Saturday, November 3, 2012

Nightingale Worries and Wildlife Distractions

The last two weeks have been dominated by worry about Nightingale, who has sore feet, no doubt from overindulging in apples and plums that I didn't get the horses fenced away from soon enough. She is improving slowly. Now that the weather has turned wet and relatively warm, grass is growing like mad so Mr. Smith is wearing a grazing muzzle again. Jessie Anne refuses to keep hers on... rips it off on a fence... so she is locked up during the dangerous daytime, next to her recovering daughter Nightingale, and out on pasture in the relatively safe nighttime. There is a price to pay for being (or owning) an easy keeping horse. I have three of them. Mr. Smith foundered on spring grass eight years ago but recovered with time, proper hoof trimming, and a change in diet. All the horses have been fed low carb hay since then and kept from spring and fall high-sugar grass. At least, I've tried to keep them from it. Last spring I was late with the grazing muzzles and had a short bout of sore feet on the horses. This fall the bountiful fruit crop defeated me, at least with Nightingale.

But life and work continue... Johnny is still putting finishing touches on the new goat barn... painting the feed room, adding interior windows for viewing goats, improving this and that. I am still emptying the old barn. And we are still eating out of the garden, amazingly enough. It's November and the tomatoes are still alive and producing. I picked a bucket full today. What a strange weather year.

Here are Johnny's interior windows. He found five of these in his shop that must have been patio table tops from somewhere. Now three let me see what my goats are doing behind closed doors.

For reasons unknown, a Red-legged Frog took refuge in the feed room of the new barn yesterday. We captured it and put it in a bucket for a photograph before taking it outside. They begin breeding in January, laying their eggs in our pond. Red-legged Frogs are a protected species, being on the decline throughout their limited range.

Two baby barn owls still beg nightly from the barn loft. Their older siblings seem to have finally left home. This morning, one was begging when it was growing light as I came to the barn to do chores. As soon as the baby saw me, it screamed a very adult-sounding scream and flew to the arboretum! Uh oh. Daylight is not a safe time for young Barn Owls to be out and about. I had taken my camera with me this morning and got this blurry photo of a fast disappearing owl. The dot in the sky is the owl.

It landed on the resident Kestrel's customary arboretum perch. I hoped the crows would not find it. I left to feed the horses. When I came back, the owl was gone, presumably into the neighbor's fir trees beyond. This afternoon, when I was behind the barns in the fields taking down the gourd nest boxes and cleaning them before storing for the winter, I saw an owl fly from the direction of the neighbor's fir trees across our property and into the window of the barn loft. It sat there for some time, maybe watching my activity, then disappeared within. I wish I'd had my camera then.

Tonight I had another chance. Two fledglings were in the loft window screaming their heads off, as usual, when Johnny and I went out, after dark, to feed. Johnny held the flashlight while I attempted to take a photo. It did not turn out well. I also took a movie to get their begging calls.

This morning, after chores, Johnny and I walked to the two trail cameras to change the cards and see what photos they might have taken. The one that is set up in the swamp under apple and pear trees had taken many photos: of deer, a coyote, and a big black bear.

It's a nice distraction from work and worries to see the bears on camera, but I'm glad there are plenty of apples and pears far away from our house to keep them happy. So far.

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