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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apples and Deer and Wild Turkeys






 Snow has finally come to our valley - 3 snowfalls in a week so far. a bit late in the season, but any snow in the mountains is welcome to maintain the drainage and keep the timber from drying out during the summer.

The deer have come down from the hills and I am tossing out lots of withered apples to them.  And I have to include the flocks of wild turkeys that camp in the yard until late afternoon when it's time to go find a nice big pine tree to fly up into. They have become pests, those turkeys.  I open the front door and they make a beeline for me, assuming they're going to be fed.  So, I have to retreat and return with apples, so they can chase one another about the snow-covered yard, trying to steal apples from their kin. They have very strong beaks and can run fast while carrying an apple.



Jay took this photo of the deer with a red apple in its mouth - note how long its tongue is. They can get proprietary about the apples, too.



When the snow melts this time, the wildflowers will begin to bloom.  When I was small, Mom and I would vie with one another to see who could find the first buttercup. She would always win because I had to go to school while she would keep her eyes to the ground while trudging over the hill to the barn to feed the cattle and my horse.  She could hardly wait until I came through the door in muddy galoshes, empty lunch pail in hand, to shout out, as though I was her rival younger sister instead of her daughter, "I found the first buttercup today!"  If I could go back for only that moment.

But, here comes Jay, down from a trek on snowshoes. I'll make him  a hot mug of tea.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Moose in the Yard

A delightful shock to see a big cow moose and her calf pass close by the window today, heading directly to the large weeping willow in the front yard. A cow moose typically weighs 200–360 kg (440–790 lb). When I was growing up here, we never saw moose, but with the regrowth of forests in the area, among other environmental improvements, they're back. Being solitary creatures, the strongest bond is between the mother and her calf. She won't chase this one away until she's ready to give birth again. Although generally slow-moving, this moose would most likely become aggressive and quick-moving if one of us came between mother and child, so we photographed them from the safety of the house. If a moose becomes habituated to being fed by people, it may act aggressively when denied food. So, no point in tossing out last autumn's shriveled apples - I might start something unpleasant. Like other wild animals up here, we give them plenty of space. In the 19th century in Sweden there was a debate regarding the national value of using the moose as a domestic animal. Among other things, the moose was proposed to be used in postal distribution, and there was a suggestion to develop a moose-mounted cavalry. But, hunting the moose gave more gratification, nearly driving it to extinction, so those ideas were short-lived. Not much you can do with moose, except eat 'em or admire 'em.