Summertime

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We’ve had a “normal” summer so far this year. It’s great to receive rain and overcast skies to keep things cool. Much of the rest of our western states are in drought and fire this year, but Washington seems to be getting a break, finally! It’s been a real pleasure to watch crops and plants taking off in the summer warmth and sun with the great rains, while I can focus on other tasks besides watering. We will be back into a watering schedule tonight, but it’s been over a week since I had to get out the sprinklers.

Some residents of Western Washington have been complaining about not getting enough hot weather and sun, but they live in a temperate rain-forest! Just like the lawn lovers who cut all the trees and put in grass, I say, move to Nebraska where you get all the grass; if you want non-stop sun and warmth, head south to Florida or Texas, even Colorado is a sun state. Washington is not, at least on the west side, the east side of the state is high desert, but brutal winters would make rainy cool summers look like a dream.

The weather this summer is a break from several drought years, and we’re still in need of more rain. The farm is planning for more hot weather in summers, along with harder winters of more cold temperatures, and a lot more rain. In spite of drought summers which have broken all sorts of heat records, our winters have been breaking records too. We’ve had more rain than ever, and that should make us less susceptible to drought, but that’s not the case. Instead, the rains are getting harder, and that water is shedding off the landscape and into rivers to the sea much faster, instead of the slow soaking Western Washington’s great evergreen forests need to survive.

I am eager to know how the rest of this year’s climate change will play out in The Pacific Northwest. For now, we’ll keep enjoying a temperate summer and keep the tomatoes in the greenhouse. Our additional water catchment systems will also create more irrigation security as we continue to face summer droughts. A 20,000 gallon cistern is going in this year, and we’ll have more water retention capability, which allows us to develop more food production spaces at the farm.

Backyard Bear

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This guy has been trolling around our stream buffer habitat for weeks now and it’s a great reminder of the wilds in our backyard here at Leafhopper Farm. Special thanks to Kyle for getting this trail cam footage of the Ursus Americanus in our wildlife habitat of the stream buffer at Weiss Creek. Below are some impressive plaster casts taken by Trevor of the bear earlier in June when it came through our hand dug cold plunge pool.

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left hind

The hind end of this animal is big, and the back feet carry that weight, so they are bigger than the front. Our cast is only a partial track, having a great capture of the claws, most of the toes, and “ball” of the back foot. A full track would have a much longer heel attached, much like our own footprint. In fact, it’s not uncommon to confuse human and bear tracks in certain sub-straights.

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close up of back left claw and toe

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I’m guessing this is a male bear, based mostly on sheer size. Though considered smaller on The West Coast, in Washington, the bears tend to be heavier, following Bergman’s rule. This fantastic specimen is no exception, and it’s the largest of the few I’ve been close to in Washington State. Am I scared? Well, no, unless I come upon the bear suddenly, which is unlikely. The residence here on the land are being careful, not leaving out food or taking quiet walks down by the stream. Clap, sing, stomp, and talk boisterously when you think there might be a bear around. That’s the best way to avoid surprise encounters.

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right front

Black bears are common across the state, but at Leafhopper Farm, this is our first resident bear we’ve been aware of. When I moves onto the property in 2013, there was recent bear sign, but after settling in, there was no more fresh bear sign till this June in 2018. Now he’s in the area and very active in our stream buffer. That’s great! For the farm, having wildlife in the habitat we are cultivating for them is the plan. Will the bear stay in our fenced buffer space and not find his way to the chicken coop, grain room, or orchard later this fall? Who can say? I know it could happen, so we have to take careful steps here at Leafhopper to ensure the safety and preservation of our stock.

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right front

The realities of living on the edge of wilderness means wildlife overlap with domestic life, and as stewards of wildness, we have to take a step back and really think about our relationship with nature. For me, there is a very active crossroads between farming and a passion for wilderness. I want to let all the wild things do as they will, but when it infringes on my livestock’s health and safety, I have to take steps to protect my investments in cultivation, sometimes at the cost of something wild. We do this every day in ourselves, and it’s not easy. The lesson here is adaptability, for me and the bear.

Summer Check In

 

The goats are out keeping the grasses down and working the edges as fruit trees put on their lush fruit in a cascade of bounty. Trailing blackberries Rubus ursinus are ripe on edge-land, and red huckleberries Vaccinium parvifolium are on in the forests around Leafhopper Farm. The apple trees are showing good fruit development, while cherries skipped this year all together (I really don’t think the cultivated strains will do well here long term), but the Asian pear tree will be a bumper crop. The three plumb tree cultivars are at three different stages- totally dead, partially alive; and fruit production on one branch from the liveliest of the bunch. Counting the flowers and unripe green fruit our tenacious Rubus armeniacus, we’ll see another bumper crop this year, unless the cold rains return in August.

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Wildflowers at Leafhopper are brighter and more abundant than ever. Pollinator specie numbers are up too, and this year, Calypte anna and Selasphorus rufus are actively defending territories in the gardens! It’s a frenzy of flight and fluttering and good pollination ecology on the farm. Bees are only part of the pollinator system, on the yarrow Achilles millefolium below, Polistes dominula is eating pollen and perhaps, opportunistic in who might also land for a feast and end up the main course. However, I have not witnessed predation while on the yarrow flower.

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Honey and bumble bee share neighboring plants as they dip into the summer nectar. Though Leafhopper Farm does not steward hives right now, we have been feeding all kinds of pollinators on the landscape and will continue to develop more pollination terrain here on the farm. It is great to see such response in only a few years of pollination station development around our tended spaces. The color and diversity are endless, and the sights and sounds grow ever richer.

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This summer, a lot of our pasture has grown into mature grassland, something great for birds and insects, voles and mice, but ultimately not ideal for a working farm. Because we chose not to get sheep this year, the pastures are overgrown a bit, as goats are not really grazers, but browsers. We are pushing them through the overgrown fields to help glean some of the under story growth, but the dry grass seed stalks will not be their main interest. They will however, knock down much of the hay and help get the pasture back on track for chickens to comb through later this month.

 

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Bran is working hard, and putting on great summer weight. Because of our travels this summer, we’ll be culling all our weathers before August. The two male kids were culled today, and they will make great tender goat steaks and succulent rib roasts over the 4th of July. Our herd also lost Brockstaro, the breeding buck of the farm, earlier this summer to injuries sustained in a butting match with Bran. This is a hard lesson in putting two goats of vastly different sizes together in a stall with one feeding station. The behavior happened over night, and Brock was not recovering. He was put down to end any suffering, and it was a great loss for the farm. We hope to acquire another breeding buck next year, or pay for stud services in the upcoming fall season.

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For now, the gardens are in the height of summer growth, and we’ll have a lot of great seed for planting next year’s garden, as well as a feast of different veggies as the harvest continues here at Leafhopper Farm.

Small Scale Agriculture

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Leafhopper Farm is an egg producer! We’re churning out a case a week now, and it’s going to stay at this level to maintain quality (and sanity of the farmer). Hands down, more than 40 active layers on a small farmstead becomes too much on all the other systems. If the hens are at peak of health, and your accounting for mishaps, they will regularly produce about 15 dozen eggs a week. That is a case worth of golden nutrition. Between cost of grain, pen size, and wear on the land, the flock should not grow past 40 active layers, which means about 50 birds (including chicks) being maintained on site. This number is supported by the incubator success rate, health of the individual birds, and time on the part of the farmer to process the work.

Now, a lot of farmers would immediately reflect that for about the same amount of work a day, I could have 1,000 birds and make a heck of a lot more money for my time. But in experiencing this profit driven model of production, I’ve encountered a heck of a lot of hurdles, which, though surmountable, cannot outweigh the benefits of small flock for my farmstead model.

Let me take a moment to break this down:

1. health of birds and people-

In raising birds for 6 years at Leadhopper Farm, and having worked with much larger flocks (100s of birds) in organic settings, I can say with confidence that going over 50-60 birds in one flock is pushing the limit of keeping healthy hens, and an awareness on each individual bird. The concept of herd limitations is a crucial part of animal husbandry that does not get enough study, and I would argue that contamination outbreaks in animal industries would drop to almost 0 if the number of animals in systems was reduced, in most cases, significantly.

All the USDA inspection laws revolve around human health, and if the animals aren’t healthy, it will transfer to people. This is one of the biggest threats facing the human race today. We’re more likely to be infected by viruses, than murdered by anyone else, and yet we continue to ignore pathogens, which thrive in overpopulation.

E coli and H1N1 are real, and happen in overcrowded animal systems. I believe more sickness happens when people cannot keep track of their animals. How could you know each bird in a flock of 1,000s? How can you keep bio-security of so many? Our laws try to crack down on the risks, but we’re already pushing the envelope and failing to contain infection. The diversity of genetics is also a point to bring in here, and large mono-culture industrial agriculture cannot produce diversity. This puts our animal systems at great risk, and smaller, and more numerous systems are the answer.

Another reason to limit flock size is the psychological well being of the birds. I don’t know any animals, including people, who enjoy being crowded in together en-mass. In community, even humans have their limits, and our brains cannot handle too many names and faces. The chickens have similar limitations, and at Leafhopper, they start pecking each other when in groups of more than 40. A fellow farmer in the valley puts blinders on his birds to prevent pecking, and I wonder how the bird’s brain is effected by this sense deprivation. It’s also comical to me that you would have to put little plastic goggles on all your birds, but hey, if it works, why not?

2. economic incentive-

Scale is always used in economic arguments, and the scale of animals seems to be bigger is better. However, we know through many studies, that growing a natural system beyond it’s limitations does not end well. Until we as a species can get it through our thick skulls that natural resources are finite, and cannot exponentially grow like imaginary profit margins for investors, we’ll always end up shorting ourselves and causing catastrophe. Please look at history and all the other “great” civilizations who topple when they overtaxed the ecology around them.

Scaling down can mean scaling up in other ways. Shrinking herd/flock sizes down would mean less profit for the individual, but a greater opportunity for others to raise manageable herd/flock sizes and better balance ecological impact and overall economic participation. This is a win win for everyone, as long as the theory of more money=better life could be abandoned for evolved theory brought on by real world events such as global economic collapse and the “drying up” of natural resources available to feed the exponential growth of human population. As we evolve our awareness, we can enhance our solutions as gain balance, even abundance.

3. impact on landscape-

Again, nature is not exponential, and our fantasy of “mining” other planets and asteroids from the heavens is not realistic- the pollution we would create using extraterrestrial inputs would quickly destroy our world. If we take into account visionary movements towards “green power” we still fall short of the mark because of inputs- how the solar panels and wind turbines are constructed, for instance. But at Leafhopper Farm, we’re talking chickens. The birds themselves are hatched on site, from eggs our birds lay. The chickens lay those eggs because of good diet, including, for now, grain sourced from off farm. I know VERY few farmers who grow all their own grain for their animals. I think that’s more to do with land prices, and a lack of cooperation between farmers due to lobby intrests.

My chickens like to scratch and peck at the ground, and in concentrated mass, they can do a number on the soil. Now, most coops have “sacrifice areas”, and my coop is no exception, but it’s a very limited size, and would be non-existent in a fully mobile system. This is my future goal, and I can build a portable coop of manageable size for 50 birds. I also think that I could raise a flock of broilers in the summer months, to utilize my pastures even more, but that will be complicated by grain.

Grain is the game, and getting enough nutrient dense food to the birds is my next goal. If I’m going to claim the farm is holistic, I’ve got to have as little inputs as possible. That’s going green in my book. You only extend within your means. What a concept for life. Now, extending your reach through stretching and testing is totally ok, as long as you are aware of the consequences. Yay scientific methods! Today, there seems to be a lack of assessed risk taking. Instead, we are jumping into the wide blue yonder like a theatrical video game. It’s not necessary. We can deduce our soil’s potential using very calculated algorithms and chemistry. Technology can propel our awareness about nature and its capacity, help shape the use of our landscape without abusing it.

At Leafhopper Farm, we’re watching the entire system work together in all its parts. Beyond our little 9.8 acre parcel. This is the deeper thinking I wish all land stewards would participate in. Buying tons of grain and having it shipped to you is completely disconnected form place. Your animals only live because of a huge input from outside your capacity. It’s costly, environmentally unstable, and assumes the crops will come to you. I buy a locally (in state) grown and packaged grain, which is painfully expensive. I pass that on directly to my consumers by asking $7.00/dozen, and many people can’t or won’t pay that. It’s all the grain costs for me, and I know my farm can grow enough food for 50 birds, but no more without external inputs. If my neighbors were to pitch in land, we could grow something larger, but still no where near the industrial levels which give us $0.99/dozen eggs.

4. buying time

I once shared a story with anther farmer about walking out with the hens in the morning, spreading their grain around the field to encourage scratching and tilling of the soil in that pasture. He laughed and asked how much time I was spending out there in the field, just standing with the birds when I could be working more efficiently to better maximize my time by feeding in a central feeder and moving on with my day. Well, again, if you want your life to be about deadlines and maximum output at the cost of your health and happiness, that’s one way to live a life.

Animal systems can be stream lined to buy time for a farmer, often the guy who has to run everything, and never has enough time. As a farmer, I know the feeling, but I also learned from nature recently that she’ll take her time about most things, and I can’t rush her without consequences. We live in a world of short term gain, and it’s not something I appreciate in modern society. If anything, we should be looking at more long term goals, for sustaining a shared vision of health and happiness. Yeah, and there’s the need for vigilance against strange outside forces which might be lurking and definitely will predate the weak- or something like that. But really, wildlife predates my stock often enough, but not all of it, and I certainly still have more than enough, but I also don’t just stand around when predation happens. I act, and responsibly too.

This is another myth we’re perpetuating today; if someone or something else takes from me, revenge! It’s almost comical, but really, we can’t avoid these natural systems; we can continue to learn from them and adapt, without sacrificing our health and happiness. On the farm, I build better fencing, stronger stalls and coops, and I’m around a lot to keep a human scent strong. That’s most of the deterrent- presence. So, still wondering about my stance in the field? Well, I also take time to watch my birds, see how they are, make sure they are physically fit, eating well, drinking, social interaction, and which birds are foraging the best.

Buying time for myself by finding the fastest way to complete a task is not always optimal. In rushing, we forget all the details that go into our rich and complex lives. These complexities are strengths in survival, and we’ll need a layered system of stewardship to remain successful in cultivating with the natural world. You really can’t beat nature, only abuse her for a short term, while causing long term destruction that cannot be easily reversed. If we continue our exponential growth model, and keep feeding an overpopulated planet in the short term, our long term path to extinction will continue on its way.

 

 

Kittens out and About

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Nick takes after his father Muir, hogging the feed bowl and letting everyone else know it’s his. For such a little cuddle, he really loves the food bowl. We’ll be working on temperament and good eating habits in the coming days. A lot of handling is crucial to cultivating domestication. This is true in the case of all farm animals; the more you handle them, the easier it will be when you really do need to hold them, like if you have to administer medication or check a wound. These two kittens are getting a lot of loving and care as they become alert to the world around them.

Nora is the more confidant of the two, stiking out early from the wood pile to see what was going on around her. She is more forward, and far more comfortable being out. The two kittens are named after Nick and Nora of The Thin Man series. Let’s hope they don’t take up a drinking problem, like this fictional characters who share their name. To better tell them apart, I can see that Nick is a shade darker grey than Nora, which may not be so easy to determine in a photo. The personalities of these two beings shines already, and it will be a pleasure this summer to watch them develop into fine rodent control around the farm.

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Muir and Lucia are taking a lot of time to teach the kittens as they come awake. Just this week, we moved them up to the porch from the wood pile to make sure they get enough dry food as they get weened from momma cat. The two young ones are prowling around their new digs with great enthusiasm. They are also learning good manners, like not clawing up the furniture or rugs. A little squirt bottle of water reinforces “no”. The kittens are quickly understanding that the porch is a visiting place, not their den.

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In the evenings, Lucia takes the kittens out to the gardens and sits quietly with them, listening and watching as the light fades. She is teaching her kittens to hunt, and silently lets them quiet down and join her before she heads out. Usually, the kittens stay on the porch and cry when she is gone too long, but the weeping is getting shorter every time, and I think the kittens will soon be on there own.

It’s a real treat to watch them play and romp on the porch together. Muir and Lucia seem happy to watch too, though Muir is spending a lot more time sleeping through the hot days now. I’ve still not heard any rodent activity under the house, so I am thrilled to have the cat family close at hand. The rat problem persists at the barn, and a new coop with better foundation construction should help. We’re loosing eggs to these rodents, and it’s not good for the hens to think their nests are being raided. Also, crows have found the coop, and wait every morning for the coop door to be opened.

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In another month, I’ll move all food back down to the barn, and keep extra water here on the porch. With the cats back at the barn more often, I hope to at least deter the rodents from the area a little more. For the young kittens, it will be a return to one of their old haunts, but not till they are big enough to fend for themselves. Here kitty kitty kitty!

Pacific Northwest Tour

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I took a little time off from Leafhopper Farm to travel around the greater PNW with some family who had never been here. We took them to Ozette on The Peninsula, up to Vancouver Island for some old growth and beautiful Victoria visits, then to Vancouver proper where we saw some wonderful anthropological collections at The University of British Colombia before heading east side to the Methow Valley for high desert relaxation before heading back to the farm. It was a whirlwind trip, but some highlights are shared below.

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Hiking the boardwalk at Lake Ozette, we encountered vert tame deer browsing along our trail. The early morning hike got us to the cost at low tide to enjoy some seafood delicacies off the rocks, and picture perfect shots of sea stacks and dramatic skyscapes. We did walk through a few showers, but that’s so typical of our temperate rain forests.

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On Vancouver Island, we took a trip to Botanical Bay where some odd rock formations create special tide pools of endless wonder. Then we took an off beat path to “Avatar Grove” to see some old Red Cedar growth in one of the last stands of old growth on the island. My family asked over and over again if all the trees had once truly been as big. They also had trouble comprehending that humans cut all the virgin forest across the entire region. I reminded them of what most of Europe looks like today (where they are from) and it was not hard then to connect the devastation.

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In one town along our drive, we took a “Totem Pole Walk” and saw many tribal pieces of history towering above. I learned about many of the animals on totem poles, and took away a fondness for the frog, who reminds her people of the great floods once endured centuries ago, when the world was inundated by melting glaciers, causing  ocean levels to suddenly rise. This could have been caused by a meteor impact in the polar caps, and is a story found in most cultures around the world. Another favorite symbol was “Dzunukwa” or wild woman of the woods. If you search about her online, think of “Lilith” from Middle Eastern mythology. Women are often wild, but when they are independent, they are usually also dubbed ogre or barren -eaters of children. I find this to be no coincidence.

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A highlight of our travels, was heading out on a wildlife tour on Campbell River on the north east of the island. Here we piled into a Zodiac boat in cold water rescue suits and headed out into the archipelago that makes up much of the waters between Vancouver Island and main land British Colombia. We first spotted orcas, a transient verity (Bigg’s) that eat only seals. They were steaming up the coast very close to shore, and took no notice of us. Later, we saw humpback whales, which began breaching as we headed back to our dock. Time limited our ability to hang out with the whales, but it was great to see them. I would recommend this adventure, though it may seem like a tourist trap, at Campbell River, you’ll get what you pay for and more! We chose the company Eagle Eye, but they all radio together and support collective sightings across the region, so no one outfitter is seeing more.

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On our way back south to catch a ferry to Vancouver proper, we stopped at a little road side park to see petroglyphs. The shapes were partially covered by wood debris, but we could make out a few sacred forms on the stone and appreciated the chance to see such prehistoric formations. Where these were located, a rocky hill shot up overlooking a large river mouth into the sound. This area was full of human shaped stone, including caves, which it is suggested might have been ceremonial in connecting people to ancient spirits. Throughout our trip, the feeling on connection with the landscape was strong, and we could see in much of the native artwork, a sense of belonging to the natural world. It is a sense I feel very strongly today, and saw in the forms on the rocks where we stood.

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When we got back to Washington, more driving through The North Cascades was in order, and we wound our way through the mountains for some final rest on the east side. It was a beautiful experience, and I was so happy to be back in the high desert and Ponderosa pine dominating slopes. It is a pilgrimage to go back and forth over these familiar peaks, and such a gift. From mountains to sound, this landscape is so special, sacred, and monumental. In less than two weeks, we got a glimpse of her majesty, and still, only the tip of a rich cultural and natural place.

 

 

Ancestral Care

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Took some time today working on an old trail to the top of a sacred mountain in Snoqualmie Valley. This place has a powerful vibe, to put it lightly, and I helped my elder friend and family today in keeping the path alive. My mentor has had vision quests here many times, and supported others in doing so at this special place.

Stewarding land goes beyond Leafhopper Farm; it lives within, and down the block, around the corner, up the street. Backyard can be the stoop, a balcony, or two-thousand acres. The purpose of stewardship is just as broad, from self stewarding (in my case, putting bare feet on the earth and digging my hands into cultivated soil), to whole earth stewarding, we all play our part. Some are better at it than others, like any gift, but it’s a necessity for survival.

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Place is so important. Cultivating relationship with that space can be fragile, like peeking into a thin veil, which snaps like a spiders web as you walk though, or spooking a wren into screeching alarm while you try to move quietly through a damp forest. Have these experiences, to stay alive and thriving. Too many of us have walked away from nature, the nature of self is fading with it. Who are we now?

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The trail stewarded today has been walked by many people. One such animal, besides humans, is Puma concolor. The picture above shows old scratching marks on a downed log. Ever look at a house cat’s scratching post? Well, this kitty does the same thing. for the same reasons; territory. They tend space, to survive, and will fight fiercely for said space. Right now, in the neighborhood of Leafhopper Farm, cats like this, perhaps this very cat, because the farm is well within the normal territorial range of this animal (lowest range 10 miles, upper range 300-500) at about ten miles away from the farm.

Last month, a person was killed by a cougar in this very forest. Not more than a few miles from where I took this photo. It was the first time a human was killed by our apex predator in Washington State in almost 100 years, so this occurrence is VERY rare. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a cougar. However, certain behavioral choices on your part can greatly increase the possibility, like running, as the 13 year old boy who was last killed in 1924 did, or ride bikes early in the morning up in the deeper forests of The Cascades, as the most recent victims did in late May.

Here’s where the story does take a turn; in this more recent attack, the two bike riders chased off the cat with aggressive stand your ground tactics and even lifted their bikes up to look larger, threatening to throw them at the animal in defense. The cougar was chased off successfully, and that should have been the end of it, save for a few other circumstances which led to the death of one person, and serious mauling of the other.

It has come to light that the two people attacked were “transitioning”, and likely on hormones for the initial stage of shifting from one biological gender to another. These hormones are strong, and sweating off into the air during physical activity, like bike riding. The cougar got an initial whiff in his first attack, then, compelled by the hormones exuding from the two people, returned for another encounter. While gnawing the head of the female to male victim, who would most likely have been on testosterone in one form or another, confused the male cougar into think another male was in his territory (behavioral speculation). Meanwhile the other person, in pure panic, ran. This is the fatal action in most predator attacks, because the prey drive is compelled by fast movement. Having by now, tasted blood and been triggered by phenomenal ambush attack, the cat quickly dispatched the fleeing person and began feeding.

Wildlife biologists for The State of Washington said the cougar was emaciated. Below is a picture of the cat, reported to be a 3-4 year old male cat, weighing over 100 lbs, well within a healthy weight of a male mountain lion. (photo taken by Deedee Sun)

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Our impact on the environment knows no bounds. and this is a great responsibility. There is always risk in going outside, but the most risky thing we all do in life is get into a vehicle on a daily basis. Fear of wild things is a reflection of our inner fear of rewilding. Our wild selves are very much alive within us, and without proper stewarding, we become monsters, unhinged by our addictions in dysfunctional living or flat out ignorance. I’m sure to be carrying any one of these faults within, and work to change them by connecting to what’s real around me, starting with the ecosystem I live in. That place can tell me everything about who and what my place is.

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Another ancestor who “walks” the trail to the mountain is old growth Pseudotsuga menziesii. There are several along this steep slope, and they were only spared because they grew out of scree fields, and would have shattered into worthless splinters if cut onto the rocks below. This steep side of the climb up is the only grove. All other angles of this small peak were clear cut, and are still managed in active timber plans. It is special to have a grove of old trees standing close to home. The others I know of in my “back yard” are at Cherry Falls.

If the commercial forestry business. which owns and manages these old giants wanted to, they could fell these trees and have them air lifted out without harm to the priceless trunks, but then another problem arises. There are no more mills in Washington State to saw up old growth sized trees. They would have to go to Cananda, and that shipping cost alone would make the lumber price beyond marketable retail, but who knows what money could buy in the future, and I do not assume these trees are safe. Eventually they will die, as do we all. Let’s hope for them, like us, a healthy and happy long life.

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Along the trail, this pillar of Dryocopus pileatus reaches all the way up the trunk. Peeling of this bark from a Thuja plicata was intentional, and done by someone with skill. I cannot guess exactly when the harvesting occurred, but it easily could have been before my lifetime. If this tree does mature, its growth rings will gradually re-envelope the dead core with living tissue as the tree matures. Nature always inspires, with durability and lasting action; a structure of exquisite beauty and violent memory. How many other eyes have gazed upon this forest and felt truly wild?