Recovery from major surgery last fall has taken its toll on me — especially when it comes to writing. However, I do seem to be turning a corner and I hope I won’t be walking down a dead end road.
So to catch up on my observations I am going to blitz you with a few honourable mentions.
Winter was long, cold coupled with enormous amounts of snow. To keep the furry herd cozy I had extra bales of straw along with two heated pet beds in their shed. Being that there are a couple of seniors — Bean, aka the yard nazi and Leo — I wanted them to be comfortable during the harsh temperatures.
A few stragglers also showed up this winter but kept their distance from not only the main cat shed but also me.
A second shed, a bit larger than the 10 X 10 foot abode, is where the covert kitties would lurk.
In my daily outdoor feeding rounds I would ensure the second shed had an ample supply of food and a couple of bales of straw for warmth.
Usually feeding is done during the extremely short period of daylight that we have during winter. On one occasion I returned home after sunset and was greeted by a skunk in the second shed.
Slowly backing out I managed not to alarm the skunk and returned inside my home without an extra aroma.
After confronting the cat-poser I realized it was the skunk that had sometimes pushed the cat food dishes around on the floor. Now the moochers get fed on the shelf where they can jump up and the skunk can’t.
Early in January my neighbour’s home burned down. On March 18th an older home was moved onto the site. The mover had to cross the field and enter the homestead through the back because of the dense shelterbelt that not only surrounds the property but also lines the driveway. There was a flurry of activity with men and machines setting up the new abode. When it appeared that there would be no more vehicles parked on the main gravel road that separates my place from the neighbours I let out my dog. He marched down to the end of my driveway and began dancing around the only tree of height substance on my property.
I couldn’t see any birds that might have caught his attention, but he continued trying to climb the tree despite me calling his name over and over.
On comes the winter gear and I walked towards him with a “this better be good” state of mind.
At the top of the naked tree a small squirrel was hanging on for all of his worth. Poor little fella. Likely all the commotion across the road had displaced the little critter from his home. Who knows, maybe it was necessary to cut down a few trees to get the house properly sited and that might have been his home. Bob wasn’t budging he wanted that squirrel. I had to coax him with promises of treats if he came back to the house with me. After hearing the word cookie about a dozen times he finally surrendered and walked back with me. As we returned I looked back and watched the squirrel scamper across the road safely.
The pasture north of my property was a temporary home to nine mares over winter. It was nice company especially when they would come to the fence for a scratch or pet. Everyday I am watchful for change of weather, animal behaviour and tracks. I noticed one that was a bit distorted because of a light snowfall overnight. It was larger than a dog’s paw but did not resemble horses or cattle tracks, which would be the most likely wanderers onto the Catillac Ranchette. Neither was it belonging to a deer or moose. It resembled an oversized cat’s paw, but there are no kitties that large hanging around. I kept my eyes and mind open to the possibilities.
A few months later the owner of the mares stopped by when I was out on my feeding rounds. Our chat turned towards animal tracks. He had seen a cougar in the pasture near the willows close to where his mare had spent the winter.
It was one of those aha moments, making perfect sense that the unknown track belonged to a cougar. Confirmation was in a book about animal tracks as it was hard to fathom a cougar in an area that is mainly farmed or used for pasture. Even though it doesn’t appear to be cougar habitat it is rich in prey.
Now I take attendance on the Catillac Ranchette twice a day. And yes, I hear all of the silly “cougar” jokes when I share this story with friends.