Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thoughts on hawks and things

I was curious about those hawks I saw out on my land in Kansas and managed to identify them...not so much from this photo I took this past summer but from the sound they made when they launched into the air. Kee-eeeee-arr! I guess red-tail hawks make a very distinctive sound that is so "hawk-like," Hollywood uses their sound for all hawks and eagles in movies.

That white tail on that red-tail hawk still bothered me though...

...until I saw this at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site.

Yep, those are my hawks. And from that site, I was able to identify the owl that hoo hoo hoos without me even having to see it. It's the Great Horned Owl, also one of the most common birds of its type. Doesn't matter. At least I know their names.

Sarah told me that when I move out to my land in Kansas to be aware that every small animal out there will be scrutinized by a larger predator of some sort. Since my house will be built in the area of the nests I've seen ( if they are the actual hawk nests), I assume I'm going to be scrutinized by the hawks by air, raccoons by tree, snakes and foxes by ground, snappers by water and...underground? No idea but I know there's probably something in the process of thawing out right now.

A couple summers ago there was a red-tail hawk circling the area above my current house and Violet immediately flattened to the ground and got herself under the car. I'm glad she has such good instinct and is so smart. Such is not the case with Eddie. Eddie might be in her twenties in years but it might as well be minutes when it comes to how her brain operates. Every day is a fresh new day for Eddie but I love her for it just the same. One day Eddie was outside in her cage and saw something passing through the neighborhood that completely stopped everything for her. What was the thing flying over our yard?

A Goodyear blimp.

Oh poor Eddie. The expression on her face was priceless. But in her defense, the concept of a flying blimp is pretty weird.

Anyway, in this house designing phase of my land ownership thing, I need to figure out some good protective things to do to keep my current birds and cat safe...and the future pets too (for some reason I don't worry so much about the turts). It would be heartbreaking to have anything happen to my current pets or the chickens that will eventually be living with me some day. Yes, I will be needing chickens. They're funny to watch and fun to hold. And then of course there are the eggs. These pretty eggs were laid by the good little hens at Redbud Ranch.

Years ago I saw some transferware plates at an antique show and always regretted not buying them. Michael remembered my description when he recently found this little dish of the sour-faced little girl surrounded by all her pets. She was my Christmas present this year and I love, love, love her. I didn't buy the plates when I originally saw them because the little girl I saw on those plates had a mean little face...and I don't think her pets looked that good either. The transfer on this plate is softer than the one I originally saw and I much prefer it. She's still an odd looking thing though.

Maybe my house design plan should aim for what is going on on this little dish... just keep that front door open and stay right near it so everyone can bolt inside if anything scary shows up.

Of course that Aussie Mueller has an open invitation to come indoors with us too if things get too active under that potentially active country sky. I'm planning for that too. :-)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stray cats?

The new red cat that has been visiting is extraordinarily round and has maintained that shape since she first came to the coontina about a year ago. One whole year of unchanging roundness...come to think of it, I think she's even rounder now! <:-/

This guy....wouldn't you think he was a stray??? I sure did.

But now I am totally confounded as to what is going on because look what he's wearing. A sparkle blue collar and bell. Huh?

And the cat that smells like cigarettes? He showed up the other day smelling like cigarettes and aftershave.

Oh those cats. I suppose like anyone, eating out is more fun than always having to eat at home. I always wondered why those cats sometimes didn't eat that much. They sit outside for who knows how long patiently waiting for me to notice them and then once they get some head pets and a meal they are off to.........really, who knows?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The sun came out on know the rest.

I was off to Kansas and while I drove, I watched the clouds line up in rows in front of me.

Usually when I drive to Kansas the clouds get bigger and the sun gets brighter but for some reason when I got out there, everything had turned to gloom, if not something downright oppressive.

But if I just turned 90 degrees, I could choose to look at a completely different weather situation.

It was sunny. And then it was not. And even though it was around 2 pm, the shadows started to get long.

And then they were gone again.

I heard a "screeee....screeee...screeeeeeeeeeeeee" and looked for the hawk. There were two. I watched them circle the sky in one area where it was overcast and gloomy, then they moved to another part of the sky that looked like a storm was in the works, and much later I saw them in another part of the sky that turned cloudy but was still sunny. Interesting that there were two hawks patrolling the large area together. A couple months ago I had seen two nests in two trees that grew near each other. I don't know much about the behavior of hawks but I wonder if these two hawks are a mother and daughter. Maybe they're a pair. I don't know. One more thing to research.

I'm always looking for signs of spring when the snow melts at this time of year even though I know it's way too early to hope for much, if anything. But since I found daffodils popping up in my yard in Missouri, maybe something was popping up in that land of mine in Kansas. I didn't see any growth coming up from the ground, but I did find buds. Lots of them, too.

I think this is a forsythia.

This might be a forsythia too...

And uh, maybe this is the forsythia bush I photographed two months ago...

I am just going to have to be patient to confirm what all of these buds are because I know there are only two forsythia out there but apparently there are more than two shrubs that want to bloom.

When I go back in the next couple weeks I'm going to cut a lot of the budded branches and force their bloom indoors. Maybe then I can figure out which buds belong to a forsythia and which buds belong to.........oh heck, probably even more forsythia.

Oh it really doesn't matter. It's just happiness to see something persevere despite the cold blasts of winter. Makes me feel hopeful that I'll survive it too.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Daffodils already?

Oh yes. They're popping their little heads out of the ground.

Getting themselves somewhat organized... line up for school pictures.

There's always one in every class who has a personal space issue.

Okay Kindergardener class of 2010, smile big for the camera!

smiling daffodils

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's finally warm outside! It's 20 degrees!!!!

It snowed on Christmas Eve and it was gorgeous. Then there was a blizzard. Then it snowed again. Maybe it snowed again after that. And every day and every night, although the outdoors has remained pretty and white, the temperature kept dropping lower. This has been going on for weeks. I find it just wrong that my freezer has warmer air than what is going on outdoors or worse, what it feels like indoors! Brrrrr.

When I lived in Minnesota, cold temperatures were no big deal. You got used to it...your eyeballs felt like they could freeze solid if you stayed outdoors too long, you carried flasks of alcohol in your back pocket to keep away the "snow snakes" and it was not unusual to watch ice melt off the sidewalks in..... June. But heck, that's what Minnesota is supposed to be like. Kansas City is an area where the Civil War was fought. It's semi-southern. This temperature hovering at the zero degree mark for weeks is just not right.

Two weeks ago I took a picture of this guy patiently waiting for the coontina to open while he sat in the falling snow. When I looked at this picture a couple days ago I thought those were the good old days. Why? Because the temperature had dropped even lower than when this picture was taken. How do these cats do it? I worry about their ears getting frostbitten and falling off and all sorts of things.

But yesterday the temperature finally hit the 30 degree mark. And even better, the upcoming week promises to have even more "warm" days. The cats seem to know all about this and have returned to the coontina...last night there were three of them in line. Three of them. Not a very well behaved line but everyone looked good and still had their ears. :-)

This past summer was unusually cool and felt like it was borrowed from another area of the country...some place far north. Guess the weather that was borrowed from this area is being borrowed for the entire year, not for just one season. Brrr. More Brrrr to follow I'm sure.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Taking a "walk" with Aussie...

About 5 days ago it finally got above freezing so I thought I'd take advantage of it and drive out to that land in Kansas. I was really anxious to see what kind of tracks were in the snow before the snow melted (although I'm kind of thinking at this point the snow will never melt). I've been wondering what kinds of animals visited the property because with snow you have real evidence.

I already knew there would be some evidence for one visitor. Aussie. But what other tracks would I find...deer, bobcat, raccoon, human, squirrel? Let's say I was a little unprepared to see this...

See all those tracks? Those are ALL Aussie tracks. Every one of them belongs to that one dog.

I just had to laugh. There were absolutely no other tracks I could see that were not Aussie's. I thought I might as well follow where she had been to see what she found so darn compelling.

I noticed she did not cross the creek and left the snow around it untouched. Thank you Aussie. She left a very pretty scene for me to photograph.

There were lots of woodpeckers in action and the sound of the creek was extra gurgly as the melting ice travelled quickly through and around the snow.

Lots of peaceful prettiness.

I thought I'd follow Aussie up a hill.

That dog stayed on course. It looked like there was some tree sniffing now and then but Aussie pretty much stayed on her trail.

These were the only other tracks I saw. I'm not even sure what they are. A small raccoon? A squirrel (I have yet to see any squirrels out there though)? Whatever it was, I only saw tracks of the hind feet so maybe it hopped away upright and into a tree when it suddenly saw Aussie. Whatever it was, those little tracks must belong to something extra cute.

I made it to the top of the hill and I could see that Aussie was heading in the direction of the neighbor who lives south of me. Aussie was introduced to Pat and his 27 horses a month or so ago when a friend of mine and I were out stomping on the land. Oh Aussie. I hope you were good. You could have been better when we were being introduced individually to all those horses but you decided to show everyone that you could growl. Pat said you'd learn to get used to the horses soon enough. I hope you did. I hope you've been welcomed when you go back to visit every day. Oh Aussie.

Anyway, the snow was 12-15 inches deep and I was getting wet and cold so I followed another one of Aussie's trails back down the hill. I had no idea what the terrain was like under me so I felt safe stomping back directly on Aussie's tracks.

Aussie didn't join me that day but I guess you could say I kind of went for a "walk" with her. I'm thinking she showed up later, followed my tracks, and then went on a "walk" with me. We may have been several hours to a day late in seeing each other but I still consider it time shared in the company of my new friend. :-)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sometimes when it's just too darn cold...

...flannel sheets are the answer.

"Close the door! You're letting in a draft!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

This past decade has been the pits and I'm hoping this coming year will not be an introduction (to paraphrase Dorothy Parker) to a decade of fresh new hell. Here's to a great new year and if things start sliding in the other direction, here's hoping there's at least a good story in it so we can laugh about it later.