Life is flourishing on my back patio. There are four different bird feeders, plus I put out corn or peanuts for the squirrels. I used to see mice occasionally around dusk. However, I recently discovered that things get a lot more active after dark and they have become regulars. With the windows open during the summer evenings I could hear a lot of rattling around the feeder. They come from the neighbors yard up the tree over the roof of the garage and then over the gate to the patio to the feeder or they come from the opposite side of the roof through the vines over the fence onto the feeder. Once they hit the feeder, they will climb over one another to get to the food. Sometimes there could be five or six of them at at time. Returning throughout the night, this level of activity started to rapidly diminish the food in feeder. The mice started getting more food than the birds. Now I bring the feeder into my laundry room at night. There is plenty of seed on the ground for them to pick up.
The only problem with the food on the ground is that they are more vulnerable. The other morning I found a dead one, right near the back door presumably left from the cat who had been outside keeping the ecosystem in check. The same day I found a little baby one who had fallen into an empty pot under one of my plants that had drowned in a few inches of water which had collected from a plant sitting on a table above it. One thing that I have noticed over the years is that if life is thriving, there is also a greater chance that I will also see the other side of life for a small percentage. It is all part of a healthy ecosystem.
One morning a few weeks ago around 7:00 am there was a raven that was making persistent calls for about 20 minutes while I lay in bed. After getting up, I looked out back door window to find a raccoon wandering around on my back patio. I was surprised to see him still out now that it was light out. The raven was dive bombing the raccoon, telling him that it was time to go home to his daytime resting place. The sounds continued for another fifteen minutes as the bird followed the raccoon from my house across the street to the neighbor's house. I was quite amazed at how the bird followed the raccoon, and continued to harass him as he made his way down the street.
This evening around 7:00 pm, there was again the persistent calling of a raven outside. Remembering the event from a few weeks ago, I wondered if it again meant that there was a raccoon in the neighborhood. I looked out my back door and found a young blonde colored raccoon on my patio. He was carefully placing his paws on the ground feeling for peanuts in the bird seed that had fallen to the ground. I had about a handful of peanuts in the shell handy that I feed to the squirrels, so I grabbed them and went to sit on my back steps. I gently threw the peanuts toward him one by one. He continued to carefully feel for the peanuts on the ground, only this time he had to remove the shells before he could eat them. A couple of times he decided he wanted to take the peanut in the shell and play with in the water fountain first. This is familiar behavior that I have seen with raccoons in my moms back yard. They like to play with their food in the water. While I sat there, the bird continued to call for a while, but then eventually flew off.
Now I know the call of the raven communicating that a raccoon is in the neighborhood wasn't just a one time occurrence. Keep your eyes and ears open. The calls of the raven around dusk or dawn have meaning. You just have to listen and notice what is going on around on the ground.
The cottage house we rented in Mendocino over the holidays had a bonus that both my mom and I enjoyed. Just outside was a pasture for a group of five llamas. If you look closely at the second image, it looks like I caught the llama with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. That isn't it's tongue. It is a large set of bottom teeth sticking out. Perhaps a visit to the orthodontist is in order.
It turns out that the birds and I aren't the only ones who are relishing the fruit from the persimmon tree. Around 10:30 last evening I opened the back door to take the Christmas tree stand out to the garage. I heard some wrestling around noises in the persimmon tree just above the garage. The weather was overcast, which meant that the city lights were reflecting off of the clouds making it lighter than normal. As I looked up I discovered a raccoon in the tree navigating through the leafless branches to get the juicy fruit at its peak ripeness. I stood by my door to watch and realized that this raccoon was not alone up in the tree. Two other family members were also feasting on the delightful treat. The branches are already heavy and drooping from the weight of the remaining fruits. It was a challenge for the raccoons to decipher which branches would support their weight and allow them to reach for the bounty. Several fruits ended up tumbling to the ground before getting eaten. It was lovely to be able to see them so clearly. I grabbed my camera hopping that I could catch the scene, but I wasn't close enough for the flash to make a difference. So, I had to simply enjoy the joyous moment standing there on the porch.
I recently read this Mohawk Thanksgiving prayer during a class I am taking called The Great Turning which is focused on the shift from the Industrial Growth Society we know so well to a Life Sustaining Society. It is said to be 900 years old. I thought it might be something you can share with your loved ones as part of your holiday ritual/celebration. It is a powerful way for all of us to pay our respects and remember the scope of our connection to other elements and species on our dear planet including mother Earth; the waters; the fish; the plants; the animals; the birds; the trees; the Four Winds; the Thunderers; the sun, moon and stars; the Enlightened teachers and teachers who have come before us or will follow us; and the Creator. Please let me know if you incorporate this into your celebration. I would like to hear about your experience.
These large round seeds are a big hit with the squirrels. It is their food of choice in the neighborhood the past month or two. The seeds are about an inch and a half long, barrel shaped and with a hardness similar to an acorn. I am not exactly sure how they eat them. Do they swallow them whole or break into them???
This furry friend passed by the bird feeder today, which hangs below the ledge he is perching on. Then all of a sudden, he took a flying leap onto the roof of the house. It turns out he was just passing through.
I received an email from Jo Belasco, the Director of The Voice for Horse Project at the Tapastry Institute. It explained that The Voice of the Horse is an opportunity for a new horse community to form, focusing on the deeper relationship that exists between humans and the horse. They share stories, videos and photos of the relationships they have, the things they learn, how healing takes place and how to deepen the relationships. This mission is in alignment with the vision for this site, so I am happy to share the information with others who may be interested. A webcast of a Voice for the Horse conference held earlier this year at Iowa University will be available until August 31, 2007 and proceeds will go to supporting further research. For more information go to The Voice of the Horse website.
On the Tapestry website, I learned about an upcoming event in 2009, called The Presence of Trees. You can contact them to be put on the mailing list for that event.
The County Fair is currently going on right down the street. I haven't attended a fair in at least 15 years, so being that there wasn't much to do this holiday we decided to walk over for a visit this afternoon. Mostly I was just interested in some photo opportunities, since I haven't had much of a chance lately to post on this site.
Honestly the experience was bittersweet, given that the animals on show are basically treated as commodities. Horse racing began at 12:45 in the middle of the day in the nearly 100 degree heat. Is it really in the best interest of the horses to make them race during the hottest hours of the day? Yesterday I arrived home around 6:00 pm and the temperature was 96 degrees. By 9:00 it was down to 72 degrees. It seems to me that the evening would be a much more appropriate time for the the racing to take place, if they must happen at all. We decided not to participate and spend money supporting this activity.
Auctions taking place in the animal pens was yet another example of how the animals are commoditized. All the animals are tagged with a number. The cows, pigs, goats and sheep were all on display. Cow # 105 had a sweet peaceful face that I wanted to share. Unfortunately, this cow will not have the opportunity to lead a full life. Instead, humans will decide when its life will be cut short. Signs near the goats boasted how it was the hottest new meat. While I believe that the farmers who brought their animals to the fair do not represent the mass production farming that has taken over most of the country, I thought it appropriate to share the latest installment from Free Range Studios, The Meatrix Two and a Half.
As a way to support more humane treatment of the animals, you can take action by joining the folks at Sustainable Table by joining the bossy bovine sisters of Cows Unite in their mission to get dairy-loving humans to choose the best organic milk. Their Bovine Bill of Rights, suggests choosing milk that comes from cows that are given the rights to pasture, sunshine, exercise, clean air, and freedom from antibiotics and toxic chemicals. Rise up!
And, did you know that the milk in your Starbucks coffee currently is not guaranteed to be free of rBGH or rBST? Injections of rBGH increase another hormone, called IGF-1, in the cow and the cow's milk. Too much IGF-1 in humans is linked with increase rates of colon, breast, and prostrate cancer. Additionally, rBGH increases the rate of udder infections (and other ailments) in cows, which are treated with common antibiotics such as penicillin. Increased antibiotic use in food animals is a serious problem because it contributes to the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Tell Starbucks to buy better milk.
Better yet, stop drinking milk altogether. There are many options available besides soy milk. Delicious Organics provides examples of alternatives such as organic rice, oat and hemp milks. They aren't available for online ordering, but you can look for these brands at your local health food markets. Alternatively, seek out locally produced raw organic nut milks. I just found Nutmoo that I want to now try. You can choose from almond, sesame, walnut, pumpkin seed, hazelnut, pecan and macadamia nut. I can't wait to try them all!