Tag Archives: grasslands

Nature vs Naturalist

blue bird in grasslands“May my heart always be open to little birds, who are the secrets of living.” ― e.e. cummings

I love nature but in no way would I consider myself a naturalist. I wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist either, but I do my best to preserve our environment. Being in nature is a practice for living….. (spiritual….mental….physical….emotional) for me. It gets me out of myself (less ego), makes me curious (want to know more), gets me hiking (good cardio), brings me joy (gratitude, awe).

blue bird in grasslands

On both hikes this weekend  bright flashes of blue and cheeky song entertained the dogs and I. The grasslands and even the river dike had a multitude of blue birds flashing, flitting and flirting with us. They were quick but easy to spot with their bright blue feathers. Precursors of what is to come!

blue bird in grasslands

I hadn’t realized that their abundance relied on a multitude of people. My enjoyment was the result of the  hard work of the naturalists in the region and that at some point we were at risk of losing this wonder.

It pulls on my heartstrings. I definitely have a black-belt in codependency with a desire to fix or join things. Just doing a little research had me inclined to join. My expertise in fundraising makes me a valuable member of all volunteer and non-profit organizations. I forget that no is a complete sentence.

Good thing I have my own little piece of nature to come home to and I could resist the temptation to save blue birds. I will just enjoy and try to keep safe the hoards of chickadees in my yard (including the one who insists on hanging upside down).

The Southern Interior Bluebird Trail Society (SIBTS) is a non-profit volunteer organization, formed to promote recovery of Mountain and Western Bluebirds.We are located in British Columbia and have members throughout the province. We establish nestbox trails, monitor them, compile statistics and educate others about this important cause.To date, SIBTS members have placed over 6,000 nestboxes. Since reaching an all-time low in the late 1970s, Mountain and Western Bluebird populations are increasing in numbers. The success of our program is a reflection of the dedication of our members.

 BC Nature mission; “Know Nature and to keep it Worth Knowing”.

 

A Pun

IMG_5049 IMG_5060I pictured a post!

(with apologies to those that post pictures).

Spring is a Lark

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The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn:
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!

We hiked in  the  grasslands this weekend. We went from bare to mega snow. We could hear the lark but not see him. Spring will be soon.

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Irony in the Garden

Conversation on a Friday at work.

Q. What are you doing this weekend?

A. We are going hiking in the hills to pick Burdock, it’s a healing medicine.

Q. What are you doing?

A. Working in my garden, trying to kill Burdock.

Burdock Flowers

From http://burdockroot.co/

 Burdock is a medicinal herb, native to Europe and Northern Asia, but also grows in the United States. It is a relative of the Feverfew, Dandelion, and many other biennial thistles in the daisy family. It’s main healing properties are found in the root.  It can purify the skin, remove blood toxins, eliminate fungi, prevent infections and is antibacterial. It can be used in detoxing.

I am trying to get rid of for its most interesting benefit. It was the inspiration for Velcro. After taking his dog for a walk one day in the early 1940s, George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, became curious about the seeds of the burdock plant that had attached themselves to his clothes and to the dog’s fur. The result of his studies was Velcro.

I am a natural gardener. Killing it means pouring salt on it. It took about 10 lbs. of salt. I have a lot of Burdock.

 

Cinderella’s Last Bath ~ Spring

Spring has come to the grasslands. It wasn’t a particularly cold winter; just lots of snow. Once the weather warmed up everything else warmed up too. Calves are born in the fields, the wild horses bring their new foals down from the hills, trees bud, water flows, hummingbirds return, old cats get to sleep in the sun. We live in the sub-alpine just above the grasslands. I work in town, where the original settlements were built on the delta at the meeting of two rivers. The two major ecosystems, grasslands and forests, form a boundary between the gently rolling plateau and the vast, rugged highlands just to the east  Soil is rich and the climate is warm; semi arid. I experience two springs. The one in town and the one at home, another 900 feet above. We marvel at the difference. It snowed last Monday but this week it has been 30 degrees C. in town and about 25 degrees here.

Gardening has started. Cinderella our Muscovy duck, now at least 10 years old, moved out of the barn last week. It was time to come out into the sunshine, wash off the dust of winter and start anew. Being a duck, she loves to swim. We have a kid’s pool for her and I filled it with water. Her tail wagged back and forth as she waddled over to the pool and hopped in. I am sure it felt magnificent. Spring is like that; the ability to start anew, clean, refreshed, reborn.

The next day she died. I found her lifeless beside her pool. I am so glad she had time for one more swim and to feel the warm sun again.  It’s  really all we have. The moment.

Sophie, The Pig

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I read a very interesting blog today from blogger Shreve Stockton. I actually get an e-mail from the author every day because she has raised a coyote from puppy hood. I thoroughly enjoy the pictures of him everyday. Her blog post In Defense of the Family Rancher really made me reflect on why I do what I do and why I eat meat.

This time of year and living on the cusp of the grasslands, I see calves born every day. I pass through a ranchers farm every morning. Last week he was plowing paths through the snow in the big field and I knew that he would be bringing the cows down shortly to calve. It’s closer to his house and barn in case anything goes wrong. These are free range grass-fed cattle. Farther down the road there are cows everywhere. This is reserve land and the aboriginals leave their cattle out all year. Again they are free range, grass-fed.

I don’t buy my meat from any of these farmers as I prefer buffalo and usually buy one every year. I just find the meat tastier, with less fat.
The ranch I buy from is owned by a couple from Switzerland. I know they love their animals. We are welcome at the farm anytime. There is nothing cuter that buffalo calves. One animal is enough to feed us for a year and to share with friends. We supplement it with venison (in trade, no shooting for me), free range chickens, ducks, wild turkey and trout (available all year, if you like ice fishing).

I could easily be a vegetarian. I have learned that you are a lot happier if you eat something living everyday, fresh picked from the garden. I am addicted to farmers markets.

What really gave me a passion for meat was Sophie, the pig. Her life was changed when she fell out of a truck on to the road in the city. The driver must not have noticed as she was left stunned on the pavement. A passing motorist picked her up and took her to the SPCA. They had no where for her so they knew that we had acreage and a barn, (we had already taken a family of goats, seized due to cruelty) so they brought her up to our little farm and dropped her off. They then left a phone message to say she was there. What a surprise when we go home. She fit it in well with the goats and the barn rabbit, so we kept her. She was a Yorkshire pig. A friend said they liked raisins, so I fed her raisins every night on her dinner. She also like skim milk powder sprinkled on her dinner.

She severely chastised you if they were not forthcoming.

Sophie loved the barn rabbit Oreo. During the winter she would go into the barn at night and cover herself with straw. Oreo would cuddle up to her in her armpit. She loved to help you with your chores and stole your toque or your hammer every chance she got.

Sophie learned to do agility alongside the dogs.  She learned to do weave poles by following my hand that had raisins in it. Just like the dogs.

Sophie grew to be 200 lbs. at two years old. Pigs are not pets. They get cranky and stubborn as they age. Pigs have their own expectations and Sophie wanted to be bred. She started to break boards on the barn and the fence.We were told it was time to butcher  her.  What an awful word.

It was a teary day when we sent Sophie off to the butcher. I cried buckets. We picked up the meat a week or so later. I wasn’t keen on eating it but what a terrible waste if I hadn’t. It was the best tasting pork ever.

Sophie lived her life well-loved.

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Read the blog post. Know what you eat, who produced it and how they treated their animals. And I don’t just mean meat. It will be a better world.

Change Your Point of View

The view from my world.

I love the ocean. I love water; the buoyancy, the smell, the taste., the way the phosphorus sparkles in the moonlight. I was conceived on an island in the ocean. I spent all my childhood summers swimming. Wet sand lived between my toes. Crustaceans came home in my bathing suit.I swam with harbour seals and pilot whales were an everyday sighting. I never dreamed I would leave it far behind. The scent  was what I missed the most when 10 years ago I moved inland. It was like leaving my muse.

Today I  live in the grasslands. The scent is musky and herbal. It’s dry and yellow in the hills all summer. It’s taken a long time to stop looking back and to realize that a change of view can be inspiring. I call different animals my friends. Today I can walk the hills with deer, mountain sheep and sometimes coyote follows along for a time.
I have developed relationships with birds.

Funny I never noticed them on the ocean.  Seagulls always seemed annoying, but here the scope of species is incredible. Some are only here for a short time, just passing through on a journey north so spotting them is an event. Sandhill cranes; you hear them before you see them and you have to look way up, blackbirds, hawks,  eagles.

I have taken a keen interest in the domestic horse who ran away from home and wanders the wrong side of the fence from the wild native horses desperately trying to get in. He made it one day and has been roaming with them ever since.

                                                                                                                                                       Today, my world and his has a different point of view.