Friday, October 03, 2008

Coming attractions

photo: deer in my garden in the morning.

Coming Attractions.

Our place seems to be a magnet for everything. Sure, squirrels love us. We've got 500+ filbert trees for their dining and hoarding pleasure. There is so much good food that trying to poison them or entice them with other treats like peanut butter doesn't work. Not that I'd ever try to kill a cute, little rat with a fluffy tail. And we're bad shots, so there's no point in trying to shoot the little buggers. Yes, we've got a Daisy air rifle. It is a pretty good one for us wimpy, city folks.

Can't get away from my liberal, anti-arms race past. Guns are a very effective tool that can kill people. Violent, unstable, crack-crazed, speed-fueled individuals wielding weapons of mass destruction kill people. Governments kill people. I'm pretty much a peacenik. I try to maintain a live and let live existence. My bloodthirst comes out on my dinner plate. Yes, I eat meat. I love a well marbled steak. I adore lamb. I am not opposed to eating something that might have been adorable when it was on the hoof. I try to buy meat that is local and raised in a sustainable manner. We've got a butchered lamb in our freezer that lived a very nice life a few miles away in a pasture at Figment Farm on Mineral Springs Road outside of Carlton, Oregon. I don't want to be the one to pull the trigger, but I'll butcher the beast if asked to do so. I can filet a fish like a pro! If you have to be a vegetarian to achieve enlightenment, I guess I've got a long way to go.

Not only do we attract squirrels, our place seems to be a haven for every critter that lives in the Red Hills of Dundee. We've got several deer that hang around, day and night. I've seen a doe with her teenage twins in our garden. There's a three prong buck that I've chased out down the driveway on several occasions. Since our gate broke, the deer have been enjoying our cosmos and lower limbs on our apple trees.

Our lawn is a haven for every burrowing creature that exists in the Pacific Northwest. We've got Willamette Valley Pocket Gophers, ground squirrels, chipmunks, voles, moles, and mice. The hawks and other predators can't keep up and our dog just likes to sniff the holes. I think we need an outdoor kitty.

Photo: Box Elder bug

And then there are the flying insects. Paperwasps, yellow jackets, honeybees, bumblebees, and hornets among the many flying bugs. Currently we're under siege from a swarm of box elder bugs. They're slow and like to cling to the screens and windows. They go where the sun is, so in the morning they're all over the front of the house. They're harmless and gross.

Photo: The western edge of the hazelnut orchard. Hazelnuts on the left. Douglas fir trees on the right.

Several days ago I spotted another creature in our orchard. I saw something dart across the driveway as I was driving up the hill towards our house. I pulled up slowly to where it was and visually traced its path into the orchard. Sitting several feet away, under the green canopy of hazelnut trees was a bobcat! It blended in perfectly with the dappled sunlight and shade. I could clearly see the tufts on its ears, the lack of tail and the feline face that was staring me down. It didn't seem to be afraid of me. Actually it seemed to be eager to stand its ground. Lots of fat squirrels to eat for dinner. I rolled down the window and watched it for a few seconds. I then said, "Good kitty! Eat them squirrels!" It just looked at me and looked away. I drove away slowly, happy that our place is so inviting to local wildlife of all stripes, spots, and shades.

Photo: squirrel and coyote habitat.

What else is hanging around our 12 acres in the Red Hills of Dundee? Coyotes! Two days ago, Jim and I had to take Alistair, our newly adopted English Springer Spaniel to the vet to get snipped. It was dawn as we cruised down the driveway, past the orchard. As we passed the broken gate, I see coyote emerge from the upper orchard, cross the driveway, and speed through the lower orchard, making a mad dash for the woods. Three more followed it. They were the size of small German shepherd dogs. Jim and I have seen mystery poop around the trees, especially on the west end of the orchard, near a tall stand of Douglas fir trees. This is a spot popular with the squirrels. Maybe they're looking for some tasty squirrels and field mice. I won't discourage that, but I'll keep the dog close. He doesn't wander, so I'm not too worried about him. The feral cats in the neighborhood might have to be on their toes.

The harvest is going on all around us. The vineyards are buzzing with activity and air cannons. Birds like to dine on ripe grapes. The cannons are going all day long, trying to scare away the flocks of hungry birds. Being surrounded by vineyards isn't so pretty this time of year. The cannons can be nerve shattering at times.

Photo: late afternoon Autumn light on our neighbor's vineyard, dry grass, and trees on the other side of the fence.

Our swarms of fearless hummingbirds are starting to diminish. They must be migrating south for the winter. The nectar stays in the feeder longer these days. The big leaf maples and the poison oak are turning pretty colors. Fall is here!

1 comment:

Philip Williamson said...

Bobcat?! Coyote?! That's awesome!

No wonder the Eviches lost chickens in Dundee...

I see some strange poos on my bike rides; scatology might actually be an interesting field of study...