Before I moved to the country 6-1/2 years ago, I had a tract home on a little lot. There was a sideyard with a patio, a koi pond, a floor-to-ceiling parakeet habitat, and a low fence with an arbor gate draped with trumpet vine and morning glories that led to the backyard proper. There, I had a second smaller patio with a small goldfish pond and, because that's where my 3 dogs played, a couple of tufts of tough pampas grass and some easy-care cannas. I also added hanging baskets to the wooden fence. It looked, you know, landscaped.
|L: parakeet abode ; C: Small goldfish pond ; R: Gate between sideyard and backyard|
|L: Koi pond in sideyard (that's Bailey, one of the smartest, sweetest dogs I've had the pleasure to live with. |
Sadly, she's gone now)
C: Bailey, Ginger and pampas grass
R: Cannas and hanging baskets
|L and C: Friendly koi who would come to take treats from your hand ; R: waterfall in the koi pond|
What I didn't count on was the vendetta the dogs would wage against any new plantings. Then came the two unexpected goats that had to live in the backyard under the shade trees until I could build shelter from the hot Texas sun elsewhere. They took care of the few new plantings I had managed to start and ate down the half-grown crepe myrtle to its roots.
When the ducks came, the plan was to grow them up in the backyard for about a month then move them to a pond in what I thought was a safe pasture. Not only did the ducks not want anything to do with the pond, the pasture wasn't as safe for them as I'd tried to make it. And who would have thought 3 little ducks could be so destructive in one short month?
So I gave up trying to force the backyard into being something it obviously couldn't be and the beasties didn't want it to be. I put the duck house my dad built into a sheltered corner of the yard, laid a few pavers down to stall some of the water erosion under the trees and threw a kiddie pool on them for the ducks. I let one or two of the horses in to graze the yard down every few weeks, but I also let some grass and weeds grow tall to give the ducks a sense of security. The backyard is far from the well-groomed paradise I dreamed about.
It took awhile, but I finally realized the backyard isn't my haven but the beasties'. And they have made it into a far more vibrant environment that my well-planned vegetation ever could. Life has a funny way of showing us that what we really want isn't always what we think we want, and that letting go of preconceived ideas can open up possibilities we might never imagine otherwise.
The Backyard Today
|Fafnir doing her Jurassic Park impression|
Fafnir, the iguana, is allowed to camp out for a few days at a time in the backyard under strict supervision. Since she can easily climb the fence, I check on her every hour or so during the day to make sure she's keeping entertained on her side of the fence. Iguanas are diurnal, and at night she shuts down completely so I don't have to worry about her running off while I'm sleeping. I do worry a little about owls, but as she's something undreamt of in Texas owls' philosophies I'm not too concerned they'll recognize her as prey.
|I actually have to persuade Fafnir to eat her veggies instead of the ducks' food. Kids!|
|Cooling off in the ducks' pool. This is the "swampland" section of the yard.|
|Sunning herself in the morning on the metal door to the storm shelter.|
|Well-camouflaged in the crab apple tree|
|Look at that expression! She's really enjoying herself out in the "wild"|
The duck hens are very determined layers and brooders. Trouble is, it's waaaay too hot for the eggs to hatch. In fact, I'm pretty sure the insides of the eggs are being baked as soon as they're laid. Keeping a bit of unmown grass helps the hens think they're hiding, safe from the world. I pretend I don't see them.
No, he's doesn't have an official name, though I do refer to him as Roo Boy. He wound up in the backyard over a year ago when the other roosters unexpectedly beat him up and blinded him in one eye. I have no idea why they turned on him -- he was in with 5 others, all brothers, who tolerated each other just fine then and now. He does well with the ducks and dogs, so he's stayed. He wasn't too sure about Fafnir invading his territory at first, but he's come around -- especially now that he's figured out there's generally leftovers from Fafnir's lunches.
|The structure with the doors and windows is a storage shed. The structure to the left of it is the goat shed. It has a raised front porch, a roof extension for shade and a box thing that they like to nap on.|
Bella is the mother to Bonita (aka Bonnie), who was born last fall. Bella's been my lawnmower choice this spring and summer to give her a break from nursing Bonnie and to encourage Bonnie to wean. I love how the beasties all feel so comfortable around one another.