We have previously featured our resident wild turkey population here on the Arroyo. The birds usually hang out along Marshall Hutts Rd and don’t wander too far. The other day we surprised a lone turkey in our yard which is way west down FM 2925. Both the turkey and we were startled and the turkey took off up the driveway and out onto the street. We spotted him the next day near the irrigation channel looking lost. We hope he made it back to Marshall Hutts and the rest of the flock (gaggle?).


Turkey visitor

Arroyo City is well known for its flock of Wild Turkeys that wander the neighborhood. They stop traffic, generally take over the area and are much loved by the community. Woe to anyone who thinks he can bag one for the thanksgiving table.

Arriving at the Church on the Arroyo last Wednesday evening for bible study, we were greeted by a lone turkey who had decided that the walkway railing was a great perch from which to survey the parking lot. Here he is:


An Orb-weaver has taken up residence in our carport. He has become our friend – catching and consuming wasps, bees and other nasty stinging things. He measures about 2.5 inches tip to tip and has been there for almost 2 weeks now.

In researching these spiders, we came up with the following story. In 2009, workers at a Baltimore Wastewater Treatment Plant called for help to deal with over 100 million orb-weaver spiders, living in a community that managed to spin a phenomenal web that covered some 4 acres of a building with spider densities in some areas reaching 35,176 spiders per cubic meter. What a horrifying image!



It’s that time of year again when sunrise is a little later in the morning and the weather generates spectacular cloud formations for us to enjoy. This was yesterday around 0715.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”  ….  Romans 1:20


lemons3Our two Valley Lemon trees had a bumper crop this year. We’ve been giving them away as soon as they become ripe. All of a sudden most of them reached harvesting stage all together, so Saturday we picked them all. Our neighbours are all lemoned out, leaving us a kitchen full with which to deal. We took a bunch to Church Sunday but the rest needed processing. The prospect of squeezing them all for lemonade was too daunting to entertain. The search for an alternative was undertaken. Voila! a Moroccan preserved lemon recipe was discovered as the solution. We had previously used preserved lemons in recipes and found them to be particularly handy when fresh lemons were not available.

Here we are then:

What you need:

  • Preserve jars – Ball or recycled jam jars
  • As many lemons as you need to fill the jars – 9 or so depending on the jar size
  • Kosher salt – lots
  • Black peppercorns – 1 heaping teaspoon for small jars, 1 heaping tablespoon for larger jars
  • Bay leaves – 1 per jar for small jars, 2 per jar for larger jars

What to do:

  1. Wash the lemons well, as many as will fit snugly in the jar – plus a couple extra on the side for juice or squashing in.
  2. Slice the lemons from the top into quarters, stopping 1/2 inch from the bottom, leaving them attached.
  3. Place a layer of salt in the bottom of the jar.
  4. Rub the lemon cut surfaces with salt (or simply pour salt over them and work the quarters together) and squash into the jar, releasing the juice.
  5. Repeat layering the lemons into the jar, sprinkling salt over each layer as you go.
  6. Where necessary, use 1/4 or 1/2 lemons to fill gaps between the whole lemons.
  7. Keep pressing the lemons down to compact and release more juice.
  8. About 1/2 way through, add the bay leaf and peppercorns to the jar.
  9. When full, squeeze extra juice over the lemons to fill the jar and cap tightly.
  10. Ripen at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks, frequently shaking the jar, then store in the refrigerator – the rinds should be tender at this point.

In any recipe where lemon zest or juice is called for, you can use preserved lemon. Simply retrieve a piece of lemon, rinse it off, mince it finely and add near the end of the cooking time – use your discretion. They can also be added whole to a simmering pot. Of course, while fresh lemon zest has no equal, preserved lemon is a useful substitute.


The end result!

Laguna Atascosa NWR

Some time back, the Laguna Atascosa NWR closed the Bayside Wildlife Drive to vehicular traffic. This followed a number of ocelot-vehicle collisions along the Drive which resulted in ocelot deaths. This closure affected a 34% decline in visitors to the Refuge (the work on FM 106 didn’t help either!). Understandably, the Fish and Wildlife Service is concerned. They are seeking input on what to do with respect to re-opening the Drive. The concern is the need to protect the endangered ocelots while still allowing adequate visitor access.

Press Release for EA_Bayside Wildlife Drive1

You can make your opinion count – the deadline for public comment is Friday, October 6, 2017. If you are interested, a copy of the draft document is available at the Refuge headquarters and at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/laguna_atascosa.

Solar eclipse

Path of the solar eclipse over the USA

Tomorrow, August 21, we shall experience a solar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible over all North America, with 50% coverage here in the valley. The total eclipse will start at the Pacific coast in Northern Oregon and move across the country to leave the Atlantic coast in Georgia.


In Cameron County the partial eclipse timeline will be as follows:


Here is a slideshow showing what the eclipse will look like:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When viewing the eclipse please protect your eyes – DON”T EVER LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE SUN!  The easiest way to view the eclipse is by using a pinhole projector.


  1. To make a quick version of the pinhole projector, take a sheet of paper and make a tiny hole in the middle of it using a pin or a thumbtack. Make sure that the hole is round and smooth.
  2. With your back towards the Sun, hold 1 piece of paper above your shoulder allowing the Sun to shine on the paper.
  3. The 2nd sheet of paper will act as a screen. Hold it at a distance, and you will see an inverted image of the Sun projected on the paper screen through the pinhole.
  4. To make the image of the Sun larger, hold the screen paper further away from the paper with the pinhole.

Thanks to timeanddate.com