Thursday, August 11, 2011

Perfect Camouflage

Today's guest blogger is Marjory Wildcraft of Back Yard Food Production. Marjory has been homesteading and working toward making her own back yard as self sustaining as possible. She and her husband have implemented and experimented with a variety of food production techniques drawn from organic farming, permaculture, agroforestry, indigenous teachings, historical anecdotes, and relief work in developing countries, all with an emphasis on developing systems using the highest productivity, yet needing the least amount of work, fertility, and/or water. Her DVD by the same title, Back Yard Food Production, is a step by step video guide incorporating the principles Marjory has learned over the last several years.

House cats don’t do very well in rural environments. White cats are in the most peril as they are highly visible - and delicious - to owls. Solid black cats, or gray-black tabbies tend to do much better.

My young daughter really, really wanted a cat. My son and I were ambivalent. And my husband was adamant that no, we didn’t need a cat. Two years of pleading and he wore down. Before he changed his mind we quickly went to the animal shelter and my daughter picked out the only tame cat they had; a half grown calico. We named her Valorie.

She was soooo cute at the shelter; her coat is delightful and appealing to the human eye, and soft and cuddly to the touch. I knew that her attractiveness to humans would mean she was a lousy mouser - and that turned out to be true. Her colors are lucky and she is clearly geared towards eating Purina more than worrying about catching a meal. It may not be exactly camouflage, but it more than protects her - it grants her prima donna status in the world.

We took Valorie home. My husband and I repressed our concerns for the long-term viability of this cat in our rural setting. We encouraged Valorie to stay indoors.

Valorie, the cat. 

But surprisingly her colors are also a camouflage in the truest sense of the word. Yes, she is highly visible in almost every lighting condition, which seems very dangerous. But look again and you’ll realize it is very hard to determine which end is the head or the tail. Predators cannot afford to make mistakes that might get them injured. They depend on the health and function of their bodies for their lives and they wouldn’t risk attacking… what is that animal anyway? – it smells like cat, but it doesn’t look like one.

Valorie is an example of perfect camouflage. Her colors work very well in two entirely different realms; she is adorable to the people who feed her, and confusing to those who would eat her. As your garden gets bigger, or as you work with small livestock, you’ll learn a lot more about predators. And camouflage.

Marjory Wildcraft


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