Category: Home & Garden

Feather Report

Southern Arizona is a birder’s paradise, and even in the heart of Tucson, you will experience a bevy of winged visitors. Here, we profile some of the “usual suspects” you may see in your garden.

 

The Mourning Dove is known for the soulful cooing sound it makes at dawn and dust. Its neutral coloration offers camouflage as it searches for seeds.

 

Roadrunners can be seen racing across the landscape as they chase their prey. They usually prefer lizards, but are brave enough to even take on a rattlesnake.

 

Gila Woodpeckers excavate holes in saguaro cacti, which provide homes for several bird species. They often can be heard as they peck at eaves and evaporative coolers (a territorial signal). Photo by Amy Haskell

 

The Cactus Wren, Arizona’s state bird, is well known for its brash and inquisitive nature, as it daringly perches on cactus spines.

 

Lesser Goldfinches have yellow breasts, and the males have black backs (females have olive ones). They feature white bars on their wings, and are particularly attracted to a feeder full of Nyjer (or thistle) seed.
Photo by Amy Haskell

 

The colorful Hummingbird darts around plants with brightly hued, tubular flowers in pursuit of nectar. Many species of hummers inhabit our area.
Photo by Ben Wilder

A Growing Family

These homeowners and their kids are living a mini-farm lifestyle.

By Debby Larsen  |  Photos by Justin Carrillo

Emma, Lenny, Jennifer and Sophia Fest pose in front of their goat house.

Along the Mount Lemmon highway on the far eastside of Tucson, the Fest family has embraced the farm life —in a scaled-down form.

Lenny and Jennifer Fest invested time and patience to locate the perfect property for a bucolic lifestyle with their daughters Sophia and Emma. After three years, the Fests’ spread now boasts lush vegetable and flower gardens, as well as 30 chickens of various breeds, three Welsh Harlequin ducks, three Nigerian dwarf goats, one mini Blue Heeler and one rescued calico cat.

A Barred Rock chicken, one of the Fest family’s flock.

The house was constructed by the previous owner, and had been added to in bits and pieces over many years. Although it was not their dream home, the Fests believed it had lots of potential for their family. Jennifer remarks that it was the wrap-around porch that sold them on the purchase.

However, the house reno was going to have to wait. They immediately began work on their outdoor projects, building several raised wooden beds for vegetables. Jennifer’s parents, Jim and Cindy Willis, offered help, gardening expertise and encouragement during their many weekend projects.

A collection of colorful plants spill out of a vintage wheelbarrow.

In addition to other crops, several seed varieties from Native Seed Search were utilized. Gardening has become an adventure, with lots to learn in the process. “One year we planted Dragon Carrot and Scarlet Nantes seed. They cross-pollinated and the next year’s result was a lovely, ‘ombre’ carrot in purple, pink and orange,” Jennifer says with a laugh. Each season, their garden yields bountiful produce.

After getting the gardens started, they set about acquiring hens, but first needed a chicken coop. The Fests built a shed from a kit, but added a little Southwest charm in the form of a shiny, tin roof. Their chickens now provide beautiful multi-colored eggs that Sophia and Emma sell at their flower-bedecked “Farm Stand” on their property.

Jennifer studied interior design in college, and her touch can be found in the carefully crafted signs throughout

Emma and Sophia Fest show off their wares at their Farm Stand.

the garden. She often recycles old wood and vintage windows for her palette. Photos from Pinterest were the inspiration for the recently added goat house. Leftover parts from their daughters’ pre-fab playhouse were utilized in this project. An old tractor tire became a favorite addition to the goats’ playground.

Native trees, along with shade and fruit trees (some 50 in all), dot the property, watered in large part with rainwater collected and held in a giant tank just for this purpose. Grapevines cover a hillside ramada — a lovely site for a party.

When Jennifer and Lenny are asked what is next on their long list of projects, they mention plans for a small greenhouse to nurture tiny plants during the cool season.

Daughters Sophia, now eight, and Emma, six, obviously enjoy this lifestyle. When the family entertains, the girls — in their cotton frocks and their best mini-work boots — proudly show off the eggs they have collected that morning and offer tours of the gardens.

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About Us

Tucson Lifestyle Magazine is Tucson's only glossy, monthly city magazine, targeting Southern Arizona’s affluent residents. With over 35 years of publishing experience, Tucson Lifestyle is committed to showcasing the people, places, local flavors, and attractions that make our city unique.

General Information

Phone: 520-721-2929 x 102
Address: 7000 E Tanque Verde Rd # 11,
Tucson, AZ 85715

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