Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Weird Thing

First off, these photos are done my my husband with the "good" camera. I'm a happy-snap person, he's a photographer. As always, you can click on the image for a larger view. I've scaled these down but they're still about 1200x900 on average. You've been warned.

SO, I was walking down to the barn to get some hay for the rabbits (that's totally irrelevant to the post, but I like saying it because it sounds so country-farmy), when I saw this weird thing on the ground. I picked it up and stuck it in my pocket. I mean, that's what you do with weird things you find. You stick them in your pocket so you can ponder them later and share them with the important people in your life.

I didn't know if it was a plant thing (seed pod? fruit?) or an insect thing (eggs? larvae?) or a disease thing (gall?). I'm still not sure.

This closeup of the surface where the "stem" is attached sure makes it look like it's vegetable rather than animal. This thing is not very big. It's 1.5 inches in diameter. But maybe it's an immature weird thing.

Here is where the "stem" is attached to the twig. I'm not sure if the stem grows in multiple fibers like this, or if the bark has been shed from the stem, revealing an interior structure that would normally be enclosed.

Comments welcome.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rabbit Nest

I mentioned that one of the does recently kindled on the ground but under one of the dog crate halves that we have in their pen for shelter. This is a photograph of the doe's nest. She took in straw and piled it in the corner. Then she pulled a lot of fur and piled it on top of the straw.

Sometimes when I peeked in, I could see the fur pile wiggling a little bit. One day when the kits were very young - maybe a few days old - I peeked in and saw an ear poking out of the pile! It was covered with fur, which was amazing to me. Then the ear came up higher and I saw a bright eye looking at me. Hang on, I thought, kits this young don't have full fur and open eyes. Then the kit came completely out of the nest and hopped out of the crate and away. It was one of the batch that had been born a few weeks earlier, hanging out in the cozy warmth of the new kits' nest. Cheeky devil.

Well I'm happy to report that all but one of the kits born in this nest survived. The one that didn't make it drowned in the water dish. He had an adventurous spirit, as I'd found him a week prior to his death shivering out in the colony, eyes still closed. I held him close to me until I was certain he wasn't chilled to the bone, then tucked him into the nest. Within a week he was out again and drowned. All the other kits are now mingling with the older batch. I think there are four older ones and five younger ones but as they're staying underground a lot in these cold temps it's hard to be certain.

The kits that were born in this nest survived many single digit nights and one night that was eight below zero (fahrenheit).


Monday, February 26, 2007


Well we had snow for half of January and the first three weeks (or more) of February. I've never seen that much snow on the ground, nor snow for that long. My snow experience is a 1" accumulation that melts within 24 hours, or an ice storm that takes out power lines and makes evergreen trees explode like a rifle shot, leaving trunks splintered into toothpicks.

This photo was taken off our front porch. Icicles hang all along the porch roof, because the downspouts are full of ice. Frozen solid. Knocking on the downspout is like knocking on a concrete pillar.

The ladder and 2x4 boards lie there, evidence of home repair interrupted by the weather. Again.

Feeding the animals in cold snowy weather is interesting. I go out at least twice a day (morning and evening) to break ice out of the water dishes and fill them with fresh water. I use plastic dishes so I can kick them, stomp on the bottoms, and flex them to get the ice out.

Each morning I can see what various animals have visited the farm overnight. I've seen prints left by deer, raccoons, rabbits, little birds, the neighbor's cat, and our dogs. Although we have coyotes, foxes, and bobcats I haven't seen any tracks down around the house or animal areas.

The chickens don't mind the snow - they left a little highway of chicken prints between their chicken house and the equipment shed where they like to roost and poop on the ATVs. They also leave insane meandering paths around the yard. They are allowed to run around during the day as long as the temperatures don't get too much below 20F and there is some ground visible. When the ground is completely covered in snow, or the temps are down in the single digits, I leave them locked up in their little house. They'd like to go outside but I figure they'd not really find much to eat and they'd be easy targets for predators (dark against white snow). Their combs did get frostbite but they don't seem to notice it at all.

The rabbits weren't bothered by the cold at all. The young ones stayed underground a lot, but the senior buck and three does were outside even in below zero temps. They don't seem to care even when there is ice on their fur and whiskers. Their area will be a delight when it thaws this spring. They create a nice layer of poop just in time for it to be covered by new snowfall. When that all melts and thaws it's going to be YUCKY to clean out. The garden will appreciate it, though.

We have been forced to sit indoors drinking coffee by the soapstone stove, browsing garden catalogs and listening to NPR. Life truly sucks here in the country.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cold Weather

It's COLD here! It was -0.8 on Monday, the coldest I'd ever been in. Then it was -8 on Tuesday! It's amazing how much colder it can get than zero. A high of 17 felt positively balmy after that. We got about 3 or 4 inches of snow Tuesday night and our pond is frozen. I've never seen a frozen pond. Mud puddle, yes. Pond, no.

Area schools have been closed due to cold and snow, and today they finally opened on a two hour delay (it was 1F this morning). I think when it gets real cold like that it takes a while to heat up the building and get the buses started. Plus I guess it's safer to have the traffic on the roads after sunrise, when folks can see.

The little rabbits stay mostly underground but the big ones don't care. I go out in the morning at daylight and break the ice out of their water dish and give them water, and they come over to say hello with ice on their whiskers and eyelashes.

The chickens have been locked in their house and they're getting sick and tired of it. Poor things, their house is not insulated and though we've made improvements it's draftier than I'd like. They have frostbite on their combs but seem perky and busy. They're still laying eggs, even. Stoic little buggers.

We're going through firewood at an alarming rate. We're staying toasty warm, though, and discovering which drafts we want to attack next.


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