Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Black Widow?

When the cows graze in the pasture by the front gate, we keep the gate closed. I was going in and out the other day and spotted this little guy. Luckily I had thick gloves on and was watching where I put my hand, so no risk of a bite this time. 

And thankfully, I'm not scared of spiders. It's probably because my mother used to smack them with her hand, so how dangerous could they be? My rule of thumb is, if they startle me then they're dead. Otherwise, I let them be. I do have a healthy respect for them though.

But I wondered if this one might be a black widow spider. I'm not sure if all spiders with red spots on their backs are black widows. And I'm not sure if this red spot is on the head or back. And what are those two orange looking eyes with eyelashes?

The light caught the eyes just right and gave them an eery green glow.

Just in time for Halloween.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Full Litter

We were given more cats a few weeks ago. Since we don't have a good track record with cats, it seemed a good idea to take the four kittens being offered by my cousin AH along with the mother. For good measure.

My thinking was that the kittens might stay together better and be happier if their mother was with them. Plus it is pretty wild and crazy out here and the mother might have more experience in survival in the wild. She could teach them her survival skills and how to hunt mice.

So I brought them all home in two animal carriers and locked them inside the workshop for several days. With food and water and litter box, of course. I really don't know much about cats, but I have heard that they have an internal homing device. If so, they needed their GPS reset to our workshop.

They are predominantly black. The mother has "tuxedo" coloring, along with two of the kittens. One kitten is calico. One kitten is black. We're still not sure how many males and females we might have. I should probably look.

So far, so good. A month later we still have all five! They are very lively and come running outside to greet us when they hear the Mule coming. The kittens have grown so much that it's now hard to tell which one of the three tuxedos is the mother. I'm pretty sure the mother is the one with more white down the side.

It's really hard to get good photos of them. They are constantly moving.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Salt Lick

My cousin MC sent me an article the other day that she thought I might find interesting. It was about an art competition in Oregon with salt blocks that animals have licked into various shapes. You can read about it on Atlas Obscura here and here .

So I thought about our salt blocks and decided to start taking a few photos of the one that our cows have been working on. I had never given the salt blocks much notice before. But now it's about all I look at when I'm out near the cows.

It starts out as a plain block of red colored salt. 50 pounds of salt. One costs about $5. I can't even pick it up. So when I buy some from the feed store they have to load it in the truck and Guv'nor has to take it out.

But the cows lick on it as they need during the day and it gradually erodes into interesting curvy shapes. They were working on one block, then a few days later they were already onto a new block. 

I usually can't get too close to it because the cows are gathered around it waiting their turn. But when I can I hop the fence and take a few snaps. Usually the shadows add even more interest.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Double Yolk

We finally got a double yolk in one of our eggs. We suspected it might be because the egg was about twice the size as a normal egg.

I've been told there have been double yolks in eggs that we've given away, but this was the first time for us. 

Then it happened the next day with an identical looking egg from the same chicken. Not sure what was going on with her, but we enjoyed them.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


A couple of the cows got out the other morning so I was making a feeble attempt at getting them back where they belonged. On the way back down the driveway in the Mule, our Dog was barking at something. The last time she barked that bark it was at a snake. So I slowed down.

Just as I approached the spot I saw something very black. And WHITE. So I veered way off the path and gave it a lot of room.

I paused briefly after I was clear to take a couple of photos, because I knew you'd be anxious to see the proof. Even Dog was giving it plenty of space. Sorry no close up photos of this one. (I have zoomed and cropped a few photos for a closer blurry view.)

Once inside I did a little online research and discovered that skunks can spray up to fifteen feet! But they only usually spray when they feel threatened. They also usually wander off and don't bother you if you don't bother them.

For the next few days, skunk was in the air. Not a nice smell. So I knew it was still around.

Then one afternoon, the dogs were barking the bark again. So I stepped cautiously out on the front porch but couldn't see anything. So I waited awhile. It took a few minutes, but a black tail shot up out of the grass. And a minute later, the tail was in a different spot about 10 feet away. Either there were two or it was moving very fast.

So I decided I'd try to scare it off, away from the house, with a couple of rifle shots. As you know, there wasn't much chance of me hitting it. The best I could hope for was to scare it a little.

Well, that idea back fired. Once I shot a couple of rounds, the cows came running and gathered around the skunk. They ended up chasing it away. Then dogs chased it for awhile but luckily didn't get sprayed.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Stuck in the Tree

That silly kitten.

She likes to climb trees apparently. The first few times she only climbed a few feet and was able to jump down easily.

But the other morning for some unknown reason she decided to keep climbing and ended up on a  high branch. It seemed the more I called her the higher she climbed.

So I left her.

Guv'nor was home that day so he decided to have a go. She only climbed higher. His comment later was, "she's going to die." Either she would cling on and starve to death, or she would pass out from hunger and thirst and fall to her death. Either way - dead.

So we left her. We live too far out to call the fire department. Our local volunteer department would probably laugh.

We did search online for "how to get a cat out of a tree" and came up with a few ideas. One was to put a ladder against the tree, not for us to climb up, but to give the cat a way to get down. So Guv'nor put a ladder against the tree.

She slept outside for the first time that night. If she was old enough to climb too high, she was old enough to sleep outside. It was tough love.

The next morning, she was still crying and meowing from the high branch. I finally noticed that because she was so high up, I had to stand away from the tree to see her. And when I called, she followed my voice and climbed farther out.

So I decided to stand at the tree trunk and call her. She gradually inched her way closer to the middle of the tree. And then down a few branches. She finally got a few feet away from the ladder. By this time she was pretty scared and nervous. So any little noise would send her back up the tree.

One of the online tips was to set food out near the base of the tree, that she could smell. So I got a small can of smelly cat food and set it by the ladder. I also taped a noisy cat toy on the end of a cattle prod and put a little food on the end by the toy.

I climbed just a few steps up the ladder so I could dangle the toy and food close enough to get her attention. She eventually got close enough to lick a little of the food. But the ladder was too slippery for her to get a grip. And set at too sharp an angle.

After much coaxing, she finally came down a couple steps, just low enough that when I stood on the lower steps I could reach her.

She ate and drank for a solid five minutes when she got down.

She didn't learn her lesson from this because just a few days later, she was stuck on top of the carport. This time I was able to set the ladder on the lower end and reach high enough to get her down.

I learned that cats can easily climb because their claws are curved in a way to make it easy for upward motion. But coming down the curve is going the wrong way and the claws won't grip.