Spring hasn’t ‘Sprung’

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors, Twain Harte News on April 22, 2011

Spring hasn’t sprung yet, but the doe and her fawn bounced in swiftly with a sure spring in their step.

I was sitting out on the deck just moments ago, when all of the sudden my mama deer and her baby came bounding into our yard. It really startled me because normally they are pretty cautious (for deer), and generally just meander into the yard. I normally see her coming up the from behind the neighbors house.

Today was different and very disturbing to me. As I sat on the back deck listening to the birds sing — I try to identify them but I’m not that good yet. I’ve considered recording the birds, so that I can listen and try to memorize the sounds but I haven’t gotten that far yet.

All of the sudden, I heard three loud rustles coming from footsteps on the leaves and strewn branches around the property and both deer just appeared in front of me. They looked real spooked. Their chests were heaving, both deer were out of breath and panting. Did they think I could protect them? I have no idea.

I sat and watched with interested afraid to move that I might startle the doe into leaving. I was amazed at how long she stood on the hill at the corner of the house just staring toward the direction she had bound in from. The fawn didn’t stick around in my line of view, so after watching the doe stand motionless for about 5-minutes, I slowly stood up and attempted to check on the location of the fawn.

Just as I suspected, my movement wasn’t well-received by the doe and she started to step slowly away but she didn’t leave. She stood her ground and continued to stare in the same direction, while keeping a sense of where I stood. After a few more minutes, she decided I was too close, took a few steps and left our property as if she were riding her very own pogo stick. It was amazing to watch her. I’ve never seen anything like it. The doe made her journey look effortless. The fawn had been waiting a distance off but within eyesight of mama.

I have no idea what had our visiting doe so spooked, but only one thing comes to mind. I can’t fathom a mountain lion out roaming these hills mid-morning like this though. It’s my understanding that the only predator the deer have to worry about is a mountain lion, but everything I’ve read says mountain lions are very elusive creatures and are normally out feeding near dawn and then at dusk. Whatever it was, the doe was certainly concerned, which had me a bit worried.

I may never know what it was, but I’ll be keeping watch.

Twain Harte Weather for Friday, April 22, 2011

There is a definite nip in the air today; with a temperature of 47°. The sky is overcast and the sun hasn’t decided what it will do yet. I have high hopes that the sun will make at least a brief appearance today. It isn’t currently raining but thunderstorms have been forecast for this evening.

The annual Twain Harte Easter Egg Hunt will take place at the ball field next to Eproson Park on Sunday at 1:00 p.m., (behind 7-11). Learn more.

If you are headed to Dodge Ridge this weekend, the fine folks at Dodge Ridge want you to know…

ONLY 3 DAYS REMAINING!

2011-2012 Season Passes are Now on Sale! Thru April 24th for the best season pass price for 2011/2012, plus get up to a $30 deal!

Dodge Ridge’s season will be open for 3 more days, come enjoy the 3 in. of new snowfall we received yesterday with sunny skies for Friday! We’ll have 4 terrain parks open, base depths over 90″ & all lifts operating with the exception of lifts 1, 4 and the rope tow.

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Wild Turkey & Creatures

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors on April 15, 2011

I have really been enjoying our mountain oasis. I call it an oasis but in reality it is more of a peninsula; a word I still can’t spell despite growing up in Michigan with its upper and lower peninsula – go figure.

Today, I stormed out the door, onto the deck with my normal over-exuberance and not only startled a wild turkey who sat perched on the edge of our deck rail but I was surprised to suddenly find myself 5-feet from a rather large bird. I had forgotten just how big turkeys can get. (We used to raise turkeys on our Curtice, Ohio farm a lifetime ago.)

This particular turkey has been visiting for a couple of weeks, stopping in, normally in the early evening hours. He was here bright and early this morning. Strange, she just doesn’t look that big in the pictures I’ve been taking, but up close is another story. I could see the texture of the birds wings as she sat preening herself. I’ve been trying to be more quiet when I step outside for a smoke break and what I’ve begun calling my mental health moments.

Our nervous flock of junco’s are finally getting used to me. They will stay and eat pretty close by if I stand relatively still. Of course, any significant movement causes them to get spooked and fly off in unison, which in itself is pretty neat to see and hear. The sounds around our deck can get incredibly loud at times and vary throughout the day depending on the birds and animals that have wandered in.

I try to keep water available on the property for the animals and I put bird seed out for the birds, as well as an occasional crust of bread. I keep dried corn on the cob for the squirrels, which they recently have enjoyed peeling off the cob — I have a small pile of it under the shepherd’s hook. I sprinkle bird seed on the ground from time to time, toss out some peanuts and almonds for the jay birds. Left over potatoes, apples, apple peels, lettuce and carrot scraps make tasty treats for the deer to enjoy.

I try to limit my offeringss to mostly things the animals can and do find in nature.

I’ve been reading some back issues of Birds and Blooms, which has some terrific ideas for making inexpensive homemade bird feeders. I enjoyed several articles and I am considering using some of the neat tips I’ve found. I am a little concerned to read articles about people training wild birds to eat from their hands. I think it’s important that we help the animals survive harsh winter weather. But, there is a huge difference between offering a little assistance to our backyard critters and creating dependence.

If we humans continue to interfere with the natural cycles of nature, we upset the delicate balance and natural order of things. Wild animals are just that — wild — and need to remain so. Hand feeding deer, birds and other wildlife simply isn’t natural and can lead to more harm than good for the animal.

More Magazine and Book Offerings for Bird Lovers:

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Winter, Wildlife and Fun

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors on April 8, 2011

It’s just past noon, the sun shines brightly overhead, then suddenly it ducks behind the clouds, only to reappear moments later. I just love this time of day.

Even though the temperature has only risen 4 tiny degrees (the temperature is 34°), it’s just enough of an increase that the trees can shake loose from their overburdened branches. The falling snow has the sound and feel of someone throwing snowballs at you. The trouble is, I never see them coming. The snow balls drop swiftly and suddenly from the tree branch giving little — if any — warning.

It’s really cool to sit and watch the squirrels play in the snow, only to have a clump of snow fall from the tree and knock them right on their behinds.  They get up, brushing themselves off and look around to make sure no one saw a thing.  Remind you of anyone? 

I’ve been concerned about the doe and her fawn. They tend to only come around when there is snow on the ground, which I find to be curious behavior. I’m wondering if the snow doesn’t assist the deer in eluding the mountain lions, allowing them to come closer into town.

I love the little dears and I’m concerned about them coming here because we are sandwiched in between two busy roads. Fortunately, both roads are traveled mainly by locals who know to watch for the deer. The doe showed up today, she was a little cautious, which I take as a good sign. I want to be able to observe them without interfering with their natural activities.

The fawn didn’t look old enough to me to be venturing off on its own but I am not the local deer expert. I worry that it was hit by a car or that it was eaten by a mountain lion. I mean, I suppose it’s a grand thing if you are a mountain lion but you know women — mention deer and Bambi is the first thing that comes to mind.

Nevermind that I think Thumper stole the show. I could watch an entire program created around Thumper. Don’t you think Thumper the rabbit was awesome?

It’s so beautiful out, I really should be outside enjoying the sun, instead of sitting here at this keyboard writing. The trouble is the driveway is clear, so there is nothing to shovel. I still worry about falling, so I rarely venture out when it’s wet and possibly icy. I wonder how much longer winter will hang around?

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