Thursday, September 21, 2017
Country living is a dream come true
It’s a typical summer day at our house. The sun is shining, the bees are buzzing and the flowers are in full bloom. I’m writing this column sitting outside and counting my blessings as I listen to the squirrel’s chatter at the bird feeder while a variety of birds and our two Dachshunds try and chase them away. I love living in the country.
I am a born and bred big-city girl but every summer my family vacationed at our cabin in Crestline in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was there that I learned to love fresh air, listen to the mysterious sounds of critters in the forest, ride horseback and watch the black bear families forage at midnight through a nearby dump by the headlights of visitor’s cars.
It was also there that I learned to love birds and enjoy the fun side of my grandfather. Grandpa J.D., the business man, always wore a 3-piece suit in the city. In the mountains, he wore casual clothes and trained Blue Jays to sit on his finger. He would sit for hours, gently tugging a peanut on a string, enticing the birds to come closer. It took days but ultimately, they became friends and a peanut award awaited them. I never mastered that art.
I always dreamed that someday we would live on a tree-lined property, near a lake. Well, surprise! Dreams do come true. Twenty-eight years ago, we moved to Cottage Grove Lake where all kinds of adventures awaited.
Our animal adventures began immediately. The first critters that we heard were scratching in the walls of our bedroom! Our house had been unoccupied for awhile and MICE moved in. They were not welcome and had to go. Later, on a walk, a fox ran through the meadow and a bear surprised us at the lake by scrambling down a nearby hill.
Across the street from our house, a lot of squawking was going on. Looking up we saw the biggest nest ever—an Osprey family had hatched their noisy chicks. Their parents were vigilant and protective. One day I looked up to see an eagle headed down the creek towards the nest flanked by two Osprey. It wisely turned away from the chicks before a confrontation.
Whenever logging goes on up the hill from us it chases wildlife out of their habitat into our neighborhood. Our former neighbors, Jay and Audrey, had a pond on their property that a local cougar claimed as his own! Summer days he would sprawl out on the street in front of their house and at night come onto the property for a drink! He was also interested in their sheep but their Dobermans and a tight barn kept them safe. Rumor is that there’s been another cougar down at the lake recently.
One morning Audrey called to say that there were three long-horn cattle on their property. Did I know who they belonged to? I didn’t but someone later claimed them. Another day we woke up to three ponies at the back fence trailing their ropes. Their owners also found them. And then there was what the cat drug in. One day Misty Mouser came home from the meadow dragging a rabbit! He was still alive and we took him back to the park.
Learning to co-exist with the deer is an ongoing battle. They love our roses—all 75 bushes. Early on they circled the property during the day scouting out their nighttime dessert. At dusk, they sometimes would just camp out on the driveway where they made a friend of Lady, our German Shepherd! Deer and dog would greet and touch noses like old friends!
The same deer regularly decimated the vegetable garden until Chuck built a Stalag 17 type enclosure and now the tomatoes and cucumbers grow in peace. It took hot wires around the rose beds to protect the flowers. Of course, we must be careful if there’s a power outage. Critters know when that hot wire is cold!
Recently, I saw the sweetest sight ever. It was evening and a tiny newborn fawn on wobbly legs was following her little mama up the road to a safe place. Absolutely precious. Oh, how I love country living!
Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.