Friday, January 18, 2013

Winter Worries

Usually, I have a lot of fun doing my Grand Ronde raptor route. Friend Dawn is a great companion. But this time, on Tuesday, Jan. 15, I had a lot weighing on my mind. That morning, a doe I had not realized was pregnant (buck jumped out back in September) started uddering up. This was three weeks early, so I wasn't worried she was imminent. But I put her in the kidding pen anyway. Then I hurried to get ready to leave. As I was changing clothes, the phone rang. It was my brother's wife calling from Colorado. Bob had fallen and broken his hip. They were at the hospital and he was scheduled for surgery that afternoon. She would call after he was out of recovery.

So I spent my usually carefree day worrying about my brother. But it was fun to find a Red-shouldered Hawk on the route again... one chasing a Red-tailed Hawk away so probably on territory. And it was fun to see the Ferruginous Hawk, not on my route. We (Johnny, Dawn and I) stole away at lunch time to look for the Ferruginous that has been hanging out in a field near McMinnville for months. As luck would have it, the hawk was pretty close to the highway when we arrived. My photo is still fuzzy, but at least you can tell it's a bird.

The next day, when friend Sue and I took friend Marilyn there, the hawk was farther out in the field. But Marilyn was able to see a white "splotch" and know she was seeing the Ferruginous. She also saw plenty of birds at our farm, including this White-throated Sparrow, although it played hard to glimpse in the grass. At least the Golden-crowned Sparrows and Steller's Jays and Spotted Towhees and California Quail were not so shy. And Marilyn now has a start on her 2013 bird list. So does Sue. Marilyn was a crack birder until waylaid by her paralyzing stroke last year. But Sue will be taking her birding this year... and learning the birds from Marilyn. They make a good team!

But back to Tuesday and my brother and the doe in the kidding pen. My brother came through surgery well and is now at a rehab center. The prognosis on his hip is good. The doe did not fare so well. I came home from my raptor route on Tuesday to find three dead kids, all lovingly licked clean by their mom. They were three weeks early. At first, their mom, D-Lovely, seemed to feel okay, other than unhappily searching for her missing kids, but yesterday she quit eating and lay down all day. I fed her comfrey and blackberry leaves, my first response to any goat ailment. Today she is back up eating grain and hay and more blackberry leaves. (I cut a huge mound and gave them to the goats today.)

The weather has been hard on wild creatures, but I don't think that affected this goat. Perhaps one kid died in utero and poisoned the others.

Here's one wild creature that seemed to be having a tough time in our frozen world. This Red-breasted Sapsucker was pecking on an apple tree Monday but slid down to the ground and seemed to be content to peck there, not retreating when I came close. Friend Dawn brought some suet for me to put out for him on Tuesday, but I have not seen him since. I hope he survived.

Update! This morning, Saturday, the Sapsucker was back pecking on his apple tree! I know it was the same one because he paid me no mind when I came close. Here he is, fluffed up from the cold but keeping in the sun as he works. (Yes, we are up out of the freezing fog today, thank goodness.) You can see all his parallel lines of sap holes to the left of him.

Also today, on my way home from the feed store in the cold and frozen lowlands, I took this photo of a Pintail in his frosty marsh. Ducks seem better able to cope with this weather than my poor Sapsucker.

Our trail camera caught a bobcat last week that looked a bit worse for wear, bigger and much thinner than the last one. Usually the bobcats appear only at night, but this one was wandering past the camera at three in the afternoon. It may be an old cat, not so able to find prey in a frozen world.

But there are always bright spots in life. In spite of the cold, an orchid is blooming in the unheated greenhouse.

The sun even came out today to maybe help ease the lives of some of the wild things trying to make it through winter. And so, with my brother recovering and my doe doing better, life seems less stressful again. Here's hoping the good news continues.

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