Critters Say Hello

With the warmer, drier weather, I am not the only one more active outside. Here are some of my neighbors that stopped by only last week:

Look at this handsome devil. He’s a wood duck, walking along my driveway.
Pretty as you please.
His lady came running along after.

The grosbeaks are back at the bird feeder. It’s early yet and I don’t have very good shots of them, but I like their bright colours.

Here he is from behind. I just love the bright yellow, white, and black.

Of course, it’s not Crystal’s place if I don’t show off my Hussies.

Only one is out in the sun, but the rest of them are in the shade, pecking and scratching. My sweet girls.
This is Two in the tall grass.

I only let them out now when I am with them, which has improved their mortality rate considerably because predators are always on the prowl.

I captured this coyote leaving one morning, after having circled the chicken pen a few times to see if any hens were outside it.

I’ve seen a wounded raccoon around a few times. To my surprise, it seems to live in a tree above my chicken pen. I think its hurt foot is why it can’t run and hide, and thus I spot it. This raccoon must not like to eat chickens (otherwise it would have), and I wonder if its presence protects them. If this non-chicken-eating raccoon lives in a suitable tree with my girls, then it is preventing another raccoon from living there. Another raccoon would likely kill my hens, since that is what they usually do.

I only have videos of it, which I posted on Tiktok, so I grabbed a couple of screenshots to show you.

Momma and two babies. These two are last year’s babies, and may continue to hang out with their mom for one more year.

I’ve had fewer deer around the last two years. They come in smaller groups, less frequently, and they move on quickly. I just realized the likely reason why: my neighbors (there are three houses in a row right here, and then no one else I can see in any direction). Anyway, the older couple that lived farthest away used to feed the deer consistently. They bought bushels of apples and grains for them and fed them all year long. They discovered that, while deer don’t like bread in general, they do like the gross cheap Wonder bread, and so they fed them Wonder bread too. The deer got fat and numerous with their help I’m sure. That couple moved to Montana two summers ago.

I’ve enjoyed this tiny group though, which has been coming consistently every morning and every evening. Momma and her two babies. They are big now, but you can tell they are younger than her. Deer will often stay with their moms for two years before becoming independent.

Chipmunk with Junco

I watched a funny scene the other morning. This tiny chipmunk came from a distant tree, ran along my driveway, jumped up the retaining wall to get to the bird feeder and rapidly filled its tiny cheeks alongside the morning bird crew. Then it climbed down the wall, and raced away out of sight. A few minutes later, it was back, doing the same thing.

After it left the third time, momma squirrel came down for breakfast for herself and I assume babies (who I have not seen yet). She lives in the tree that is directly above the bird feeder. She had been contentedly munching away on her first or second seed, when the little chipmunk came zooming back along the driveway for the fourth time, heading right for the feeder. It suddenly saw the squirrel – three times its size – already there. It stopped dead in its tracks. The chipmunk turned and hopped back toward home a few steps, stopped, turned again and watched the squirrel.

The chipmunk was clearly flummoxed. I watched it change its mind multiple times, hopping closer to the feeders, then running away, then trying to come at the feeders from the back, then running away again. Finally, it stood up on its hind legs and gazed wistfully at the seeds and the big, scary squirrel in the way, and hopped dejectedly back home. From what I could tell, momma squirrel never noticed a thing.

Chipmunk before the squirrel came
It looks pretty fat and healthy.
Queen of the bird feeder.

The weather has been spectacular for us this spring. Well, it has for me, a sun worshipper. For the other cold-and-wet-accustomed Oregon coast people, they have mostly been suffering. But anyway, sunshine and heat means the soil has dried out and I’ve been able to work outside in my vast property and get the place looking nice after winter makes a mess of things.

I’m driven to make it look as nice as possible right now because I’m getting ready to sell it. When it’s cold outside or raining, I work indoors, filling boxes and painting. When the sun shines, I clear brush and trim weeds and mow. I also installed the pump for the pond, which is necessary to keep the water level up. I’m aiming to have it on the market July 1st. So soon!

7 thoughts on “Critters Say Hello

  1. I know you have a wonderful reason for moving, Crystal, but it’s still kind of sad given your girls and the wildlife, kind of like Peggy and I leaving Oregon. On another note, I was doing some research on dinosaurs for a post I have coming up and read the your girls, chickens, are their closest know modern relative. 🙂

    1. I believe I had heard that about chickens not too long ago, Curt. It’s wonderful to imagine. And I look at chickens all the time, and definitely see dinosaurs in them. I love how scientists have now confirmed that many of the dinosaurs we are familiar with were actually feathered. I have a close friend in the Cherokee Nation who is a professional photographer, and he photographs thin slices of rocks to see what is inside. He has photographed feather fossils from dinosaurs. I think that is brilliant.

      Yes, I equate my future move to your recent move. There are pros: like much less work will be needed for upkeep of my land, hopefully I will have neighbors with fewer barking dogs. But also the cons are enormous: I currently work in a kitchen specifically designed for me, and I LOVE my kitchen. I will no longer have deer casually wandering through during the day, no red tailed hawk sightings, or the crane that eats my pond frogs. I won’t have this vast, gorgeous property to wander around, or the creek that gurgles me to sleep. I won’t get to be here when my fruit trees finally produce fruit. Very important though, is that I won’t be living in two homes anymore, which is exhausting. I want to live in the same home as Pedro, and that is worth this big adjustment. ❤

      1. Your love for Pedro and vice versa is obvious, Crystal. And you are making the right decision, just like we did. Also, Pedro, like you, also loves the outdoors. I’m sure you will find plenty of time to be out in it.
        As for chickens, from what I have read, they are much brighter than people assume they are.

  2. You had me at “wood duck walking in my driveway”. Great post. I know it must be a lot of work, but I imagine that will be a tough place to leave.

    1. Oh Bonnie, this time of year my property is absolute paradise. It’s breaking my heart to leave it. But these past 8 years I have lived here and worked it alone, and it is a lot of work. Since I’m carving domesticity out of the forest, my attempts have taken years, and to my dismay, it looks like this year will be the very first year for a good fruit crop on the fruit trees, and grapes on the vines. I’m so sad to miss it all. But then…perhaps my home will not sell quickly and I’ll get to harvest after all. It takes about 15-17 hours on the riding lawnmower to mow the entire thing, and that’s not counting the first mow of the season, when I have to stop every 10 feet to clean up branches that fell over the winter. It doesn’t include the additional 10 hours it takes to weed whack along the entire creekside, and all around the pond, where I can’t take the mower, and around the base of all the trees, and fenceposts, and retaining walls, and outbuildings, and the porch. Uggggggg….. And the weeds in my gardens are relentless, and the deer eat everything I plant, and the moles tear everything up. But! When the work is done, it’s the most beautiful paradise of a place. I know I will never live in a place this beautiful again.

      It will also be good to move away from my hillbilly neighbors with the six dogs that never stop barking, who have no less than seven vehicles parked under blackberries in their yard. It will be good to move away from Conservative Conspiracy Trumpland. It will be awesome not to have people practice their target shooting on EVERY side of me – including a g-damned automatic rifle on the other side of the creek that scares the bejeebers out of me when they get to drinking and get that thing out.

      But the wood ducks, the great blue herons, the kingfishers, the gorgeous coyote serenades at night, the gurgling creek that puts me to sleep, the fawns every single spring without fail, the red tailed hawks, the vultures, the bats, the hooded mergansers, the painted turtle, the crawdads… I could go on for so long. I will miss them all like they’re my family.

      1. I totally understand what needs to be balanced living in a more rural place. The only time I lived on any amount of property, there were peacocks nesting in the trees next door and they screeched like nothing I’ve ever heard. The balance was seeing one come onto our back deck and go into full display in the reflection of three sliders. The property was great for riding horses but there were powerlines. Always a balance. Glad to hear the work portion will lessen as it will leave you more time for adventure! Hope the sale happens at your perfect time, whatever that may look like*

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