Monday, July 31, 2006

A Little of This and That

The picture with this article is one of my favorites of a family of geese. Franklin and Hannah's two are growing so fast. The baby white goose is almost white. When he was hatched he was the color of egg yolks. It has been incredibly hot here even on the lake which I am told is supposed to make things a bit cooler, but it doesn't feel any cooler

It seems that all of a sudden, there is a plethera of ducks on the lake. Everyday another duck shows up with 5-10 ducklings. Ducks are shy about nothing. It takes the pushy ducks to get the Cananda geese to aquiesce and come ashore for dinner if the least bit of distraction is going on. Of course I guess I wouldn't consider a huge black Labrador Retriever with the mind of a puppy and the body of a large parking lot dumpster a mere distraction. This character has been over several times. He has a collar, tags, and what looks suspiciously like one of those underground fence receivers on the collar. It might be one of those no-bark collars that gives the dog a jolt if he starts barking loudly. Either way, it doesn't work because here he is again wanting so badly to play with someone. Since he is so big and so playful, you can't catch him long enough to read his tags. The geese of course all tumble into the lake to get away, but wait, here comes the big lug of a dog jumping in to play, splashing and carrying on while the geese swim this way and that . A well choreographed dance it is.

Years ago, when I was still married, we rented a house on a lake in Michigan. It wasn't a big fancy place I can tell you that, but in Michigan it is hard not to live on, by ,or around lakes. You cannot move in a straight line to your destination because of detours around lakes. We had this very large dog, a Giant Schnauzer. Giant for obvious reasons, and Schnauzer because they look like little schnauzers. That's where the resemblance abruptly halts.

We obtained this girl from the local animal shelter in St. Louis. She was sitting so forlornly in the corner of her cell, quiet, reserved, polite, obedient, well-groomed, with a fresh cut. She was all black which sort of lent an air of dignity to her otherwise large size. The ticket describing the reason for her being up for adoption was only one word: Traveling. Well I could see where this might prove difficult with such a large dog, so we took this at face value. As it was, she turned out to possess that unique and frustrating habit of "traveling" the neighborhood when we would leave the house. She could escape anything. We decided traveling referred to her habits not her former owners.

Back on the point, this dog loved to jump in the lake. The lake was stocked and shared the water with a couple of otters or muskrats or something in that category, and a Canada goose family. When the family hatched their brood for that year, Wicky was so excited. She could never get enough play or any one or thing to play with. She immediately jumped in to go play. Geese are particularly adept at protecting their babies but when this big black dog with her gigantic nose and mouthful of pearly whites came at them they became irate and bit her on the nose not just once but a lot. No matter to Wicky, she was having fun and so must they since they were playing back. It would end when I would scream for her to come home. Sometimes she did and sometimes not but it always ended with a bruised snout, a soft coat, and the aroma of dead fish. I guess the geese got used to her as they returned every year to the little lake in Michigan.

And so , I will be glad when hatching season is at an end and the protecting can ease up. The almost constant bickering and fighting that goes on around a family is amusing and yet so nerve wracking. What it must be like to live where the soundproofing is little and the occupants are loud and always arguing. I know sometimes at night if an outbreak of disturbance occurs, in that fleeting moment between awake and sleep, the thought of strangling comes to mind.

In the chronologic scheme of life, spring and summer do not last forever, but in the Oklahoma scheme of life, it does. Hopefully, the laying and hatching is not temperature driven or this could get to be a very long summer.

Wicky, by the way, went to live with a farmer with plenty of room for her to socialize on.

Before I go, I would be remiss if I did not mention the new .gifs on this post. They were a gift from a friend of mine especially for this blog. Her name is Camilla Eriksson and she does the icons, emoticons and e-cards for the Care2 network. You can see alot of her work at her website Millan Net. If you stop by, tell her I said hello.

Until next time.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Amber Alert

The picture today is of Franklin Beauregard and his family.
Well the drive home the other day from the dentist office was indeed hot and I was a little woosy but not impaired. I mean I always drift to the left even when I walk and drive so I really don;t know why everyone kept yelling at me. Oh well, it turned out to be an extraction and not a root canal. The tooth was cracked by the tooth root and it had a cyst. I never heard of that but there it was. So it was extracted.

I was outside feeding the hoards wishing I could pull off a loaves and fishes gig when here saunters up to eat from my hand but the "father of the year" Franklin with his two absolutely hysterically cute kids. They are several weeks old now and their necks and their legs and feet have grown considerably. The white gosling is the pride and joy of Franklin and Frank goes into Amber alert every time the kid wanders off. He's a tough little bugger, this little one, and really knows no fear which is admired but not condoned. There are some out there who would rather a snapping turtle got him too. Don't get me wrong and think for one minute that Frank doesn't panic when the other one wanders off. That one looks like every other gosling out there, but the white one stands out like a sore thumb. Just like his dad he is.

I have mentioned before that Frank has a specific honk for getting me to come outside and feed his family. Well, he has subtle changes to get everypoint across like WE are over here and want some corn. WE are going to leave if you can't provide any. He can be a real snooty son of a gun when he wants to.

He and Hannah have been defending their family for so long, I don't think either of them are comfortable anymore with standing upright. They are always in the "goosing stance" which consists of lowering your head almost to the ground, stretching your neck out and forward, pointing your bill and face forward like an arrow, then running toward someone's buttocks in order to clamp that bill around a piece of the buttocks so that when that really surprised owner of the buttocks jumps and runs, he leaves behind a big mouthful of down and pin feathers,

Back to Frank's honking. When the kids wander off and he cannot see them, he lets out a siren voice that obviously has tragedy and panic in it. The kids know that pop means business and they hurry as fast as they can which isn't that fast because in order to maneuver their continuously enlarging feet, they must lift these 2 pancake griddles really high to keep them from dragging in the dirt and tripping themselves. All the while pop is shrieking ever more intensely. I have to wonder about Frank's eyesight. Even when the kids are practically climbing up his leg he doesn't see they are back until they are in his direct sight.

The goslings ARE fearless and DO wander off by themselves, but then Frank wanders off too. He gives another honk which means "we're leaving now" and off he goes a mile a minutes leaving everyone behind. Then he panics and throws out the amber alert.

Of course, you have to remember, Frank and Hannah have had nothing but trouble from the moment she laid eggs. First the eggs were used as soccerballs by the puppies, then one of the newborns was fatally injured by a snapping turtle, and they lost another somewhere along the line. So justifiably, they are nervous. They all are with the babies around.

Me? I will be personally glad when the egg laying comes to an end and the young are older. Now the ducks are hatching. One little lady has 10 ducklings. If you know anything about ducklings it would be that they race along at about 45 mph. The mother of these these 10 duckling thinks nothing of sitting out by my patio with her brood asleep while she keeps up a running "quack"-a-thon until I come out.. She then wakes up the kids so they can peep for me and mom demands something to eat. I am to the point where it is possible to ignore her to a certain extent. However, whoever did the voice for Donald Duck must have lived near ducks. Remember how Donald would raise his voice and stomp up and down on his hat quacking? That's mom. When I go out there I almost expect to see her in a little navy suit and hat. Now she does not panic when the 10 kids become scattered. She does a cursory walk around with the ones she has found then leaves with a final quack and off she goes for home. Little ones scurrying around trying to decide to go follow her or stay and eat some more.

No more excitement this week except for my extraction which I myself found tedious at best, painful, but certainly not exciting in the usual sense.

Until next time

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot Under the Collar

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There was a fire across the lake from me. It was small and easily put out. The picture with this edition is of the other side of the lake with smoke billowing out. Many of the geese spend nights actoss the lake and they were indeed worried and floated around aimlessly waiting to see if they would have a place to stay that night,

It is right now on my shaded, covered patio a cool 103 degrees. It is 2:04PM. Even the geese are inclined to sleep under the shade trees. Usually they are commuting and communicating with everyone they meet, taking the kids with them, showing them off, tapping on my bedroom window for food. Not today. Our weather guy mentioned that it is expected to reach 104-105. I probably will go into shock this month when I see my utility bill, but better to be comfortable prior to shock and death than to be miserable and still be shocked.

I did go out specifically to acquire some more hen scratch and corn chops for the geese. They love it. As a matter of fact, yesterday I had run out so I crumbled up some unsalted tortilla chips and threw them out for the geese. They were so standoff-ish about not getting the usual, it took a loud and nervy duck to get them to try it.

I must cut this short today. I am having either a root canal done, or an extraction. I can't wait to drive home afterwards.

Until next time

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Active Discrimination?

Well, I know it has been
awhile since I posted last but sometimes it is difficult to know exactly what to say. I believe last time I mentioned toward the end of my blog that Franklin B and Hannah were down to just 2 goslings now. I don't know what happened and of course I am just dying to know. What I do know is that for some reason, the other hybrids have been picking on Hannah and her babies--literally. Hannah looks terrible with feathers broken and sticking out all over, and Franklin has to be exhausted from trying to protect his remaining 2 active kids. This seems to be a long standing feud of sorts. There are 2 hybrids with one grown and 2 half grown kids, these are the ones that lured Frank and Hannah's firstborn with the abdominal wound into the lake and made sure he could not get up the shore again. They persistantly pick fights with Hannah and while others keep the parents busy, someone else goes after the two goslings. This is mean business. It is to the point where Franklin and his family do not come to eat when everyone else does, but later when he thinks the others aren't around.

All geese fiercely protect their young, but mostly it is against a perceived danger or threat--at least here on the lake it is so. But Franklin and Hannah DO have a very real
danger from the other hybrids. The female of this lead couple is constantly trying to lead the little white gosling off and I do believe she would have no qualms at all killing him. I am wondering if it is because Frank is the only all white goose on the lake that the hybrids
want to attack this little family unit?

At first it was a little amusing watching the new parents twirling around with their necks
outstretched and their heads down in the classic "goosing" position running off goose and duck alike. But now it is obvious that these two parents are desperate to find a place that is away from this gang of thugs. The lead three hybrids are just out and out mean. I saw one of
them pick one of the little ducks up by the neck and toss him aside. Ouch!

Of course I worry a lot about Franklin and Hannah and the 2 little ones. Afterall, just getting through the egg sitting and hatching was difficult. Now I must worry from a distance because staying in the bush outside my window was not an option after the first
hatchling got attacked. Sometimes they do not come for a day or two, and I think the absolute worst. Then, later in the evening or very early in the morning, I hear Franklin calling. His is a distinctive honk that he tones down when he is on the run. I will go out and get a bowl of corn chops for them to hurry up and eat. Ducks must have the
most acute hearing of all the waterfowl. Like dogs who can hear a cheese wrapper being touched from miles away, these ducks, I swear, can hear chopped corn in a bowl and come galloping over the shore for a bit of food.

I truly believe I went through the "empty nest" (pun intended) syndrome when the family moved. Out of 8 eggs, they have two babies. And they are growing at a rapid rate. The white gosling is a lot less yellow now and getting paler and paler. The little hybrid's markings are getting a little more defined. Geese grow rapidly. The family of Canada Geese had thirteen babies right when I moved in at the end of April and now they are as large as their parents and then some. They still have a little bit of fuzz on their necks, but they have wings with feathers now. They still have that muffled chirping sound, but they look quite beautiful with their new feathers.

The day after the holiday, the woods across the lake from me caught on fire. Oklahoma
is under burn bans all the time now with the persitant drought. Smoke came billowing out from the center part of the woods. Many of the Canada Geese and the ducks make their homes at night on the far shore. They were all out in the lake swimming aimlessly around while the fire department came and fortunately got the fire out before it spread much.
After awhile and after a good meal of corn chops, they all returned to their side of the lake ending the excitement for this 4th of July.

I have not heard how Chester is doing. He is the Canada Goose my neighbor and I caught to try to remove fishing line from around his thigh. It was too deeply imbedded for us so I took him downto the Wild Care Sanctuary. Such a great place. They were worried he might lose his leg but if he didn't, he might be able to come back to the lake since his mate and family are here. Keep your fingers crossed.

Until next time.

(originally published 7/10/06)

How Precarious This Life We Share.

The picture accompanying this story is a newborn gosling who upon arriving wandered slightly from the nest and was bitten by a snapping turtle roughly the size of New Jersey leaving a rather nasty open abdominal wound for his efforts. I heard the hysterical peeping and opened my window to come face to face with this turtle who, if turtles had them, was smacking his lips waiting for another course. I brought out my hand dolly and carted the bloated terrapin off to the lake from whence he came. There are copious numbers of them and you can see their heads bobbing in the lake waters waiting for goslings and ducklings to wander off in the water alone. They grab their little feet and pull them under until they drown and then eat them.

Because this little injured no-name of a gosling was mauled by an unknown and completely foreign entity, the mother and father abandoned the gosling in favor of protecting what was left of the eggs that were beginning to hatch. You see, these are the babies from the eggs under my window. I gathered the little one up and put him in a box with some warm cloths and headed on out for the 45 mile trip to the Wild Care Oklahoma sanctuary for wildlife. They cleaned him up and got some vet care and put him in the premie bird nursery for waterfowl. He shared a room with a duckling. This took place a week ago this past Thursday. On Saturday, I heard that the gosling was doing as well as can be expected but made it through the weekend.

In the meantime, three more eggs hatched, so Franklin Beauregard and his mate Hannah have 3 live gosling with them. Three eggs were used as soccer balls by a troup of 5 german shepherd puppies, and one didn't hatch. One was in ICU.

Life has a way of being mundane and then out of the blue, it knocks your head sidways with unexpectations. This week everyday, Frank and Hannah, Henry and Millie, and others bring their babies around for me to see and to grab a bite to eat. Henry and Millie are a hybrid couple with 3 hybrid goslings who are about 2 weeks older than Frank's brood. Frank is a white domestic and Hannah is hybrid. Everyday.

The day before on Friday, I was feeding everyone and noticed a Canada goose limping very badly. To say limping is to do this wound injustice. He was hopping mostly on one foot. Around his right leg, just above where the leg meats the thigh a length of fishing line was wrapped so tightly around his leg, that the part of his thigh below the line resemble a small Krispy Kreme doughnut. He was, to say the least, in dire trouble. My neighbor and I once again caught the goose, but on examination up close, we found that the line had been there much too long and it was much too deep for us to cut it. Chester, as we called him looks to be a young male. There was one particular goose very distraught when we caught Chester who is probably the mate or the mother.

The tragic part of this story is that I called the state game warden for this county and actually got to talk to him. I told him our dilemma and he said when we cought the goose to call him back and he would come and get the goose. Right. We did it and called but all I got was voice mail or the opportunity to page. I did both with this gentleman, the other warden, the county sheriff office who referred me to the city police who said they would see if anyone would pick him up but that they would probably just euthanize the goose anyway.

So nobody ever called back and the sanctuary had no one to send so Chester spent the night on my patio. In the morning I transported him down to the Wild Care of Oklahoma sanctuary where I had taken the gosling. They worked and worked on his leg, but kept finding more and more line. His tissue was somewhat necrotic the closer they got to the deeply embedded part. They gave him a big dose of antibiodics and told me they would continue to work on the leg until all of the line was released and they could better tell what was ahead for Chester. He was so stressed out at this point I think you could have shot him and he wouldn't have moved.

So Chester is on the surgery ward at the center. I asked after the no-name gosling and she said she was sorry but he had passed away last night.

You would think after 35 years in nursing I would get used to this cycle of life but no. I cried all the way home. At least the gosling died by nature. But Chester may very well lose a leg due strictly to careless human fishing habits. They do not follow the line if it gets cought in the trees or bushes or someone's patio furniture. They snap is off and let it go. Or it breaks in the water or more than likely snagged a non-fish and they cut the line leaving it floating in the water.

I am very tired this evening and when I went out to feed the masses, they were pretty stand-off-ish I guess because of Chester. Sometimes they really surprise me when something ghastly happens to one of them. They do go for one another's throats on a routine basis, but if the casualty results in human intervention, they suddenly become the most quiet cohesive group likely to be encountered on the lake.

I was listening yesterday to a public radio broadcast. The host was interviewing an epidemiologist from NIH about the progression of the bird flu. There was mention that it seems to break out in small groups then subside for awhile. But they expected more and more groups of humans will be affected on each outbreak until it becomes large enough to become an epidemic then a pan epidemic. Mention was made that perhaps the earlier SARS outbreaks were in fact early kinds of bird flu. I am sitting there as I listened to them say they think but don't know anything really. I was thinking about this huge population of fowl around this lake. And what would happen when the flu hits the western hemisphere. I have become pretty attached to many of these creatures with their unique personalities and predictabilities. Although, nothing is static with the community. This evening when I returned from the sanctuary, Franklin Beauregard and Hannah came up hissing the whole way while I am wondering if they, too, were upset about Chester. Then I noticed. They came with only 2 of the babies. Where was the 3rd? I'll probably never know. It is not easy at all for these birds to proliferate. They lay 8-9 eggs and are lucky to come up with 4-5 hatchlings. Not good odds. Then you have to raise them without losing any. I suppose one can learn valuable lessons from nature including the fact that life goes on with or without your assistance, bad things happen a lot but so do good things, don't look back in regret but always look forward to keep from stumbling, and know which side of the bread is buttered.

The following is a link to a small slide show in honor of the little No-Name gosling and his short life.

Consider donating time or money to your local animal rescue or wildlife rescue.

(originally published 7/6/06)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Life Can Be a Bummer...

I will never know how Jane Goodall, Bernd Heinrich, and all those others who observe by immersion ever survive the first months of their project. I know that I mentioned before that Sweetpea had all her eggs but 2-3 slobbered on by a stray dog. She ejected them and the family moved them to another place (what was left), and she finally successfully comes around now with 3 brand spanking new goslings still yellow and fuzzy. The others are all growing up as are the ducklings from the mallards. So another "family"took over the nest outside my window with a clutch of 8 eggs. She is a real true egg sitter and rarely gets up except to eat, drink, and save her life. Edith had a clutch on the other end of my patio in the bush. No not dogs and cats this time- but some grimey preadolescent boys decided to take a wizz on her eggs leaving her no alternative but to try again across the lake. Now one can always call animal control for the animals, but who exactly does one call for children who are obnoxious at best? I s there a Children Control who will come and put them in little rooms to await their parents to come and claim them? Hmm.

Anyway, I have been taking snaps of the eggs and diligently recording my observations. One very very early morning I heard the all too familiar sound of squawking and the splash of 60+ big geese hitting the water at the same time and knew before I was awake the dog was back. I jumped from my bed threw open the blind and window to find not the old familiar dumped off hound but a huge German Shepherd (red collar and all) along with 5-yes-5 puppies of probably3 months age, all rather golden with big german Shepherd ears and faces, paws like griddles, and smiles that went on forever. There I am in my pajamas screaming for them to "shoo, go away" but the more I did that, the more the puppies thought it was a game and knocked my screen in. The mother was growling, I am shooting them all with a water gun. Finally I ran to the sliding door, stubbing my toe, and nearly knocking myself unconscious by forgetting to open the door, ran onto the patio and there are the puppies rolling eggs around on the lawn, The fence I put up to keep the cats in also kept me in so I ran around to the front and then to the back. By then the dogs were gone and I stood there in my PJ top and jeans, my water pistol in hand staring at three goose eggs out by the lake. All of the geese were coming back on shore like a scene from Night of the Living Dead, and just standing silently by. We all stood there for a time. I spoke gently and reassuringly to the mother that there were still 5 eggs intact without any slobber on them and to please not reject them. As I turned to go slowly back inside, the mother did return to sit on the eggs. The rest of goose-group stood about respectfully without any bickering or squabbling. None went back to sleep. Breakfast was a bit early.

For all the family feuding, rear end biting and feather pulling that goes on, this is the second time I have witnessed a near disaster for the nesting females, and both times the families rallied around to lend some sort of support. I am reminded of humans who rally around a disaster and then move on with life. Its a rare and tender moment. Who knew geese would be so remarkably gentle at times.

The almost-as-tall-as-their-parents babies of a month ago have learned quite well the art of getting something to eat even if it means pinching and hissing and being pinched and hissed at.

The other day, well actually several weeks ago, I noticed a goose limping so badly he could not stand up and his leg was swollen. The other day, my neighbor Bret, who lives upstairs, and I caught this goose while he was eating. We put a blanket over his head and Bret held him tightly while I proceeded to cut such a tightly wound fishing line from his legs that he was bleeding and , of course, was not pleased. He limped away but he is doing fine now. Someone mentioned at the store where we buy chicken scratch to feed the geese and ducks that soon, I would be awarded honorary wildlife trooper hat for heroic efforts to keep our pushy noisy neighbors happy. At this point, the geese know my car. I had to slip out this morning to get some feed and when I returned down the road, they saw the familiar blue VW Beetle and proceeded to saunter across the road, pause, stare, then hightail it down to my yard for breakfast. With some they eat from my hand. I can tickle some on their chin, and some I can pet on the head. They all bring the new babies by to show off, and we ooh and ahh over them. They are so proud. Shoot, considering what they go through just to sit on a clutch of eggs until they hatch, I'd be darned proud too.

By the way, the accompanying photo this week is of Salt and Pepper two rather long and semi-portly ducks. I surely do not know what kind they are, but if anyone knows for sure, please let me know. Also, we have a baby White Heron and a baby Blue Heron. Life is grand!

And this is only my second month here. By Christmas, they will probably all come over for dinner and gifts.

(originally published 6/21/06)

Herons. Who Knew?

This is a link to one of my famous photoshows. It stars the obove heron, Harold. Harold has the longest skinniest neck I have ever seen and to watch him catch then eat fish whole is a site indeed. Sometimes he catches fish that are way bigger than his skinny throat can accommodate and he must give them back to the lake. This photoshow is dedicated to Harold

And by the way, if you know for sure that Harold is NOT a heron but a crane or an egret, please let me know.

(originally posted 6/6/06)

The Hatfields, McCoys, and the Rest of the World

I was watching the goose communities from my living room window over the July 4th holidays, and suddenly it hit me why these geese and all their shenanigans seemed so familiar. They are socially not much different than human communities. The families quibble and squabble all the time. When I feed them, they jostle and poke and shriek to be first and dominant. If one impinges on the others' perceived personal space, the offended lowers his neck, stretches it out and heads for the rear end of the offender, often taking a large chunk of pin and tail feathers. So after a feeding more often than not are copious clumps of white goose down and feathers littering the lawn. I have noticed that some times after a particularly harrowing feud, casualties result, There are no winners really, just losers because while the fighters are busy tearing one another apart, the rest ofthe family has gone on to eat all the feed and are standing ringside to see what happens next. Every fighter in the war comes out looking like he/she is wearing a feather headdress,quills are broken, feathers are out, and occassionally, a physical fatality occurs from being choked to death by one of the Hatfields or McCoys. The defeated retreats to the lake ashamed but not really for long, because it starts all over again. Even the young ones, once they lose some of the fuzz and have the beginnings of feathers, learn at that tender age how to hiss and spit, and who to hiss and spit at.
Remind you of anyone you know? Humans of course. It seems that ripping out of ones talefeathers occurs routinely in the corporate world, the legal world, the medical world. Every body is jockeying for a seat at the feast table. But the feast is gone so it is a hollow victory at best. And so our life is stolen out from under our noses while we are out squabbling about whose oil is it anyway? Whose God is it anyway? Whose fortunes are richer. When we come home for the feast, the wonderful clear fresh air is gone, the trees we remember seeing in our viewmasters as kids--gone. The rolling countryside with miles and miles of nothing but grass and rocks and dirt--there no more. The pristine blue waters in the northern lakes and rivers--vanished. The old fashioned town council meeting open to the public--cellphones. The beautiful babies we made and grew--gone,grown up and old long before their time. many helpless and hopeless before graduating fromthe 5th grade.

In one of my upper division nursing classes (my university nursing school's program emphasised community nursing and health), a psycho social instructor, said that this particular democracy of the USA bases its economics success on a certain percentage unemployment among other things. This meant that this economy grew stronger when unemployment percentages remained between the upper and lower limits of the given percentage. That and war usually helped the economy better than peace.

All of our career years (and I am speaking to nurses and colleagues mostly)we have spent making people comfortable and playing at going between other departments, doctors and the patient. We have all been in the middle too many times to remember. We have always played the ombudsman for the helpless and needy. We are a nurturing albeit frustrated profession. I believe we need to carry that ombudsmanship over into caring for a larger more diverse "patient" group that encompasses not only humans and animals, but vegitation, air,water. They all need us to interpret for them to the ones who hold the cards. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a sick world. And in keeping with my philosophy, lets clean it up.

(originally published 6/1/06 as a welcome note to a specialty group on Care2)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Family Feud

The accompanying photo is of a hybrid geese couple with their baby. (Sorry about their heads but I was aiming at the baby) This is Henry and Milly and the Little One. They dropped by with their Gosling because they love the attention it brings forth . However, as usual, whenever a family comes by, another family (extended members included) get very touchy about territory. So this couple is taking a risk, especially with Seetpeas family around. Seetpea is now in the nest outside my window with 7 eggs. And so "Jane Goodall" here is back in the hatch watching business, I got rechargeable batteries for the camera this time. I don't want to miss the event.

The other night my one cat Mr Atticus snuck out and took off in the night. I was beside myself with worry. He is not up to date on immunizations yet and when I got him from the rescue farm, he did not have any front claws. I also don't particularly want fleas in the house. He came home around 11PM with a young skinny female in tow, The really interesting thing is that when I asked Miss Pink where Atticus went she took root watching the front door. Periodically, she made the rounds of favorite places of his. I think she was a bit put out when he arrived with another female. Poor Pink.

There has been the usual family feuds this week with many male geese having very ruffled and broken feathers. There is a little Mallard with a crippled leg. He gets around well but he is not as quick as some of the others. I named him Malcom and he too is beginning to come around more often. These geese, like children, respond so well to a quiet voice and gentle motions. There are now several couples who stop by with their families. I think they know that I will gush on about what a beautiful family they are. They stand around posing and reacting as if they know what the heck I am talking about..

Lat night, I don't know how Miss Pink managed to come outside and I went back in. She was not paying attention. Consequently, she had to spend the night outside. Imagine my surprise when I opened the blinds and there she sat waiting for me to open the sliding glass door. Kids!

That's it so far this time.

(Originally published 5/24/06)

Carlton's Place

This past week on thelake has been busy, eventful, and a lesson on life. The picture above is a picture of Carlton, one of my good friends and neighbors. He is one of the young (about a year to guess) unattached male geese. He is trusting, and friendly and kind to the others. In short, he is a gentleman goose.

Many of the family groups have had their hatches and they are growing fast. The other day, however, there were 2 small goslings that were being ostracised by everyone in the goose community. I don't know why, but they were forced to swim on the lake alone which is a virtual death sentence. There are some hefty turtles in the lake and they nip goslings by their feet and under they go. Probably why when the family swims, they never just float in the water when they have goslings on board. None of the humans on shore could reach the pair of tiny fuzz balls and by the following day, they were gone. Why they were ostracised is anyone's guess. Why are some human children scapegoats in an abusive family and others aren't?

One of the families with 13 goslings visited my patio area the other night. I did not have my camera ready and missed a perfectly wonderful opportunity. I had some lettuce in side from making a salad and so I offered the family some greens which they let the goslings eat first and then they ate.

The family that had to move their eggs because of the strays pestering them seems to have lost the entire clutch. The mother, who I named Sweet pea would always stop in front of my patio and look as I talked to her. Then moved on. Lately, they go by with Sweetpea more often. But now she visits her old nest outside my window. She rearranges the nest some then moves on. So my guess is she is not sitting on eggs any longer. No babies this year for her.

I have not seen the stray cat that I had the dilemma over last week. My best guess is that he ate drank slept for two days and then possibly died from his massive infections with a full stomach and the memory of two days of pleasure in an otherwise lousy life. Strangely, I miss him more than two days should warrant. But there it is, in need of some kindness and food and water and of course a pat on the head. He deserved it, he needed it and he got it.

As for me, I still am planning and looking at my many packed boxes and promising that tomorrow, I will get them organized and unpacked. Truth be told, I lived so long with boxes full and empty, I have adjusted by making paths to the essential areas and am perfectly happy making plans and making more plans to organize. I need some motivation.

More later.

(originally published 5/21/06)

Don't Feed the Animals, Please

This is my eternal dilemma. I have never had enough money to do what I want to do in life. Sad fact, but true. If it were up to me, there would be no poverty especially among the animal kingdom which has become such a throw-away species. Too many cats, dump them off somewhere. Good God! Don't go to a shelter. They may want some money. Dog a pain in the rear, dump her off at the park somewhere. So here I am facing my dilemma of the week. 2 stray cats, and a stray dog. They are all hungry, skinny, probably with worms and whatever else plagues uncared for animals. I look at my two well-cared for cats as theysit by the patio door and watch these creatures of misfortune. I wonder what they are thinking as I 'shoo' the stray away.

On the one hand, we are on the first floor, so these little critters can slink on up to the screen and have nose to nose communication with my cats. That's nice, but I can't even afford to keep them healthy--barely that is. The pro for shooing is just that, you don't know what all the animal is carrying. Then when you feed one, suddenly you have an entire community of cats and dogs, strays and otherwise, showing up for the nice lady's generosity. I personally could not afford to undertake yet another creature's welfare.

On the other hand, I cannot watch anything starve. I see their eyes when they come around--showing fright, anxiety, and appeal all at the same time. I believe animals in general are very noble creatures who would rather follow instinct than to depend on generosity which is inconsistant at best. I believe they, just as the human species, embarras easily and that dire straits resurects old primative feelings and actions best forgotten in the good times.

So what did I do? I put out a bowl of dry catfood for the skinniest cat I have ever seen, and hoped that if I am ever in dire straits, that someone at least would not let me starve whether for food or kindness. We'll deal with the other stuff tomorrow. Today, this little cat will eat.

(originallly published 5/4/06)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Home, Home on the Lake

Hi and welcome to my blog. Can't imagine who on earth would want to read things about me but , to each his own.

Last weekend I moved very reluctantly from my classy (I thought ) apartment on the outskirts of Oklahoma City to an older complex that sits on a lake. My apartment faces the lake. I am on the first floor and was pretty nervous at first. My two cats who are indoor folks, were stunned at the view and even more stunned when the geese showed up outside our patio door. I was too. Part of the allure for me was the lake and the geese. Although I knew the drawbacks of living among the wild beasts, they intrigued me and I immediatley thought of them as MY faminly. And while my new home wallowed around in packing boxes, I was introducing myself to all of my new neighbor geese.

These geese are semi unique in that they make their permanent home here. And I have discovered that the reason we have no grass is that there are multitudes of goosefeet goosestepping from place to place where well-meaning but in my mind not wise people feed them with slices of bread and potato chips. This cannot be the recommended diet for geese.

The geese have interbred with some white domestics and the results have been varied and sometimes gorgeous. The goose in my intro folder is a Canada goose, and I will try to add pictures of the hybrids later.

My first night I spent marveling at the fact that a hybrid mother laid her clutch in a sheltering bush directly outside my bedroom window. What a thrill. The father is also a hybrid. It soon became evident just who belonged to which extended family. There were at least 4 to 5 ganders scouting the area for intruders, 2 hybrid, 2 Canada, 1 white domestic along with their mates and the partner of the one sitting on the nest. I talked with them gently all the time, ignoring my unpacking, and enjoying the lake and its inhabitants.

I noted that she often left the nest to go for a swim or to bathe, take a stroll with her mate, then return to sitting. It is a peaceful setting and I secretly congratulated myself on finding such a place. Then one night, it started. A stray dog wandered by and noted the location of the clutch for future plans. Then some of the smart-aleck kids from down the road found her. Apparently, she played dead because they kept saying she was dead and began polking her with a stick while I am in the house screaming for them to let her alone along with the males who got extremely cranky and mean went after the boys, the mother skidded off into the lake.

I had a long chat with the goose family and tried to calm them down until we all retired and the mother nested agin.

Late the next evening, the dog returned and slobbered all over several eggs rendering them excluded from the clutch. By then, the family was very comfortable with me, all that is except uncle Archie Bunker, he just likes fighting. I went to the nest and sympathised with the couple, and although she would not sit on the 3 eggs, she was not ready to relinquish them either.

The little deliquents came once in awhile to poke sticks at the family to see them get riled up but never again approached the eggs.

My cats were very curious about the lady goose in the bushes, and they were so unintimidating, that the geese pretty much ignore them. I kept thinking I needed get new batteries for the digital camera, then forget again when out. But in the back of my mind, I pictured myself another Jane Goodall living amongst the geese and getting the privilege to record this coming "hatching" up close and personal, camera in hand, speaking in low hushed tones and possessing, I might add, the ability to "squat" and get up again. So Saturday I ventured off to get the batteries and begin the photo journal of a lifetime. When I returned Saturday evening the entire family was standing in a semi-circle around the area of the bush. Testing the waters, I went out to investigate. I walked slowly in bare feet toward what is obviously ritual when someone who has been sitting loses some of the clutch. She had discarded the three eggs by rolling them out of the nest onto the ground. I have never seen them so quiet. Stupidly, maybe, I requested to pick them up and take them away for her...AND THEY LET ME! I knew then that things were not settled and I was so right.

The next day when I returned home, I looked out the bedroom window and was absolutely stunned. All of the eggs were gone as were the mother and her mate. They obviously had spent a good number of hours moving each and every egg left to another safer place. I was devasted. They were gone. Part of the family still remains by my patio area -Archie Bunker and Edith- and they grumble and gripe constantly, Archie especially. He is smaller than many of the males and I think he tries to make up for that by challenging the world to a neck undulating feather cracking, goose screaming fight, especially when other family groups bring their gosslings around. Just yesterday there was such a gang fight going on--you haven't seen a fight until you see these humongous birds fighting to kill. Everyone left with broken fethers and swollen necks. I thought one of the ganders was dead and so did his mate. She poked around on him until he finally got up. My guess is not only was he deprived of oxygen for a while, but embarrassment played a big factor. In the pc game, Tumblebugs, they show a unique saying something like "when defeated, play dead".

At any rate, life goes on. I still miss the little mother and sometimes when she and her mate and an auntie stroll by the patio, and I am out, she will stop for a moment and we will exchange a few words and a friendly gaze. I am still waiting to see the hatchlings walk by with their family. Guess I will get busy unpacking now.

Oh, by the way, there are also many ducks, and a white Heron, and the lake is teaming with fish.

(Originally published 5/9/06)
*Until I catch up, I will be blogging earlier narratives. Because they build on one another, I did not want you to miss a single adventure.