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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Thistle Strategy

I am of an age, I guess, where people find it OK to ask if I have an Exit Strategy. The other day I was discussing finances with such a person. I was feeling kind of trapped there behind closed glass doors seated across from her at an imposing oaken conference table, papers with saddish numbers on them before me. Exit Strategy? Did she mean escape from the room? Had she confused me with the Commander in Chief? No. I figured out it was a euphemism for Retirement Planning. Ouch. At least she wasn't talking about Final Arrangements.

So I have given it some thought, and thanks to a certain unnamed Prominent Person, the idea of thistle growing to supplement my retirement income has entered my zeitgeist. In one of the mystical convergences that happen all the time, I became aware of Nyjer seed (they don't like to call it thistle or any other name for reasons explained here) having bought a plastic jug of it to feed the finches that have recently started flitting around the yard. Birdwatching is a nice pastime for old folks, ya know.

Who knew that I could, in my antiquity, help save life as we know it by growing the tiny black seeds (Black Gold they call it!!) of the guizotia abyssinica plant. Research is underway as to the crop-worthiness of Nyjer as oil-seed. Oil is oil is oil, in much the same way as roses, and Nyjer is much better than, say, jojoba since birds don't like jojoba seeds as well. Seems Nyjer grows well or at least OK on poorer soils in arid conditions. So maybe I'll get me some cheap land, spend some quality time clearing the brush off it, then sit back and watch the sun rise and set over my Nyjer plantation. I won't be wasting precious foreign oil going into town for stuff, since I'll order what I need (aside from bird seed and bird seed oil) off of the internet.

Anyway, this post has nothing to do with bugs but I wanted to encourage participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Last year's count in OC was conducted in a downpour, in a shopping center, and we still managed to list several species. Get outside and participate February 17 through 20; hey, maybe you'll see some bugs while you're at it.

By the way, I highly recommend Nyjer seed if you want to attract finches to your yard.

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