There's nothing like floating along in a canoe on a Sunday afternoon—especially if it's a perfect, sunny autumn day on the Kickapoo River. I found myself sitting in that canoe last Sunday with a couple of good friends. As always, the river landscape was inspiring, and the beautiful autumn colors gave us an extra rush of fall fever. It felt good to have a paddle in my hands, and to spend quality time with friends who love the natural world as much as I do. I often think to myself, how blessed I am to live in these beautiful Kickapoo "mountains."
Seems I see an eagle most every day somewhere in the six miles of riverside country road between Organic Valley in La Farge and my home in Viola. The wooded landscape has turned to brown and beige, and the big black and white Bald eagles are much easier to spot.
There are still a fair number of bluebirds passing through. They have one of the sweetest calls of summer, and I'm glad they hang around so long. The latest I've seen them here is the 12th of December, but there were several reports of bluebirds that spent all last winter in southern Wisconsin.
Many of the chipmunks have already started hibernating for the winter months. In years past, the chipmunks would be asleep by the second week of October. I'm reminded of the chippy that visited the bird feeder all winter last year. It was the first time I've ever seen one so often after the cold comes. I'll be watching for them when the real cold comes, along with the snow. How many hardy little chippies will appear this winter?
My old house always gets a few new tenants when the temperature drops, and this fall is no exception. There are always a few Deer mice or White-footed mice who think the house would be a nice place to spend the winter. Three have been caught and moved elsewhere in the past week. They are trapped in a live trap for mice, so I can move them to another location. The problem is, there's usually a mouse or two that knows enough to stay away from the trap. It's the same with the snap traps: there are a few mice who wouldn't go near it no matter what you use as bait.
The secret to catching mice may be in using clean traps. I might have better luck if I wash the live traps. Anyway, the mice haven't done any damage yet but I did find a handful of sunflower seeds in one of my winter boots. It's time to put the old guitar in its case, too, because I found a couple of hickory nuts rolling around inside it. Deer mice and chipmunks are both chronic stashers; they spend most of their time hiding seeds and nuts in little stashes. There have to be lots and lots of these stashes, because it goes on year-round for the mice.
If there weren't anything laying around for the mice to eat, it would help a lot. Seems I need to get better at not leaving things for the mice to nibble on. Last night I left some squash and apples next to the sink, and in the morning one of the apples has a quarter-sized mouse nibble in it. If I didn't leave anything laying around for the mice, it would help keep them away. The older I get, the softer I am, but I might hold the line firm if I find a mouse nest in the sock drawer. The truth is though, any animal that is resourceful enough to survive winter in Wisconsin has my respect!
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