Sunday, October 25, 2009

wildlife in the city

Last night while I was puttering around in the kitchen a noise came from the back porch. I turned my head to stare into the face of  a possum.  He or she was licking the rinsed black bean can that was sitting in the recycling bin.  The bin sits adjacent to the door that leads to the porch so we had a perfect view of each other.  Mr. Possum then spent a few minutes exploring the porch and then wandered down the steps into the night.

There are birds, squirrels, mice, rats, raccoons, possums and who knows what else in the back yard.  The squirrels don't bother me as I don't feed the birds and don't plant tulips.  There are 2 that make their home in the silver maple tree, a gray one and a black one.  They are very amusing chasing each other all around the yard although these days they are busy burying the bumper crop of acorns.

Last summer a young raccoon played with our hammock.  He swung it back and forth, amusing himself and me and the kids.  There are camel back crickets that winter in the basement.  They scare the daylights out of my son but don't bother me.  When I'm feeling particularly unwildlife friendly, I will put down duct tape to catch them.

This year we saw a red-tail hawk in the maple tree and on the fence, separating the rental house with mine.

All of this activity is probably partly my fault as I compost. 

These are the two bins used.  You don't need store bought bins but there really isn't room in the yard to have a simpler system.  At the community garden, the bins are built out of pallets and scrap wood.  These bins were bought at Gardener's Supply in Vermont.  I love this place - some day the bins will be upgraded to better ones but for now, they suffice.  I am a lazy composter and just layer all the ingredients and at some point, a year later, empty it. There is occasional turning but not much.  Kitchen scraps are saved,  junk mail shredded, dryer lint, coffee grounds, some newspaper strips.  I save many prunings from the yard but not heavy duty plants with stacks (I pruned today butterfly bush, cosmos, boneset, sunflowers - they don't go in the compost).  The bins are emptied once a year, usually August or so and spread around the yard.

 Here is the inside of one of the bins.  Something chewed it.  I don't want to know.  I used to have screens on the bottom of each bin but even those were chewed through.  So I claim ignorance of what is happening in my bins.  My next project will be worm composting for inside the house.  That will be in another post.


  1. this reminded me - I know this guy

  2. I need to hear more about using your junk mail in your compost. Are you particular about what goes in?


  3. I usually put in the credit card applications - I tear them up into little pieces, then add to the small compost pail I have in the kitchen. I also put in any other little scraps of paper that come my way. I tear out the plastic window in envelopes - DC recycles junk mail so I only put it in occasionally.