We live at the roots of the Holston mountain range, which basically means we’re nestled in the Cherokee National Forest. So by default, human habitation is sparse.
But what we lack in people presence we make up for in “critter company.”
So far we have seen deer, turkeys, raccoons, squirrels, copperheads and even bears. And this is just in our yard!
When we first started the structural rehab, we came by the place one day and all of the yard had been mowed. One the of carpenters told us that they had seen so many copperheads in the tall grass and ivy that they decided to remove any and all serpentine hiding places.
I recall one naturalist friend of mine saying that, yes there are pretty much always snakes around, they’re just too well hidden to be noticed. But they see you. Comforting thought. Fortunately, we’ve only seen one black snake since. He’s welcome, great rodent control!
The last two Julys we have been graced with visits from a doe and her fawns. Last year it was one fawn, this year two.
Last year, as the summer progressed, we watched the fawn grow and continue on elsewhere. Fascinating to observe how the young deer’s antlers developed from small buds to a larger, but not yet full-sized, rack. This year the fawns have not come close enough for me to discern their gender, but as they develop and become more bold, I’m sure I’ll have a chance to find out.
My wife has a bit more pragmatic view of them as they tend to eat the buds from her hostas. A garden-aficionado neighbor suggested some natural form of repellent. We have not tried that yet, but perhaps soon.
The biggest, both figuratively and literally, pests we have, however, are a couple of bears. One is a mother with three cubs and the other, we suppose, is a male as one observant neighbor commented because this bear appears to be more aggressive. The is particularly annoying on Tuesdays which is trash pickup day. Several folks on our block, along with us, have had their cans tipped and trash bags dragged out and ripped apart.
Taking into consideration that one is a mother with three cubs and the other is probably an aggressive male, well, I’ll say bon-appétit! Eat long and prosper since I’m not messin’ with you. Perhaps some Clorox in the can?
But my favorite four-legged neighbor was a squirrel who lived here about 20 years ago. He pretty much had the run of the yard, his domain you see. I found him so endearing because he had no tail. Squirrels use their tales to help balance themselves, so this little guy tended to totter. I would occasionally see him swaying back forth on a stump in the yard.
I only saw him for a couple of years. I suspect that his disability made him easier prey and he became a good meal for something more agile than he.
I also felt a kinship with the little guy because I totter as well (another reason to leave the bears alone). Having had diabetes for 57 years, I’ve lost half of one foot and the big toe on the other, so I can relate. While I have no ravenous carnivores to elude, I’d still like to have my balance back.
But I’ll have patience and make do (and not stand on any stumps).