Sometimes a rare thing ……

I love to be able to rummage around the riverbank with the dogs at this time of year.   It is so peaceful and serene!  Even better,  we always seem to get a break from the bugs down there!   Best of all of course is that  every wild thing has to come to the river to drink …. so the dogs are never sniffing the same trail twice, so to speak.

It really is frosting on the cake that over the years I have learned some valuable gardening lessons from Mother Nature!

  • Lesson #1:  She does not prune her plants back hard and till them under all neat and tidy in the fall!    The last wintry wisps of Joe Pye weed are still standing sentinel when the new bits are beginning.
  • Lesson #2   Like every other wild thing, plants either thrive in their location or simply do not survive …. the wild mint can even survive being watered by Henry along the soggier bits of the bank:)
  • Lesson #3.   Most importantly of all, I have seen that bugs and animals and birds are not the gardeners’ enemy!   Without the ‘circle of life’ in any ecosystem, there would be no flowers, no seeds …. ergo there would be no flora or fauna of any stripe!

When one lives in the country, how does one garden for oneself and fit into the bigger picture?   Is it even possible?   You bet!

As it happens, my yard is actually a CWF Designated Backyard Wildlife Habitat!   There are little brush piles to shelter the smaller ones!  The old pond in the woods was restored … and a new one added that does double duty by draining the garden and driveway 🙂

And yes … I encourage birds to come by having a non stop summer parade of flowering bits that begin with the forsythia and follow through to the hard fall frosts.   Hand in hand with that, I never till my vegetable gardens down in the fall … leaving the foliage for the birds to rummage around in all winter and for nesting material in early spring.

Do I set up bird feeders?  Not anymore!   Is it because of cats?   Coyotes?   Foxes?   Nope!

A couple of years ago I noticed that the chicken hawks had taken to haunting my bird feeders and realized I had created the exact opposite of a safe spot for the little songbirds.     So now, I scatter the seed throughout the wooded area so that they do not congregate in such dangerous (to them) fashion.

Do my cats go outside?   Not now … but at one time earlier residents here were all allowed to go outside.   That was before the bald eagles made such a comeback …. before they in turn dispossessed other large raptors … in short before it became too darned dangerous here!

Not to be mean, but cats generally do not have much success hunting a species that can take wing.     To be perfectly honest, in her most optimistic moments, Miss Ruby has a better chance of catching up with a crow in the play yard, eh?

The point I am making in my meandering way is that cats who are allowed to go outside on a regular basis are regarded by the other wildlife as part of the warp and woof of the weave.

Are cats that live indoors safer?   Usually!   Kitty Bear spent her first fifteen years here as Queen of the yard!   Indeed she only became an indoor only gal when her elderly self started napping in the oregano for all the eagles and hawks to see!    By our best estimate, Kitty Bear lived to be twenty something …. so there is something to be said for the health benefits for cats who are allowed to go outside!

So what about the current cast of clowns?   Why are they not allowed out?   To be perfectly honest … it is not the animals … it is the human predators that would put them in harm’s way!   With the advent of Bylaw 12 in  Kings County a few years ago,  a climate was created where neighbours could call Animal Control if cats wandered in their yard.   If one was lucky, and ones cat ‘looked’ tame, he  or she might survive with nothing more damaging than a fine.

The short version is that I simply am not willing to take a chance with these cats that are so dear to me.

Not every municipality has such a draconian cat bylaw!    So the other point I am making in my meandering way is that until there are no more homeless cats,  it would behoove shelters and rescues not to automatically exclude potential adopters who would like to let their cat enjoy outdoor pleasures.

The pay off would be almost immediate!   Most reputable shelters and rescues are altering all their adoptables ….. ergo if folks who believe that cats need to spend some time out side to be happy could adopt, then there would be fewer nuisance behaviors to give all cats a bad rap!

What time is it?   It is always time to remember that it is poor logic to complain about there never being enough spaces in a shelter … even when one is actually using all the space 🙂 …. if one is discouraging cat adoption in this way!

Common sense is as rare as genius.   Ralph Waldo Emerson

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