April 21st, 2008

me and my vulture

Goin' wild (now with fire-related action!)

So, we had a garage door to pick up and half an acre of lawn to rake and seed this weekend. It was an exciting couple of days, not least because of this:

http://www.nbc12.com/home/17954734.html (Forest fire devastates 600 acres in Buckingham County Saturday)

It came within a mile or so of our house, and the place smelt like woodsmoke for the entire weekend. We were driving back from theblueleader 's house with garage door bits strapped to the top of the truck, and we got quieter and quieter as we got closer to the house, since we couldn't tell where the smoke was coming from. We got stopped by some firemen just past the house, who told us that the fire was close, and they were evacuating people on the other side of rte. 610 from us (about 1/2 a mile down the road). We went back to the house, and packed in case we had to evacuate.

*pause to build tension*

The house is still fine, and I didn't need to attempt to fit a baby grand piano into the truck, but watching the smoke was disturbing.

In happier (but slightly frustrating) news, this was the weekend for wildlife around the house, and of course, I forgot the camera. I found a large-ish (3 feet) rat snake hanging out in the driveway, and Bob caught it so I could admire it (they get a bit stinky, but they're cool as heck), then moved it so it wouldn't get run over by the asphalt guy who was coming to price our driveway. Then, while cleaning bits of plastic and slate from the bit of the lawn where the old house used to be (in preparation for re-seeding), I heard a grunt, and looked up to see the two local black vultures in one of the black walnuts, all relaxed and groovy, watching me. I later saw one on the roof of the old barn, looking for all the world like a Halloween prop.

Saturday evening, we got a yearling doe and her mother right up by the house - yearling had lost her spots, but was still knock-kneed and incredibly cute. She stood and stared at us through the window (she was about 15 feet away) for a good while. Of course, this means all the nice plants will have to be behind fencing, but for the moment, there's nothing for them to damage, so I like having them nearby.

Bob found a very Heath Robinson-esque squirrel nest in the wood shop - all fiberglass insulation (itchy!) and bits of paper - and I will get a pic of that next time, as it's epic. I saw baby squirrels frolicking in one of the black walnuts on Sunday, so I assume the nest is now empty of babies, but Bob was watched by a large squirrel on the second floor of the wood shop, so it may still be occupied regularly for sleeping. It's a nice dry set up, so I can't blame the squirrel.
All we needed was a turkey or two, but we haven't seen them in the yard for a while - though I bet if I put out corn, they'd come out of hiding. We hear them in the woods all the time. 

Blech.  Tired now - I'll be more insightful tomorrow.  Right now I'm just glad we aren't filing an insurance claim for fire.