Monday, June 25, 2012

Baby Antelope

Little Black Brindle and I came home the other day and saw two female antelopes on the property.  This is a frequent occurence so I didn't think too much of it until a much, much smaller antelope went bounding away.  I realized it was a pretty new little baby.  As luck would have it I was able to get some pictures before it went out of range.

I don't know why but the bottom picture of baby reminds me of young Rudolph in the Christmas movie classice, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  All this baby needs is a red ball on the end of his/her nose!

We've got one frequent visitor who is now so used to us being there it doesn't even bound away.  I went to check on the chicks one night and Little Black Brindle went with me.  As we stepped onto the front stoop there was our visitor about in the same location as this picture (yes, this is our visitor).  She looked at me and never flinched, I calmly reached down and picked up Little Black Brindle so he wouldn't give chase.  She still never moved.  I finally started to talk to her and told her gently that she needed to run away when she was that close to people since not all are as nice as me.  She graciously took the warning and left.  Wish I didn't have to do that but there was a story on the news this weekend of two antelopes being poached very close to town. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moth Season

It's like living in a horror movie.  Moths have invaded Prairie Cairn Cottage.  Mind you, I thought I knew what it was like to have a severe infestation of Miller Moths before we moved here but now I realize I had no earthly clue.  Last year was our first summer experiencing a true infestation of these otherwise benign creatures.  When we purchased Prairie Cairn Cottage we spent a good week doing nothing but vacuuming and cleaning moth poop from the floors and walls.  The house had sat vacant for 2 years and we assumed there were so many moth bodies because no one was home to keep them away and to clean up after them.  This was a correct assumption but our being in the house hasn't deterred these dusty insects one iota.  Last year, beginning about Memorial Day and lasting well into October, we did battle with the moths.  We had moths in the evening when the lights came on, we had moths in the morning when we awoke for the day.  We had moths 24/7 for the entire summer. 

This year is not quite as bad but we are still waging war with the moths daily.  We have learned to keep the lights off at night.  The fewer lights on, the fewer moths that are attracted to those lights.  I also vacuum them up daily.  Not only the dead bodies, but the live flying ones as well.  We were gone for a few days earlier this week and I thought that would be good, no lights on at all for 3 days should equate to fewer moths to deal with when we returned.  Wrong!  The day we got home, I went around and vacuumed up the living and the dead and thought that would be it.  That evening they were literally coming out of nowhere!  I got the vacuum back out and started sucking them up...more appeared.  I'd finish up an area then move on to another and by the time I got those taken care of the first was covered in moths again.  I probably had that vacuum out a good hour before I felt confident we'd taken care of the majority of them.

These pictures only give you a glimpse of living on the prairie during moth season.  The first is a close up of them in case you are unfamiliar with these moths (also known as Dusty Millers or Miller Moths).  The second is a picture taken the night we came home and there were so many in the house.  I had gone out to put the chickens to bed late and as I came back in the door I looked up to this sight.  And the rest of the house was covered as well! 

The prevailing theory as to why we experience these invasions it that we are in the flight zone of the annual migration of the adult Cutworm.  The eggs are layed in the soil on the Great Plains where they hatch into Cutworm caterpillars and do extensive damage to crops.  The caterpillars then pupate into the Cutworm Moth and when they emerge they migrate to the mountains in search of flower nectar, water and cooler temperatures.  In the fall they migrate back to the plains, lay their eggs and the cycle starts anew.  We are in the Great Plains and while the theory above explains a normal infestation of the moths, I am starting to wonder if they are not hatching in the prairie surrounding our cottage.  To me, this explains why we have so many and have them all summer long.  However, the caterpillars feed on alfalfa and grain crops and we don't really have any large fields of alfalfa or grain near us.   

By the time they finish their migration I am a little crazed.  I spend my days wondering how to rid my house of them.  I hatch plots.  What if we put a big flood light yards away from the house and turn it on, would they all fly to the flood light?    I wonder if they are like salmon and have to lay their eggs in the same soil they were hatched in?  And if I vacuumed up all that are in and ON the house every evening during the summer would I then have fewer the following year?  Does the color of Prairie Cairn Cottage attract the moths, should I paint a lighter color?  Would one of those electronic pest repellers help?

I now understand why the Japanese made one of their monster movies with the character of Mothra.  Yes, this time of year it is very nearly like living in a horror movie.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday catch up day

Who says those clerks at Walmart are not smart?  The one I talked to today was not only helpful, she knew a lot more about computers than me!  I went there for groceries and thought why not check the electronic area for a cable to get my pictures off of my camera.  She not only asked if she could help me, she brought me over to where I needed to be.  Then we both discovered they didn't have what I needed, but being a helpful person she said the other thing I could do is to ...(insert your guess here)... and then something about the memory stick.  Not being a techie person myself, I have no idea what she said but it jogged a memory that I had one of these handy memory stick slots on my printer at work.  I told her as much and she thought I could probably use that.

She was right and so at long last I can post those overdue pictures of the storm last week.

I know hail stones can and frequently do get larger but I thought these were of post worthy size!  Mind you, these are all different hailstones, not three pictures of the same ones!

And then to round out the pictures, here is Little Black Brindle being good as gold.

  Isn't he just the cutest?  Since he was a breeder in a puppy mill, we assume he is a Dad, so he's showing all Dad's out there how to spend their weekend!  Happy Father's Day from Prairie Cairn Cottage!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Little foxes

"Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes."  Song of Solomon 2:15

On the drive to work today, as I approached the culvert which separates our property from that of our neighbors I spooked a Mama fox and her two kits.  I tried for a picture but they were just too fast for me.  It was lovely to see them but a conversation with one of our neighbors came to mind, specifically, "fox got 'em".  Which he told me in reference to another neighbors chickens.  I said a prayer of safety for my little brood. 

Seeing these foxes also reminded me of the quote from the Song of Solomon and how appropriate it can be in everyday life.  I still don't have a cable that will allow me to post the new photos I promised.  My ever so handy husband told me he thought the cell phone charger would work, so I didn't go out and buy a replacement.  Alas, the end of the phone charge is for a smaller USB port than my camera so it wouldn't work and I still can't post new photos.  Small disappointments like this are the little foxes in our lives.  If we are not careful we can let them spoil an otherwise pleasant day (our tender vines). 

How delightful to see these fox babies on a beautiful late spring morning...but seeing them also brings anxiety:   "fox got 'em".      

So I have tried to rest in the knowledge that my chicks are covered with a prayer for their safety and that God gave us the wisdom to bury a foot of hardware cloth all around their pen to keep predators from digging under the enclosure!

I also thought I should start a log of wildlife sightings each day.  So today's entry would be:
Numerous Antelope
Numerous Ground Squirrels
Swainson's Hawk
Mama fox and her two kits
Horned Larks
Lark Bunting
House Wren

How did you deal with your little foxes today?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wild Night on the Prairie

The last couple of days have been rather nerve wracking.  We've been through 2 wild weather nights in two different states in 2 days.  We no sooner got home last night and got the car unpacked when a wicked storm system barrelled towards Prairie Cairn Cottage.  We got pummeled 4 separate times.  Once with peas size hail, then marble size hail.  Just when I thought the system was past us we got hit with 1 1/2 to 2" hail stones and finally one last time with more pea sized hail.  Two tornadoes were spotted not 4 miles from the house.  Needless to say we spent a tense hour in the basement with the weather radio. 

Luckily the chicks were in their coop already when I ran and checked on them so they got locked in for the duration of the storm.  I don't think they would have fared well being hit with 1 1/2" hail stones.  I took pictures of the large hail stones and would like to share them with you today, however, little black brindle has an addiction to chewing on computer cables and I am unable to download my new pictures.  I will have to get them posted next week.  But all is well and there was not too much damage to Prairie Cairn Cottage.  The bedding plants that were to go into the cottage garden have been wiped out.  I have not checked on the existing plants yet but the trees around the cottage only suffered minor damage so I'm hoping the strawberries and raspberries were spared.  I am debating whether to purchase replacement bedding plants or not.  I am leaning towards not and trying my luck with some of the short season seeds I already have.



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

God's Gifts

This past few days has been great for nature viewing.  Driving to work this morning, still in my neighborhood, I spotted this reclusive fellow.  He's a bit shy and would only let me take a picture of him from the forehead up, but if you look closely and imagine what the rest of him would look like you'd see a badger.
Just a mile or so down the road later, I spotted a new born antelope.  This baby was only a wee bit taller than little black brindle but no bigger in body or length.  As soon as my car approached, baby flatten to the ground and I couldn't get a picture. 

Last night, little black brindle was sleeping on the sofa when he instantly came to full alert position and started his bark/growl.  I wish I could record his alert, it's quite funny.  He sounds like something is broken and not functioning properly but it did the trick.  I started to calm him, telling him it was only the wind when I looked out our front picture window to this sight

This is the closest we've had an antelope come to the house.  So, broken his voice may be, little black brindle's nose is functioning quite well! 

I love the wildlife viewing we are afforded living where we do.  It may be miles of nothing but prairie but if you look closely you are likely to spot a coyote on the hunt or antelope grazing or today's gem of seeing the reclusive badger.

Since we don't have trees blocking the view, we are frequently blessed with spectacular sunsets.  This was from Sunday evening

And later that same night, we got a double treat of the near full moon peaking through the clouds
Prairie Cairn Cottage was a gift from our Heavenly Father and he lavishes us with other gifts daily.  I know he does the same for you, are you seeing the gifts he has for you?  If not, slow down and look for these gems, they are all around.