Category Archive 'The Farm'

03 Mar 2018

Deserving Porcupine Shot

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Yesterday was one of those days.

We woke up to a chilly house. The winds roaring like a freight train overnight knocked the power out. Happily, though, we are in Pennsylvania and the lights (and the furnace) were back on at 9:00 A.M.

When our seven-month-old-but-monstrously-huge Taigan puppy came back from his first morning outing, he had something sticking out of his nose. Short little spikes? Some kind of burrs? Karen brought me some needle-nose pliers and held him, and I reached out and extracted three in one swipe. The puppy yipped.

On close examination, the little spikes proved to be tiny porcupine quills. It seemed strange that he had only three, right in the nose, and they were all short and about an inch long. Did he meet a baby porcupine? we wondered. Or did he just reach out and sniff one’s head?

But it was not to be quite so simple. A bit later, I saw in his profile view one more quill, bent against his nose.

Efforts to restrain this 75-pound seven-month Central Asian puppy failed. We could not hold him and keep his head still. He had to go to the Vet and be sedated, for one tiny quill.

Well, this morning the dogs were barking about something, when I got up. I looked out the back door and there was a full-sized adult porcupine sitting high in a tree about 50 yards or so from the back door.

I had Karen bring me a Winchester Model 1892 .25-20 Saddle-Ring Carbine (made in 1915) that I acquired in a recent auction and a box of cartridges. The trick would be figuring out where exactly you had to hold.

I fired a shot, which I thought went high. My second shot, held lower, seemed possibly to have struck. The porcupine seemed perturbed. Karen wanted to try her hand. She took aim and definitely hit him. The porcupine began trying to descend. I tried another shot, aiming distinctly below the varmint’s body, and that one really had an impact. The porcupine was hard hit and its paw was shaking in distress. I fired one more time and this last one knocked him right out of the tree.

The .25-20 is clearly an anemic round, not a lot more powerful than a .22 Long Rifle, but it is a good round for this kind of thing. It makes little noise and it took the porcupine a long time to figure out he was being shot at. Long enough for Karen and me to figure out the sights on an unfamiliar new gun.

So perish all our enemies!

(Porcupines are kind of cute but the injuries they can inflict on a dog are horrific. That last one quill yesterday also cost a hundred fifty bucks for veterinary services.)

18 Dec 2017

Amish Roofers Working in the Snow

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We had hired a local Amish crew last Summer to install a new steel roof on the 1812 log cabin. Naturally, they finally showed up to work the day following our first six inch snowfall of the season, and even a bit of snow falling that day did not keep them from working.

We are both retired now, so we are finally getting to stay full-time out here at the 300-acre Central Pennsylvania farm we purchased as a vacation place thirty years ago.

Karen’s photos are here.

18 May 2015

Woodcock Chicks

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(photo: Karen L. Myers) click on pictures for larger versions.

A few days ago, my neighbor who does my mowing was cutting in the neglected field above the cabin when he flushed a woodcock, who was obviously a mother woodcock because she landed nearby and began performing the old “I’m-a-poor-injured-woodcock-with-a-broken-wing.-I’m-delicious-and-easy-to-catch.- Come,-follow-me!” routine.

So Bud turned off the mower, looked around, and spotted her four chicks. He then ran down to the house to tell us of his discovery, and Karen went up there with her camera and photographed the brood.

The four young woodcock were admirably camouflaged and Karen reports that they followed mother’s instructions and remained perfectly frozen, with the exception of all the little bright brown eyes which followed Karen’s every movement.

Naturally, mowing operations were suspended and the nosy humans all withdrew to allow Mother Woodcock to retrieve her brood and escort them back into the nearby woods.

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I was quite surprised to learn that woodcock bred on our Central Pennsylvania farm. I can’t recall ever seeing a woodcock outside of hunting season in the Fall. I always thought they bred up in Maritime Canada and only migrated to Pennsylvania.

But the Wikipedia entry says that they breed all the way down to Northern Virginia, and in some cases as far south as Florida and Texas. (!) “Most hens lay four eggs,” the entry reports.


(photo: Karen L. Myers)

25 Jan 2014

Now Living in My Outhouse

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Eastern Screech owl (Megascops asio).

I noticed that the one remaining door on our unused, and long-neglected, outhouse had become open recently. Yesterday, when returning from running an errand, Karen found the culprit who obviously somehow opened that door. It was a Screech owl, who has evidently taken up residence. Karen managed to grab a photo with her cell phone, and put our new neighbor’s picture up on her own blog.

That outhouse was used once briefly a very long time ago, when a major storm knocked out the power for days and days. No power, no well. No well, no flush toilets in the house. My father, at one point, repaired it and had it in excellent order. But we had not visited the farm for over a decade until recently, and a lot of the outbuildings need repairs and a fresh coat of paint.


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