Some people just can’t help gardening. Take the local porcupines, for instance. They love to chaw down on the pile of cull apples a farmer dumps at the top part of his property, up against the old canal. They have a little road there, actually. Here is one on its way back from lunch three years ago. You can see that the edge of the canal makes a great hideaway.
These guys are not always so discrete. Here’s a member of the family cutting from one gully to the next mid-winter.
Gullies are great for porcupines. There’s shelter, and you can make a road there going up and down from the high country to the sagebrush and, ahem, that pile of apples. Rocks are great, too. Here’s one hiding from me, high up… again, between gullies. Note, though, that there is a saskatoon bush. Porcupines like bushes. And cull piles of apples.
Why do I keep mentioning the apples? Ah. Take a look at the main porcupine freeway. My camera had a hard time with the variations in light, but the choke cherries love it, and it makes a good highway.
And by highway, I mean this:
I tell you, a magpie sat in this tree the other day and squawked and crackled for five minutes as I came up the deer trail on the other side of the gully, to let this guy know that this lumbering nut with a camera was creating traffic congestion and it would be wise to skedaddle.
The gully, though, ah, it has so many good things to eat. No, not this …
Choke cherries are nowhere as good as apples. No, the bark, man, that’s the ticket.
It is an excellent form of pruning and branch renewal in trees that are short-lived because of insect damage. But, you know, all that work whips up an appetite and when you’re tired of roughage, a bit of desert is just the thing, and then, well, it’s back uphill, and maybe you, ahem, leave a little gift behind, a little memento, a little pile of apple seeds and mush, and ten years later, why, what then?
Come on, it’s not far now. Ah, here we are:
Nice huh. This apple seedling is obviously a Spartan x Red Delicious cross. It has a pretty shape. And an old-fashioned approach to colour. It wouldn’t sell, you know, but it sure is a survivor. The deer have cleaned it up up to six feet, and did that stop it? No, it did not. When the apples fall, they’ll fall on the trail, and the porcupines can snack on their way down to the cull apple pile and back, which is nice.
Well, except for one.
This one the porcupine won’t get.
Excellent! Look at that gleaming white! It tastes exactly like a spartan. It’ll be a good keeper, too, as it’s two weeks later than a spartan and very firm. And so, with hands smelling of sagebrush and the apple tasting like the spartan orchard of my childhood, up the road I went. Nice view.
Here’s an apricot tree further up, that gets too much frost in the spring to set. Not one of the porcupine’s better plantings.
Still, it sure is pretty, with its blossoms and its yellow leaves. I like porcupine orchards. They are great places to go, in between worlds.