Possum and persimmon update

I don’t think I have to make the case that possums like persimmons. That seems to be pretty much common knowledge, even way up in Chicago:

“Moonlight hunts, hound dogs, and possums grown fat on persimmons and roasted with sweet potatoes, are justly celebrated in songs and stories about country life down south.”

At least that’s the way this Web site puts it.

We don’t do hunts by moonlight or otherwise, and we don’t eat possums with sweet potatoes or without. We do have a dog with at least some hound in him, and we do live in the country down south. And the possums are eating persimmons.

In fact, a possum has nearly stripped the persimmon tree I mentioned in an earlier post. I counted four persimmons left on the tree today. A couple of days ago a lot of the fruit was gone, but there were still quite a few out on the long, thin branches. When I saw the possum in the tree a few days ago I wondered what it would do about them. Now I think I know.

I mentioned in another earlier post about finding small branches lying on the ground under the tree with ends neatly chewed into small cone shapes. I think the possum has been chewing the branches off, letting them fall to the ground, and then climbing down and eating the persimmons. It doesn’t seem to find all of them, though. For the last few days Zeke, the part hound dog, has been sniffing out the persimmons the possum misses and eating them.

I haven’t actually seen the possum eating persimmons in the tree, chewing branches off the tree, or eating persimmons off the ground, but I’m pretty sure the case has been made.

“Friday” Felines

We missed the normal publication time for Friday Felines, but Mark is scheduling this post for 11:59 pm Friday night so technically we’re still on time.

This is Smokey’s affectionate side.

smokey good side

He hops up on the sofa between us and settles in with his head on one of us, purring away, waiting to get his head scratched. He seems like such a sweet kitty.

And then he goes outside and terrorizes Chloe. He chases her around until she jumps up on one of the deck railings, and then he sits and waits for her to come back down. Sometimes it sounds like he’s killing her. He also chases poor Dusty around. The truth is that the outside cats haven’t had such a good life since Smokey and Sylvester came around.

We are thinking of relocating Sylvester and Smokey to good homes. That seems really backwards, since they are both more like the kinds of cats I’m used to, but since Chloe, Rusty and Dusty were here first, we feel an obligation to them. It would be really hard to find homes for those three, especially the two semi-feral ones. I really hate to do it, since I have a relationship with Sylvester and Smokey (Mark not so much).

Impatient Opossums

As I mentioned earlier, Nature decorated the Chrispersimmon trees at the front corner of our property. The decorations go on early, and we usually just leave them up until Nature takes it course.

Zeke has been extraordinarily interested in the two little trees for several days. Every time we go out for a little walk around the house, he sniffs excitedly around the base and sometimes stands up to reach as far into the tree as he can. I shine the flashlight up into the tree, but I can’t see anything different.

Christmas night I found out what was going on.

The decorated Chrispersimmon Tree, Christmas night

The decorated Chrispersimmon Tree, Christmas night.

The possum decided to take down the Christmas decorations. He’s way up there.

Is he grinning?

Is he grinning?

Possums are just unsentimental, and impatient to boot.

‘Twas the night before Christmas

and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a …

Hey, Zeke, come on, you know Santa will never come if you stay up looking for him.

Zeke, get away from the door

Go on, Zeke, go to bed and go to sleep.

zeke in bedGood dog. Hey, Chloe and Zoe, you heard what I told Zeke!

chloe and zoe at the doorEveryone go to bed, right now!

That’s right, Lucy, good dog.

lucy in bedYou, too, Sylvester, good kitty.

sly kind of asleep

Come on, now, Smokey, you  aren’t fooling anyone.

smokey faking itLook, even Zoe is asleep.

zoe asleepOK, I think everyone is in bed.

And soon, we’ll be visited by that right jolly old elf …

st dogolas

St. Dogolas!

And so, from Leah, Mark, Zeke, Zoe, Chloe, Sylvester

happy christmas

and to all a good night!

Screech Owls

We have two or three kinds of owls on the mountain. I have heard the barred owl and the screech owl, and possibly the great horned owl. Until recently we have seen only one of the larger owls, and then only a fleeting glimpse as it flew across the road and it was illuminated by our headlights*. And then over the last couple of weeks I have seen screech owls three times. Unfortunately, on two of those occasions they were dead.

Here is one I found lying along Fouche Gap Road last Tuesday, Dec. 17. I am not positive of the identification, but based on what I have read, it’s the only native Georgia owl that’s as small as this one was. Both were lying on their backs and I didn’t turn them over to get a better look. The size of this one was consistent with the eight inches given by several sites, although it might have been slightly smaller than that.

Dead owl, Fouche Gap Road

Dead owl, Fouche Gap Road

I made the shot with my iPhone. It’s overexposed, and all the detail in the lighter areas was completely blown out.

The first one I saw was also lying along Fouche Gap Road on the opposite side of the mountain. Their bodies were apparently scavenged quite quickly, so I assume both of them had been hit by cars the previous night.

It bothers me to see any animal that has been hit by a car, but these exquisite little owls were really sad.

The third screech owl was alive. I saw it some time between the two dead owls. I was taking the dogs on their last walk of the night. We were crossing the leach field that’s on the downhill side of the house. It’s surrounded by woods. Zeke had stopped and was watching something intently. It was so dark that all I could see was a vague outline that appeared to have some lighter spots. I assumed that it was Chloe, although I have never seen her in that location. When I turned on my flashlight I realized it was a bird.

Zeke was staring at it from about six feet away. The owl was staring back. I was afraid Zeke was going to charge it, so I pulled him back. At that point the bird flew away into the woods.

It was an odd confrontation. I wonder why the owl didn’t fly immediately. Maybe it had caught some small animal and didn’t want to leave it.

* Which reminds me of another time I saw an owl. It was in 1977. I was living at Lake Tahoe, and Leah’s brother Dan rode his motorcycle out to visit. We took our bikes on a long loop up to Washington and across to North Dakota. We had ridden into the night and pulled over some place in North Dakota to check a map or something. When we pulled back out onto the two-lane highway we were on, a huge white owl appeared just ahead and above my motorcycle, just at the edge of the headlight beam. It accelerated with me for a while and then eventually flew away. It was one of the eeriest and coolest things I have ever seen on the road.