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Posts Tagged ‘animals’

Friday and Saturday nights, I put the chickens on their roosts, knowing that they are a bit high for pullets but still hoping to train them.  Imagine my surprise last night when I went to close the pop hole and discovered all five pullets roosting on their own!  I’m so proud of them.

Why is she opening the big door and flashing us with that bright light?

 
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The chicks arrived a week ago.  My first opportunity to take pictures came on Friday, when the chicks graduated to being pullets.  I had some old kale in the garden that was infested with caterpillars, so I cut and gave it to my pullets as a graduation present.  They loved it.

Okay, gals, it's time for your group shot.


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(Just because it’s Wordless Wednesday for me, it doesn’t mean you can’t leave comments.)

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.

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Three nights ago I had seen our two cats hanging around and didn’t worry too much about bringing them in because I still needed to be working in my office (also known as their bedroom) and they aren’t terribly helpful when I’m typing.  I walked past the back porch door, where my big male cat was seemingly relaxing.  He caught a glimpse of me out of the corner of his eye and jumped up, running over to put his paws on the door.  That’s not like him, so I opened the door quickly.  As he dashed in, I heard what he was fleeing.  From the woods, just beyond the cleared area of the property came a howl, then another, then another, then a cascade of answering howls and yips.  Coyotes.

My breath caught.  Where was Tucker’s sister?  She had been here a little while ago–had she strayed too close to where the coyotes were hiding?  Had they caught her, and I was hearing their frenzy over their excitement at a meal?  They do that: signal when they’ve caught something.

I grabbed the flashlight and tore around the exterior of the house, looking all around for her and calling, with the coyotes yipping every time I called and whistled.  I said a quick prayer that my girl was okay and paused under the big oak next to our back porch.  As I stood there, trying to figure out what I should do next, I felt bark bits falling on me and then heard scrambling claws.  My girl was up the tree, waiting until I was directly below it to scoop her up before she would come down.  Was it one of the fawns that the pack captured and would devour?  I hoped not, but they certainly were onto something.

As you probably know, I like most of the wildlife around here, but I can do without the ‘coons and coyotes.  I’m not the kind of person who wants every coyote dead, but I sure as heck don’t like it when they’re on my doorstep.  My girl is usually too much of a homebody to get caught out by the coyotes unless they get really close, but on several occasions my big boy has gotten caught behind enemy lines.  He’ll come home in the wee hours of the morning, a hunted look in his eyes, bark and twigs all over his belly, as if he spent a lot of time in trees.  Typically too on those nights he’ll come from what I think of as the “wrong” direction, as if he had to circumvent what we call around here “the mean dogs” and the “evil yippers.”

I’ve listened each of the past nights since the pack was so close and heard nothing, not even an answering cry to my attempt at a howl.  This morning, though, a gray canine that looked too big to be a fox but too small to be a full-grown coyote stood at the back of the cleared area of the property.  If it’s a fox, no big deal; my cats chase those.  If it’s a coyote pup, it’s a a big problem, because the pack can’t be far away.

I often read about how people should never let their pets outside, how they are happier and healthier inside.  I also read about how neutering a male cat will stop him from wandering.  Tucker is “fixed,” but he still has an amazing sense of adventure.  A couple of years ago we put a pet camera on Tucker’s collar.  He’s big enough that he can wear the device, which was basically designed for a good-sized dog.  Seeing the pictures he took–every 15 minutes for more than 8 hours–was fascinating.  We’re surrounded by about 400 acres of undeveloped space, and I’m betting that Tucker knows a good portion of that acreage.  On the average day wearing the pet cam, Tucker ranged about two miles, climbing hills with an increase of 800 feet in elevation, crossing creeks, and visiting at least one cat about a mile from here, who peered into the camera as it flashed below Tucker’s neck.  We can’t protect him when he roams, but I can imagine how unhappy he would be without his range.  And he turns himself in every night–except for those when he gets trapped behind enemy lines.  All I can do those nights is pray that he’s found himself a safe spot and that he’ll hang tight until the pack loses interest. I don’t sleep well until both of my babies are inside.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader, including photographs.

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Our seemingly endless summer really is coming to an end.  Our oak leaves dropped a couple of weeks ago from the heat, lending a fallish scent, but we knew that they were not presaging fall, just yielding to our hot, dry weather.  Better evidence of the coming fall is the parade of animals through our yard, trying to fatten up for winter.  Days are still in the 90s here, but the past few mornings we’ve dipped below 70 degrees F.  This morning it was 55 degrees F when I got up.  It was bliss.  We’ve been sleeping with the windows open and feeling the need to snuggle under a blanket in the wee hours before dawn instead of sweltering without even a cotton sheet like we have been for most of the summer.

Along with these early signs of fall, we’ve seen “our” wildlife return from their summer retreats.  While one doe and fawn have visited regularly since July, this evening we had almost the whole herd of deer back to see what had fallen under the apple tree.  Last night, I found a big, fat raccoon on the porch.  I scared it off, as I see nothing good that can come from having coons around.  Tonight I surprised an armadillo, and bark rained down on me as another critter–I’m guessing possum or coon–escaped up an oak tree.

All of this relatively cooler weather is inspiring me for fall planting.  I hope to get in some seeds for lettuce and related greens.  I started craving turnips today, so I’ll put in some of those too.  And I’ll definitely start some cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, preparing to cover them before they produce, in case of early frost.

Have you seen signs of fall?

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We went from unusually cool weather to dramatically (and unseasonally) hot weather in the second half of last week.  As a result, I found myself doing emergency harvesting of lettuce and other cool season crops, but I also got to see this lily burst into bloom.  I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.With this early heat has come a lot of humidity, like a giant’s warm, moist breath very time you walk outside.  That brought us critters, though, that might stay closer to the creek ordinarily, like this baby Ozark Zigzag salamander.  No, really, that’s what it’s called.  The photos are blurry because it was so tiny and I was so close.Can you see the little salamander on the big thumb?  Maybe that’s the giant whose breath I keep feeling.

No, that’s my husband’s hand.  The salamander must be really tiny.

Don’t worry; we set him free in a safe location near where my husband found the little guy.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader, including photographs.

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Beautiful Bowls

Last week tax day was made so much happier for me when I learned I had won a bonus prize from Polly’s Path at Blogspot.  I featured Polly’s Path and especially her animals earlier last week.  When I got home from my off-homestead job on Monday, I found a box with two carefully wrapped bowls.  My husband was eyeing the box suspiciously, wondering what I had ordered.  I told him that I’d won what was in the box.  He wanted details.  I told him that a goat drew my name out of a hat.  I didn’t tell him that a human was involved too.

The bowls are the lovely creations of Tom Seelos, a Georgia potter.  I knew I had to use them right away.  I was making spinach soup, and it was perfect for these bowls, with their detailed white-glazed rims.  Yes, I said white-glazed rims; the coloration in this photo is dominated by our poor lighting, not the color of the bowls (or soup). This photograph doesn’t do the bowls justice, but you can at least get an impression of their beauty.  Thank you again, Polly!

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You may recall that on April 4 a pregnant tabby and another tabby with white spots, both looking half grown, showed up here.  I have held back on updating about them in part because I know that other people’s pets–or in this case strays–aren’t good entertainment for a lot of readers.  A few of you, however, might appreciate the update, so here it is.  We spent a few days debating whether either of the strays belonged in the neighborhood and finally could only conclude that they belonged to each other.  At first, the male seemed to have plenty of meat on his bones, but a week and a  half later, it was clear that he was starving, indicating that they had probably been dumped shortly before they showed up here.  By then, the female had had her kittens, and we had started feeding her. We have yet to see the kittens.  I have questioned a few times if they survived, but then, as tonight, I check her teats, and it’s clear she’s still lactating.  We’re feeding him too.  Meanwhile, having these needy half-grown cats hanging around means that our cats (seen here and here) are going nuts, but we feel like we can’t do anything else until we find the kittens or discover that the mama is no longer nursing.

The cat featured here is the teen mother.  Her brother has similarly short tabby fur, but he has white spots too. He also has the biggest, roundest eyes I’ve ever seen on a cat before outside a movie (think Puss-in-Boots in Shrek when he’s putting on the boo-boo kitty face), but he doesn’t like to have his picture taken (yet).  Do you need two very smart, incredibly sweet cats?  They need a home.

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I suppose I could have called this post “Someone Else’s Kids,” but that might have been misleading, since I’m thinking goats.  Our off homestead schedule prevents us from keeping animals other than the cats for now. In the meantime, we get our eggs, chickens, and milk from local, sustainable sources we know well, and I live vicariously through other bloggers who do keep animals.  Today I want to introduce you to Polly and Polly’s Path.  Polly, her husband, and her daughter live further south and east of here, several states away, but she can make her readers feel the rhythm of her farm as if they were there.  Recently, for example, she took us through milking her goat China for the first time.  Of course, before that, we got to be there for the birth of Tardy, whose late arrival is also available for you to enjoy.  (Seriously, I was on pins and needles waiting for that kid!) And between the birth and the good milking, Polly chronicled in several hilarious posts how she succeeded in milking China (finally).  Her goat photographs always make me smile.

We’ve also witnessed the arrivals of chickens, turkeys, bread from neighbors, and the area’s first strawberries along Polly’s Path.  We’ve seen bread baking, egg dying, and cheese making–oh, those red-wax covered cheese wheels are to die for!  You name it; it’s happening on Polly’s Path.

You may also want to visit Polly’s site this week for another thing. After Polly won great nesting boxes, she decided to pay it forward with her own giveaway.  Register here for some beautiful pottery bowls! (Yes, I know I’m decreasing my chances of winning by telling you about it, but it’s worth it to make sure you visit Polly.) Be sure to go there by April 14!

Polly’s is not the last blog I’ll be highlighting here.  In the near future, expect a posting on bloggers with greenhouses.  I promise it’ll be an adventure!

What are your favorite blogs that touch on homesteading, cooking, raising farm animals, gardening, and sustainable living?  Do share!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URL and attribution to Ozarkhomesteader are welcome.  Please use the comments section for permission to use photography.

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Regular readers may recall my surprise when a spring peeper (frog) jumped out of my pepper seedlings and landed on my kitchen floor.  

Then last night not one tabby but two showed up, and one was quite, quite pregnant.

That’s why when I heard a familiar cry in the woods earlier today, my second impulse was to wonder if it were a hurt child and then to wonder if the cat had gone into labor and was in distress.  Therefore I didn’t grab my camera.  After all, it couldn’t be what I first thought it was, could it?  Oh, but it was!Can you see it?

Yes, dear readers, that is a peacock, wandering through our woods, calling like a baby cries.  Don’t ask me where it came from.  I don’t know.  But it’s definitely a peacock.  What will be next?  A platypus?   a pachyderm?

What the weirdest or more interesting animal that’s ever shown up in your neighborhood?  Do tell!

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full URLs are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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