25 April 2015

Rainy Saturday

I hate to start another post with a picture of the crow cage, so I'll start with this one. It's raining this morning, but I haven't yet taken any photos, so these are sunny pictures.

Our every-other-year lilac bush is in full bloom. We wish it bloomed every year, but why complain when it is so beautiful right now. We planted it where it is so that it would provide a kind of screen for the back yard, which has always been completely visible to people driving or walking by on the road.

I finally got to talk to somebody about the crow cage out in the vineyard. Yesterday monring the regular Renaudie vineyard crew was out replacing some posts on one of the vineyard plots. We've gotten to know them over the years, and they love Callie, so the dog and I walked over near them to say hello and to talk.

I'm going to avoid the cage from now on, because Callie is too curious about it. I think here she was trying to get some of the dog kibble inside the cage that I assume is meant to attract foxes and maybe weasels. Could it be poisoned?

It turns out that the cage was placed where it is by local "officials" called les gardes-chasse. The French-English dictionary says they are called "gamekeepers" — their job is to keep down the local population of noxious animals like foxes, weasels, and, yes, crows. The gamekeepers also keep an eye out for poachers and generally work to protect the environment. Some are appointed officials, and some are hired by private property owners. One of the vineyard guys said such traps are numerous around the area, in woods and fields. Oh well...

We had some wind a night or two ago, and we woke up to a carpet of apple blossoms on the ground the next morning. This is going to be a banner year for apples. If anybody wants any, speak up. They'll be ready toward September and October. One man who lives on the next road over takes some to feed to his pet donkey.

One noxious creature we could do without around here is the stinkbug, also known as a "shield bug". They can damage crops. They come into the house in the autumn and winter, seeking a warm place to hide. We pick them up with a paper towel or kleenex and either throw them out the window or flush them down the toilet. The live up to their American name: they stink when you touch them. They are not North American, but I understand they are now invasive over there.


  1. The fact that your lilac bush blooms every two years on odd years reminds me of this Franco-Latin joke on the mistranslation of this Virgil verse: Numero deus impare gaudet. or in French, Le numéro deux se réjouit d'être impair. or Number two delights to be an odd number, the word play being on deus and deux.

    So, I think, lilacs delight blooming in odd years!

    1. That's not clear to me, but then my Latin is very rusty.

  2. Your yard is looking lush. I hope the cages disappear soon.

  3. Great lilac -- such a great yard.
    Ken, I still don't get the fact that the crow is in the cage-- is the crow trapped in there, or was the crow placed there as bait?

    1. The "tame" crow is in its own cell and not in danger. It has food and water. It's bait or a living decoy.

  4. That poor crow...all I can think of is that song from the 1960s "White Bird":


    although, of course, the crow is not white.

    1. I love that song and have loved it since the '60s. I had it on vinyl but got rid of all my 33 tours when we left California in 2003. I've since downloaded it from Youtube, possibly via the link you give.

  5. This belief that crows are a problem in agricultural is misguided and there really isn't any excuse for it these days. If anything crows are beneficial to farmers because they eat large quantities of pests like leatherjackets (that's what a flock of corvids in a field is doing, not eating significant quantities of newly sown maize or sunflower). Any garde champetre/chasse who is still engaged in trapping crows is seriously old fashioned and needs retiring or retraining. He is wasting his time, making useless work and generally not a very informed or observant person. This sort of thing makes me cross.

    1. Je suis d'accord avec toi, mais j'avoue que je ne suis pas un expert.

    2. We were at an LPO Refuges beano yesterday, so I asked about it...
      it is in fact illegal now in France to use a live animal as a decoy...
      but, even if reported, it is highly unlikely that anything will be done...
      unless you have photographic evidence that a rare species has been caught.
      In the UK, there are now officers within each police area that have responsibility for wildlife protection...
      and prosecutions are.... slowly.... very slowly... creeping up.
      But, even there, those officers are ordinary policemen and women....
      with a normal police load of work as well!!
      And, going with what Susan says....
      it is the ones that "have been doing it all their lives" that are getting prosecuted...
      it is what their overseeing gamekeeper taught them...
      and many "drifted" into the job... there are NO qualifications for gamekeepers...
      you learn on the job... and then train your successor!!

  6. Lilac bush looks so great and the garden,too

  7. The other day we had 20-25 crows flying around our condo, and landing on the roof and nearby tree. I told A that it must be a crow funeral (after reading your blog and comments). Then a few days later our neighbor asked if we smelled the dead skunk, or some such thing. We all decided that it must have been a dead crow, unless the crows were mourning a dead skunk. 8^0

  8. There's an old (possibly New England) rhyme about flocks of crows, to the effect of:
    One crow for sorrow,
    Two for mirth,
    Three for a wedding,
    Four for a birth,
    and five for the happiest day on Earth.

    I guess French gamekeepers haven't heard it yet.

    There are stinkbugs in Western NC, I found a big one inside the back window of my car yesterday. Carefully enclosed it in a paper towel and removed it, urged it to seek other venues.

  9. Emm, have you seen the video about crow research that Diogenes posted a link for the other day? I thought it was very interesting.

    I'm sure that everybody will be happy to know that the crow cage/trap has disappeared. I was out there a few minutes ago.

    1. Hadn't seen that, thanks. Sound is kaput on this machine at the moment, but I'll make a note to watch as soon as it comes back from the fixit place.


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