Tag Archives: riding mountain biosphere reserve
Today we were in our community at Rossburn Elementary School. We built a stool (un tabouret) with each of the grade 5/6 French students. We chose this class as we are both trying to improve our French.
These projects involve a lot of time and extra help is always appreciated. Fortunately, the grade 7/8 French class volunteered to assist us. They played games (in French) with half the students while the other half assembled their stools.
The stools can also be used as a step-stool and were made from white spruce. White spruce (l’épicéa) is the official tree of the province of Manitoba. The top was textured both for interest and to provide a non-slip area.
It’s fun to work with students as they are always enthusiastic–even before they know they will receive a loot bag! The local office of Louisiana-Pacific provided us with tape measures, lip balm and balloons. Pencils were provided by the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve.
We had an enjoyable and productive day building a useful item, speaking French and having fun–just another great day in the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve where we live, work and play!
As we’ve mentioned before, we live in a very rural part of the prairies and get much of our inspiration from our surroundings. That conjures up images of deer grazing beside sparkling water and birds singing among the wildflowers, which is true. There are, however, other images and sensations that arise from experience.
Take for instance the bears that eat the Saskatoon berries from the bush outside our bedroom window (and bears are not quiet animals–they don’t have to be), or the bear, maybe the same one, who stuck its head right through the open window into the living room. A quiet pastoral scene is not what comes to mind. Now bears foraging in the area can be somewhat expected. After all, berries are nutritious and bears will and do eat anything. And to be honest, when the bear put its head in the window, we were cooking with the windows open. One could almost say we were asking for it.
And of course there are mice getting into the house and gophers eating all the tulip and crocus bulbs. The deer like tulips and crocuses as well, but apparently don’t like daffodils. However, after planting dozens of daffodils, we found that while the deer don’t like them, the gophers still do, so we no longer have daffodils, but do have well fed gophers. And while you can put a cage barrier around the shrubs and newly planted trees to stop deer grazing, the cages do not stop the 7 foot tall moose from grazing off the top 2-3 feet of your woody perennials.
Oh, and don’t try putting a cage around the berry bushes to stop the bears–they’ll knock that cage away without even putting in an effort. And they don’t stop a grazing on berries, they chew anything that catches their interest. Their teeth are very sharp and very strong and will go through the end of a kayak very easily. Canoes are also susceptible to animal damage. We had to repair the sides of our canoe a few years back when a beaver dropped an 8″ diameter poplar onto it!
Then there are the barn swallows that insist of building their mud nests against the speakers on our porch and on the interior walls of the shop or garage if we happened to leave the doors open. On reading up on what to do to deter them, I learned that barn swallows will continue building other nests all summer if they find suitable locations, even if they already have a nest. They are the strip mall moguls of the bird world–burning energy to build nests that they don’t use. How does such behaviour fit into a Darwinian model of survival of the fittest? The solution from the internet nature experts–stop fighting their nest building, sit back and enjoy them. Thanks for the advice.
And now that we are away from mammals and onto birds, every spring and summer, a magpie stakes a territory in our front yard. In some respects this is good because the magpie is quite territorial and keeps the other birds away from the Saskatoon bushes in the front yard (leaving them for the bear). The negative side to this situation is that the bird keeps attacking its reflection in our basement window, thinking this is a trespassing magpie. and throwing itself against the glass. This starts at sunrise (4:30 am in the summer) and lasts all day, interspersed with bouts of feeding. And being “bird-brained”, it never learns that the reflection isn’t a real bird. In fact, the more aggressive it gets, the more aggressive the reflection gets (naturally) and the more riled up the magpie gets. At least this bird problem has a solution–we put thick plastic over the windows so the bird cannot see its reflection. Now we only get the occasional bump when it attacks the usurper in the main floor windows.
But the incident that prompted me to write this entry happened just this spring. We covered our house in metal siding and metal roofing after seeing our neighbour’s wood-sided house with numerous holes from woodpeckers. To that end, the metal works excellently. Now, in the spring, the males of some species of woodpeckers attract potential mates and declare their territory by, naturally, drumming on trees using its beak. One enterprising male discovered, early one spring morning, that knocking its head against the metal of our roof makes an even bigger sound. And if the woodpecker thought it made a bigger sound outside, he should have heard the ruckus inside the house. It sounded like a jackhammer was being used. Now I’m all for live and let live, but it took a few wildly thrown rocks to get the bird off our roof and convince it that there were better places to go a-courtin’.