I must confess that I am a workaholic. I measure days by the amount of work I get done. A bad day usually includes something like never getting out of the house because a small change in cat food has me mopping up after six or seven constantly barfing kitties. A good day is when I can prop up my feet in the dying light of a summer evening, and look back of the multitude of jobs that I completed throughout the day.
Today, I took care of my mother, picked the berries, hoed the garden, and pulled the weeds. I made dinner, did some cleaning, and washed a little laundry. It was a good day. So before the sunlight began to fade, I decided to grab my camera, and take a little time for myself. I took a few photos of my rose tree, and some of lilies, and of course, I had to photograph my almost weed-free garden, before the weeds got revenge. As I turned to take a photo of the sun shining through the trees I saw it… a red fox! A really small red fox was hiding in the grass by the barn. I knew I was too far away to get a photo, but I just had to try, and… Ugggghhhh…. Not again!!!
As you can see, this is definitely not a fox. So much for the good day.
And this is kitten number 2. Below are kittens number 3 and 4. I have seen five so far, and I’m pretty sure they belong to the tortoise shell that someone threw out a while back. I’m glad I never got into the habit of swearing, or the whole neighborhood would have heard something far more explicit than “OH! NO!!!!” and “JUST BECAUSE I HAVE A BARN DOES NOT MEAN I WANT YOUR CAT!!!!”
Irresponsible pet owners are one of my pet peeves. If you take an animal, you are responsible for that animal, and that doesn’t mean dropping it off by someone else’s house in the middle of the night because you think that person will take it. So she got pregnant, and that’s a problem, but it shouldn’t be my problem.
I understand that getting a pet proper medical care can be expensive, but I also know that with little effort you can find a place that offers low cost, or even free spaying and neutering and basic immunizations. I got seven of my cats altered, immunized, and treated for fleas at the local Humane Society. I added a very generous donation to my payment, and still only paid a little over a third of what I would have at the vet. A local spay/neuter organization also offers vouchers to help people who can’t afford to pay the meager amount that the Humane Society charges. Getting your cat fixed doesn’t necessarily have to be a checkbook emptying experience.
With the help of the Humane Society and some other great people, we eliminated the feral cat colony in this neighborhood. Only one, wild tomcat remains at large. All of the others are fixed and now have happy, indoor homes. Thanks to an uncaring pet owner, we have the starting of a new colony. To that person I say, (add lots and lots of sarcasm here.) “THANKS A LOT!!!”
Last year, a huge, beautiful home in our neighborhood went up for bid at a foreclosure sale. Though we knew we could never afford it, my husband and I decided to go to the auction. It would be fun. (As long as one of us didn’t scratch our nose and accidentally buy an abandoned, gas station.) The morning of the sale a horrible snow storm hit, and we were surprised to find that no one but the bank was at the courthouse to bid on the house, and they didn’t really want it. We bought an incredible house for an embarrassingly low price. Our plan is to put it back on the market, and our dream is that some wealthy person will look at the eye-popping interior, the huge lot, and the secluded, wooded surroundings and decide they just have to have it.
With the arrival of Spring. (AT LAST!) our work has shifted to the outside of the house, and it’s my job to finish cleaning up the ninety feet of brick flower boxes that surround the veranda at the front of the house, and to replant the boxes with flowers and shrubs. It was an interesting job for the first fifteen feet. After that, I got a little sick of looking at dirt and wood chips. But just as I was getting bored, the air was filled with the most beautiful, bird song. A song that I had never heard before. I searched unsuccessfully for the musician for a while, then went back to my work. That song continued for the entire evening, and as I gathered my tools to put them away a handsome, brown bird with a white chest landed in the hickory tree across the road and sang a few more choruses. I knew that brown thrashers existed, but this is the first one I have ever seen, and what an incredible song!
You can hear some of the songs of the brown thrasher here https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Brown_Thrasher
Because we live on the very edge of the forest, our family has had the privilege of becoming acquainted with a wide variety of wildlife. We’ve seen bears (very, very close up),white tailed deer, raccoons, fishers, bobcats, and plenty of squirrels and song birds. Coyote and fox tracks often appear in the mud along the lane. Hawks and vultures soar over head. Owls serenade us on summer nights. This spring, however, something new has moved into the neighborhood.
At first we thought the large, dark shape, that appeared in a treetop seventy feet above the forest floor, was a nest of some sort, but after taking photos from every angle and enlarging them on the computer, we realized that our nest was changing positions and had claws.
In the first series of photos we shot it looked like a bear cub, and at that distance, my Nikon was straining to pick up details. (Especially when the photographer holding the camera couldn’t keep her hands still. I have got start using the tripod.) After a couple of sessions, we realized that the animal’s nose was all wrong, and our baby bear had quills!
I would like to introduce you to one very, very large porcupine. She has been in the same tree for a couple of weeks now, and has been working diligently at removing all of the bark from a very large branch. The few photos we have gotten of our porcupine’s belly show that she is either extremely well fed, or that we can expect to see tiny porcupines in the near future.