Where the deer and the antelope play

As you read the title for this piece I imagine you thought of the old song that it was from Home on the Range. Well I may not have antelope, but I do have deer, squirrels, and turkey.

One day as I sat on the couch reading movement caught my eye. I could see something moving out back by the tree that is planted there. I got up to get a closer look and found out it was a grey squirrel. He was running up the tree and down and having a great time. I think he was enjoying the milder weather after our deep freeze.

When I moved to the kitchen for breakfast the show continued. There were more squirrels playing out in the yard. I am not sure if it was a whole family or just a grouping of squirrels. They were running around the yard chasing each other. When one was nearly caught he turned tail and ran after his assailant. They ran into the oak tree that still had some leaves clinging to the lower branches. At that point they were hidden but not for long. Soon one of them was running into the higher branches with the other close on his heels.

I really enjoy observing animal life. Animals may not talk as we do, but there is definitely a form of communication between them. I observed the squirrels throughout breakfast.

Often the deer play in the yard so I am used to that. They come out of the woods to eat but take time to play a little. During the week a grouping of five deer were out and about. The younger ones chased each other to and fro. They’d run, and then stop quickly. The deer doing the chasing nearly ran into the one that he was chasing. Usually I can see the deer out my back window. Hannah, my beagle-spaniel mix dog, usually sees them first and alerts me. She does not chase deer, but she does enjoy being out when they are in the yard.

I have an Invisible Fence which she very much respects. It seems like the wildlife knows exactly how far away from the house they need to be so as not to be within her reach. The deer run and play, then scrape away the dusting of snow on the lawn and eat. When they are tired or full they retreat to the woods.

I also have a flock of turkeys that frequent the yard. It seems to be a hen with last year’s little ones. She wobbles on ahead, but stops when she senses that the young ones are not following her. Just like human children they become distracted. They see something or they decide to pester a sibling. I never know what sets it off, but soon they are scattered throughout the yard. Mother is usually in a hurry to get her brood out of the yard where they are very vulnerable. If the little ones do not follow she backtracks and prods them along until they reach the brush at the side of the yard.

I remember one spring when we had a family of foxes residing somewhere around here. The mother brought out the little ones every morning to play. My daughter and her two children were living here at the time. The children really liked to watch the little foxes jumping over each other and playing. They were just like kittens and pups. That spring we spent a lot of time by the bay window in the kitchen because we had an excellent view from there. Often they were out in the morning and again just before dusk.

There is the remnant of a robin nest on an old bird feeder. One year a robin built it and laid her eggs in it. I climbed up in the window area to look into the nest. I also picked up the children so that they could see into the nest. We watched those four light blue eggs for weeks before we were rewarded with the hatching of the brood. It was simply amazing to see those little ones hunkered down in the nest. At first they were pink, but gradually the feathers came. Because of the window we were able to observe the whole process. The children really were excited when the mom and dad began to feed the little ones. We did not have to dig out the bird book to identify these birds or to find out about how they developed. We watched the whole process happen. It was almost sad when those little ones decided to take flight.

There is much to be learned from nature. Now that the grandchildren are older it is not as exciting. I loved the stage where they were filled with awe over every little thing they found. They all still love nature, but it is different. Now, they are on to learning other things. We do algebra and talk about literature. We work on crossword puzzles and play word games. We play board games and other games from grandma’s closet.

When we played some games of Clue recently we talked about the board and the pieces. I know that one family has a newer board at home that they are used to using. I told them that my version had to be about sixty years old. I was probably was about ten when I received it as a Christmas gift. There is nothing wrong with my game. I have all of the original pieces although I have two lead pipes because it was bent one too many times.

We talked about computer games since they all play them. They agreed that playing this old game was still a lot of fun. We do not need a computer version to make it more exciting.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net