FROM THE LIZARD GARDEN
It got cold and they've all retired, for the year, I think.The babies showed up a few weeks ago, about the size of a quarter, some light and some dark.
Fig. 9 This guy looks like he's the size of an iguana: his angle to the lens means his entire body length is in focus. Handsome, well-fed fellow, no? I took this one back in the heat of summer, with the 100mm lens.
After a very cold spring, the temperature is in the seventies, my radishes are doing nicely, and the reptiles are back. Though the long-term forecast for their kind seems utterly terrible, the Western fence lizards and sagebrush lizards of southern Oregon are unconcerned. The fence lizards are big, and black, and fat, and some of them are fearless. These lizard snaps are usually taken at the long end of a 70-300mm zoom with a 2X extender, but the picture below was taken with a 100mm Pentax macro lens ... from a distance of about six inches!
Fig. 8 western fence lizard.
This fellow wasn't trapped, or tied up. He was just unafraid, and curious. Lizards are somewhat hard to tell apart, epecially from a distance. I imagine they view humans the same way. But I'm wondering if this guy doesn't remember me from previous years, pottering around the garden, swearing at the moles. Whether he does or he doesn't, it feels good to be on such close terms with my cold-blooded cohabitants. And how about the pic below?
Fig. 7 depicts a frog, found under the row covers among my turnips. But check out this enlargement of his right eyebrow:
Fig. 6 is not faked or Gimped, or Photoshopped. The frog was at most an inch long. Can you imagine the size of his or her free rider?
In the winter, there are no saurians to be seen. How do they last so long under the snow and ice? What fantastic metabolisms. Meanwhile, wolves and arctic foxes roam above their heads, as far south as Arizona...
Fig. 5 depicts one such interloper.
This was originally the Exterminating Angel Garden page; a couple of those posts can be seen below. The last post, depicting the garden's near-destruction in a flood, and my heroic ditch-digging, was unfortunately lost due to an administrative error.
And, to be honest, how excited can one be about ditches, or about vegetables? Very excited, if one is growing and consuming the vegetables. But for the average reader, one lettuce - or one website devoted to lettuces - is very like another. Visually, by far the most interesting things to show up in the garden have been the various lizards -
- hence this section's re-branding, as the Lizard Garden. Henceforth, here will be pictures of local lizards. (Those interested in Exterminating Angel matters should visit that excellent site!)
The Sagebrush Lizard seems to be our most common reptile. (The Lizard Garden is located in Southern Oregon, west of the Cascades)
Fig. 4 depicts a fine example of sceloporus graciosus with characteristic stripes along the sides. Most of ours are less than three inches in what herpetologists call snout-vent length. Including tail, they can be almost six inches. Sometimes tails are lost to birds.
Fig. 3 shows a pair of Western Fence Lizards, sceloporus occidentalis. These are a bit bigger, and in this case fatter, than the Sagebrush Lizards. These are probably older lizards, grown dark with age and experience.
Fig. 2 Stumpy, a plucky lizard currently re-growing his tail. I believe Stumpy to be a Fence Lizard on account of his turquoise sides and throat. According to Reptiles of the Northwest by Alan St. John (Lone Pine 2002), male Sagebrush Lizards may have blue sides, but they lack the solid turquoise-blue throat exhibited by Stumpy in the following picture.
Fig 1. Stumpy sings. Based on this limited acquaintance, would you call Stumpy occidentalis, or graciosus?
PREVIOUS EXTANG GARDEN POSTS (NOT LIZARD RELATED):
The illustration below - taken in March or April
- in no way suggests the Exterminating Angel Garden
as it turned out this year: peas were particularly
successful, likewise tomatoes, potatoes, and lettuce.
Peppers and cabbages also did well later in the
season, and we still have beets, turnips and taters
in the ground.Now the garden has been planted with
red clover as an autumn, nitrate-generating crop.
A huge quantity of chicken manure will be dumped
on the beds in November. The fence, mentioned in
the last article, has been successful, as has a
DEER-X plastic fence surrounding the Extang auxiliary
garden. Squirrels and moles have attacked both
gardens, but no deer have got into it. Apologies
to any deer shot as a result of my exhortations.
The Extang Garden, in April
VEGETABLES ARE MURDERED
As the pictures show, a substantial
fence has gone up around the
Exterminating Angel Garden.
Not one of those weeny wire
fences, but a massive, over-engineered
fence, most of it made of galvanized
metal. It was originally bought
by one of our neighbours as a dog run to contain her
two large dogs. Then one of
the dogs disappeared (presumed
stolen), and she moved to town. The purpose of the fencing
being no more, she sold it to Extang Horticulture Co.
The purpose of the fence is
to keep out deer. From the
look of the contents of the
Extang Garden (in the photos
only peas and lettuce are visible)
you might think it wasn't worth
it, but in time more stuff
will appear. Purple potatoes,
raspberries (maybe), carrots, cabbages, beetroots, broccoli
- ah, my pretty ones! All of which could be erased in
a half hour by an invasion
of deer. You may think that
deer are sweet animals, like
in that movie BAMBI, and that
only Cruel Hunters like to
kill them. I used to think
this, too. I couldn't even
bear the thought of cruelty
to hamburgers, so I became
a vegetarian. But even vegetarians
have to eat something, and
when, at the end of last summer,
the deer finally found my garden
and consumed half of it, my
love of the sweet, photogenic animals quickly waned.
Now Stalag 17 has been erected
around the front garden, and
they'd better stay out of the back (that, though, is
full of garlic, which, supposedly,
deer don't like). And I look
forward to hunting season, the sound of gunfire, and
the cries of orphaned deer-whelps! Way to go, Cruel Hunters!
They went that-a-way!
Fruits of the Garden