Tag Archives: animals

Serendipity

One day when I was a young teen, and unacquainted with the title of this piece, I went to the neighbor’s woods.

These woods were close. From our property I crossed one road and one field. Then I was in a patch of woods which included a pond. In the winter I ice skated here. It was a great place to let the imagination fly.

This particular day was in the fall. I’m not certain, but I think I was looking for a frog to take to school. No frogs as I walked all the way around the pond.

But on the way home. Still in the woods, I saw a tree branch hosting hundreds, actually thousands, of Monarch butterflies taking a rest during their migration.

Recently I attended an exhibit at our botanical garden featuring glass sculptures. The artist captured my experience.

Perennial Flock

Their relatives appear in almost every children’s book of farm animals. And they are popular with the toys teaching sounds. We never raised them on our farm, but some of our neighbors had small flocks.

The real animals are prized for their coats and their meat. They do have a reputation for demanding good fences and clipping the grass short. (Actually, at one time they roamed the White House grounds. Careful where you step, Mr. President.)

This friendly group is popular with both children and photographers.

Where else can you let a pre-schooler ride a sheep?

 

In Addition to Plants…

One of my favorite places to visit in St. Louis is the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Often an afternoon excursion to this refreshing place is a reward for meeting writing goals. It took several attempts and a few “dead ends” to find a reward without calories.

The Garden contains several different sections, featuring plants and plantings typical of different areas of the world or historical times. Often this blog will feature either a particular plant or a piece of public sculpture (permanent or temporary) present on a visit.

But the Garden is home to more. Bees, butterflies, and dragonflies dart between blossoms. Birds and squirrels and other small animals seek shelter within the fenced grounds. And fish thrive in the lake dominating the Japanese garden. And they need to share the lake with these residents.

This basking red-eared slider posed with a dragonfly. He and his friends entertain both young and old.

Time for Plan B

Three years as a 4-H member has given me many good memories. I also learned a lot in the projects I selected and in the whole club activities.

One year I selected a project called “Home Grounds Improvement”. As you can tell from the name, the emphasis was on doing items to make the outside of a house and the yard around it more attractive. We also needed to take an exhibit to the county fair — of flowers we’d grown.

Our family planted three trees in our recently expanded yard that year. The green ash died within the year. The Black Hills Spruce (the tree I claimed as my own) grew large, flourished, and survived past 50 years. The clump of White Birch (which I always referred to as mother’s) dominated the back yard as recently as 2015.

Then there were the flowers. Mother and I created a small flower garden – apart from the vegetable garden. It was a mix of annuals and perennials. And when it came time to sign up for the categories in the fair, I chose to exhibit a vase of perennials.

Did I say we had a puppy that year? Not an adult dog with enough knowledge to know their limits — no, this was an undisciplined canine youngster. He roamed free, like most farm dogs, every day.

And a mere week before the fair – well, he ROLLED, not just crashed through the row, but rolled over the gladiolus. We used Plan B – exhibiting our other perennial, the dahlia.

No puppies allowed!

 

Caught in the Act

You see the photos all over social media. A cute shot of the family pet before, during, or after a bit of mischief.

Capturing the larger creatures is more difficult. First, you need to be in the right place at the right time. With camera. And be lucky enough for the shutter to open and close at just the right instant.

Back in the dark ages — when I used film — this seldom happened. Yes, my mother, a fussy amateur photographer, taught me to pay attention to the light. And to take two, just to be sure one turned out.

Now I’ve gone digital. For several years now. And I take a lot more photos, get the instant gratification, and often a chance to repeat until I get it right or the subject has moved totally out of range.

And sometimes I find a pleasant surprise when I browse through an album looking for a topic for this blog.

Yes, I did just take a drink. And it was good. Thank you.

Not a Household Pet

Cats have a reputation. Aloof. Independent. Comical. Hunters.

Social media abounds with photos of felines encountering cardboard boxes, other cats, dogs, and children. Some of them are tender moments. Others bring to mind questions: how? why?

On one of our recent, rare sunny days I took a walk and discovered this cat.

Hugging. Comforting. Cuddling. Not the first words that come to mind. But then, this isn’t a living, breathing feline. Hope he brings a smile to your face.

Western Symbol

The United States is a large country. It contains several regions with their own folk lore, customs, and colorful history.

Words can get a visitor confused too. I’m hungry for shrimp but the menu says prawns. Is the carbonated beverage a pop? A soda? A soda pop? A coke (no matter the flavor)?

Some of the regions even have informal symbols associated with their location.

Raised in the Midwest, and living their again, at times I feel I’m a Western gal.

I like wide skies. Huge vistas. People attached to their land without being rootbound or ¬†feeling threatened by a newcomer. It’s good to have a little room to make a mistake or two. It should be called “learning”.

How do you know you’re there? See clue below.

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Resting after roaming.

National Symbol

The species is a success story.

They were an admired bird of prey for centuries. Native Americans prized their feathers and admired their flying ability. Did they take note of the bird’s fishing ground? It seems sensible to me — if they can catch a fish at this river bend maybe I can too.

We almost lost them early in my lifetime. Too many people. Too many chemicals. Too few places to build a nest and safely raise a family.

Laws were passed. Publicity helped. Tourists and conservationists worked together.

Today the population is increasing. The birds hunt the rivers and lakes their ancestors fished. And humans with fancy cameras attempt to capture the majesty of flight.

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Look for my likeness on official US seals.

Are You Agile?

My dictionary defines agile as the ability to move quickly and easily. Does that fit you? Does that fit your pet?

Recently I attended dog agility trials. Yes, the dogs were agile. The handlers needed to be also. While the dogs did the jumping, climbing, and tunnel runs — the human trotted along giving hand signals and soft words of direction and encouragement. Knee braces were a common accessory for the humans.

A good many of the dogs wore happy expressions at the end of the run. A few asked via body language “can we do it again?” Others “helped” the handler collect their leash for a quick round of “Keep Away”

Some of the humans were panting also. But they remembered to reward their charges with kind words, an affectionate rub, and a treat from their pocket.

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Are you ready? Multiple jumps. Climb up — and down. Into the tunnel. Weave through the poles. Remember to pause on the table while the official counts off the seconds. Short legs? No problem — the jumps are adjustable.

 

Animal Trails

Do you walk the same path day after day? From the driveway to the door? From the door to the curbside mailbox? From the house to the barn?

It was the final one which we walked a lot. But we took enough variations that we never defined a clear, dirt path across the thick grass. Okay, in the winter we made a path and stayed on it. No sense in letting a good track through the snow go to waste. But that was temporary.

Our animals played “follow the leader.” A lot. They, with the aid of sharp hooves, did wear a narrow path across the pasture and up the lane into the barnyard. Many times I followed along, usually with the dog, bringing the cows up for milking. The only hazard — cow pies.

People who grew up with some wooded land became familiar with other animal paths. And city dwellers can get a hint with a visit to the zoo.

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Cat Path Expert