Nature Journal            

I'm going to be making entries under each month.  I think it will be fun to compare what's going on year to year.      

January  

 2007  Today I saw eight wild mustangs walking single file behind the property on the other side of East Valley Road.  This is the first time I have seen the wild horses since I saw them grazing on the dried cheat grass back there last November.  They ended up two lots away grazing on more dried cheat grass.  There is always a stream of water going through the reservoir that is empty during the winter and so they never need to worry about water.

            I counted about 16 red tailed hawks on my way to Carson City the other day.  They are so easy to see when the trees have lost their leaves for the winter.  I understand that there are even more than usual this year.  I discovered this when I took an injured hawk that was sitting in our backyard to the rescue center.  Apparently he had been blown into a power line during one of our "overly strong" winds that sometimes come up during the winter.  His wing joint was singed and he could not fly but the attendant said that he should heal up quickly.   I had taken him about 20 miles away and when I inquired if they would release him back here, they said that it would not be necessary as he would have no problem finding his home territory.  He seemed so quiet and easy to handle that I asked the attendant if red tailed hawks are friendly and she just laughed she said no as she put on her heavy leather gloves to catch him and take him out of the cage that he was in.   I don't know why he was so easy to catch and pick up originally.

2010  Found out that our herd of wild horses was penned up by one of the people down the road and they plan to keep them and tame them.  I understand that they have a nice space and all are well and happy.  The new owners had to get permission from the BLM.  I wonder how long it will be before another herd finds our location.

February 

 2007           This month I have seen several pairs of mallard ducks in the front pond.  First one pair, then two and then three.  They don't stay long though.  The dogs are very good about not chasing any bird that walks on the ground like quail or killdeers but I wouldn't be surprised if Cleo, the part Labrador, went into the water to say hello.  I don't think her coat allows water to penetrate and she is always in the pond except in the coldest of weather.  I didn't go on the Eagles and Ag tour this year but I understand that everyone was able to see at least a few bald eagles that come into the valley to feed on the after-birth that is available after the cows have their calves.  Personally, I have yet to see any bald eagles although I saw one up close and personal when I visited Jackson Hole this month.   I've also seen my first robin (just once though.)  A couple of dozen quail were on the front lawn this morning.  They were feeding on the bird seed that has fallen from the bird feeder when it blows.  Saw the wild horses again today on the other side of the street behind us.  There were two small foals with them that were not there.

    2008        Well, I was right about the horses.  Two weeks later another herd had replaced the original one.  Last week we had warm sunny weather and I saw two mallards in the front pond as well as a robin.  During the summer we do not get ducks in the pond because of the fountains that are necessary for aeration.  I looked back at my notes for last year and I see that February was the month that I saw Mallards on the pond last year.  Right now there is six inches of snow on the ground and melting rapidly.  There is a red tail hawk hanging around in the trees.  I wonder if it is the one that we rescued last year.  One of our big winds last November or December caused the wooden sign in front to flap and it ripped out the large two inch screws.  I guess we'll have to brace it on the bottom.  

March 

 2007   Spring has come early this year.  I have heard my first pond frogs, the crocus are up and the daffodils are blooming.  The tulips aren't up yet and it always snows on the tulips so we shall just see what we can see.  The pastures are turning green but it's hard to know if we should turn on the pasture sprinklers yet.  If a hard freeze comes along and we haven't drained the pipes, they will break.  Some have automatic drains, but the others have to be manually drained with a four foot "key" or rod.  We are setting records with the heat (80) and the horses are shedding out their winter coats. 

2010  I saw my third set of mallards this morning on the pond.  They always leave when the fountains start up.  The quail are out in full force.  We have three bird blocks placed around the property.  Splash, the tabby cat, now has a collar with a bell as he has been known to kill more than mice.  He has decided that he wants to sleep in our garage instead of the barn so we have put in a cat door for him next to the dog door.

April 

 2007       The robins are here, the killdeers are chattering away in the fields at night, the grass is green and the tulips are up.  It's also freezing at night and there was snow on the tulips the other day thanks to a late season winter storm.  Saw another pair of mallard ducks in the pond last night.

          You don't often see real cowboys, but the other day I saw five of them plus a Border Collie riding off across the field just off of Buckeye Road.  When I came back I saw that they had rounded up the cattle and were roping and branding the calves in the catch pen at the side of the road.   

        I also visited the Dangberg ranch house which has been turned into a museum.  It was quite interesting to see the kitchen where six meals a day were prepared, three for the hands and three for the family.  It was located close to the food preparation house where food and meat were stored.  There were lots of giant crocks for making sauerkraut for the German family.  Strangely, their daughter had said that they never ate potatoes.  The grand piano, beautiful hand carved furniture and lovely wall paper in the main house made quite a contrast.

2008     The crocus have finished blooming and the forsythia and daffodils have taken over.  The trees still haven't leafed out although the quail were in the yard last week.  This week has been very cold and I haven't seen them again.  I wonder if they hibernate in cold weather?  If so, where and how?

2010    Third week of April and four inches of snow in the morning.  The daffodil beds are completely covered.  The big pink tulip bed by the barn is in full bloom.  Each plant has around six or eight blooms.  I have no idea why these bulbs do so well.  It must be that they are protected from the wind by the trees to the west, the house to the south and the barn to the north.  Other exposed tulip beds have bloomed once and then never again.  The forsythia has barely sent out shoots.  The peonies that we planted in the back flower bed are starting to come up.  The other plants are barely up.  

        We had to put Mika down at 17 years of age and now have a five month old pound-puppy (Lab/pointer cross) to replace her and keep Cleo company.  We named her Angelina, Angel for short, so we now have a Cleopatra and Angelina.  Midnight or Rascal seem a more appropriate name for her right now but I am sure she will be an Angel when she is grown.  I hate to sound like an overly proud parent but she is sooo smart.  She already bosses Cleo (7 years old) around.  Fortunately she is in the local dog training class.  Interestingly enough, most of the dogs in class this time are grown dogs.  Very few wild puppies.

May 

 2007      The wild horses have been back for three days in a row.  There are seven mares and one stallion.  There are now four babies and one mare about to pop.  Dad is a gorgeous dark chestnut color and although the mares are all bay, most of the babies are chestnut, some with a flaxen tail.  They were all grazing in a neighbor's front yard.  Those are rocks in the background.  Pictures below:

2010  Another pair of mallards were on the pond this morning.  That's about six pairs so far this year.  They always fly away when the fountains start up.  It's the first week of May and the lilacs are just starting to bloom. 

June 

2007        The Dutch Iris, Water Iris, Siberian Iris and peonies have come and gone to be replaced with day lilies and daisies.

This morning my dogs went out to get the paper for me and ignored the killdeers running around on the ground like the good dogs that they are.  But the poor birds were going nuts because they had a baby that was doing its own thing.  Unlike some other species, killdeers have no instinct to follow their parents, but the parents have the instinct to protect the baby.  When one of the parents saw me and the dogs approaching, she flew about 15 or 20 feet past the baby and put on its injured bird act to draw our attention away from the baby.  All the while, both of the parents were squawking like crazy and the baby was totally ignoring them and going its own way.  The baby looked like a brown marshmallow running around on toothpick legs.

July 

 2008      Dailies, lilies and roses are all in bloom.  Horses have lost their winter coats and are slick and shiny.  Yesterday we discovered a large moth that had just emerged from its cocoon and was drying its wings.  It was the same grey color as the wooden table but on the rear in the center there was a very small florescent raspberry colored shape that looked exactly like a small butterfly pointed in the opposite direction.  It reminded me of the fish with a large circle in front of its tail.  Predators think it's an eye and the fish will be moving in the opposite direction than it really is going.  This must be the same thing.  A predator will think it's a small butterfly and either not worth bothering with or that it will be going in the opposite direction.  If someone knows about moths, I would be interested in knowing if we have discovered a new variety.

September 

   2007 Asters and roses have replaced the daisies and we have spent the summer replacing the drip lines.  Moral:  never put the large drip lines next to small trees because they grow up and pinch the 1/2 inch tubing shut.

The wild horses have been around quite often this summer.  Two days ago they were directly across the street on the small patch of land that belongs to us eating the various grasses and weeds that grow between the trees.  We have been using flood irrigation amongst the new trees and I am hoping the rabbit resistant flowers will take over.  I noticed that the horses did not eat the gloriosa daisies and I assume that the rabbits will not either.  There are only 13 horses now instead of 16.  I understand that the stallion stepped in a hole and broke his leg and I would assume that something happened to one of the mares and her foal.  Some of the mares have really long  snarled manes that hang down in places to their knees when their heads are down.

A couple of nights ago I heard the coyotes barking excitedly in a high squeaky voices, I call it chirping.  It's fun to hear from a distance but not up close when you have new kittens in the barn, so I turned on all the outdoor lights in case they were anywhere close in hopes of scaring them away.  Later in the early morning I heard the horses running and wondered if a bear or something had startled them but never did find out.  

A great white owl was hanging around for a couple of days.  That too is not good for kittens.  At first Mario thought it was a cat up in the tree because of the tall "ears."

I thought that it would be exciting to report that a bear was seen just a half mile from here a couple of days ago but then my foreman's son reported a bear in our front pond at 10:00 am yesterday!  I was sitting on the back patio and didn't even see him when he walked around the garage by the barn, looked my way and then walked off into the valley.  Later, someone by the street said that while we were looking for him in the valley and the ditch, he had returned, walked across the front of the yard and headed for the house.  Never did see him!  We are keeping the cat food in at night now though.

Our calico cat was hit by a car and was replaced by two calico kittens that are now three and a half months old and they were joined by three male tabbies that are two months old and are too pretty to be boys.  As we still have Andy, the short haired black cat, and Twilight a fluffy black cat from the pound, we certainly shouldn't have any mice around.

October

2009  What a surprise!  Two inches of snow early in the month.

November

2007      All the leaves are off the trees and the lawn is turning brown.   The local herd of horses is gone now because one of the neighbors complained about the horses going on their lawn and so the BLM rounded them up. Most of the people liked the horses and so lots of nasty letters were written for publication in the local paper because they turned down their neighbor's offers to put up a fence to keep them out.  However, due to the lack of rain last year it may be for the best because I was concerned about where they were going to find feed this winter because lawns don't grow in the winter.  They will be well fed in the BLM pens and I am sure another herd will replace them next summer.  Whenever you remove one herd, another takes its place.

The Tabby kittens are so friendly that the boarders keep threatening to take them home.  We've bought more cat houses for the barn and so all are snug and warm although the temperatures get below freezing in the barn.

December

  2008      Temperature has been in the single digits for the last few days, heating up to the 30's.  Leaves are gone, fountains brought in and flowers nothing but brown leaves.  When the sun shines and the sky is blue, the brilliant white mountains silhouetted against the sky are really something to see.  The horses have their winter coats and go into their shelters when the wind blows.  We have yet to see rain.

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