Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seasonal changes

Morning has broken....OK, no Blackbirds speaking here in the desert, just Curved-billed Thrashers. But many of you might think that the desert is also devoid of seasonal changes. Far from that, we actually have at least 5 seasons: winters with freezes and sometimes snow, springs with or without wildflowers, hot, dry, pre-monsoon summers, then distinctly different hot, wet monsoon months with a second, rich, growing season, followed by sunny, pleasant autumn months that can last until after the winter holidays.

My bell peppers grow in containers, partly to keep out other critters
 This is when I harvest most of my garden vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes and lattice.

And while we don't have any trees that drop their leaves in autumn (they do it in April instead when it gets really hot and dry) autumn is one of the two seasons when wolfdog Laika and coydog Frodo blow their coats.

You think raking leaves is frustrating work? Try to keep control of fluffs of soft white and black fur floating on our perpetual breeze or clinging to cloths and car seats due to the static electricity build-up that accompanies the dry season.

So we work hard to keep the flurry at a minimum. At sunrise, we walk into the desert adjacent to our land carrying brushes and  a double-sided shedding blade. The dogs get ecstatic when they see the preparations.

In the wide open cactus free space of a dry wash Randy first tackles Laika. She loves it and tries to wiggle in closer to get her favorite spots scratched only to be replaced by another dog who can't wait his turn, so we end up using leashes to keep some order.

Big clumps of soft hair soon dot the sand, but the wind quickly distributes them. Square miles of Thrasher and Cactus Wren nests will be well cushioned and insulated for another year. Hummingbird nests may look a little like snowballs. Some hair gets caught with the other flotsam in the washes and turns into precious organic humus that is in such short supply in the desert (I use some of it in my compost bin, too).

Treats for everyone of course, even though Cody (left) and Bilbo (right) didn't really need the brushing
 Of course, the old summer coats of our wolf and coyote 'hybrids' only make room for much more luxurious winter coats, even here in Arizona. Desert-born. Frodo is an exclusive out-door (coy)dog. Laika enjoys her evenings inside with us, but around midnight she regularly asks to leave the house to spend the rest of the night under the stars. So they will make good use of their new thick, warm undercoats and they will be ready for another extensive round of shedding next spring.


  1. You've got a nice pack there. Also, love that shot with the toadie in the pepper plant!

  2. Your dogs are gorgeous. Arizona is like a different world from Dartmoor. It's SO wet here at the moment!

    1. Hey, I have a friend in Dartmoor! She lives in Bovey Tracy! She loves nature too.


  3. barbara robeson via flickr:
    This video is so sweet, Margarethe - especially including your stifled little giggles of amusement. Your blog story about the seasons as seen through your dogs' coats is absolutely delightful including the easily visualized descriptions of the fur lined wren and hummingbird nests.

    **I noted only one typo where you write about controlling the dogs with "leaches", correctly spelled "leashes", but sounding more like "leeches", which seemed a rather extreme way to control the exuberant pooches!! (sorry, I couldn't resist teasing you with this bit of zoological humor ♥)

  4. You should enter that toad photo in a contest! Too cute! And your dogs must be a joy! It looks like you treat them well!