An ethical lapse


When we were last out to Roundrock, I did something that did not meet up with the landowner ethic I set for myself: specifically, to provide good habitat for the critters.

As a consequence of the deck-removal-and-porch-replacement at the house in suburbia, one of the downspouts carrying rain off the roof, down the corner of the house, and then out into the yard lost its last bit of plastic piping (carrying the water out into the yard).

Fortunately, I happened to have a bit of this out at Roundrock, leftover from our mostly pointless effort of surrounding the trunks of the pecans with black plastic piping. I had this notion that I would use it as a sort of air source going under a spectacular fire ring I was going to build. (Several years have passed since that notion came to mind.) I simply needed to remember to bring it back with me when I was out there.

Well, it happened that I did remember that I wanted to do that the last time we were there. It was where it has always been for several years: in the tall scrub not too far from the shelter tarp. All I had to do is pick it up and put in the back of the truck.

When I did this, the black plastic pipe, about five feet long, started wobbling in my hands. Then something jumped out of it: a woodrat. It darted through the trees toward the brush pile I’ve been building over the seasons. Shortly after that, all of its nesting material rained out of the pipe.

I felt a little bit bad about, robbing a forest critter of its home just months before the winter, and I wouldn’t have done it if I’d known the woodrat was in there. So I have this twinge of bad feeling about what I did, but I think the woodrat will survive, and so will I.

Missouri calendar:

  • Yom Kippur
  • Snakes begin winter dormancy.
  • Bittersweet starts to ripen.

5 Responses to “An ethical lapse”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    I think you’re right, the wood rat will find a new home and nest site. They’re hardwired for that sort of thing. I bet its got one set up already.

  2. DougT Says:

    Here’s where I go totally off topic. That thistle in your photo looks like either tall thistle or swamp thistle. Both of those are host plants for the endangered swamp metalmark butterfly that I blog about from time to time. Their last stronghold seems to be in the Ozarks. It’s too late in the year now, but you should keep a lookout for that species next summer. If you see one, please contact me right away. Thanks. Nice photo, too!

  3. FC Says:

    Don’t fret, hawks and foxes have to eat too.

  4. Edelweiss Transplanted Says:

    I agree the little guy will still have some time to find a new home before the cold really sets in. The thistle photo is lovely — it’d be hard to find something in a garden that pretty!

  5. Beau Says:

    I thought you were going to describe how you removed the host of thistles growing in the field! I’m pleased to read DougT’s remarks about the endangered butterfly- I usually remove any and all thistles I can find since they are such thorny/prickly devils. Most of the landowners in the area try to keep them out of hayfields for obvious reasons- and they can be prolific. Perhaps I won’t dig them up so much, but try to keep the flowers from seeding and see what I can find…

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