Monday, March 15, 2010

My Native Hunting Friend

Monday, March 15, 2010

This lion-lamb thing of March is a bit confused this year as we have received a lot of "lion" lately with steady winds of 22 mph for much of yesterday afternoon and throughout most of the night. Today the temperatures rose to 45 mph but when I returned this afternoon with a plan to cut some wood, I found the wind still gusting to 9. That doesn't sound like much but it makes a wood cutter reconsider being in the woods. This winter's winds have taken down a lot of trees and many pieces still hang. "Widow makers" has had many meanings in our language and there is a well known application in the logging business for limbs that barely hang in trees, ready to fall on unsuspecting visitors when the wind blows or other trees fall.

I didn't spend much time in the woods and stayed in an area I had already been working on. Nothing was dead and nothing was hanging so my work was quite safe. I was tired from a long day and residual lethargy from daylight savings time so I only worked for an hour and then walked about a bit looking for places pileated woodpeckers had worked some maples. I stopped for a minute to reflect on some rattlesnake orchids I had planted as seeds several years ago. Naturally they were dormant now but they were under my feet close by, still buried under a foot of granular snow. I really like those little flowers!

As soon as dinner was finished, we made quick retreat to the front room to watch the evening news and set up for our almost nightly game of Scrabble. I won the draw and got to place the first word. Oddly, I had just placed "haunt" when I looked out the window and saw a barred owl sitting in a white birch across from the house. I like these owls and enjoy their calls and their seldom seen beauty. I like them best because they eat mice which eat my hostas so we have a different kind of friendship than most. I like them enough to have built three owl boxes, large sized bird houses deep in the woods but off trails or woods roads where food is more likely to pass. None is occupied yet but big birds take time to adjust.

I don't own a telescopic lens since packing up the film cameras a few years back and don't have a digital camera yet that would take one anyway. That time will come but in the meantime, distance shots require imagination and good eyes. Click to enlarge these last two photos and you should be able to spot my friend. He lasted about ten minutes looking straight at us for a while and then turning his head in all directions looking for dinner. Then with a forceful push he was off through the woods and out of sight.

As you plan your gardens for spring planting, think about the local birds and animals, what they eat, and what you plant and leave around. Working together with wildlife is not always easy but in the long run the results are better!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where any owl is a good friend! Even though our dinner is over, I can hear a barred in the distance asking " Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" Next time you hear an owl, see if it's asking the same.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as George Africa and also Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
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AmyO said...

Nice post George. We hear the Barred Owls here on Beebe Pond in Hubbardton and stop to listen every time. there's nothing like it.

joey said...

Happy Spring, George :)