Monday, June 28, 2010
Although I checked back often until about 1 a.m., I never did see see the raccoon family again. I hope they were with their mother elsewhere, and she was giving them a REAL life lesson on finding foods they are supposed to be eating and that they didn't all just go to bed hungry for lack of goose feed!
It was a very 'deer light' night at the cracked corn too. With the temperature still near 90 degrees and not a lick of breeze it was probably just too miserable to think about eating! The few who did make an appearance were positively plagued by hungry flies and mosquito's who always seem to find their appetites during the hottest and most humid conditions.
But what an incredible time for viewing the fireflies!! Thousands of them, flying both high and low, were flashing their amazing little 'light bulb' tails into the darkness advertising their availability. We leave the meadow out back uncut and I thoroughly enjoyed watching all the ones in the tall grasses, lighting up as they ascended, looking like so many tiny sparks coming off a campfire. What a terrific show they put on!!!
I could happily sit and observe all the interesting goings on all night long, but gradually my eyes become weary and my head begins to nod, and even I must call it a night. And so it is with a full heart that I now contentedly wish you all a good night!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
We currently have one chipping sparrow in particular, a tiny little fellow who I have dubbed Sir Fling-a-Lot. This guy scatters the seeds around with gusto! He whips his beak from side to side, literally shoveling the stuff out of the feeder as fast as he can, as if he were sweeping the floor, causing the seeds to shower down upon the heads of anyone unlucky enough to be underneath at the time. The squirrels merely raise their tails up over their heads in an attempt to deflect them. The wild turkeys munch away, oblivious, but my domestic geese are constantly flinching, as seeds sprinkle down over their heads and coat their backs. The bunnies just seem glad for the extra food! I often wonder exactly what kind of seed that sparrow is searching for so I could put a bowl of it out for him and save the expense of refilling that feeder every single day!
There are many squabbles daily among birds who either refuse to sit and eat together, or who very strenuously demand a certain spot ONLY on the perch! It's so much fun to watch their antics!! Of course, there are also lots of others who just quietly go about eating no matter who else is sitting beside them, like perfect little ladies and gentlemen.
The ever popular suet cake is great for attracting not only the woodpeckers but just about every other species, especially at this time of year, as the high fatty content helps grow strong baby birds. Many times there will actually be a line, various birds sitting on branches, each waiting to take its turn, much more civilized than some human buffet stations I've been to!
This season there are a lot more hawks around than usual and it has kept every 'birdie' on their toes, (so to speak)! Whoever notices the intruder first will give an alarm call and they all flee in every which direction at once. All, that is, except this one catbird, who just after hearing a danger signal given, gets into the birdbath just like those silly human females in the movies who hear strange noises in the house and decide to go take a bath!! Go figure!!!
If you have never fed the wild birds before, you might want to consider purchasing a cheap model (there are plenty of them to choose from) and a bag of mixed seeds. You will never find another source of ongoing amusement with as much return for your dollar as watching these fascinating little creatures as they interact with one another at the backyard bird feeder.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Baby animals abound! The raccoon has brought four little darlings to the feeder the past few nights. They are absolutely adorable with their miniature striped tails and tiny masked faces. It's such fun to watch them as they roil all over mom and everything in sight while forever whimpering and yelping.
But that also means four more mouths to feed!!! I wonder if I can take them off as dependents on my income tax (only kidding IRS, no need for an audit!)
Interestingly, the baby raccoons are highly nervous and appear to prefer to go back home. But good old mom is taking their training very seriously and insists, "this is where we eat, children", and so they do. The sounds of their crunching on goose feed, (times five hungry raccoons), is positively deafening!! Not to mention hysterical!
We also have attracted two delightful fox kits who chase each other around and wrestle off and on all night long. Boy are they ever fast, too!! I've seen them quite a bit by day as well, as they are slow to hunt for and catch enough food to fill their little tummies. One early morning, just after daybreak, I headed out to put up the suet feeder (if left there overnight the adult raccoons eat the entire cake). I saw one of the foxes lying down amidst the geese like a little puppy. When he saw me, he just looked and languidly stretched out his front paws. I guess I am considered part of the pack also! Now how cool is that!
As a matter of fact, all the wild animals here have come to trust both my husband and I to a degree that brings tears to my eyes. Deer, bunnies, birds, even the raccoons allow us to within a few feet of them as we each go about our own agendas. It is very heartwarming to be trusted like that by wild ones!!
Last evening, two mommy deer brought their fawns with them for the first time! One has twins. They frolicked and jumped and ran about with the abandon found only in the very young of any species (including our own). What fun they had as mom had her evening meal between the cracked corn and the goose food. Curious about every little thing that came along, I thought they would have a heart attack when they finally saw the geese who were beginning to gather around the feeders at dusk. Deciding they looked far too dangerous to approach, the fawns moved further off out back.
The other doe had just one fawn, but boy was he ever a handful!! He streaked back and forth and back and forth with such speed that he was mostly just a blur. And he never tired of his game, either! This went on the entire time his exhausted looking mom had a nosh. The fawn twins just looked at him as if he had gone nuts, their little heads jerking back and forth as if they were watching a tennis match. I think he intimidated them! After what seemed like an eternity, he seemed to calm down just a bit, but boy, what exuberance!!! I don't envy his poor mother!!
Everywhere I look there are babies!! The baby bunnies win the most adorable award though. Somehow rabbits in miniature are just too cute!! Then there are all the baby birds harassing their poor parents at the feeders! Even though they might be standing on the suet cake right next to either mom or dad, they feel the need to beg for food. Such patience the adult birds have!! You would think they would show them once and then make them get it themselves, but no, they dutifully feed those overstuffed babies (twice the bulk of their folks), grabbing a couple of quick bites for themselves in between. What dedication!!!!
There is a little chipmunk who has taken a fancy to the porch just off the kitchen. Every morning it goes over the entire thing with a fine-toothed comb. I wonder what he is so interested in!! Even though I am watching from the door window, he makes his entire inspection of the porch before heading off. The only concern I have with that is the wistful looks he gives my six hanging planters. But I think they are safe from his scrutiny hanging from the awning with metal supports that he should not be able to navigate.
But I have saved the very best for last! Late last night, just as I was thinking about calling it quits (about midnight) and heading inside to bed, I saw a shadow of something flying about out there. Since our resident bats haven't been seen in the past two seasons, I rushed to see if we had attracted more of those wonderful and very beneficial little fellows with our strong floodlight. But no, it was an enormous luna moth, fluttering and flying about the light looking like a beautiful manta ray in a sea of air. She put on quite a show for me for many minutes. So fairy-like and graceful! It was the largest one I have ever seen and given the hour, I have to wonder if I didn't maybe catch a glimpse of a delicate fairy. What a perfect way to end the evening!!! I headed off to bed contentedly to dream of the land of the fey.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I just love the change of seasons! I can't imagine living without a single one of them! And being a very seasonal person, I love to immerse myself in all the delights that each has to offer.
Ah, Summer: a time for swimming, gardening, and one of my all-time favorites, picking wild berries,( to name just a few). Today I spotted some ripe red raspberries on the numerous vines that grow along our 230' driveway. The very first of the season. They were delicious!!!! The catbirds 'meowed' their displeasure at my invading 'their' fruit, but there are plenty for all of us to share!
Tomorrow I will take my containers and go on a wild berry hunt. They grow in such profusion along all the country roads around here, that it is quite easy to quickly gather enough to make little wild berry tarts, AND have my lunch at the same time! Yum, yum!!
As a matter of fact, I love wild berries SO MUCH that I wrote a little poem about them (now imagine that!)
The sun and rain and air and earth
Every juicy little morsel
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
And then one fateful day whilst at the feed store getting supplies for my chickens, I heard some loud peeping coming from a large open crate. Peering inside, I saw the most delightful yellow balls of fluff and I fell in love. The proprietor said they were White Emden Geese, and I thought what a wonderful addition they would make to my 'farm'. Without thinking, I bought 4 of them, 2 males and 2 females, which were loaded into a large box and placed on the passenger seat in my car and we were off. It was about half way home that I began to break out in a cold sweat about what Frank's reaction would be. Let's suffice it to say he was less than tickled!
I raised my geese under a makeshift heat lamp in the basement until they were old enough to go outside. We put together some housing, set up feeders and waterers, and I settled back to enjoy my new family of geese.
Only the man at the feed store neglected to mention that these guys would get into every single kind of trouble that you can imagine! If I gave my attention to anything at all, they would have to investigate (and usually destroy it). Like the time I painstakingly planted a flat of flowers in large wine barrel planters along one side and the front of the house. I thought, at the time, that using these raised containers (placed up on cinder blocks for even more height) would be safe from their insatiable curiousity. Ha!!! In the time it took me to go inside and fill the watering can, those little buggers had eaten all my plants. As a matter of fact, I was just in time to see Werner (the head goose) eating the last of my celosia, and trying to look totally innocent, with one of the lovely blooms still sticking out the side of his beak!!!
And then there was the time they cornered the mailman on the back porch and my mother had to get him down! And the time they stood in the road and tried to stare down a huge school bus, making me run down our 200+ foot driveway to herd them back! Oh, the list goes on and on, but by now I suppose you are getting the gist of this.
Over the almost twenty years that we have been together now, I have alternately wanted to hug them and kill them! But the delight they have brought into my life far outweighs the mischief and destruction they have caused (most days anyway). They have had many young ones and their numbers have grown over time (much to Franks chagrin), and today there are 13 in all. Many others have succumbed to sickness, foxes, and being hit by a car (before we fenced in the driveway). Werner, the last of the original four, has become quite senile, and needs to be hand fed soft foods instead of the game and turkey feed he has eaten all his life.
With the fuss Frank raised over the geese and their history of causing trouble, I had to kind of give up on the sheep and cow (not to mention the horses), and that was pretty much that as far as the 'farm' thing went, and yet a marvelous thing started to occur! It seems the game and turkey feed and cracked corn have attracted every wild animal in the county to our back yard. And what fun it is to watch them all come by for a nosh!
Our regulars these days include countless woodchucks and squirrels, wild turkeys, raccoons, herds of deer, foxes, skunks, opossums, bunnies, rodents (there is a down side to everything after all, but they are really cute), and the occasional chipmunk. Add up all the beautiful species of birds that grace the numerous bird feeders, and we have ourselves a veritable wildlife sanctuary. There is hardly a minute, day or night, that somebody isn't out there eating away! And the very best part of it all? We just keep the feeders and waterers full and sit back and enjoy the greatest show on earth!!!!
Now isn't that a whole lot better than working my butt off day and night catering to a bunch of farm animals??? I have become most content with the tradeoff!!