Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Texas sized Bugs, Bait and Critters

Since we have decided to keep this blog up and running, in this edition I think we have to introduce our readers to more on living in Texas. However, not the normal every day stuff you can glean off the internet but some more interesting stuff like the tiny critters that we co habit with. 

Take a look at the size of this mosquito. Mosquitoes in Texas are vicious to say the least and in terms of sucking blood can really put their African cousins to shame. Actually the really big ones are Asian Tiger Mosquitoes. I have just sent Michael out into the yard to take a photo of the mozzies swarming on his legs as they attempt to drain him of vital fluids (Such an obedient young man, I wonder why he is grumbling) pause while we wait for Mike to get back, hopefully……………………………….
Ok a very pale Mike is back from the yard with said photos of blood sucking parasites and about to email me with the evidence to be attached here for your enjoyment.

Mozzies with violent intent.
Now take a look at these feet of a recent visitor to our home, she walked out into the yard for just a moment and I think my point is well made. 

I have always believed that while living in Mozambique we had the worst of the worst mozzies, especially in the hot steamy Pungwe flats near Beira, but in terms of pain inflicted, it really is not the case.
If you did not know, this part of Texas had malaria not too long ago. A book I am reading describes malaria, yellow fever and dyspepsia. “Ella of the Deep South of Texas” the last print was in 1950 and it gives the reader excellent insight as to life here before and after the Civil War, the war between the States in 1860. I was chatting to a Texan the other day and he was not aware of the malaria. And by the way we have an outbreak of West Nile Fever right here in our county, Wharton county . West Nile fever should not be underestimated and perhaps if you think that it does not affect you, then you should think again and click on the link to WNF as this is a serious problem now in the USA and is also a worldwide problem.

We also have plenty of sticky tree frogs. They are all over the outside of our house and attach themselves to any part of our car. Occasionally you can see tiny frog foot prints all over the dusty paint work sometimes closely followed by cat prints. Here you can see a frog or two stuck to our windows.  This one looks like it has a parasite on its belly.
The dragon flies are enormous too at twice the size of their African cousins (did I happen to mention the nuclear plant 20 miles down the road? perhaps its leaking) Dragon flies do bite so beware when handling.

Meet “No-Hog” our squirrel aptly named by Dylan who went out hog hunting one Saturday morning with Michael and who came back with no hog. Our very good friend Mark who is a Cowboy (yes really) has his own ranch where the boys hunt and he gave No Hog to Dylan.

No Hog, 

the furry creature 

on the left...

 This little critter either fell from his nest or was abandoned or perhaps his parents were killed but in any case he came to us just in time but very dehydrated and on the verge of death. So during the next few sleepless weeks of care and rehydration he did very well changing from a new born with his eyes shut to a very lively “teenager” squirrel.

Dylan's little critter
 He did so well that we had to make a heart breaking decision to find someone to rehabilitate him back into squirrel society. After much phoning around we found the perfect place and person to do this at Texana Park which has just recently been acquired by Brackenridge Park, our previous home for the last year. This year Texana has an education center for kids and Cindy who does the educating will also be rehabilitating No Hog and she has identified him as a Fox Squirrel.

Arm Candy..
Cindy previously rehabilitated a raccoon and is also one of the raccoons you can see in the photos when we first started the blog in September 2011.   In the last year’s drought the squirrel population seemed to reduce at Brackenridge Park, so No Hog is a welcome squirrel.  

We have been introduced to fire ants in a not so pleasant way by stumbling onto their mound. These ants make up for their tiny size by inflicting a painful bite loaded with poison which normally drives the victim crazy with itches. After a day or two the victim erupts with little infected “zits” at the location of the bites. These ants are also ferocious as when their nest is disturbed it seems like the entire colony immediately comes swarming out  ready for a fight and at this point it is prudent to take a couple of steps back. Americans have discovered that windowlene, if immediately sprayed onto the site of a bite, neutralizes the poisons and gives instant relief. I found that if I run really hot water from a bath tap (faucet) over the bite site, gives instant relief and I don’t get the zits. 
Fire Ants are not indigenous to the USA and we were told that years ago a ship travelling from South America used sand as ballast and this sand carried the fire ants. Of course the sand was unloaded onto USA soils when the ballast was replaced with cargo. 

Whats this great big grub? A cutworm or what? I never ever saw a cutworm this size in Africa. Texas bugs rule again and again.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

We have a home now!

Hey Everyone, thank you for your patience while we disappeared off the planet for a few months.  We bought a house and moved in, hence the silence for a while. 

Our home is located somewhere in the deep south of Texas, in the middle of the cotton fields.  Something like "little house on the prairie" only different.

Today we took our trailer to the RV lot to sell it.  
I feel like a traitor.  So, an ode to our dear departed trailer, and an introduction to our new (actually very old) home.  I was going to end the blog at this point, print a book and say goodbye to you all.. but it seems the story has only just begun.  So onto our second chapter, and our second year in the USA.   In September we celebrated the first anniversary of our arrival.

The house was built in 1936, and as you can see in the photo's it's got a lot of character.  Which can be a good thing, or not, depends on how you feel about the Joneses.

The interior has gorgeous wooden floors with stunning wooden trim around all the doors and windows.  The house is built of cedar wood, and is a real solid old dame. She needs a little fixing, but hey... it's home.

It is absolutely amazing beyond words to have a full sized home.  The kids spent the first few weeks thumping up and down the stairs, leaping down the stairs, sliding down the stairs wrapped in sleeping bags, charging through the house and swinging from the tree's in the yard.  In other words expressing their delight in the fact that they don't have to walk lightly as we always had to in our Little Match Box Trailer.

The previous occupants,  left their cats behind. The cats promptly gave birth to a litter of kittens. The cats have stolen into our hearts on their velvet paws.  Pity I'm allergic. Anyway there is a charming "free kittens" sign outside.  For some strange reason, nobody has stopped.

We have a ton load of trash to clear from the garage and barn.  I wonder how people bring themselves to live like that.  I would put a picture of the trash on here but you would probably be sick, really.

On the upside, the barn is built with Longleaf pine. Here is a tidbit of info.

The reclaimed longleaf pine story

Early 20th century warehouse interior beams
Early 20th century warehouse interior beams
These are the virgin longleaf pine trees that did make it to the sawmill and were then sawn into lumber and beams. When America’s beautiful old (pre-1925) buildings and structures are dismantled, we take great care to lovingly reclaim the beams and lumber so they can be used again. With nail holes and bolt holes and other marks of a century or more of use, this wood is part of our national history. Whether it’s a New Orleans cotton trading exchange building from 1880 or a barn from Arkansas or massive beams from a wharf or bridge, these are the actual woods our ancestors used. They have renewed America’s love affair with “Wood, the way it used to be”.