Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Menagerie - What You Can Find At Our Place

This tiny baby skunk wandered into our yard last summer, winding around the trees and over fallen branches. It was so very tiny, as small as the palm of your hand and completely oblivious to all the cats, kids and adults walking next to it. As busy as a bee it would dig here and there looking for whatever it is that skunks find tasty. We made sure to stay on the safe end of it, just in case.

Soon it wound its way down to the small pond, around the retaining wall and up to our front porch steps following the planter box area to dig under bushes. You can see how very small it is when you compare the little guy to the dandelion leaves. It visited only for a couple of days before it moved on to greener pastures. We have always known there were skunks in the woods, primarily by the linger aromas; however, this is the first time we saw babies.

A mama raccoon is also a frequent visitor. She would come out before it got dark and was obviously nursing, hungry as could be. At first I was concerned about her appearing in the day time until I discovered it wasn't all that unusual. She may have been trying to sneak in some leftover cat food before it was gone and be home long before her predators came out. You see, she is blind in one eye and at a disadvantage.

When the weather is nice I spend a lot of time outside, we all do. The animals have come to regard us as normal, especially me since I often sit alone with the cats. This little mama was timid and I didn't want to scare her so I would make sure I had cats on my lap and continually speak in soft tones. Little by little I would get her accustomed to my moving around. I couldn't prevent her from being on the porch and wanted to make sure she would not be spooked if Taylor walked out.

You might think they are growling and seem vicious when they eat. Really, it's just the way their mouths work, not menacing at all. She and the cats would take turns with the food, in fact if a cat wanted her turn she would bop poor mama on the head. Mama would back away and the cat would get its fill.

It seems like she started believing she was one of the cats. The only time I let her get close was when she was getting the leftovers from a cherry pie tin. She licked and licked that pan until it was scooting all over the porch, all the way up to my chair.

This isn't my first experience with raccoons. For years at our old house a mother raccoon would bring her babies to me so I could distribute yellow creme filled sandwich cookies. I know they shouldn't eat those things but this was so cute. I was behind a screen door that had an animal guard on it. The mom and her babies would reach their hands through the openings and take the cookies from me. I had opened them up to make eating easier. Just like kids, they licked the creme out of the center first, discarding the cookie until all the cream was gone. Then they would eat the discarded cookies.

We have, of course, various deer that come to visit. Most will tolerate us for a few brief moments and then run off into the woods white tails in the air. I wish I would have had a camera ready one early morning as a young deer met one of our cats who was perched on a fallen limb. The deer slowly approached the cat. The cat walked to the end of the branch. Closer and closer, each a bit nervous but curiosity winning out. When they met at the end of the branch they touched noses exploring each others smells. It would have been a Kodak moment.

They seem to feel safe when our chickens are out, sometimes coming over to check out the chicks, as do the turkeys.

Ricks turkeys

There is a collection of strays, all tame and vying for attention. Some making themselves very much at home.

Of course there are birds, some that make nests on top of our porch ceiling fans and others that defend their favorite nectar fount. Then there are the ones that provide us with eggs.

And the bees that visit the flowers.

I can't forget the really scary wildlife: The Wild Ones! Beware.


Manny said...

Great pictures. You do have a menagerie. I guess the only one you're missing is a coyote! Or a bear. ;)

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Coyotes- we have a few but to me they are bad news. They try to eat everyone else. One year a friend of ours was deer hunting during the day and ran into one. Normally you would think it would run but this one stayed and just stared him down.

You hear them running in packs at night, scary sounds with yips and yipes, warbling sounds. I've heard their feet hitting the ground as they have run past the windows in our side yard.

I hear we do have black bear. The conservation area had to remove the bird feeders from the visitor center birdwatching area because the bears were coming up to eat- much too close to visitors.

TLW said...

Cute little skunk. Where was his mama, I wonder? I can tell you must really be longing for Spring. No snow in any of these photos. Soon, I hope.

Manny said...

Kathy, I saw your question on Joyce's blog about free downloads on the rosary. I replied there, but i realized you might not go back to see it. I know The Anchoress has free downloads of all four of the rosary mysteries. I have them on my ipod. I also did a yahoo search of "rosary downloads" and a whole bunch popped up. I'm sure there is something there you will like.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Thank you, I'll take a look!

Mary Christine said...

I thought the same thing as Joyce, it looks like spring or summer in all of those photos. So many animals!