Death and life in the woodshed

June 11, 2018

Years ago, the roof of our summer-house suffered some water damage and had to be replaced. So I converted it into a woodshed which I attached to the side of our house. As well the store for out firewood logs, it’s also where I keep many of my decomposing corpses — most of them in boxes and bags, a few of them not. Recently, a self-seeded clematis Eccremocarpus scaber has worked its way through a crack and started growing over the specimens and the logs:

Most of the specimens are hidden from view, apart from a tortoise that you can make out in a translucent box over on the right. The centrepiece here is some kind of medium-sized mammal, consisting of the skull and much of the vertebral column and ribs, which my youngest son brought back from a camping trip for me. Elsewhere in various boxes and bags are multiple kestrels, a falcon, several other birds, a couple of bearded dragons, a snake, a mole, a rat, and miscellaneous small mammals. Some day, I will prep out all their skeletons. I really will.

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7 Responses to “Death and life in the woodshed”


  1. […] See also: Death and life in the woodshed. […]

  2. Joseph Sullivan Says:

    Be careful, I think in some states it is illegal to have any kind of bird of prey. It might even be a federal crime to have the remains. I don’t know but check it out.-joe

  3. Mickey Mortimer Says:

    Ah, I used to have a death shed too. Took forever for that deer to skeletonize and stop stinking… Speaking of which, your “medium-sized mammal” is surely an artiodactyl, no? Skull looks too broad to be a deer. Maybe a sheep?

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    Wow, Joseph, what a weird law! Anyway, I’m in the UK, so it seems I’m safe from your Feds for now, at least. I do know that the Newent bird-of-prey centre, which is less than ten miles away from us, is required to cremate their gorgeous corpses, which is a real tragedy.

    Mickey, you may well be right about the sheep — it’s the strongest candidate anyway, based on what we have a lot of around here. I’ve not really looked at it.


  5. Not just birds of prey, but most birds in the US and Canada, thanks to an international treaty. Only non-natives (pigeons, starlings) and certain upland game birds (crows, turkeys) may be collected without a salvage permit (and the permit requires depositing remains in a museum).

    I don’t know how well enforced this is. It seems to be mainly a loophole-closer, so that if a suspected poacher claims he just found his haul, the prosecutors don’t have to prove he’s lying.

    I’m envious, Mike. I live too close to my neighbors to get away with this sort of thing. I’m currently prepping an opossum I found, but I had to travel out into the sticks and deflesh it the hard way.

  6. Ian Medeiros Says:

    Mike, that isn’t a Clematis (which is in the family Ranunculaceae), but rather Eccremocarpus scaber (in Bignoniaceae; the tubular flowers give it away). Here’s the RHS page about it: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/6213/Eccremocarpus-scaber/Details

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Ian; I updated the post accordingly.


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