pony wall as you come out the garage door are anchors for strength training bands.