It was cold Monday morning, so I had to warm up my little car before heading down the river road to La Farge. A half-mile from the house, I noticed something white and fuzzy down in the ditch. I pulled over and got out for a closer look. Sure enough, it was a small animal curled up in a ball and covered with frost.
As I bent down, the face of a little blue-eyed kitten peered up from under a frost-covered tail. He barely moved when I picked him up, and I noticed a scrape on his chin, probably from where he hit the hard, frozen snow when someone threw him out the window of their moving car. I really don't know how the kitten ended up in the ditch in the middle of nowhere at 15 degrees below zero, but human (ir)responsibility was, unfortunately, the first thing that came to mind.
Anyway, I wrapped him up in a towel and put him on the seat next to me in front of the heater vent. He was in bad shape, so I decided to get him to someone who could care for him. I took the kitten to three different places, including the sheriff's office, but no one would take him. The Humane Society was closed, but someone suggested I call a local, grassroots cat-care called Tabby Town.
A lady answered and when I explained the situation, she didn't hesitate. "Bring the poor little guy over. I'll take care of him," she said. I thought, this kind woman was an angel from heaven. I left knowing the little frosty kitty may have a future after all.
I find it sad that there isn't a place in our society where all the sick, injured and wayward animals, wild and domestic, can find care. There are far too few people with the compassion or time it takes to care for these animals without any public compensation. It's a constant battle, trying to get funding that is never enough. Wildlife rehabilitators give their hearts, souls—and their own money—to save imperiled birds and animals. It's time for our politicians to accept this very important challenge to help animals in need. Every one of us should be willing to show our concern for these helpless animals, and encourage our leaders to create public funding. Nothing but good could ever come of it, and the more good deeds in our lives, the better we will be for it. It's time for all of us to set an example for future generations, and provide a little compassion for animals in need of help.
The snow that is still on the ground has frozen hard as a rock and the deer can walk on top of it without breaking through. There still seems to be enough food for them, but it will grow more scarce with each passing day. For now, it's fun to watch a deer as she slowly walks along nibbling here and there at a clump of dry grass or the seed heads of weeds. She might even stand on her hind legs to reach a few cedar berries or a dried apple. A south-facing alfalfa field has become a favorite evening gathering place for deer. One night I counted 41 deer grazing where the snow had melted, exposing something green to eat.
When it's cold, the woodpeckers are busy searching the tree trunks and branches for insects under the loose bark. The pretty male red-bellied woodpecker is busy all day eating weed seeds, sumac berries and birdseed from the feeder.
I like to scatter some sunflower seeds and cracked corn over the frozen snow for the birds that prefer to feed on the ground. These include juncos, sparrows and mourning doves. Ground-feeding also helps to keep the blue jays busy and away from the bird feeders. I really enjoy seeing a few doves in winter. Seven of them come for a free handout each day.
I can always tell when there is a Cooper's Hawk in the yard, because of the way the other birds act when one is around. When all the birds suddenly fly for cover, I always look to see if I can spot a hawk. I was lucky today when I spotted a little adult male Cooper's Hawk perched on the brush pile where the birds had taken cover. He couldn't get to the little birds, so he thought he would just sit there and wait for them to come out. After about five minutes, he gave up and quickly flew off through the woods and the little birds reappeared. It's always a special treat to get a good look at a Cooper's Hawk, and even better when I can get a few pictures of one. They come and go so quickly I rarely get to see them, let alone get a picture. The male I saw today was in full adult plumage, with a beautiful blush-colored breast and rich dark red eyes.
Saturday morning there was an Asian Lady Beetle trying to climb up out of the sink. I placed a drop of water in front of her and she seemed eager to get a drink, which may be why she was there in the first place.
The snow came down in flakes as big as silver dollars Sunday morning, but it lasted only a few minutes. The snow turned to light rain and sleet during the night, and left a hard crust on the ground that was difficult to walk on. You never know what to expect from the weather in January, and it will be interesting to see what February has in store for us!
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