Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mudslide's Desire Path

Mudslide is our beloved short-hair Border Collie that we acquired from the town animal shelter. Previous to us he had a rough life and it took us a while to adjust our behaviour. What we have learned is that a Border Collie needs a job, actually, needs a whole lot of jobs. They are dogs with a strong sense of working responsibility.

In Mudslide's case he feels a need to protect us from the invasion of children, buses, and bicyclists, Fed Ex and UPS and anyone that dares to touch our fence that runs on two street sides of our corner property. The long side is 100 feet and there is a local bicyclist who tries to outrace Mudslide from one corner to the other. The human never wins. I read once that there are only two beings with endless energy, children and dogs.

During the summer when we keep the doors open whenever Mudslide has valiantly protected us he comes in panting and triumphant, and of course we duly praise him for his good honest work. The local children, by the way, seem to enjoy his attention.

Our friend Mary Tegel in Oregon posted online a comment about desire paths and as a result I was inspired to photo document Mudslide's desire path.

 At the Northwest corner beneath/behind the butterfly bush.
From the corner over the exposed crab apple root.
That exposed crab apple root, the Spitfire, and the heirloom irises (on the left) and the trunk of the crab apple tree. We call this our Side Yard.
Moving on past the picnic table.
On past Dixie. Mudslide was her companion in her later years.
We place obstacles along the path of desire.
The hose is here temporary in slight retaliation for Mudslide having finally killed off the rose bush that was protected by the round terra cotta flue section. Then again, Mudslide likes to jump over and run under obstacles. This is the North East corner.
The North East corner is the most active corner. We had blueberry bushes that after many years were actually doing pretty well here until Mudslide came along. It does not really matter so much because usually the birds ate all the blueberries.
This is D Dog's plant. I don't really know what it is, but I need to make sure Mudslide's desire does not trample it.
This is where D Dog does his eternal rest. He got buried on the corner because he was a fence jumper, we could never keep him within the yard. He would often stand in the intersection and watch the neighborhood in four directions. Our neighbors, who often took him in for meals and overnights, nicknamed him The Mayor. He and Dixie were companions and when he passed we got Mudslide because Dixie was obviously terribly lonely.
Now we head South past the white cedar pole, the Theocratic Anarchist Shrine. A Jean-Luc Picard action figure until recently hung from the pole. But now we grow Morning Glories from a coffee can hung in a macrame net holder. Theocratic Anarchists are into seasonal decor just like with all ancient religious persuasions. Our favorite gathering is the annual Farting Man celebration.
It may be hard to see in this picture but there is red volcanic rock pebbles here. You can see the sand, this is inside the gate where I pile bags of sand for various uses -- PU truck ballast mainly, brickwork when desperate. I made a hearth slab for the wood stove and used the red volcanic stone as an exposed aggregate. What was left over got dumped here.
Intersection of contemporary, historic, and Mudslide's desire path. He often desires to go outside the gate as it is a special treat. People tend to enter the property through the gate. That horizontal section in the photo is cold asphalt... the concrete sidewalk bulged there from an oak tree root and I had to make accommodation for the desire path of the tree. I have never known a dog to have such a strong sense of boundary. Mudslide tends to kick the volcanic stone pebbles into this path. They are ankle benders. I step on them then kick them out of the way. I figure eventually we will all have our desire paths cleared, including that of the volcanic stone that in our environment is an invasive alien presence.
Note the under-bush hiding zone. This is where Mudslide hides when I go to batting baby raccoons around in the kitchen at late night w/ a broom handle. This space reminds me of a backwater lagoon.
Exit to the South.
I always know where the chew toys go to hide.
Here we come, past the dead tree wood pile (thanks to LIPA), to a point of intervention. Mudslide's desire path ran through the Jerusalem Artichoke. I could not abide that and installed a deterrent barrier system. The bucket of water is NOT for skeeter breeding -- despite various rumors I am not into skeeters as pets. It is to water the upside down zucchini plants without need to go drag the hose around each time.
This is the old path. Now an ecologic reclamation zone. The Jerusalem Artichoke has not yet got the message, but this year I threw in a lot of earthworm laden compost. About once a year I remember to dig up some of the tubers for a fine dinner. Mostly I like the small sunflowers and the lush greenery. Note: Works well to hide otherwise taboo landscape plantings. 
 The restructured desire path heads south toward the driveway. Cuts through the vegetable/herb garden with sufficient traffic barriers to reduce paw prints in the dill and/or okra bed etc.
One of my desire paths. Mudslide so far appears intimidated by the canyon effect. On our property there is obviously maintained an intersection of desire paths -- mixed use yardage.
 Entering the drive way. When I come home with the truck to put it in the drive this is where Mudslide stands as he waits for me to back in the truck.
The south gate. South East corner, terminus of Mudslide's desire path, the drive way... unless we want to get into where he chases semi-feral cats.
He likes me, but if you don't know him then best advice is don't put your hands on the fence.


  1. I met Mudslide. I quickly learned to be careful to not cross his path.

    John (nipped in the butt) Leeke

  2. John: Mudslide likes you.