Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘deer

Afternoon Survey

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After work yesterday, I took Delilah for a walk to survey the grounds for the first time since Wednesday morning’s snowfall. There is a combination of areas where the snow has melted in the sun and spots where most of the accumulation remains.

There is evidence the chickens are moving around in the woods but when I found them they were clustered beneath the coop, most of them perched on only one foot. There were two eggs in a nest box that were probably on the verge of freezing.

The back of the barn looks like we’ve hung fake icicles as decoration, but these are all real.

In the woods, we didn’t find any new evidence of buck activity, but there is still a big scrape on the ground along one of our trails that hint of a decent-sized set of antlers. Last week, Cyndie found a hoof print that was almost half the size of her boot, so maybe both came from the same big fellow.

There is enough snow remaining on the trail to make it easy to spot fresh tracks if we get any more activity. Someone has been parking across the road from us and bowhunting in our neighbor’s woods. It is highly likely that any deer moving across our property will also travel through those woods.

The gun season doesn’t start until the 23rd in Wisconsin this year, so we’ve got a couple of weeks before we start seeing blaze orange-clad hunters traipsing around the neighboring properties.

At that point, I intend to refrain from doing a lot of surveying of the far reaches of our property for a while.

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Written by johnwhays

November 8, 2019 at 7:00 am

Wild Interlopers

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Lately, for some yet-to-be-determined reason, we have been experiencing a distinct increase in uninvited wild visitors, some of whom seem interested in establishing residency. Some of them are cute and for the most part harmless, like the five young deer Cyndie spotted grazing in the back pasture last night.

Some are, unfortunately, all too familiar, like the mice and bats that Pequenita seems to view as mere house playmates for her ongoing enjoyment.

There are, as noted in two other recent posts, a family of raccoons and a suspected woodchuck making their presence known in broad daylight on separate occasions.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie sent me a picture looking out the egress window of the basement bedroom revealing a large mound of soil tossed up by one of several possible burrowing pests.

I’m leaning toward the woodchuck, based on the size of the excavation.

When I got home to see for myself, there were two frogs peering in the window from the top of the pile, and a mole napping off to the side.

My adventurous spirit is at a low ebb and I am struggling to muster any interest whatsoever in addressing even one of these wild animal pests, let alone all of them. Sadly, neglecting to deal with them now offers nothing but greater complications later. I’d rather not admit that it crossed my mind that we could simply sell the place, as is, and let the buyers deal with the pests.

Or, we could throw money at the problem and hopefully find a professional who is genuinely interested in tackling the challenges. I wonder if it would be possible to trap both a woodchuck and some raccoons at the same time?

I will happily watch the critters be driven down our driveway and off into the sunset for relocation at some magical forest that is over 25 miles away from everywhere, where all pest control companies release their captives to live out pesky lives in blissful harmony.

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Written by johnwhays

September 4, 2019 at 6:00 am

Didn’t Hear

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If a tree falls…

We didn’t hear a thing, but there is another tree across the trail along our western border. I’m not sure there was even a storm that occurred here since that tree came down, although it was rather windy yesterday.

It was a hot wind for the most part, although the high dew point of 78°(F) caused enough sweating that the air moving across wet skin provided a nice cooling effect. I monitored the storm activity going on to the north all day yesterday, and witnessed some serious damage from hail and downed trees, but the thunderstorms never spread down to us.

I should be more thankful, but part of me feels like we missed out on a big shift of conditions that storms provide. Our temperature and humidity just quietly eased a little overnight. This morning the thunderstorm activity is sliding across just to our south, showing an outside possibility of reaching us before the day is out.

Apparently, Delilah didn’t hear or smell the deer that was laying about 10 feet off the trail this morning. She obviously didn’t see it, despite the rather obvious way the light brown color stood out against the dark earth and green foliage of the surroundings. I decided not to stop for a photo in order to allow this brave animal to remain in place as a reward for it trusting we were not a threat.

I offered a greeting as I passed and we continued on our way. I found it humorous that further along our walk along that perimeter trail, Delilah showed signs she smelled something of interest in the middle of our forest. Her behavior conveyed, “Hey! There are deer in there! Can I go see them?”

Too late now, pooch.

We had a date with the chicken coop to open the hatch and clean the poop board.

I’m pretty sure the hens heard us coming. They started up a chorus of pleas to be freed for a day of free-ranging bug feasting.

I was more than happy to oblige them.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2019 at 7:07 am

Driving North

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It has arrived! Today is the day of departure for this year’s Tour of Minnesota biking and camping adventure. I might almost be ready to go by the time I plan to leave the house. Really, the only thing left to do is overlook something I had intended to bring and leave without it.

Just to add a little drama to my packing and planning, the temperatures up north dropped into the 30s Wednesday night. Do I pack another layer of warm clothes? I added one extra overshirt. In addition to my wool hat, chopper mittens, Sorel boots, and North Face parka.

I’m ready.

I mowed the lawn last night, cutting a notch lower than usual in hope of buying me the full week until it needs to be cut it again. I programmed my work email with an away message. Can’t think of anything else.

I tried to tell Pequenita that I would be gone for a while, but would return. I doubt she comprehends my warning. Poor Cyndie will be a victim of that cat’s angst over my absence. On the other hand, I will relish the absence of wet-nosed cat head-bumps bashing into my face at too-early-o’clock in the morning.

As the sun was getting low enough that the back pasture of chest-high grass was cast in shadow, I came around the bend on the mower and spotted a deer leaping in reaction to my sudden appearance. Behind those big leaps was an almost invisible fawn whose head didn’t clear the tall grass as it struggled to keep up with mamma.

I sure hope they don’t decide to bed down in that field when our neighbors show up to cut hay.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2019 at 6:00 am

Cyndie’s Shots

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Cyndie has always been incredibly generous about allowing me to post photos she has taken. Lest there ever be doubt, I add her name to the bottom right corner of images of hers that I use.

On my way home from work yesterday, I received a series of images texted from Cyndie that reflect scenes she had captured during the day.

“Why, yes, I’d love to use them!”

First off, this fascinating shot reveals that a couple of deer decided to lay down in the middle of a trail, for a long enough time that they melted the snow all the way down to the ground.

 

That’s a first. With all the excellent cover available, these two chose a large clearing for their naps. Must be feeling plenty safe on our property.

Notice what a difference a few days makes with regard to the snow sticking to the trees. Scroll down a couple of posts and compare this shot with the two I posted a couple of days ago.

There is still plenty of snow out in the fields. Cyndie framed up this gorgeous view of snow drifting around a culvert.

Delilah looks so stoic as an accent to the shadow and shapes below her. I love the perspective of different elevation this provides.

Finally, there is this beautiful sunset.

If you can make out the chicken coop in the distance, the low sun is shining through it such that it looks like a light is on in there.

It’s fair to say that Cyndie has probably contributed more pictures to this blog in the last year than I have.

For that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, C!

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Written by johnwhays

December 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

In Charge

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So, I’m in charge of night-time chores for the next ten days. Well, nine days, because I completed last night’s tasks successfully already. I remembered to shut the chicken door at sunset! Actually, I showed up a little early. The hens were just thinking about heading in for the night.

It’s quite a process that they go through every night. I haven’t noticed if there is a lead decision maker or not, but as a general rule, the group shows little hesitation about gladly following somebody’s example.

As dusk begins, the flock subtly meanders to and fro in the near vicinity of the coop, pecking away at the ground. The first one or two that climb the ramp don’t cause the rest to suddenly stampede inside, but once the process starts, the last one to commit is probably less than a minute behind the first.

Then the fun starts on the roost, and the poop-board platform beneath it. They don’t appear to have a specific order, but something seems to matter to them because there is a lot of thumping and squawking as they jostle for position. I’ve noticed it can take multiple tries to successfully move from the board up to the roost for some of the hens. Their early attempts to squeeze in tight between two other birds are often rejected.

Eventually, calm settles in and the only sounds audible are some quiet contented coo-ings.

When I later took Delilah for her last walk before bedtime, I brought along a powerful flashlight to check out the woods in the total darkness. Right away I spotted at least two sets of eyes reflecting the light beam back to me. I’m guessing it was deer, but they were too far away for the light to illuminate their outlines.

It was just the little dots of my flashlight, reflecting  back toward me. The animals stayed in place while their gaze followed us as we rounded a corner and continued on away from them. Delilah gave no indication that she noticed they were there.

Her nose was frantically tracking something that must have recently wandered the path just ahead of us.

There are plenty of critters roaming about lately. There are a ton of hoof-prints, and some signs a buck has been rubbing trees and scratching the ground in our woods. My morning commute in the recent darkness has produced multiple skunk sightings, a raccoon, deer, and yesterday, an opossum.

I fully expect they are all including at least some of our trails on their regular nightly rounds.

I just hope there are no daytime incursions into chicken territory by any of these intruders while I’m in charge.

My goal is: everybody healthy and happy when Cyndie gets back in over a week.

Stay tuned to find out how my luck holds out.

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Written by johnwhays

October 31, 2018 at 6:00 am

Quiet Evening

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After dinner last night, I stepped out to spend some time on one of the zero-gravity chairs Cyndie left on the deck. She pulled them out on Sunday to watch the Perseid meteor shower in the wee hours of Monday morning. I opted to sleep and missed that show.

Last night, the air outside was absolutely still. The sky was muted by a white-washed backdrop that held just a few discernible cloud shapes floating in front of it.

The temperature and humidity had eased to a perfectly comfortable warmth for the end of a hot August day. As I lay back in total relaxation, I tried to absorb the moment to the depth of my bones, for use as a reference in six months, when everything outdoors will be completely opposite.

It was so quiet, I could hear the acorns getting dropped to the ground when a bird hopped in the branches of a tall oak tree. The culprit was also adding to the soundscape with an occasional simple one-note, even-pitched tone. That was in stark contrast to the songbird who arrived in a tree behind me to show off a dramatic and richly complex repeating series of staccato chirps, tweets, and climbing trills.

I spotted a dragonfly high above me, near the top of the trees, and followed its aeronautical acrobatics of instant right-angle and logic defying immediate one-hundred-eighty degree turns in what I assumed must have been a feeding frenzy. It kept at it for a surprisingly long time.

The bliss of the moment served as a good remedy for my lake hangover. There might not be a gorgeous lake rippling in our back yard, but we do have plenty of nature in which to submerse ourselves, as an alternative.

Later, back in the house, I caught a glimpse of the doe and two fawns who hang out here regularly enough that we consider them family. They were loitering near the truck before disappearing down the trail toward the chicken coop.

I suggested to Cyndie that she should be extra quiet when she headed down to close the chicken door for the night, and maybe she would be able to mingle with the deer.

Delilah didn’t really know what I was watching out the back window, but she instantly spotted the flash of brown bodies and white tails when they darted out of the trees and crossed the yard to where the trail enters the woods on the other side.

Cyndie didn’t get to do any mingling.

She did find all ten chickens safely roosting in the coop for another day. I took the deer sighting as a sign there wasn’t any immediate threat in the area, implying our animals all enjoyed a quiet evening, too.

Egg production continues to pick up. Yesterday was the first time there were three eggs in a single day. I take that as another sign they are happy and healthy.

It all has me wanting to achieve an unprecedented level of full appreciation for the blessings we are currently enjoying, especially the simple ones like yesterday’s calm and quiet night.

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Written by johnwhays

August 15, 2018 at 6:00 am