Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘trail cam

Gettin’ There

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Well, in case you haven’t noticed, today is June 14th. It just so happens, the Tour of Minnesota biking and camping week starts on June 15th. Holy COW, that’s tomorrow! I suppose I better start getting ready to go.

Today is my last day at the day-job before starting this annual biking adventure. After that, it’s a quick stop for some supplies, a rush home to get some grass cut, and then it will be time to start packing.

Tent, check. Sleeping bag, check. Bike, check. Helmet, check. Bike shoes, check. As long as I pack those essentials, I will be functional. The rest is just superfluous accoutrements.

Okay, maybe I’ll bring a camera, and some clothes, a sleeping pad, sunscreen lotion, and ibuprofen. But that’s it. That’s all I need.

Oh, and a toothbrush. Spare shoes. A raincoat. A hat.

I found our old original Foxtail toy. I’m bringing the Foxtail

After dinner yesterday, in order to check off a couple of chores from my pre-departure list, I pulled out the diesel tractor and attached the loader. Cyndie and I transferred three large piles of composted manure to a remote location, to provide plenty of open space in the compost area before I go.

Whenever I was off dumping a full bucket, the chickens would show up to check out what Cyndie was doing. I could see them scamper away each time I returned. Eventually, I paid them a visit on foot to offer my regards.

They are just starting to show hints of what they will look like when they mature and start producing eggs.

As of last night, we still have all twelve birds. This kind of success is what breeds our willingness to keep trying the unencumbered free-range life for them.

After they start getting hunted again, our thoughts will change, I’m sure.

Speaking of them getting hunted… while the world was all caught up in the escapades of the downtown St. Paul raccoon that scaled a 23-story building in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we had our very own varmint contemplating a climb up the side of our 1-story coop.

I admit, it wasn’t nearly as exciting, but it made for a cool capture on the trail cam.

You can almost read his mind, as he computes the potential reward of maybe gettin’ up there.

I wonder if I should be electrifying the hardware cloth that covers the windows. I’m hoping there is no reward whatsoever should he or she actually decide to make that climb.

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

Night Visitors

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I finally relocated the trail camera. It’s still viewing the same general area, but it now sees from the other direction. Instead of facing the coop, I attached it to one of the legs so it is facing out from the coop.

If there was any question about whether the fox was still hanging around, or not, we got our definitive answer Monday night.

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I think it’s cute to see how the fox tips its nose up in the direction of the coop window. Might be picking up a familiar aroma there…

There are still plenty of rabbit sightings, and last night there were a couple of dark figures in the distance that defy positive identification. I get the impression that one of them was a local barn cat. Cyndie didn’t seem convinced, although neighbor cats are frequent visible visitors around our place.

There was no question about one other regular attendee to the coop area, although there are likely many more than just one trekking past throughout the night. Exhibit A:

I found some online advice yesterday about ways to keep foxes away. One farmer swears 100% success with his method. It’s urine. But, there’s a trick to it. The instructions insist you have to actually pee on the fox’s den. Oh, I suppose you could just collect specimens and dump them on there, but where’s the fun in that?

My problem with that solution is that I have no idea where the fox’s den is located. I should have followed tracks when there was still snow on the ground.

Putting out a live trap would catch more barn cats and raccoons than fox. The common opinion is that a fox is too smart to fall for that trick.

Last evening, after Cyndie brushed Delilah, she took all the dog hair down and distributed it around the coop. Delilah can’t stand guard there, but her scent can hang around all it wants, for whatever good that might do.

Frankly, we are growing more wary every day that a daylight attack on the chickens, similar to what occurred about this time last year, is not only possible, but likely.

In last night’s fading sunlight, I was hanging out with the flock as they lolled about between the coop and the paddock. Many of them showed a fondness for perching on the bottom board of the paddock fence, which reminded me of the behavior of last year’s flock, right before the June 16th massacre that dwindled their number.

For the time being, we’ve still got twelve chickens, and we are enjoying each of them to the fullest. And they seem to be enjoying us, as measured by their cute little hustle of approach when we are in their vicinity.

I wonder if they know how many visitors show up to their coop every night while they are sleeping.

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Written by johnwhays

June 6, 2018 at 6:00 am

Wild Life

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Lately, the night views at the coop have been dominated by the masked bandits. Luckily, despite their regular visits, there isn’t anything left out overnight to reward them.

Doesn’t prevent them from checking, just in case.

The only other (not-so) wild life we captured shots of recently was a neighbor’s cat. It sat for over ten minutes with its body facing the camera, but the head was always twisted side to side or around backwards. I don’t know why it didn’t just turn around.

I think maybe it was trying to see where that rabbit went that had been filling our memory card with pictures the previous week. That critter was pouncing back and forth across the view all night long.

The other wildness we have been enjoying was in the sky. Cyndie snapped this panorama as a thundering shower loomed large over the ranch.

I had just finished mowing and was putting the tractor in the garage when the first giant drops started slapping the ground.

It was a wild day of chores yesterday, after I squeaked in a short bike ride to start my exhausting day. Our grove of trees by the road was expanding to obscure the view of traffic coming down the hill, so I hauled out the pole chainsaw and did some highway crew style pruning.

No mercy.

Being clever, I put the battery charger on the truck before heading out on my bike ride earlier, thinking I might want to load the cuttings into the pickup so I wouldn’t have to work on chipping them near traffic.

There is a phantom load draining the battery that we haven’t been able to identify. I have finally heeded advice from a smart thinking friend and purchased a switch to protect the battery. After all the branches were loaded in the back, I parked the truck at the shop to install the device while the battery had some life to it.

I bought a unit that will automatically switch out the battery when it senses the voltage drop to a certain point. To reconnect, we simply press the brake pedal or toggle the headlights and the switch re-engages the battery to start the truck. This way, we don’t have to pop the hood and open or close the switch every time we use the truck.

We never know how long an interval it will be between uses, and both Cyndie and I are prone to forgetting just this kind of occasional detail.

With the installation complete, I moved on to the lawn tractor to finish the yard that I started Thursday afternoon, before that round of all-night thunderstorms. On my bike ride in the morning, I saw a lot of farm fields with brand new lakes in them. Our rain gauge indicated over 4-inches had fallen overnight.

Low on gas, and running out of time before the next thunderstorm, I wildly hustled to the arena to mow that, too.

By the time Cyndie and I called it a day, the clock had reached 7:30 p.m.

Another wild day in our wild life.

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Brief Scare

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I didn’t get to hear about it until long after the fact yesterday, but for a moment in the morning, a chicken safety alarm was raised. Our trusty assistant, Shelby, was tending to the horses when a neighbor whom she didn’t know drove up our driveway exclaiming that a pair of wandering dogs had killed all her cats.

She suggested we protect our chickens, so Shelby ushered our three surviving birds back into their coop for the rest of the day.

When Cyndie told me this story, she said our neighbor described the dogs as a German Shepherd and a Chocolate Lab. That sounded familiar to me. A quick search of the trail cam files confirmed my suspicion.

These trouble makers were captured trespassing on our trail in the woods back in March of 2016. At the time, no harm had been done, so we didn’t bother seeking a verification of ownership.

Now, I’m thinking we might want to keep this photo handy on our phones for possible inquiries around the block. I will also look for a new vantage point from which to aim the trail cam again, in order to watch for possible new sightings of these two.

If they are still coming on our property, it troubles me a bit that they’ve been able to do it without ever being seen, beyond that time the camera caught them. With our frequent movement around the grounds every single day, it would mean they are pretty crafty in their stealth if they indeed have still been paying us visits unseen.

Even though it was just a brief scare yesterday, it has left us with a lingering feeling of unease.

Wonder if it will help to send these dogs love. If it doesn’t, I’d like to figure out a way to offer them some of Delilah’s sharp-toothed version of a greeting to discourage any future interest in choosing to cross our property lines.

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Written by johnwhays

September 1, 2017 at 6:00 am

Not Quite

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First of all, I have good news and bad news to report on Dezirea’s progress. The good news is that she is showing interest in eating and behaving much less depressed. The bad news is that she is showing very little, if any progress toward returning to normal manure production. She remains under close supervision, but we have decided on a path of minimal intervention for now.

I caught several frames of activity on the trail cam a couple of nights ago, but the best way I can describe what appeared in the series of images is, the camera captured Predator in invisible stealth mode. It was actually kinda creepy.

It doesn’t show up in a single image, but when a series of multiple images is toggled, the blur of translucent motion is detectable. One possibility is that a deer was moving too fast for the camera speed. I suspect deer because a minute later, the view picked up an extreme closeup of a fraction of the rear flank of what can only have been a deer passing directly in front of the camera.

There aren’t any other animals that size, except for maybe the Predator.

It’s not quite warm enough for the chickens to be given full access to their little courtyard, but in the days ahead, the forecast looks promising. The birds are showing great interest. Cyndie snapped a shot of two of them enjoying the view out their picture window.

Delilah seems even more anxious for them to come out than they are. Lately, there is nothing about her behavior that assures me she understands their protected status in the hierarchy of our domestic animals.

I’m pretty sure she is not quite there.

Just like Dezirea is not quite back to normal health.

We are standing by expectantly, sending love to all our critters for good health and mutual respect.

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Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2017 at 6:00 am

Safe Visitor

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The month of May arrives for the year 2017 and we are here to greet it with bells on. Well, with something on. I’m just not sure what.

On a bright side, ever since I moved the trail cam back for a wider view of the coop, the number of images captured revealing potential predators roaming around has been minimal.

Most recent, a captured image showed an appearance by a visitor we dearly love having around.

Seeing a deer wandering by seems like a message that there aren’t any scary beasts in the vicinity. How long do you think this will be the norm?

Meanwhile, this morning we reach 72 hours since Dezirea’s symptoms appeared. As of last night, she had not wavered very far either direction toward better or worse.

Cyndie and I spent a little time talking through the situation before turning in for bed. We want to remain open to whatever lesson this presents for us. We can only treat her through options within our means. Whether she recovers, or this becomes an end of life event, we must accept the outcome. We would like to achieve the peace that Dezirea is projecting.

We will continue to do everything possible to provide comfort to Dezirea while helping her get better if she can. She’s in charge of the rest..

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Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Morning Visitor

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When I moved the trail cam away from the coop to provide a better view, I also adjusted a setting so it would only capture one image per trigger. I felt that getting 400 images in one 24-hour period was a little excessive. The first day after making these changes, there were zero pictures.

The batteries had died.

I replaced the batteries and prepared for the new views.

Now I am going to reset the number of images per trigger. In the past few days, we ended up getting only a single image from each overnight span of hours. The images captured in the first two nights were simply a pair of eyes in the dark. For some reason the camera isn’t taking a second image before the visitor departs. There’s probably another setting I need to review for time between triggers.

The good news is, thus far, the predators aren’t loitering around searching for ways inside the coop.

This morning, in the minutes when the sun was beginning to appear over the horizon, the cam snapped more than just a pair of eyes. We are guessing it very well could be the same critter whose eye reflections glowed the other two nights.

Here is our first view of the fox checking out our hen house.

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Written by johnwhays

April 23, 2017 at 9:24 am