An Email from Canada

Occasionally I post some of the wonderfully varied and international correspondence I receive (with permission). My thanks to Paul at for this little gem of an email:

~I have a neighbor who is a farrier, and I was talking to him about how dry this spring has been compared to the last few years, and he was said to me,
‘Yes, the horses hooves now are as dry as a June Hoof would be, and nothing like an April Hoof..’

Seems he can tell the approximate time of year by the dryness of the hooves he’s cutting
and trimming (he’s been doing this for 40 years in the same approximate location) I guess the hooves are absorbing (or not) moisture from the ground and making it easier (or Harder) for him to cut. So prolonged dry weather means harder work for him… wonder he’s always keen on rain..

~We have a lot of Garter snakes here in the valley and my children are always fascinated by them and every spring go looking for them, but this is a useless task until the snakes have emerged from hibernation. Locals here told me that you have to watch fro the ‘yellow flowers’ on the hill sides, as the flowering of these means the snakes will be out. Over the years this has proved true and the snakes have appeared about the same time.

Apologies I have not discovered the type of flower, but they are common on the slopes here and I was wondering, as I know the snakes like to hibernate in south facing slopes, whether the connection was that the flowers also need approximately the same amount of sunshine to flower as the snakes need to emerge?

[TG: Flower blossoming times are influenced by temperature and length of nighttime hours, so there will be a correlation, but perhaps not a hard and fast connection.]

~I have a small Orchard and one of the big problems here are ‘moles’ that burrow under the trees and eat the roots in the winter mainly but also anytime of year, often killing the trees (which we only discover dead in the spring, or die slowly over the course of a month or two).

Although we tolerate them elsewhere I have a strict ‘NO Mole’ policy for the Orchard and set traps for them. A local coyote has got wise to this and very helpfully checks my traps for me. He will leave any trap that is empty undisturbed, but any
that have caught a mole, he will dig up eat the mole (he even licks the trap clean!) and then leaves the trap next to the hole.
When I come around I don’t have any disposal work to do and simply reset the trap. He must do this pretty regularly as there is never a Mole that goes to waste. Quite environmentally friendly I thought.