Mending Fences – with Distractions

The pace of work changes when you spend a couple days in the hills. It’s really hard to get in a hurry and there are many distractions. The main event- mending fence. The sub plots – turkeys, wildflowers and other photo ops.

Rob and Terry looking down at a half mile of very old or non-existent fence, an intimidating project.

 (Click photos to enlarge.)

When you’re working on a project that looks overwhelming, it pays to not get in a hurry – so we didn’t.

The starting point for the fence project was at the top of a very steep drop off into a spot we had to exit the same way we went in. In other words what you carry down, you also carry up unless it’s fence material. A few hours per day is all we could handle on a project like this. A couple hours of hanging on to the side of a cliff while working is enough.

In the mean time distractions were all around us. On the way in I came across a group of four old gobblers that have been a making a living eating grain from horse feed.

These old toms have been hanging out near the neighbor's barn.

Wild flowers were blooming. Johnny-jump-ups, shooting stars  and butter cups were everywhere. The yellow and white flowers seem to bloom early while the blue flowers like lupins seem to bloom later on. There’s likely a reason, but I don’t know what it is.

Johnny- jump-ups (wild pansy) are a butterfly host plant.

The plant, which most locals call johnny-jump-ups, is also known as wild pansy or yellow pansy. The scientific name is viola pedunculata. It is a host plant for the Callippe Silverspot Butterfly, which is endangered. http://essig.berkeley.edu/endins/callippe.htm

Other early favorites include the shooting star (“mosquito bills” variety). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodecatheon_hendersonii

Mosquitobills shooting star.

While checking the spillway on one of our dams, I found a fresh mountain lion scat. The scat, about the size of my labs scat tends to be clay-like and greenish is color when it’s fresh – and if really fresh, extremely stinky.

Mountain lion scat. This is a medium-sized scat.

We also found a few stinkbells in bloom, but they seemed to be a little past their prime.

The stinkbell is somewhat rare.

The scientific name for the stinkbell is fritillaria agrestis.

The California buttercup is very common on our ranch.

The scientific name for the buttercup is ranunculus californicus.

With some fence progress and obligations at home, I departed while Rob and Terry continued to work on the fence. On the way home I came upon more turkeys. This time two gobblers were hanging out with three hens. Looks like nesting time is about here, but they were not very active.

These birds slipped into a creek and moved quickly out of sight.

It’s a little early in the nesting season and the turkeys were not in full breeding mode. The gobblers were more interested in eating than strutting for the hens.

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