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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Truth About Some Cats

Just look at the picture below me.  How old do you think that cat is.  Four weeks, four months.  NO, he's four years old.  And how much do you think that teensy,weensy little thing weighs.  Fourteen pounds, if he's an ounce.  Now I, on the other hand am three years old and weigh, eleven pounds.  And I'm going to set the record straight.

I was born an only child and spent my gently raised toddler time in a gracious home; while some cats were born in a barn.

Maia here:  All right you two the inmates are not taking over the asylum.   Sorry guys.  You've had your say.  Now what pithy and insightful thing was I going to post.  Hmm...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hello, Equal Time Please

Am I cute or what?  Aren't I as cute as that stupid fawn?  We cat's demand equal time.  We were here first.  So the next several posts had better be about us. 

Dweezil and Sqigg

Hey Dweeze, where's my picture. You Hoo, where's my picture.   I'm cute, too.  This isn't fair.  WHERE IS MY PICTURE?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

He Came Home

He came home today.  I was so beside myself.  He came home.  About a month ago I heard gun shots and I haven't seen him since. I tried to be big about it.  I understood when I first started caring for these deer, that hunters would be a necessary evil.  But I didn't want it to be him.  Not my good big boy.  And it wasn't. He came home.  Pixie brought him in.  She does that.  I stood out in my yard and I told him how happy I was to see him and how much he meant to me.  He was hungry and thin, too much F and F, I suppose.   But I looked straight into his eyes and told him how much he meant to me and how happy I was to see him. Guys, he looked tired and starved, but he came home.

The Cast of Characters

Someone asked me on flicr, "So, Maia, where are the deer? I've been all over this blog," which I'm sure wasn't too hard to do," and I don't see the deer.  There's a reply I could make about the first page, but I won't.  snicker:)

So here they are:

1.  Pops

Pops is the deer, I mentioned in the previous post.  The one who protected his little group and stood guard while they ate.  At the time I assumed, because he was bigger and more muscular he was a male.  However, after my internet research on deer behavior, I learned that the males do not stay with the females.   So I named her Madge, as that seemed fitting for a large, aggressive, muscular doe.

Then one day last May when I was sitting on my deck watching the group, I noticed something was growing on the top of Madge's head.  What on earth.  I'd been right, Madge wasn't a female at all.   She was a he, and his name is Pops. 

I haven't seen Pops for awhile.  It's rut season and I assume he's out doing his manly bit.  It's a hard job servicing all of those horny does.  But good old Pops is soldiering on and I hope to see him by Christmas.

2.  Charlotte

Charlotte is the alpha doe and if Pops is the protector Charlotte is the disciplinarian and the She Who Must Be Obeyed.  I've seen her run off several stray deer who were naive enough to stumble into her territory.  She decides who in her little group eats first and leaves when.  Up until recently, she was the one who ate first and left last.

She is also an excellent mother.  I'll be writing more about that later.

 Vivi is Charlotte's yearling fawn.  She has to be Charlotte's because if she wasn't, Charlotte would have run her off months ago.  She is the one who eats last, if at all,  and leaves first.  I don't know when deer achieve sexual maturity, but things could get interesting if both Charlotte and Vivi end up with fawns next year.  But then again, by the time May rolls around I might notice something growing on the top of her head and decide to name him Victor.  Without getting closer than Vivi would be comfortable with, it's really to soon to tell.

Pixie is this year's fawn and the sweetest little pea on the planet.  It's been wonderful watching her discover her world and explore new situations. Her interactions with the cats have been histerical.  I shouldn't have favorites, but this little girl (crossing fingers) is by far mine.  She is now the deer who eats first and leaves last.  But I expect there is a very good reason for this which will go into a later post.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Do You Believe in Magic

It was one of those winter nights when moonlight reflects off the snow and the air glistens with possibilities that I first saw them.  Five deer were lined up at my feeding areas, from the largest to a yearling fawn.  They were thin, wary; and looked as if they had been traveling, only resting here for a moment before heading on.

In order to get a better look, I walked out onto my deck.   Seeing me, the largest deer stepped forward in front of the group, reared up and pawed at the snow.   I immediately went back in, but he remained stationary guarding the rest while they ate.  He stayed there until all of his group turned and moved silently into the woods.  Then and only then did he follow.

"it's alright, Pops," I said as he left.  Your safe here and the buffet will be out again tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

 There he is folks, the nemesis on my bird feeding premesis."  The rodent that, in his greedy feeding frenzy, had managed to break almost every bird feeder I had.  But finaly there was hope.  Hope in the form of a twenty pound bag of something called Critter Dinner.  A formula guaranteed to lure squirrels away from temptation.

So following the directions on the bag, I dumped a big pile of the stuff at least ten feet away from any and all birdfeeders.   Then I filled my one remaining bird feeder with bird seed and scattered some more  on top of the snow in three separate areas.

Job done, I went back inside. Within a few minutes, the cardinals found the scattered seed.  At last, the poor birds were finally getting something to eat.  Did I mention that the pest loved to chase the birds away from the feeders.  After he was in sole possession of his objective,  he would knock the feeder down, breaking it open, and then eat all of the seeds. And these were guaranteed squirrel proof bird feeders.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to go outside the next morning and find that every seed, every nut and every corn kernal was gone.  My feeding areas were picked clean.  It was as if that miserable rodent had put up a big sign directing all of his likeminded friends and relatives to Maia's, Abundanza, 24 hour, All You Can Eat Buffet. 

I was so mad, I felt like taking out a gun and shooting him.  Presupposing I had a gun, which I didn't and I don't.  So I was left with the only other alternative I could come up with.  I would  give this routine some more time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Woods Were Lovely Dark and Deep

I had a pretty good idea where Roxy lived, so one snowy morning I set out to find her den.   From my internet research, I'd learned that foxes liked to create homes in high ground. And, it was my understanding that about 1/2 mile away, there was a very likely hill.  Likely, because it was the only hill in our area , and doubly likely because through the years several generations of foxes had lived there. 

I  came prepared.   I had a tinfoil pie plate and the highest quality dog food I could find.  It was loaded with vitamins and antioxidents and the blurb on the back of the bag  guaranteed  that your canine companion would love it.  While I don't have canine companions, I do have two feline ones, Dweezil and Squig; and they were following me.

Locating the hill and what I assumed was her den, I sang out, "Roxy, foxy, I have a little treat for you.  A little treat for later.  Right now, you just stay snug in your house. There's no need to get all nervous and come out and defend your territory or investigate anything.  We're just going to dump this yummy food and leave."  Well I was just going to dump the food and leave.  The cats had other plans.

From the corner of my eye I saw Dweezil making a beeline for her den . "Dweezil" I screamed," as I scrambled up after him, "get away from that hole" I grabbed him by the tail as he was half way in.  "Trust me on this one," I admonished as I got a firm grip, "Roxy does not want to be your friend, and if you go down that hole, you're not going to like what you find at the bottom." Did he listen, hell no.  Because right then, I lost my footing, slipped backwards,  and slid down the hill. Sensing a window of opportunity, he jumped out of my arms and ran back up.  As I was chasing Dweezil away from Roxy's den, I noticed Squigg dive face first into the dish and start eating. "Squigg," I yelled as I grabbed Dweezil, "the last time I checked you were a cat.  That's dog food. Get away from that dish right now."  In response, he turned, gave me his most deceptively innocent "who me" look, and then calmly went back to eating.

"Great, this is just great," I muttered to myself as I grabbed Squigg. I was, wet, cold, covered in snow and carrying the two squirming cats.  Oh well, at the worst, I figured, our performance  certainly gave the cross country skiers a good laugh and hopefully we gave Roxy something nutricious to eat that she was guaranteed to love.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thawing A Little More

One night, last January, as I was managing my flicr shots, I heard a very distinctive sound coming from the fields out back.  It could mean only one of two things was going on out  there.  Either, there was a masked maniac with a chainsaw chasing some victim, OR there was a female fox in heat, advertising.  I immediately remembered my conversation with the bobblehead, "it was a little golden fox and it looked hungry."

There was an underage blond fox soliciting.  It was snowing.  She was probably hungry and cold and, if she had anything to do with it, before too long would be a mother.  I drummed my fingers on the desk.  I could help her.   Just for the winter.  Give her babies a good start.  I wouldn't be really involved.  Just sort of helping out Roxy.

OMG, I'd named her, what next.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Beginning of the Great Thaw

One day, about a year ago, I was out for a walk when I bumped into one of my neighbors.  She is one of the those consistantly cheerful sorts, who's major claim to fame was feeding that repulsive feral cat.  So being polite, I asked how kitty was doing, at which point she turned into a bobble head and the conversation went something like this:

Me: "So how's it going with Mr. Kitty?"
BH:  "Blah, blah, blah, Mr. Biggie's got a buddy."
Me to myself:  "Oh great. Now there's two and soon there will be a hundred. Great, just great."
BH: "Blah, blah, blah, and they share with each other.  It was so sweet, blah, blah,  blah. But they won't share with the fox."
Me:  Shreik: FOX !!! A fox approached you?  Did it look sick? Was it rabid?  Do we need to call animal contol?  Where exactly did that fox come from?"
BH:  "I don't it where it came from. It looked perfectly healthy, only it was sort of small and it looked hungry."
Me:  "Was it  a tiny, baby fox?"
BH:  "No, it looked like it had just been kicked out of the nest. Sort of a tween aged fox."
Me:  "Den," I corrected to myself, not wanting to get into a discussion of den verses nest.
BH: Continuing along, unabated. "It was a pretty, golden color, but the kitties just didn't like it and wouldn't share.  In fact, Mr. Biggie, smacked it right in the face and then it ran off."

Walking away from this scintilating discusion,  hard as that was to do, I continued on and promptly forgot it. 

Things stayed that way for the next few months.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Where We Live

I live in Maryland and share my life with my husband, Tom, cats, Dweezil and Sqigg and horse, Miss Kitt.  My backyard borders the an area called the watershed.  It is protected by law and contains acres of open fields,woods, rivers and streams.  Up until a year ago, I considered it nice.  As in isn't it nice that no one can build where I can see them. But that was about the only positive thing I could say about it.  Mainly I considered it a breeding ground for the insects that ate my roses, the weeds that choked my garden, and the ticks that never seemed detered, by my liberal application of repellent. Dweezil, being 1/2 maine coon cat is the original tick magnet. Oh yes it was also home to the black snake that ate my garden toad, the ferral cat who periodically beats up my guys, and the squirrel that decimates my bird feeder.  It was not exactly my favorite place on earth.  But all of that was about to change.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Start of it All

Yesterday was just stellar. All of the deer, well almost all of the deer came back and Roxy was out in the back fields practicing rodent and rabbit control. Dweezil and Sqigg were up to their usual stuff and I have finally decided to breed Kitt. Whew! But wait. This is what's going on now, but it doesn't tell anything about who the deer are, who Roxy, Dweezil, Squigg and Kitt are; and how I went from being a sane, rational photographer, to the neighborhood's Ellie May Clampett. So I guess like all good tales, I'm going to have to begin at the beginning.