Old Christmas trees piled behind the Arthur E. Disterheft Public Safety Building in Point Reyes Station this week.

County firefighters each year encourage West Marin residents to drop off their old Christmas trees at firehouses. The trees are chipped and hauled off, eliminating the risk of dry trees accidentally catching fire around the house. I dropped my tree off at the Point Reyes Station firehouse Monday after calling ahead to make sure I could do so a day after the recycling program supposedly ended for the year. No problem, I was told.

Of course, old Christmas trees shed pine needles whenever they brush against something, so I wasn’t especially happy about hauling the tree in my car’s trunk. “Too bad you can’t just drag it behind your car,” my houseguest Linda Petersen said with a laugh.

I could imagine my route to the firehouse littered with Christmas tree branches and cited the State Vehicle Code, which says that when hauling stuff on a public roadway, you must make sure none of it ends up in the road — with two exceptions, one of which you may never have thought about.

As the Highway Patrol officer, whose patrolcar is seen here, later confirmed in detail, Section 23114 of the Vehicle Code provides: “A vehicle may not be driven or moved on any highway unless the vehicle is so constructed, covered, or loaded as to prevent any of its contents or load other than clear water or feathers from live birds from dropping, sifting, leaking, blowing, spilling, or otherwise escaping from the vehicle.”

This allows farmers to transport “livestock,” the CHP officer said. In short, if you’re allergic to feathers, it’s up to you not to tailgate the turkey truck.


Wild Turkeys at Dawn. Monday morning I was awakened by 37 wild turkeys gobbling outside my bedroom window. Transported by the sunrise, they dropped few feathers.

The non-native turkeys were introduced into West Marin in 1988 by a hunting club working with the State Department of Fish and Game. You can read that story at Posting 76. By now there are far more turkeys than turkey hunters, and their flocks have spread throughout West Marin.

Hunting and slaughtering animals are not for everyone, but for the edification of those inured to them, the Associated Press in 1875 reported on a get-rich-quick scheme for perpetual-motion farming then being advertised in Lacon, Illinois:

Glorious Opportunity to Get Rich — We are starting a cat ranch in Lacon with 100,000 cats. Each cat will average 12 kittens a year. The cat skins will sell for 30 cents each. One hundred men can skin 5,000 cats a day. We figure a daily net profit of over $10,000. Now what shall we feed the cats? We will start a rat ranch next door with 1,000,000 rats. The rats will breed 12 times faster than the cats. So we will have four rats to feed each day to each cat. Now what shall we feed the rats? We will feed the rats the carcasses of the cats after they have been skinned. Now Get This! We feed the rats to the cats and the cats to the rats and get the cat skins for nothing.”

The advertisement not surprisingly turned out to be a hoax. The perpetrator was an Illinois editor named Willis B. Powell.