Critter Encounters

It’s been so hot and humid for several days. When I try to work outside, I immediately feel like I’m melting. There are times I suspect that I might have some snowman DNA in me! I really do not know how people in hotter climates can endure the heat.

Frozen Treat
Frozen Treat

I learned from the blogger, Fresh Eggs Daily, how to make frozen treats for my chickens to help them cool off in hot weather. I put a variety of foods that they like–berries, greens, and so forth–into a bowl of water and then freeze it. Apparently the chickens enjoy pecking the treats out of the ice and it helps them cool off at the same time. I’m not sure the ducks enjoy it all that much–but they have their swimming pool to cool off in. And, besides, usually the ducks gobble everything up so quickly that the chickens don’t get much more than a taste, so I’m glad they have more of a chance to enjoy the iced treats.

We’ve had some interesting encounters with wild critters.

Last weekend EJ and I were organizing the garage when a butterfly fluttered in and landed on the wall. EJ paused to admire it and then he waved me over, telling me that he could see its “tongue.” I looked closely and finally saw the butterfly’s tongue. It was curled up, like when a ribbon is curled up with scissors–you know? It was very fascinating.

I hadn’t seen any wild turkeys for several weeks and I wondered where they all were. Then EJ said that he saw a couple adult turkeys with a flock of babies at the bottom of our driveway. He said the babies were the size of Peeper and Cuddles when we first brought them home. Then JJ said he saw them when coming home from work one day. I was a tiny bit envious because I’m usually the last to see critters–if I see them at all. I mean, both EJ and JJ are sure that they saw glimpses of the cougar(s) that were reported to be in the area where we used to live, but I never, ever saw any! For a long time the Michigan Department of Resources denied that there were any cougars in our state, but I think they finally acknowledged their presence. We’ve had several friends who said they saw a cougar. But I never did. I was so disappointed!

Rock dams and plants along the driveway
Rock dams and plants along the driveway

So a few days ago I was throwing potato rocks (so-called because they are the size of potatoes) in the wheelbarrow, pushing the wheelbarrow down the hill, and building up my rock dams alongside the driveway in preparation for the storms that  were forecast. The heavy rain pushes sand down the sides of the driveway and the sand builds up behind my dams so I have to keep building up the rocks. Grasses and wildflowers are beginning to grow up between the dams and they will eventually help hold the soil in place. Yesterday I dug up some of the many wild ferns that grows on our property and transplanted them to the sides of the driveway. They withered, but I’m hoping they will still take root and spread. The few lilies I transplanted along the driveway earlier this summer are doing well. We also hope to plant lavender plants, wildflower seeds, and other plants.

So the other day I was halfway down the driveway with my wheelbarrow of rocks, building up the rock dams when our cat, Annie, came trotting out of the grass and up the driveway. I didn’t think much of it but then I saw movement at the bottom of our driveway. It was two adult geese guarding a flock of babies. I froze and then hunkered down behind the wheelbarrow, hoping the adults didn’t see me. Of course, they are very alert so the babies quickly went into the long grass to hide. Because I held still, the adults looked around for a long time, indecisive, before they also moved into the grass–but at least I had a glimpse of the babies!

I’ve also been seeing a group of three adult male turkeys hanging around our Enchanted Forest. I’m hoping they stick around and gobble up the thousands of grasshoppers that are here. Whenever I walk through our yard, the grasshoppers pop up like popcorn. Late yesterday afternoon Danny wanted outside so I took him out and I sat in a chair on our small deck while he wandered down to his “pooping place” on the hill on the other side of the driveway. While he was hunched over “doing his business” the three bachelor turkeys crossed the driveway from my side to the side Danny was on. They were about halfway between us. The turkeys were yelling “put-put-put” very loudly. Usually they say it very softly–almost a croon. It’s my guess that the louder they are, the more alarmed they are. Two of the turkeys went over the hill into the forest. The third stood at the edge of the forest in a challenging way, guarding the retreat of the others. I was concerned that Danny would charge after them, which is what he did the first time he saw a turkey soon after we moved here last year. He had neared a nest and the Mama had come rushing out to defend it, and Danny began chasing her, and I yelled at Danny to STOP! Since then, I’ve been careful to either keep Danny inside when I see turkeys in our yard or to call him to come inside before he notices them. This is his first really close encounter since last year so I wasn’t sure what he would do. He just looked at the turkeys, finished his business, and then meandered up the driveway toward me keeping well away from the guard turkey. He’s such a smart dog.

Chipmunk on the deck
Chipmunk on the deck

This summer we have noticed that a little chipmunk often comes out to sit on our little deck. I’m not sure why. He just sits there. I don’t think it’s particularly wise of him because Annie likes to stalk the chipmunks. Maybe he’s taunting her? Or proving his bravery to the other chipmunks? Or maybe he just likes to sit there and think about life.

Last night EJ and I were returning from the auto shop where the Buggy is having work done. We didn’t get a whole lot of extra money from the sale of the old house, but we are using it for necessary stuff like maintenance/repairs on the vehicles. We were driving down our road a few miles from home when a long slinky animal galloped across the road! EJ thinks that maybe it was a mink or a weasel! The first time I ever saw one in the wild! Really cool! I’m glad that we shut our ducks and chickens up safely in the garage at night, though.

It’s been so hot and dry here this summer that we have been careful about having fires. JJ bought a bunch of fireworks for Independence Day, but we made him wait to set them off until after we had had some rain. We didn’t want him to set fire to the forest. That would be bad. It finally rained last Friday so he set the fireworks off that evening. It was fun.  Then last Saturday night, EJ and I had our first campfire in our back yard. It was so enjoyable! I am fascinated by fire and light and I had fun experimenting with taking photos using different settings. I particularly liked capturing the sparks. I thought they made interesting photos.

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We hope to have many more campfires in our Enchanted Forest.

The cats sort of dislike the last food we bought  for them, so I wanted to get them some different food from one of the farm stores we go to. We have about three different farm stores that we shop at. JJ needed to get some shorts and he wanted to buy some shirts too so we enjoyed a shopping trip together today. We first stopped at the TSC Farm store to get chicken food and some canned cat food for Tesla, who is getting very old and feeble and having trouble eating the dry stuff. While we were waiting in line to pay for the stuff, the customer ahead of us said he was buying another bird feeder because his last one was destroyed–he thinks maybe by a bear. He mentioned where he lived, which is not far from us. The cashier said that a bear has been spotted at a nearby town in the opposite direction. Yikes! We are surrounded by bears! I hope they are not attracted to the many, many berry bushes growing at the edge of our forest.

After TSC, we stopped at Meijer for JJ’s clothes, and then we stopped at the other family-owned farm store for the dry cat food that the inside cats like. I also bought some Michigan Roadside Mix grass seed. I’m determined to stop the erosion along our driveway. When I asked about the seed, a customer standing nearby said that this seed is really good and grows fast.

On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store JJ works at and we both bought a few things. I bought groceries and JJ bought snacks. Whenever he goes with me to the store, he bags my groceries for me and he jokes and laughs with his co-workers. It’s good to see him fitting so well.

We had a lot of fun together.

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4 Comments on “Critter Encounters

  1. So nice to enjoy live nature in the surroundings you live in, it’s so very peaceful and we so enjoy our Mich. year around. Tell the men hi and may the bear stay deep in the forest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we really love it here! Although I’m really hoping that I never see a bear at our house!!! EJ says “Hi” back to you! ❤

      Like

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