We are still busy, finishing up various projects from the summerÂ setting out plans for the winter. This morning I found myself thoroughly engrossed in some project or other and barely moved at my desk for more than an hour. I’d started early, when it was still dark, and couldn’t see outside, but wouldn’t have seen any movement anyhow. The phone rang, shaking me to attention, and when I stood up to talk I looked out the window right into the eyes of an eight-point (four tines per side) buck only six feet away. I’d seen the same fellow in the willows yesterday; his antlers still orangey-red from dried blood where he’d just rubbed off the last of his velvet. They must still be itchy though, because he was scratching them in the branches of the tree. He saw me and watched back with a casual and unconcerned air. I went back to work while he scratched and stared in at me for more than half an hour before he got up, stretched and walked away into the willows. When we close in the fall, my annual ritual is to turn off all the outside lights. This year, the very next night after the lights went out the compound was busy as animals reclaimed their territories, so it seems we’re in for another winter of critter-watching.
We bought a new pony last week, a pretty little chestnut sorrel about the size of Webster, our other lead pony, so they make a nice pair. He’s named Scout, like Tonto’s horse (Tonto being the Lone Ranger’s sidekick as you may recall). Scout has a beautiful conformation, more like a big horse than a pony, but frankly more important he’s got a special personality. He loves to go out with the kids but he enjoys settling in under the shade of the corral porch too, where he quickly ate a basketful of flowers Webster had ignored all summer. Yesterday he discovered a new treat. As I went by the corral he was stretching up as far as his little neck could go, reaching for a hummingbird feeder. He nudged it with his nose and it dripped sweet sugar water onto his lips. In the next five minutes, while three frustrated broadtail hummingbirds watched, he emptied the feeder, licked his lips dry then settled down looking all innocent and hoping for the gardener to refill the feeder.
July 27, 2008
Last week Margie and I were in Florida for a wedding and the parents of the groom took us out to see their farm. One of the many interesting sights on the farm was a pond, about an acre in size,that was surrounded by sacred lotus plants in bloom–some pink, some white and others almost purple. It was dazzling. Then I noticed that although there were debris and algae in the dark water on the pond it wasn’t on the lotus. So of course with my curiosity I had to find out why. Here’s what I discovered. You may already know this but I thought it would be fun nonetheless.Â The plant is called the “sacred lotus” because of its ability to stay clean even in the most foul of waters. It was that quality that most surprised me.Â How does it do that? If a leaf has no wax on the surface, water beads up on it in long, flat lens forms. That works well here in the dry air of Wyoming where the plant can hold onto the water and absorb it, so it isn’t wasted. If a leaf has wax on it the water beads are more round but have a flat bottom. This lets most water slide off as the sphere of water rolls downhill. Now lotuses have both wax AND microscopic, raised bumps, like a bed of nails. The water beads on lotus leaves are nearly perfectly round, so they roll off immediately, even with the slightest breeze. As they roll they pick up pieces of dirt that are perched lightly on the surface and both the water and dirt drop off. Neat eh?Â Now there’s a paint being made in Germany with the same quality. It’s being used in areas where there’s smog or airborne dirt. A rain storm or a simple hosing of the surface keeps the house or building clean. StoLotusan Fascade Paint is being used all over Germany and the “lotus effect” is apparently a well-known phenomenon all over that country. Watch for it here in the U.S.
Another man made a honey spoon with the waxy/microscopic-bumpy surface like the lotus. Apparently honey flows right off it and the spoon doesn’t get sticky.Â Still others are experimenting with how they can use this for car paint, fabric for clothes, etc. What a neat concept eh? Â I know the Hazers (the young men who are responsible to keep the Ranch cars clean) would love to see it on the Suburban paint because they have to wash all six of them four or five times a week.
Yours, from Wyoming,Â Â Bob Howe