What if there were aliens living in our solar system? Aliens native to our solar system, from some other world we hadn't yet discovered. Would they be after our resources, eager to enslave us, or better yet, eat us? Would they be wild, in our sense of the word ? I don't think so. Not if they are like most wild animals on Earth--those not on the hunt, driven by hunger. When well fed and respected, wild animals (and the wild birds I've known) recognize a friendly gesture--a peanut placed on the porch railing, a soft click and an extended hand to guide them out the door when they find themselves trapped inside the house, a crippled chicken tossed over the fence, just killed by two young hungry, hopeful coyotes. Read More
Forty Years with Birds and Dogs
He wasn't very wild. He wanted to be in the pen with the other birds, waited on the hen house roof until I filled the water troughs and put out the lay pellets and corn. So what does wild mean? Number one in my dog-eared American Heritage Dictionary says it means "Occurring, growing, or living in a natural state; not domesticated, cultivated, or tamed." The definition includes a lot of other things, too, like "savage...unruly...extravagant,...storm"...and "arbitrary equivalence..."
Mr. Peacock, though gradually getting used to me, was a bit arbitrary. Read More
Mr. Peacock is gone--all but a few scattered feathers left behind on the ice.
He couldn't override the ancient instincts to roost high in the Ponderosa.
He couldn't learn why I locked him in at night.
The raccoon watched and learned where the peacock slept.
The raccoon crept silently up the tall straight tree trunk
And took young Mr. Peacock before he could fly away.
Many search and find more than ancient instincts preach,
While many miss too much in loving the past too well.
Do we dishonor the most precious of gifts?
Why do we rebuild on flood plains and shallow bays
While the oceans rise?
What does it mean to be wild, especially for a peacock? For PP (Mr. Peacock) it means leaving the pen at dusk, with its food and water and the company of assorted domestic birds, for the wilds of 14-degree nights high up in a Ponderosa or huddled under the eaves of the hen house. Anything to avoid being shut up in a dog igloo on a nice warm bed of straw. Read More
Dogs know it's that time again. When the Christmas tree lights go on and the packages appear, they are eager to be in the living room. They smell everything--the candles, the ornaments, every package--and they know which one is theirs. But this year I made a mistake. Read More
Do it right the first time--like turn the faucet All the way off. Especially if the temperature drops below 14 F. If water dribbles down the hose, even a little bit, you're hosed. Read More
It's been cold this week. Really cold. Single digits at night. Cold enough to freeze a hen's comb--but Red, alias Americia, alias my Rhode Island Red, is still laying beautiful brown eggs every day. The reason? A thin 21 x 13 oil-filled, radiant, panel, 400 watt (low power !! heater set on a box out of the straw, boxed in securely with chicken wire, and plugged in up high where no one can peck at the electric cord. Read More
My neighbors enjoy the fact that Cooper hawks nest in their back yard, which edges on the steep canyon that houses tall Ponderosa pines and a pleasant drainage stream up Walnut Canyon. Trouble is, there is no way that our dogs can protect a lone chicken from a hungry chicken hawk. Read More
Two years ago, Lucy the goose decided to sit, again. In the wrong place--the Khaki Campbells' nest box. I hated to move them. They were new to the Hen House, and Ms Khaki was laying gorgeous green eggs for the allergic kid down the block. Read More
It’s not easy to find animal care for two dogs, one turkey, two geese, three chickens, four ducks, multiplying swordtails, and a neighboring peacock who comes and goes—but we lucked out. My vet lives next door, and her son loves both the animals and the money I pay for their care while we’re away. Read More