Panthers, a black-and-white, and chicks

The hen and her chicks. The stonewall mentioned is visible in the background. Photo by Ron Patch

I know my property well. My beech trees are dying of disease.

Many of the birds and critters living here know me. I feed crows and ravens, gray squirrels, foxes, stonewall panthers (A.K.A. chipmunks), and others.

Last week I bought some antiques out of an old barn. In the barn I saw a very small Havahart trap, and thought, “I might need this someday,” so I bought it.

The next day, Lee Decatur called and asked if I had a small Havahart he could borrow. When he came to pick it up, I offered some advice. Bring it in every day before dark or you might catch a woods pussy (A.K.A. skunk.)

The next day Lee called to tell me he caught a panther. I asked what he was going to do with it. Lee said, “You like panthers, so I thought I’d bring him to you.”

“Fine with me, but I’ll have to buy more peanuts.” Lee emailed the next morning saying he forgot to bring the trap in the night before, and caught a black and white. Ha, ha!

I put out table scraps for ravens and crows in the morning. Just before sunset, I put out scraps for the foxes. Everyone gets something.

One evening, a week ago, I had sketti for supper. I cooked too much pasta. I used what I could and left the unused portion in the colander, on the counter. The next morning I put the sticky, tangled mess out for the ravens. I have four young ravens I feed. They have learned the schedule and are often waiting for me.

There’s no doubt they recognize me. How they carry on cawing in their immature, crackly call. I watched as the four ravens argued over who gets what. One would peck the pasta and come up with a clump, closely pursued by another raven who would try to steal it. How they hop around and squawk at one another! They are fun to watch.

I have a stonewall about 30 feet long. It’s overgrown with lilacs and black caps. There’s a good crop of berries this year. I looked out recently to see a hen turkey with her brood of four chicks. She was reaching up, pecking black caps. The chicks, not being as tall, didn’t get many berries.

About a half-hour later I went to the garden to get a zucchini. I had forgotten about the turkeys. As I walked around the overgrown stonewall, mom came out of the overgrowth, clucking loudly, and charged at me with outspread wings! I immediately backed off. She then tried to lead me away from her chicks, who she had hiding in the overgrowth.

I have a number of deer who feed on apples under the Macintosh tree. One doe is easy to tell from the others. She’s a tannish color, not brown. I see her out there several times a day.

As I walk to the garden or barn, I look for her. She’s often under the apple tree. At first she would run off into the woods. Now she’s getting to know me. I stop in my tracks. She watches me with her ears erect. I talk to her in a calm voice.

“How are you my lovely?” I say. This can go on for several minutes. She’ll reach down for a dropped apple, and look up at me while she chews the apple. She’s a beautiful animal. A lady friend stopped by recently and witnessed this.

Does anyone remember Winslow Hale up in Wyman’s Falls? Winslow had managed the town dump on the Dump Road. The Dump Road was part of Green Mountain Turnpike.

Winslow picked up some interesting antiques in this position. One winter day, years ago, I was buying antiques from Winslow. The ground was snow covered. Winslow looked out at the edge of the field and spotted a couple deer. “Watch this,” he said. He opened the side door and called to the deer. I was amazed when they started toward us. They came right up to the side door and took an apple from his hand!

I feel fortunate to live where I live. Why do you live here?

The next meeting of Chester Historical Society is Thursday, Aug. 25 (four months to Christmas,) at the Academy Building at 7 p.m. The monthly slideshow will be old Vermont covered bridges, steam locomotives, and a few Vermont train stations. All are welcome.


This week’s old saying: “Some people are born to lose. Others have to work at it.”



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