My Day Job is at the headquarters of A Very Large Corporation. I work in a complex of buildings that are all connected by human Habitrails of glass and concrete. These buildings are only built on part of a large parcel of land, large enough to accommodate a large ring of parkland. The surrounding land is host to about two miles of walking trails, which wind their way through woods, cultivated lakes, and a prairie reserve.
It’s awesome, actually. During spring, summer, and fall, I always try to get out for a daily walk. Just walking around this corporate behemoth, I’ve seen muskrats, wild turkeys, deer, eagles, hawks, snowy egrets, Canada geese, and dozens of species of songbird, duck, and butterfly. Wildflowers burst up all through the warm months. It’s surprising, as all this parkland is bordered on three sides by two interstate freeways and a highway. Look to your left to watch cars on an exit ramp, and you might stumble on a muskrat.
Amongst all that, there’s a corporate vegetable garden and the occasional modern art installation. It’s really quite cool.
This means that my employer has an elaborate relationship with the land surrounding those buildings. It’s more than just having groundskeepers that mow the lawn and tend the flower gardens. Only a portion of the lands are tended like a lawn. The rest requires actual wilderness management.
Yesterday, there was a controlled burn on our grounds. In order to maintain the prairie land, our folks have to go out every once in a while and burn everything to the ground. It returns nutrients to the soil, prevents non-prairie species from invading, and helps some plants germinate.
I’m sad I missed out on my walk yesterday, because seeing what is essentially part of my workplace on fire would have been an interesting change of pace. But I did get out to walk today, so I spent a lot of time marveling at the blackened land and smelling that lovely campfire smell.
Eventually, I turned a corner near one of the ponds, and happened upon a very odd sight:
Standing there was a man. He had a radio control box in one hand, and a net in the other. At his feet sat a very patient border collie. In the water was a radio-controlled boat, turning in an endless circle in the middle of the pond.
The man must have seen my puzzled look. “It’s broken. I have to wait for it to run out of juice.”
I was a bit puzzled, because usually if non-employees wander onto the grounds that close to the buildings, security guards go out and check to see what’s up. Then I did the mental math about the border collie.
This is our corporate goose dog.
See, several years ago, the grounds were overrun with Canada geese, to the point where the walking trails were always slick with greenish bird poo. This is a common occurrence near the watery places of Minnesota… which means “everywhere”. (Fun fact: Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline, more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined.)
Now, this Very Large Corporation puzzled over this problem. They certainly didn’t want to harm these critters, even if Canada geese are annoying and filled with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of poo. They couldn’t simply ship the geese away, as they’d just fly back. There’s not really a goose repellant. What to do?
Hire a border collie!
Every once in a while, the corporate goose dog is carted onto the grounds. The collie then herds all geese into the prairie preserve, away from most of the trails and all of the lawns. Eventually, the geese just learn to stay over there.
So today, I’m pleased to say that met the corporate goose dog.
I still don’t know what was going on with that boat, though.