Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

The Popcorn Muncher

Sometimes I get a chuckle from facebook status messages. One of those messages  made me laugh out loud this morning:

“If someone in Fairview is missing a goat it’s in my yard!!”

I laughed and then I smiled with a great memory from when my children were young. We lived “out in the country” if you want to call it that. We sat on 13 acres and I had wildlife at my kitchen door daily. It was wonderful. We used to watch a snapping turtle climb out of our pond and creep up to the top of  hill by our house and work for hours digging a hole to deposit her eggs. She did this every year. I had no idea that a snapping turtle finds the highest point she can for her egg delivery. I went out one year and dug a hole parallel to where she was working to no avail. She would look over at me like “What the hell, lady.”  As soon as I went back in the house, she moved over and continued where I started digging for her. My children loved it and I felt like an awesome mom and general turtle helper.

Well, every Christmas season, which is right after Thanksgiving in my household, I would bring out the air popper and make popcorn for our Christmas tree. I learned over the years to let the popcorn sit out for a few days for easier stringing. It just sucks to try to push a needle through fresh popcorn.It was hard not to curse in front of my children. “Oh….sugar” just didn’t make it. Some of those  needle-through-my fingers needed a full f-bomb rant. It wasn’t until after the internet was invented (thanks Al Gore) that I was able to read advice on proper popcorn stringing. Some years I would feel more energetic with my popcorn stringing and completely loop around the tree. Other years, not  so much. I would faux string it, which means cheating and only showing the popcorn string where people can see the tree.

After Christmas was over and the tree was taken down, I would slide the popcorn off the thread and put it in a large stainless steel bowl.

“Kids, I’m going to put the popcorn out on the mound so the birds can have a Christmas treat.”

Am I an awesome wildlife lady or what? The mound I am referring to was a place underneath a hickory tree near our pavilion. When we leveled the yard after we built our home, I wanted to save the hickory, so we left a little hill area in front of the tree. We placed a large granite stone at the base of the tree. This is where I would lay out goodies for the birds  and squirrels. And after Christmas, it was where I put the popcorn.

So, one day I had the kids put on their coats and I took that stainless steel bowl outside and explained to the kids what kind of birds may want to eat the popcorn.

“Let’s keep an eye out, because we may see blue jays…..and crows…..and..maybe a bird we haven’t seen on the mound before.”

It was starting to snow, which was great while decorating the tree. It really puts you in the mood. My daughter loved to help put the ornaments on the tree and it wasn’t too long when she too, would stand back after carefully deciding where to put a particular ornament. My son was generally waiting for me to put together my little Christmas  village of buildings and people as he loved putting a little boy headfirst down into the well or laying  him on the white ground with a horse drawn sleigh getting ready to run over him. To be honest, I loved walking into the kitchen to see what he moved around next.

A few hours after I put the popcorn out on the mound, my daughter ran into the Hearth room with a big smile on her face.

“Mommy, there’s a cow eating the popcorn!” Cackling is always a great laugh, and Alex was doing her share of cackling.

Whaat? We walked over to the  kitchen french door and lo and behold, there indeed was a cow munching on our popcorn. It was a big solid black cow and it was loving the popcorn. This was the year I made a large popcorn garland for the Christmas tree, so there was a heap of popcorn on the mound.  Popcorn was coming out of both sides of his mouth. The cackling from Little One continued. Adam took a break from putting a dog on a roof  in the village to join us at the door.

“Mommy, you never said a cow would come to the mound,” she managed to say between her wonderful laugh. Adam stood there watching the cow munching like it hadn’t been fed in a while.  It was a funny sight, especially since the most we were expecting were blue jays or crows.

We stood there for a long while, actually stunned that there was a cow in our yard. Our neighbors had cows, but they lived down over the hill and were far away from us. I knew it had to belong to them. The cow must have slipped through a broken barb-wired fence and trotted away and decided to visit us, I guess.

After I made the call and our neighbor came to retrieve the popcorn munching cow, we continued to decorate the tree and my son continued messing with the village, placing the little Christmas town on alert for the boy lost after jumping off a bridge.

It was a wonderful, wonderful memory and I thank my facebook friend who found a goat in her yard this morning.

It made me cackle.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe, Larry, and Curly

After we had built our house, we had our contractors come back a few years later to build a pavilion on our patio.  I looked out one day and I saw the two brothers standing as still as could be. I watched for a minute or two, and they never moved a muscle. Strange. I opened the door and the one brother waved me off, making just a little movement with his hand. “Vickie, shhhhh. Turkeys…..”

I looked out in our field, and there were 6 huge turkeys. Well, I knew all about how turkeys were skiddish. I also knew that the

brother builders were big time hunters, and were probably salivating at the prospects of killing one of those birds. I was wondering how long they would stay frozen like that. All they needed were some British outfits and they could be guards at Buckingham Palace.

The turkeys were still far away, but were coming closer.  I let it continue for a few minutes, but then I thought I should put a stop to this. I wanted to sit under my pavilion some day, after all.

I grabbed the cracked corn and opened the door. “HEY YOU GUYS!”  I yelled for my turkeys. Yeah, my turkeys.

As soon as the turkeys heard my voice, they ran to me like I was their momma. They surrounded me as I threw corn to the ground. I sweet talked to them and called them by name: Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe, Larry, and Curly.  We knew each other pretty well. After all, it took me a very long time to tame them.

The builder brothers reminded me of little boys who were just told them there was no Santa Claus. Deflated. Hurt. Then mad.

“Vickie, that’s not right. It goes against the laws of nature.”  Builder brother #1 said, as he limbered up from his stoic pose. Brother #2 just looked at me.

It all started one day while watching them through my binoculars. They were pretty far away. I was so excited. I had never seem live turkeys before. There must have been 15 of them.

I decided I was going to tame them. I started by putting corn out on the ridge. When they would go to the corn, I would just step outside on the patio. They would run away, but then come right back.  The next day I put the corn closer. When they found it, I would come outside and stand, once again. I did this daily. In a couple of weeks, I had them eating out of my hands.  The picture, above, shows my turkeys under the hickory tree. I called this “the mound,” where I put food out for all my critters.

  One day I was pruning my Japanese maple in the front yard, and I heard my husband talking to someone. ” Hey, I don’t have any food. Your momma’s in the front yard.”  I smiled and then yelled for my turkeys. And around the corner they came. The followed me to the front door, knowing I was the food lady. I loved those turkeys.
My turkeys came every day for a long time. As hunting season approached, I saw less of them.  The turkeys are long gone now, and so am I. I moved from the property I loved so much and don’t get to feed wildlife too much. Well, there are the Misfits down at the river, by my apartment: 2 white ducks, 1 mallard and one strange looking goose. They have been together for 2 years now. I need to go down there more often.

Feeding something every day…all year long

 

I am now looking for a house to buy.  “Wanted: 3 bedroom home with central-air, garage and woodline for turkey feeding”

Playing Dead

When I was young, our family lived in a neighborhood. People and houses were all around us. We didn’t really have deer in our yard too often. The only thing we really had come into our yard were crazy hummingbirds. Hummingbirds need to go to anger management classes. I’m serious. Even if they aren’t hungry, they will buzz right back over to mess with the hungry hummingbirds. My mom had several feeders out on the back porch and we had all the hummingbirds in North America visiting the nectar in our yard.

But, that was the extent of the wildlife. When I got married and we moved to my husband’s  hometown, I remember hearing owls when it was almost dark. I loved it.  For weeks I heard the owls. Until my husband informed me that they were just mourning doves. “Just” mourning doves. I had no idea what a mourning dove was.  And why the hell was it coming in the evening.  Nobody told me it was spelled like a really sad dove. So, what I  thought was an owl was really a depressed pigeon. Welcome to wildlife.

Who knew that when we built our house out on 13 acres that I would become a wildlife whisperer. See https://dyingbraincells.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/elly-may-clampett/  I was a stay-at-home mom and took daily walks through the woods and was amazed at all the wildlife. I loved it. I could tame anything. I am surprised I never got bit, especially during, “the Episode.”

We went to the animal shelter and brought home an outside cat. We didn’t know that people dropped off cats in the countryside, so I guess we could have just waited for a stray to show up, as they regularly did. But, we rescued Tiger and he lived outside. One evening I went outside to sit on the front porch. It was almost dark and my babies were in bed for the night. We hadn’t purchased porch furniture yet, but had 2 folding lawn chairs out there on the corner of our long porch. In the darkness I could see that Tiger was sitting under one of them, so I plopped myself down and then tried to get Tiger to come out from under the chair.

I sat in the chair, saying his name like I was a nutcase. “Ti-ger…come here, baby…Ti-iiii-ger…”, all the while trying to put my hand under the chair to try to pet him. I couldn’t reach him. My hand was moving under the chair some more, calling to him. Cat’s sometimes don’t do what they are asked to do. So, I just sat there, quietly waving my right arm sort of under the chair.

All of a sudden, I saw Tiger jump up onto the porch. Uh-Oh….My dangling hand froze. If that was Tiger……what was under my chair? My eyes grew huge…like cartoon, out of the head eyes.  I slowly got out of my chair and ran out into the yard.

I turned around to see a oppossum. It must have been playing dead under my chair. I was ready to be dead for real out in the yard. My heart was racing.Dear God, the thing could have taken off my arm.

Well, after a while, I got very used to wildlife at my door. The oppossum came back almost every night to eat out of Tiger’s food bowl. I named him Poopy Butt. I think that is a fitting name for an oppossum.

I will never forget that evening. My eyes have never been right since.

Elly May Clampett

I have always loved animals. And they didn’t have to be real.  One Easter, when I was very young, I received a chocolate lamb in my Easter basket. My mom said that I opened up the box and carried that lamb around with me for days. I guess I was 2 years old. That was my first pet.  She said I cried when it broke at the neck.  I mean, it was my pet lamb, and now it had no head.

My first real pet was Victor, a little green turtle. He came with a plastic lagoon bowl with a little palm tree. Victor didn’t stay in his plastic lagoon bowl and I was constantly searching for him. He was usually found in a corner covered with dust bunnies. (which, by the way, aren’t really bunnies.)

Then came Annie the hamster, that was really Cheryl’s pet, but I played with it most of the time. We always had hamsters. I never knew for sure where hamsters came from.  I read that theyoriginally came from Syria. Syrian hamsters. لي صديق أهلا قليلا  (That translates to “Hello, my little friend” in Arabic, or so says google translator) No wonder my hamsters never listened to me. They understood Arabic.

On a side note, did you know that there are people who show hamsters..like a dog show, but for hamsters? I am serious. Seriously. I imagine you would need binoculars if you are sitting in an arena so you can see the people running in the circle with the hamster.  Well,I guess they wouldn’t be running, or the hamster would be up in the air, hanging from its little hamster leash. I am visualizing that right now. That would be pretty amusing.   They would get little hamster trophies.  Best of  Show at the Westminster Hamster Show…Maybe they even have Best in Habitat. Maybe HGTV’s Design Star show can have a project where they have to design the best hamster habitat.

We always bought a “fancy” hamster.  Our hamsters were usually put in one of those plastic clear balls so they could exercise around the room and torment the dog. Sometimes we would leave them in there too long and they would have pee all over them.  I’d have to get a wet washcloth and clean the hamster. Can’t use a blow dryer on a hamster. Tried that one time on my guinea pig, Quincy Bozo. (You don’t want to know….)

After my mom saw that we could take care of hamsters, we got our first dog, Susie. Susie was a terrier and she slept with me. All the dogs slept with me because they all loved me the most. It’s true. I am an animal whisperer. After Susie, we had Heidi, who was retarded, (dogs don’t understand being politically incorrect, so again, can say the word, “retarded.”)  Heidi was sideswiped by a car one day and was never right after that. She played outside all day long, running around in circles, and then would come into the house and use the bathroom as soon as she got inside. Mom gave her away to a neighbor girl who loved Heidi for who she was..like the Velveteen Rabbit.

We then had Smokey the chihuahua. We brought Smokey home and told Dad we found him in a meadow. Smokey was probably the ungliest dog in the world. His teeth were bad, for some reason, and had the most God-awful breath of any living thing. Mom had to have all of his teeth pulled out. And it broke his jaw or something, because it was crooked when he got home. Sometimes his tongue hung out on the side. Anyway, when you tried to pick up Smokey, he would bite you, or gum you, which was so gross. So, of course, when we had friends over, we would say, “Pick up Smokey.”  Smokey was best friends with a German police dog, named Scheherazade, or Sherry as we all called her. Smokey would walk down the middle of the street most days and they were the strangest sight. One day the school bus hit and killed Smokey.  I guess bus drivers can’t see chihuahua’s walking in the middle of the road too well.

We had other dogs too. Cricket was my favorite. I loved that dog. I would put her on the couch and tell her to stay and then go hide and yell, “Ok, Cricket,” and she would then jump off the couch and try to find me. We also had Sparky and Whiskey.

Stinky

It wasn’t the dogs, but the weird pets I bought when I got a bit older.The summer before I was a  a freshman in college, I bought a skunk at KMart. That’s right, Kmart sold skunks in the 1970’s. It was deskunked, but still had a bit of a skunky odor, but I liked that smell. (Yeah, I’m that weird.) I bought Thumper for $40 and took her home. My dad loved Thumper. She would curl up like a cat and sleep during the day and bother and chase Cricket all night long. She would go to the bathroom in my mom’s plants. I don’t know why it wouldn’t use the kitty litter box. Maybe I never bought one. That would explain a lot. Anyway, I left for college and a few weeks later when I came home, Thumper was gone. Mom sold her for $35 to a realtor friend of my dad’s.  She sold my skunk and took a $5 loss on the deal. Stupid woman. I loved that skunk. Several years ago, I tamed a skunk to put her paws on our kitchen nook door and take a peanut from my hand. I named her Stinky. We could open the door at night and yell her name and she would come running. She used to hang out with a Oppossum we named Poopy Butt.

The next pet I bought was an iguana named Igor. Igor commited suicide in its water dish. I then read where iguana’s get depressed. Seriously. One of my roommates boyfriend said he saw him walk over to the water dish and just stick his head in the water. When I asked why he didn’t help it, he just looked at me and said, “I was really high.”  Wonder what he does for a living these days?

When I was a sophomore in college I bought Beepo and Geepo. They were African frogs. I also had some sort of chameleons, salamanders and newts. I was like Elly May Clampett.

I had the best time living out on our property after I

Sweetheart

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