Sunday, October 22, 2017

RAVEN HABITAT ON FIRE IN THE HILLS OF NAPA VALLEY

I am very sad to report that the hills and mountains on the East and West sides of the Napa Valley have been on fire for the last two weeks.  The fires are now out except for some hot spots and we are beginning to access the damage.  The Mount Veeder area where I used to live and where I meet Bold and Shy ravens was very hard hit by the fire storm. Looking at the county map of impacted areas I can see that neighbors on both sides and across the street lost their homes to fire.  The Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind across the way was destroyed.  Bold and Shy spent a good deal of their time at the camp- cawing and clacking at the blind patrons.  I am so sad.  I loved the camp and my former home.  We had put so much work and money into it to make it what it became.  I hoped that the two ladies that bought the house enjoyed it as much as we did.  It is hard to believe it has been reduced to a pile of ash.  Mt. Veeder Rd. is still closed so most people have not been able to access their properties to see the damage. If you are a grape grower you can get an agricultural pass to let you access your property.  My next door neighbor up there was able to do that.  His facility for winemaking burned but his house did not.  The fire skipped around based on the wind direction.  His two big water tanks full of water burned down- amazing.  So at least his house was spared. It appears the little cabins that we rented up there in the summer months so that I could play with Bold and Shy have also burned down.

I hope and pray that Bold and Shy were able to fly away from the fire.  We will know eventually.  We will hear their calls eventually if they are still alive.  Oh God of Earth and Sky I hope they are ok.

My lone raven here where I live now has attracted a mate.  So there are now two noisy ravens calling to me each morning for FOOD!  What I find interesting is that these ravens do not like raw chicken eggs very much.  They will take one once in awhile but usually they are left for the grey fox.  The fox visits toward twilight.  What they like is MEAT and FAT.  They really like chicken fat.  I trim it off chicken thighs and then they have a feast.  Today they got raw bacon strips since I am clearing out the refrigerator.  The fire storm started on a Sunday night about 11 PM when the wind from hell started up.  I could not sleep all night for the banging of branches against the windows and the sounds of the howling winds. The next morning the power was out/cell towers down/no house phone working.  The power was off for two days.  We took our frozen food to a friends house.  I was cat sitting for her so we got to use her phone and TV and refrigerator.  Now I am sorting out what to discard from the refrigerator and the bacon had to go even though the refrigerator remainder very cold.  So raven gets a good treat and will get some chicken fat tomorrow.  What lucky ravens they are.  I continue to get to know the local ravens  Sometimes the raven sits up in my neighbors giant deodar tree and makes racket.  I call back.  We do this for some amount of time.  We enjoy it the raven and I.  Not so much the neighbors?  They never say.

Well if this posting seems disjointed it is because I am still not ok after this fire.  Too many friends lost their homes and things will never be the same.  We went to the Reunion of the Decade of the 1960's for Napa High School yesterday.  We saw many old friends and the talk was all about the fire and who had been burned out.   It was very upsetting.  We left after lunch and took a ride up the valley to Calistoga.  It was a beautiful day, the air was clear and clean and the valley is still a lovely place.  You can see some blackened burned spots on the hillsides but other than that it looks about the same.  As soon as the rains come the grasses and wildflowers will follow and the burned areas will disappear.  The earth will repair itself, the fireweed will bloom and wine will be made and RAVENS will fly once again over the valley and in the hills.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Day but Ravens VISIT Anyway

Well the eclipse just passed us by.  It is somewhat overcast today with variable clouds but one could see the happening in the sky. I put out TWO chicken eggs for Raven today to celebrate and some unsalted peanuts in the shell.  Raven arrived in the middle of the eclipse to get his treat.  He was not bothered by an eclipse since he is messenger of the world and already knew about it for days.
Two days ago I heard the raven call so I went outside to look.  He was way up on the top of a huge pine tree calling to me.  Cool- I went out and put his treats, chicken egg, chicken fat and peanuts in his special place.  Just about then the little girl next door came out screaming her head off and the gardener next door started up his blower.  Life in the burbs.  This never happened up on Mt. Veeder, living on 5 acres.. but here in burbs there is always NOISE.  So RAVEN took off never to be seen again that day.  I left the food out and some creature got it in the night and left a calling card- raccoon or fox?  Could not tell.
Oh well- they got a treat thanks to the noisy day!  All is well after the eclipse, raven got his food, the gold finches got their Niger seeds, orioles have a full feeder and it is a beautiful day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

VISIT TO BODEGA HEAD RAVENS

After many days of rain, mudslides, downed trees and general weather mayhem in the Napa Valley- the sun came out!  So we decided it was a good day to pack up the old trusty van with pillows, comfy pad and sleeping bags and venture to Bodega Bay for the day.  It was a beautiful day with no wind and a high tide.  Our first stop was The Tides Restaurant in Bodega Bay.  Since it was a Monday we got right in and snagged a seat at the window.  We had a great lunch and watched the crab boats going in and out of the harbor.  We also saw some fishing seals and diving ducks from our window on the sea.  It was a great location and a wonderful start to our day.  We then drove up to Bodega Head and situated our van so that the back of the van was facing the ocean.  With the back door of the van up we had a beautiful view of the ocean and could listen to the waves hitting the rocks below.  We could also lay in the back of the van and read our books in comfort. (an aside- I was reading the last of the Midnight Louie mysteries- number 28.  After 25 years the author is ending this series and I will miss Midnight Louie and his band of humans and cat friends.)
We decided to take the trail walk the goes around the promontory.  From this walk you can see the opening to Tomales Bay, the open ocean, the protected opening to Bodega Bay and Doran Beach.  It is quite the view.
As we approached a gnarled cypress tree- lo- what did I see but my Bodega Bay raven friends.  They were perched up in the tree watching our approach.  I just happened to have a bag of unsalted roasted peanuts in the shell in my pocket.  I tossed some out but they landed in the deep wet grass and the ravens had a hard time seeing them.  So I put some on the dirt path and here they came!  They followed us for awhile and I would put peanuts on the trail as we walked.  It was all good fun.  We also saw a great blue heron and a great white egret sitting in the raven tree.  All and all it was a great sight.  The heron and egret were not interested in the peanuts.
When we got back to the van I saw the ravens sitting on a small rise above the parking lot.  That crafty pair were watching me to see if I had anymore peanuts.  I had saved a few.  As soon as I approached the ravens they strutted down the small hill toward me.  They had fingered me, those crafty birds!  I had a hard time getting the peanuts to the ravens as we had attracted a crowd of noisy seagulls.  I then had to wait for the seagulls to lose interest before I could resume feeding the ravens.  I soon ran out of peanuts and all I had left was an oat breakfast bar package.  I broke the bars up into 4 pieces and threw them to the ravens.  One raven picked up three pieces and the other raven got one.  They were immediately chased by the seagulls but did not drop any of the food.  From now on I will give the ravens their snacks away from the parking lot where the seagulls hang out. 
So all and all it was a great beautiful day at Bodega Bay.  We finished the day by stopping by the shack that sells chowder (yum yum) and bought some for our dinner at home that night. It was all special and I am grateful that I live so close to the ocean and such a beautiful spot.  It was also special because I had my Valentine Chuck with me for the days adventure.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Stealth Ravens of Crystal Court

I am so happy to have a pair of ravens visit me every morning at 8:00 AM.  They come flying in very quietly to the spot where I put their food of the day.  I never hear them clacking and hooting as they come in for their daily snack.  This is a good thing. I live in a suburban neighborhood of mostly retired people.  I do not believe the neighbors would take kindly to noisy ravens at 8 AM.  How do the ravens know this????  They are ravens of the open vineyards and parklands across the street.  Perhaps they have had some interactions in the past that have taught them to be quiet when collecting food in housing areas.  Ravens are very smart and do adapt to local conditions.  They know just how to behave in my little court.
This morning the food on offering was raw bacon pieces, cooked chicken leg, raw chicken egg and peanuts in the shell.  A virtual raven FEAST!  I put the food out at 7 AM and went to the window at 8 AM and there they were.  The meat was all gone.  Remaining was the egg and some of the peanuts.  Two squirrels came running up and grabbed a peanut each and ran off.  Raven did not have time to pull their tail like the Mt. Veeder ravens used to do.  Give them time and opportunity and I am sure raven will get around to it.  With the peanuts gone, raven picked up the egg and flew off with it.  I never get tired of seeing this!  Oh goody, goody I have a raven pair in my life once again!  They are so interesting to watch and I hope by providing chicken eggs, the will leave the bird nests alone this spring.
The last time my granddaughter was over for the day and night, we started watching Raven Tales.  This is a series of videos made in Canada about the First Nation People.  Each program is about First Nation People's interactions with Raven, Eagle and Frog and events in their lives.  Each one has a moral to the story. An example is getting along with people that are different than you.  The stories are done in cartoon style of First Nation art and are very appropriate for children and adults.  I highly recommend them for anyone interested in stories and art of First Nation people.
It is foggy and cold this morning in Napa Valley.  We have had lots of rain and the reservoirs are filling up.  This is such good news after 6 years of drought.  The daffodils are coming up and all is right with the world this morning.  I am going to the Napa Valley Women's March this Saturday to put my two cents in for a right world.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Ravens are Really Here!

The Raven Pair are coming every day now at around 9 AM.  I have a chicken egg and peanuts in the shell out in the lavender bed for them.  They sit on the top of one of the redwood trees or in the giant cedar tree when they first arrive.  They have a really good view of the ground from there.  They can check for people, cats, dogs and other wildlife from these vantage points.  Once the coast is clear- down they come- making raven noise of course!  I usually do hear them inside the house.  I then go watch them from my bay window.  I get such a kick out of the bigger raven picking up the egg and flying off with it.
I am so thrilled to have ravens in my life once again.  They are such fascinating birds and fun to watch.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

FINALLY!!! RAVENS HAVE ARRIVED AT MY HOUSE!

After six years of trying I have finally succeeded in attracting a saucy raven pair!!!  I have heard raven sounds around the neighborhood for the last six months or so but have had no takers for my lonely eggs that I have put out periodically.    Finally about 2.5 weeks ago I heard alot of raven racket so I went and looked out the front bay window and what did my delighted eyes see but a fine pair of ravens!  They were walking around the driveway looking at the two chicken eggs I had put out in the lavender bed.  The BOLD raven hopped right over, picked up an egg and flew off with it.  The SHY raven approached the egg, jumped back, approached, jumped back and finally flew away.  When I looked out about 20 minutes later the second egg had disappeared.
I have been putting out two chicken eggs every evening when I remember or in the early morning.  The ravens come between 8:30 and 9:00 Am every morning.  They can tell time.. and so can my cat Jack.  Jack gets his treat every day at 4:30 PM and he knows what time it is- treat time and starts bugging me.
When I hear the ravens racket in the morning I go out and walk around a bit in the front yard so that the ravens can see me.  Since ravens remember faces I want them to remember me as the egg lady.  It is good for them to know what person really likes them.  I think this pair comes from the open space across the way from our court.  It is a large track of vineyard and open land and I have seen a raven pair over there when I take a walk.  It is a short flight for them to come over to my abode.
I am so happy! What a great holiday gift for me!  My spirit animal has arrived to greet my day!!
So now that they are coming every day I can feed them food items that I have been throwing away that I know they like- like chicken fat- yum yum raven food.  It is all good.  I am sure we will have some raven/people adventures in future days.

Monday, October 17, 2016

RAVENS AND THE NAPA THAT WAS

Saturday loomed overcast with a forecast of rain.  Rain would be very welcome but I had an Estate Sale to go to!!  It was advertised as having several barns full of stuff and an old farm house.  This was just up my alley!!  So off I went.  It was a trip back in time to the Napa of the past.  It was located off Vichy Avenue where there used to be a family swimming pool and picnic ground called Vichy Springs.  As I child I spent many happy days out there with my friends and family.  As I grew into a teenager- we went out there to see and be seen in our bathing suits of course.  Many happy memories for me.  The road took me this way and that and finally to a fancy gate that had been left open for the sale.  I passed through the gate, past a very nice house and then to a dirt road.  The road led past several very old barns and I parked near them.  I walked up to the farm house from there.
The first thing I heard as I approached the house was RAVEN talk.  Oh the ravens were flying this way and that, talking, cajoling and calling!  The house was located right next to a narrow vineyard which was itself right up against the eastern hills of the Napa Valley.  The distance to the hills was about 300 yards at the most.  The bottom edge of the hills was covered with oak trees. The upper hillsides were covered with chaparral.  It was the look of Napa of my childhood minus the vineyard.
It was very lovely to have a home that close to nature.
I spent quite sometime watching the ravens.  They were coming and going with what appeared to be nuts of some type.  They were stashing them somewhere up the hillside. I think it was walnuts as there appeared to be walnut trees on the property.
At the sale I did find a bunch of old wooden thread spools, an English trug and the best thing- an automatic card shuffler.  Several days before the sale Chuck and I had been teaching our granddaughter to play Crazy Eights.  She watched Chuck shuffle the cards and wanted to try.  She is four and just could not do it and got frustrated.  When I was young my grandmother had one of these shufflers and I liked to use it so I bought that sucker for my granddaughter to use!  So it was a good day for Estate Sale finds.  But it was a bad day for Napa.  When I paid for my items I was told the property had already been sold, it all would be demolished and bulldozed for another Napa McMansion.  I was so sad.  This is happening all over the Napa Valley.  People with lots of money are coming in and buying up property and building these giant houses which are second homes or maybe third, who knows.  Anyway- another one bits the dusts.
The ravens will be OK because the hillsides, oaks and now the vineyard will still be there.  There is a lot of open land above the property in the eastern hills.  But still.........