Today is Earth Day, how’s it going?

The breeze is up and the dust devils are forming the rain has taken a break and the sun is shining bright. The temperature is still a bit nippy in the early morning but as is customary during spring the morning warms rapidly. The wild ones are nowhere to be seen other than the brief glimpses when they leave their nesting spots. The Canadian Honkers have made their appearance always a welcome visitor to the slough they are feeding in the pasture on the far side of the river and nesting somewhere else. I have observed a slightly strange behavior displayed by the geese and ducks. Normally they fly with their mate but this spring I have seen three Canadians flying together and three Mallards acting like a mating pair, it’s a bit odd but I’ll write it off as mating zaniness.

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That Barred Owl is still flying around fooling people into thinking he’s a Great Horned Owl, which he is not. They look a lot alike but the barred is about 1/3 the size of his larger cousin. When the Crows see him the entire area is electrified when they start harassing the predator. The Owl has been perching above my head lately, of course, I fail to remember to look until he takes to the wing and surprises me. I have been more interested in getting videos of the mammals that are elusive this time of year. All that Owl has to do is show up, whoever said 80% of any job is just showing up must have been thinking of him perching. He doesn’t make a move nor a sound, just sitting on a limb behind a thick branch he cannot hide from his noisy neighbors.

This is the time of year the reptiles will be seen warming themselves in the sunlight next to the road or on a rock. It’s also the time of year for me to start looking for them. Our visitors are not poisonous I have not seen a Rattlesnake in the time we have lived on the island, but that’s not to say they are not here. Skinks, Gopher Snakes, and California Whip Snakes are common visitors, last year during the fall there were some baby California Mountain King Snakes, they look like Coral Snakes but ours are harmless, and they come in various colors.

In a way the Gopher Snakes are a much-maligned victim of mistaken identity, some people mistake them for Rattlesnakes so they bring about their demise. That’s tragic because the Gopher Snakes are our partners in the rural areas without them we would be inundated with Gophers, Rats, and Mice. At certain times of the year. like now, the vermin population skyrockets and during a year like 2019, the rain will increase the number of young. I have seen one large Gopher Snake over the years, there are more I’m sure but they are difficult to spot in the tall grass.

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Whip Snake, they are pretty and harmless, my neighbor picked this one up and set it in the wooded area across the road. He is about 6 feet long.

The squirrels are busy as ever, they don’t spend much time harassing Skunkpuppy while they are building their nest in the treetops. The Red Squirrels are numerous, I think there is at least one black one scrambling around. The Pecan tree that holds several nests has not leafed out yet, I’ve been wondering about it as everywhere else the trees are all green with an abundance of leaves. I’m sure they will catch up, as I remember they are the last to lose them in the fall. The Apple tree is doing great which will bring much delight to my little red buddies, the little bandits steal them. I must do something this year to dissuade them, they cross the road on the phone line then run along the top of the fence. Reaching the end the meet up with my tree, it’s not a long leap for them to make from the top rail to the nearest branch. Leap they do, many times over taking an apple each time in their mouths and running back to the safety of the trees. Adding insult to injury they will sit on the power line waving that bushy tail and chattering as if mocking me and Skunkpuppy for not being able to stop them. I will try the hot sauce and chicken wire fencing to keep them off balance, I have no interest in hurting them in any way, but I can curse them.

My Tomatoes are planted reminding me of the worm problem I had last year, it was an everyday activity to pluck the nasty little dudes off the plants then toss them on the gravel. Normally I don’t believe in killing any creature but those green devils are an exception in my book if they are not done away with there is only one place for them to go, back to my Tomatoes. I toss them on the gravel usually with a small piece of the plant that I cut off with the invader. After putting in the sun I sit on my chair to take a break, sometimes I will set up my camera to catch act two, my nemesis the Bluejay. Watching me from the wires above there is normally at least one in the yard, he sees me toss the worm and within 3 minutes swoops down and grabs it. Bluejays also strip my Cherry Tree bare, before the fruit is ripe these guys will eat them right after the bloom is gone and the tiny beginning Cherry is showing. I don’t want to harm them either so I watch them pick the fruit and fly to my neighbors’ house a fair distance away. Landing on the trim board at the roof line they stuff the tiny fruit for safe keeping. Then he comes back for more, it’s unbelievable, to make it worse they take some apples also.

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We’ll have tomatoes soon.

Today is Earth Day, and that’s what this blog is about, we as individuals don’t have to take in the entire Earth as an improvement project, some do and some wonderful activities have been started. We don’t have to initiate a worldwide program, there are actions that we can each do every day to honor the Earth.

Picking up after ourselves is one of them, just making sure we don’t leave anything behind when we are at the beach or park and pick up a few extra pieces of the junk while we’re at it.

Drink water from a reusable vessel, it sounds like a small thing but if we all avoided plastic water bottles the plastic pollution in our Oceans would be greatly reduced.

Separate plastic from kitchen and garden waste, use the Blue recycle bin, even though some of it cannot be re-used at the very least the packaging will be in a manageable place, hopefully with a solution found soon.

We can stop or reduce our use of fertilizer and weed killers, environmentally safe alternatives are available. Use natural fertilizers such as animal manure, worm castings, and fish emulsion, the results are better than with synthetics.

In the spirit of Earth Day lets all sit down and look around, not only look but see as well. Not only are the large animals interesting to watch and photograph but the small creatures are as well. It would do us all a great deal of good to merely sit in the shade and watch the Earth for a little while, we’ll all be better off for it.

Thanks for reading and sharing my Earth Day Celebration Blog.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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