Friday, October 14, 2011

Wildlife Takes A Bow

This Mountain Chorus Frog looks
like the ones we found
(Internet Photo)
We saw a good deal of wildlife in September!  Most surprising were the two frogs we found hopping around in the garage!  One of the silver-dollar sized creatures was hidden under a tarp by the door, the other was hoping around in the middle of the floor (disturbed from its hiding place by our activities).  

Little Brown Bat (Internet photo)

We also saw Little Brown Bats flying around under our deck where our wood pile will go, in a room that is soon to be our office, and out under the eaves of the house.  There are lots of bugs flying around the ranch, so these are very welcome visitors.

Night Hawk  (Internet photo)
About a dozen Night Hawks (small moth-eating birds) also flew overhead early one evening.  It is very rare to see Night Hawks at all, let alone in a large group.  Kim and I were lucky enough to see one nesting on the ground in Spring.  They nest among the rocks using only the bare ground.  I almost stepped on her before she finally moved!  They are small birds, about the size of a Sparrow Hawk, and very cute!

Most of the chipmunks and squirrels are very happy with our visits as we always put fruit and nuts out for them.  However, one little guy is not so thrilled as we permanently sealed the access he had to our house and stole his stash of nuts, dried mushrooms and dried dog food.  

Wood Rat (Internet photo)

In our quest to reclaim our living area, we also relocated a Wood Rat from our house.  This little gal had been stealing our food at night and nesting under the shower pan which she accessed via a closet. We have been trying to track her down for months, and finally nabbed her and took her a few miles away to live near one of the lakes in the area.  She should be very happy, and we will be happier too.  She was a cutie though!  Looked more like a chinchilla than a rat due to the furry tail and big ears.

The mice looked something like this!

Mice have also shown their cute little faces this trip.  We pulled down a section of drywall in the garage to determine what had caused the hole in the base of the wall, and out fell about a dozen little mice! Tiny little guys!  Probably still very young, but quite ambulatory.  They ran outside and dived under the foundation.  I can see that keeping rodents out of our things is going to be an ongoing battle.  You’ve got to admire their spunk!

Cows also visited the ranch this trip.  We always see them down at the base of the mountain where their owner lives, and occasionally wandering around the National Forest and the unfenced pine acreage that surrounds us.  However, this time they actually walked over a downed section of fence and came onto our property.  It is very odd to wake up and see a herd of cows munching on the weeds near your house!  My boy Cody was in fine form herding them back through the fence opening. It made his day! 

What we have been very surprised and disappointed by is how few birds we have seen.  There are lots of bugs, as I mentioned, but very few birds.  Aside from the Night Hawks, we have only seen a few Stellar Jays this trip.  Oh, there are the usual group of summer migrating pelicans, Canadian geese, and a variety of small water birds down the mountain by the lake and lots of California Quail in the fields near it, but not much up here at the ranch. Odd. 

I think my most delightful discovery was the little one foot long garter snake that visited us near the house.  S/he was beautiful and delicate with thin yellow racing stripes running down her black body.  You hardly ever see a snake up close, so this was a real treat!

RV Gone!

 When Kim bought the ranch three years ago, she brought up an older model Fifth Wheel trailer to live in while she completed some repairs on the house.   

The trailer has sat unoccupied on the property for several years and sustained some damage last winter due to the snow load on the roof.  We tried all summer to sell it since it is clear it cannot survive the winters here.   

We like the new view we have without the RV!
Finally, we found the right guy and the right price and it is now off the property!  The ranch looks SO much better without it, and it has gone to a home where it will be put to good use. Yahooo!  

Electrical System Back on Sound Footing

During our September stay we were also able to get our electrical system sorted out with the help of a very good friend and his buddies who are professional electricians.  This has been a big worry for us as it was clear from the get-go that past owners and the resident squirrels, chipmunks, and wood rats have spliced and diced the system badly over the years.  
wire eaten by rodents

My brother, who is an electrical engineer, visited us in August to take an initial look at the system and promptly shut down several breakers pending repair of some grounding and wiring problems.  After our professional electricians took a look in September, the entire system was shut down! 

Although it will take awhile to replace all the damaged wiring and get everything up and running again, our friends were able to get us back on safe footing so we can start the repairs.  I don’t know which was worse, the “work” done by previous owners, or the work done by the resident rodents, but we are putting everything into metal conduit this time! 

New Stairs Up!

Thanks to a local contractor, Kim and I now have a new set of stairs leading up to our front door.  We were VERY happy to see them as we needed to move another trailer-load of furniture up to the house in September.  Three more loads to go and we will be all moved in!