(No pictures, unfortunately; I didn't have the camera handy today.)
We have a groundhog; I'm calling it "he" because I think it's the same one that was here in the spring, looking for a lady groundhog so they could make whoopee. (If he found her, thankfully it was on someone else's land.) We came home last week and saw something on top of the giant pile of wood waiting to be split. John thought it was Mr. Poozle, since it was gray and large . . . but no, it was the groundhog, surveying his territory. At least until he saw us . . . then he wanished under the chestnut tree. (Come to think of it, I wonder if that's who's been eating all the chestnuts? The tree was loaded, but all we got was a measley three pints.)
Yesterday when I was getting in the laundry, I passed too close to the old oil drum, and there were frantic rustlings heading toward the hole under the house. I investigated, and found the faint beginnings of a path through the weeds.
Today we were going out (the monthly pilgrimage to the Shrine of Cat Munchies, otherwise known as PetsMart), and as I passed by the ruins of the old greenhouse, there was a mighty scuffling in the leaves and the sight of a furry tail vanishing into the ruins. Guess who?
I think he needs a name. Portly, perhaps; he's pretty good-sized.
This evening Mr. Poozle brought in a flying squirrel—alive. (He's soft-mouthed; he doesn't catch things often, and when he does he doesn't kill them intentionally. I think he's just curious and wanting to share: "Look at this! Isn't it cool?") I've seen two others in the nine years I've lived here, and they were both dead. Apparently there's a colony of them in the trees at the end of the garden. This one fit in the palm of my hand, and was so, so soft, with a lovely long tail . . . and terrified. I put on a garden glove, just in case, and retrieved him (her? I didn't investigate.) from the floor; I took him out to the woodpile and put him high enough to get a good gliding start if he lives. John says they go into shock easily if they're caught, but he was still bright-eyed and wary, and not breathing too terribly hard. I hope he lives; I don't suppose I'll know one way or the other, so I shall imagine him/her getting up, cautiously, and gliding off into the night in search of . . . whatever they eat.
And there are the usual squirrels and birds (less one titmouse, courtesy of Ysabeau. At least she ate it, so it wasn't wasted.), and a couple of game roosters (loose, aparently, or else escape artists) who come over every couple of days to see what's edible on the ground under the bird feeders, and the big roosters who have exited the goat lot . . . yes, these are the roosters we have been feeding for a year, nearly, while John planned to kill and freeze them any day now. Just for the record, there are no roosters in my freezer. Nor are there likely to be.
'Sokay. I'd much rather eat rice and beans and watch the old boys squabbling over spilled corn and attempting to intimidate the cats, who just sit and glare at them: "You just wait, you old so-and-so, until I get bigger. Then I'll have rooster for supper!"
On another note, we have not nearly as many raccoons and possums as we did at the start of the summer. I hate to see them killed (and I'm glad I don't have to do it), but I also hate to have them eat my chickens. This time cuteness loses to practicality: out of 75 or so chickens ordered at the beginning of the summer, six have survived. SIX.
However, the fifty-odd that were ordered in July (late for chickens here), all but three, I think, have made it. That's normal; you always lose a few. These have moved from the brooder boxes into the fenced-off end of the chicken lot, and have been there for a couple of weeks, getting used to the big chickens (and vice versa). Tomorrow, probably, we will open up one side of the pen and let them mingle at will; and I will probably put fresh straw under the chicken house so all and sundry can forage to their hearts' content.
Life. Just life going on, in spite of everything.