Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hunter Safety

So, I finally got my hunter safety certificate this weekend.

I know what you're thinking, and the reason I've never gotten it before now was mostly that I had other people to do the hunting for me, since my main goal is getting something tasty to bring home and eat, rather than the thrill of the hunt.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the rush of getting a big buck, or successfully stalking an antelope. I get that it trips people's trigger and that's awesome. But that's not me.

I'm not against stalking an antelope even though I may never do it... but my reason would be more along the lines of "but the deer is standing there looking at me like I might have a snack for it while the antelope saw me blink and he's over the horizon."

I'm willing to put the effort in for the good meat, but good deer and good antelope are pretty interchangeable to me flavor wise, but the effort to get them is vastly different. Especially since in my opinion if an antelope isn't pretty calm to start with and dropped in its tracks it's bad antelope, not good.

So, mostly, when I got a craving for game I'd tell FarmDad or Darlin Man "Go shoot some x and I'll cook it" or just "Go shoot some rabbits and we'll throw em in the freezer" because I love rabbit.

But, this weekend there happened to be a class and it happened to be free and also happened to be conducted by the most entertaining and personable game warden we've had in these parts for ages, so I figured it would be less boring than it could be and figured I'd go ahead and get it done.

Did, didn't learn a whole lot I didn't already know via osmosis, but it was entertaining. We had several kids in the class and the game warden (quite correctly) built his teaching around them, not the adults (of which there were also several,) and got really interactive with them which was fun.

Got a hundred on the written test and got handed my card since I have my concealed carry and thus am assumed to have safe firearms handling skills which are part of the whole thing here in Colorado, but I went out to watch the live fire anyway because I enjoy watching the kids get to shoot.

All in all there are worse ways I could have spent that time, and now I can get my own danged small game license and get my own danged rabbits... though I did discover via our game identification/habitat handbook that we are viable habitat for spotted skunks. I don't think I've ever seen one, but I totally want a pelt.

Also, in-state mountain lion and bear licenses have plummeted, cost wise. On the bears that's mostly because the bait-is-bad contingent got baiting for bears outlawed. I can understand the part where drawing them in from miles away isn't sporting, but I also understand first hand the consequences of the resultant population boom (they got rid of the spring bear season at the same time, IIRC.)

Over a hundred bears have been euthanized just so far this year, just in Colorado Springs, according to the game warden. Just in Colorado Springs. The population pressure without the control and higher likelihood of a successful cull that we had with the spring hunt and the bait has resulted in less food to go around and more bears coming into contact with humans.

Which is why I never reported the monster black bear that would walk down our alley when Darlin Man and I lived right by that little dry creek that backed onto undeveloped hilly scrubby area. Because he wasn't getting into the trash, he wasn't going after the dogs (he checked them out a time or two but believe me if he had wanted to eat them the fence we had there wouldn't have caused him any inconvenience at all) and he was literally just passing through. But if I'd called him in, he could have been euthanized for that. There was a certain amount of nothing you can do, keep your trash cans fastened closed and don't interact with the bears kind of attitude where we were but in other areas they have gone to a no-strikes policy. Bear is in town, gets reported, bear gets tranqed or trapped and loaded up, taken out of public view, and put down.

So, being the proper nature lover that I am, I do have a bit of a yen for a black bear hunt. It'd be neat to be able to have a bearskin rug from a bear I got, and that would be one more bear towards a properly balanced system in which we get a good number of healthy bears doing their ecological job instead of a bunch of borderline or unhealthy bears that come into town because there's not enough food in the hills, but there is in all those garbage cans in town.

I don't know that I ever will do a bear hunt, since we don't have enough in this area to make it a problem, and I don't really know the area over west by the foothills where they are a problem well enough to feel comfortable hiking about in them by myself. Here we get the occasional bear on a telephone pole or last year I think a little cinnamon stage juvenile took over someone's doghouse because he thought it was a good place to den up. Over there we were picking up trash all the time and watching Gigantobear (I'm telling you that black bear had to be hip high or more on me at the shoulder, and built like a brick shithouse... he was big for a black bear) take his evening stroll down the alley because it was easier walking than the streambed.

So yeah, if I could get a decent guide that I trusted to hunt with for a bear hunt, I'd definitely consider it. On the other hand it's not at all like it's a driving passion or anything, so I probably won't look too hard.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ah FarmDog...

FarmDog has always had a bit of a licking.. issue. Mostly she'd lick her paws for a while, usually while I was trying to sleep. 

In recent years, as she's gotten older and stiffer, it's gotten worse. As the weather gets cold, she gets achey, which only encourages her licking. So she'll lick sores on herself. 

Not a huge deal, glucosamine helps and when she does manage to do it in spite of everyone telling her to stop licking (which she does... for a bit) I just throw some triple antibiotic on it, wrap it in gauze, and then vet wrap.

Usually she'll lick the vet wrap until told not to but mostly she leaves it alone aside from being pouty and showing you her ouchy for sympathy at every chance. Occasionally she'll take the vet wrap off to get to it but she knows it's only temporary and she'll get wrapped again as soon as I see it.

Yesterday she tried to be sneaky:

She chewed the bottom off the vet wrap, leaving most of it intact, so that she could get to the sore. Of course she got re-wrapped, but I had to get a picture first. She did a pretty good job of making it inconspicuous, honestly.

Edited to Add:  Do you see this sad face? You see how injured she is? She's showing you how injured she is.

Potted Plants

No, I'm not talking about the recent legislative change that made it legal to have five marijuana plants for personal use. Even if I were into the whole pot thing, I'd be leery, since there still isn't any legal method to acquire said plants.

I'm talking about garden variety potted plants. Literally. Look:

That's my plant table. This spring Farmmom decided she wanted to start some of her own seeds, and since the spring here is unpredictable, that meant starting inside. So she bought a little flourescent fixture and a plant bulb, to put over her little plastic seedling greenhouse. 

Then I got Tiny Tim, my tea tree (yes that's him in the far right, with his own lamp, because he wasn't always on the table) and discovered that some of the creepy crawlies around here just love him, so outside for some Colorado Sunshine wasn't an option unless I wanted fuzzy white bugs all over him instead of pretty white flowers. So he got a lamp.

As the summer progressed I made use of the plant light for my fruit tree cuttings (some of which are in the back there, hopefully making roots for themselves... if not, I'll just have to get new cuttings in the spring, cause I want tiny mulberry trees damnit!) and a couple of mom's potted plants that were ailing. Those eventually gave up the ghost, but they were older plants and had survived longer than we had expected them to anyway.

Since it's looking like things will be moving forward on the roof at the farmhouse, and the move to the hermitage is more imminent all the time, I've been plotting on food plants that can be grown in pots. See, the farmhouse has a lovely porch with tons of windows. With a little help in the lighting department over the winter, it'll be a great space for having such food producing plants as can thrive in pots all year round. 

So far, I've managed to get chives and mint established. The pot of mint I found for three dollars turned out to have two plants in it, so of course I split them. 

What's with the empty pot on the left you ask? It's not empty, I answer. See, we had a head of garlic sitting around left over from pickling. When I went to use some for a pot roast I was throwing together yesterday, it was showing signs of imminently sprouting. So what I didn't use, I stuck in a pot. So that will eventually be several heads of garlic. 

When it's a sixty mile round trip to the store, it's worth growing whatever you can yourself. 

Tiny Tim is doing just fine, in case you were wondering. Producing flowers and berries regularly... well, just look here:

A flower and a berry side by side. That berry will turn red for a few days, then start shrinking and and drying up. The little white flowers are pretty as a picture... though not pretty enough to reassure Concerned Worm, as you can see. 

So far, there's far less bonsai to Tiny Tim than you would expect. I do a little clean up on his leaves now and then to make sure he's getting plenty of light, but mostly I just water him and let him do his thing. If I wanted him at the height he is now, that would be a different story, but for now he's got some growing to do, and he'll do it best without a lot of interference.

All in all I've had better luck than I expected to with my potted plants, and I'm really enjoying them.