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Nature at it’s Finest

05 Apr Nature | 3 comments
Nature at it’s Finest
 

This past week has been Nature Week at Nannyde’s house. It started Saturday afternoon while I was minding my own business and indulging in four back to back episodes of “Bethenny Ever After” on Bravo T.V..

I hear a crazy loud ruckus out back. The White Pup With One Black Eye is doing that “come here go away” bark that means one thing. She’s got something trapped on the back fence. Brown pup is scratching furiously at the back door doing the hyena whine. That means White Pup has something trapped on the back fence.

I peer out the kitchen window and see this ginormous opossum doing a not so successful tight-rope walk along my back fence line. White Pup is stalking and barking it with every step. I quickly go open the back door and brown pup bolts into the house and into her kennel. She’s not a nature lover. She just loves her Mom.

I tried commanding White Pup into the house but she wouldn’t budge. I grabbed a camera and a piece of free range, acorn finished pork from “Wholesome Heartland Farms” (Big shout out to Phil who grows the most excellent piggy). I figured waving the nutty meat smell up and down for a bit might be enough to convince White Pup back into the house.

It worked. Go team me!!!

Once I got her inside I checked my trusty day care emergency numbers posted on the refrigerator for Animal Control. Come to find out the number had been changed. After a few phone book checks and a Google search I finally found the current number.

I decided to call Animal Control because I didn’t know if I should call them for this. Dispatch said “yes we prefer to capture them and relocate them to a non-residential area”. I like that plan.

She said it would be a bit before they came and keep your dogs indoors until we get there. Umm that doesn’t sound good.

A few hours later two guys in a city truck show up. One of them is in a brown uniform. The other was his “apprentice” in street clothes. By the time they got there the opossum was long gone but they said they would take a look.

I meet them in the driveway and see they are carrying a net. I asked him if that was his capture trap. It looked like it might fit a medium size bass.
He rolled his eyes toward heaven and said “They are smaller than they look. They are mostly tail and head.”
“No” I say. “It’s really big”.

He assures me “This is the one we use for opossums”

Okie Dokie

When they get out back I show them where the opossum was and ask them the two most pressing questions:

1) Do they eat small dogs?

2) What the heck is that thing doing up in the middle of the day? If I remember my fourth grade science, they are nocturnal.

The uniformed guy says “they are plant eaters”. The apprentice says “they are omnivores”. He says they eat plants and small mammals.

Rut Ro !! That doesn’t sound good.

“Define small?” I ask. Are we talking “voles” small or “brown pup” small? If we are talking “brown pup” small you guys aren’t leaving this backyard without a marsupial in that bass net.

The uniformed officer says not to worry. Most opossums aren’t big enough to go after small dogs. I took the camera out of my pocket and showed him the picture of this one.

“Oh yeah.. That’s bigger than average”

That’s what I’m sayin. You can’t deny it’s size up on top of the fence boards. We grabbed a tape measure and measured the boards: a whopping 26 inches from head to the tip of the tail. Imagine that!!!

After searching around the back fence on my side and my neighbors side they couldn’t find any trace of it. I asked them why it would be out in the middle of the day and if that was a sign it could be sick or rabid.

The apprentice told me that only about one in eight hundred are rabid. Considering my luck, that’s not great odds.

They told me to just call back if it comes back and to keep my dogs on the house side of the back yard. Yeah that will be easy enough to do when I have fourteen day care parents, seven daycare kids, one helper, and a son to take care of every day. I’ll be able to watch the dogs out back … no problem.

We haven’t seen it reappear but I did learn a lot about opossums. I called my Dad who is a wealth of information about wildlife. He told me that when he was coming up, opossum was a popular food in the South. Maybe we could catch him and eat him.

Ewwwww Not gonna happen. I believe in accessing food locally but I have to draw the line at the back fence.

I also realized I need to check all of my emergency number list. I didn’t even think about phone numbers being changed for key services. I’ve never used that list before and it’s been on my refrigerator for years. I went through it one by one and found three numbers that had been disconnected or changed. I got those updated. I’m glad I found that out at a time when there wasn’t a true emergency. You don’t want to scurry around trying to find a number when something is going down.

The kids enjoyed the pictures and went onto opossum patrol for the week until we lucked into another nature experience. This one is via the internet which works out a bit better for my blood pressure.

One of my daycare Mom’s told me about the Decorah Eagles Nest. The Raptor Resource Project has webcams in place on a private property in Decorah which is in the North East corner of Iowa.

http://www.raptorresource.org/falcon_cams/

The nest, known as an eyrie, is 80 feet up in a tree located near a river, a horse ranch, and a fish hatchery. It is six feet in diameter and six feet deep weighing in at 1.5 tons. Wowza!!! They have point and zoom high resolution cameras that show a live audio and video feed both day and night. Biologist Bob Anderson installed and operates the cameras.

They nest stars a Mommy Eagle, Daddy Eagle, and three eagle eggs. April 1st was the hatching for the first egg. The second egg hatched on the 3rd . Ustream is hosting the live feed. They are even posting the highlights on Youtube in case we miss something exciting.

It’s spellbinding. We could watch nature shows any time we like but there’s something thrilling about joining hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world watching it live. My son has it going on a laptop in his classroom which gives us something fun to talk about when he gets home from school.

I don’t usually allow screen time for the littles but there are times when we gladly break the rules. We have had a blast learning about the magnificent eagles, eagle eggs hatching, the babies, and nest. The kids have shared their interest in the birds with their parents and now nearly all of my families are watching it at home too!!!

We have a dedicated laptop in the playroom for the next few weeks so the kids can check in with the eagle family and watch the babies feed and grow. With the exception of the “splainin” I have to do regarding the small critters in the nest “pantry“, watching the hatching and care of the baby eagles has been one of the most exciting things we have ever done in my seventeen years of doing home daycare.

Big thanks to Bob the Biologist in Decorah and White Pup the Pawsome Hunter in Des Moines for giving us two fascinating nature lessons in one week. We are crossing our talons in hope that the third eagle egg will hatch during daycare hours and White Pup’s opossum “relocates” to Decorah.

  1. Lori Murphy04-05-11

    OMG, that opossom looked bigger than the dog!!

  2. Michael04-14-11

    Why didn’t animal control leave a trap behind?

  3. Dennis05-29-11

    What a great story….and your sense of humor…!
    Good pictures as well…cute dogs.

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