In all my years doing animals, I never thought I would be bottle feeding squirrels in November. Yet, there I was, getting up last night to feed two little newcomers that were found in a snowbank. They will be fine, it’s just going to take some extra feedings to get them back where they can go all night without one. Now I need to move the older, but not quite ready to go, squirrels into a bigger winter cage on the enclosed porch so I have their present cage for the new ones.
It was amazing though when I got up. I don’t set an alarm. My body just automatically wakes up when there are hungry babies. I opened my eyes and could not understand why the room was so light. Then I realized it was the moon.
It’s been such a rainy fall and then instant winter that we have not seen enough of the moon to even remember that it is full this week. There it was. Huge and silver and casting shadows across the new snow.
After I fed the babies, I stood at the back door as long as I could before the cold forced me back to my warm bed. I heard owls in the distance calling to each other, but that was the only sound in the night. The snow sparkled and shifted from blues to grays and back again. I really couldn’t tell if it was the beauty or the cold that took my breath away.
The bed felt good when I crawled under the electric blanket. I was so grateful to see that moon. It may be many days till we see it again not covered with clouds.
It started snowing Halloween and has snowed each day since. At first it melted before the next fall, but then we got 11 inches last week in just one night. It hasn’t melted since. We are in for a long , long winter, I’m afraid.
Yesterday’s storm brought a flood of calls. The ponds and small lakes are icing over way too early and waterfowl are being caught unawares. As the birds head for more open waters, those who can’t fly are left behind and sadly, there is little I can do for them. I can’t take them all in. I would be over run with ducks, geese and swans. I can’t repair wings long broken and I really have little way to catch them and move them to safer waters. The snow is deep and I am old.
There have been a lot of possum calls, many about juveniles who would normally have a month or more before the heavy snow and cold sets in to finish maturing. Again, I can’t take them all, they would be here all winter and that would require heated water dishes, trying to find pen space, weatherproofing said pens and then shoveling paths to those pens every day. And people have no concept of how much it would cost to feed every animal they want me to take all winter.
Then there is the matter of the bobcat. She is eating almost a pound or more of raw meat a day and if I am to allow her the freedom she needs to become a successful hunter and confident in the forest, I need to allow her as much freedom as possible.
This morning, I let her out for the day and she followed me as I shoveled, hauled hot water to thaw water pans and bottles, put down, pellets, corn, and sweetfeed for turkeys, ducks, geese and deer, Ki Ki followed. She discovered that she can easily slip into the duck pen and ducks are slow, easy prey in deep snow. Now these are my domestic ducks and as far as I am concerned, off limits to her. She didn’t agree.
After a considerable scuffle, a lot of growling and some nasty swipes with her claws. I got her off the duck and in her pen. Then I had to catch the ducks (I think I’m slow, easy prey in deep snow too) and move them in with the turkeys and domestic geese. Not only is that pen much harder to get into, but I doubt she will want to risk dealing with full grown geese coming after her.
Still, she will remain in “Time out” for a few more hours. It’s so easy to think of her as gentle and easy to handle till she get’s angry with you. Then it’s a back to a writhing buzzsaw with teeth.
So after two or more hours outside taking care of Rabbits, ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese, deer, peacocks and the dozen of squirrels and birds waiting for their food. I am frozen. The way it is snowing, I’ll have to repeat the whole process of shovel, thaw and feed, in a few hours.
This is supposed to be my downtime. Please be patient with me when you call about the fox with the hurt paw, the goose or swan with a broken wing or the many possums eating your barn cat food, and I can’t agree to take them. Dealing with adult animals is a whole different process than with babies and winter only compounds it.
I’m old. I’m cold. And I’m bogged down in the snow too. I promise. I’ll do what I can, when I can. In the meantime. Stay warm.