Turkeys in the yard

We often see groups of turkeys on the mountain, but we have never seen any in our yard. That changed on Monday. I looked out the kitchen window and saw four about 20 feet from me at the edge of the woods. I called Leah over and we watched as several more came up the side of the mountain into the yard. I took some photos of them through the window, which, unfortunately, has screens. It significantly reduced the contrast on the images, so I was pleased when they kept going into the front yard, where I could get a shot through a window with no screens.

As you can see, the tom was strutting his stuff.

The hen in front shows a slight iridescence. You can’t see the male’s iridescent feathers because of the way they are spread.

Here he is from behind.

He was quite a specimen.

There were 14 in all. They continued through the yard, pecking at the ground as they went. I’m not sure what they were eating. They pecked at the areas spread with wheat straw, which was sprouting some grasses, and they pecked at the bare spots. Wikipedia says that turkeys are omnivores. Their diet includes nuts, berries, seeds, grass, and insects, plus, apparently, lizards and frogs occasionally.

I think this may be part of a regular route they take because I have seen turkeys crossing the road near the front of our property. We may try putting out some kind of food for them, although I suspect that crows will eat most of it.

Dogs in panic

I tried to do a little more work on the trim in the house on Saturday. Zeke and Sam objected. Strenuously.

I had put up the vertical casing on three doors a few days earlier and the dogs acted spooked, as they had in the past when I was using the pneumatic nailer. But this time was different.

The dogs were in the bedroom, where I wanted to install the baseboard behind the bed, so we could push the bed up against the wall. I didn’t realize they were there when I put two nails into a loose piece of flooring. They ran out of the room and pushed through the door into the garage. I had already lowered the garage doors because I figured they would want to be out there, so I wasn’t worried about that. But when I started moving the baseboard around — not even nailing yet, just moving — they freaked. Zeke started trying to rip the rubber gasket off the bottom of the garage door. It literally scared the crap out of Sam.

So this is the progress I made on the bedroom baseboards.

Loose baseboard and quarter round, plus abandoned nail gun.

On Tuesday I stopped at the vet’s office to ask their advice. They didn’t think sedatives were the answer. I didn’t either. I have a lot of trim left to do, and I didn’t want two doped-up dogs around for days on end. The vet suggested boarding them, but I don’t think that’s going to be practical. I guess I’ll try to fix up a hidey-hole for them in the garage.

Here’s Zeke in calmer times.


Notice that there are no baseboards on the wall behind him.

Sam is not a driving dog

Sam continues to have issues. He is still very skittish; any unexpected sound startles him. Sometimes even expected noises startle him. He spends almost all his time indoors back in our bedroom alone. During the day Zeke joins him to lie in the sun, but in the evening he’s back there by himself. We are now starting to close the bedroom door so he has to stay with us.

He’s at his best on our walks. I took all three dogs for a walk into the woods on Tuesday for the first time in a long, long time.

This is the remnant of an old road leading from Fouche Gap down into Texas Valley. This road has probably not been used in 50 years. I used to take Zeke on this walk back when he was our only dog. I would let him off the leash sometimes and he would usually come back. OK, eventually he always came back, but sometimes after a long delay.

When he’s on a walk, Sam is outgoing and playful. He wrestles with Zeke and barely notices when I pull on his leash.

Leah and I keep hoping he will get used to riding in the truck. We have taken him two places in the truck, the vet and a dog wash. Both experiences were not particularly positive, although he didn’t seem to mind the bath. Both times he vomited while riding, on the way there, and on the way back.

Both times he rode in the back seat. Leah thought maybe if he rode in the front seat he would do better.

On Tuesday I decided to try to take him on another ride, this time making it more positive. Or at least not negative. I had to take our trash and recycling to the transfer station, and then stop by the grocery store and a home center. I planned to stop and let all the dogs out every chance I had. So I put Zeke and Lucy in the back and Sam up front.

At first Sam seemed to be OK.

The transfer station is only a few miles away, so the first leg was short. I let them out there and walked them around. Sam was still OK. He jumped right back up into the truck.

Then I drove to the grocery store, about five miles further, and walked them again.  So far, so good. Next was the home center, about a block away. This time Sam jumped into the back before I could stop him. Still, no problems. Then came the ride back home, about 10 miles in all. I put him in the front seat again for this segment.

Sam seemed to be OK most of the way, but as we drove up the mountain I noticed him pulling the corners of his mouth back, almost like a smile. But in dogs, it is not a smile, it is a sign that they getting nauseated. And sure enough, he vomited.

We aren’t sure what the cause it. It could be motion sickness or nervousness. I suspect nervousness, which is unfortunate since dogs often outgrow motion sickness but nervousness is a bigger problem. I have read a number of recommendations for handling this issue. It would certainly be convenient if one of them worked. It would make all of our lives better, including Sam’s. Maybe if we can make the destination a positive experience it will help. The city and county have opened a large tract of land not too far away for walking and biking. That might be a good place for the next trial.

Daffodils and an oak

It has been a very warm beginning to the new year. We have used our wood stove very little so far. The low Saturday night was 61 up here on the mountain, higher than the average high temperature for that day, and higher than any average high in February until the very end of the month.

Even in a normal month, the earliest daffodils begin blooming towards the end of the month, or at latest the beginning of March, but even so, I was a little surprised to see those nodding yellow heads peeking through the trees down at the bottom of the mountain Saturday morning.

This is at our turn-around point. This area is barely visible from the road. There is a driveway here leading to what looks like a picnic shelter. There is a gate a few dozen feet from the road; I felt comfortable walking up to the gate, but not beyond it. I was using my iPhone, as usual, so the daffodils in the distance are not so easy to see. There is a bunch just to the left of the little cedar about a quarter of the way from left to right in this picture, and a line of daffodils along the driveway.

The oak is remarkable. It’s the largest I have seen anywhere on Lavender Mountain. It’s hard to get the scale in this image, but it is certainly more than six feet in diameter. I’m not sure of the specific type. I don’t think chestnut oaks, which are the most numerous on the mountain, get this big. Based on what I could find about record sizes for chestnut oaks, this one might be a contender. But it might not be a chestnut oak. The shape of the trunk doesn’t really look like the chestnut oaks I’m familiar with. It could even be something else, like a walnut for all I know.

I suspect that this location is the site of an old home, perhaps one of the earliest in the Texas Valley area. It is gone now, but the daffodils are a sure indication that a residence was once here. I imagine that the oak is also a remnant of the old home site.

When I lived in Alabama, my house was in Stewart Hollow. My yard had a line of daffodils across the open area of the yard. I suspect that those daffodils once lined a driveway or walk way long, long ago. There was no sign of a residence other than my own, which was fairly new. I imagine that there was once a farm house located somewhere nearby.

I would love to explore this area, but I won’t, not with the no trespassing signs. In my younger days I might wander through the woods and come upon the site from the back rather than the front. Without signs facing into the woods, I would probably have considered it fair game. But I don’t wander the woods any more, so I probably won’t get to see this area up close.

Oh, so this is what cats are supposed to be like

Hannah and John, the couple who sat for our animals when we went to Asheville in December, invited us over to meet their cats. When we opened the door, Leah was in cat heaven. The cats didn’t run away and hide.

Well, one cat was already hiding, but they say she always hides during the day, and one cat was willing to be social but you had to come to her. But that left five cats who came out to greet us and get some petting.

Four are half-grown kittens and one is a huge adult male. These cats are so socialized that they let John pick them up and handle them like stuffed animals. He cradled one lying on its back in his arms. This is so unlike our cats that they almost seem like a different species. Not one of our cats, even Smokey, who loves to be petted, could be handled like that. The other three of ours would probably shred our arms if we tried to cradle one like John did.

Hannah and John were petsitting a chihuahua (They have had him for about a year — that’s a long petsit, but apparently he will soon go back to his owner.) He’s about the same size as the kittens. They get along pretty well.

I’m looking almost straight down here. The gray kitten has leapt right on top of the dog. They played for a while.

The big male didn’t play, but he wasn’t bothered by all the kitten business going on around him.

Leah enjoyed the visit so much that I had to drag her out by the arm. Almost. She really misses having a cat that acts like a pet. It’s much easier for me to understand cat people when I see cats that act like these did. I think I could get used to one of these.

I have encouraged her to get a real cat, but she doesn’t want to do it until our current crop moves on to greener pastures. That may be a while.