Tag Archives: Chicago

I looked up. It wasn’t Uriah, but a coyote!

The winds had picked up from this morning’s slight breeze, into a dust blowing, eye tearing, corn leaves whirling mess of a wind.   Instead of coming in from the west, the winds are whipping around from the east blowing into the west.

For me, that means everything is being blown down the driveway out onto the road, and then sprinting across the miles of open farm fields.

With this type of wind I can’t think when I’m outside. My hair is going every which way, and sound is indistinguishable.

I called to Uriah, who was running in a circle with his hackles up. I pointed towards the path. He looked up. Then he looked down, and headed into the trees.

I shook my head at him, and started to walk on the muddy path.  The night before Raccoons must have stayed up all night pooping. They had deposited load, after load on the path for me to step in. Slipping on the mud, I maneuvered carefully forward.

I could hear Uriah  as he crashed through the underbrush to my left. He came running out in front of me and stopped.

I looked up. It wasn’t Uriah, but a coyote, bigger than  Uriah, longer and taller, not fatter. This guy was slender.  His coat was gold, beige, and light brown. His fur stuck out at odd angles and he blended in perfectly with the tall dried grass around me.

If he had stayed quietly off the path, hidden in the trees and grass, I would never have noticed him. Except this beautiful guy had been hunting, and even now had his paw on a rodent. He stood frozen. 

Simultaneously we both noticed that there was only about a twelve inches between us. He turned his head slowly, with a look of, “Duh!”  He let his prey go!  Turned slowly away from me and raced up the path with his tail between his legs.

I just stood there, one foot still held in mid-stride. I had been taking a step when he ran out of the grass; I finished the movement, and stepped down.

Right on a pile of raccoon scat! You can guess what I said…

 When I continued walking the coyote was already out of sight.

At that moment Uriah came charging up behind me, fur upright, growling, sniffing the ground then headed off in the same direction the coyote had ran, north. I decided to walk to the south.  I could hear Uriah, as he huffed and puffed in the trees.

I headed back to the house. Uriah came up behind me, he looked very tired with his tongue dragging and a defeated look on his furry face. 

Coyotes have never bothered me on my walks and I have seen many of them. I’m not worried, I am not coyote food. They eat rodents, and small animals. Uriah is too big to be eaten, and too slow to catch them.

Raccoons on the other hand are dangerous, they will attack a human. They are also irritating buggers.

I grabbed a stick and started  to  clean my shoes!

 “Vernon Hills police” site –“Coyote Information”

“The name “coyote” (Latin name Canis Iatrans) comes from the Aztec word coyotl, which is loosely translated as “trickster”. Other names for the animal are brush wolf, swift wolf, prairie wolf and burrowing dog. The animal is in close relation to the wolf, fox and domesticated dog.”

http://www.vernonhills.org/thingsyoushouldknow/TheCoyote.asp#Description

Picture of coyote

http://www.weforanimals.com/free-pictures/wild-animals/coyotes/coyote-1.htm

Mice are perfect cat food

mouseIt’s nearly five in the morning. The heat is running and Uriah is asleep.  My cats are up and energetic, and the outside nocturnal animals aren’t bumping against the house.

This is that very quiet point of the day. I’m usually in bed, but Kenshin, my male half Siamese heard me tossing and turning and said ‘hello.’

I’m not about to step outside, its  freezing- 34 degrees. I am staying inside.

The walls are quiet; come to think of it I didn’t hear any scratching at all last night. Hopefully all the mice have been caught or chased out by the cats.

This has been a great summer for mice; they tried to have the run of the house. My cats were catching them at a rate of one mouse per week. Normally, the mice only try to come inside  in the fall after the farmers harvested their crops.

I still have a chance at more mice soon.  The farmer still has feeder corn standing tall in his south side field. The cats will be happy…

Country mice and rats are slightly different than their city cousins. They are cleaner, and healthier looking. This is my opinion, from what I observed of the little rodents, from my perch on a chair, the couch or in the bathtub.

Just recently a rat took up residence near the outside dog kennel, which happens to be right outside my office window.

When Uriah wants to stay outside all day, I put a cup full of dry dog food outside with him. The rat will come running as if I were feeding him. Sitting upright, next to the dog bowl, looking eerily like a cartoon rat. If it starts talking I’m in trouble.

That rat’s days are numbered.  The hawk has been circling the deck and I have seen the owl during the day a lot this summer.

Just to clarify I don’t like mice or rats running around where I live! The comical run though the house with me heading for high ground is not fun. 

A couple of weeks ago, Kenshin came running out of the kitchen, inches behind a large mouse. I happened to be walking into the kitchen at the same time. I had a mouse and a cat running in circles around me, literally! 

Cats are great mousers. I am not!

Cats love to give me mice. I have learned how to be thankful when they drop them at my feet or on my chest when I’m sleeping…

Keeping with the Green theme, I don’t use poisons. Poison is very bad for other animals that feed on mice.

Besides, a mouse is the perfect cat food, And a cat is a pefect mouser.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:House_mouse.jpg

Fly Low Among The Fields~

cows

This afternoon ~the weather is holding up. Temperatures in the 70’s, winds have picked up and so has the noise level.

There are a lot of small planes flying over head, okay, maybe three or four. To me that’s a lot of planes. I didn’t notice if the gliders where out. They soaring above me occasionally and I hear a high pitch whine if they are coming down to fast.

Early spring, I was outside near the barn when I heard an odd high pitch, engineless sound above me. I couldn’t see anything until the glider came around the trees, very low. I could have touched it. It dipped between the barn and the trees, and then continued on over the farm field where it landed on the farmer’s air field. I went in the house and called the air field and let them know they had a plane down. After that I try to keep and eye on where the planes are in the air.

At least five people are shooting. At what I have no idea! When I first moved in this area, over fourteen years ago, I would rarely hear anyone shooting. Times have changed! People move in, see the open spaces and set up a target. That’s why I walk around wearing a very fashionable bright orange jacket.

Smoke from burning leaves and branches drifts past me. Reminding me, my burn pile is over flowing with branches. I tried to burn some weeds, leaves, and those branches a couple of weeks ago. They wouldn’t catch fire. I gave up.

I learned after I burned off my eyebrows, if something doesn’t want to burn give up.

I stood back and watched the farmer’s cows trotting towards his barn. Must be milking time!  Uriah showed up, nudging my hand for a treat. He chose the Liver Snap, then sat back and stared at me, whining until I gave him the Milk Bone

Milkweeds, Snowballs and Wishes

400px-Milkweed-in-seed2

I have been trying to grow milkweeds on my property for the past fourteen years. I have some milkweeds with whitish flowers, and some with pink flowers.

When I first moved here, the Milkweeds were small and very few, they were about ten inches high and scrawny. A neighbor, in Chicago, had credited me with the first monarch butterflies he had seen in years. So I pulled out my squirreled away milkweed seeds, saved from my Chicago plants. They were tall ones, three to maybe five feet tall.

I wanted to bring that out here. This is the country; it should have been easy to grow wildflowers, right?  Well, not really. When the farmers spray the fields in the spring I lost the majority of the milkweeds. A few survived growing next to some trees or protected by tall grass. Each year they made the attempt to grow taller and stronger. Until finally had a patch in the front, near the drainage pond. Last year, that area flooded and the milkweeds sat in deep water for over a month and everything turned black and molded.

This year I had a small patch closer to the driveway. I watched it all summer. The plants grew between three and five feet tall. Even when they started to die down, the stalks stood straight and held onto the seed pods.

I was expecting to grab a couple of seed pods, like I do every year, and save them in the garage until spring. Two days ago, the seeds burst out of their pods, in a puff of pure white, sparkly, silky blur. The small flat brown seeds were connected like tiny parachutes waiting for the winds to catch them. For a moment, serenely, they held on to their pods, narcissistically I assumed they were waiting for me to notice them.

I did a double take when I walked out to get the mail.  Surrounded by a variety of browns and dried dark greens, and sitting on those splotchy dried stalks the  pods had burst into view. At first glance, I thought I was looking at snow perched on the end of a branch.   

I have to admit, second and third glances they still looked like snowballs.

 I waded through the dried grass to get a closer look. At that moment, a slight breeze made a wish and the seeds drifted around and above me, the seeds littered the grass, and wafting along on each breeze.

My first thought, “The Monarchs will love this.” Then I remembered that sometimes the farmers use Bt insecticides their crops, not very beneficial to Monarchs. 

We live in a world of chemicals, electromagnetic radiation; poison rain,… the list can be endless. All this makes me wonder how one person, not pouring chemicals into the land can help?  Help will come when we start to love the so called, weeds again and stop being afraid. Fear is a reaction to things we don’t understand.

I wonder if I make a wish with one of these seed pods, like a child when holding up dandelion that has gone to seed and wish for ,…What would you wish for?

 

 

This site has a description of what, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn pollen is;

“Colorado State University”

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/00707.html

Here is some information from the, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Pesticide Review;

http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/ipr/i4188_829.html

“Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacteria that occurs naturally in the soil. It produces an endotoxin crystal that attacks the gut membrane and creates pores, which cause leakage and swelling. The swelling continues until cells burst, which allows the gut contents to leak into the insect’s blood, disrupting the blood pH and resulting in paralysis and death within 24 to 72 hours. In Bt corn, the genes in the bacteria that code for the production of this endotoxin crystal are inserted through genetic engineering into the corn plant. The resulting corn plants produce the endotoxin crystal, causing the death of caterpillars that feed on them. This toxin is produced in many locations of the corn plant, including the pollen.”

Picture of Milkweed-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Milkweed-in-seed2.jpg