Tim found our retirement property about 4 years ago. It is across the road from my brother in law and sister's pasture that hooks around behind the local cemetery. It is a sad and neglected place, with years of rubbish dumped. It had a huge beaver dam in the little stream that runs through it, which kept probably 1/3 of the property wet and poorly drained. The beaver also damaged a great many trees, and some of them were what Tim would call 'good ones'. That was the first order of business, taking care of them. We did. They moved across the road and built another huge dam (it makes me laugh a little that I am always adding an 'n' to 'beaver dam'. In thinking about it, I've decided that is actually not incorrect.) That damn flooded the entire western end of my BIL and sister's pasture before they were able to get that cleared out.
So beaver are incredibly destructive. They have their place, I suppose. The only thing that I know for sure is that their place and our place need to be two different places.
We had bunnies, and Tim liked that. Their numbers were not excessive, and there was one who used to come to the edge of the brush line to watch us sitting around the fire. With a little work, I think that he would have become tamed.
But, nature being nature, and the circle of life, etc. the rabbit population took a big hit. There were at least three dens of foxes across the road. That was a fun summer though, watching those kits grow.
We have the occasional visits from the local bear. When we walked into the land previously known as 'the swamp', we saw a young apple tree, spindly and struggling. Now that the land is drying out, it should do better, poor thing. I looked at it and said, "Something has visited," and it had. Something had circled around the base of that little tree, something that laid down to eat its fill. Tim said, "Huh. That's bear."
I sense yet another game camera in the our future.
The game cameras we do have pick up all sorts of critters. Tim was sure that we had a coyote. They are very wary critters, but he saw signs. His major clue was scat that had the dirt scuffed up around it. That is the behavior of a member of the dog family: they do their business and then briskly 'wipe their back feet'. Sure enough, the game camera caught a large coyote walking up the driveway as if he owned the place. The everlasting disappointment to me is that they didn't handle the woodchuck population, which was totally out of control on that poor neglected land.
We are of a live and let live philosophy (unless we are stocking the freezer), but the woodchucks had to go. I was using a livetrap and relocating them. Tim was less patient, and shot them, one after another, five of them in one notable afternoon alone. He put the carcasses in a clearing, and they were always cleared away by one predator or another before our next visit to the property.
While fun to watch, these creatures are a problem as well. We really have too many of them at this point. It's hard to plant when they are hard at work undoing everything that you are trying to do.
My cousin had been severely injured in a car accident. A deer leaped in front of him and came right through his windshield. He has some physical limitations due to the accident. He's always been an outdoorsman. He had made his peace with the fact that he'd never trek out into the woods to hunt again.
That story bothered Tim. We had the perfect set up for a hunter of limited mobility, and he opened the property up for cousin Tim to hunt on. I made a family joke. My Tim is Tim Buck One. My cousin Tim is Tim Buck Two. Tim Buck Two was able to pull his vehicle right up to a shooting shed. Last year Tim Buck Two got a small buck and was over the moon.
This year Tim Buck One spent a lot of time and money improving the land to include Tim Buck Two's hunting area. He was able to brush hog it, and to remove yet more of the two generations of junk left by the previous owner. He took down some dead trees. He had a small pond put in that serves two purposes: it drained a wet area below the garden, and it also made a nice place for the deer to drink when they cross the stream to help themselves to the windfall apples from the trees.
Tim Buck Two got another buck this year and it was a nice one. He has told us over and over again how grateful he is. Over and over again, we tell him that we're grateful for the help. We really have too many deer and they are a problem.
Last weekend, Tim's game camera caught a good look at what we thought was a feral cat. We were a little confused. Our feral cat, 'Get Along', is black and white. This cat was black, solid black. A long hair. We thought perhaps we had another feral cat, but the camera caught it clearly. We have a fisher! Tim is delighted.
We have a nice property that we are taking back from nature. It has been used as a junkyard for many years. The plants have grown wild. We are trying to clear the land, and to make a garden and to establish berry plots. We are building the equipment shed needed to house the tractors we use to achieve our ends.
Next will be the green house. We know where it will be, and the roof run off from the garage will provide an onsite water source for the plants we grow.
After that, we will begin on our house. The ramshackle little house on the property now has snakes in the walls, probably drawn by the abundance of field mice. There are two raccoons living under the porch. (They never miss an opportunity to sneak inside dilapidated house if they are given a chance.) An unknown creature lives in the basement and we hear it scrabbling away from us when we go down into the semidark.
My poor husband also has a wife who (at 63) has lost a great deal of her adventurous spirit. We've got enough trouble to make our peace with the creatures outside, let alone do battle with them inside the house too. The unreasonable woman has demanded a new house, and refuses to budge on her demands.
Tim stayed late last week to work on the property. I had a lot of stuff to get done and none of it was at the property. I took my car and left. He was going to drive the truck home later.
On his way home, from the side of the road came a hawk on a dive bomb. Sure it would hit the windshield, Tim flinched. It ended up colliding with the truck grill and made an astonishingly loud bang. Tim pulled off as soon as it was safe, and checked. It had taken a chunk right out of his grill.
He turned around and headed back. He wanted to get a closer look at the hawk because it was huge. He thought it was a red tail. You never have an opportunity to see a bird of prey close up like that. He was sad that he would be looking at a dead bird.
Much to his surprise, the hawk was standing there in the middle of the road.
He was relieved to see that it wasn't dead, but that's also a bit of a problem. He didn't have any way to gather up an injured hawk for transport to the Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. You can't just pick up an injured hawk, sit him on your front seat and drive off. They're not amenable creatures.
He pulled his truck to the side of the road to ponder the situation.
Glaring at him with his fierce hawk eyes, the hawk turned, spread its wings and lifted to the sky,
When Tim told me about it later, he was still awestruck.