Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘wildlife

Following Up

leave a comment »

Picking up right where I left off yesterday, the story is rain and more rain, and a raccoon that needed to be dealt with once and for all.

Tuesday was a crazy day for Cyndie at home. First, she had to move the horses into the barn for an appointment with Marcus to trim their hooves early in the morning. After cleaning up from that project, she started calling around to see what interest our local authorities might have in our ailing masked bandit.

Since no humans had come in contact with the raccoon, Public Health referred Cyndie to the DNR. They said they didn’t have anyone who could come out, but gave out the number for their biologist. They also suggested she could call the Sheriff.

The Sheriff’s office suggested she call the DNR. Figures.

Eventually, the dispatcher offered to pass on the issue to a Deputy who would call Cyndie back.

Cyndie said she was finally trying to have some breakfast around 10:30 when Delilah started a barking fit at the front door. It was a Deputy Sheriff.

The officer asked if we had any firearms. Nope. Then she offered to shoot it for us.

In her estimation, there was a good chance the coon was suffering from distemper. Regardless the affliction, ailing wildlife is not something you want around for other predators to eat, so she assured Cyndie that it was the right decision to call.

The Deputy elected to use a shotgun, so she could keep a distance. Cyndie said the weapon was almost as long as the petite officer was tall. After several warnings that the shot would be loud, the results possibly messy, that it would startle our horses, that it would be very loud, and that Cyndie didn’t have to look if she didn’t want to, the deed was done.

By the way, this was all accomplished in the rain.

The very kind and helpful officer stayed around to give Cyndie a hand triple-bagging the body and putting it into a closed garbage can for storage until our trash gets picked up.

One good thing about the rain is that it washes away any residual mess that might appeal to our dog on her many walks past that spot in the days ahead.

Delilah is more interested in the sound running water makes as the mini-waterfalls pour over the edges of washouts in the drainage ditch cutting across our fields.

Seems like that water is going to be flowing for days, so she’ll have plenty of distraction.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 10, 2018 at 6:00 am

Surprising Find

with 2 comments

Fresh lobster is the last thing we ever expected to harvest from our property. Tuesday night’s flash flood of rain must have washed more than just water through our drainage ditches.

Okay, it’s not a lobster. Research suggests it is likely a Red Swamp Crayfish.

Cyndie and Delilah happened upon this large surprise while walking along our pasture fence line. When Delilah challenged the strange creature, it snapped its claws at her. This critter was big enough that it looked a lot more like what we normally see as lobster than it did the small crayfish we are familiar with in local lakes.

Cyndie watched it climb along in the grass, wondering where it could have come from, and where it might be trying to go next. There aren’t really any water bodies nearby that we associate with crayfish habitat.

The ditch it was closest to certainly moves the most water around here after a storm, but for the majority of time throughout the year, it remains a dry bed.

I wonder if it would have found favor in our landscape pond.

Cyndie wasn’t interested in picking it up, so I guess we’ll likely never know.

.

.

 

 

Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2018 at 6:00 am

Aim High

leave a comment »

She who rules the roost achieves the highest perch. It appears the Golden Laced Wyandottes are vying for the title. Well, three of them last night, anyway.

When I headed down to button up the coop for the night, all twelve birds were already on the roosts or squeezed onto the window ledge above.

That is such a nice moment of the day, having them all safely secured in the coop for the night. When that little door slides shut, we can release the small tension that builds up during their day-long free-range at-risk time.

This morning, the pheasant that has been a frequent roadside sight around here lately was being very vocal in the field just south of us. I’m hoping that bodes well for our birds, implying a temporary serenity and safety from threats for a while.

That thought is supported by the sighting of the two spotted fawns hopping around the Labyrinth on Friday.

Just as we suffer and struggle with loss during tough times, we can and should embrace and revel the periods like now when our animals are healthy and the energy of spring is bursting forth with an inspiring zest.

Maybe it’s a manifestation of aiming high!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2018 at 10:03 am

Wild Life

with 2 comments

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.

.

.

Autumn Ambiance

leave a comment »

dscn5204eI stepped outside to search for some fall scenery to photograph after I got home from work yesterday and was rewarded well beyond my expectations. It helps to never grow too accustomed to the beautiful surroundings we enjoy here.

It would be a shame to ever take this gorgeous place for granted.

The key factor yesterday was that it wasn’t raining. There was actually some blue sky visible. With a high pressure system moving in, we are hoping to for several dry days in a row. It is likely to deliver a dose of our best of autumn weather.

dscn5208eMany of our trails are developing a carpet of fallen leaves that provide a crunch when you walk. More importantly, they are filling the air with the unmistakable scent of the season. When I walk toward the pastures and pop out of the trees, the horses show signs of wondering what huge creature is making all that racket.

Just this huge creature, is all.

When I got down to our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, the sunlight was getting low. Cyndie had recently mowed and weeded the labyrinth, which gave it a well-tended glow anyway.

I walked to the far side and paused to stare at the beauty all around me. I was looking away from the entrance for the shortest of moments, and when I turned back around I was startled by the sudden silent presence of a lone young deer happily standing nearby.

It was as if it had magically materialized in the spot. I realized right away that it was totally unaware of me standing there. When it stepped through our fence and walked into the pasture to graze, I stealthily moved to a rock nearby and lifted my camera to capture the scene in video…

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2016 at 6:00 am

Decidedly Different

leave a comment »

From balmy Sunday to blustery Monday we experienced an almost 40° (F) temperature swing, factoring in the “windchill” reading that resulted from the strong northwest gusting wind. Nothing says October like a cold, cloudy, windy day.

IMG_iP0924eI took Delilah out for a short trek around the property when I got home from work, during which we fed the horses and then wandered a few trails in the woods to check for downed branches.

At one point, even though I didn’t feel as though I was seeing anything, I sensed there was motion occurring through the trees, and I kept my eyes glued in that direction in hopes of picking up some confirmation.

Was it a bird? Likely possibilities included grouse, pheasant, or even wild turkey. Something led me to believe it was big. Something else gave me the impression it was right in front of my eyes, but I was not seeing it. Honestly, what came to mind was the movie effect of “Predator” in camouflage mode.

All these mental gymnastics happened in a fraction of a second. Putting it all together, I discerned the white I thought I had seen was, in fact, the tail of a deer.

We had just come down that hill a short time before, and ended up circling back on our path in a way that may have surprised the keen senses of the shy animal. I was energized to find it had stopped its movement at a place that gave me a clear view of the head and face, as the deer looked directly back at me from an incredibly short distance away.

It was probably the closest I have been to a live, wild deer in years. I glanced down at Delilah, who was nose-to-the-ground busy, following the myriad smells that surely exist on our well-used trails, but she showed no evidence of detecting how close we were to something that would no-doubt thrill her to the extreme to pursue.

When I looked back for the deer, I realized how difficult it was to detect it through the trees while it stood motionless. I started to walk again, coming around the corner to climb the hill where Cyndie and I had just been working on the fence, hoping to get a better perspective on where the deer was standing. I was also scanning in hopes of finding others, under the assumption deer are usually in a herd.

What I discovered was that my movement was enough to drive the deer off and I had been unable to detect its departure. Delilah didn’t show any sign of sensing the scent of immediately fresh traffic across our trail. I wondered if the deer had been surprised by the recent appearance of the fence we just put up over the weekend.

There were no other deer in sight as we climbed the hill toward the house, and toward the respite from the wind it would provide. Had I not picked up the fleeting images of that whiteness and the almost imperceptible motion of the body through the trees, I would have missed it altogether.

Allows me to imagine how often I have probably done just that on these trails in the last few years, and been within similarly close proximity to wildlife, while being entirely unaware.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 13, 2015 at 6:00 am

Theory Proved

leave a comment »

Once again, we have added proof toward the theory that being prepared means you won’t find your preparations necessary. Our readiness obviously contributed to shifting the first major winter storm this year just far enough north that we didn’t end up receiving a plow-able amount of snow. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we didn’t face hazardous travel conditions. We received just enough sleet and freezing rain to make the road conditions downright dangerous. Heck, I almost suffered an adrenaline overdose just walking down to the barn, given how many times I slipped, causing my body to involuntarily panic in reaction.

I took Delilah for a walk around the property and spied plenty of tracks in the snow. Finally I can see what the heck she is reacting to when her nose picks up a scent and pulls her off course from the trail. We came across the foot prints of deer, squirrel, rabbit, cat, and probably raccoon, too. There were obvious soil disturbances from moles and a couple of well worn trails where mice left a snow-less path.

At one point on our walk, the woods burst to life with movement as we disrupted the largest flock of wild turkeys I have ever happened upon. Many took to the air, but plenty stayed on foot and made their way ahead of us to maintain a safe distance. I’m happy to report that Delilah didn’t over-react and pull my arm out of the socket in chase. She seemed a little perplexed with the sheer number of options, and after taking in the spectacle, I guess just decided it was too many from which to pick. Her nose went back to the ground and she carried on with her trail surveillance.

We walked up to the neighbor’s house to deliver a fresh-baked apple pie as a token of appreciation for the incredible effort of splitting firewood for me. I worked again this afternoon on moving more wood from the pile of recently split logs over to stacks in the woodshed, and still haven’t finished. My neighbor helped me split a lot of wood.

DSCN2585eDelilah gladly accepted my offer to let her nap in the freshly tidied kennel while I worked. I think she adored the opportunity to be out in the fresh winter air. The horses weren’t so keen about staying out in the freezing rain. It is always fun to see how much they like coming inside the barn to get out of cold and wet weather.

What little snow we did receive created a good visual of the newly defined drainage swale through the pasture. Maybe the fact that we now have that feature in place will end up limiting the winter precipitation to an amount that the swale won’t be needed. Just a theory.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 11, 2014 at 7:00 am