January 2018

Cats and Wildlife

Toni, Habitat Ambassador Volunteer, Thoughts on letting cats outside:
www.backyardhabitat.info Here is more information.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who let their cats wander around freely outside. If you have ever wondered about the cost of letting your cat out, I beg you to read this blog posting and go to the accompanying website. Change your mind. Toni's website is also excellent. This is a recent quote from Nature Scoop:

Tread lightly, I'm warned as I talk about cats and wildlife. However, to quote David Mizejewski, "We created domesticated cats and have imported them around the world... in numbers that often far exceed the numbers of native predators. It’s up to us to prevent and solve the problem." I've had a well-fed pet cat come into my yard and bite the heads off of birds. It doesn't even eat them. It's not the cat's fault. I love cats. Unfortunately, birds do not recognize the sound of a bell as a predator. The only way to keep birds and other small wildlife totally safe is to keep cats indoors.

I have lived with cats all my life, and have always kept them indoors. Since I created the habitat in my yard, the cats love to look out the window: Cat TV. You can buy videos for cats to watch, but why not let them see the real thing? I created my habitat so there is something different to look at from each window. I placed stands in front of each window so the cat can lie down and watch the action outside. I play with my cats using toys to give them exercise, and they are happy.

Nature Scoop

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The Perfect Tool

I’ve always believed that you can do most anything if you have the right tool. It’s often difficult to predict what tool tool a you might need when venturing outside to take on a gardening task. When I want to garden, I grab Essi, my dog, her leash, my gardening supply bucket and head outside.

Most times I have a plan and go to a specific spot. Sometimes I take the grand tour, Essi’s favorite, to see what needs doing the most. Sometimes I stop and realize I need a tool that, of course, is not in my bucket. I often spend a good fifteen minutes going back and forth until I have collected the perfect pruner/hoe/weeder to actually start the task at hand. Many times I don’t finish the task I start in the time I have. If the tool I’m using doesn’t fit in my bucket or pocket, I might leave it sticking in the ground for later as I leave.

One October day I decided to work on a bed in the front trying to uncover a young tree that had been overtaken by some taller plants. Needing to do a bit of pruning, I realized I didn’t have the tool I wanted and went back to the garage to get my purple ratchet pruners. They were so good on woody branches because you could crank the handles to get through the branch. They allowed me to take off good sized branches without having to go back to the garage to get the loppers or hand saw.

In the middle of the pruning job my husband stuck his head outside the door and told me it was time to go to lunch. I wasn’t finished (when are you?) and thought I’d come back after lunch. I grabbed Essi’s leash, my bucket, and left the tool at the edge of the bed. I was way-layed the rest of the afternoon, and it was the next morning before I remembered the tool. When I went back to the bed where I was working the previous day, I could not find it. I thoroughly searched the area. I thought maybe I had stuck the tool in my pocket and it had fallen out. I backtracked and looked everywhere I had been the day before. No purple ratchet pruners! There wasn’t a sign of them anywhere! Dang! Thinking they would probably turn up, I forgot about them for how went on my merry way to the next task. They never did turn up, and I kept putting off replacing them.

Fast forward one entire year… I was walking up the front walk and noticed one of those holes squirrels like to dig in the fall. They are, after all, burying nuts for winter. At the bottom of the hole was something purple. Guess what it was? Yep, my purple ratchet pruners, big as life. How in the world did they get there? My guess is a raccoon or squirrel saw them and took them to his favorite hidey hole, but who knows. After a bath and a squirt of WD40 they are working and back in my gardening bucket once again.

To Mulch or Not to Mulch

We have all heard of the advantages of mulching, such as controlling weeds. Have you ever heard the saying nature abhors a vacuum. Another way of saying this is bare ground won’t be bare ground for long. Something is going to grow there. Instead of mulching or waiting for weeds, why not plant more plants? Or why not plant native ground covers because they are good at, guess what, covering the ground with something growing.

Mulching prevents good aggressive native plants from seeding themselves, one of the great joys of growing plants. Plants have a way of moving (by seeding themselves) where they want to grow. Mulching may make the ground too wet and prevents those volunteer seeders. Who wouldn’t prefer looking at plants rather than wood chips or pine needles?