Our feature photo this month is of a local trio of nutria. I caught some good pictures of the nutria youngsters bathing and wrestling in a drainage ditch we call Lake Roger, after the workman who installed the drain pipes back in 2004. The ditch is dry in summer, but the nutria are having a good time in it now that it is in full flow with the winter rains.
The sticks in pots are cuttings of some Glenora Black Seedless table grape vines, taken from one of our own vines planted long ago. All of them were labeled, but it looks as if the nutria have removed a few labels. They probably took a bite to see if they were edible, and tossed them aside when the discovered they were not.
News from the farm
It has been a relatively quiet and wet winter here, with more than enough rain to pull at least western Oregon out of drought status. We have so much water now, the gophers, including Jaws, have abandoned their holes on the downward slope of the farm, and fresh diggings are visible up along the north fence. Old gopher holes can spout water like mini artesian wells. In fact it has been so wet, nutria have moved in from somewhere. Our nighttime visitor I stumbled across back in November apparently has friends and relatives, which have provided some interesting observations of these non-native but now naturalized rodents from South America that enjoy almost worldwide distribution. Australia and Antarctica have managed to escape the invasion, according to the USGS map.
A few links to government websites are listed below for the interested reader.
The Nutria Chronicles: The well-mustachioed, biggest and boldest of the nutria youngsters, now named “Yosemite Sam”, left the bath to challenge me, but backed down and ran for the shed, soon followed by another one.
A relative suggested they look a bit like the moon-men from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, so the names Gidney and Cloyd were given to the other two, and seem to suit them well. Viewer discretion is advised due to the political content of this children’s cartoon I found on YouTube, but those unfamiliar with the characters will see where the names come from.
One can see where they have dragged an old fallen apple into the shed on some other occasion. Snacking in a safe place!
On another day, the nutria youngsters managed to pull ALL the plastic label tags out of the grape vine cuttings. I managed to find all the tags, and get them back into the pots. I decided to move the pots up onto the porch on top of a barrel, as the nutria appeared to be staging some sort of protest to the presence of potted cuttings in their personal swimming hole, “Lake Roger”. I saw Yosemite Sam and crew members Gidney and Cloyd later this afternoon, grazing and frolicking by the shed. They have a strange custom of what looks like “kissing”, at least that what it looks like from the human perspective. They greet each other by standing on hind legs, and like two people, “kiss” each other on each cheek, and then engage in some sort of muzzle to muzzle activity before resuming feeding. They also wrestle, and engage in something that looks like a form of Klignon head-butting. Sometimes Yosemite Sam just sits and stares at the house from the shed. We do wonder what on earth is he thinking about.
These youngsters and their insatiable appetites will probably move on (we hope) and return to their riverbank homes once we start moving into the dry season and Lake Roger and the low areas dry up to hard clay. Prior to last November, we had only seen one large adult nutria in the last 12 years here on the farm.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
Our feline correspondent this month is Mr. Nano, the Great White Hunter, who says nutria, also known as coypus, are wild creatures that cats with any sense should leave alone. He much prefers monitoring these fellows through the window, and napping is preferable to that.
Nano also reports that Abby cat, who will be 14 this coming April, had her dentistry this past week and done quite well. Her blood work is good and she is holding her weight. She still thinks she is the Alpha cat, and quite in control. Eleanor of Aquitaine might have been a better name for this one.
Old Willow still misses Rick’s mother, her elderly human companion who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last month, and is adapting to life without her as best she can. She is very quiet these days and prefers to keep to her bed, although she still eats well. We hope the arrival of spring and more sunny days will instill new energy in this old Calico matriarch.
Lucio, Marcus, Hope, Wynken, Blynken and Nod kitties are also doing well, and remind readers of their own page listed in the menu on blog site. Cats and humans are aging right along with the royal port in the wine cellar, and are collectively pleased when morning comes and all have awakened on the correct side of the ground. Clouds and rain and welcomed along with sunshine, and somewhere around the world, a rainbow graces the sky. Often here! Another day begins.
Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
I am still on hiatus, and will return when I feel sufficiently rested and renewed. This may take a while….
Old Seabisquit the Subaru, my trusty gigging companion, has passed 430,00 miles!
In the meantime, please – wherever you are – help keep your own local music scene alive by going out to see live performers, of any genre you prefer.
In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.
Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms