Sunday, March 22, 2009

Photos O' the Day: Puttering around the yard

My mom and I used to remark that my dad was out "sniffing 'round the yard". It meant that papa was outside doing something...clearing leaves, planting ferns, or frequently, sitting out by the vegetable garden with a cup of coffee, watching the birds and contemplating plant growth. Today papa and I did some successful puttering, namely trying to track down an invisible dog fence wire that was installed 15 years ago. It turned out to be a bit of an adventure as the wire was buried, usually on a steep hillside in the middle of a salmonberry bush. Bailey, thus far unencumbered and uneducated in the ways of invisible fencing, happily traipsed along, sticking his snout into aplodontia rufa* holes and navigating through the jungle.
Judging by Bailey's position outside of the fence (and in the street), we clearly weren't successful in fully connecting the invisible fence. Just wait, my fuzzy friend. Your time is fast approaching. No more freewheeling neighborhood jaunts for you.
Last week Bailey was borrowed by a neighbor who had a problem routinely encountered this time of year: A robin was attacking her windows. Robins are quite territorial in the spring when staking out nesting spots and don't appreciate competition (in the form of their image, reflected back in the window). Bailey was enlisted to guard the windows (and prevent the robin from unintentionally committing suicide). Unfortunately, our own house apparently needed a bit of guarding as Mom discovered this sparrow below the back window. We haven't yet made a positive identification; hopefully it's not one of my dad's beloved fox sparrows.

*Don't know what an Aplodontia rufa is? That's ok, most folks don't. An Aplodontia rufa, also known as a mountain beaver, is a primitive rodent that inhabits hillsides in the pacific northwest, causing enormous slope-stability problems due to extensive burrowing and de-vegetation efforts. I owe my knowledge of the Aplodontia rufa to Dr. David Craig at Willamette University who required his students to memorize the scientific names of many native NW mammals. Sadly, my rote memorization skills are rather lousy and to this day, the only name I can remember is that of the dammed Aplodontia rufa, one of my least favorite mammals.