My Bad Sheep

Now Serving Deer

Attention rural nonprofits!

If you want to advertise an event to drivers navigating even a rural byway, take my advise and use BIG lettering - and not too many words!

I've been drivin' by the California Deer Association's poster promoting the 'Animal Banquet' (...or, could it be 'Annual Banquet'??) for weeks now.

For the life of me I can't make out the (much smaller) third line which could EITHER say 'serving deer' or 'saving deer'. Take your pick.

It's clear, in this case, that size DOES matter.

If it's an 'Animal Banquet Serving Deer', I'm IN.

If it's an 'Annual Banquet' for the purpose of SAVING deer, in my humble opinion (and those of my esteemed gardener neighbors in our small town) - thank you for the invite, but we're a tad overrrun with largess already.

However - we'd be HAPPY to donate deer to your cause.

Out here in our rural community, the donations are strictly 'catch 'n carry'.

 CatchnCarry 

Just sayin'...

Now Serving Deer

Attention rural nonprofits!

If you want to advertise an event to drivers navigating even a rural byway, take my advise and use BIG lettering - and not too many words!

I've been drivin' by the California Deer Association's poster promoting the 'Animal Banquet' (...or, could it be 'Annual Banquet'??) for weeks now.

For the life of me I can't make out the (much smaller) third line which could EITHER say 'serving deer' or 'saving deer'. Take your pick.

It's clear, in this case, that size DOES matter.

If it's an 'Animal Banquet Serving Deer', I'm IN.

If it's an 'Annual Banquet' for the purpose of SAVING deer, in my humble opinion (and those of my esteemed gardener neighbors in our small town) - thank you for the invite, but we're a tad overrrun with largess already.

However - we'd be HAPPY to donate deer to your cause.

Out here in our rural community, the donations are strictly 'catch 'n carry'.

 CatchnCarry 


 

Just sayin'...

Bacon 'n Eggs

A photo of DianeWe own no domestic animals on our Back 40 - supposedly because we want to 'keep it wild' but ALSO because neither of us are good at animal tendin'.

That doesn't mean I don't get tempted from time to time - but sometimes I believe it's by the idea more than the reality.

For example, I could start small, with the acquisition of a pot-bellied pig and a chicken.

When one owns pets, one has license to fly with their names. Livestock are no different.

I would name the pig 'Ham' and the chicken 'Eggs', so that in the morning I could awaken neighbors with the feeding call of 'Ham 'n Eggs: come and get it!"

I had believed my notion unique: so imagine my surprise when i discovered some of my rural neighbors more serious about 4H indeed chose names (if they named at all) relating to food.

Thus one neighbor's 4H kids proudly reared the prize-winning Pork Chop and Hamburger, another fattened up Pot Roast, and a third enjoyed the too-brief company of Shank the Lamb.

Names: they really pinpoint your future role in life.

Just ask Bacon, Pork Chop and Hamburger...

Gophers Defeat Russian Invasion!

It was thirty years of fierce battle on American soil; but in 1841 the Russians finally left for good.

There wasn’t a drop of American blood spilled. And no, we didn’t sneak in under cover of darkness to poison their Vodka stash, either.

Nope: the California Russian Invasion was defeated by two mighty forces which could neither be blown to bits nor compromised. Yeah, I’m talking gophers … and California’s notorious North Coast Fog.

 Gopher1 

Frankly, I know JUST how the Russians feel. There’s a black hole of gophers here in Bloomfield and an infinite replicator at the other end of said hole. Kill one and the only apparent difference is that a twin pops out of the ground one hole (i.e. 1 inch) away to thumb its nose atcha (likely trying to ‘kill with cute’.) Kill a hundred and a hundred memorial gopher mounds spring up in your favorite garden patch the next day: both a service for the bereaved and the answer to apparent genocide in a massive retaliatory effort.

Now, the Russians came to Northern California with high hopes. Their motives were pure: they merely wished to plant crops to feed their starving Alaskan colonies – and a neato place to offload some 41 cannons from das boat didn’t hurt either (…and who packs a boatload of cannons for an extended vacation?? Inquiring minds wanna know…) – which is why the coastal refuge of Fort Ross was SOOO appealing. They didn’t even enslave their newfound Native American neighbors: they married ‘em (there must’ve been some heavy vodka partying on all sides after THAT idea!)

It’s ironic to think that instead of placing their cannons outward, the Russians would’ve been better off had they attempted a shelling of the soil where the REAL enemy lie in wait.

I can just picture the first struggling plant shoots making their way through the soil, the impromptu Vodka party and Russian kick-dancing which resulted that night – and the ‘WTF’ moment the next morning when they found ALL 1,000 shoots sucked down into black holes overnight. I’m sure half a day was spent recovering from the last evening’s hangover and blaming this sordid event on hallucinations or too much partyin’ before they finally realized the REAL obstacles to success lay deep underground (likely chuckling, and with full tummies, as they welcomed the Russian ‘invasion’ – which at that point, to Mr. Gopher, was likely synonymous with ‘full larder’).

A side note: leader Ivan Kuskov had also thoughtfully brought a raft of otters, intending to raise otters by the shores and export their profitable furs to Mother Russia. ( Ed.’s note: Wow. Between 41 cannons and a raft of playful otters onboard, that ship was PACKED. ) Guess what?? A mere 30 years later there were NO otters (methinks the Gopher Brigade likely had underwater hideyholes for when the garden veggie raids just weren’t enough….)

Indeed, Russia’s greatest coup may have occurred in 1841, when they gave up the good fight and sold their fort to one John Sutter, turned their pigs loose in a final spasm of revenge (it’s where California’s notorious modern feral pigs come from!) and took their Pomo Indian wives back home to Mother Russia (the Kashaya Pomo are STILL trying to locate their distant kin in Russia. (Ed.’s note: After generations in warm California, likely they froze to death upon hitting the frigid shores of their new Siberian home…)

And the fog which also caused much Russian angst? (Ed’s note: you’d THINK peoples from a perpetually-frigid Arctic world would merely chuckle at a leetle fog…)

It, too, was Left Behind.

So today here on the Northern California rural coastline we enjoy: lovely views (on the few days fog permits such – which always prompts a plethora of real estate agents to QUICK get out the signage and get those sales contracts in blood before the fog returns to claim said view!), sad Russian history, the annual Feral Pig Hunt, and the restored remains of a grand ole’ fort that proudly proclaims Russians DID indeed land on California soil with high hopes.

All they left with was our Pomos.

They DID leave behind a few extra cannons, however. Some 41.

And on the Gopher Issue: me, I’m all for SHELLING, myself…make use of this wayward artillery!

Ducks Unlimited

A photo of DianeThe best (unofficial) bulletin boards of West Sonoma County reside in an informal location, resting on a local cattle rancher’s fenceline at the intersection of two major backcountry roads. It’s where we get our local events news.  There one can learn (at a glance) about everything from Granger hoedowns and 4H shows to fundraising dinners. 

It was the latter which got my hopes up (and my heart rate going) when I espied an open invitation from Ducks Unlimited to attend their Annual Fundraising Dinner. 

Since I am an avowed fan of ducks (dead or alive), such evoked a Pavlov-like reaction as I salivated over signage, envisioning a banquet room virtually packed with duck dinners and the hopeful vision of ‘all you can eat’ attached to the process. Even if the incongruity of proceeds going to preserve duck habitats was negated by the duck dinners I envisioned on the menu (I mean gee: what ELSE could be served up by Ducks Unlimited?? The name kinda says it all, no??)

Sadly, I was mistaken. All that huntin’ and shootin’ for the benefit banquet apparently was limited to more mundane domesticated creatures (chicken and cow, to be specific), while the coveted ducks were obviously reserved for the deep freezers of the Ducks Unlimited membership (…yet another reason for joining up!).

Luckily I uncovered this sad fact in advance of my donation, having eagerly phoned to reserve my space at the event and also having mentioned my mouth-watering anticipation of the Duck Dinner certain to evolve from a Ducks Unlimited donation banquet.

There was a LOT of astounded silence on my part when Ducky Danny had to emphasize (three times) that duck was, mysteriously, NOT on the menu. And Ducky Danny wasn’t feeling so very duckie either when the conversation came to an abrupt end without a definitive answer to my burning questions of (a) if ducks were UNLIMITED, why not spare a few hundred for the annual fundraiser, Scrooge McDuck? and (b) if ducks were being hunted by DU…and not for said fundraiser…WHERE WERE ALL THE BODIES GOING?? I sense a mystery, here; especially as my initial P.I. detective skills were brought to an abrupt halt by the slam of a phone receiver (tip: not mine…)

I suppose I ALSO need to be suspect, then, of this week’s signage, posted by the California Deer Conservation Society (…as though deer needed conserving in our neck ‘o the woods, where they’ve learned some lessons from our local bunnies and are breeding up a virtual storm) touting a Fundraising Dinner for THEIR coffers. Just as certainly there will be NO venison at table, despite the dinner’s sponsorship by the local NRA and despite the over-abundance of local meat, fresh on the hoof. 

Were I President, that would be one of my first orders of business: demand Truth in Signage. Any Ducks Unlimited dinner therefore MUST feature the main course of which the group’s name depends. California Deer, the same. If the Turtle Rescue Society wants to sponsor a dinner, for goodness sake take care of the aging and terminally ill with a huge pot ‘o turtle soup.

Until these changes are instigated, I personally plan on attending NO local fundraising dinners. It’s all chicken, chicken, chicken…neatly belaying the positive-sounding promise of Ducks Unlimited. When the group lives up to its name, then – and only then – will I proffer my donation and eagerly attend.

It is also humbly suggested that simple name changes may result in a higher degree of donation success. For example, to which would you rather donate: Ducks Unlimited or Duck DINNERS Unlimited??

No duckie dinner, no dinero.

I rest my case…

 Duckies 

Happy Tomato Day!

It happens once a year, it takes place at our local rural (one-clerk) post office, and it’s as inevitable as rain that it’ll occur simultaneously to The Peanut Gallery bringing in tubs of the last holiday orders to be mailed before Xmas.

I’m talkin’ Tomato Day … and if you have no clue what THAT means, you likely don’t live rurally. 

 tomato1 

A little fun at tomato pickin' time...

It’s a years-old tradition for local Crystal Clarity Tomato Farm to thank their customers with a special jar of home-farmed tomato sauce straight from the fields (uh – the tomatoes, not the sauce) at Xmas. 

All 100 customers. 

You may think 100 customers is a drop in the proverbial profit bucket; but when it comes to Tomato Day – it’s simply overwhelming. 

Picture it: 100 packages lovingly hand-lettered, each holding a single fragile jar of sparkling sauce. 

Each requiring special postal attention and handling. By my calculations, that’s at least 300 minutes of work (…find X, where X = 1 jar x Y [3 minutes].) 

100 packages evoking discussion of local history and color, eccentric customer personalities, satisfying gossip, and hours of delightful reminiscence during the careful handling process. 

TPG invariably walks in with his (comparatively paltry) unexciting two whole tubs of JUST enough mail orders to provoke the “you’ll just have to wait” response from postmistress Roz, who by now is literally knee-deep in Tomato Sauce. 

 tomato2 

A little knowledge, however, is a dangerous thing: should any of our customers complain of tomato stains, for example, we’ll know exactly whom (or, more specifically, what) to implicate in the matter: 

Tomato Day holiday festivities at the local Valley Ford Post Office. 

It’s the happening place to be, pre-Xmas! 

Buona sera! 

And – HAPPY TOMATO DAY! 

PS: And, let it be known that there has NEVER been a tomato stain on any of our Xmas shipments – thus supporting the fact that those 300 minutes of postal processing is TIME WELL SPENT. TPG.

 

 

 

Reign Deer Games

Our neck 'o the woods, however rural, holds a shocking regional lack of Xmas spirit. I'm talkin' the glaring lack of reindeer - who evidently reside a LOT further North than California.

My Dad attempted to explain this fact to me; but once I espied my first stag at the tender age of five, all thoughts of "Reindeer R North' went right out the window (or, to my way of thinking - up the chimney...).

What was lacking in antler points was MORE thqan made up by the embodiment of Rudolph himself, apparently oblivious to his celebrity status, munching grass right in the San Francisco city limits out by the golf club's priced expanse of lawns.

I've been 'hooked' on deer ever since; somehow convinced that a sleighful of gifts waits just around the corner from every deer sighting.

 Reindeer 

Study has revealed

1. Deer are on all continents 'cept Antarctica and Australia: a fact which lends enthusiasm to the ritual opening of Deer Season on all but two continents (...and those have likely handily substituted Opening of Penguin Season and Opening of 'Roo Season, though the sleigh issue remains a special challenge at Xmas).

2. Deer can enjoy a range of habitats from tundra to rainforest.  While "clearing open areas with forests may benefit deer populations", listen and learn from my small hamlet when a new urban land buyer decided to clear two acres of scrub, trees and decades of overgrowth - and Rudolph and his marauding gang rampaged through town gardens hitherto untouched in a wanton thirst for revenge (see: the sleigh doesn't ALWAYS contain gifts!)

3. Also be warned: a deer's nose is 100 times more sensitive than ours.  Translation: adding "Deer-B-Gone" as a parameter defense to one's local garden will ONLY result in midnight revenge; NOT deer poisoning.

4. A deer's four-chambered stomach allows them to digest tough plants. As Carlos found when he bragged to the town that NO DEER would dare touch his prickly cactus plant collection - only to find a wanton midnight Rudolph Raider had struck down the LOT.

What it all boils down to is: Xmas lives in our small hamlet year-round, in the form of Raidin' Rudolph and his Merry Gang.

Our neck 'o the woods may hold no actual Reindeer - but that's simply a matter of semantics.

If you're a gardener here in Cow Country, the deer WILL not only rain on your parade: they will REIGN.

Doesn't it just SLEIGH you?

Happy holidays from The Back 40!