Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Rockin' and rollin'

Rockin' and rollin'
The author of Mark's Work

Coleus flowers

Coleus flowers
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast

HeadSodBuster and BossLady at the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Heinz tomatoes, used for catsup

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
Painted Lady

Fall Jewels

Fall Jewels
Praying mantis, attending services on a zinnia...

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017

My souvenir from Reggae on the River, 2017
Something I have always wanted...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Friday, March 8, 2013

Varmints Anonymous


I am doing the A-Z challenge; today’s letter is V  for varmints.

Varmints Anonymous

Varmints: we got ‘em.  Yes, we have more than our fair share.  In order of size, with largest coming first, I will share just a few of them with you.  I was at Casey’s the other day, and Unc Matt was talking about that pesky bear.  Probably the same one Bro Thomas was talking about, a while ago, the one which went through the fence at Mama’s house, and had a penchant for apples.  Matt said the bear had gone into his workshop, upended and opened his chest freezer, and spilled the contents out onto the floor.  It seems it was interested in the frozen chicken broth, stored in zip-locks.  Didn’t care for the frozen berries.  On second thought, it probably wasn’t the same bear. 

One of the closest encounters with a big cat we have ever had, came one early, pitch-black morning, while walking up on Bell Springs Road.  For many years Annie and I used to walk out the door at 4:15, in order to take the forty-five minute trek up to Blue Rock and back.  We were about a football field past the ranch house, where the right side of the road has a sloping bank to it, walking without a flashlight, which was in my left-hand jacket pocket, when we heard the sound of something hitting the road to our right, and racing past, just in front of us.  Whipping out that flashlight, while flicking it on, we caught a glimpse of a long tail, and the unmistakable form of a mountain lion, as it dashed into a thicket on the left.  Afterwards, we surmised it was a juvenile, who didn’t know who or what we were, until literally on top of us.  It took the course of least resistance, and weren’t we glad for it?

We lost another chicken the other day.  It never happens at night, while they are safely stowed within the coop; no, we lose them in broad daylight, while they are out in the orchard.  A few weeks ago, I saw a fox doing its best to gnaw though the wire of the range fence, and high-tailed it out there to chase the varmint away.  What we actually think is responsible for the missing chickens, (four at last count) is a lynx.  Folks to the left of us and folks to the right, have been having trouble with chickens disappearing, and have come to the conclusion that a big cat is responsible.

There was some conjecture the other day, as to whether it is a bobcat or a California lynx.  There have been numerous sightings of what appears to be a bobcat, but others maintain we are seeing lynxes.  I lean toward what we have, being lynxes.  The lynx has long ear tufts; the bobcat has shorter ear tufts.  The bobcat has a longer tail, but the lynx has longer legs.  Annie and I have sighted them on our walks on Bell Springs Road, several times, and Annie saw one lurking just outside the chicken coop, one day last summer.  She believes what she saw to be a lynx.  The information on the Net indicates that lynxes are to be found in the northern part of the United States.  NorCal does not necessarily fit that bill, but the rugged nature of Northern Mendocino County, does match the lynx’s natural habitat to a tee.

I’ve mentioned seeing the fox, so I will move on to rabbits, who are not a threat to us, except in the indirect manner of mowing down a row of freshly planted [anything] to put a damper on our spirits.  If we cover the new cabbages or kale with re-may, that white/light water permeable cloth, then there is no problem.  But to do that, we need to have the rounded/plastic pipes along the length of the box, over which the re-may is draped.

Shall I talk about rattlesnakes?  If I encounter a rattler on Bell Springs Road, I give it a wide berth.  If I encounter one in my yard, or on a well-traveled path, it’s “Adios, pelota!” as Jon Miller would say on the Giants broadcast, when talking about a home run.  I must dispose of it, the most efficient manner being a shovel.  I do not own a weapon, nor have I ever.  A shovel brought down on the head of a snake, coiled or not, will stun it long enough to turn the shovel into a guillotine.  Nothing personal, Mr. Snake.

I will lump black widow spiders and scorpions into the same category; again, unless they are in the house (yes, I have found both in the house) I ignore them.  Well, not entirely.  When the boys were still in grade school, I found a widow of immense proportions, and captured her in a jar.  We obtained one of those plastic enclosures, and kept her on the kitchen counter, for more than two years, feeding her with flies and other little creep critters.  We named her Molly.  
We have our share of wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets, but except for the ones which literally come out of the woodwork when it heats up, they usually leave us alone. Nothing like flipping the pillow over, to get to the cool side, and having a yellow jacket waiting.  I found a paper wasps’ nest in the pear tree on winter, when the leaves had blown off, and it was the most incredible dwelling I think I have ever seen.  

Finally, I am going to mention ticks.  There was a time when I don’t know if I would even have considered them varmints, but with the onset of Lyme’s disease, I now classify them a serious varmint.  I pick enough of them off of the dogs, to know they are plentiful, but have not found one on me for years.  

 So  I could talk about mice, bats, skeeters, flies and a host of other creepy/crawly things, but I think I I've covered the bases.  Yes, we have our share of varmints, but as Annie likes to remind us, they were here first, and we invaded their home.  What are we going to do?  For the most part, we avoid them; when they pose a threat, I remove them.  Otherwise we ignore them, and hope they disappear.  And pray like the dickens, that the bear gives us a free pass.  It’s hard to ignore it, and I don’t want to think about removing it.  It could be hazardous to my health.

3 comments:

  1. Cool post, Bro! Always good to get the varmint update with your original words on the subject. I knew that bear (or bears?) would be taking its appetite elsewhere once the apple harvest was over.

    On another subject, hope your recovery is going well! Best, Tomaso

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  2. tom knows about our efforts to capture some unknown creature who randomly visits the kitchen at night - leaves no scat, eats stale bread and bananas that have beeb opened, Knows enough to step over or around sticky traps and conventional mouse traps. can climb to the top of the island. there are no holes that we can find anywhere in the kitchen. the door between kit and dining room stays closed at night tet the creature appears. what is it?

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