Raccoons and Turkeys and Bears-OH MY!

Lisa and I like animals-a lot. We both have observed the real-life drama of the lone turkey who walks around by herself along county road 7. We both wanted the little turkey to find a herd that she can call family. It’s hard to say but being on her own was probably a natural process but we both wanted her to be part of a larger group.

Last winter I wrote about the turkeys that lived at our place until mid-January. It was a nice experience to have that much copper color in one place so we kept them all fed on chicken feed. They rewarded us with a fair amount of fertilizer and some action truly worth watching on a winter’s day.

This spring, the robins came back and are using the same nest they constructed in a hay trolley a few years ago. They typically get two crops of baby robins each summer and Mr and Mrs Robinson are right on track to meet that same goal this year. It’s funny to watch the ugly, scrawny little birds become adult-sized and beautiful in a few short weeks.

I recently saw a Shetland Pony running across a field of freshly-planted wheat. I only mention the Pony because I want to give you some scale of the animal’s size. You see, this Shetland Pony was a bear. This one was running parallel to me so I tried to get close enough for a photo but he or she was just too fast.

I’ve often told people who live in the country that if they believe their house is haunted, it is not. If you find something missing from your house, notice your garbage cans are tipped or discover other generalized mayhem-you do not have ghosts, you have raccoons. Raccoons are the drunk frat-boys of the animal world. They are also pretty interesting and fun. We have one female at our place eating up bird food to the point I just set a place for her each time I feed the birds. It’s a fairly simple way to prevent the destruction of our bird feeders. It’s also fun to watch her as she relaxes on the soft grass and uses her bottom jaw to scoop sunflowers seeds in as efficiently as possible. If she hears any noise, she immediately goes on full alert for about five seconds, then lays right back down and eats.

It’s fun to watch animals during in the spring and summer. They aren’t working quite so hard to stay alive as they do in winter and most likely they are caring for their young. It’s fun to watch this process. While I think it is always a good idea to show humanity to animals it is not a good idea to humanize them. They are not humans and do not live their lives the same as us. One particularly dangerous idea is to believe that any young animals by itself is an “orphan.” Mother animals often leave their children alone while they hunt or graze. If you come upon a young animal, it is most-likely it does not need to be saved. It is merely waiting for you to leave the area so its mother can come home. Don’t touch it and don’t mess with it.

I’d talk more about the outdoor animals but I have some indoor versions who need attention. Our cat, Twitch, has been pawing me and nuzzling my hand as I write my column. He’s not as big as a bear but his demands are definitely bear-sized.

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