Critter Crazy!

 

What is a farm without animals? For me, the chickens and the farm cats certainly lend themselves to my farm image, as well as our St. Bernard and two Chihuahuas. (Farm Chihuahuas, you know.) But I am finding this place includes many other critters calling this small herb farm their home.

Last week, while we were relaxing on the side porch just as dusk was darkening the sky, we heard the most interesting sound rustling from our nearby old Maple tree. We have watched red fox squirrels scamper across its branches, downy woodpeckers and nuthatches peck at its bark, and lightening bugs brighten its shadow, but this was a sound uniquely haunting. It took three of us several moments of searching with flashlights until we found a beautiful eastern screech owl looking agitated down on us. I’m sure we were quite a sight, gawking up at it with our mouths hanging open, dancing about excited at our discovery.

Mindy was able to snap a few photographs of our visitor before it got too dark. We felt blessed at this rare sighting as it flew silently away towards the back of the property. I have always loved owls since I was just knee high to a grasshopper and was pleased to have had this visitor.

The next evening when Mindy got home from work, she noticed the cats slowly circling around an object on our porch. She turned on the porch light and began excitedly yelling at me to grab the gloves and high-tail it over there. A very frightened, fluffy and angry baby screech owl was clacking its little beak at the cats as it was trying to find a safe place. Mindy gingerly picked it up with the leather gloves on and placed it in our critter cage while I wrangled cats away from the sweet baby.

We found a quiet, dark corner in our pantry safe from the cats and called the non-emergency sheriff’s department number. A kind operator gave us the phone number for the Department of Natural Resources who then guided us to the Indiana Raptor Center folks in Brown County, Indiana. The next morning, Mindy was able to deliver the baby owl to a knowledgeable veterinarian fairly close to us who would take care of it until the Rescue folks could pick it up. Last time we checked, the baby owl was doing fine with only ruffled feathers and a hearty appetite for filet of mouse. It was housed with other rescued owls and will be released as soon as it was mature enough to fend for itself.  We are proud owl caregivers.

We are also proud to report that we were able to watch the first gawky flight of the young robins who were nesting under the eaves of our porch. A few weeks ago we had suspected they were getting close to fledging and had kept the cats inside for several days until they were safely independent. Mastering flight is an amazing thing to witness!

We’ve spotted baby bunnies taking their first tentative forages beyond their nests (some of them straight into my vegetable garden), baby tree frogs clinging to herb pots on our front porch, and deer frolicking in the cornfield just to the west of us.

The chickens  continue to mature and fill out and we are looking forward to their first eggs sometime in late August early September. Dolly Madison, one of our Buff Orpingtons, keeps a close eye on all of the farm shenanigans near her coop.

I hope you are having a most whimsical day and enjoy this summer season!

 

 

 

Summer Daze!

 

It seems like we moved from a chilly, wintry April right into a hot, balmy Summer with only a shy nod at Spring. And with the humid, muggy heat of Summer comes the unexpected thunderstorms. In about the time it took me to feed and water the chickens and spread fresh straw in their coop, the sunny sky turned ominous and the wind began to whip out of the west. As I stood and watched the dark clouds move quickly across the cornfields, I noticed a slow circular momentum and decided it was time to high-tail it into the house.

I grabbed Kayla from her bedroom and moved her into our enclosed pantry and rousted Mindy from her nap. She noticed the locust trees practically touching the ground as they were bent over from the force of the wind. By the time we gathered the animals into the pantry the rain began pounding on the roof and hail was bouncing off the country road.

In the space of a few worried moments, the storm had moved through the area and the quiet of the gentle rain was a relief. We made our way outside to assess whatever damage may have occurred. The chickens were fine, although hunched tightly together in their ‘attic’ quietly bawking, and the two cats that were still outside had rode the storm resolutely. Their tails looked like bottle brushes, but they were unharmed.

We were fortunate as we only had a few trees down and piles of broken limbs and branches. Other homes in the area were not so lucky with damage to their roofs, fences, and large up-rooted trees.

The sunset that evening was breathtaking and glorious. We are often reminded of the beauty as well as the power of the Divine, momma nature, and our earth.

The next day we had plenty of help from the farm cats cleaning up the mess and even discovered a blooming wisteria vine that had been uncovered from the canopy of a fallen tree. Pookie-poo supervised from the comfort of her hay  bale and we now have a burn pile that rivals that of the Burning Man festival. Here’s hoping the wicker man doesn’t get any ideas.

Whimsical Moon Herb Farm is looking forward to the bounty of summer as the black raspberries ripen and the sweet corn and tomatoes continue to grow. The herbs enjoy this heat and I am thinking I may need to begin cutting some of them back and drying them for our herb crafts.

Check back with us again soon as we continue to grow our farm and our herb business. Have a most whimsical moon day!