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Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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I awoke this morning to the rooster’s crow.  The door between run and fenced area was closed.  The chickens wanted the door open.  My dog, Thor, wanted out, too.  Once I was dressed, I grabbed my camera before heading out the door with Thor on his leash.  He bounded out ahead of me with his leash trailing after him.  My camera was still in its case which was hanging off my shoulder.  A deep breath confirmed the biting cold.  My two sweaters did little to cut the cold, but I continued to walk anyway.  The sky was blue with shades of gray clouds.  The colors of sunrise would arrive soon.  My breath came out in a cloud.  Thor met the chicken that stayed out last night.  “Silly girl,” I said, “you really should’ve gone in last night.”  She clucked her response as she followed me down to the coop.  I opened the door on the side of the run, and she ran inside where food and water awaited her.  The problem is that the rooster is there, too.  She flew out of the fenced area each day in order to escape the attentions of the rooster.   He really needs more hens to keep him happy and busy, and to keep the hens happy, too.  With the chicken safely inside, I open the door between run and fenced area.  The rooster is the first through the door.  He immediately jumped up onto the camper top that is on blocks.  It has provided them with extra cover for many years.  Once up there, the rooster crowed to announce that it is his domain.  The chickens ran from run to under the camper.  They clucked their delight.  Once done crowing, the rooster jumped down and promptly started chasing hens, who ran from him leading him on a merry chase.  I walked away before he successfully mated with any of them.  I did notice that he was not interested in one of the reds, making me wonder if she was still laying eggs.  I made a mental note to check her vent later.  Pink and moist is good; yellow and dry is not good.

Thor and I headed toward the iron gate that stands at the wood’s threshold.  The gate was a graduation gift from my best friends.  Leaves covered the path long ago.  Thor was happy to lead the way.  I knew he was headed to the creek.  I had to keep the leash fairly short so he wouldn’t get wrapped around trees or go somewhere that I can’t follow.  He learned long ago to go backward, retracing his footsteps when he gets partially wrapped around a tree.  He’s a smart dog.  Further down the path, he started huffing with each breath telling me that he smelled some animal or strange dog.  He found the spot he wanted and peed to leave his mark.  He kept breathing deep and huffing, following the path of the unknown critter.  Bear, coyote, fox, and many others animals share our home.   Thor wondered back and forth, nose to the ground, huffing and tracing the scent.  He followed the scent to the creek where he jumped into the water without hesitation.  He wondered the creek huffing and following the scent.  I watched him with a grin on my face.  I took my camera out and started taking photos.  Sunrise colors through the trees.  The glistening water flow over rocks.  Thor drinking water.  Very cold, rolled up rhododendron leaves.  The neighbors cattle at the fence where our properties meet.  Frost on leaves.  For some I use the flash; for others, I don’t.  The difference has always amazed me.  I prefer natural light, but there are times when the flash is the only way to get the perfect photo.  Some of my favorite macro photos were taken in the dark using the flash.  I put the camera away.

Thor and I walked out of the woods and toward the driveway.  Frost crunched under foot as we went from woods to field.  The sun rose through the far trees, but no warmth reached me.  Thor didn’t care though.  He was busy sniffing the ground.  My hands were too cold to hold the camera still, and so I left it in the camera even though there were so many good photos available.  Life happened that way sometimes.  Instead of walking all the way to the driveway, I decided to head up to the goat barn instead.  Thor happily lead the way.  On the other side of the field, I could see the smoke start to rise out of the stack which told me that my son had just put wood into the stove.  I smiled with the thought of a warm woodstove to stand beside once I go inside.  Thor headed up to the house, as I followed behind.  The cats joined us, meowing their desire to go inside, too.

I opened the door.  Thor and the cats entered first.  I walked in and smelled the woodstove.  My son hugged me good morning.  Coffee perked.  Breakfast waited.  Life is very good.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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For the second time, one of our chickens was attacked in the night.  The first one, shown in the photos below, is doing well.  She was missing feathers and had an injury to her neck.  She’s doing well.  The chicken that was attacked early this morning was injured worse.  She was having difficulty breathing and coughing up blood.  So, we harvested her.  She’ll make very good chicken soup.

Here’s what happened.  I was awakened by a ‘thump’ in the chicken coop.  I stayed quiet and listened.  A chicken started making a lot of noise as she tried to get away.  I got up and alerted my son, who came to help.  I went out to the chickens with a flashlight.  I saw the chicken up against the fence on the eastern end of their fenced in run.  I then looked for her attacker.  I saw movement of the fence toward the other end of the fenced in area.  I watched as it crawled up and over the electric fence.  It didn’t even react to the electricity.  I turned off the fence and walked toward the injured chicken.  She was no longer inside the fence.  I closed the door that allows the chickens access to the fenced in area.

My son was outside by then.  I told him I couldn’t find the chicken.  Just then there was movement in the grass not far from me.  The chicken was bedding down.  I picked her up and examined her.  She had injuries to her neck and a puncture wound at her shoulder just above the wing joint.  I put her in the greenhouse for the rest of the night.  My son and I went inside to warm up and go back to bed.

I checked on the chicken before getting breakfast.  I was surprised that she was still alive and moving around.  She was alert, but still was bleeding from her nose and mouth.  She was having difficulty breathing .  I made the decision to harvest her.

Tonight, and every night until we catch it, we will be setting the live-capture trap.  Once it’s captured, we will kill it to prevent further loss to our chicken population.  I hate having to deal with nuisance animals, but it is a necessary part of country life and farming.

injured chicken 1 injured chicken 2 injured chicken 3

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One more day to go on Thor’s confinement period.  He’s doing great!  No signs of rabies, yay!

So, this morning I took Thor for a walk on his leash, of course.  We started down the driveway before heading into the old, goat field.  He rolled in the grass and listened for deer before doing his business.  He explored the entire field.  After he was satisfied, we walked by the chickens.  Then we went to his cable behind the house.  After making breakfast, I sat where he could look in the window and see me.  He looked into the woods many times.  I’m sure he heard some deer, but I never saw them.  Callie, our female cat, came up to Thor for his grooming expertise.  She licked him while he groomed her.  When she had had enough, she walked away.  Shortly after she left, Salem came up for his grooming time.  Puff was groomed for the longest period of time.  He wanted to be groomed on both sides from head to tail tip.  Thor thoroughly enjoyed being their groomer.

Tomorrow, the Health Department will either call or come by or both to check on Thor.  A decision will be made at that time as to whether the confinement period is over or needs to continue.  I believe that it will be over tomorrow.  I’ll let you know either way.

Thor6

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This  butterfly was in our fallow field on some thistle.

This butterfly was in our fallow field on some thistle.

 

I was walking Thor while carrying my camera.  We paused so I could take this photo.  The butterfly was busy collecting nectar from the flower.  Thistle is a host plant for some butterfly species.  We did eventually mow this one down, but we left the other two acres of fallow fields alone.  We have been increasing our butterfly population by keeping both host and food flowering plants for butterflies.  Another good example of a host plant, one that butterflies lay eggs on, is milk weed.  It’s a good idea to research host and food plants for the beneficial and pretty insects you want in your yard or garden.

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Today started off with no alarm clock, which almost made my son late for his ride to college.  Fortunately, he and I both awoke about twenty minutes before he had to leave.  Thor was on the foot of my bed.  He didn’t even look up when I called out to my son to see if he was awake.  Joshua caught his ride.  Thor and I went back to sleep.

About an hour or so later, I got up for the day.  Thor, as usual, continued to doze until I was ready to take him for a walk.  Out the door we went.  He checked out the porch before heading out to the cars.  He’s always hopeful that he’ll get to go for a ride.  This morning, like most mornings, was just a walk.

We headed down the driveway.  He started sniffing the ground at the path that leads to the neighbors.  He looked down the path hopefully.  Once he realized I wasn’t going that way, he continued down the driveway.  He sniffed the tall grass with loud snorts.  Once back up the driveway, we turned in front of the goat barn.  The tall grass was wet with dew and my shoes became slippery.  I walked carefully while he explored the smells that appeared overnight.  He was very interested in the tall grass and pines in the lower field.  Maybe some deer were there.

We walked by the chickens as the rooster paid attention to a hen.  He crowed his delight afterward.  (He has a strange crow.)  We continued on to the tall grass and back to the house where Thor gladly stepped up to the cable.  I attached it to his collar and gave him a hug.  Breakfast and coffee.  Time on the computer.  A chat with a friend.  Now, hours later, Thor wants to walk some more.

Thor on his cable-chain

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