Saturday, June 4, 2016

My Sister's Backyard

My sister Kathy, and her husband Jim, have a large backyard.  It's about an acre in size, has an narrow irrigation ditch running near the far fence line, and they have a garden plot, a raspberry patch, and a wide variety of trees.  Several of the trees are cottonwoods, and there are elms, pines, a weeping willow, and a few apple trees.  The apple trees are a remnant of the apple orchard that stood where the neighborhood was built, and the irrigation ditch was also a part of the orchard.
  I've spent a little over two hours a day for the past three days in that backyard.  The first hour with Rosie, the elderly Irish Setter, and the second hour with Emmett and Nicodemus, two Jack Russell terriers.  The first hour with Rosie is always quiet and contemplative - her "walk" is really a short stroll two ways to my sister's yard, just for a change of scenery for Rosie.  We usually see several neighbors along the way, and also greet other dogs and dog-walkers - Rosie is very social, but no longer has great stamina, due to her age (14).  Once we reach my sister's yard, we usually stroll around the perimeter, and then Rosie lies down in the sun and soaks up her vitamin D.  Me, I read, or visit with my sister if she's home, or watch the birds and wildlife, or just sit and think.
  When I return with Demus and Emmett, it's another story.  Emmett spent the first five years of his life in a wire crate in a basement; since he was rescued, he loves being outdoors - even though he was afraid to walk on grass at the beginning.  Nicodemus, on the other hand, just wants to play ball - I throw, he returns it; easy.  Emmett is constantly sniffing, looking, rolling, chasing, and exploring the entire yard. Demus and I do the ball thing...
   For many years, a chickadee pair has used a woodpecker hole in the apple tree as a nest.  The tree is next to the TV room and the dining room, and is beside the back deck.  Three days ago, I was interested to see a small brown bird disappear into the hole - it was definitely not a chickadee, and my fleeting impression of it was "a wren."  Another bird returned and sat on the apple tree branch, among the leaves and sang a bright, rolling song.  I've never gotten a good look at the bird(s) since, but I keep hearing their songs , and seeing them in the leafy branches.  I finally called my sister last night, and asked what type of bird they had in the old chickadee hole.  It is a wren.  That made me feel a little better about my identification skills.
  Also, yesterday, while the wrens were serenading Rosie and I, I glanced behind Rosie and saw a large cottontail rabbit emerge from the rose bushes.  I immediately clipped the leash onto her harness in case I needed to restrain her (which I did) and we spent 30 minutes watching the rabbit move back and forth across the yard, eating dandelions and washing it's face.  Once the rabbit had gone back to ground, I released Rosie and she decided she had to trail it's scent.  With Nicodemus and Emmett, later, the rabbit never showed.  (I wonder why?  Hee-hee!)

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