This morning I found that I could not sleep. I went upstairs and was followed by our cat Toby. She told me in her own way (by meowing continuously) that she wanted to be fed early. I as her master was very firm, I listened closely to her pleas for food, and then I fed her.
In defense of my obvious weakness, I did not want a kitty rubbing my legs meowing and waking up the rest of the household. When taking a break from the activities of the day, I chose my easy chair and I usually have company, our cat Toby jumps up on my lap and she enjoys the warmth of my legs and soon falls asleep. She has been getting into the habit of eating, sleeping, and then eating and sleeping again. Since going outside has not been fun for her; that is with the colder weather, she finds enjoyment in her favorite pastime, sleeping. I usually have to carry her outside and let her discover for herself that it isn’t so bad. This routine has become a daily ritual. Usually in the month of April when it warms up considerably, she waits by the door to go outside. She is into the catch and release program with her mice and chipmunks. One chipmunk last year was caught so many times that I saw it sitting one day where Toby normally sits when outside. I wondered if they developed some kind of strange relationship.
|Toby watching her TV|
In the beginning, Toby found “us” when hunting in our meadow late one fall. She was obviously wild at that point and would not let anyone get near her. When the first snow fell though, she was nudging my legs in wanting to get inside the house. We had been giving her scraps early on since we felt sorry for her. This was a prelude we found in inheriting a cat. We soon discovered that she had been a house cat by her determined desire to get in our house. Later we also found out that she had been spaded and that confirmed our suspicions.
Toby is a funny cat at times. During the winter she has her routines such as sitting by the window, intently watching the birds at the feeder. Sometimes Toby forgets that there is glass between her and her prey. At times we are startled when we look up to hear and see a cat banging into the window, claws and open gaped mouth desperately trying to catch a feathered morsel. The birds on the other hand seem to be playing a game with her, they seem to be saying, “ha ha you can’t get me.” This only makes Toby that much more determined to get beyond the glass.
|Made it this time!|
Then there is our friend “Chippy” the squirrel who jumps from the air conditioner to the electrical box on the side of the house to the bird feeder. Chippy used to leap from a small tree near our home on to the feeder, but one day the tree was snapped off near the ground. We wondered what could have destroyed the tree since it was about 8” in diameter at the base. Upon closer inspection, we could see tiny tracks around the tree. We figured that those footprints belonged to our regular nighttime friends, the bandits of the neighborhood, our visitors the raccoons. Several of them must have climbed up the small tree at the same time trying to get the bird feed and they snapped the tree in two. Because of what just transpired we thought that Chippy would have to find other food sources nearer the ground, we were wrong. As I said previously, he jumped from the air conditioner to the electrical box to the feeder. In looking at the feat from the outside, it appeared to be impossible, but he made it to the feeder in about 3 out of 4 attempts. We now figure that if this little squirrel had gone to such lengths at gaining some sunflower seeds, we would let him have his way.
When Toby watches Chippy on the feeder, she seems to relax and enjoy watching the squirrel eat away. At some point into Chippy’s feast, one of my family determines that Chippy has had enough food, and then they open the window and he jumps awkwardly to the earth ten feet below. After our furry friend makes contact with the ground, he quickly runs up to the edge of the woods and then makes a circular trek back to the feeder. We go through this several times until Chippy decides eating the dropped seeds is far less work. Our little squirrel has been going through this routine ever since he was a little nutcracker. Sometimes Chippy will sit on a sumac branch near the woods and watch us to see if anyone is by the window, if it feels that the coast is clear, it will quickly head towards the feeder.
As I said earlier, Chippy isn’t always successful in catching the tube feeder when leaping through the air. He sometimes goes through this comical routine of trying to retrieve his dignity. During these times when his jump falls short, he just catches the bottom rung and holds on swinging back and forth until he finally loses his grip and takes an embarrassing tumble to mother earth once again.
|Chippy making his trek back to the feeder|
At first Chippy was annoying, taking the feed away from the birds, but now we have accepted him as another animal around the house, (outside) the house that is. Lately we noticed that Chippy has a mate and she is not as brave as her husband when it comes to swinging on the tube feeder. She is satisfied to eat the seeds that have fallen from the feeders. I have found that in every relationship, there is one who likes to explore and take chances and then there is the other who is stable and well grounded.
In speaking of animals, the other day when our local family of crows were roosting in the trees overhead, William started to mimic their sounds as they sat and watched us from the nearby trees. Will stopped and waited for a response and what happened next was quite unexpected. A crow started to make a chuckling like sound. It was as if they were quite amused over Will trying to talk to them. This family of crows lives on the 500 foot wooded ridge behind our house. They frequently roost on our roof and spend time walking back and forth on the nearby meadow looking for mice and insects. We toss them some hard bread once in awhile and they take it away to their families to feast in safety.
Lately we have been having visitors in our woods at night. Anne and I will be in one of our rooms talking or watching something on netflicks and hear the sounds of yipping and howling coming from the forest nearby. We have a pack of coyotes that make their rounds through out the neighboring hills and woods on a regular basis looking for carrion or hunting down small game. Rarely do we see them during the daylight hours. One time last summer I did notice a rather large coyote hunting mice in a nearby meadow during the daylight hours. He looked almost as big as a wolf and seemed to be having fun jumping around on the grass catching the field mice. In an instant though, when he noticed that he was being watched, he took off in a flash.
|Pecking out a living|
In the spring, usually during April and May, we will start to hear the sounds of wild turkeys. It is soon to be their mating season and we will hear the toms calling for their prospective mates. They are a different bird that is very interesting to watch. Benjamin Franklin I understand wanted at one time to name them our national bird instead of the eagle. He said that they were relatively smart and could fly very fast when eluding predators. Being a wild bird, they tend to group in flocks of about 10 to 20 most of the time. At night they roost in trees and forage on the ground during the day. We get a visit from them usually once or twice in the spring. It is not unusual to hear a tom clucking away for a potential mate. He will drop his wings on the ground and make an unusual scraping sound that can be heard long distances away. When they fan their tale feathers to impress perspective mates, it is an awesome sight to see. My cousin Dudley once invited many of his relatives together one Thanksgiving to have turkey with his family. He served smoked wild turkey that he had hunted while in our area, and one domesticated turkey from a commercial producer. Both turkeys were very good, but the wild turkey was perhaps the best meat that I have ever tasted.
I recall when we first were building our home; Anne one day came into the house and yelled for me to come to the back yard. She said, “look at these birds, they are the biggest pheasants that I ever seen!” Since Anne was from North Dakota, she had never had the opportunity to see a wild turkey. After being silently amused, I told her that “they do look a lot like pheasants, but they are wild turkeys.” Every once in awhile I tell her that I just saw a huge pheasant outside in the meadow. She is a good sport about it and just nudges me and smiles.
Well, this is our home in the spring with all God's creatures that visit us or just decide that living near us is better then eating what Mother Nature provides at the time. Hopefully our lives have brought a smile to your face this day. Have a great week and God bless! Augie