Life in the rose bush

Written by Dr. Dolittle on March 20, 2013 – 7:14 pm -

baby mockingbirds

Hopefully this year the Mockingbirds will return to nest in the rose bush. That would be the bush I forgot to cut back earlier this year. The first year the birds nested in the rose bush I watched with anticipation. They labored just outside my office window, giving me full view of their nest building efforts. Once the eggs were laid I chanced a peek into the nest while momma was off doing whatever it was she needed to do. Three eggs!

I made it a habit to check egg progress at least once a week so I wouldn’t miss the newly hatched babies and I wasn’t disappointed. The featherless bodies looked like just a beak and little else. From the way the parents kept up a running buffet that seems to be a fair assessment of the babies. I watched daily until little feathers appeared and the youngsters became more active. One afternoon I had just sat down at the computer when I noticed the Mockingbird parents dive-bombing the bush, screaming and protesting. Something was terribly wrong. I dashed outside and cautiously peeked into the bush. The nest was empty. With a sinking feeling I looked around until I spotted a chicken snake wrapped around the bottom of the rose bush. It was evident she had just consumed something and there was nothing to be done. I called my husband outside so he could move the snake into the wooded area beside the house, out of harm’s way.

The following year we started playing this same song all over again, but once the eggs were laid I intervened in a roundabout way. Snakes don’t like sulfur and normally won’t cross it. I put down a barrier, a ring of powdered sulfur all the way around the base of the rose bush. And again, once the constant feeding was going on I would go peek. I started speaking to the baby birds while the parents were out shopping for more groceries and the little birds seemed curious about the strange noise directed at them. The babies became accustomed to my voice and even as they grew older and could hop from branch to branch, they tolerated me just inches from them. This would be the year the youngsters would fledge, one by one, proving we don’t have to kill in nature to intervene.

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Watch your step!

Written by Dr. Dolittle on November 16, 2012 – 2:19 pm -

Teddy_and_mouse_online

Years ago I brought home a tiny kitten that grew (and grew) into a huge cat. His name is Mr. Ted E. Bear, Teddy for short. He feels his calling in life it to terrorize Cooter, our min pin who happens to weigh in at the same weight as the cat. When he is not chasing the dog, Teddy likes to play with his orange mouse, a toy he gutted long ago. We have to keep an eye on this action. Teddy doesn’t like a dirty orange mouse so if he finds the toilet lid open, he launders his mouse in the fresh water. His back-up is the dog’s water bowl should the toilet be unavailable. The hazard here is should you step on this soggy mouse in the dark it is a most unpleasant experience. So at our house we have “potty patrol” to make sure all the toilet lids are closed because of a neat-nik cat.

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Telling jokes

Written by Dr. Dolittle on July 17, 2012 – 8:30 pm -

Nelson sharing a Pepsi

Nelson needs to quit telling Mutt and General corny jokes!

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Texas Burning

Written by Dr. Dolittle on September 7, 2011 – 7:46 pm -

sunset through smoke

Hell has moved to Texas. We have spent days watching the sky only to have our worst fears materialize before our eyes, smoke. We are on fire here with no end in sight. We have fire personnel from several states, the National Guard and borrowed equipment from anyone that will lend it and still these fires are not contained. We have had no appreciable rainfall since the month of April and everything is the driest we have ever seen it. Over 30,000 acres have burned north of Jefferson and we have a fire less than half a mile from our home. There are several more fires in northeast Texas, most of them uncontrolled and running wild. There is no rain in the forecast at all, so we are on our own.

Friends have already lost their homes and many more have been evacuated to shelters. People who have no experience fire fighting are out there with tractors or other farm equipment attempting to help stop this inferno. Why is northeast Texas burning so? Because most of the rest of the state has already burned.

FOREST FIRE TOO CLOSE

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The cost of drought

Written by Dr. Dolittle on August 9, 2011 – 3:09 pm -

female Rex rabbit

Disaster Texas style. That’s the only description I can give our daytime temperatures right now. Yesterday we hit 107, the actual temperature, under the carport. Under the rabbit pen roof it was 120 degrees. We have only our breeding rabbit stock this time of year and they are dropping dead no matter what we do. We have lost some of our best rabbits and today may wipe out most of the rest. The chickens aren’t doing any better. We water mist the critters often, all the while we’re doing that we have to remove those who haven’t survived. It’s just heartbreaking. I’ve frozen water in margarine dishes to put into the rabbit pens in an effort to keep them alive. It must help but it’s only a temporary fix. What makes this tough is there is no end in sight and it is supposed to be hotter today than it was yesterday and hotter yet tomorrow.

Update: We have slowed death’s march through the rabbits and chickens, but how damaged are the survivors? It will take weeks for them to recover if they can, and there Is no reason to believe we won’t lose more. It’s really sad when anything under 100 degrees begins to sound good to us. It’s been so long since we have had any rain lakes and bayous are dangerously low, but we’re not as dry as south and southwest Texas. Cattlemen there are selling off their cattle. There is no grass and hay can’t be found at a reasonable price. It has to be hauled from out of state and the added cost makes it just out of reach for most. We desperately need some relief.

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Awesome sky

Written by Dr. Dolittle on April 26, 2011 – 1:14 pm -

awesome sunset

Sometimes the weather in Texas can be terrifying. Even after such an event we are sometimes treated to some beautiful eye candy in the sky. Such was this event. I wish I could have grabbed my good camera for this shot but to do so would have caused me to miss the opportunity. Still, it is an awesome shot.

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Fat Cat

Written by Dr. Dolittle on January 17, 2011 – 11:33 am -

donut eating Smudge

Chickens squawking. Rabbits hopping around their pens. Cows mooing for breakfast. Ahhh, life on a farm. It will take nearly all day to tend these hungry critters, so we enjoy a coffee break every now and then, and what is coffee without a donut to go with it? Lurking in the shadows is our donut monster, Smudge. No matter how we try to sneak a package of donuts past that cat, they will both show up about the same time. Mister fussy won’t eat any off the ground. We have to find a barrel or board, something to keep the poor spoiled cat from having to eat his treat right from the dirt. Strange, the other cats don’t have a problem with dirt, just Smudge.

Smudge always licks the sugar off the donut before he eats it proving the obvious, the cat has a sweet tooth. No wonder he’s twice the size of the other two cats, who by the way don’t like donuts. Smudge is just one of many “different” critters here that think themselves as special. I wonder who let them believe that?

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Horrible Hot Summer

Written by Dr. Dolittle on September 17, 2010 – 12:02 pm -

This has been a horrible summer. The heat has been beyond anything we’ve had to cope with before. Our critter losses are horrific.

Several chickens died. They just fell over despite having lots of fans around the pen to move the air. Hundred degree heat is still hundred degree whether it’s moving or not.

Also, we lost several rabbits, same scenario.

Then there is Molly. She suffered from severe COPD. The vet told us to thin her back down so her ribs would show but it got too hot too fast and we lost her.

My favorite cow, my pasture pet, also succumbed to the heat. She left behind a brand new calf who would never know his mother. He is doing well on a bottle, but I sure miss his momma.

It has yet to cool down much here in Texas. The days are getting shorter but that hasn’t cooled the days at all. It’s September and we are still hitting between 95 and 100 degrees everyday. It has been a horrible summer.

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Feeding Babies

Written by Dr. Dolittle on May 18, 2010 – 2:28 pm -

bluebird feeding young

We have spent the last couple of weeks watching a pair of bluebirds feed their young in my bluebird house. One of my grandsons built the house for me a few years ago, and every year we have watched a pair, very likely the same pair, brood their young there. I tried taking photos of the babies in the birdhouse, but the sunshine created an overpowering shadow. I know what is in the photo but it’s unlikely anyone else would. By the time I could get to the birdhouse to try taking another picture in less harsh light the nest was empty, I had missed my chance. But to see the color of the male bird as he tended his young was awesome. Momma bird is pleasant on the eyes but daddy bluebird is breathtaking. Again, the shadow was harsh but maybe someday I will be in the right place at the right time to do him justice.

The super cool part of watching the birds is the fact they don’t pay a lot of attention to us. We can stand within 15 feet of the nest and after checking us out, both birds get back to their feeding duties.

bluebird with baby feed

Just look in the beak of this bluebird. I never knew they could catch and carry so many bugs at one time. Again, nature just blows me away.

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Spring color splashes

Written by Dr. Dolittle on April 28, 2010 – 11:49 am -

moth on clover

Spring is finally here when the colors splach everywhere. This particular splash loved the clover so much getting a photo was no challenge. The hummingbirds are back and buzzing around the feeder. Momma and poppa bluebird have 5 hatchlings in the bluebird box. The dragonflies are flitting around by the hundreds and the toads are once again parked under the security light at night.

Take a deep breath, ahhhhhh…..spring!

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