My Homestead

Reader Contribution by Ginnie Baker
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I love living the country life. It’s hectic at times but usually slow-paced compared to the corporate world I lived in for quite a few years.

I have always been a “nature lover” and have been involved as a volunteer for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for a lot of years. I count the species at our bird feeders on that special day in December when some of us stay at home to count while others take to the fields and the woods across the country.

During the Christmas bird count this year, I had a Cooper’s Hawk decide to come diving in for Christmas dinner!

Wildlife, including birds, can be so interesting.

A couple of year ago, we had a male pheasant that always followed the pick-up truck as we drove down our neighbor’s lane, especially when John was going to the woods to cut firewood. He was here all spring and summer. He was gorgeous.

Birds aren’t the only wildlife out here. I learned very quickly that we have a large population of coyotes.

Typically, they are most active at night but the ones out here can be seen at any time day or night.

We heat with an outdoor wood furnace, which means a lot of wood cutting during the year. A couple of years ago, John was out cutting wood and saw several coyotes sitting on the hill above him just watching. He now carries a .22 caliber rifle with him for protection when he heads to the woods.

Although they reportedly are small, we have had one out here the size of a large German Shepherd.

They mate in February and have a litter of young in April. I was told long ago that the sound of a coyote howl is something that sends chills up your spine.

How true! They are in the woods behind the homestead and howl mainly in the early morning hours, around 2 a.m. It’s a sound that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up!

Because there isn’t a bounty on coyotes, the population is increasing. With two small miniature donkeys, Samson and Delilah, I take precautions for their safety, putting them in the barn every night.

On the peaceful side, we also have an abundance of small animals that are fun to watch and feed.

We have rabbits, squirrels of all sizes, woodchucks, deer and every type of small critter imaginable!

Last year, I was surprised to see the first Black Squirrel I had ever seen. It showed up one day to join the birds in chowing down on sunflower seeds.

I have a tree stump that is a favorite feeding place for a lot of birds. The squirrel discovered it and is now a daily visitor along with two other Black Squirrels.

I’m not the only one out here who enjoys watching the critters of the country.

Samson and Delilah enjoy watching our neighbor’s cows!

Our neighbors raise beef cattle and their son has been showing them for his 4-H projects for a number of years.

Samson thinks he’s either one of the bulls or he tries to protect them. He’s always at the fence that separates our pastures and grazes right along with the cows and bulls. He and one of the bulls actually rub noses through the electric fence!

Samson and Delilah also enjoy watching our neighbor’s two Belgians, Sammy and Burt.

While there is hard work on the homestead, there is also a time to sit back and just enjoy the beauty of the valley.

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