Ickle Bickle

Community Asparagus PlantingI live in a neighborhood with nine cats and ten people. We’re expecting two more of each. The cats have interesting names like Kome (Japanese for rice), Snouth or Snelf and Ickle Bickle. They have figured out how to live together by staking out territories. The people have thrown in with each other, are collectively increasing their resilience to economic collapse and are only catty on occasion. A couple of weeks ago we got out and planted 4,000 crowns of asparagus with the help of our extended community.  Last week we all sat down on and discussed ways to keep water flowing in the event we lose our power from the grid.

We also share our moist, green habitat with some thirty species of birds, ranging in size from Blue Heron and Turkey Vulture to Hummingbird and in color from Cardinal to Bluebird to Goldfinch. Our sky is filled with dozens of songs ranging from Chickadee to Wood Thrush to Barred Owl. In the morning, I hear two geese moving into their day and a rooster from a few houses over.

In the mammal department, we have deer, fox, possum, rabbit and dogs across the street. We’ve not seen signs of bear, although will swear we spotted bear scat in the woods outside of Oilseed.

I once observed a fox calmly scratching fleas on the main path through the woods before it noticed me and ambled off. On another day, a Barred Owl swooped down closer and watched me for a minute.  When I took a step forward, it turned and flew back to its original perch. Jason had an encounter with what may have been the same owl a week ago in which they had a dialog, the owl making a clicking sound none of us have ever heard before and both vocalizing the characteristic “You allll”.

Black CatThe deer get hunted and hit by cars but still number enough to require vegetable gardens be surrounded by seven feet of fence. Sam harvested at least two road kill deer last Fall. One he hit and the other he saw get hit. If (when) the world economy does collapse, the neighbors are prepared to augment their protein intake with venison. Road kill is local food in the same way free food found in dumpsters is.

The road to Pittsboro from Moncure is a vulture smorgasbord, offering every flavor carcass imaginable. We tootle down this road kill buffet an average of ten times a week and have seen everything from deer to chicken. There’s a chicken plant on up the road and sometimes they lose one to the asphalt god.

Until Friday, nothing has been killed on our piece of property by the road; the stretch of grass and asphalt I’m watching Bob mow from the window behind my monitor. Both Bob and I saw the dead squirrel alongside our ditch as we pulled into the driveway after work but we got caught up in potluck preparations and forgot to go out and drag it off.

The next morning, while checking my email I saw a Turkey Vulture swoop down closer than I’d ever seen one and land on that squirrel. “We should drag that off.” I said, hoping the ‘we’ part wouldn’t turn out to be me. “No doubt the vultures will carry it off.” was Bob’s sensible answer.

And then this morning, Garth told us he saw Ickle Bickle dragging a large, grey carcass, alarming him for a moment when he suspected it might be Kome. Which made our day because Bob didn’t have to mow around a pile of squirrel. I’m always amazed at how everything always seems to get taken care of by one of us around here.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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