Tag Archives: wild things

This Week’s Catches

22 Jul

There have been lots of catches this week.  Here are some of them.

Lots of frogs were caught over at Dad’s pond.  But also caught was this year old painted turtle.  It resides in the water barrel here at home now, being fed worms and insects and flies.
It left at least 8 of its friends or family to travel here.

The girl decided she was going to catch this wildish kitten at the cousin’s farm.  And she did after two tries.  I kept its attention while she snuck up on it. Daddy said we could not bring it home.  It is skinny as well as being cute.

He gave her some scratches then howled incredibly miserably when he was first caught.

And seemed glad to be released back to his lair.

At the next cousin’s home some neighbors were exercising their horses in the 25 acre pond. Here the Belgian draft horses are swimming.

One thing the girl has wished for a long time is to ride a swimming horse.  She was able to have that dream fulfilled.

The mare really liked to swim and when she had to stop and visit would splash impatiently to get back into the deeper water.

Then of course there was the mess o’fish jay and I caught.

And yesterday I caught this woodchuck who had the temerity to think it was going to live under my front porch.  Not for long.

Hawthorne wished he had caught the woodchuck. It was fortunate, though.  Jay took it down the road several miles to abandoned fields, where the coyotes might find it for supper.


Rural Wildlife

18 Jul

Jay is driving the tractor back from the other farm after spending the day cutting dying black cherry trees, dragging them out to a field and then cutting them into splittable chunks. Dad spent his day on the same farm mowing the lane way and a long steep fallow field.  The back acreage of that farm is comprised of woods, a planted walnut grove, an alfalfa field, and the fallow field.

On our way up to retrieve the tractor we watched a young fox meander ahead of us up the lane.  It was not aware of us until near the end and its antics were delightful.  Three woodchucks ran into the hedgerow where an indigo bunting was hunting.  Dad saw five deer in the alfalfa even in the 90+ degree heat. The grass underneath the walnuts is a veritable playground area for them.

Many Monarch butterflies are flitting about and though many milkweed plants were mowed down today, the one I looked at this evening was feeding and housing a narrow-waist wasp, a Japanese beetle, a fly, and mating pairs of two different beetles one variety of which I had never before seen.

Even though the pond Dad put in was not done until November last year it is exploding with life.  Isabelle and Jay have seen at least one large and seven small painted turtles there.  Isabelle caught and brought one home and plans to keep it as a pet. She let the centimeter long immature bright green Grey tree frog go in Mom’s garden.   There are raccoon tracks around the edge and visible in the shallow end.  And deer tracks.  A large school of minnows has appeared from who knows where.  The bass Jay put in earlier this year was sighted.   I came across an underwater insect shaped like and the size of my thumbnail which sported an unusual back; its 2-3mm long eggs glued vertically covered it like a shield.  There are dragonflies and water skeeters and beetles and frogs of all sorts.  The water is warm and bath-like.

Do not be shocked to learn my father has trapped or shot over 30 woodchucks so far this year.  The new crop is moving in: he and Jay set three traps in re-dug holes this morning and I told him about another Hawthorne and I came across on our walk.  Another has re-dug a hole under the machine shop yet again.

The bees are doing well in their new home.  There is raccoon scat all around.  Even though Hawthorne didn’t see it, there is at least one rabbit up the lane.  He found something dead on the runway this morning and ate it without showing me. Mom’s gray cat has been terrorized by something–she thinks a feral cat–and will not leave the safety of the red shed where vehicles are kept.  Isabelle fed it one of the seven frogs she and Jay caught from the pond. Three escaped from the bucket, one got away from a young cousin into the garden. The cat also got a sparrow she brought home that was found flapping the the lane.

Of dragonflies and degrees

31 May

The dragonflies were out in droves this morning.  At least three varieties were sunning on the narrow western verge between the edge of the corn field and the woods.  As I walked by they would rise and circle back.  At first I thought there were only a dozen or so, but new ones would keep rising  and falling all the way around the corner , up the south hedgerow until we got to the edge of the shallow green grass sea.  Birds hang out there, not dragonflies.  Butterflies were mixed in with the dragonflies; one yellow swallowtail sunned itself on the lower leaves of the hickory tree.

The grass has grown from hip to chest high in the past week.  Abundant rain and heat have contributed, I think.  In the mornings it is like walking on the floor of a shallow living sea.  Not that I have ever done that, but I do come home as wet as if I had.

The tree peonies are done.  The first deciduous peonies came out today.  The perennial poppies have started.  Only 4 efts out this morning.

It is hot.  Hot like summer hot.  Like August hot.

A bridal shower last night for the eldest daughter of friends of 30+ years put into sharp focus how educational and professional options for women have changed during the course of my life.

Both daughters and one of their female cousins studied art in college. The younger daughter was showing me some of her past semester’s work: metal work using oxyacetylene and MIG  (arc) welding.  She said shed loved MIG welding. Which got me thinking.

I grew up around what we called arc welding since farm machinery needed almost constant upkeep and repair.  In university as partial fulfillment for a degree which included  a certificate to teach agriculture in high schools, I took a metals class; welding was part of the curriculum.  During student teaching I taught welding to a high school ag class.

But what was different from Hope’s experience is this: I was possibly the first woman to ever take and complete the metals class in Agricultural Engineering at Cornell.  And how would I know that? Because the professor tried repeatedly over the course of the semester to make it as difficult as he could for me to continue in his course.  He was hell bent on making me quit. He told me he did not want a woman in his class and he would do what he thought would achieve my dropping out.  Now days he could neither do nor say the things he did and said.  But in the 70’s there was no recourse for me but to stick it out.  Or drop it, as women before me had.  So he said.  Some of the other (all male) students in the class were sympathetic; but we all needed the class and they were not going to jeopardize their grade for me. Nor did I expect them to.  None of them actively participated in the professor’s tirades or shenanigans, but no one stood up for me publicly, either.  It was the more severe and vitriolic discrimination I had yet encountered.  But not the first.

Forty years ago I was 12 or 13 but it does not seem so long ago;  the vet came to check a cow.  I blithely announced to him my goal of becoming a veterinarian.  He laughed.  He said I should go back to the house and make cookies.  My decision not to become a vet had nothing to do with his pronouncement.  Various aspects of working with healthy animals became more appealing so I stayed in animal science.

Forty years prior to that,  the trinity of jobs outside the home open to the women were teaching, nursing and secretarial work.  We had some of each in my family.  At the party were two widows, the grandmothers of the bride. Both were wives and mothers first; one is a potter, the other a retired farmer.  And one other job: both my mother-in-law and an aunt worked in munitions factories during the second world war.

There were exceptions to the trinity: the woman who later would become my mother graduated with honors from Cornell and was hired by P&G as a market researcher for their new product: Tide.  She traveled via rail around the country on their ticket; she had the equivalent of an expense account for hotels and food.  She spent her money on a fabulous working wardrobe that I in turn wore at Cornell decades later.  It was a plum job that was cut short by her father’s death.  She returned home to help her mother, started teaching, eventually meeting my father at a dinner party.

Of the women with whom I graduated or who are friends my age, one is head of veterinary radiology at a major university; a few are or have been professors in math, nutrition, computers.  Several are engineers of various sorts.  Several teach or nurse.  Computer technology, pharmacology, social work, hotel management, freelance writing, accounting, and research are others fields in which they are working.

Younger female friends have degrees and jobs in an even broader array of subject areas.

The young women at the party probably can not conceive of any field of study or class not open to them.  I could not at their age.

This Sunny Sunday Morning

8 May

Jay came with me this morning!  He had an errand in mind, though.  As you can see many trees are in flower of bud and some in early leaf.  The field seems to have been planted yesterday when we were not around.

On the edge of another field is a lively specimen of a mullein.  I let a few of these grow in my gardens.  Their leaves are thick and wooly and it will put out a tall spike on which yellow flowers open gradually for weeks as the spike grows.  insects like them.

They are quite large.

Jay’s errand was putting in a salt lick for the deer.  We saw 11 the other night.  He was pleased.  Me; not so much.  He is ensuring that wild animals will be able to access the salt by placing it in a depression on an old log.  When the rain melts it, the salt will be retained in the wood.  It is near where he has a stand.  But the salt will be gone long before the fall season.

Recently I saw a young fox kit dead in the road which brought forth mixed feelings.  Sad because it had been hit, but pleased that there are enough foxes around to get off a litter.  The coyotes have played havoc with the fox population near us.  Heard coyotes in the night recently, yipping and singing.

Literally overnight, the multitudes of little spiders must have received a decree from their leader to spin a patchwork of small webs across the whole of the fallow field.

(A pause while I remove a tick crawling on my hand.) This is not a daily occurance, but is altogether too frequent.  And I wear rubber boots that come almost to my knee.  But I did bend over and kneel to pick violets.

Which you can see here.

Last night I made rhubarb custard pie filling and baked it in a buttered pie dish without the pie crust.    It is marvelous.

And the red pasque flower is now out.

Free At Last

8 Apr

When last we joined the confined flying squirrels, they were living in an insect cage:

What a mess!  They thought so, too, for they chewed through the hardware cloth and would crawl between it and the wire mesh, trying to find a way out:

Or attempt a heist, in this case hazelnuts from my aunt.

But yesterday, in addition to being my younger brother’s 50th birthday (Happy Birthday Charlie!) was the first real spring-like day, and a day Jay had off work.  So in the middle of the afternoon I uncovered the sleeping squirrels and removed them from their sleeping sweater:

Transferred them to the blue bird box.  One picks them up by the scruff of the neck. They had significantly chewed the edges of said box so their sweater was used to plug the holes for transport to the woods behind Mom M’s.  Jay thought that would be a good spot as it is predominantly hardwoods.  The gray squirrel population there was reduced somewhat by Daren this winter. (Remember my Christmas present?)  He figured there would be suitable empty holes in trees for housing.

A view of their new home area:

Their box is tied to the sloping pine tree.  Their sweater is on top.  We scattered all the rest of the food we had in stock for them around a 100+ square foot area. And put some in the box, too.

The first flying squirrel to come out is the brave one who always came out first for everything new.  He came out within the first three minutes after the box was up. Ran up the tree and around and around, testing out the numerous holes available.  His coloring is perfect camouflage.

The second squirrel jumped out a few minutes later and immediately ran/glided off and found itself in an old pen.  It easily escaped and scampered off.

The last little squirrel, the one I think is slower than the rest because it is the one which got hit on the head by the mouse trap, refused to come out while I was there.  It seemed to be having a fine time just sniffing and looking.

God speed!


Birds and birthday

31 Mar

Several days ago there were tracks of two turkeys in the last remaining snow bank, which is still hanging on in diminished form.  A pair of wood ducks flew off a depression holding water just inside the wood and I saw them fly into the woods another morning.  The blue birds have been singing and checking out the box Jay repaired and rehung out by the grapevine.  This morning I put another chunk of suet up for the woodpeckers–the third or fourth this winter into spring.  On the side of the road this week, raccoons are prominent.

Yesterday was sunny and up to 40F. I cut stems for about an hour in the chilly sun. Today is overcast and drippy–snow again, now mixed with rain.  Marsha and I walked in the sun from Cayuga Heights over into Collegetown for lunch at the Carriage House and then back.  The streams and falls are full and running. Then went to visit the three little red poodle puppies she is caring for.  After a quick supper, Jay and I went to the graduate lecture/recital of our friend Sarah, a lyric soprano.  She spoke about “Love-Madness in Early Nineteenth-Century Opera”. One thread she spoke about was how English novels were translated into French, became play, and then were translated into Italian, becoming operas. So the idea of an hysterical woman who goes mad because of lost or jilted love is essentially a British notion which was accepted in Europe. After an intermission she performed Elvira’s Mad Scene from the Bellini opera I Puritani (1835) with two baritones.  There were a coterie of friends attending from church which filled out the crowd to quite an acceptable number of persons.  Sarah’s singing and acting was magnificent.

Friends made the day special!  And may God grant all their generous, good wishes and prayers for this new year.

Nine and Less Than One

10 Mar

So, this year it took about nine days for the forsythia to bloom from the day they were picked and brought in. They started blooming last night and by this morning were almost in full bloom.


On the other hand, it took less than a day for Pounce to realize we had moved the flying squirrels upstairs to the enclosed porch to start getting them acclimated to the outside temperatures and light cycles.

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