Soon to be renowned!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Drought Barrel Addendum

The drought barrel now overlooking scenic Lake Foot-in-Mouth.

It would seem Mother Nature did not appreciate the tone of the previous post. A mere few days after my sarcastic tribute to western Washington's seasonal drought, we were hit with record rainfall. In the span of an hour or two, Fencebroke's previously derided "drought barrel" was overflowing with rainwater, creating a small lake in its footprint (I'll go ahead and christen this new water feature "Lake Foot-in-Mouth"). This has gone on for a couple days now. The plants and the gardener are happy, the writer thoroughly disgraced.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Drought Barrel

Fencebroke's Drought Catchment System

Whew! It was a close call, but my wife and I just barely got Fencebroke's new catchment system installed in time for the summer drought season. We almost missed the longest, most productive dry spell of the year! Where would that have left us when the fall rains return? Here in the Pacific Northwest, the rainy season lasts for about 9 months, so if you don't have a good, functional drought barrel in place through July and August, you're facing a fortune piping in desiccant from the municipal reservoirs all through Autumn, Winter, and into Spring.

Not to worry though, we wrapped up assembly and installation of the cistern just as the last rain clouds withered into a searing blue sky, not to return for months. The model we chose was a no-frills, utilitarian number meant to blend in and soak up as much aridity as possible. My wife's careful research was spot on, as the vessel is already full to the brim with parched, bone dry air. Fifty or so gallons worth. That may not seem like much to you desert dwellers out there, but in soggy Puget Sound, 50 gallons of drought goes a long way in November. Every little bit is less time I have to spend out back with the hair-drier and less money out of my pocket. This thing is sure to pay for itself in no time!

Please note, I have heard of some folks using these barrels to actually catch rain instead of drought. Never could I dream of such irresponsible, reckless behavior. This is foolhardy sorcery, which I cannot in any way endorse. No, once you have exhausted your store of drought for the season, it is best to just clean out the barrel and store it safely upside down until the next heat wave.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Fencebroke Crows

AKA The Birdbath Bashers, AKA The Raucous Ruckus, AKA The Corvid Cartel.

AKA “Wildlife”.

Because they are the sum total of wildlife thus far lured to Fencebroke's aspiring backyard nature preserve. Oh sure, a lost squirrel or ragged stray tabby will skulk across the grounds from time to time, but their steps are furtive and guilty; they know each one is further trespass into the dominion of the crows.

Our old red birdbath is to blame. Once an innocent enough gift to my wife, bestowed in the hope of attracting some spark of life to a freeway dominated ecosystem, this paint-chipped basin has now become the headquarters, day-spa, and mess hall for a cadre of jet-black hooligans. At our previous homes, all manner of cheerful, Disney film songbirds would congregate atop its innocuous pedestal to sip, splash and cavort while our hardened urban hearts melted in delight. I expected nothing less when I deployed the birdbath to Fencebroke North. The paisley bed seemed a good home for it, so I plopped it in the middle, filled it up, and didn't give it another thought.

Until I started finding soggy food scraps in the bowl. Every day.

I'd rinse it out, shake my head, fill it back up and, sure enough, by the next morning, the clean water would once again have turned into some disgusting soup. I was baffled, annoyed, perplexed, until one day I happened to glance outside as a neighborhood crow swooped in from the roof of my shed with a freaking slice of pizza in its beak. It landed in the birdbath (nearly toppling the precarious assembly, designed more for sparrows and chickadees than these buzzards) and proceeded to dunk the pizza, repeatedly, into the water. Mystery solved. My birdbath had become nothing more than a soup bowl for an industrious, dark-winged scavenger.

Thinking this was perhaps a single culprit who had discovered new uses for a common garden ornament, I was prepared to grudgingly accept the crow as a quirky pet/mascot, an embodiment of FPG's unexpected charm. Over the course of several weeks, however, this naïve notion evaporated as more and more offenders cawed and flapped their way onto the scenea parade of unwelcome guests, each in turn fouling the waters of my daily offering to backyard diversity with crackers, bread slices, donuts and various other dishes which apparently appeal to discerning crows' pallets only when softened in the cool, still waters of a local birdbath. And as for whatever backyard diversity was once to be found, it has now gone into hiding, or moved on to friendlier yards, because it is terrified of the leering murder that has claimed Fencebroke as its own.
Don't be fooled, there are more lurking nearby.