Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-a-Dee-A

A month has passed since I have written and published a blog post.  To make an excuse, I could go on and on about how busy I have been (and this is true), as I never lack for things to do on our ten-acre ranch. But the real reason is that, after I wrote, “Too Many Hats And Too Many Irons In The Fire”, something strange happened – everything just fell into place.

My beloved winter work in the woodlands ended abruptly in mid-March, when the weather warmed up and the spring rains arrived. Overnight, it seemed, the woodlands transformed into a lush green jungle covered by a canopy of sun-dappled tree tops. This “jungle” included various native grasses and thick weeds that kept me from venturing too far into the dark of the woods to continue my work of clearing downed trees and limbs.

Also helping to relieve my burdens, Buddy and Francesca, the two little orphaned squirrels we “acquired” when we took the widow-maker down in Mom’s garden, are now a little easier to deal with. A couple of weeks ago, the pair were moved from the small cage in the house to the large “pre-release” squirrel complex on the back porch. In this larger cage, they are becoming very playful and growing quite rapidly. Additionally, their feeding routine has dwindled considerably over the past couple of days, with both refusing formula the last two feedings. This is normal (and easy on the caretaker!), as squirrels tend to “self-wean”.

Feeding time!
Feeding time!
An old jacket makes a great squirrel caddy!
An old jacket makes a great squirrel caddy!
Francesca is the adventurous acrobat... Buddy prefers to stay close to the nest box. That is Buddy giving me the evil eye!
Francesca is the adventurous acrobat… Buddy prefers to stay close to the nest box. That is Buddy giving me the evil eye!
Francesca tests her skills while Buddy looks for food.
Francesca tests her skills while Buddy looks for food.

So, with a little less time spent on squirrel duty, I have finally found time to weed the flower beds around the house and transplant a few perennials that needed dividing. FD tilled up the garden plot and, thanks to warm and breezy days in between rains, I have also managed to put in most of the vegetable plants and seeds that I purchased weeks before. I even got a lucky break in the streak of hot, dry weather we were having when my sweet potato vines arrived in the mail. An overcast day presented itself for the planting and light rains followed the next couple of days. I could not have asked for a better start for those persnickity sweet potato vines!

Along with the new plantings in this year’s garden, the clover plots we planted for Daisy deer last fall and earlier this spring are doing well and attracting scores of butterflies and bees, seen throughout the day alighting on the clover blossoms. I have been surprised to find that even hummingbirds love clover, and I am still hoping to manage a photograph of one of these tiny birds hovering at a blossom! Of course the clover also provides a lactating mother like Daisy with all sorts of greens to make milk to feed her babies. And the deer-feed patch – planted in Daisy’s old deer pen where she was raised as a little fawn herself – is again growing thick with oats, clover, chicory, canola, and sweet peas. You might recall from older posts that, last year, Daisy hid her week-old babies in these tall, lush plants in the deer pen. I wonder if she will do the same this year?

In five days we received 6.75 inches of rain. I do not think I have ever seen the driveway flooded!
In five days we received 6.75 inches of rain. I do not think I have ever seen the driveway flooded!
The front yard looks more like lakefront property!
The front yard looks more like lakefront property!
The canyon became a muck mess as water drained from our yard and pasture up top.
The canyon became a muck mess as water drained from our yard and pasture up top.

Another welcome sign of spring, is that birds of all sorts are back from their winter migrations south. Once again, we have the usual cardinal nests hidden away in low-growing shrubs around the house. This always bothers me a bit as snakes and squirrels are such a threat to steal their eggs or young. And there are the usual, territorial hummingbird fights over honeysuckle and nectar feeders. Even the Baltimore Orioles that come back every year think the Coral Honeysuckle that grows at the back porch is all theirs, scolding any critter that comes near it, including me. Along with the pair of Bewick’s Wrens I frequently see poking around the back porch, this often makes finding any peace in the mornings impossible. And let me not forget the drumming woodpeckers. Our area supports many different species of woodpecker, including that elusive piliated woodpecker that I have seldom seen, but I hear quite often. I cannot possibly list all of the bird species that thrive here, but I know they find plenty of weed and grass seed to feed on, and a bounty of sweet blossoms from which to find nectar. And, I am getting pretty good at recognizing all their calls, trills and tweets.

The rain does not stop the hummingbirds - I've even observed them flying through hail! This one looks a little ruffed up!
The rain does not stop the hummingbirds – I’ve even observed them flying through hail! This one looks a little ruffed up!
Daisy's clover patch is beautiful after so much spring rain!
Daisy’s clover patch is beautiful after so much spring rain!
The Titmouse is a common bird in the woodlands. They also frequent our back porch for discarded sunflower seeds that the squirrels may drop.
The Titmouse is a common bird in the woodlands. They also frequent our back porch for discarded sunflower seeds that the squirrels may drop.
A Red-bellied Woodpecker attempts to run off a Downy Woodpecker - who simply hops round and round the tree to avoid confrontation! Nature is often amusing!
A Red-bellied Woodpecker attempts to run off a Downy Woodpecker – who simply hops round and round the tree to avoid confrontation! Nature is often amusing!

Though I have not seen it, I know there is a barn owl living, or perhaps just hunting, either next door at the neighbor’s property or just behind my mom-in-law’s house. Each morning in the dark, just before daylight, as I set out on the walk from our home at the edge of the woods, up the driveway to the street to open the entrance gate, I am often greeted by a hair-raising hiss. I try to remain calm but I am never quite sure what direction that eerie hiss will surprise me from. One particular morning, a sudden WHOOSH sounded just above my head – no flapping wings, just a strong sense of air rushing. I am just sure it was this elusive barn owl!

Another month to go - that belly will get much bigger!
Another month to go – that belly will get much bigger!
Dinner dishes can wait! Daisy lets me pick ticks off of her head and neck, while she keeps watch. That's one of her clover patches in the background.
Dinner dishes can wait! Daisy lets me pick ticks off of her head and neck, while she keeps watch. That’s one of her clover patches in the background.

In early April, Daisy deer returned from her winter hiatus in the river bottom, spending time with the wild deer. She generally returns to her home territory (our ten-acre ranch) the month before she gives birth to her fawns.  Before long, she will be setting up the nursery and protecting her territory of about five acres, more or less. She will soon begin running off every animal that she feels is a threat, from the neighbors dogs to feral cats and occasional raccoons – and, hopefully, the foxes. I love this particular time, as Daisy seems to need her “parents” to pamper her just a bit this last month of her pregnancy. It is as if she needs a little spa treatment before she gets busy with her fawns. So, FD and I brush her and pick ticks and fleas off of her, or just pull her favorite snack of elm leaves down within her reach, whenever we get the chance.

The old fox isn't seen often but it does occasionally enjoy snacking on deer feed.
The old fox isn’t seen often but it does occasionally enjoy snacking on deer feed.
The young fox is seen many times a day. The wildlife tub is a regular stop for many species of mammal and birds.
The young fox is seen many times a day. The wildlife tub is a regular stop for many species of mammal and birds.

It will be interesting to see if Daisy manages to run off the two red foxes who have also set up housekeeping in the area this spring. I have not yet located just where in the pecan orchard it is that they have their kits, but it is apparent that they are feeding young over there somewhere. Along with the occasional dove, raccoon and opossum, they both have been eating deer feed and also our neighbor’s cat food on a fairly regular basis. And, sadly, I have seen them take a number of squirrels from our canyon, heading off to the north in the pecan orchard to share the catch with their young. Both foxes appear quite thin and are on the go constantly. I wonder how many little mouths they are feeding?

Fortunately, there are no worries concerning our orphaned juvenile squirrels who have been on their own since November. Punkin comes by the back porch on a daily basis, so we know she is doing just fine escaping the foxes. Most mornings, she enjoys two or three (or more pecans) if I have time to indulge her. I still see Mr. Gambini occasionally on a rainy day, but he is all business – simply after the vittles and definitely not wanting any ear scratches or petting like Miss Punkin does. Instead, he eats his grub and is soon on his way down to the canyon to join the other male squirrels, feasting on dropped corn from Daisy’s last visit at the corn feeder. Mr. Gambini is still small but he is very fast – and likely that is what keeps him safe from those clever foxes in the shadows.

Punkin enjoys her daily pecan snack.
Punkin enjoys her daily pecan snack.
Mr. Gambini isn't about to come down until he sees I have a snack for him!
Mr. Gambini isn’t about to come down until he sees I have a snack for him!

As I write this, bountiful rains continue to fall, sometimes calling me to just stand in the middle of it all and marvel at the beauty. When the rains subside, my totem, the vultures, fly high above on the balmy, windy days that follow, and I remember to “Glide and Soar” and revel in the love and happiness that flourishes on this little piece of land. And then a happy little song comes to my mind… “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-a-Dee-A.  My oh my, what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine heading my way.  Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-a-Dee-A!”

Juvenile Squirrel_0651

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


56 thoughts on “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-a-Dee-A

  1. What a wonderful variety of critters you have on your property. You are indeed blessed. As I pulled out of my driveway this morning to head to work, I looked over and saw a good sized armadillo strolling across my neighbor’s yard. We live in the San Antonio area. It was a gray, rainy morning and maybe he was finding breakfast a plenty. Daisy is a lucky deer. Thank you for your beautiful pictures and words.

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    1. Hi Kim, and thank you so much! I love watching armadillos, though those little (sometimes big!) buggars do a lot of damage to lawns with their rooting for grubs. We do have a menagerie of wildlife here and I am indeed very fortunate to learn so much in my observations. This study in nature really started with Daisy deer. What a gift she has been to all of us. 🙂

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  2. So good to see you with the baby squirrels — what a great shot of you! Wildwoods Rehab is our local rehabber and they do such good work — and have been inundated with squirrel orphans lately! High-maintenance until they wean! Great capture of the hummingbird, such detail!

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    1. Thank you, Kat! I really have to hand it to the larger wildlife rehabbers who do so much to care for and rehabilitate orphaned and injured wildlife. They are generally small staff facilities that work from daylight until dark. The volunteers who help should also be commended. I believe squirrels and rabbits are the largest in numbers for orphaned mammals.

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  3. Lori, your photography is really good and your writing is great! If I could get you started looking for hummingbird nests, I know you would figure out how to help me improve my technique!

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    1. Hello Dick… what a nice comment! We simply must get together so I can learn what I need to look for. I have seriously only spent one morning trying to follow hummingbirds, and of course got waylaid by my neighbor’s dense bottom land. I am sure we have some hummingbirds nesting in our own woods, but I do not know what I’m looking for (how high, what types of trees, what areas). One thing is for sure, if this rain keeps up we might be boating instead of walking or hiking to look for nests!!

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  4. Wow finally you are BACK, and how. Beautiful pictures as usual. I particularly like the Old Jacket 😉😉😉. It’s been years since we’ve had an opportunity to experience such lovely weather. Life sure is complete for you!

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    1. Thanks Mandeep! That old jacket is frayed and faded, but oh so soft and doesn’t show the dirt or spills it acquires in a day. We’ve had perfect spring weather here – except for some parts of the state that experienced flooding, hail and tornadoes. Ample rain and lots of lovely sunshine have prevailed. I keep wondering when the inferno-like heat will arrive? 🙂

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  5. Absolutely wonderful, i want to put this WHOLE post into a frame and hang it on my wall.. words and all.. If you do not get out here I am coming your way – it may be in the winter though.. but still.. AND you wear cotton pinnys just like me!.. love love darling girl.. c

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    1. Ha ha! Cecilia I WILL make it up your way SOME day!! I long to see your little corner of the world and meet those sweet animals… each and every one of them. I will work – you know I will, and help you however I can. It will be a good time. There will be wonderful conversation, and joy. But, you can come here too. Winter is a time to relax. Did you see we both have wild and wayward hair? So much in common, you and I. I love you so much, dear friend.

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  6. I had to quickly skim this one as I’m still knee-deep in birds at the Biggest Week in American Birding festival here in Ohio (and exhausted!), but I wanted to tell you that I got a close-up view of a Barn Owl today. It was a captive owl, raised by a rehab center as an education bird. But my gosh, how beautiful! I hope you get a look at your Barn Owl.

    Can’t wait to see Daisy’s babies this year!

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    1. Ha! I didn’t expect to hear from you as I know you are very busy! Kim, I would love to see a barn owl. I was only able to identify the hiss type call, but I’m sure it’s a barn owl. Daisy is behaving differently this year. She has not begun patrolling the area and kicking out the foxes or other mammals. I wonder if she’s going to deliver elsewhere. She’s gone a day or two, then back to feed on corn and clover. I guess wait and see… but the udder is growing, which makes me think birthing is not too far off! I’ll keep you posted!! 🙂 Meanwhile, enjoy this fabulous week at your Biggest Week!! 🙂

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  7. Oh Lori, this is such a delightful post, radiating with happy experiences. Your squirrel babies have grown so big and that’s good for your sleep and energy levels. Not having to feed them so regularly takes pressure off. They are just adorable and my daughter and I loved the picture of you with them. You look like you’re glowing with joy. A gorgeous lady, inside and out. 🙂 How special to be surrounded by so many different creatures as the weather warms up. I’d love to see your hummingbirds. I’m glad you’ve had some time to get your garden going. It’s wonderful to be able to home-grown produce and watch everything grow. I’m so glad you continue to have contact with Daisy. Our goats also did well on clover, but it did make their milk taste even stronger than usual! It didn’t bother their kids though. Thanks for sharing all these magical moments with us in your beautifully written way, as usual. 😀

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    1. That was a lovely comment Jane – thank you so much! You would love the hummingbirds. They are quite territorial and as many as I see coming to the honeysuckle and salvia plants along with the nectar feeders, we have plenty of competition and “war” going on around here! Last year a hummingbird being chased off by another crashed into my chest! It got right back to flying, I tell you… and the battle was on again! They’re comical to watch, and they’re curious. If I stand near the feeder they will dart back and forth to investigate me first, and soon they’re comfortable with me standing just inches from the feeder. They’re delicate and yet daring.

      We’ve had so much rain that the gardens are all flourishing! The woodlands are greener than I’ve ever seen them and the deer should have plenty of greens and browse to graze on this year. And, I’m so happy that the various patches of clover are really doing well. I think in the 25 years I have lived in Oklahoma, this is the most beautiful spring I’ve ever encountered. I think we may have loads of fruit this year too. Of course we share that with the wildlife – there is plenty for everyone!!

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  8. I learn so much when I read your posts. And your photos are amazing! Really glad that things fell into place for you. I especially love the two photos of you with your animals. The trust they have in you is so special. xx

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    1. Thank you, Ardys. I am thankful that Daisy deer opened my eyes to nature. I have learned so much since we moved here. The more I look at the world and all that nature contributes, the more I realize just how grand the scheme of it all is. That is one thing I love about your posts, and your photographs – you capture the essence of varied life forms, and even beauty in death. There was a post, “Seeing Death With New Eyes” that really spoke to me. I love how we all view nature in varied tones. I learn much from you too. 🙂

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    1. Ha ha! You’ve got that right Tom. These little critters sharpen and groom their teeth on everything it seems. We will be moving the squirrel cage out to the trees before long and that should keep them off the back porch. However, there is still Punkin who comes to visit daily. So far she’s not been too destructive, but she has torn up a porch door screen. I’ve been calling her, “The Punkinator” lately. She’s quite demanding about her pecans too!

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  9. It sounds like spring is well under way. I can’t wait to see Daisy’s new fawns, but I guess we’ll have to wait a while for a peek! We have a funny pair in Montana: a doe who follows a cow moose around on our property. We’ve seen them two years in a row. Isn’t that crazy?

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    1. Hi Monica! It’s wonderful – the attachments of odd couples we sometimes see in the wild. Yes, Daisy is acting a bit different this year so I’m not sure she will birth her fawns nearby like we’ve seen the last two years. I wonder that the foxes may have something to do with this – after all, they can be a threat for the first couple of months. Having lost all of her babies the last two years (Spirit has not returned since February 13th this year) I find myself even more worried than usual. It seems there is so much to overcome to survive in the wild.

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  10. I love this post. I love it 360 degrees Lori :). The first sentence sounded like you were sitting in a confessional box. Your images always capture the spirit of the animals that you are photographing. I really think you need to do a series of books about your wildlife caring and those gorgeous squirrels as well as your opus on Daisy Deer. The squirrel books would provide the money rolling in as I can see them gracing some gorgeous coffee tables Lori, while you work on your passion. I am serious, books containing your gorgeous squirrels would sell BIGTIME! Then you could hire someone to do most of that heavy lifting and you could indulge yourself in the garden 🙂

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    1. Thank you Fran… you always encourage and inspire! There’s no doubt I would love writing books, but it’s the legal stuff and publishing process that overwhelms me. FD always tells me “write the book” and when that is done we’ll worry about the rest of the process. 🙂 I wish I had the energy and confidence you do, Fran! You make me feel like anything is possible!

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      1. It IS possible. Listen to FD. Prior to starting this course that Steve and I are doing at the moment I knew almost nothing about the machinations of computers, let alone anything else. Now I am in the process of making a phone app, I can code websites and am learning how to create websites from scratch. All this from a woman who still can’t use the remote control to turn off the television. Fear is a thief of possibilities. Your photos are truly special and people would love to see them published. As FD says, it all starts when you step out in faith and decide to have a go. I have faith in you and your talent Ms Lori 🙂

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        1. You are some kind of motivational speaker Fran! I am just the way you describe yourself… not good with the remote, not a techy kind of girl at all. Yet, I can write and I flourish when I write. You have pinned it exactly… and just this morning I had a conversation with another dear (also deer!) friend about “faith” and not fear. Thank you for believing in me Fran. It means so much. 🙂

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          1. It doesn’t matter how many of “us” believe in you Lori, its whether YOU believe in “you” that is going to make the difference. You have a really special ability to capture the beauty and the character of the animals that you take photos of. That ability is something that you could share. Maybe I am just being selfish for “the rest of the world” who might never get to see those gorgeous images. You never know what you can accomplish unless you have a go. It’s the Aussie way and you are an honorary Aussie by association 🙂

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  11. OMG! That photo of you with the two squirrel babies is absolutely hysterical!
    Also really nice to see the always lovely Daisy again.
    Loved this post!

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    1. Thank you Phil. Yes, Francesca loved getting in my hood. Buddy liked to get on my shoulder and in my hair. However, in that photo I think he was just hanging on for dear life! I will (hopefully) soon be keeping you all informed about Daisy’s new babies. Her udder is enlarging the last few days… any time now!!!

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  12. Marvelous read, Lori and I relish every word that you write. I’m impressed with the squirrel cage and how the orphan squirrels are thriving from your care. You are so fortunate to live on ten bountiful acres. It’s teeming with wildlife that includes the birds, I have not seen a Berwick’s wren in about 35 years. The habitat surrounding me changed but there are always Carolina Wrens that nest in my yard.

    Oh, and I really like your apron. It’s the best that I’ve seen in a very long time. My mother’s aprons were long sworn out long ago. I wish now that I would have saved then instead of wearing them.

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    1. Hello Yvonne… and thank you so much! There was much to report in this post. A lot can happen in a month! That particular apron came from an antique store in Dallas, TX. I found it hanging on a mannequin in a dusty corner. I have several antique and vintage aprons along with a couple made by family members (who know I wear aprons daily). I like to wear dresses around the house when I’m not outdoors working, and aprons are essential in keeping clothes clean and safe from cooking spills and splatters. I prefer the full aprons but I do have a couple of half aprons that tie at the waist. Sadly, I did not acquire any aprons from my grandmother’s.

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  13. Wonderful post, so full of life. I do envy you having so much wildlife on your door step, something I miss from our two years in Maryland. Even though we lived in the suburbs, there was a creak nearby and we saw deer, raccoons and all those wonderful birds. I love the beautiful picture of you with the two cheeky looking squirrels and of course all you readers are looking forward to news of Daisy’s new fawns.

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    1. Thank you, Henrietta! We saw Daisy this morning and she’s still big as a barrel. I never can remember how long it takes to deliver after her udder fills. Possibly within the week. She had her first twins June 2, 2013 and last year had her twins around May 29th (we were out of town and our neighbor reported seeing Daisy with one fawn), so this would be a little early. She seems fine though, and eating everything in sight!!

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    1. Hello Carolyn! Thank you for your nice comment. When I went to your blog, I remembered visiting in the past because of your INTJ personality (I’m an ISFJ), and I was just sure I hit “follow” having enjoyed reading a few posts and feeling a connection with you. Whether I was sidetracked with something or interrupted, apparently I did not manage to hook up with your website! I am SO glad you commented this time! Now I am SURE I will get updates from you! This just made my day! 🙂

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  14. Hi Lori, This is certainly a busy time of year for the wild life in your area. Perhaps you will see the young foxes one day soon.

    Buddy and Francesca look great now they are a bit older and are so very active.

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    1. Hello Margaret. Yes, and as busy as it is, again, for some reason and maybe it’s just me slowing down and making time to enjoy it, everything is STILL falling into place with a more relaxed lifestyle. The rains have kept me from doing much outdoors other than weeding (which is so easy in our sandy soil, and the rain makes weeding a real breeze!), and now with the young squirrels needing less care, I have more time to enjoy the place. So far the weather has been agreeable temperature-wise, so this spring has been very pleasant!

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  15. Lori, I read this post and was immediately glad for two things: 1) that I didn’t miss much as you’ve been gone even more than I and 2) that everything fell into place and not apart!
    You’ve got such an incredible variety of critters and plants, and so many fun, exciting things going on. Wonderful!
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who will stand in the rain 🙂
    Take care!! So good to read this update!

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    1. Hello Laura! I see you have been busy, but even your short, occasional posts are a delight to read! I look forward to reading about the spring and summer adventures you’ll have on your bike – and I’ll love seeing those candid “life” photographs of everyday places and everyday people. Your zest for life is inspiring! Be careful out there and enjoy the ride! 🙂

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    1. It is Jim. It is a lovely place to live and observe the critters. I am glad to see you pursuing wildlife photography and honing your skills! You are making some fantastic captures lately!

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  16. This was a lovely post, Big Sister! Your photos are excellent, as always. I especially love the one of you with the baby squirrels in your jacket, it’s adorable!! You truly do shine when you’re in your element, and I could feel (and see) that in this post. Although now I’ve got that danged Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah song stuck in my head, thanks! LOL!!

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  17. Are you on Bloglovin’ Lori? What beautiful pictures… that rain shower makes me want to jump through the screen and stomp around in it. Not to mention a big shot of you, what did we do to deserve that! 😉 Your incredibly adorable squirrel friend reminded me of this video I saw yesterday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VSQy9ANMzg (watch out, dangerous levels of cute)

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    1. Hello Anouchka! It’s so great to hear from you! You made me laugh about stomping in the rain puddles. Daisy loved to hoof around in the water and then does the “crazy head” and gambols around. Of course I have the cute overload going on here with those two little squirrels… they’re out on the porch now, as they choose to venture in and out of their cage. It’s the grandest kind of entertainment!

      I’m not on Bloglovin’. What is that? You’ll have to clue me in. 🙂

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      1. Awww so playful… makes us remember not to lose our cheery / “childish” side right! It’s like the WordPress reader, but then cross platform, real handy, wanted to follow you on there but couldn’t find you!

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        1. Are you talking about the “Recommended Blogs” page? They changed the format to Science and Nature but it is all Science. They took me off of the listing and I don’t know why. If that’s not what you meant, then I’m confused… but of course it doesn’t take much to confuse me!! 😀

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    1. Thank you Audrey. I was just chatting with a new neighbor who moved here a year ago from Mexico. He lives just across the alley and his backyard faces the edge of our woodlands. He is amazed at all of the animals he sees in our pasture and along the fence line. I know in part much of the attraction is that we are nature-friendly. No chemicals, plants that are wildlife friendly, a water source, and good vibes! Just being kind and conscientious of what we give back to nature and Mother Earth makes it possible for all of us to have a hand in caring for the wild animals!

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