SQUATTER FAMILY, TAKE 2

The saga continues.  The morning after I discovered the squatters were skunks, I called the Nuisance Wildlife Control man and told him what I had seen.  He said if the babies aren’t old enough to follow mom out to forage in the night that they will not come out and get in the traps. What does that mean?  We have to wait until they are bigger.  So, for now, we are stuck with a family that is refusing to follow the eviction notice Tippy and I have given them.

Since there was nothing in the traps, I sprung them so that we wouldn’t catch one of them and then be in a real pickle.

This week, Tippy and I have been trying to see if  we can tell how many skunks are actually living there so we will be sure we have them all once we can trap them.

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On the lookout for the emergence of the squatters.

One night I saw not one, but two adults.  I googled skunks and found out that the males have nothing to do with raising the young, but sometimes females will share a den.  So, I probably have not one, but two squatter families!  I tried to get a picture through the window, using a flash.  This was NOT the best idea I have ever had.

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Well, that didn’t work out as planned.

I did find out that it scares the adults, who came running back under the porch to protect their young.  They did emerge again, about 5 minutes later.  I tried to get a picture without the flash, but it didn’t turn out too well either.  If you look hard enough between the rails in the middle, you can see a white fuzzy spot that is the tail of a skunk.

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One of the skunks

Another night, I decided to be adventurous, and actually went out onto the porch to watch them come out, try to count them, and get a picture.  I saw only one adult, almost pure white, and six little ones.  Mom took them just into the edge of the woods and then back to the porch.  She left and went a different way, walking right past where I was standing.  (The porch at that point is about 5 feet off of the ground, so I wasn’t at her level.)  The babies ventured out into the edge of the woods again, and then ran back to the safety of the porch.  It was pretty cute, I have to admit.  The only picture I got was of the mom…but, as you can see, it isn’t very good either, even with editing.  Phone cameras are not the best for this scenario.  The skunk is about a quarter of the way down on the right hand side.

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That really is a white skunk, not just a blob.

In the meantime, Tippy is being very vigilant about keeping an eye, or nose, on them.

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She has also found out that she can get part of the way under the walkway.  She gets under there and barks.  I know she can’t see them from there, but I’ll bet the smell is a lot stronger, since that is where they come and go.  I know in my head that she is probably less likely to get sprayed from there than when she is barking right over the den opening, but, for some reason, it makes me more nervous.  If I find out she is there, I make her come out.

Then, I usually make her come in the house to take a break.  I don’t think she likes that, but she makes the best of a bad situation.

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If I HAVE to be inside, I might as well relax like a lady.

I plan to continue to try to count how many members of the squatter family (families) there are and hopefully get some better pictures.  Stay tuned. Fingers and paws crossed that no one gets sprayed.

WE HAVE A SQUATTER FAMILY

Recently, when I take Tippy out the side garage door, she has been sniffing at the wooden walkway.  I wasn’t sure if she was smelling something that had walked by in the night or something that was underneath.

For the last couple of weeks, it has become obvious that something has taken up residence under there.  Tippy has gotten more and more agitated when we go out, barking as she sniffs at the boards.  I have put off taking care of this intruder because I was afraid of what it might be.  You see, a few years back, after putting up with skunk odor for a couple of weeks, I finally took up some of the boards, looked underneath, and discovered a semi-mummified skunk.  Very disgusting and hard to remove.

Tippy has gotten increasingly obsessive about that area.  When she first goes out, she sniffs and barks and sniffs some more, sometimes clawing at the walkway.

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She does calm down fairly quickly, but can often be seen guarding against the intruder, either at the walkway or in the garage.

I decided it was time to be brave and see what I could find.  I removed some of the boards, very carefully.

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Humm. That makes it easier to see.

Tippy was very helpful with the inspection of the area underneath the walkway.

No animal was spotted, but I did find a hole that something has dug underneath the garage, along the basement wall.  It’s a fairly small hole, so I’m hoping it’s not anything huge.  Here’s a picture, but it is really hard to see.  Sorry, but I wasn’t brave enough to put my phone, and hand, any closer to the den just to get a better picture.

Hole
The intruder’s den.

I was hoping that I could run the mystery critter off and then fill in the hole.  I put some moth balls at the opening of the den and some leaves where it looked like it had gone underneath wire dad and I had put up to keep things out of that area after the above skunk incident.

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Hole under the wire.

I checked the next morning and it was obvious that the critter had left.  To insure it didn’t come back before I got a chance to work on filling in the hole, I put more leaves in the opening of both the hole and the wire.  Unfortunately, those were gone the next time I checked, so it was back.  If someone threw mothballs in my doorway, I think I’d be tempted to leave.  That is not a pleasant smell.

I was in a quandary as to what to do.  I called our local animal control office.  They do not take care of wildlife, but referred me to a local gentleman who provides wildlife removal services.  He came out this morning, looked around, and set up a couple live traps.  They aren’t showing up very good in the photos as they blend into the environment.  I suppose that is on purpose.

I was hoping it could potentially be a ground hog.  He said they usually aren’t found in wooded areas, so the more likely scenario is a skunk.  If it is a female, she likely has babies this time of year.  Since I haven’t seen a train of skunks, he thinks it is a rouge male.

UPDATE:  I just looked out the window and saw not one, but six, yes SIX skunks. So, it is a mom with babies.  None of which seemed interested in the food that was in the traps.  I’m not sure what will happen if one of the baby’s gets caught or if the mom does.  No way are 2 traps going to catch six or more skunks.  I could be in trouble here!

Fingers and paws crossed that we are able to get rid of our squatter family without too much trouble or smell.

 

 

 

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: CONTENTMENT

I gave Tippy a near empty peanut butter jar to finish off.  I looked over a few minutes later and this picture of pure contentment made me smile.  Hope it does you too.

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Aww. This is the life!

 

To my blogging friends, I couldn’t find the link to the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop today.  Anyone else having this issue?

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Most of you know that this past Sunday was Mother’s Day here in the United States.  But, it also held another distinction…it was Tippy’s 5th birthday!

In order to celebrate both occasions, we spent the late afternoon at the pond.  Me, mom, and Tippy watched dad fish.  He caught 8, I think – all fairly small bluegill and bass.

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Just hanging out together.

 

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Hey grandpa, I think there’s a fish right over there.

It was a warm day, so Tippy got hot.  You know what that means….a walk in the edge of the pond to get a drink and cool in the mud.  I laughed at one point, because she ventured out a little deeper than she normally does and started to sit down in the water.  She got one hip in and then popped right back up.  Apparently, water on the tush didn’t feel as good as she thought it was going to.  😮  Still, she got plenty of that nice squishy, smelly mud on her paws and stomach.

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It’s my party and I’m smell if I want to, smell if I want to…..

When we got back to the house, Tippy got a couple of surprises.  The first was that she got a nice birthday bath!  She doesn’t like getting washed, but tolerates it okay.  She sure feels and smells a lot better.  She relaxed on the driveway to finish drying off.

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Relaxing after having a bath.

Then, her second surprise was her “birthday” gift.  Obviously, I’ve had this for a while and never got around to giving it to her.  Better late than never, right?

 

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She was tired after running around at the pond, so only played with it a little.  She loves this version of a Frisbee because it is soft in the center and tends to float a little, allowing her to catch it out of the air.  When she was younger, she would destroy these by chewing holes in the center.  I’m hoping she has outgrown that habit and this one will last to give her hours of enjoyment.

It wasn’t anything exceptional or fancy, but we all enjoyed it and I got to spend some precious quality time with those I love.  It really doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

 

GET OUT OF MY TREE

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Get out of my tree, right now!!! I mean it!! Leave!

Tippy has a special dislike of buzzards.  It’s the only bird she barks at when flying overhead.  So, when this one decided to roost in a tree near the house, she was NOT happy!

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GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT

Last weekend (Friday through Monday) was the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count.   This is yearly event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations.   Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Being a scientist/biologist at heart, I love contributing to this data collection.

The last few years I have not been able to participate because I have been in Florida for my granddaughter’s birthday.  Yes, I know, there are birds in Florida and I could count them there, but I don’t want to take time away from visiting with the family, since I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I would like.  The birthday party was early this year, so I was home for the count.

I was excited about spending time birding, which I haven’t done much of lately. Unfortunately, I had to work all day Friday, and by the time I got my to-do list done on Saturday, it had started to rain.  So, no birds to count.  Sunday afternoon was absolutely gorgeous, so I sat outside with Tippy, expecting to see all sorts of birds.  Nope.  I heard a few and saw some that were too far away to get a positive identification.  I got impatient after 40 minutes, at having only identified one bird, a red-bellied woodpecker.

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It was much easier when I had a bird feeder near the back porch.  I quit putting it up after I got Tippy.  I was afraid she would see the visitors to the feeder as a tempting smorgasbord of furry little morsels.  Now that she is older and spends a lot of time in the house, I may try putting it back out.

Anyway, I thought I might have better luck back in the neighbor’s field.  I got all of my supplies in a backpack and Tippy and I set off for a leisurely walk.

I did hear and see more birds, but could only identify a flock of robins and a turkey vulture.

At least Tippy and I had a wonderful, relaxed walk on a warm, sunny February Sunday.

On Monday, I was able to identify some mourning doves and cardinals.

My contributions are minor this year, but it is something.  I need to spend more time honing my skills away from a feeder.  It does make a difference when they have no reason to stick around.  Finding the identifying characteristics on the fly is a lot harder, to say the least.

Do any of you participate in this event?  If so, Tippy and I would love to hear how your weekend of birding went.

SNOW DAY

Yesterday was a nice snow day for Tippy and I. There was already some snow on the ground and it continued to fall throughout the day.  As much as Tippy loves to play in it, I decided to let her off leash on our morning walk. She did GREAT!

She waited patiently while I closed the gate so the cows wouldn’t escape.

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Hurry up. I want to run!

Well, maybe impatiently.  Then she was off exploring all of the sights, sounds, and smells.  I’m pretty sure she appreciated the fact that she didn’t have to go at my pace.

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She stayed fairly close and came every time I called her.  The fact that she knew she got a treat might have helped slightly.

One of my favorite things about playing in the snow is how cute she looks with a white nose.

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Thanks for letting me play!

Later, while Tippy was taking a nap, I read some of the blogs that I follow.  I was inspired by Becoming a Wild Family to stop procrastinating on a quilting project.  It was originally supposed to be a Christmas present for my nephew eight years ago. I had gotten the quilt top put together, but had barely started on the quilting process.

Tyler's quilt
Log Cabin quilt top

I worked on it periodically for a couple of years and then just put it in the closet. My main problem was the time it took to even get it out and start quilting.  If I didn’t have at least half of a day to work on it, it didn’t seem worth the effort.  I purchased a small quilting frame so I could keep it set up and work on it when I only had 30 minutes or so to quilt.  That might have worked, but, two years later, it was still in the box.  Not now!  Yesterday, I put it together, put the quilt on it, and quilted for a couple of hours!

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In the frame

My goal is to get it finished by June so I can give it to my nephew and his wife on their 5th wedding anniversary. Yes, I am the Queen of Procrastination, but I am going to do this!

Tippy and I hope all of your snow days are full of fun and productivity!

 

 

 

HOW DOES SHE KNOW?

Note:  There is only one picture in this post.  You’ll thank me later.

Tippy doesn’t get sick very often.  When she does, it is because she has either gotten into something rotten she has found or has eaten too much, too quickly.

Back in the summer, we had taken a walk in the back field.  I saw her run up the hill toward the gap in the fence.  When I got there, she was sniffing what appeared to be where something had gotten sick.  I made her get away from it and come in the house.  A few minutes later, she started whining, wanting to go outside.  I thought she was wanting to go do what dogs do, eat the pile of yuck, so I wouldn’t let her out.  A couple of minutes later, I heard her gagging and had a mess to clean up!  I told her I would listen to her from then on.  As she had never gotten sick in the house before, I wonder how she knew that it was something that she should do outside and not in the house?

Fast forward a couple of months and she got sick again.  But, this time, it was more than a one or two time thing.  I had listened and taken her out when she wanted to, so no mess to clean up.   But, again, she showed recognition that she was sick and that she might have to go outside quickly.  How do I know?  She slept beside me, on the floor in the bedroom.  She had never spent the night in the bedroom before and hasn’t since.  That night, she woke me up about every two hours to go outside.  I took her to the doctor the next day.  She didn’t have a fever, so she thought she might have gotten into something that upset her stomach.

If you read my last post, you know that Tippy has had restricted freedom for the last three weeks.  Today, she ran out the door when I was trying to put a box out to be recycled.  Usually she will wait on me, but I think the call of freedom was too great for her today!  I watched, and she took off at full speed under the fence.  It reminded me of a prison break.

She ran in the opposite direction from where the cows are fed in the winter, so I just let her be, planning to go find her if she wasn’t back in 15 minutes.  She returned in fewer than 5.  Since she came back quickly, I decided to let her have a little of her normal freedom back, and left her out for over an hour, checking on her periodically.   She did great, but must have found something to eat while she was out and about because, after we came in for the night, she asked to go back outside and promptly threw up twice.  She has been fine since, so I think getting it out of her stomach was all that was needed.   She is sleeping on the couch now, but, you can rest assured that if she wants to go back outside, I will take her!

20180115_183918 (2)_01Do your dogs know when they are sick and ask to go outside?  I’m curious to know if it is a normal behavior or not.

RUNNING WITH THE WRONG CROWD

As with people, dogs can get into trouble when they run with the wrong crowd, or should I say, the wrong pack.  Tippy found this out a couple of weeks ago.  We had gone for our walk in the neighbor’s field and she disappeared before we got back.  She does this sometimes, but always comes back within 10 to 15 minutes.  I figure she can’t get into too much trouble in that short period of time.  However, on that day, the neighbor called to let me know that he had seen Tippy and the neighbor’s two Pit Bulls barking at his cows. Uh oh!

He was actually very nice about it and said he didn’t think they would do any harm, but he had three new calves and they were aggravating the mom’s to death.  He asked me to keep Tippy up for a couple of weeks, until the calves are better able to take care of themselves.  He also told me that he has had problems with those Pit Bulls for over two years.  I have since learned that they run the horses that belong to their owner.  That’s not good.

So, for over a week now, Tippy has either been inside, tied out, or on leash.  She’s not happy.  I feel bad for her and wish I could make her understand why she isn’t allowed to run free.  If I could, I’m sure she would chose freedom over hanging out with the other dogs.

Yesterday, I’m convinced the Pit Bulls came by for a visit and she really wanted to go out to play.  Here is what I saw and heard.

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I think I see my friends. Can I go out to play?
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Please, mom. I really want to go out.
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In case you didn’t hear me, I REALLY WANT TO GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!!!!
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Fine! I guess I’ll just have to take a nap!
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Naps over. Maybe the stare down will work.

When that didn’t work, so she made one last ditch effort.

I did eventually take her out for a nice walk, but only after I was sure that the Pit Bulls had moved on.  I have figured out a way to let her get some running in with little potential for “escape.”  I drop the leash, throw a treat, which she will run to retrieve and devour, then run back to me and sit down to wait on the next treat to be thrown.  This has the added bonus of working on her recall.  Sure wish I had made that a priority when she was a puppy.

Just a few more days and I will let her have more freedom.   Living on a farm, I hate to have to keep her restrained – especially since she’s used to being able to run free and she has so much energy.  But, having grown up on a farm, I also understand that she can’t be allowed to aggravate the cows.  For a long term solution, I am researching GPS dog collars that will allow me to keep track of her when she is out of my sight. Maybe that will keep us both from getting into trouble in the future.

Tippy and I wish you all a very happy and trouble free 2018!