Monday, August 23, 2010

About as much

The dandelions needed beheading today before any more took wing. The grass isn’t growing much, despite the sprinkler system, but the weeds are doing well. So what else is new?

I could stop writing now. Such an intro doesn’t even work for me, so I can only imagine… Except there was a bit of excitement associated with the chore of mowing.

The way-back lawn (we’ll call it the Peabody Stretch) had not been mowed in a month, but since it gets no water, even the weeds were conserving their energy and just started going to seed in the last couple of days. And in that I didn’t much feel like mowing in the first place, decided that it might be wise to start back there.

I followed my usual strategy of following alongside the outbuildings and fencerow, and then head behind the compost piles/growing mounds. In that I wasn’t using the bagger, I was moving at a pretty good clip. As I headed behind the piles, I saw the male California quail scurry from my path and head up onto a small brush pile. Then I saw the female scramble out from the inside the fence surrounding the piles and head in another direction, halt, and the run back through the fence. As I was watching where she went, still mowing, I caught some movement low in the grass. Then another. Two baby quail.


The pair of adults has been around our place all summer. While we’ve enjoyed watching them, they’ve also given us some pause, and for DW, not a small amount of fret. Our first question was regarding the small number to their covey, two, a good thirteen less than the group we had last year. Had the others moved on, been killed by cats or coyotes, that sort of thing. Secondly, where were the spring chicks? Then the female disappeared for a few days a while back. DW feared the worst. Then she showed up again. And then not.

And now we know why. Needless to say, there will be no mowing in that area until October.

But then I got to worrying: Did I see the chicks in time? I mean all of them? I’d hate to think that I was not as observant as I could have been. So, I went back to look for down. I was relieved to not find any, but frustrated by what I did see: A gopher had wound its tunnels into the growing area. It was getting too close to the mounds for my comfort, and I went to fetch my traps.

I dug around for a while looking for a tunnel. For some reason, as the weather gets drier, it is harder to find the burrows. Eventually I found a hole that appeared to be fresh in that it had not been covered, and I started digging there.

Typically, a single, auxiliary tunnel leads to the surface. This is where the gopher brings the dirt from the main tunnel. To effectively trap a gopher, it is best to dig down to the main thoroughfare and place a trap heading in both directions. Yet, this single tunnel was different. It went on for a considerable distance, so I just gave up and decided to place one trap.

As I was setting the trap jaws I happened to look over at one of the growing mounds. The dirt had been disturbed and there were blue potatoes lying above the ground. It then knew why that open tunnel remained. The gopher was feasting on the spuds. And so as not to disappoint, cut a small potato and placed the halves behind the spring on the trap. We’ll know by tomorrow morning.

The remainder of the mowing was uneventful. I stopped up at the house to tell DW about the chicks. Oh, and I did see where I sake had shed a layer of skin.

As I was closing up the buildings for the night, I just had to check the trap. As I walked toward the area, I saw the male quail again in the same area. The nest must be very near. Perhaps even on one of the mounds.

Yeah, I’m going to miss this place. Maybe not the mowing and gophers as much.


Forrest Gump said...

Life imitating art imitating farm-life?


Crash said...

I'm going to miss it, too. I would think the mowing could be kind of fun.

bastinptc said...

FG - The difference being that I am typically successful. Just ask this morning's catch. Oh that's right, you can't CUZ IT'S DEAD!

Crash - Listening to my iPod while mowing is fun. If I won the lottery, we'd stay, and then I'd have fun watching the hired help mow.

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