Our property feels like killing fields right now. Fall is here. Holly and Berry are full time into hunting. Each day I go outside to triage downed soldiers from the squirrel army. I can sometimes save the slightly wounded but it is usually just a matter of finding and flinging the recently fallen. These squirrels, mostly yearlings and not wise in the ways of the woods, have thoughtlessly run INSIDE the fence to gather up seeds and nuts for the coming winter. The kitten girls, alert in bunkers under plants and small trees, attack with confidence. No, they don’t kill to EAT the rodent troops, they just play them to the death. To Holly, a squirrel friend is just what she wants. She’ll play with her squirrel until it slows down, gets “tired” and doesn’t respond. Then she sits with it, betwen her paws, nipping at it to “wake it up”. Soon it goes stiff and loses the light she likes so much in its eyes. Bored, she returns to her bunker to wait for another friend to play with. Yes, it’s hunting season in more ways than one.
Speaking of squirrels and/or chipmunks I always remember my friend Marc Faulconer in high school giving me a crazy gift of a small skinned chipmunk. On the back of the hide was written, “Poor, poor Chippy”. It was of course sad, kind of good gross, and hilarious because almost every present or note Marc ever sent me was hilarious. I carried “Poor Chippy” around through college, and remember showing Chippy to my daughter when she was in high school. She also found it hilarious and memorable. Sadly Chippy has disappeard, lost in a box in Amy’s basement or in my storage area. I miss Marc. I miss Chippy.
Real HUNTING SEASON is coming up. I already see where “outsider” hunters (meaning those not from Timber Valley) have marked trees and turn-offs where they think there will be the most deer. You can easily recognize these guys from the “city”. They drive huge trucks with lights atop the cab so “just maybe” they can NIGHT hunt if somehow they miss that kill during the daytime. Locals wait until deer are in the “city folks” sights near the main road and then honk LOUD and wave! They think we’re being friendly.
There are lots and lots of does and fawns on our property. The bucks go deeper into the woods, but right now the woods near here have been cut so clear that hiding spaces for them are gone. My crazy deer is still around. She has quit attacking me and Cody. Now she creeps around the edge of Ron’s studio if I go outside, runs up close to the fence and stares at me with just a touch of malice. She smirks. If I stare back she bends her knees and will lie down without taking her eyes off me. She still makes me nervous but I haven’t called my neighbor Jeff to shoot her yet. I’m just too soft. I am reading a hunting magazine…but just for cartoons and pictures (so far). I’m not a hunter, but really like the taste of wild meat!
Other signs of fall and of a cold cold winter are around me. The leaves on the vine maples are starting to turn. Cody is blowing his second coat from summer and getting his new thick winter fur. Animals are jumpy. Birds are leaving for the south, crows and ravens screaming from the tops of trees, looking for road kill. Everyone is fattening up for winter. Wild cherries, blackberries, huckleberries and black caps are eaten by the pounds.
Here is a picture of the “gift” a Black Bear left us in our field right NEXT to Cody’s dog run. It’s bear scat (a scientific name for poop). If you live in the woods you become expert at identifying it. Notice the blackberries this bear has eaten. This is the first time I’ve found bear scat that close to our house. Again an example of what happens when habitat is scarce. I’m a little nervous but like seeing bears.
Amy and I are heading east instead of south. We’re off to Bellwood, Nebraska to visit my cousin and his wife. We’re just as excited as those who might be going south to Mexico or to Hawaii. Probably MORE excited. We are looking forward to a great week of eating, visiting, picking, maybe watching the Cornhuskers play on TV and seeing history up close at the Platte County Historical Society. My cousin owns the building! So we’re off. Look forward to a Nebraska post soon. Aloha… or maybe I should say “Go Big Red”. My dad and mom would be proud.