Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My carrion hound

Iris is shy, and normally does not care to have her picture taken.
I’ve mentioned before that we have a wonderful dog. Her name is Iris – named by my daughter for the iris-shaped white mark on her chest. She is beautiful to look at, sweet-tempered, very loyal and loving (she gives hugs with her legs!), not too large or too small. She rarely barks, except when she spots a pesky squirrel during the day or a terrifying hog in the night. She doesn’t kill chickens. She doesn’t roam.  She runs astonishingly fast, which could conceivably be an issue, except that she is very obedient. People stop cars to issue compliments when my husband takes her for walks. I could go on.

But no dog is perfect. Our Iris has one very large and glaring flaw:  She adores rotting carcasses, the more fragrant the better. Most of the year this is a manageable problem. Frequently animal bones appear on the porch. Occasionally a chicken is killed by marauding bands of slobbering, wild, red-eyed . . . well, neighbor dogs. Iris won’t kill a live chicken, but she does enjoy gnawing on a tasty dead one. Yum.

At this time of year, however, the issue looms large. My husband hunts deer on our property; when he’s successful (two white-tailed bucks so far this year), he cleans them and then discards the carcasses here. It does not matter how far away or how high in a tree he chucks these savory remains; Iris will find them and drag them back to the house.

There they languish - sometimes actually on the porch, or perhaps decorating the front yard. Frequently, they are left beside a path, for maximum olfactory and visual enjoyment of human passersby. We recently hosted a large party, and my 18-year-old son insisted that these piles of disgusting carrion be removed before guests arrived. Removed by someone else.

Herein lies the next problem. Ugghhh! No one wants to touch these nasty treasures, so they lurk around our yard and porch for an obscene length of time. I will sometimes take the initiative and kick things off the porch, where they are likely to land in my flowerbeds. Is that better?  Yes, I’ve decided. They are out of my immediate line of sight, and surely they provide some sort of organic fertilizer. That is, until Iris retrieves them.

Favorite spot in the garden today:

Bachelor’s buttons (Gomphrena globosa)! I had one big plant this year.  They are so lovely, tough and long lasting, that I plan on harvesting the bloom heads soon so I can sow seeds next spring and have a more bountiful crop.  I’ve just read that these are native to Central America, and are also grown in British gardens. What a versatile little plant!

My mother-in-law (known as Mother Nature in some parts) dries these and places them in small vases for cheerful winter color. Maybe one day I’ll plan that far ahead.

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