Monday, December 23, 2013

Shapes of Life (and Death)

1. Cruising the lake yesterday I came across a snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), about a foot long, basking in the damp grass. I had totally failed to trap any of these guys, but they do threaten the toes of young swimmers so I bundled him into a tote and shipped him down to Bob's creek about half a mile away. Trouble is they seem to have an aquatic GPS so he might come back. I should have daubed his shell with a

Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
 yellow blob. Here he is! Incredible feet. Apparently they snap because they are too big to quite fit inside their shell, so they need to be aggressive. Shame - I like these guys, but I cannot explain to them that the damage they can do makes them unsuitable for this lake. They have no historical claim - they wandered in after the lake was made. Still I feel bad about displacing them. Did I break up a family? If they have only a reptilian brain, would my finer feelings be lost on them?

2. The horses all left two days ago.
Red (Houdini): master of escape
Finally Dena took them away:  Baylee, Bucket, Charlie and Red (Houdini). I had spent much of Saturday a week ago rescuing three of them from the distant neighborhood. Red just breaks through fences, and the others followed. Sad, again. If they had been willing to hang out on 175 acres they could have had the run of the place. That was the freedom through training idea of Vicky Hearne in Adams Task. Great relief to see them go, and yet. Closest to bad feeling with Dena. She did not have the time, support or resources to care for them here. She did not feed them winter hay, which they needed. 
Here is a picture of Red from the previous post.

3. Possums play possum, i.e. play dead. A perfectly preserved dead one appeared near the house. (The fur of another one was by the barn.) What's going on? 

Not playing possum!
I don't like possums. Their grin seems evil. And yet it is hard not to warm to them just a little when they are so vulnerable. The look is just the same as when they are alive. Makes me think we should not judge by appearances. He (she?) always was a mortal creature going about his business. "Who am I to judge", as the pope said recently.
Why are they dead? Rabies? It turns out possums rarely get it. Probably a dog, or two different dogs. My neighbor's dog Pinto killed my cat and could have killed the possum.

4. Four turkeys were pecking in the horse field this morning. A family group? They start very easily, wary of the slightest creak of my door, or crunch on the gravel. Here are three of them.

 And for good measure, a close-up of a male display. If people knew they could do this, I doubt Thanksgiving would ever be the same again. 
How pretty am I?

5. Dying goat. For over a week now an old goat has been lying down. I dragged him into the barn, where the corpse of a recent friend already lay. Cottage renters who were vets gave him all kinds of stuff intravenously. Randall gave him Cydectin for worms. But he has no strength in his legs. Cannot stand up. Euthanasia? I fear he is not long of this world. His eyes are still alert. He does not (even) have a name. I worry if I name him he will die immediately. I will take his body to a necrology lab in Nashville. Just gotta know what's ailing these guys, Herd is down to six. One doe looks bred. Spring kids?

Animals everywhere, living dying. I hope I'm doing the right things by them