Archive | August 2020

City Girls in the Country

Well that was one lady who should have stayed in the city.

A woman calls me early this morning. She was out walking her dogs on the road and they ran into the woods on a neighbors property, barking their heads off. She went into the woods after them. There was a coon in a trap.

“A live trap?” I asked.

“No! one of those horrible leg traps” she nearly screamed. She went on to tell me how she had been calling all over and I was the only one who would answer the phone and 911 kept giving her my number. (Maybe she should have waited till after 9 AM to call.)

I asked if the trap was on her property. “No. It’s on the owners He’s not home”

Do you have permission from the owners to be on his property?

“No he has “KEEP OUT” signs.

Are your dogs leashed?

“No, they like to run when we go for walks.”

(the picture was becoming clearer with every word.)

First of all, I said. Get off his property,. You are breaking the law. Second of all, put your dogs on a damn leash. A. There may be more traps, but you are once again breaking the law by not having them leashed.

“But what about the cooooooonnnnnnn”, she whined.

I can’t do anything about that. It is on private property and he maybe trapping that coon because it’s killing his chickens or other stock. It isn’t regular, legal fur trapping season yet, So if if anything, you can report him for that, but it is still on PRIVATE. POSTED PROPERTY. Get off his property.

Get off his land and get your dogs leashed. People WILL be legally trapping for fur by the beginning of October…LEASH YOUR DOGS! It is a way of life for some around here and whether we like it or not, it is against the law to interfere with someone’s traps if they are legally set. You will have no repercussions if your dogs walk into one of these traps.

She had some choice words about “Backwoods Barbarians” and people who don’t care about “Animal rights” and other things before she hung up.

I’m not real fond of leg hold traps, but I understand what it’s like to have animals killing your chickens or rabbits or getting into things they shouldn’t. Each person has to make the choice themselves, how far they want to go. Some animal control companies aren’t much more merciful. Often the animal is trapped in a live trap, but then submerged in water to drown.

The truth is …life is ugly and complicated and far, far removed from the Disney movies we like to believe in. This woman is the kind who will complain about how meat is processed and that “Animals have rights”, while she is eating steak off her fancy plate in her McMansion.

People have rights too and one of the greatest rights is the right to have privacy on their own property without someone and their dogs traipsing all over it.

Sorry lady. I can’t help you. I feel for the coon, but I don’t know the whole story here and neither do you.

Red Devils

Ever chassed a red squirrel in the house? It took two adults with nets and a dog, but we got the ungrateful little bastard who has been breaking into the studio and raiding the seed.

I learned some things…..

Red squirrels are fast. Way faster than you’d think.

They are clever. Actually smarter than two old farts and a fat Labrador.

Red squirrels can climb up the back of the shelf that you think they have them trapped under and then jump straight at your face before landing on the other side of the room.

A fat Labrador Retriever can knock you on your ass. The red squirrel can then run back and fourth over your body while you try to get up.

They bounce like a superball. Off windows. Off walls. Once I swear, off the ceiling.

Nets mean nothing to them.

Getting them from a net into a cage for removal from the premise starts the whole process over again.

Once captured and contained, they use surprisingly filthy language. They also understand human anatomy and have a good grasp on your mother’s marital status at your birth.

If you hold the cage too close to you, they WILL pee on you.

Fat labs and old people run out of breath quickly and need to sit down before releasing said red squirrel. Some of us require a stiff drink.

Red squirrels, luckily cannot chew through a metal cage in the 6 miles to the release site. Though they will make valiant attempts.

Be ready when you get them to the woods and open that cage door, they will shoot out at about 68 miles an hour. Don’t point it at your face. Be prepared for more swearing. His and yours.

While we were at it. We took a bag of possums out to be released too. We never heard a peep out of them. They politely stayed in their bag till I poured them on the ground. They seemed grateful. Not one of them peed on me. There was no swearing or referral to my lineage.

I sure hope red squirrels aren’t good at finding their way home.

Fat Gophers and Fast Mice

The other night, I lost a mouse in the studio. (again literally “Lost” not as in “it died.”

It was the day after I released the gophers, way at the back of the property. I had thought about keeping the entertaining little buggers, but they were born wild and therefore should be returned to the wild.

The same with the mother mouse. We found her and her babies in a drawer in Jimmy’s shed and I couldn’t bear to kill them. So I made up an aquarium (with a tight lid) and let her raise them.

Since Bob took off, I was going to have the glass reptarium on my table anyway (no other place to store it) I thought I could build a mouse palace for the 4 babies. I did, they have a castle with rooms, an exercise wheel and toys.

That’s where the problems started.

I scooped up Mom Mouse and released her on the other side of the fence.. (You know, the born wild rule) That went smoothly and so did moving three of the babies. The fourth, however, completely ignored the net, ran straight up my arm, over my shoulder and made a daring leap to the floor where he promptly disappeared in the maze that is my studio.

I figured that eventually, he would show up. Last night, as I was on my way to bed, he did. I swear to Buddha, he ran out and thumbed his nose at me, only to disappear again under the shelves.

“Hah!” I said as I went to get my tiniest live trap. “I’ll have you by morning”. I baited the trap with the only thing mice can’t resist….Twinkies.
This morning, the twinkie was gone and the trap had misfired. (probably due to me dropping it twice while getting it off the top shelf). I got the hammer and pounded out the dent. I reset it, not expecting to see anything till tomorrow morning.

About an hour ago, I noticed Sophie on point at the mouse trap. I picked it up. It seemed awfully heavy for a mouse.. It was. It wasn’t a mouse. It seems gophers like twinkies too.

I’m not really all that surprised that he actually got his chubby little butt up to the house from the back yard. I AM astonished that he got in the house (probably through the doggy door) and back to my studio. Right now, he is standing up like a fat little meerkat laughing at me from a hamster cage. So much for being wild.

We’ll see how fast he makes it back after I blindfold him and take him for a long ride in the car.

Oh shit. There are 6 more out there and a mouse in my studio.

I don’t think I have enough twinkies.

Fished up Kingfisher

I just had one of those great endings I always look for. You know, a happy end to a bad situation. (no, unfortunately the Karen next door didn’t move).

Yesterday a woman shows up (in a really nice car, by the way) all in a dither. She didn’t want to wait to call me , she just wanted to get here right away. (Good thing I was home). She had a bird. She had no idea what kind of bird. It had been hanging from a tree by fishing line.

As soon as I heard it trilling from the box, I knew it was a Kingfisher. I’ve raised lots of these and they stay just long enough to clean out any goldfish in my pond.

Kingfishers nest in banks of sand or clay near rivers or lakes. They dig a tunnel (I have no clue how they do this) and build their nest at the back. This unfortunately leads to people accidently digging them up when they move a sand bank or buy some fill dirt. The last batch of babies I got, tumbled out of the scoop of a back hoe and the people thought they were pinecones, till one of them moved.

They really do resemble living, moving pinecones. Their feathers have rather long sheaths covering them (I suppose it has something to do with the dirt that surrounds them) And they kind of stick out like bristles. They only way you know you are looking at a bird at first, is that long, rather sharp beak.

Once you get the dirt brushed off them, their spiky head crest pops up and you get a stern look from piercing black eyes. (They all look fierce, It’s just their “thing” I guess) The next thing you notice is that they have no legs. No legs and tiny little feet. They are not built to walk. Ever. They are built to fly and perch on branches and to dive and swim under water to catch the fish and water bugs they feed on.

The other thing I like about these birds is their coloring. As an adult, they are a deep green with a rusty red breast. They blend in perfectly with the trees they perch in watching the water.

The things i like least are their long sharp beaks and their call. To say a Kingfisher is loud is an understatement. The only birds I have ever raised that is louder, is a bucket full of chimney swifts. (Imagine a rusty smoke detector. Magnify that by however many birds are in that bucket)

I’m not even sure how to describe the call of a Kingfisher. It’s a trilling sound, but has definite overtones of a badly slipping fan belt. They call when they are hungry. They call when you walk through a room, they continue to call even after you move them to a pen outside where they can’t see you. Then when they are free, they call from all over the neighborhood, just to let you know they are there.

Kingfishers are great though, the first few days you may have to force feed them. (usually by prying that sharp beak open and stuffing a catfish nugget down their throat., but they quickly learn to grab that fish or nugget or finger as soon as it appears. You go through a lot of Band-Aids raising Kingfishers. Then suddenly, one day they don’t want you to feed them. They will fight you beak and claw to avoid that catfish nugget. You open the door to the pen and they go. They fly straight up and out, so you better not be in their way.

They never come back to you again. They just scream hello as they fly over you in the garden.

But, back to the bird in hand. I pulled the Kingfisher out of the box, mostly by his beak hanging onto my finger. He continued to gnaw on me as I examined him. A beautiful adult male, he was in perfect prime, except for one wing. His right wing looked as if it had been stripped of feathers from the joint down. There was indeed a very fine red wire fishing line tangled and wound around the remaining primary feather.

It didn’t look good, but I smiled and promised to do my best for him. She left feeling better and promised to try and catch some minnows off their dock. Before she left, she stuffed some cash in my pocket in case she couldn’t. Minnows are expensive.

The bird screamed curses at me and all my offspring as we went in the house and the magnifying light. Once I started working on his wing, he calmed down, almost as if he knew I was trying to help him, though it was most likely exhaustion. I’d never seen fishing line like this, it was almost as fine as a human hair and made of wire. It was tangled and wrapped so tightly that I couldn’t unwind it. Finally I got a darning needle and managed to slip it under the wire and clip the strands and knots with my finest and smallest scissors. (so much for the art of Japanese paper cutting). I came up on the last tangled area at the top of his wing. It took some serious finagling and a few more bites, but the wire was free.

That’s when amazing things started to happen. The feathers were intact. I brushed them back in place with my fingers and straightened them the best I could. I manipulated the wing and nothing was broken or displaced. There was some swelling at the shoulder socket, but otherwise it seemed fine.

I decided that since I already had him pissed off, I’d force feed him some intensive recovery food that comes in a packet to be mixed with water. He actually took it well. I then moved him out to the fawn pen where he could rest in the straw in peace. I only bothered him twice more to feed before dark.

After a night where I listened to the fawns bitch because someone was in their pen (even though they hardly use it any more) I went out to check him in the morning light. He was sitting up (as well as a Kingfisher can sit up with those tiny feet and no legs), he raised his crest and trilled when he saw me. I opened the door. He flew straight past me and is now eyeing the last nervous goldfish in my pond. They will both be gone in a few hours.

If all that wasn’t cool enough. When he reached that tree over the fishless pond. He lifted his head and called out in what sounded like triumph….a dozen others answered from almost every direction.

Hi guys. I’m glad you’re doing well and still around.

I guess I’d better go buy more goldfish.