Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

The Digging Continues…

I can definitely say that the hole is 1/3 complete. Yes, it’s been two weeks, and that seems slow (especially given the small size of the bed), so let me list my excuses and you can pick the ones that seem most likely:

  • it’s over 100° most days, so
  • I only spend an hour a day digging, and then
  • I only dig every-other day, and
  • my neighbors distract me from my work, and
  • the dirt is very compacted, and
  • there are many fist-sized stones, and
  • there are occasional football-sized rocks, and
  • I worry that the digging will disturb my neighbors, and
  • it took me so long to figure out how water could help me.

Now, all of these things are more-or-less true, and I knew this would be slow going, so that’s why I started so early for a projected harvest sometime next year. And having spent so much of the last 35 years sitting down, I thought I should ease into this “physical activity” thing gradually. And it’s working! No blisters yet, and although I did pinch a finger under the hammer last week, there hasn’t been any bleeding nor major injuries so far. There has been soreness & stiffness, but the day off between each bout with the spade has kept that to a minimum.

But really, I want to talk about the neighbors. (I hope you picked the neighbors in the list above.) It seems like there are more and more of them, and we’re working out our relationships as we go.

First there were the ants in the hole. It was a bit of a holocaust, and many drowned. Apparently the rest told their relatives in the front yard, because immediately after that day there were suddenly ants pouring in from the front of the house and foraging widely all around. They took a particular liking to my feet, and they’ve been a problem ever since. Weirdly, they haven’t discovered the pantry, and I’m not telling. Sshhh!

Then there were the lizards. They aren’t a problem; actually, they’re very entertaining. The one that was 5.5″ in the picture is now 8″ long and has fattened up nicely. They’re still lounging around the windows, and compete with the pewees and flycatchers for moths. Fortunately, the roadrunners haven’t found the lizards yet, so that’s good news too.

Then there was the giant mesquite bug, which probably is no more, because soon after he molted, I spotted this distraction:

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)

If you look closely, you can see he’s eating something, and it’s probably a giant mesquite bug. This is only the second time I’ve seen a tanager here, even though they’re native to this area. The Audubon Society was not interested — their list of rare birds in Arizona does not include this guy. I think he’s pretty special though!

So digging continues, but now I have to be on the lookout for birds the Audubon Society says they would like to hear about. And then I finally figured out that if I wet the dirt down a bit, it’s a little easier to scratch off an inch or so out of the hole. Of course, the water all runs down to the deep part of the hole, where it makes a sort of mud slurry. While I was scooping that out, I noticed one of the rocks actually trying to move out of the way of the spade. That was odd. And that’s how I found this:

Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii)

Couch’s Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii)

I tried to hose her off a little, so you could see how pretty she is. The look on her face is priceless!

I put her to one side, out of the way, so I could continue digging. But she found the hole again, because the next digging session found her again at the bottom of the deep end. Now I have to make sure that while I’m digging I don’t cut somebody in half with the shovel!


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