Friday, August 18, 2017

The Sky Park Revisited

Wednesday's post reminded me of another low-energy technique for managing garden waste. Small sticks left from mulching with a power mower break down quickly when handled like medieval stable waste. Back in the day, stalls were mucked out every morning and the debris spread out in the courtyard formed by outbuildings. Cattle were let out into the yard, and their hooves quickly reduced straw bedding and animal waste into a homogeneous mass that presumably could easily be spread onto soil.

I tried this technique as soon as I learned about it, picking up the small wood that makes sheet compost look untidy and laying the sticks on the routes local kids used to charge around the garden. Their lack of hooves did not significantly delay breaking down the debris into usable compost -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bee Chow

Native pearly everlasting and hollyhock volunteered to make the east end of the garden a feast for local bees. The Queen Anne's lace, too, is alive with feeding insects. These lovely flowers require literally nothing, except to recognize them and edit here and there. If I water, that's good. If I don't water, the seed crop is earlier.


There's a native true geranium that co-exists happily with the others, though I have de-emphasized it this year. Dicentra holds it own and is easily groomed with the mower -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Sky Park

The lawn west of the house offers a clear field of vision for birds. Only grass grows across the width of the lot. Two sides of the area are enclosed by a wooden fence. A third is secured by a narrow wire fence and the wall of the house. The approaches to the fourth edge are easily visible from utility wires.

In effect, the lawn resembles an airfield. A recent experiment in using the area to sheet compost garden debris paid off as I had hoped: it became a bird feeder. Before dawn, robins turn up for breakfast. The crows stop by at daybreak, and a mixed flock shows up later on. When I glanced out the window at mid-morning, there was a pair of juvenile flickers fixedly going after whomever lives under the mowings, and a scrub jay with its humming bird-wingman checking things out. Overlooking the lawn from the north is a birdie condo of sorts, a tall sheared laurel with obvious entrances for what I think are wrens.


Feeders sustain more than birds, so I am glad to have yet another reason to let the landscape itself support the fauna -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Big Cat

A recent on-line video showed footage filmed by a couple of Sierra climbers who had a close encounter with a cougar. Neither they nor the reporter who put the story together seemed to grasp the animal rights issue at the heart of their tale. 

The guys hiked up behind a cat who was around the curve on a hillside trail. One pulled out his phone and recorded stalking the animal for some distance. The cat out-stalked the two, and they found themselves looking into its eyes from an ideal leaping distance. A charge would have knocked a target helpless onto its back.

It unnerved me to see the cat against the dead conifer it had chosen for a background: camouflage was so good that it took two and a half seconds for my brain to register the threat. My partner at the breakfast table pointed out that this has been an excellent year for deer and the animal was obviously well fed, so it was toying with the uninvited guests in its territory. No doubt our species is all too familiar.

The on-line story included a still photograph of another cat being moved from an area where it might do serious harm. Unlike other film I've seen of cougars in transport cages, this one looked merely put out rather than stressed.  Perhaps the experience was familiar.


As a child, I read most of a senior hunter's personal library of books about noteworthy carnivores. John Hunter's autobiography is valuable virtual experience, as is Jim Corbett's Man-eaters of Kumaon, with its back stories of pitiable disability. The stories were immediately relevant on the Olympic peninsula, because it had been a prime hunting ground before the park was established. The area had its own legendary hunters, who may be documented at the Clallam County Historical Society-30-
More after the jump.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Planning Ahead

August is a good month to bake traditional Christmas cookies. Back in the day, butter would have been fresh and especially abundant. Rolled and cut cookies are labor intensive and keep the kids occupied during the anticipatory phase of compulsory education. Pre-emptive baking relieves the nutsness of the holidays. Lebkuchen, pepperkaaker, fruitcake, and bourbon balls all are at their best when aged. A bear vault repels toddlers until they are old enough to work out how to open one.


Unadorned gift wrapping paper is now available by the roll on line, just the thing to occupy idle hands. A neighborhood boutique used to recycle calligraphy practice paper as gift bags. Often, the bag was more interesting than the contents -30-
More after the jump.