Friday, December 22, 2006

Out The Back Door

Photo: Donegal Browne
Out the Back Door

It is December and there is yet another thaw. Instead of squeaking snow, that in my grandparent's, and my great grandparent's time would have been the norm since well before Thanksgiving, there is rain and fog.

Before refrigeration or the canning process was discovered, in this part of the country, after most of the meat was harvested in a good year in late fall, the root crops stored in the basement, the ham and bacon hung to smoke, sausages ground, fish salted, a bit of fresh meat was often kept in an insulated box in the backyard.

No, not a Colman cooler but a wooden 'box" stuffed with straw, set in the ground in a shaded corner where the snow was last to melt. The meat stayed frozen under it's blanket of snow. Used for fresh mincemeat pie at Christmas, savory stews for special suppers, and broths for illness. And that meat stayed good with luck until the winter thaw, usually some time in February. In a year of bad harvests or ill luck, when food and fuel were sparse, February was the time when the old folks died and many a young baby succumbed to illness. In that month, it was felt the strength from that bit of fresh meat safely frozen until February's thaw could make all the difference between living and dying.

My Grandfather, who farmed in his youth, a lifelong watcher of the weather, the seasons, and even after he moved to town, raised geese and rabbits, fine strawberries and Shetland Ponies, was uneasy in his old age. Why were there so many thaws in winter suddenly.

Indeed why? After all, there is no proof that global warming exists, right?

Ask the polar bears and the folk who watch the seasons.

Donegal Browne

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wisconsin Crows, Red-tails, and access

Hello All,

I'm back in Wisconsin for a few days and have seen some fascinating behavior from the local crows, and several Red-tail sightings. Unfortunately if I'm on the page for more than two minutes literally, I loose the entry entirely. Therefore...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Urban Nests and Nest Nooks

As we've been talking about the difficulties of finding nesting sites in urban areas, here is the second successful nest in a series of photos of NYC's Red-tailed Hawk's nests. This is the front view from 113th St. of the nest built by Tristin and Isolde at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. It's a beauty.

And along the same lines, Joyce, one of the blog's readers left a comment and question in reference to the schematic for Nest Nooks, platforms with nest bowls created to increase possible nesting options for urban hawks, at , in the entry Give a Helping Hand to a Pair of Urban Red-tails.

Joyce wrote,

I'm having trouble understanding the drawings. In conventional engineering drawings, dashed lines represent hidden edges. They seem to be being used for something different here. I could figure out the wall attachment structure thanks to the side view, but I am baffled by the ledge attachment.
Saturday, December 16, 2006 8:43:00 PM EST

I sent the comment and question along to the designer, John Blakeman, who speedily sent in a further explanation found below.


If the dashed lines on the ledge drawing are confusing, disregard them altogether. They are not significant. They merely represent the obscured edges of the iron beneath or behind the views.

The only crucial dimensions are those indicated in the dimension brackets. Therefore, the ledge structure is a 20-inch diameter ring of 3/4-in rod, with an open mesh basket suspended 5-inches below the ring. Everything else about the structure can be fitted or adapted to suit. The bottom of the basket should be about 3-inches above the ledge. The legs (with the dashed lines on the two side views) are merely lengths of angle iron that hold up the ring with four legs. The dashed lines on the two 20-inch horizontal members show obscure angle-iron edge.

What's confusing is probably the inability of the 2-D drawings to show that there are four 20-inch lengths of angle iron under the nest ring. The upper pair are under the edge of the ring, toward the inside of the circle.

The second pair, in mirror-image placement, are down on the base, on the surface of the ledge. A close viewing of the side views of the ledge version will show this, with the L-shaped ends of the angle iron lengths.

And now in retrospect, I notice that I failed to show the hidden legs in the top view (where I should have had L-shaped dashed lines beneath the corners.

I hope this explains the drawings.

--John Blakeman

And another look at the Cathedral Nest, complete with both the 2006 eyasses. This view of the nest is from Morningside Drive.