It was raining on Sunday when I took the dogs out for their last walk of the day. It was around 10 pm, and dark on the downhill side of the house, despite the floodlights on the corners. Fortunately, Zeke alerted again and I didn’t step on this fellow.
I think it’s either a salamander or a newt, but I don’t know enough about them to determine which. It was about five inches long. At first I thought it was a huge slug because I couldn’t see the legs. I have never seen one of these anywhere near our house. I’m not sure where he spends his days, or hides out during dry weather. Zeke also has not seen one of these, so he had to bark at him to let him know who was boss.
Of course I didn’t have my camera with me, but the salamander/newt stayed close to where I first saw him long enough for me to get the dog back inside and go back out with a camera. I shined the flashlight on him and took a bunch of photos, but this was the only one that was even close to in focus. It was so dark I couldn’t see him in the finder without using the flashlight. That’s what happens sometimes with the point-and-shoot, but I didn’t want to take our SLR out in the rain. That was a good decision, because I managed to drop the camera.
I don’t usually use the flashlight when I walk the dogs through this area because it’s fairly easy walking, but now I’m going to have to use it to avoid stepping on this fellow or any of his friends.
Our first little stray cat Chloe has come with us on our evening dog walks for a long time. Sylvester has been running along with us for a while, too. He’s always entertaining. And now Zoe has started walking with us. This is a fairly typical scene for cats on a walk.
Cats on a walk
Zoe is kind of out of shape. He’s the only one of the cats that pants.
You can hear him. It’s kind of funny in a way, and kind of sad, too. We think he might be training for race walking, because his gait is pretty funny. Mark says he’s doing a steam engine impression — choo-choo-choo. At least he’s trying. He seems to have a better disposition now. He’s on arthritis medication and something for his kitty IBS (lots of throwing up and diarrhea in the not-too-distant past; he feels better and so do we). He’s also on some expensive glaucoma medication, but we don’t think he actually feels any better because of it.
Once back at the house, it takes him a while to recover.
This floor is cool
Dogs have a thing for peanut butter.
Lucy with her Lucy-sized peanut butter bong
Zeke and his Zeke-sized peanut butter bong
We make them work for it. It’s messy work, but they seem to like it. It’s pretty much the only work they do, except for barking at foxes.
Of course dogs like a lot of things. Like chicken, fish, hamburger, bacon, steak, steak fat, baked potatoes, french fries, bread, apples, not oranges, not to mention treats made specifically for dogs. And they like ice cream. A lot. And it turns out that they like marshmallows a lot, too. We found that out when Leah bought a bag of giant marshmallows — each one is a meal! The dogs gather around with an expectant, imploring look, which is usually enough for me to pull a little bit of mallow out of my mouth and give it to them.
But cats and marshmallows? Never.
Smokey tries a marshmallow
Well, OK, maybe one little taste. With Zeke watching and hoping that he doesn’t like it.
Actually, he didn’t like it all that much. More for me and the dogs!
… and still not using its left leg.
Last weekend we saw a fox in the back yard. Since our fox started limping, we had become used to having her run at the sight of one of us, or the sound of Zeke barking. But this one sat down and watched me. I went back in and got a camera.
Our fox, acting like old times
I took a few shots, and then the fox laid down and rested for a while.
The fox at rest
It seemed content to watch me as long as I watched it. I eventually went back inside, and eventually the fox left. Later we saw a fox eating from the catfood dish in the driveway. I opened the door, and it looked up warily. It was acting more cautious, like we have become used to. So I pretty much convinced myself that the fox in the back was a different one, probably the mate. But when I opened the picture to edit it tonight, I realized that the fox in the back yard was not putting its weight on its left foot. If you look back at the first image, you can see that the left foot is folded under, and the left leg is being held at an awkward angle. So this is the injured fox, after all.
The good news is that she’s still with us. The first post about the injured fox was in late April, so she has held on for more than a month using only three legs.
Zeke escaped off the deck Saturday night and chased the fox around. He came back to the driveway after a while, but took off again barking. A few minutes later I heard the fox barking in the distance. I think the fox is still able to make a fool of Zeke, even with only three legs.
For the last several summers we had so many hummingbirds at our feeder that we had to refill it at least once a day. There were so many it was impossible to count them without taking a picture. Here’s one from a few years ago when we had two feeders out.
An even dozen?
I think there are 12 but I’m not sure. I am sure that there are at least 11. I numbered them but it’s hard to see. The questionable twelfth is at the center (labeled 12?). I think I see a tail sticking out from behind No. 11. We used to have the feeders suspended from a post on the deck railing. We had to put the rocks that you can see in the foreground on the deck railing to discourage cats from poaching birds.
Here’s a couple of closer shots.
A single hummer
At first this year it looked like we would have a lot of hummers again. And then they seemed to disappear. We put out a full feeder and it went down so slowly we had to dump about half of the sugar water after two weeks. We seem to get one or two at a time now. Where have they all gone? We don’t know.
For those of you with a good hummer population who are plagued with yellowjackets hogging the feeder, we found a solution. This is what our feeder looked like a few years ago towards the end of the summer. There was no way the hummers could feed.
Yellowjackets hogging the feeder
We read online about yellowjacket traps with bait suspended over water, but it turned out that a simple bowl of water with a drop or two of detergent attracted them.
These are all suicides. I assume they were attracted to the odor of the detergent, and when they lit at the edge they fell in. The detergent “wets” them and they sink beneath the surface of the water, where they drown. We had to dump the bowls at least once a day for a while before the yellowjacket population was reduced sufficiently that the hummingbirds could feed.
Update: I don’t know where the hummers went, but, wherever it was, they came back. We are just now seeing a fair number, and the feeder level is dropping nearly as quickly as in the good old days.