…wasting the day away in Javelinaville

7:30 pm. Javelina time. The family of four that roam our area have been seen in our front planter often enough around this time to put higher bets on the possibility of seeing them…

but they are wild so…all bets are off.

The fence is flimsy, temporary and meant to stop a seventeen year old dog from falling down the hill when he wobbly lifts a leg to pee. The area is just off the back porch and runs the length of the house. It was never meant to hold, corral or deter an angry and confused Javelina.

The dogs need to go outside to pee so I open the sliding glass door. This will again answer the ongoing question of why we don’t have a doggie door.

I have let my guard down and not looked outside to see if we were alone before opening the door nor have I turned on the back-porch light. Tucker, small and insane, immediately charges to the left along with Cotton close behind. The Javelina are out there and the dogs know it. Though they have been all over our property at one time or another, this back area is not the usual Javelina route.

Tuckers spiney backed, over the top barking, answered by grunting snorting confusion sends both Tucker and Cotton running straight back into the house. These spoiled little dogs are NO match for a Javelina of any size. Pretty sure one of the good-sized Jack rabbits around here could kick both their ass.

So now we have a startled Javelina who has charged our “fence” and is way too close for comfort. From safely behind our sliding glass door we watch as this confused and adrenaline filled animal realizes he is trapped inside our back fenced area and without a second thought he makes a run directly at the fence and breaks free.

This is our new normal.

Now this video I took just a few days ago but I put it towards the top for you who don’t read all the way down.



When I moved to Gold Canyon I became obsessed with the wildlife around us. Born and raised desert you would think I would be unfazed. As a child in Baker all I ever saw were lizards and sidewinder tracks. In Hesperia CA or even Mesa AZ, I don’t recall ever seeing any critters. But Gold Canyon is different. I am surrounded by nature. I am in the middle of it. The Superstition Mountain is overwhelmingly beautiful. The desert is alive. It’s that constant nagging, that fear that I’m going to miss something, that leaves me spending more time than not staring out the windows.

Within the first week of moving here the Javelinas made their presence known. Happily munching on cactus in our front planter, a family of three good sized Javelina were mere feet from our window. It was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. They uprooted a cactus and seemed completely unconcerned as I tapped on the window asking them to get out of my planter. Momma Javelina rolled her eyes at me I swear.IMG_1300 (1).JPG

Now I spend most days keeping an eye out for them. The wash below our house seems to be a regular spot of theirs. Our house is on a hill. I can safely stare out the kitchen window and watch as the Javelina wander their way across the open desert.

Just a few days ago I was outside watching the now family of four. I squint and stare and feel the excitement as I see Momma Javelina scoot her little nugget along with Jr and, by his size and coloring, Poppa Javelina. He’s impressive.

I’m proud to know they are doing well against all the dangers they face daily. The wash behind us is coyote territory no question. I see at minimum one coyote regularly and have seen as many as six at one time making their way over to meet up with a howling seventh. That wash is not safe to casually walk through. I have never seen the Javelinas over there.

Another recent night around 7:30 pm my “bark first ask questions later” dog Tucker takes off outside losing his mind at the fence. We look out the window to see FIVE Javelina in our front yard only mere feet from our living room window and even closer to Tucker. One Javelina is staring Tucker down. They have TWO babies not one. Poppa Javelina is huge and ready to defend but it’s Jr. that’s in the staring contest.


We grab Tucker and go inside so everything will settle down and we can watch what the Javelina will do. Jr. is still staring at nothing. Javelina have poor eyesight. Combined with not being the brightest animal it was going to take a while before Jr. would be convinced Tucker was not behind the fence anymore. Frozen like a statue, he stood there in the dark staring.

We shut off all the inside lights so we could get a better view of outside. Though prickly pear, a Javelina favorite, grows all over our property, this planter has nothing growing in it. We have nothing that we know of attracting them to walk all the way up here. As I said, we live up on a hill between two washes, this would make for a decent trek with little pay off.

Now a momma of any sort is usually not the beast to upset. This Momma Java has two babies to protect in a land swarming with coyotes. You think she’s edgy? Damn right she is. Poppa Java is big and bristly. I can see why the ‘yotes have left them alone. He is more than double their size and this Poppa is on alert. One look at him and I’m sure the coyotes are like “uh… let’s go chase a rabbit…”

Saturday. 7 ish in the morning the dogs go out back to pee. Immediately theres a problem. The dogs charge to the left side of the yard. The Javelina family is wandering on up at a different time…morning. We never see them up here in the morning! I usually don’t see them until the late afternoon or evening. The dogs startle them enough to send them running off.

Now… grabbing for an iPad to take a shot of any of this is ridiculous but I do it anyways. For you. You’re welcome. I get nothing.

It’s been really cold for us lately so we have been building fires in the fireplace at night. My husband and the dogs start to head out side and over to the garage to grab more wood when the dogs realize the Javelina family is out there in the dark with them. Tucker has no sense and Cotton has even less so my heart goes into my chest when I hear the panic in my husband’s voice as he’s telling the dogs to get into the house. Miraculously, two dogs that normally only sort of pay attention when they are called both come running back to the house.

I step outside and can still hear the grunting and snorting but cannot see them.

The most recent encounter I was able to safely catch on video. Thats the one up top.

The other morning the Javelina family were making their way across the bottom of our property to head over to the wash. I figured if I moved slowly and stayed far enough back maybe I could get a picture or two. As I reached the side of the garage the big male changed his course and now was taking a path that could lead directly to me. I quietly eased behind the car thinking if he spots me and charges I’m climbing up on the hood! He notices me but just freezes and stares. I videoed it for a few but realized he literally doesn’t move so what is the point? Hoping to change his path I shuffle a bit and that’s enough to send him trotting down the lower trail and over with the family.img_8471img_8477img_8474

Intro to Wildlife Photography

By now I’m sure you have realized I don’t have many wildlife photos. Come to think of it I’m not sure if I have posted any animal pictures except one of a 17 year old sleeping Shiba Inu.

Not exactly wildlife.image

But if you have played along and read any of my posts you will already know I have never claimed to be a professional anything. All I claim to be is desert.

Oh I have tons of blurry nonsense. A grey blur I will happily tell you is a bunny. My blurry Javelina shots I took from way too far away. Yes, I have them. And because the reality is my odds so far have not been good with getting any quality shots when it comes to our furry friends, I’m going to show them to you. If you squint it sorta helps.


I don’t have a high powered camera. I use my iPad. Yes EVERY picture I have taken and everything I have posted has come from my iPad. When I started this blog a lot of the excitement and motivation came from the up close experience I get with the cactus and nature when I am outside in the yard. I want to be able to share all of this natural beauty with anyone who is interested. For those who can not ever get to the desert I want to share in a more personal up close way.image

The cactus are great at holding still while my amazing piece of technology that is an iPad does the focusing for me. I have some awesome pictures. I do and I am proud. It’s still my views and angles for sure but for a person like me who has little back ground with technology the iPad has made my life easy.

I stay with easy when it comes to most things computer related. I don’t want a bigger camera. I think there are plenty of amazing photographers out there who can take pictures of animals so crisp and clear it doesn’t even seem possible. They are rock stars. Anyone who has taken a picture of a living creature will tell you huge amounts of patience is required. Wild life in extreme heat that are the same color as their surroundings and can move as fast as lightning? You go with your big lens.

I think in my defense it’s pretty hard trying to capture images of Wile E Coyote ( Super Genius) and the roadrunner on my iPad while I am outside working in the yard.

This is me:

Wait…stop!… I see something moving!…let me take off my gloves and set down my lopers…grab my iPad and pray it hasn’t gotten too hot from being outside with me… turn it on… wait…where did the bunny go…?

Ok, so take my blurry shots with a good story and use some imagination!

Also in my defense, none of these creatures want to sit and pose for me. If I move when I’m INSIDE the house bunnies will scatter! Forget me trying to open the door to get closer when they are being cute. Quail? Forget it. They are on to me and just run faster hurrying their adorable fluffy babies along to get away from crazy me. I am just dumb enough to semi chase half inch fluffy baby quail to try to get a picture on an iPad. Go ahead and picture it.IMG_0371 (1)

The other night I am outside on the patio with a close friend who was in from out of town. It was her first visit here to our little house on the hill in Gold Canyon but she is not new to the desert. Armed with a camera and lens the length of my arm, she came already knowing the views here are pretty awesome and ready with high power.

So we sat staring off at the beauty that is the Superstition Mountain, laughing, catching up and just relaxing. It’s about 7:30 so it’s prime animal watching time. Even though it’s still over 100 degrees outside there we sit happily in the shade.

Then it happens! She spots a coyote! Just trotting along the way they do. It’s in the high traffic zone, the wash that is the acreage next to our driveway. We see the Javelinas over there quite often. Jack rabbit bounce through there all day long. Because we are up on a hill it gives us a great vantage point. The wash is not flat and I’m not sure just how deep some of the gullys go. I’m not about to go wandering through there to find out either and that is going to be about the only way I’m going to get a clear photo with my iPad.

Enjoy the blurry.

So there we are already excited for one coyote when a second coyote can be seen just a few yards back trotting as well! Coyote trot. I don’t know how else to say it. I’m sure they run and lay down that’s not what I mean. Any time I have ever seen a coyote they are not running or walking its always this trot. It’s a trot with attitude. Coyote have no shortage of swagger that’s for sure.

With this distance and trotting I have no chance of getting any usable photos. But honestly don’t really care because I had been blessed to get a recording of them howling just a few nights earlier. I will take that chilling sound over a blurry photo.


The mesquite trees are dropping pods everywhere. The bunnies and rabbits eat these. Last night I look over and under one of the trees two rabbits are eating. They are cute. One looks like a young jack rabbit with the longer legs and black on the ears. But I am inside the house so I already know I’m not going any closer to get a better shot or angle. Not with those ears! They KNOW I’m watching but the pods are too tasty to leave. I grab my iPad anyways. You never know. Then I see there are now three rabbits. Oh fun! Wait! Is that four rabbits? They are multiplying before my eyes but I can’t get a decent photo of it to save my life! NO seriously? FIVE of them now!?  So cute hopping around. Can I get at least ONE decent photo of this cuteness?image

The vultures are not quite sure what to make of me yet. I’m outside a lot. I’m on the ground a lot. And if I am taking pictures of a plastic yellow cowboy I am almost definitely lying face down on the rocks and dirt. A vulture took a couple of fly bys the other day. Good lower circling to see if I was road kill or what. A Turkey Vultures sense of smell is keen so I did feel better knowing that it had to come closer to investigate me because I was lying there, not my odor that had drawn its attention. I rolled over in hopes of photographing this big hovering bird but then it realized I was alive. I swear I saw a look of disappointment! It just turned its wing and glided off.

I got nothing. Blur.

Javelinas are unique. This is not a wild hog or boar though it looks like one, I guess. It is a collard peccary. I am told it is related to a hippo. I’m giving you a great description right now huh? I can’t. This one you will have to look up. Javelina. I will dedicate a whole post to them later.image

There is a small family  who wander through our property, climb into planters and eat their way through cactus. The first night they came for an up close visit was terrifying.

It’s the middle of the night, we have been in our new house just a few weeks if that. We put up temporary fencing out the back so our oldest dog Jethro could go pee at night without the risk of rolling down a hill into cactus. Nothing major just the roll out kind of fencing. This isn’t for security and we hadn’t made the commitment as to where and how and if fencing 2.5 acres of desert was needed. We can’t just leave the door open at night for him because around here who knows what will find it’s way inside.

This night my dog Cotton is acting strange. I’m getting the nose poke repeatedly and now it’s with a whimper. This is not normal. I’m half asleep and think he just needs to pee really bad so I open the sliding door turning on no lights. Cotton bolts out like he has been shot from a cannon and I hear growling barking snorting grunting mayhem erupt! My brain is now wide awake and aware that I have at least one startled Javelina on the other side of the flimsiest fencing possible with a white ball of unstable but well meaning fluff coming straight for it! I wear contacts so I see basically as blurry as most of my photos but can make out the shape of a Javelina running away and down our front hill.

IMG_1294Not too many days later my husband is in the living room and yells to me to come. Uh, the Javelina family is in our front planter! It’s still light out! There are three of them. Obviously mom, dad and child. I grab my phone and snap pictures. I’m not blogging at this point and have no idea how much trouble I would later have trying to get these blurry but close pictures on to my site. It’s just cool and scary and exciting. These are not animals you walk up to safely and snap photos of. This house and property sit in line with a natural wash. It is their home. My planter will never get to have flowers. The Javelina uprooted a whole cactus, flowers wouldn’t make it a day.image

So for my Intro to Wildlife Photography I give myself a C -. I think that’s fair. I don’t deserve an F. I haven’t failed. I continue daily to try. The effort and want is there. I believe the skill is too. I don’t deserve an A because of my trying or my effort though either. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe we all get a trophy at the end just because we showed up. Like I said earlier there are photographers out there who have pictures of individual strands of hair on a wolf four hundred feet away. They get the A.

I gave myself a C – knowing that I will get better. It’s a start. And you know what? It’s a really fun start.image


Our heat here in AZ has been so extreme this weekend we continue to set records, yet I can look outside my window to the tee box on the 9th hole of the Dinosaur and see 4 men happily waiting their turnimage

Just like the Superstition Mountain we live next to, the game of golf seems to have this pull, this energy, this drive that makes a grown man go outside in 110 degree weather to “play”.

I can hear all of you golfers now “Just get an early tee time.” It was 95 degrees at 5:30 this morning with an expected high of 117! No joke. (6/20/16)

The way our little house sits on the hill we have spectacular views all around. The mighty Superstition dominates the North and East views. But if you look out to the South you see golf, the tee box for the 9th hole. If you look out to the West you see the 11th hole tucked into the mountain.

Living here I’m finding there are golfers for whom excessive heat is not going to stop a good round of golf. Blasts of hot wind, heat radiating in waves on the concrete, doesn’t matter. Its golf. And right now its CHEAP golf on some of the best courses in Arizona. When you normally can pay well over $150 a round during peak season, a $35 tee time can entice a serious golf lover to go withstand oven like heat to start a round at noon.image

$15  will get  you a tee time round 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Just go to http://www.GolfNow.com.

I love golf. It’s a great sport. I just have no idea why anyone would want to play in this heat! But I see them. They are out there.

Now I’m not a golfer. I don’t think what I do out there classifies as actual golfing. I’m told if I “practice” I will get better. If hitting one or two balls  10 times or more at a hole that I never get it into isn’t “practicing” then I don’t know what “practice” is. Just the word “practice” makes me giggle. Practice. I repeat the word “practice” about nine times like I’m Allen Iverson…not a game…we talking about practice. I belong in the cart.

Most courses are beautiful and quiet. Like being in a park. Usually lots of nature too. I have even seen alligators! ( No, not out here. In South Carolina, another home of some amazing golf courses.) An alligator laying by the greens is not enough to stop a golfer! Especially in the South where they are common.image

I guess it’s like us out here in the desert with lizards and snakes, it just comes with the territory.I have seen deer, quail, squirrels, roadrunners, lizards and more bunnies than necessary out on our “home course” Dinosaur. Like a ridiculous amount of wild bunnies. I’ve counted 9 and 10 just hanging out by a fairway. They just kill me. After years of golf course living they still have absolutely no idea how to navigate any oncoming cart traffic. Confusion every time.image

Javelinas usually don’t get to roam on the courses but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear someone tell they saw one or two.They wander through my yard. I’m sure they find their way onto the grass. My husband seems to see coyotes quite often. But coyotes and Javelina are not going to stop a good round of golf any more than an alligator is. Be serious.

Planes were diverted yesterday. Couldn’t land. It was too hot. I’m not making that up. It is illegal for planes to land or take off once the temperature hits 120. Something to do with the effect the heat has on the equipment.

4 hikers died this weekend on our trails due to the heat. The news reporter said one of them was a personal trainer. This heat is serious.

I can just hear the argument that its actually SAFER to be a golfer:“ Golf courses have carts. No hiking except to find your ball. Golfers aren’t walking the whole round. The carts have coolers with ice and beverages. The carts give shade.”

Its 110 degrees outside currently. Just saying.image

Sure, you could also argue that the colorful clothing golfers wear make it much easier to spot one in distress when he flops over on the green holding a flag! I see you guys from a good seven iron away. I see those neons. Golfers are much easier to rescue. Rarely is a helicopter required.

For some even the worst round of golf in this heat can produce an inner happiness that a walk through an air-conditioned mall just can’t provide.image

Don’t believe me? Ask a golfer.



Another thing that prompted this blog, the amazing animal encounters we have had in such a short time. Ok, wait, before I type another word let’s make sure we are clear on a few things.

I am NOT feeding or trying in any way to get animals onto the property, to make them pets or to touch any of them. There is a whole ecosystem I have just moved into and am learning who all is here. I probably wont get many photos of them unless I get lucky because I don’t always have a camera around.

So far we have seen a large scorpion, quail, roadrunners, woodpeckers, cardinals, humming birds, bees, spiders of all types, lizards all types, squirrels again of various types, an owl that on again off again seems to live in one of the sheds, a snake, rabbits, jackrabbits the size of a dog no joke, deer, bats, and our most disruptive visitor so far is a small family of Javelina. Mom, Dad and youngster. We had quite the first meeting. That story another time.

Despite having years old barb wire the Javelina come on through anyways. I refuse to wall in 2.5 acres of natural desert. We came here. They were already here. We will learn to do this safely. And again it starts by not feeding them. I had hoped to compost but I’m going to need to do some research or get your help with suggestions on how when you have this type of animal near. Meanwhile I just have to learn to not take it personally when one of them chomps through my purple prickly pear or tears out a whole cactus in the front yard. That happened a few days ago.

We have heard coyote a few nights but can’t say every night. I’m hoping to record it one of these nights so I can post it here.

So far no big cats. No bobcats or larger.

Yesterday morning a guy on a horse came riding through the property and down our driveway. Not fast just a slow walk I guess you’d say. So I’m adding horses to the list of animals seen on the property.