By Mary Alice Murphy
For about two hours late Sunday morning and early afternoon, we couldn't go out our front door.
My husband headed out the front door onto our patio to water the plants, and called to me in a soft voice to "come look." I went out the door, much to the chagrin of a young quail pair. Mama scolded us and left the scene. She left Papa in charge.
Pointing to our plants, my husband didn't say anything. I looked, saw nothing, then I moved slightly and saw several very tiny fluffy chicks scurry out from under the rosemary plant.
We have major deer problems at our house, so raising produce and even flowers is out of the question. Potted plants form our garden. Behind two portions of about three-foot high fence right in front of our patio wall, we have large pots of cherry tomatoes and basil. In smaller pots, we have rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage, and because I love flowers, we also raise colorful blossoms.
Geraniums, hanging and not, winter over in our sunroom and get trimmed back to bloom again outside after the last frost. Bright yellow marigolds and multi-colored portulaca cheer up the blank stucco wall this year. A frangipani plant, which goes dormant inside in the winter has been brought out and grown during the past three summers, including this one. The plant was one I gleaned from my friend Gale Moore's front porch garden after her untimely death in 2014. I am happy that I have not yet killed it.
Remaining in our indoor garden are a normal green jade plant, a variegated jade (email me if you want some pieces of the variegated one – it's happy!. I got the start for it from a friend who has moved away), several Christmas cactuses and two night-blooming cereuses that take up most of the room, but their night flowers a couple of times a year are favorites for me to photograph.
I mentioned a fence. We measured the openings and they are about 1.5 inches square. Piece of cake for tiny Gambel's quail chicks.
After Mama departed (perhaps to watch others of her brood?), Papa took cover in the middle of the large cholla plant and talked to the chicks. Maybe telling them to stay put until those big creatures went back inside?
I kept checking Papa, whom I could see clearly in the cholla, to see if he had departed with the chicks. He remained there for probably an hour or so, still talking to the babies.
Then I heard Papa making his "follow me" call, which I hear frequently from different directions, especially in the early morning, but sometimes during the day, too. So I waited a while before I tried to go out again.
Oops, there was Papa and at least 20 fluffballs close to the front door again. They saw me and scurried into the second fenced area and back Papa went into the cholla.
After an hour or so again, I saw that the hummingbird feeder was nearing empty, and since the rufous hummingbirds showed up at our house for the season on Saturday, it's been going down rapidly.
This time, I managed not to encounter any quail parents or babies. I filled the hummingbird feeder, and my husband watered the plants.