Tag Archives: wildlife

Squirrelkin, Squidgum, Squidjum, and Soap Foam

5 Sep

The Castile girl and I have been having disagreements about what to call and how to spell different ideations of the babies.

Last night and this morning the little squirrels are up to about 10cc total of their milk replacer which is about half Esbilac and half heavy cream.  A combined total: one takes about 6 cc and the other about 4cc.  Then the next feeding the one which took 6cc takes 4cc and visa versa.

Rather than a syringe, I have found that a glass 1 ml pipette works best for feeding.  Last night and this morning I used a 2ml pipette for the first frantic dose.



The smaller one with a broken upper front leg one now has a rubber tubing splint  wrapped with masking tape and with the elbow joint also taped so the arm can not slide out.  That baby is not as happy; pain, probably.

They are housed in a tissue box in the large cage the three flying squirrels used this winter.

A stray antler, a 2.5 inch diameter log chunk, a dry washcloth they use as a latrine,  a couple pieces of dog food, a raspberry and a dab of peanut butter on a spoon complete their abode.

They are fed about 6 times per day and have noticeably gained weight, though I did not weigh them upon arrival and have not yet done so: making their food, feeding them and then cleaning them and the tools up is absorbing plenty of time.

This morning at about 3AM I was washing pipettes.

For a few months we have been using a home made soap solution in a Bath and Bodyworks dispenser that makes soap foam: an ounce or less of a mix of Bronner Eucalyptus Castile soap  , a Tea Tree oil soap  ,  and water, sometimes with a little food coloring for fun.  Those soaps were forms of delayed gratification impulse purchases on my part.  But they have been useful and a very little goes a very long way in the soap foam distribution method.   The Castile soap foam solution cleans the milk fat from the inside of the glass much better than dish washing detergent.  It works well for cleaning eye glasses, too. And, it was first made in Spanish Castile from olive oil and plant ashes.

Anyway, as cleaning progressed,  I recalled that much of my adult life has been spent feeding milk or other food to young creatures.  My MS thesis research involved different strategies of milk replacer delivery and weaning to orphan lambs. That was over 25 years ago.  There have been  more lambs, along with kittens, squirrels, birds, and of course children since then.  It is still fulfilling for me as much as for them.

Tell and Show

26 Jul

This morning Hawthorne and I jumped deer in two widely separate areas.  We saw neither but heard their snorts and the noise their flight made.

We also heard loud sounds which were a cross between a quack and a honk.  Turns out it was a pair of blue herons flying low over the corn field calling to one another

The girl and her borrowed calf moved to the 4-H fairgrounds this afternoon for four days.  Jay will stay there at night in a tent. She plans to sleep in the pole barn next to her calf.  She packed so much nail polish I wondered (aloud) if she knew it was a barn and not a hotel.



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.


12 May

This week has been so warm that trees are leafing out rapidly.  Lawn mowing.  Weeding.  Planting. Transplanting.

The gnats and black flies are out and biting.  Every outdoor surface is covered with a layer of yellow pollen from the spruces.  The beginning of the week I could still hang out clothes. But not now.  I took Goldilocks (the snake) outside for a couple hours yesterday.  It was interesting how she watched me.  I put her in the grass just near the edge of the garden where there was plain soil to see which she would choose.  She chose the sun-warmed soil and slithered over to the cold frame and proceeded around its perimeter.  When I would walk over from my weeding to see what she was up to she would freeze when she caught sight of me.  After I was out of her sight for a couple minutes she would proceed her slow way.  She eventually turned the second corner into shade, started to turn around, then just went up and into the cold frame.  After awhile she started coming out but I walked over to see where she was and she froze.  Like a small child–“maybe if I don’t move she can not see me”.  She went back in the cold frame under the lettuces and poppies and coiled there.

Pounce came walking over.  He smelled that snake, following the path she took and eventually jumping himself into the cold frame.  Which I put a stop to. Which makes me wonder, after reading an article this week: scientists have “discovered” that mice “sing” in voices too high for us to hear.  Can snakes hear mice sing if cats can smell a snake’s passage?

The Orioles have been back for about a week.  They are eating the nectar from the flowering quince.  Earlier this week one was catching small insects in the blossoms of the plum tree.  Can you find it?  This is a close-up of the photo taken about 40 feet away.  I sat at the base of one of the large spruces and waited for them to return to feed.

For those who are squeamish: do not look at the next picture.  It shows the snails that were in the large brown trout Jay caught yesterday.  They are on newsprint for relative size.  Is that not interesting?

Up in one of the small trees being grown for some Christmas  a robin keeps making a noisy exit each time I am near weeding the flowers.  This is why:

The three fish are in the process of being ready to be smoked.  The flesh of the last is bright orange-red–like a wild caught salmon.  Jay attributes this to crayfish in its diet.  And perhaps living in a spring-fed pond?

This is another kind of currant.  It is a shrub: the flowering currant.  The small flowers are incredibly fragrant.  They have a clove-like scent which wafts over the lawn all times of day.  Wonderful.

The first clematis.  A shrubby kind and the first time it has ever bloomed.  For years it got trampled and barely survived; it lives just above the garden too near where we walk.  So I have been pampering it the past couple years; this year it seems happy and has a couple dozen blooms coming.

A Bit Fishy

10 May

Jay’s friend told him there were all kinds of big fish just below the falls on Fall Creek yesterday and encouraged Jay to go down there and find out for himself.  So Jay went this morning, almost as much to prove Brian wrong as to fish.

Jay reports there were not really many fish there.  And now there are two fewer.  Because there were some fish.    A 20-inch 3 pound land-locked salmon bit on a minnow.  And a brown trout bit (repeatedly) on a worm.

He is considering if he wishes them to be smoked or cooked.


30 Apr

The Bobolinks have returned!  They were singing in the hedgerow trees this morning. They are one of my very favorite birds.  They seem so cheerful and happy they make me so to hear them.

The bumblebees are awake and working.

Next to the Bobolink was a yellow warbler of some sort.  A Yellow Warbler?  A  Pine Warbler? A Prairie Warbler?  It was high up and in the sunlight was bright yellow.

The woodpeckers are out making noise all around.  They look very elegant in their black and white outfits, as if they are on their way to a formal function, or just returning from a night out–the plumage of some individuals is rather scruffy looking.  But still elegant, like a disreputable but charming uncle.

The other day I saw crows ganging up on a raven. There was also one hanging about last fall.  Up back in the silence of the fields and woods, the raven’s loud, raucous, repeated ‘gawk’ is intimidating and rather unnerving. Sort of ominous.  I was silently urging the crows on as they cawed and darted and flew, pecking, at the larger bird.  Was the raven raiding their nests?  If I could find a young raven still in its nest, I would raid that nest and make it a pet.

The bluebirds have yet to start a nest in one of the boxes, and I fear the swallows will beat them to it.  They are still singing in the crabapple most mornings, though.  Our neighbors report the white-breasted nuthatches have taken up residence in the box just off their patio.

Jay is now in the midst of starling killing season. He got one which was trying to nest in the garage this morning and another which had already made a nest in the church this afternoon.  He has also moved the squirrel nest box to a locale more felicitous for shooting since they are trying to establish a nest in it as well.

Tomorrow morning he hopes to go out and at least see a turkey since the season begins May first.

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