12/03/07 to 12/31/07

common sunflower

This week I'm highlighting a new gallery, MY BACK YARD. Since I got the digital camera, I started taking a closer look at my yard. It's amazing what you can see if you just stop, slow down, and take a closer look. This Common Sunflower was taken in the fall of 2004 behind my house.

We have about 8 acres with about 4 acres of prairie, 2 acres of small trees and about 2 acres of grass. I've tried to take a hands off approach on about 5 acres just to see what grows. Before I took it over, the 5 acres were heavily grazed by cattle.

It's been a wonder to see what has come up during the various seasons. Starting in the spring you can count anywhere from 8 or 9 to over 20 verities of wildflowers, depending on the season. In the spring the pinks, whites and lavenders predominate. During the fall the yellows seem to predominate.

service station

Last January the wife and I took a road trip down through Lawton, OK, down into northern Texas and up through the Texas panhandle before we headed for the house.

On our way through the Texas panhandle we went through Shamrock, TX. Shamrock straddles old Route 66. We passed this old service station that had been fixed up on our way through town. We thought it looked somewhat familiar, but since we had never been to Shamrock before we just keep going. We stopped on the north side of town at a modern station just off I-44 and discovered what was so special about the gas station so we went back and took some pictures.

It turns out that this is one of the stations used as a model for one of the gas stations in the movie "CARS". In the movie it is on a corner of down town across the street from the tire dealership. Most of the buildings and characters were modeled after real places and people along Route 66. We thought it was neat once we took a closer look at it. It looks like it had two sets of pumps, a dinner and service bays.

Great Plains Skink

I was mowing my yard this past summer, looked down to my right, there he was, a Great Plains Skink. This is the first time I´ve seen this species and I think this is a pretty good specimen. The book says they grow to between 6 and ½ inches to 13 and ¾ inches, this one was about 8 or 9 inches.

I immediately jumped off my mower and the chase was on. He was out in the open so I was able to catch up to him pretty easily, however, catching him was another matter, at least without hurting him. You can´t grab them by the tail or it will just come off. To further complicate the matter the things can turn on a dime.

It was a site to see with me on my knees. It probably looked like I was just hitting the ground and of course all of this took place in my front yard for the whole world to see. I finally caught him after a couple of minutes and put him in a bucket in the garage where it was cool for safe keeping.

After I finished mowing I took him out in the yard, took this picture as well as some others. I discovered pretty quickly why I´ve never seen one before. As I was watching him he disappeared in the thatch which was not very high. I carefully racked my fingers through the grass where he was at; he came back up, allowing me to take some more pictures. The other thing I figured out is that they tire very easily so after a few minutes I left him alone. I had less than 5 minutes of shutter time with him. You can see a couple of the other pictures I took of him up on the Reptile web page.

Wheel Bug

My wife and I were out for a drive in southern Oklahoma when we came across some wildflowers on the side of the road. I turned the car around, got out and started snapping. But before I got back in the car the diet coke I had been drinking started wanting out so I climbed the bank and got behind a cedar tree.

Now you have to understand, Oklahoma is a big state, bigger than Illinois with less than a quarter of the population. Although the road I was on was paved, it was a narrow paved road and we had been driving for miles without passing another car or truck. Bathrooms are few and far between on these back roads, so the risk of someone coming along was pretty remote. However I did get behind a tree and like any good photographer, I had my camera with me.

Well why taking care of business I started looking around and what do I find looking at me but this wheel bug. After taking care of business I took the time to snap a few pictures with this being the best one. It goes to show you never know when an opportunity for a good picture is going to come along so always carry your camera where ever you go.


I was on call one weekend last April and had to take a trip out to far western Oklahoma to fix a machine. We had to go about as far west that you can get and still be in Oklahoma, without being in the Oklahoma Panhandle. It was about 5 and a half hours out there and the same back for a very short 2 hour job. So what did I do? I took my wife, left early and made a day of it. We saw some beautiful country and interesting sites that day and got back in the early evening hours. I will be telling you about at least one other site we saw in a future post, so stay tuned.

On the way back we passed through Gauge, OK and ran across this yard with some art work in it. There was some in the back yard or should I say junk yard, a crow, this Brontosaurus made of wheels and some others in the front yard. Somebody spent a lot of time to make these works of art.

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