Sunday, July 12, 2009

Animal visitors

Since I've posted here, I have had several adventures with various animals. The first animal thing was that I discovered an animal track that I could not identify early one morning as I was going up to my poultry yard to let out and feed my small flock of Marans chickens. I'm used to seeing the usual raccoon and o'possum tracks, and I can identify these easily, but I was stumped on this one. So, I set up my stealthcam to watch the area for several nights to see what I could see. Finally, after a few nights, my stealthcam took a photo of the armadillo that has been living on my property. I blogged about this new visitor to my land a few months ago. The stealthcam takes very good pictures, but the photo it captured of the armadillo is hard to read. For one thing, the armadillo is in the background and is behind a small tree, so he's hard to distinguish. If it were a clearer picture, I would post it, but, sad to say, it's not.

Then one morning my husband came speeding back home just after he had left for an appointment. I thought maybe he had forgotten something, but instead he handed me his hat into which he had put a fledgling. He said he had found it in the middle of the hot, asphalt road literally baking to death, and he had to try to rescue it. So, I got out my dropper bottle and my filtered water and managed to get enough water into the little thing so that it began to stand up and look around. I knew it was going to make it when I saw the fear go out of its eyes. I brought up the old bird cage from the basement, dusted it off, and put him in there. Then I rummaged around the yard turning over rocks and logs looking for bugs or grubs to feed it. I found a few bugs and managed to get a couple into the little thing. He started acting really happy then, and actually started chirping. Then he started that "call" chirp that just broke my heart. He was calling for his mama. So, later when my husband got home, we drove the little birdie back to where he found him. Sure enough, his mama was sitting on some phone wires calling for him, so we returned the baby to his mama.

The next adventure was much more "exciting," even dangerous. I have, for the past several weeks, been letting my Marans chickens out of their poultry yard in the afternoon to range among the grass and bushes in my back yard. Well, this particular afternoon, I had no more than opened the gate for them and gotten back to the house (about 30 feet away) when I heard my chickens just squawking up a storm. I looked back and a red coyote had bounded out of the woods and had paused, one forefoot in the air, speculating which tasty chicken on this unexpected buffet he would sample first. Well, I started yelling at him to scare him off. He did not seem shy or scared of me in the least. In fact, he didn't even notice for a short while that I was there, whether from indifference or from focusing on the chickens in front of him. My chickens, of course, scattered, and then the coyote looked up, noticed me yelling, and ran back into the woods. I was worried about my chickens, and wanted to get them back into the relative safety of their fenced enclosure, but they had run into the woods to hide. Some of them hadn't gotten out of the poultry yard yet, so I went up there and shooed them back in and kept them there. In order to allow my chickens a chance to feel safe enough to come back, I kept walking up there, walking stick in hand, every so often and making noise to keep the coyote away. Finally, most of the chickens wandered back, and I got them into the poultry yard. However, one good hen never did come back, and I'm afraid I've lost her for good. I did not get a picture of the coyote, because I was more concerned about chasing him away than running into the house and grabbing my camera. I was quite disconcerted about this event, and downright scared to wander outside without some sort of protection for a couple of days after this. Now my husband accompanies me when I go up into the woods to take care of my chickens.

The last animal event happened the evening after the coyote event. While I was locking up my chickens for the night and checking their nests for eggs, I discovered a young rat snake in one of the nests in the process of swallowing an egg. I disturbed him when I opened the hinged door to the nest, so he regurgitated the newly swallowed egg. Then my husband caught him with our snake hook, which does not harm the snake at all, and put him in a covered box. We then took him down to the river and let him loose.

I think I've had enough animal adventures for a while.

1 comment: