Sunday, July 22, 2018

Surprise Visitor, Memories And Random Thoughts

It had been a little while since The mighty Dachshund had eaten her plain double cheeseburger from the Fallen Arches Restaurant, so I thought maybe it had time to push some innard contents rearward. It had stopped raining so the time seemed ripe to find out. She drained, but that was it, so we parked ourselves on the porch.

I turned my cap backwards, thinking the bill might fan mosquitoes away from the back of my neck, should they show up. I was wearing a pair of “glue jeans” that I’d patched and hemmed with ample amounts of fabric glue. I made the hem a half-inch lower than where I’d been wearing them bobby-pinned and was happy to see that they covered my sockless ankles a bit better. Mosquitoes find my ankles, too.

A couple minutes into the porch sit, I noticed a welcome sight along the north edge of the yard, about 150 feet from my seat in the swing. It’s been ages since I’ve seen a rabbit in the yard, so it was a bit of a thrill for me. When I was a kid, they were thick as fleas on the farm. I remember Dad taking me hunting with him some and having me jump up and down on brush piles for him. Invariably, a rabbit would rocket out and Dad would get it with a single shot from his Mossberg Model 37. I only remember him missing one time. Rabbit was the first wild meat I tasted. With the land growing up and few farmers or trappers keeping predators down, rabbits aren’t nearly as plentiful as they used to be.

Quail is another thing that’s rare in this state anymore. Besides predators, changing land practices are a major factor in their demise. Few people in this area farm anymore and quail are literally extinct here. It turns out that it isn’t the crops that the quail need, but the weeds that used to grow in the disturbed soil at the field’s edge. Even in farmed areas, modern clean farming methods give the little birds no escape cover and no food. Not all change is really progress, for everything comes at a price.

I was talking online today to Urs Christen, a young farmer up in Manitoba. (He’s 32 and single, ladies.) He asked what I missed most about farming, and I told him clipping pasture with the old Ford Jubilee and side cutter-bar and watching the cows eat. He had rain there today, like we did, so I asked about rainy day chores and he confessed that among his work, he’d managed to sneak a nap. I had to laugh. I then told him that the dog and I used to sneak a nap in the hay mow sometimes on a rainy day. Them wuz the good ol’ days!

I was noticing how quiet the woods were today, as compared to spring days and dry weather. I don’t recall noticing such things when I was younger. Nature hasn’t changed, so it must be something about me that’s done so.

Part way through our porch sit, the missus stuck her head out the door and asked if I’d like a hotdog and some potatoe salad. You can guess my answer. Chinamart calls it “Amish potato salad.” I don’t know if that means just the recipe or the production. I should look at the package. I like it, whichever it is.

I finally noticed the rabbit shake itself like a dog. I turned my head for a second and when I turned back it was gone. The whole time, it hadn’t gotten more than one hop from the weeds and high grass at the lawn’s edge. At that, the pooch and I returned to the “cave” for the evening. Copyright 2018


Ralph Goff said...

We used to have lots of those "chicken like" wild birds here but lately I don't see many. See the odd Ruffed Grouse in the bushes but the little Hungarian (Gray) partridge seems nearly extinct. Sharp tailed grouse are very scarce too.

Gorges Smythe said...

Predators and agriculture there too, probably Ralph.

Leigh said...

One of our cats catches young rabbits so that keeps our bunny population down. I've never seen or heard a quail though. If there ever were any, I suspect that around here it hasn't been farming that's chased them out, but lawns. Folks around here put their headsets on and mow acres and acres of lawn every week on their big hot rod lawn mowers.

Gorges Smythe said...

I mow a half-acre, and that's too much to suit me, Leigh.