Beauties

In an effort to focus on positivity, I present Mia and Eli red foxes:

 

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The Year So Far

We’re almost half way through 2017 and I’m not quite sure how that happened. This has probably been one of the most trying years of my life and I’m still trying to cope with everything that’s been happening. For months, I’ve been dealing with some extremely costly and frustrating issues on the home front, but that pales in comparison to the losses I’ve endured. I recently lost my grandma and I’m still trying to figure out life without her. I’ve also lost two beloved pets within 8 months of each other. If you know me, you know that my pets are my family and all of these losses have torn out pieces of my heart. Many nights, my dreams are filled with terror. I feel exhausted most of the time. I haven’t painted in so long. I just don’t feel the longing to create right now. I feel hollow. I’m trying to push myself to at least photograph the animals and plants that I love. Doing so gives me the opportunity to spend time with them and takes my mind off the anxieties that I can’t seem to shake otherwise. I know that I am absolutely blessed in so many ways, but I think healing is going to take time. I just need some time.

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

In an effort to be a little greener, I only sent out a few printed Christmas cards this year. Instead, I’m opting to share an e-card with you all! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and/or Happy Holidays!

 

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Oh, the pain

I get migraine headaches, and if you’ve never had a migraine headache, that’s a very good thing. They suck. So yesterday when I had yet another migraine (I’ve had several lately), I felt like this is how I looked after 10 hours at work and head splitting pain:

I had a smug look on my face and one hand (or paw) ready for anyone who came between me and my chance to get home and get some rest.

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Enjoying the Sun

I enjoy watching birds warm themselves in the sun. It must feel good on these cold days!

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Halloween

Who needs to decorate for Halloween when you have these guys around?

 

All spiders are venomous, because they need venom to kill their prey. However, prey usually consists of a variety of insects (including pest insects), and humans aren’t on the menu.

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Venom requires a large amount of energy to produce, so arachnids typically don’t want to waste it on something they won’t eat.

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For example, the much feared black widow spider is actually considered quite shy. The CDC reports: Spiders are usually not aggressive and most bites occur because a spider is trapped or unintentionally contacted.

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His Majesty

Ah, the majestic male white-tailed deer and his…antler extensions?!?
Seriously though, I think this guy is so handsome and he loves visiting our house to nosh on all the falling acorns. He doesn’t care if I talk or make noise when I’m outside with him, he just munches his acorns. I just wish he could get that dang twine off his antler!

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Yummy Acorns!

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Investigating the car. I wonder if he saw himself reflected in the paint…

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He’s got a dirty nose from rooting around.

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You have to admit he’s kind of a stud.

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Oh my!

What big eyes you have!

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And what small eyes you have!

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Mantis have two large compound eyes and three small simple eyes – the better to see you with!

 

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The Visitors: Part II

We’ve had some unexpected visitors to our house this summer. One evening in July, I happened to be washing my hands at the kitchen sink when I noticed a black object moving around outside in the wood line underneath a pine tree. We do have a black feral cat around, but it was too big to be her. I thought maybe someone’s dog had gotten loose, but then I saw an ear and I knew exactly what it was. I yelled to my husband to join me and suddenly multiple shapes came into view. It was a mother black bear and her two cubs.

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I could not believe my eyes. I began shaking and ran for my camera. I’ve never in my life had an experience like it and I may never have it again. We watched as Momma came down and invaded the bowls of cat food on our patio first. I had just fed the outside cats maybe an hour or so prior. I was bringing the cat food in around 9pm before it turned dark so that the wild animals don’t eat it. Well Momma bear was early and she helped herself to the leftovers.

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Her two cubs, who looked like real live teddy bears, bumbled after her, playing and smelling the air, and standing up on their hind legs.

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She must be a good mother. She looked thin and she had her summer coat on, but her babies looked happy, healthy, and playful. They made their way past my car and under the carport to the second set of bowls.

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While eating, something spooked her and they all bolted up the embankment. We decided to go outside and check things out. I didn’t think we’d see them again. The ferals seemed very confused and scared. We could hear the bears moving around down in the woods so we went to take a peak. We spotted the cubs playing on a downed tree and Momma was near them. Momma began walking back towards our direction, but she didn’t see us at first. We shouldn’t have been out there, but it was mesmerizing. When Momma finally did spot us, she stood up on her hind legs and made a noise to signal the cubs. The cubs climbed up an extremely tall tree in what seemed like less than a second. That was amazing to witness. We knew we needed to get out of there and we came back inside the house, but we left our main door open and only shut the storm door which is almost entirely glass. Momma made her way back to the house to search for more food.

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At one point, Momma came right up to the door and stood up on her hind legs right in front of me. My husband was watching at the window right beside the door. I could have reached out and touched her if the door wasn’t there. I began saying loudly and firmly: NO! NO! NO! and I finally shut the main door. I was concerned she could break through the glass of the storm door very quickly. My presence didn’t seem to phase her at all. She was constantly throwing her nose up in the air smelling. She was trying to find more food. She did run after one of our ferals a couple different times, but I think it’s because he kept hissing at her. I don’t know why he wouldn’t go to the opposite side of the house, but I think he was just very scared of her and didn’t want to move. I pounded on the windows when she lunged at him to try and distract her. We watched Momma for a long time. We went to different windows and doors in the house watching as she moved around the house. She walked so close to the sun room doors that we could have reached out and touched her in front of us if the doors weren’t there. It was an absolutely crazy experience, but everyone stayed safe. We’ve seen Momma and quite possibly some different bears several times since that initial experience, but I make sure not to leave any food outside longer than necessary. As soon as the cats are finished eating, I put their food away indoors. Our bird feeders are strung up high on small branches so the bears can’t get to them. They are gorgeous creatures to witness!

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The Visitors: Part I

Earlier this summer, we had adventures with our first rattlesnake! We’ll call the snake a male, but it could very well have been a female. Regardless, I found him right outside our shed sprawled out on a garden hose.

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I was walking towards the snake when I saw it. I thought, “Wow, a snake!” Then I thought how beautiful it was with it’s intricate markings, and I didn’t instantly recognize the species. My eyes wandered down to the velvety jet black tail and that’s when I noticed the rattles.

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I got my husband who came out to see him and discuss what to do. We watched him for a little while until he moved into some wood pallets right nearby. We didn’t want to kill the snake because they serve an important purpose in the wild. However, he made us a little nervous being so close to our shed and our outside critters. We called a local biologist who owns an animal control company. The owner wasn’t able to visit us that evening, but luckily the snake stayed tucked in his pallet over night and the biologist came out early the next morning. He was very impressive and quickly had the live snake in his bucket, ready to be transported.

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The snake will be used in training for others learning to handle venomous snakes. The two foot serpent was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t help but wonder if he had recently shed. It’s illegal to kill any snake in Virginia unless you are in imminent danger and I’m so happy the biologist was able to safely live capture him!  I think this was the best possible scenario where the snake gets to live and everyone involved stayed safe. I’m thrilled with how everything turned out. We just have to keep an eye out for others. Snakes will be migrating back to their dens soon so that they can spend the winters there. We live in an area with a large number of rattlesnakes, so we’ll be vigilant!

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