Sunday, August 7, 2022

Summer Critters Come to Visit

The other day as we were sitting at the kitchen table, my Best Half pointed out the window and yelled “look!”. As I looked up from my morning peanut butter toast, I saw the biggest black bear I have ever seen around here! It was right out in the backyard, jaunting across towards the river that is just across the next field.
We have bears in the area and will see a mother bear and a couple cubs, or the cubs from one or two years ago. It is not super often, but it is becoming more regular this Summer. Our backyard has become the path to the river.

There is a reason for the increased bear population near us. It seems that if any bears wander too far South towards the Twin Cities suburbs and become a nuisance, they trap them and release them near us at the back entrance of the state park. That is about 5 miles away and if they follow the river (which they do) they will eventually wind up in the field and woods by us. I read once that bears have about a 50 mile radius they wander around in.

Bears can be quite the nuisance at times. Our neighbors have replaced many bird feeders as a result of the bears smashing them to the ground. Our neighbors now wind up gathering their feeders every evening and storing them in the garage until morning. We are a bit more lazy when it comes to summer bird feeding. We don’t fill the feeders until late Fall or early Winter when the bears are going into hibernation. It’s just quite a hassle to do every evening.  And bears also love to rummage through the garbage cans when they are set out the night before the pickup.

Along with the bears ambling through our yard, there are also a field fullof sand cranes and wild turkeys, many deer grazing each morning and evening, a multitude of rabbits, yipping coyotes nearby at night and the little red fox that wants my chickens badly.

A few nights ago I was having trouble falling asleep, which is not an unusual thing. I tried reading, listening to music and yet I was tossing and turning just getting more agitated at myself for not being able to fall asleep. But finally around 1 am I dozed off.

Just as I was getting into the good sleep, you know the REM sleep, I heard loud yipping. I now was lying there wide awake once again. I figured it was a coyote out behind the barn, in the field of soybeans, and would soon scamper off to the river. It was a cool night and the windows were open so I could hear stuff out there quite well. I soon realized it wasn’t a coyote as usually there is a pack of them being very vocal. 

As I was lying there listening, I realized it wasn’t the yipping sound that I was used to from the coyotes around here. It was a lone critter with a kind of sassy yip combined with a high pitched bark. But not a dog. As it kept barking, I could tell it was getting closer than behind the barn. It was sounding like it was about 10 feet from the chicken coop. 

I turned on the video camera I had hooked up to check on the coop, and all of the chickens I could see were very content. They were perched on their roosts and not looking like they were in any distress. Meanwhile the barking and yipping was getting closer to the coop. I got up and looked outside to see if I could see anything roaming in the yard. I couldn’t, but I did continue to hear the ruckus it was creating for a few more minutes. 

Just as I was getting ready to go out and see what the trouble was, all yipping and barking stopped. I crawled back in bed and listened intently to see if there was any more noise. All was quiet and I dozed off and got a few hours of sleep. With the help of the electric fence, the fox couldn’t get near the chickens. At one point I think it tried and got zapped. I had heard a more injured type of yelp and then nothing but silence.

The next morning I went out to the coop to make sure all was well. And it was. The hens and our rooster, Top Hat, greeted me at the gate for their morning Fruit Loops to peck at. I obliged and flung them a handful of Fruit Loops and a bonus handful of mini shredded wheat squares. 

I went back into the house and sat at the kitchen table once again and watched as the critters started coming out from the woods to graze on the grass and soybeans in the field. There were a few short of a dozen turkeys, several squirrels, and rabbits hopping around by the old swing set left from when the grandkids and their parents lived here. It was a regular peaceful Saint Francis of Assisi moment.

As I sat there intently watching all the wildlife bounding carefree back and forth in the yard, I looked up and saw an eagle flying above and circling the buffet of critters on the ground. All of a sudden there were rabbits and squirrels and even the turkeys running for cover. The yard and field was emptied in a matter of seconds. It kind of reminded me of in the movie Toy Story when Sid the not so nice neighbor kid would show up and all the toys would disappear and tremble. Yep, that eagle is now referred to as Sid. Sid, the eagle, circled  a little longer and then flew on down to the next field looking for breakfast. 

From rambling bears, to tiny creatures like the toad that comes into the garage to cool down on the concrete, the wildlife is a sight to behold each day. Well…until I see the enormous bull snake stretched end to end across the driveway… or worse yet, lying in the garage cooling down. That has happened and yes I am not ashamed to admit it…I screamed like a girl when the Beatles came to America…but not in a good way. I don’t do snakes ever…never…nope, I don’t like snakes.

Each morning as I sit at the kitchen table or out on the deck and look out on the field, it is such a reminder of my surroundings. I look around, I listen, and at times I even get a wiff of fresh cut hay. And it never ceases to amaze me of all the beauty that surrounds me every day if I just will take that moment to stop and become aware of where I am in the greater scheme of things. Here’s hoping we always take the time in our busy lives to just stop for a moment and become in tune with the moment. 

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