A Day with the Dammah Oryx . . . . or two.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday June 29, 2012

Once in a while, we’ve been given “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences up here on the hill, and another one began yesterday morning when neighbors Peter & Jeanne called at 0600 to say they had some “Oryx” in their yard, 9 of them to be exact and was hoping I could help keep them inside the yard and prevent a panic from one of them onto Skyline Blvd where morning commute cars may hit one of them.

I immediately knew WHO was their keeper and where they came from……about one mile down the road, mr. Reed Gleason has been helping to save this very rare, extinct in the wild, African “ORYX DAMMAH”, or Scimitar Oryx by operating a little breeding ranch for years. ….”back when” he started with 3, and currently HAS 9.

I immediately went over to see this so rare an animal in such an unexpected and familiar setting…..and assess with them what to do “immediately”……… I arrived to see them:

We quickly realized, other than dogs NOT happy, the animals were pretty relaxed….and not surprised since the keeper of course, feeds them every day……… they seemed quite happy, not nervous:

We KNEW we had to get Mr. Gleason here as soon as possible…..Peter drove down to the “ranch”….and we woke him up…he said he’d come down quickly….we returned to Peter’s yard…. they’re still enjoying life….. they looked quite bright in the sun:

***After some discussion, and ONE attempt to get them moving on the road, they were easily spooked by a fast car going by…and it was decided they’d stay for a couple hours until traffic was quiet again (and good thing, school was out…quiet for sure). SO. Peter, Jeanne, me, Mac & Tiki left for a dog walk….. and returned in about 2 hours….Reid’s car was there, but the animals were gone. We thought whew, done!

As I turned toward the house, I see Reid coming down my driveway ….oops….NOT done? he came back saying, “I ‘think’ they’re on their way…I got them up in your yard, and moving into that big field next door, so I think they’ll find their way.” . . . he left for home.

I get home, walk around behind the house….and see off in the distance, they’re STILL in that field on the far edge and moving toward 9336. What? I grab MAC, get him locked up, which TELLS him something’s wrong, so he’s barking. By the time I’m back out they’re walking right up to the yard’s edge:

They were NOT shy with my walking their way, and were quickly in the yard:

This picture showed the two biggest bucks deciding to size me up….but I think this pics the best of the set:

This was funny….they settled under the apple trees….the horns seemed to disappear….they didn’t look so dangerous now:

At one point as I wavered between wanting to stand between them and the garden, I WAS very happy that my deer fence was UP:

At one point, the two largest bucks began walking straight at me…..woops, I thought:

I realized the bucks were trying to push me back so they could keep moving NOT for the garden, I realized, but towards the easy step down to Skyline Blvd and back to Peter & Jeanne’s (I thought):

ready for a shower (had a lunch date in Lake O….)…….

MY first thought was, OH NO, I don’t want one of these beautiful RARE things hit by a car in front of my place when Reed sees it….so I began waving my arms, saying “Let’s go kids, BACK BACK”…..and for some reason they responded, and began moving BACK to Ed’s field, my last picture, because I kept shepherding them northbound:

Whew! I watched until they were at Ed’s long driveway….and thought, I’m late for lunch, I HAVE to shower, MUST go….got back in the house, almost ready to shower, and heard cars stopping out front. OH NO! I go out front to see them on Skyline right in front of our place, and new neighbor PHIL there, his FIRST introduction to this NW Skyline oddity…..he said Reed was on his way. they were hoping to turn them back, AND……..then a car came, and they dashed DOWN the driveway of the neighbor just across the street….and disappeared into the woods. REED went after them.

I LEFT, had to, got ready, left, enjoyed a rather LONG lunch with Cousin Nancy M, and a long lost cousin Stan who I had not seen since our shared Grandmother’s funeral in ’82, and before that? Probably 1961 or 62…. That was a lot of fun. ON THE WAY THOUGH, I decided to make sure the ORYX got home….I drove past my place, to the Gleason “ranch” to see gates open. NO ORYX. Oh NO!

Here’s the rest of the story:

THIS MORNING, I get back from the dog walk….get Mac in the house, just start to get organized, and MAC starts to bark….here’s REID in my driveway………THERE are the ORYX! WELL, this time we have a couple extra cars to block the road, 3-4 neighbors, and we walk the animals down SKYLINE for a mile….the closer they got to their own turnoff, they got MORe and MORE excited….they were running by the time their turnoff lane arrived….and we’re happily in their pasture when we all arrived at the Gleasons. WHEW! WHAT a relief.

THAT was an amazing couple of unexpected mornings. I guess I can’ erase the African nature trip from my “Bucket List”.

*

Garden update June 25. Another wet day

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday June 25, 2012

I am glad I have a hobby garden. It centers me and keeps some attention on basic beauty and nature……yes. some calmer time in lieu of a more active night life I’ve been leading this year! That’s probably a good change.

BUT THE GARDEN! THIS year has required so very LITTLE care it’s amazing to watch it grow. It HAS been So wet this month, almost a record, but thankfully, we’re getting some sun days inbetween the showers and rot/disease hasn’t happened.

THAT being said, the MOLE season has arrived! JUST today was the FIRST time I tamped down the new mole tunnel that went completely from one row end to the other end and back down the other side….opening tunnels ALL along every plant’s roots in that row. That is the lettuce, thyme, oregano, cilantro, chive row…so it was a lot of plants. This MOLE WAR will NEVER go away since we can’t/won’t spray anything in that garden or near it to harm the “food” growing.

BUT, things ARE progressing beautifully!


**Speaking of lettuce, our season of picking/eating fresh lettuce has begun and should now run until September! That means really flavorful refreshing lettuce salads now for 3 months. YES.

Speaking OF Oregano….it’s two weeks ahead of last year and will be ready for 1st harvest soon…. that harvest will be cut, dried, and used in the tomatillo salsa in September:

***and beyond the Oregano (same row)….the lettuce plants are mostly READY, thyme is browing, basil, baby cilantro starts, chives and crocosmia at the end for a nice look.

Next row! The French Fennel loves this weather…it’s beautiful, getting fragrant, and just barely beginning to explode in growth. It will soon need supports lines to hold it up this 10 yr old plant is So thick:

***AND just beyond the fennel in THIS row…..grows celery, parsley, tomatillo plants, and the first row of corn…..

Next row! Young 6″ Tomatillo “volunteers” are right on time…..and beyond that is the last space not planted….well, some of it anyway…just sprouting in this shot are some leeks and more “green onions”, cilantro….and lettuce will be planted tomorrow:

**At the far end, two lovely crooknecked squash plants are really starting to grow.

Looking from the other side, the rows of Hot pepper plants (still in jackets), and tomatoes are blooming and stand 3′ high and THICK (They’re at least DOUBLE in size what they were just two weeks ago on the last garden post Jun 12):

**Note the red fruit in the large bushes behind the garden…those are currents and those bushes are pretty active every afternoon now as birds are flocking to that space gobbling them up (thanks, Nancy G!….she gave us our starts years ago.

We DID add one row on the north end….and it’s no doubt the busiest row of the entire garden….I can only describe it..the pic can’t show it all:

****THIS end, rhubarb just cut, 5 hot peppers in (3 still in jackets), allium to the right of that, then 3 kinds of onions up: walla walla, yellow & red, some shallots, leeks, potatoes–that go on around the end, and the bay laurel….ONE row.

A wider and longer view of the space is gives hope there will be FRESH food harvested (besides lettuce and herbs) soon:

==========
ELSEWHERE…… it’s so much a growth season, I am not keeping up……. The GRAPE LEAVES are coming along…waiting for the August Pickle-a-thon:

Miss Wino loves frolicking among the growing plants that should be blooming soon:

After experimenting with 4-5 blueberry plants about “a spot they would like” ….and we found one, there were only two surviving bushes to move there….and they’re BOTH producing berries this first year being moved here:

The Wild Huckleberry plants are beginning to produce (Thank you, Kaye):

The 2nd Rhubarb cutting got done and washed:

It produced a couple freezer bags, and now I’m waiting for the perfect moment to make…..which….pie, crisp, jam?

As the MOLE wars begin, the season of a local beauty ends. The columbines are fading away now, and are always a favorite dramatic little bloom when they’re on:

FINALLY, it appears one of the years BIG projects will be replace the deck…..it’s 16 yrs life span is coming to an end….we hope to add a walkway along this space back To the deck… the question in July….can we get it done by Aug 1?

Warmer spring makes a garden happy – garden update mid-June 2012

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday June 12, 2012

First…..the Barred Owls in Forest Park are increasing….The naturalist confirmed for us there are 3 nests within a 1/2 mile range….that’s pretty heavy, but after a warmer winter, the deer mice population has exploded, so he feels no problem yet…. the owlets we’d seen have now fledged….this pic is two weeks ago….now they’re gone and probably 10″ tall….4″ wide…big owlets:

A soft-rule for removing the pink Kozy Coats from the Tomatoes for us is around the end of June. Warmer spring here meant we had to move that up…they were removed sunday the 10th…’cause those ‘maters are completely out of the top of the coats, and vines scrunched up inside. We got the coats off, drained, and they were here for a day to dry….nice look, eh?

****NOTE: The aqua colored coats are STILL in there until the end of June for: the Hot Pepper plants……..

The plants were then straightened back up, man they had grown so fast inside the coats, some couldn’t stand on their own. Now they’re protected by the metal cages ready to blossom and start growing fruit. They look fantastic for June 12 on a hilltop in Portland:

The corn starts were planted the same day, and I swear, two days after this pic (today) they look an inch taller:

The end row of lettuce is getting ready…we harvested one romaine and a leaf lettuce plant for salads….and the period of eating fresh picked lettuce for the summer has begun:

The 2nd picking of Rhubarb is READY to go. Rhubarb crisp or pie…..hm……

Rodger even got ambitious and cleaned up the rose beds….they’re looking better, but after some feeding, they should look like BLOOMING in a couple weeks:

Ah! Summer. Sunset? about 9:00 pm now……nice.

NATURE 130% in June / Portland, OR.

Bloged in birding,Hummingbirds,Nature,Oregon,Pacific Northwest,Passerines by mark Monday June 4, 2012

I can’t imagine how brilliant writers have the day I had today and not make a complete NOVEL out of what tiny little nature things that walked/flew around this house.

1) Squirrels. Have born young, the young are no longer nursing, and are out in the “community of squirrels” (Eastern Fox, Eastern Gray Fox, Douglas **native)… They only localize off our rear deck because of the 8 bird feeding stations where seeds drop to the ground.

But ONCE in June when the young are no longer allowed to nurse, and are brought TO this feeding station, to learn the science of what their diet IS, they are so soon spurned and turned away, and chased away by vocalizing parents (and others)………that it’s a bit sad, but they learn they must go off and find their own “territory”….not uncommon in nature. **At least I’m happy they’re eating most of the dropped seed….to keep any mice/rats at bay.

2) DEER. ONCE A YEAR, Doe give birth to fawns…and just AS they do, they give their yearlings eviction notices. Only Once a year, the deer seem to disappear, then while Mom and baby are quietly hiding/nursing, the yearlings appear alone, seemingly a bit lost, and HUNGRY. Today! That happened a yearling buck walked right by our windows to the seed/log we just got……and relished in that find for about 5 minutes…when MAC realized there was an alien who he KNEW was going to destroy our civilization. The barking spooked the dear, but he was back soon SO hungry. It was a fabulous watch for 5 minutes….then he ambled up the side of the house toward the vegetable garden. WOOPS! I have NOT put that deer fence that goes up EVERY year June 1………….. I finally had to let him know I WAS in this “pasture”….and opened the window….he pranced quickly away.

***and of course NO photos……when I simply turned my shoulder, this askeered little deer immediately looked my direction……quiet and NO movement allowed this to happen. I had a great time.

BUT……..TONIGHT, JUST NOW, I spent 30 minutes watching him return to the SEED BLOCK 20 ft from the window…..dine to his hearts content….then amble to the front of the house for salad, aka, apple tree leaves….and I think he ate too much for MY comfort, and then graze in the pasture. THIS was a NATURE MOMENT of a lifetime……..beautiful young sleek native DEER!. Ah, Yes.

3) FLYING SQUIRRELS: After not seeing them for a couple weeks, was SO happy to see -4- of them at once last night in the feeder….seems like THEIR young are ALSO not nursed to completion, and, NO, we hadn’t love them, they’re back! HURRAY. AND it was FUN to see them comfortable 15′ from my chair dining at length.

4) OWLS. Yes, it’s their time too. JUST Thursday, on the dog hike, I was a bit ahead of the group, and SAW a barred owl, very close, FLY in front of me, turn and land on a branch not 100′ away……she watched us…until the group got close and flew further……. End of story? NO! On the weekend, group member Arnie ran into the scientist doing the wildlife count this month for Forest Park, fabulous John Deshler (google him)….. and John not only showed him that very NEST that I was SO close to) but sent him photos of the chicks his nature photog Scott Carpenter had taken.

I am SO thrilled to NOW be able to not just walk the dog, but go check on the progress of the 4 little owlets………….

5) Oregon Juncos. These poor little bottom of the food chain birds NEST IN THE LAWN or on the ground…..SO defenseless…..almost EVERY year we get ONE….we found one, she had five eggs. NOW, 2 are hatched doing well (today), one egg/young disappeared, and should be 2 more tomorrow or……. AND yes, we protect them by putting a tomato cage around that lawn spot…..that is not touched or mowed until the young are fledged:

6) RAIN. Yep, it’s becoming the Junuary I hate……….I HAD to put sluggo on the borders of the garden near the lettuce…..who knows…….and snow levels will get down to 3500′ tonight…… We will know Wednesday……..

What an exciting 2012 THIS is starting out to be…………I had a nature day I’ll never forget.

The Garden June 01 2012. a warmer spring this year.

Bloged in garden,General Home Life,Nature by mark Friday June 1, 2012

Some interesting changes (so far) in THIS year’s plant growth…..even though our RAIN amounts the last 3 months his a record (14″), the temps were SO much warmer to include DRY SUNNY periods, the plants in the garden are doing amazing. I’m remembering HOW much I like gardening because of this fun change……..

So a quick camera walk around the house let’s me celebrate the GREEN beauty NW Oregon is right now. Some shots of changes in the yard:

This little water fountain was given to us by the friend who made it…..and birds have QUIT even going to the one with NO water movement…they ALL bathe in this because of the fountain….it’s fun to watch because it sits 1′ from the window:

This hemlock was planted from a volunteer tree about 5″ tall 8 years ago…it has struggled EVERY winter until 2010 against the Buck Deer who liked to rub the new antlers clean during the rut….it’s FINALLY over 6′ tall, and I believe, is gonna finally take off:

Every year this looks so lush even though it sits where little water gets to it:

And it seems only 4-5 years ago that we planted a “few” Japanese Iris bulbs dug and given to us by pal Karen Smith from her yard, and now, in 2 places they look like this:

And really the same about this berm along the driveway which was no more than spare dirt brought in when friend Dave dug his septic tank for his new house and we spread it here…..we planted a few things as “experiments”…..and they seem to have managed just fine (yes, a couple things are buried in here and need to be moved):

I LOVE the grape vines (that never mature in our little micro-climate) that give us huge leaves by Pickling Time….”1 per jar”….that’s rule…..

AND….it’s peak Rhody time…… all these plants ever get is a dose of Epsom Salts every spring:

And a quick peek at the garden……….at the row’s west ends….fingerling potatos are on the way while marigolds, leeks, onions, tomatoes are growing:

This doesn’t often happen by June 1…..tomato plants are growing out of the TOP of the Kozy Coats already proving temps have been WARM here since we planted them:

****the aqua jackets are around all the hot peppers and will be until Jun 30…..unless it really DOES warm up and stay there.

Here’s a little task for next week…..these corn starts (Golden Bantam is this year’s experiment) will go into the ground:

HERBS are doing fabulous….we’ll be eating cuttings within a week or two from: chives, oregano, sage, basil, rosemary, celery….. and the sprouted cilantro seeds will take 3-4 weeks. LETTUCE will begin getting trimmed and eaten in a week. Yum.

Mac has carrots planted for himself in one row……………(no I haven’t told him they’re up yet).

The curly willow trees we cut down last fall? some of those cuttings started sprouting….I’ve given away a couple and potted 3 more…..any takers?

It’s a good spring here.

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