Friday, May 3, 2013

Stay Calm and Mow

A clear day in April on hills that often burn. View to the west from Walker Ridge, Lake County, California.
It's smokey in the San Francisco Bay area this morning. Smoke is blowing in from wildfires in Napa and Solano Counties.  The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) now has these local wildfires 100% contained but wildfires are also moving in southern California.  With a nearly dry spring and an early increase in fire activity, the state is preparing for increased fire risk for the summer.

Fires aren't all bad.  They are a natural part of our ecological processes and shape many of the unique plants and landscapes of California.  However, with more people and houses in rural areas of California, a history of fire suppression, and a buildup of fuel load, the risk to people and property can be significant.

If you are a rural resident, you should be preparing your property, buildings and evacuation plan to reduce the risk to you and your family.  CAL FIRE has some great information on their website at their Ready For Wildfire page.

One-button rattler enjoying the cool morning air at the kitchen door.
Who likes hot weather?  Reptiles! Here's a small rattlesnake I discovered early this morning as I was watering plants and filling the birdbaths.  I tipped it into a bucket and will be moving it away from the buildings tonight. Looks like it just had a lizard breakfast. That's rattlesnake #2 for the year, plus another interesting snake species that I will be reporting on soon. Reptiles, even venomous rattlesnakes, are part of our local natural environment, but they pose some risk to people living in the country.  Be alert.

First rattlesnake of the year peering out of the thistle patch we dumped it in after moving it away from the barn.
Mountain lions have cancelled my annual birthday celebration/volunteer day. A mom and two juvenile lions kept showing up on wildlife cameras on the lower part of the property where we were going to pull thistles from around the red-legged frog ponds. Although a group of people in the daytime have an extremely low chance of being confronted by mountain lions, much less even seeing them, we decided to just let the little family have the pasture to themselves for now. I am a bit disappointed. Hey, I was going to make breakfast burritos for the hard-working volunteers. Instead, I am going to be brush-cutting the drying grass from around our ranch buildings. But how many people can say their birthday party was cancelled by lions?

Two mountain lions pass a wildlife camera at a remote location.
So that's wildfires, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions on deck for this week. I just love California.

You can go here on the CAL FIRE website to get current info on wildfires in the state.


  1. As amazing and natural as fires, snakes, and lions are, they're still hella scary when in the 'hood. And, nope, never heard of anyone cancelling birthday plans because of lions. Happy birthday, btw. Thought this link might be of interest to you for incidents in CA and beyond: Got it from a firefighting fellow in CO.

  2. I'm thinking that mountain lion visitation IS your birthday present. And quite the tip of the hat from nature. =) Happy Birthday!!! =)


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