One of the pleasures of our new place is that since we’re no longer in an urban neighborhood, we get to see animals that we just didn’t have much exposure to. What was once a rare and noteworthy thing risks becoming commonplace, but so far that has not become the case!
Not long after we moved in here, I was moving some things from the shop to the barn. I stepped out with my arms full of some things and spotted a deer no more than 40 feet away, just munching on my lawn. I stopped and slowly and carefully set down whatever I was carrying and got out my phone so that I could hopefully snap at least one picture before the deer spotted me and almost certainly ran off. And I got a good one!
And then, because it didn’t run off, I took another shot. And another. And more. It was about then that I realized that so long as I didn’t approach the deer, it really didn’t care a bit about me being there. Eventually, I got bored of taking pictures of this solitary deer and went about my business. After about ten minutes, the deer got bored as well and wandered off. Nature!
Deer have probably been the most numerous, larger animals in the area. If we happen to travel from our place to Longview or Longview in the early mornings or near dusk, odds are good we will see a few deer.
And, they continue to come up hear the house and display little to no fear.
Some evenings, we might even get a drive-by from some young buck!
Currently, there is a trio of young deer, probably does, who like to munch on our front lawn and Christina now looks for them daily, a little disappointed if they don’t wander by. They often will perk up and watch us, ears up, but other than that, they don’t seem to be overly concerned about us.
I will admit, I yelled at one deer who was trying to munch on some early spring flowers. This is to be expected and I get it, but I also start to see why many people around here see the deer more as vermin than anything special. Some folks go to quite a bit of effort to keep them away from gardens, flower beds and fruit trees. It’s tough, though, to keep out an animal that can bounce six feet in the air without trying really hard.
We have been told that there used to be a couple of large elk herds around where we live. But, more than a decade ago, Elk Hoof Rot disease pretty much decimated the herds. I have read that it has improved since. We have seen one elk, a young male, in our yard, near dusk. He was a big boy. We wish him well. We didn’t get any pictures. He was a bit skittish.
One of our most annoying adjustments is around controlling the rodent population. They are everywhere. In fact, for the first month or two that we lived here, we could hear them in the ceiling above our bedroom, which effectively meant in the ceiling of our room, which was the floor of the room above. They would run/skitter/scamper the length of the room at 3am and I would often wake up and it was not okay. We eventually contracted a pest company to come help us and after a month or so, we were able to get our place better sealed up and used poison to get rid of the ones who were confused about who should or shouldn’t be living in our house.
Additionally, I’ve learned how to identify the difference between a mouse and a vole (voles have longer, pointy snouts – other than that, pretty much a mouse’s Country Cousin). They tend to live out in the yard and fields around the house. I may or may not have ended a vole’s life with my lawn mower, completely unintentionally. Maybe.
We also have moles. They tend to seasonally pop up mole holes and the further they are from the house, the less likely I am to try and trap them. I have some success in trapping them.
On the upside, to help control the vermin population, there are a number of snakes who I don’t mind. Much.
We have seen lots of birds up here. We have bald eagles who live nearby as well as other raptors with some seriously impressive wingspans who will wheel about above our house, especially on warm days, due to the thermals which help them float with little to no effort.
Additionally, we have heard several woodpeckers and a variety of other birds. Several birds have committed suicide by hitting the windows in our house. Sometimes they just get knocked out, but a few just don’t make it. One fellow hit a window on another building and snapped his neck, but not before he got his beak wedged in the screen, making disposal a difficult challenge.
We did hear a very weird noise some evenings. Turned out to be a species of owl that lives north and south of here on the west coast. I don’t recall the species, but it was unfamiliar to me and I’d never heard that call before.
Christina’s favorite has been the hummingbirds which the prior owners fed regularly and now they have come to expect the same from us. They seem very irritated and put out if they come visiting and the feeder is not full of tasty, tasty sugar water for them.
We have heard that there has been a cougar who lives in the area, but I don’t think it’s been spotted in some time.
We do, however, definitely have a Bobcat. Named Bob (by us), because that’s the only option, I think.
Bob presumably sups on rodents and small animals like rabbits that it probably catches in the area.
If I had a chihuahua, I might be concerned about Bob. But, if I had a chihuahua, I might also just offer it up to Bob because it’s a chihuahua.
We have definitely heard coyotes in the area. Coyotes have the most striking calls, sometimes sounding like a pack of small children. Which can sound pretty chilling at night.
We have our fair share of insects up here. Christina does not like bees and we have both those and hornets. So, if they make their way in to the house, they are showed out immediately, typically at the end of a flyswatter. Sorry, bees and hornets: Poor life choices.
We had quite a number of Wooly Bear Caterpillars this year, which I just learned turn into Isabella tiger moths.
Also had this little guy, a spotted tussock moth caterpillar.
It’s funny, one of my utterly irrational reactions is to spiders that surprise me. That’s a very quick path to dying, because my lizard brain thinks it’s the spider or me and it’s probably going to be me, so there is lots of swatting if surprised. But, if I know they are there, I can appreciate a good spider. Like so:
I know the spiders are good hunters and help control the insect population, but some part of my brain remains convinced that they’re planning on taking me out at some point. Might have something to do with the number of spider webs I’ve walked into as a 6’4” person.
We also have had a skunk in the area. We could smell it and our neighbor got video of it on a trail camera.
One of the oddest, though, was a day when we had some contractors working on our deck and I heard one of them call my name. I came over and he was standing next to a pretty large pig. This came as a surprise because we do not own a pig. To my knowledge, no one in the neighborhood has a pig. Not having any better idea what to do, I shooed the pig off down the driveway to either find its way back home or go harass someone smarter than me who might know what to do with a runaway pig!
It’s been fun living out here and getting familiar with the local wildlife. Mostly. I’m never going to be a fan of rodents. Christina is always going to be ready to kill anything that has a stinger or buzzes aggressively. But, that’s what we’ve chosen and it’s been fun so far!
Shout out to Midjourney for the masthead image above. Special thanks to the AI-powered fever dream that created the fox/deer/bird hybrid just left of center bottom. Dunno where that came from, but I’m glad it exists!