We open a second bird restaurant. Still no Quail Chicks.

Sure thought we'd be having some quail chick pics and antics to report by now. But nothing.

On a related subject. Your Musist encountered a Roadrunner out under the dead tree this week. According to the Internet, Roadrunners are either a preditor to Gambel Quail or they share nests. The internet is nothing if not confusing. My observation is that they seemed to be commingling quite nicely in the Friendly Confines of the Quail Manor Compound thank you very much. I understand that once the Roadrunners take a liking to a spot they tend to frequent it. Here's hoping it comes back and brings a friend or two.

The seed block out under the dead tree has been getting busy. So we opened a second "restaurant". This may be a franchise opportunity. Put the second block up in the crotch of the dead tree. it has become the favored block. May be the attraction of new. May be the added height. The cistern is becoming a bit of a guano magnet so may have to think this through.

There is also a bird bath back there. We fill it from the cistern and it gets a shot of water when the irrigation runs. Some birds, of type bigger then humming birds but small, seem to prefer bathing in the dirt. I was back filling things the other day when I noticed all these depressions in the soil. The next day around 16.00 I noticed a whole bunch of birds (of type small) rolling around in their own depressions in the dirt and flapping their wings and then rolling around some more. Happened the next day at around 16.00. Must be bath time. There is a picture below. Not sure what lives in the holes, kind of don't really want to know, and the depressions don't show-up all that well, but they're there.

Very odd.

On a related fauna note, have been seeing plenty of lizards on the walls and laying on rocks. This dude or dudette. (For grins, I Googled dudette. There is a whole page of dudette references. No wonder the terrorists hate us. Seems historically, the female of dude was dudette or dudess. But recently, dude is considered unisex.) Regardless, I need some training on sexing lizards, 

So anyway, this lizard was spotted by your ever alert musist on the courtyard wall. Not sure of gender, but has some bulk. Wonder if lizards have body image issues? On the subject of lizards, been seeing LOTs of them on bike rides. Further, I have observed almost none of them along the bike trail (that's 50 miles of lizard habitat) have complete tails. I suspect a lot of tails are lost to bike tires by fleeing lizards.

Last time SWITBO was here we got a new front courtyard table. The blue is pretty glossy, but closely matches the doors. We suspect the Tucson sun will take care of the gloss in due time. We thought some color would be nice.

SWITBO was also busy installing a sun dial. I'm pretty sure this came from her grow-up house at 11 Greg Ave in Delaware. So it's got some seniority. She installed it atop a remnant of the square tubing from the pergola. So it has connection to the Quail Manor. It is also adjusted so keeps good time. Wonder how we wind it?

In the background back by the fence under the tree is where the table and chairs from the front courtyard ended-up. Pretty neat little space. Usually in shade, it's the only place the guys could find shade during construction. What's neat now is that it has great views of both the Quail Manor Compound AND DnTs.

These are the only quail chicks we have so far... They live just off the pergola so we can imagine.

the Quail Manor sees a fair number of hummingbirds. We've been putting up feeders. They love the fountains. Will come right on down even when we are sitting there. 

This feeder is fairly new. We learned that hummingbirds love the purple flowers on tree in the background. It has a fancy name, but the common name is Bubba. So we put this feeder over by the Bubbas. The hummers pretty much ignore it for the Bubbas; but these other birds, of type kind of like a woodpecker but maybe not a woodpecker, LOVE the sugar water. It's like their beaks are the kind of straw you'd get with a milkshake. Big assed beaks. Go through sugar water at a prodigious rate.

Frequent readers will remember the rainwater collection cistern. There have been pictures in legacy muses about measuring the water level. Australians are WAY into rainwater collection and have developed some cool gear for monitoring water levels. Surprisingly, we (your musest) have held off installing anything. 

Would still be nice to know at least generally what the water level is. More importantly what it WAS before a rain or after SWITBO has been here and using a lot of water. So your musist designed and installed a low tech solution. If you click to the second picture you will see both the current water level and our new level indicator.

After being here a lot all winter, your musist has finally figured out that we (your musist) can use the water in the cistern to fill the fountains. The front fountain needs a 5 gallon bucket every 2 or 3 days so not a burden. The pergola fountain needs a couple of 5 gallon buckets once a week or 10 days but is real close to a hose bib. So, another use for the "free" water and don't feel too bad about losing water to evaporation.

Frequent readers may recall that JCQ is staying next door at DnT's while she waits to close on her barrio adjacent house. She closed today and is VERY excited! It's her first and she is VERY excited! We've become Jeopardy buddies the last couple of weeks. She comes up and we sit in the Pergola, drink a beer, and watch the days Jeopardy on my PC using Tablo, an antenna based DVR that is part of the Quail Manor Technology Stack.

Frequent readers may further recall that we have a gate between the Quail Manor Compound and DnTs. When JCQ comes up, she uses the gate and leaves it open so her beasts can come over too. Below are the beasts. The white one is Piggy. I have dubbed the black one the ugliest dog in the world, She calls him Frank. Piggy is JCQ and only JCQ's dog. Frank is any port in a storm.

JCQ walked them both over to her new house the other day. I'm guessing it's a 5 or 6 mile round trip. Piggy came up a little lame. That day she sat in my lap by choice. I suspect she was pissed at JCQ and she also thought I looked old and lame too so might have some sympathy.

None engineers can skip the following gate construction discussion and pictures. The section after this one has flower pictures for the tree huggers. Go ahead and hug a cactus...I dare you!

Dave the Welder (DtW), yep DtW is still at it at the Quail Manor. Now he's working on front courtyard gates. The engineering that has gone into these gates is astonishing. Well, DtW has a seriously freaking cool design and we are finally into the build and installation phase.

Since both gates are in constrained areas, hinged gates did not seem like a good approach. You lose a lot of width with hinges and strike plates for the latch, plus room for the gate to swing. We decided to do sliding gates. The driveway gate will stow along the driveway wall when open. The porch gate will stow along the inside of the front courtyard wall when open. When done I think they are going to be almost works of art. The rusty metal against the taupe of the house is good color combination. The wire mesh and the Quail Manor Crest will create cool shadow lines. We'll see, but optimistic.

We're doing the driveway gate first since it is the easiest. The gates are held up by rollers that run along a track.

  • The driveway gate track is set in a "curb" at driveway grade. The rollers and track take the not insignificant weight of the gate. The top of the gate has rubber rollers that run in a channel that holds the gate against the wall. 
  • The gate at the other end of the courtyard will not have a track where it runs over the existing porch slab. We don't want to install one. It would be unattractive and present a tripping hazard. The complicating factor is the porch slab is pitched so water runs away from the house. The curb we pour will be at the grade of the high (house) end of the slab. The back-end of the gate will run along this track. When stowed open, a rubber wheel on the house end of the gate will rest on the curb as well. As the gate closes, the front wheel will cantilever over the porch until it gets near the house (where the slab is higher). As the slope of the slab rises, the rubber wheel installed in the bottom of the house end of the gate will eventually engage and take the cantilevered weight in the final distance of the closing process. More on this when we start into this gate. It's been a challenge keeping everything stable and plumb.

We wanted the gates to be a sleek as possible so all the hardware had to be hidden within the gate itself. DTW spent a LOT of time designing and sourcing. Everything is custom. The proof will be in the sliding, but I think he has nailed it.

The last 3 pictures are the rail he cleverly fabricated. Frequent readers may recall that DTW is also DTCG (Concrete Guy) so he knows setting the rail in wet concrete is going to be problematic. The rail is angle iron. Stiff, but we have a 9 foot or so length and it's going to bow like a mother until it is installed. Solution. Build an inverted truss. Embed the pitched part of the truss in the concrete and expose the "bottom cord" as the rail. The truss keeps everything straight and can be welded to the static rebar before pouring concrete so it is at exactly the right alignment. Brilliant. Further he painted it with some kind of galvanized stuff to keep it from rusting.

Here are plenty of flower pictures. A couple came from DnT's, but mostly from the Quail Manor. 

  1. Shocking how much is there when there was nothing before.
  2. Surprising how much color there is in the desert.
  3. Things are pretty much past their prime. If I had done this a couple of weeks ago, it would have been more showy.

We're rapidly approaching summer here, so I suspect in another month this stuff will be in batton down the hatches mode until the fall.