It’s not what you say but how you say it

A poor digital zoom picture of a coyote and dog conversing from more than than 1,500 yards away

A poor digital zoom picture of a coyote and dog conversing from more than than 1,500 yards away.

While making my daily rounds during a frosty and chilly winter morning on the Catillac Ranchette I heard the beef farmer’s dog barking. After feeding the furry herd and the rock dove while checking their housing and water I noticed the dog was still barking. Woof, woof, woof, woof and so on and on and on. Dog would not let up. I rarely hear the neighbour’s dog that lives the next quarter section over; about a kilometre southwest. I thought the canine would lose his voice from the rapid-fire barking. It wasn’t the non-stop yipping that was stirring my curiosity. The tone indicated something different was happening.
I couldn’t see what was going on, but knew where the sound was coming from and with some elevation I might find out what was causing the dog to continue barking without a break.
Out came the binoculars as soon as I got inside and removed my winter gear. While scanning the white landscape through the window, I spotted a pair of four-legged figures a mere foot apart. The black dog was having words with a coyote. I watched as the dog wagged his tail and the coyote occasionally bared his teeth. A bit of movement occurred – mostly in miniscule increments and cautiously.
I was mesmerized, yet fear was lurking in my mind. I didn’t want to witness a violent confrontation between the two distant relatives. Grabbing a digital camera with a poor excuse for a zoom lens, I snapped some photos.
At least thirty minutes had elapsed and it appeared neither was giving up their ground. As much as I wanted to see how long the stand-off would last and how it would end there was the makings of an uprising inside the house. The furry five were getting

for their breakfast. I didn’t want an ambush and fed the felines while shooing Bob out of the cat queue. After dealing with the feeding frenzy I looked through the binoculars and was pleased to see they had parted ways without any wounds. The day was just beginning and it was anyone’s guess what else would transpire on the Catillac Ranchette.


Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

To my faithful followers I apologize for not posting for several months. And it might be a bit longer before my fingers tickle the keyboard.

A longtime autoimmune illness flared several months ago rendering me to my bed. Instead of quieting it escalated to near death and forced a sudden emergency decision of major surgery. It has been barely three weeks and I have had numerous setbacks. Needless to say I am a private person and only share personal information in person instead of online. Still, I believe anyone stumbling on my blog deserves a reason why I have not posted for sometime and will likely take more time off before updating on the comings and goings at the Catillac Ranchette.


Spring disguised as winter update

I wonder if a certain Ohio prosecutor read my blog. A headline today reads ” Punxsutawney Phil ‘indicted’ over bad forecast” http://ca.news.yahoo.com/video/punxsutawney-phil-indicted-over-bad-172403410.html

While the U.S. lawmaker might be poking fun at the groundhog and yesterday’s storm it was not as funny north of the 49th.

More than 100 vehicles were involved in a pile-up on QE2 between Edmonton and Calgary. Portions of that highway and others were shut down due to the treacherous conditions. Hospitals in the capital region and as far away as Red Deer were being slammed with casualties that were mainly minor. All forms of media yesterday were active with information and photos regarding the storm. Some areas received from 20 to 40 cm of snow coupled with gusting winds that polished highways, formed drifts and decreased driver visibility.



Spring disguised as winter

Today is the first full day of spring and there is a snowfall warning for most of the province. If it is any consolation, most of the country is feeling the last rites of winter. Another insult – the wind. Yesterday it was blasting out of the south east – not the prevailing direction – fortifying snow drifts higher than four feet. Northerly gusts today coupled with snow is creating white out conditions and has dashed my hope of an early spring. Someone should charge that groundhog with perjury.

The drifting snow has plugged not only the driveway (again) but also the dog’s main house. Yup, he is sleeping inside. Bob has two other outside abodes but prefers the company of five cats, a human and a supply of treats.

The outside cats continue to hunker down in their cosy shed with electric pet beds and room service. Twice daily I feed while checking on them and the rest of the Catillac Ranchette.

The satellite dish requires attention if I want to watch news. The broom has visited the dish four times during the noon hour news. I gave up and turned the radio back on.

I wasn’t expecting to see any movement outdoors when a raven swooped by. Even though he is a big aviator the wind and snow made flying difficult. His venture was full of mini stops while he made his way back to the nest across the road.

In anticipation of today’s weather I brought in extra wood for the stove. The wood stack looks like it vanished with the rapidly accumulating snow.

Despite my unhappiness that spring didn’t magically appear today I am grateful I don’t have to travel anywhere. Collisions are mounting as visibility diminishes and the roads get slipperier. Stretches of some highways have been closed due to accidents or poor driving conditions.

My oldest daughter is in heaven though. She loves snow days. If she had her way it would be winter all year. I often wonder if she was a polar bear in her previous life. She says it is serene, pure and beautiful. I agree, but only for a month or two at the beginning of winter. Then the rest of the time I flip through the calendar trying to will planting season. One might ask me why I don’t move to a place with less winter. Don’t tempt me. I did live on Vancouver Island once upon a time but, found rain and grey skies depressing. Yet this winter has seen less sun than usual.  Another suggestion might be to take a vacation south of the border. Not a bad idea. Whoever suggests that better be prepared to look after the Catillac Ranchette. Yes the joys of having numerous critters. I would have my mind on my critters rather the sun and surf. My attachment and bond to the furry herd is hard for some people to wrap their heads around.

Enough rambling for one day. Time to stoke the fire.raven and a snow storm


The hunting is owl right



The morning following the evening I spotted a Great Horned Owl setting up shop to hunt mice on a fence post, a female Snowy Owl took the early day shift at the same location. Still, poised and beautiful, she scrutinized every square inch of snow covered prairie pasture for fast food.

Quickly I checked the furry herd roster then dashed indoors to fetch a camera.

Rather than risk an immediate departure of the feathered predator I took the shot from inside. With elbows perched on the sill to steady the camera I was flanked by two felines while another nibbled at my toes.

Ten frames later, finally a captured photo of her angelic feathered face.

Moments later she was gone.

Having a back-to-back owl experience led my thoughts to a reasonable and a folklore explanation.

In spite of the furry herd’s excellent work ethic they likely miss a mouse, vole or mole here and there. Bird feeders at the Catillac Ranchette encourage not only birds but also vermin to dine and dash. So logic tells me to expect owls occasionally.

But folklore is a richer account of the event.

Often portrayed as wise, owls are also considered symbols of protection, intuition and messengers from the here after. However, some cultures take a dimmer view of Strigiformes.

One interpretation of a visit from an owl considers it an amazing gift. Apparently animals are attracted to those with the same energy or symbolic attributes.

Now my imagination could go all over the map with that rendition, but more likely they showed up because the hunting is owl right.




Hooooo goes there


The winter sun slunk toward the horizon and a dusky sky was emerging.

While making final feeding rounds and general snooping on the Catillac Ranchette, a dark figure perched on a fence post about 50 feet away (a bit more than 15 metres for you metric readers) caught my eye. A quick roll call of the furry herd and I knew it was not a cat hunting vermin.

Aha — he’s back.

My first at home encounter with a Great Horned Owl was last summer. I awoke from a deep slumber to the repeating sound: Hoo, Hoo, Hoo.

I grabbed my housecoat and a flashlight to let him know just “Hoo” he woke up.

There he was, perched on the power tower like the majestic birds found atop totem poles.

He stayed put. My presence only shushed him. I asked him to keep it down as I was trying to sleep.

Back inside the house I went to resume the remainder of my beauty rest hoping for silence. A final glance outside my bedroom window and he was gone. He kept a low profile until the most recent appearance.

On this winter’s eve I quickly went inside to search for a camera to capture evidence of his existence.

Opening and closing the door then re-emerging with a camera did not chase him away. He showed a lot of patience as I fiddled with every setting on the inexpensive digital for a decent shot.

Flash, no flash, video setting too. Epic fail.

Sadly no clear pictures of the provincial bird of Alberta. He grew tired of my inept attempt to photograph him hunting and left.

In the meantime I will brush up on my evening portrait techniques and keep a better camera handy for impromptu shutterbug experiences.


Full house

How many critters can you fit in a 900 square foot dwelling? Sorry i don’t have a punch line.

I was just wondering at what point I would be declared insane. Two more cats moved in and another cat joined the outside ranks. That brings the inside total to five cats and a part time dog. Outside the number is a bit more respectable condsiderng the space and accommodations. Sampson – the new addition – arrived during the summer, but made himself scarce. When the weather turned cold he became a daily fixture, albeit feral. He will let me come as close as 10 feet and that’s where the trust, for now, ends.

The two that moved in are considered outcasts and are not allowed the precious company of the yard nazi nor the rest of the crew at the Catillac Ranchette. Bob the dog isn’t a hater and he doesn’t judge as long as you leave his bones alone. He gets along with everyone.

Cowboy and Alley-cat are grateful to be inside where the love and catnip flow freely.

There is a downside — more fur to vacuum and I have to use the computer when they are napping. Everyone jockeys for position on the keyboard. Not a pretty sight

The upside — when anyone drops by the house all but one cat hides. Most people think I only have one cat.

So now you know why I haven’t posted in a while. It is hard to use the computer when I have a vacuum in one hand and a cat toy in the other most of the day.

Christmas will be the litmus test. Family and a few stragglers will be here for the meal and gift opening. One daughter is bringing her Bull Mastiff that is very well mannered yet the size of a pony. The other daughter is leaving her pair of high energy OCD pooches at home to spare me a meltdown. If it was just the extra animals and not people, it might work out okay. But with an assortment of two and four legged creatures crammed in a small space and temperatures projected to be near minus 30, let’s just say there will be a lot of spontaneous dancing going on.

I am looking forward to a Christmas rodeo in the kitchen. May your Christmas be just as exciting and fun.

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