A blog is such a strange thing. Do you sit down and write whatever comes to mind, stream-of-consciousness style? Do you document the highlights or the lowlights of your own life? Do you make it a collection of stories and youtube videos you run across? Do you consider your audience, your family members who know you well but live far off and yet the next door neighbors who see you every day (and thus already know about you having the flu) but who might be surprised or alarmed at your thoughts on some controversial issue? How honest should you be? I know there aren't universal answers to these questions. I simply say all of that as an introduction to this post about animals.
Posts about animals might seem silly. But they're what's going on in a world that is as real to me as anything else and as enduring as the seemingly brainless and saddening activity of humans. I don't watch the news, because there isn't a darn thing I can do about 99.9% of it, and it just stresses me out. Which is the point, from what I gather at those times I do catch it incidentally. We watched the weather channel upstairs last night because of a huge storm system that's supposedly on its way here, and we couldn't believe the hype and nonsense. We decided they must practice at Weather School by setting a potato on the table and trying to talk about it in super hyper, dangerous-sounding language for ten minutes.
So there. That's my rambling justification for talking about animals while reporters in other countries are being imprisoned for trying to track down the truth about injustices.
The animals are taking over - the wild ones, the land, and the domestic ones, our time. You know about the grasshoppers, the bain of our existence. Mom just read an article in the paper today about this being a huge year for hoppers because of the spring weather. In a bizarre example of the John Muir sentiment that by tugging at any one thing you find it attached to the rest of the universe, baby birds are reportedly gorging themselves on the hoppers to the point of being unable to fly.
grasshoppers in the yard
A black and red snake has been hanging out in the rock pile beside the house all summer. Maybe she ate the toad, because I haven't seen him around anymore. For family groups, there's a set of three skunks that alert us to their presence by spraying nearby every couple days, several does with fawns, including a set of spotted twins, and several gaggles of wild turkeys with various sized babies. A mama black bear and three cubs (!) passed through and spent a couple of days visiting the pond. There are bears all around us in the hills, but it's unusual for down here in the valley. Here's a very far off photo of the bears. You can see the mama at the back, and three tiny black dots ahead of her.
My Pops has been deep-cleaning the barn and is finding tools, drill bits, and other shiny things stuffed into the darndest corners. The squirrels and rats do this. The other day he pulled a blanket from a top shelf, and down came a wad of apple-flavored horse treats, stuffed away for winter by rodents. He just had something like eight tons of hay delivered, getting set for winter.
It's been a round of bad luck with the horses and injuries over the last few weeks. Four have gotten leg gouges in a pasture we've been summering them in. There must be a pile of twisted metal or barbed wire somewhere on that property, but the guys haven't been able to find it. Harley, one of the horses Jason broke last summer, came down with an intestinal ailment a couple weeks ago, and it appeared for a couple days that he might not recover. He has though.
The chickens are well.
The dogs are well.
The tree by the garden is abuzz with bees.
checking Harley's heart rate and intestinal gurglings
wrapping Marley's leg injury, the worst one of all