First Flight

I know my little happies have tended to all be around the same theme--country living--lately. I guess you can tell where my contentment is coming from...and why I've been too busy to write.

A hawk perches on a white metal barn roof, white hot in the summer sun. Proud and tall, he surveys the surrounding fields, ready to take off in a perfect dive over the pasture. Wait, we take a closer look.
This hawk is newly fledged. It's almost full-sized, but it's tail-feathers are the long, striped training feathers that help a new hawk learn to fly, rather than a striking fan of red. This hawk isn't perched for flight, it's peeking nervously over the edge of the barn roof, flexing its wings, considering trying another test flight. Finally, it launches over the edge. No striking dive after a mouse. This hawk frantically flaps his wings, reaching, reaching, reaching for the nearest tree branch. Finally, awkwardly, he makes it.

We've been excited to have a nest of hawks in the trees on the edge of our property, and today, the first hawk fledged. We were lucky to watch his first flight!


Cat Patrol

My Adventures in the Country, Part Two: Cat Patrol

My dachshund Nixie is, in many ways, a prissy princess--a city dog. She prefers the sidewalk to the grass. She barely tolerates the yard if it's not freshly mown. She puts one paw into snow and steps back in disdain. And she'll do absolutely anything to avoid getting wet. The closest she's come to normal dog instincts was the unforgettable day a few years ago, when she actually caught a squirrel. The fact that it was a young, confused squirrel that ran toward the house instead of the trees, and the fact that because she was on a leash, we were able to pull her away from her catch within seconds, did not in the least take away from her glorious victory. She was able to shake that squirrel thoroughly for a few satisfying moments. I'm convinced that squirrel was severely mocked by his squirrel friends.

But now, Nixie may actually be starting to enjoy being a country dog. We have let the grass grow into hay in part of the pasture, but we've mowed paths throughout. Nixie bounds across the backyard to reach the paths, apparently because paths are the closest things to sidewalks the country has to offer. She explores each path rigorously, every day.

For several days we've noticed a stray cat wandering through the paths, stalking our birds. Well, yesterday, Nixie finally caught the scent of the cat. I didn't even know she had a single tracking instinct. The only thing I've seen her scent out is barbecue brisket cooking in the crock pot, or a stray jelly bean under the couch. But her excitement when she picked up the scent was all-consuming. She bounded around the yard like a deer, her tail straight up behind her like a hunting meerkat. She was positively quivering in anticipation. Of course, though she tracked the cat all the way to the creek, she didn't manage to capture it. But she was clearly satisfied to have chased it off the property--she pranced about proudly, having successfully ensured her yard was completely cat free.

Just another rousing day in the country!


Time Waits for No Tweet, or, The Taming of the Shrew

So I've not kept up with my blog. And I was so proud of myself for a solid start. Sigh. I don't have time to tweet, poke, blog...I'm failing my technology. Ah, well...an update a few times a month is probably more my style. Everyone can officially lower their expectations of me now.

Here's my happy for the day (or at least a little funny)...

My Adventures in the Country, Part 1: Taming of the Shrew

First, our birdseed drew in the mice (into our garage). We set traps, caught the whole happy little family.
Sad day for mice. But our traps were probably more humane than what would have happened if Nixie or Hayley ever noticed them.

Anyway, so yesterday morning we hear a scream from the downstairs, where the garage in question is, as well as my mom's walk-out apartment. The reason for the scream is the baby mouse she sees running from under her bed. So, in keeping with the traditions of strong, brave women in our family--she proceeds to scream, while beating wildly at it with her shoe. A plaid house shoe, I believe.

She then runs upstairs to ask for my help--apparently the mouse is unconscious, but breathing. So I go and get a sack. Okay three plastic bags, used to fashion a glove, and a big paper bag. Must not be too careful. We safely bag the mouse, thinking it's not unconscious, but actually dead.

We had a nagging doubt, though. This baby mouse didn't look much like the other mice we caught. So I went to my husband, bag in hand. He opened the bags, and low and behold, there was a live, uninjured SHREW prancing around in the paper bag. A baby shrew, no less. Suddenly we pronounced the former pest adorable (it really was quite cute, scurrying around the bag like it was happy with a new home, or just happy not to be presented with any more plaid footwear). So glad it wasn't dead, we decided to save it, and let it go at the creek behind our house. So it can breed more shrews to invade our house, I'm sure.

And what didn't occur to me until later, was the fact that shrews are actually carnivorous. If the birdseed didn't draw it in, what did? And where, oh where, are its parents? I must say, country living is not for the fainthearted!