Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Barn Pets

Tuesday March 14 2017

Uh… not!

These pestiferous little buggars are cute and cuddly, I'll grant you that. One website fondly describes pack rats as "sleek, soft-furred animals with big, bright, bulging black eyes." And in another place and time (like maybe a long time ago in another galaxy far, far away), one might think they'd make good pets. 

But in this place in time, in the southwest Idaho desert, they are magnificent pests. They multiply like, well, rats, move in everywhere you don't want them, and you just can't get rid of them. The packrat lives in your barns and cars, under your porches and your house, in your house if he can find a way in it. They steal things for their nests and they chew through wiring in your cars. They live in between hay bales and under shower stalls in barns; and wherever they decide to build their nests, they use them for toilets. If they were toilet trainable, they might be acceptable creatures, but they are not and they are not. They just stink.

Not to mention your things tend to disappear. Not for nothing are they called pack rats. A nest in the barn under the shower stalls has, at different times, contained (from what I can get a glimpse of through a crack in the wall) the yellow trail marking ribbons (not the red ones or blue ones, and not the skinny ones, but the double wide yellow ones), a shaving razor. Probably pieces of a broken coffee mug which I know one of them broke. I found a Halloween rubber bat, about 3 inches by 5 inches, on the way to the nest. This year on the way to the nest I found: pliers, a broken/cut electric 3 pronged plug, and a horse thermometer. (!!!!!)

A couple years ago, Connie lost her cell phone one day. I thought I heard it beeping around the silver bullet bus once. A few days later John later opened the battery drawer, found a packrat nest stuffed in there and reached in to clean it out - and scooped out Connie's cell phone. No word yet on any suspicious charges on her phone bill. 

One redeeming feature - if you can call it that - of the pack rat, is their "midden", a debris and waste pile. Pack rat urine is viscous, and once the sugars crystalize, the remaining fluid, known as amberat, eventually hardens and cements the material together. This can preserve the materials in the midden for tens of thousands of years. Scientists carbon date middens and analyze them to determine what vegetation was growing at the time they were created, and with this information, climate change over thousands of years can be determined (Take that, say the pack rats, you climate change deniers! We pack rats have known all along.) The unredeeming feature of the midden is it stinks and it's nasty and it can grow to be huge, either in canyon walls, in barns, under shower stalls, you name it. 

Other than that, and the bit of cuteness, when they're living under your roofs, they have no other redeeming qualities. 

The 2017 pack rat war has begun. Sorry, dear little pack rats, you have all (once again) been entered into the Packrat Forced Relocation Program (I just can't kill them - I relocate them). 

Some of you relocated pack rats are being spray painted neon colors as you leave, since I heard from someone they have been documented to travel as much as 5 miles back to where they came from!

All of you pack some of your things, and BUH-bye. 

(The score so far is, I caught and relocated 3, I caught 2 and they escaped the trap, Regina's dogs caught and killed one, cats caught and killed one. No spray-painted ones have been re-trapped.)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Dudley's Owyhee Treasures

Monday March 6 2017

(And some quartzite stones I find become Owyhee Designs jewelry.)

Dudley has his own ongoing collection.

This is some of what Dudley has found: 

Deer antlers (he even has a trail named after him - the Dudley Antler trail because he found an antler on this new trail he and I and August and Carol discovered); pretty rocks; owl and Raven and hawk feathers (which he likes wearing in his bridle); turkey feathers (he found 2 of those on the Bandit Springs ride and sported those in his bridle) and even a lotto scratch ticket! (I did the scratching, but he didn't win anything.)

Today we struck across-country to avoid some cows on the trail, and I said, "Maybe we'll find an antler today,"… and not a minute later, Dudley found a nice antler to go in his collection.

It just goes to show, not everybody is interested in diamond and silk… some of us treasure rocks and feathers and antlers and such things home-grown in Owyhee.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mooooving Day

Wednesday March 1 2017

Sometimes Dudley does OK when it comes to moving cows and watching cowboys and cow dogs work. Other times, I think he's been watching too many shoot 'em up Westerns, and he thinks some old fashioned Good Guy Bad Guy Western Shoot Out Mayhem is going to break out and he won't know which way to duck.

We headed out onto the north flats today, just to see how many cows were out that way, and we didn't find too many, because cowboys were on their second day of moving the herds to the south flats. Dude was surprised, nay, startled mightily to see a cowboy on a horse out there when there's usually no other humans or horses in sight, ever.

We said our howdys and chatted on the nicer weather, while Dudley casually ogled the cow horse who rather totally ignored Dudley, drop dead handsome though he is.

The cowboy and his dogs rode on over a hill, and Dudley really wanted to follow, so we climbed the hill and watched a bit while that cowboy and another drove a small herd westward. We stayed back but followed a ways… until several cows shot off to the south, and a cowboy and several dogs peeled off to head them off, disappearing over another hill. 

That's when Dude starts to get very excited about the whole Giddyup Moooooove 'Em Out Ride 'Em Cowboy Move Along Little Dogies YeeHaw aspect of things. When he's close enough up to cows and calves to where he could bite them if he wanted, he's fine, but watching all these naughty running beasts trying to escape in all directions can set him off and turn him into a volcano ready to explode. (Same with an endurance ride sometimes, when he can see horses strung out long and far along a trail.)

We left off and turned back (mostly so I wouldn't make a fool of myself, getting bucked off and having to be gallantly rescued), and anyway Dudley got some good animated exercise into his walk home as he ruminated over the Wild West in which he lives.

We did see some sights today, besides working cowboys and working horses and working cow dogs.

We saw a calf with a busted knee. He stood up when we rode by the first time; on the return trip he just laid there and looked at us. He won't be going anywhere but down a coyote's gullet. (I did tell a cowboy, but how would he find it, or catch it.)

We watched a coyote, making a big circle around another newborn calf… with mama cow off grazing around a corner draw and unaware of impending disaster. Dudley and I chased the coyote off a ways, but none of our hollerin' brought mama back bellerin' in defensive mode, and the coyote just made a wide half circle.

We saw pretty fresh cow afterbirth splattered on the ground… no coyote or Ravens had discovered it yet.

And we saw the gorgeous Owyhee desert, with the still-snow-draped Owyhees for a backdrop. It's one of Dudley's favorite views.