You don’t have to live out here in the hinterlands of the Flint Hills of Kansas to have interesting encounters with wild animals. To wit, here’s a true story that happened in the strictly urban neighborhood of my good friend and high school classmate, ol’ Canby Handy, from Platte City, Mo.
Canby and his wife live in a new home they bought a couple of years ago. Other folks have continued to build new homes near them. Well, Canby tells me that a couple of his new neighbors south of his home built homes on steeply inclined lots and one of them has been having trouble keeping his newly-laid rolls of sod properly irrigated.
The combination of hot weather, hard rains and a troubling sprinkler irrigation system caused the sod rolls to shift — necessitating a partial re-sodding of the upper part of the lawn, near the street in the front of the new home.
One part of the re-sodding effort was installation of an “erosion-control lawn mat” — which is a flexible two-layer fiber mat (mostly burlap, I think) with a mixture of wheat, rye, and lawn grasses sandwiched between the layers. The small grains and lawn grass seed emerge through the watered mat and eventually the mat decomposes into the soil and leaves an un-eroded soil covered by healthy new lawn grass.
Right after Canby’s neighbor had his new “lawn mat” installed and well-watered, he noticed that a flock of permanent resident Canadian geese, that lives on a nearby small suburban lake, had intelligently noticed that the new lawn mat and its seeds represented a bountiful breakfast. They somehow knew from urban experience that all they had to do is lift and flip the edges of the lawn mat up with their strong beaks and partake of a free smorgasbord of grains beneath.
Naturally, the neighbor didn’t appreciate the geese invasion threatening his expensive re-sodding effort. What to do? He couldn’t shoot the offending geese because that is illegal. He couldn’t physically stand in his new seeding and keep scaring the geese away.
Then he got an idea. He drove to a Cabala’s store not far away on the Kansas side and bought a realistic-looking plastic coyote decoy. When he got home in the evening, he placed the decoy coyote smack in the middle of the new lawn mat. Then the next morning he watched from a window to see what would happen when the marauding Canada geese came for their free breakfast.
First they flew over the coyote honking loudly. The coyote didn’t scare away. So, the entire flock lit nearby in the middle of the street and locked their eyes on the decoy coyote. They were clearly curious that the predator didn’t move, and were fixated on the decoy.
In fact, they were so fixated on the coyote decoy that a vehicle coming down the street didn’t get stopped until it had hit and killed four of the geese — leaving a blizzard of goose feathers in the street.
The neighbor’s new lawn wuz saved by a decoy coyote and an inattentive, or maybe aggressive, driver. However, Canby’s neighbor did have to bundle up the four dead geese from the street and dispose of the carcasses.
To me, the whole episode thereby proves that curiosity not only kills the cat, as the old saying goes, but also the geese.
While I’m on the subject of predator birds, my resident American Bald Eagle continues his, or her, regular predation on the channel catfish in my pond. It makes at least one daily pass around the edge of the pond and, often as not, catches and eats a channel cat weighing 3-6 pounds. It leaved nothing but the fish head with tight skin attached. Then the resident crows, or buzzards, clean up what the eagle leaves.
On the gardening front, I’ve got all three varieties of spuds dug and stored. I got a good, but not overwhelming harvest. Also, got the three varieties of onions pulled and stored. Again, a “meh” harvest. The peppers and tomatoes are beginning to produce regularly. The heat stalled, and probably finished, the green bean crop.
We’ve had a welcome change in the weather. The temp went from a high of 107 degrees to a low of 66 degrees two days later. And, we even got a welcome 2-tenths of an inch of rain early in the week and it wuz followed up with a full 1.3-inch rain last night and early this morning. The temp is delightfully in the low 80s today with a high humidity.
The Kansas primary election is just around the corner. At election times I’m prone to turning to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. Since entrenched legislators, who make their careers and a fortunes in permanent politics, are too abundant in modern politics, I’m taken by the following words of wisdom about elections from none other than Benjamin Franklin, year 1787:
“It seems to be imagined by some that returning to the mass of the people is degrading to the magistrate. This is contrarian to republican principles. In free governments, the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors and sovereigns. For the former, therefore, to return among the latter, is not to degrade them, but to promote them. And, it would be imposing an unreasonable burden on them, to keep them always in a state of servitude, and not allow them to become again one of the masters.”
Stay well. Have a good ‘un.