A couple of weeks ago I was working on the back porch cleaning the last of the kale I had picked from the garden. Suddenly I heard a gobble. I looked up from my kale and down the hill behind the cabin was a big gobbler strutting across the pasture, looking like the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. When they have their feathers spread out like that and their necks bright red, they walk with tiny steps, like a child walking in too big shoes trying to keep them on! It takes a lot of effort to get your body pumped up like they do. To the side of me I could hear a hen making her love call. Not to worry, her turkey man was on his way! I watched him as he headed that way and then things quieted down.
The turkeys that live here have been hanging around the last few weeks. We were so glad to see them; we had been worried after the drought and they seemed to be late in returning from wherever it is they go. We had only seen one hen and a bobcat got her right behind the cabin. There have now been about 18 hens around and we’ve seen 3 gobblers. One of the gobblers is gigantic.
Yesterday I saw a lone hen at the water trough. They will separate when they are getting ready to nest. I hope she is wise in the way of the animal world and able to avoid the fate of her sister turkey hen.
This morning I had been awakened by a hen loudly calling for a mate. Then I heard a loud noise that sounded like someone was banging on the metal roof! I looked but could not see anything.
Well, a little bit after the handsome turkey man I had seen earlier headed toward his lady friend, I was walking out to hang something on the clothesline. I heard the same big bang that I had heard that morning. It was loud and sounded just like someone beating a hammer on a piece of tin. It was behind me. I turned around back toward where the gobbler had been headed earlier.
There were two gobblers and they were fighting for the hen! They had their wings spread wide and jumped into the air and banged their chests together. This was making the loud noise I had heard. I couldn't believe such a noise coming from the chests of birds, but there it was, right in front of me! They did this for a few times and then took off away from me. One went one way in the direction the hen had been calling from and the other went the opposite direction, hoping, I’m sure, to find another lady love.
This weekend we saw a baby hognose snake in the driveway. (The photo is of a big hognose we saw on the road last year.) Rickie really wanted to put him in a box and study him for a few days. I was less than enthusiastic, although I don’t have a big fear of snakes, I just don’t like to be surprised by them and I respect poisonous ones. The hognose isn’t poisonous. But I could picture him escaping and living in the cabin with me. Rickie decided against catching him. The snake slithered off toward the pumphouse, where I am sure he will get big and scare the bejeebers out of me one day.
I found some animal scat on the cliff a couple of weeks ago. It was full of deer hair. (Photo was taken at the top of the cliff back in the winter.) I had seen some hair scattered back by the turkey feeder. The scat was large and I think, although I can't be sure, that it was left by a mountain lion. We have them in the area. A deer was killed across the street from us last year by one, and another deer killed right down the street in my neighbor's yard one night. It is mostly rock back there so I couldn't find any tracks but I'm going to be keeping my eyes open!
A neighbor told me this week that they had seen two badgers (or the same one twice) during hunting season. We have never seen any. But we do have a lot of dens in the ground all over the place. Foxes live in them and we do often have foxes that visit us at the water trough at night looking for the food scraps we put out. So I assume there could be badgers living in some of them. I don't really want to run into one! Maybe they won't want to run into me either, so we will both be safe.
Living out here on the land between civilized subdivided America and the big empty wild west puts us in contact with many wild things. Some peaceful and some not so much. At times it can scare you but you can't be scared by the way it is if you want to experience the good life you can live here.
"I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the "lower animals" (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me." Mark Twain
"Wild animals would not stay in a country where there were so many people. Pa did not like to stay either. He liked a country where the wild animals lived without being afraid. " Laura Ingalls Wilder