Fox and armadillo

I have mentioned before that we have foxes around the neighborhood, some of which regularly visit our driveway to poop and eat catfood*. I recently saw more of the family. This was about halfway down Lavender Trail from our house to the driveway of our new property.

fox kit 2

This fox kit watched me and the dogs approach for a while, but dived into the brush before we got close. The image is fuzzy because I took it with my phone from a good distance, and the phone camera has a wide angle lens. The scale is not obvious here, but the kit is quite small. I think it would fit into two hands cupped together, with maybe a little overflow.

About two weeks ago I saw two fox kits. This time I saw only one. I’m pretty sure the den is somewhere in a thick patch of kudzu that grows beside the road. There is an obvious path through the kudzu leading into the darkness beneath the growth.

On Monday morning as I walked the dogs I looked into the path and saw this.

armadillo skin

It’s the skin and the tail of an armadillo. The picture is fuzzy not because of distance but because I was holding the phone at arm’s length and wasn’t as steady as I might have been. It was also dark down there.

It was gone when Leah and I walked the dogs Monday evening.

I assume that the mother fox brought it either to feed one or more kits or to eat at her leisure. I don’t know how the fox came to have the armadillo. I would have thought an adult armadillo would be too large to be fox prey. Maybe the fox found one killed by a car, or maybe it found the remains of one that a coyote had killed.

* Edited to clarify exactly what the fox eats. Thanks, Scott.

Longleaf mohawk

The longleaf pine I transplanted a few years ago continues to seem healthy. I mentioned earlier that it seemed to be entering the bottlebrush stage, leaving the very young grass stage behind. It’s definite now.

longleaf mohawk

There’s a little wild pea plant growing up into the needles.

Earlier in the spring I noticed a bunch of needles sprouting from the center and growing upwards. It looked like a mohawk haircut. It seemed like they were growing noticeably day by day. Their growth seems to have slowed with our dry weather, but the plant looks healthy overall. It’s very encouraging.

Not too long from now, however, we will move from our current house and I will no longer be able to tend this little longleaf. I plan to tell the new owners about this young tree and a little about the history of the longleaf pine in this area (if they aren’t already familiar), and then encourage them to preserve this one.

In the donut hole

We have been in a very dry period up here on the mountain for the last few weeks. We’ve had one rain event of nearly a half an inch, and a couple of drizzles that gave us about 0.02 inches each.

It’s not that there has been no rain anywhere in northwest Georgia, it just seems that it keeps missing us. On Thursday when I met the well driller up at the new house, there were dark clouds and thunder. The well man wasn’t sure he wanted to erect the drill rig because of the lightning. Here’s the sequence on my phone’s weather radar app as I watched the rain fall all around us.

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We got just enough actual precipitation to get the new garage slab wet, but not enough to wet the dust in the yard.

Friday we had a severe thunderstorm warning. It looked bad enough that I wasn’t sure I wanted Leah to drive down the mountain on an errand. I shouldn’t have worried. Here’s that sequence.

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june26_4_00

june26_4_25It looks like we were on the edge of the heaviest rain, but the total as of 7:45 pm was 0.02 inches.

I’m glad there has been rain around us. I assume that rain around us refills the aquifer we rely on, although I have no actual knowledge of hydrology. That’s good, since it means our well probably won’t run dry, but it doesn’t help all the plants that need water.

 

House update, June 24

We had the basement and garage slabs poured for the new house on Monday, June 22. This is the final step required before framing can begin.

At 7:30 that morning we heard the concrete trucks turning around just outside the house on Wildlife Trail so they could aim directly up the drive instead of having to make a sharp right-hand turn coming up from Fouche Gap Road. I walked and fed the dogs, grabbed a quick bowl of cereal and then went up to see things. David and his two helpers were about halfway through the basement pour.

slabpour1

In this shot you can see several significant things. First, of course, the truck is dumping concrete down the chute while one worker directs the pour and the second spreads it. The gravel base is covered with plastic. David (wearing the orange head wrap) is standing close to a screed, the long piece of metal that looks like a 2X4. Just behind the man holding the concrete chute is a depression in the gravel with two pieces of rebar (reinforcing bar), which is used to strengthen the concrete so it can support a load-bearing wall. In the foreground you can see that a cut-off plastic bucket has been placed around one of the plastic plumbing stubs. That is where a shower or tub drain can go if we ever decided to put a bathroom in the basement. The bucket allows some adjustment of the placement of the pipe if necessary. You can’t see a large metal tub that was placed around the potential future toilet flange because the flange was installed slightly too shallow. That will allow the flange to be cut off and reinstalled at the right height. The area that has no concrete because of the bucket and the tub can be filled later with concrete mix from a sack.

The two other plumbing pipes in the foreground are a main stack (draining the two bathrooms) and a shorter stub that can drain a basement bathroom sink. There is a second stub against the far wall to drain the kitchen fixtures.

What you can’t see is that the main stack and the basement sink drain are almost two feet off in placement. That happened because the plumber got his locations by measuring directly off the floor plan, which indicates that the scale is ¼ inch to the foot. Unfortunately, the floor plans did not print out at that scale, so the pipes ended up in the wrong place. It’s a glitch, but one that can be worked around. Obviously, all future measurements have to be taken directly from the plan dimensions rather than by using a ruler and scaling a foot to each quarter of an inch.

Here one of David’s workers is using a powered concrete trowel to finish the basement floor.

slab pour2

I didn’t stay around to watch all the pour or finishing work; it was too hot. I don’t know how David and his helpers did it. It was in the 90’s before noon, and they were working in full sunlight the whole time. And they’re all old guys (probably not as old as me, but I’m not doing concrete work). But they did it.

Our next step is finding a framer. I should have settled this weeks ago, but no. I have found three potential framers. One has given an estimate. The second, who did neighbor John’s house, picked up a set of plans Thursday and will, I hope, give us an estimate by the weekend. A third promised an estimate by Wednesday, but I haven’t received it yet.

My lack of foresight is probably going to cost us nearly a month’s delay in starting framing. I hope I can get some other work done in that time, including the well and the septic system.

Evening clouds

As usual, we saw some nice cloud formations as we left the grocery store Friday night. This was from the parking lot.

crepuscular_wmlotThe crepuscular rays weren’t particularly noticeable as I looked at the clouds, but they showed up well in the photo. I like the way the cloud in the middle left is half illuminated and half in shadow.

When we drove home, there were more nice clouds. We managed to snap a few shots and got this one.

crepuscular_huffaker2Again, the crepuscular rays were not really noticeable as we drove, but they showed up in the photos. They aren’t extremely strong, but they’re definitely there.

Another interesting (at least to me) feature of the clouds Friday afternoon and evening was the way they changed. Late in the afternoon, but well before sunset, there were growing cumulus clouds everywhere. They had flat bottoms and billowing tops.

flat-bottom cloud

The bottoms of the clouds are all at about the same altitude, which is where the air from lower altitudes reaches saturation as it rises because of solar heating. At that point, water vapor starts to condense and form clouds. Condensation adds heat to the air, and it continues to rise. As it rises, more water vapor condenses and more latent heat is released. Under different conditions, these clouds could have eventually developed into thunderstorms. But, alas, none did, at least around us.

As the evening progressed and the solar heating decreased, the energy that drove these clouds’ development dissipated and the clouds began to change. There just wasn’t enough energy available to drive any more development once the sun went down. The flat bottoms became ragged and the tops stopped billowing. Some became closer to stratus clouds and others remained more like cumulus clouds. Eventually they turned into what we saw on our way home.

This is a panorama from our new house site made just as we reached home.

clouds_panoSome of these clouds still have billowy tops, but there was not much going on by this time.