Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Moose Walk

We went for a walk the other day to collect the game camera cards and change them out. As we were walking past the part of the trail through the forest that gives a glimpse of the bog, Rick happened to glance over and said in a hushed voice, moose, a cow. I looked over and sure enough there she was, at nearly noon laying down and taking a nap. You can see her through the branches in the above photo. She wasn't too disturbed by us, but she did rise to her feet.

And, look whose head popped up when she did — baby girl moose! Silly me, I should have realized it was mamma and baby as they like to hang out around our area. Now we really had to cautious. It made me a little nervous being on foot. Thank goodness we didn't have the dogs with us like we usually do, but Destin had just had a bath and Bella was still not ready for a long walk even though she is well on the way to recovery from her nasty bout with kennel cough. 

It was difficult to get a good shot of them through all the branches because the camera wanted to focus on the branches instead of them.

We debated about whether or not to make the circle trip to retrieve the rest of the camera cards since our route would take us right past them again, only a little closer on the other side of the bog. We decided to chance it. As we grew closer to the bog we walked as quietly as we could. When we saw them, mamma saw us too. She lifted her big head and pointed her nose right at us, nostrils flaring while she took her measure of us. Baby Girl Moose meanwhile had run into the denser willows to hide. I was basically holding my breath, but mamma was not concerned with us much and went back to stripping willow leaves.

To take these photos I just had my normal lens on (18-135mm) so we were pretty darned close. I'm sure she was keeping an eye on us even though she appeared to be pretty nonplussed, but as long as we kept going and did nothing threatening she was just going to carry on eating.

I am may be anthropomorphizing here, but we think she knows our scent since she frequents our cabin and the whole area surrounding it. In a sense, she knows us. Maybe she has even gained a bit of trust in us. Not that we trust her all that much ...

She's a very big moose. Even bigger when you are standing near her!

Since that day she's been around the cabin quite a bit. The same night that we had seen them on the walk we let the dogs out for their final duties around 8:15, and we did not see her and baby girl standing by the salt lick. But Destin did and he started barking and doing his jumping-on-hind-legs jig at the edge of the fence. She just stood there and looked at him. (Thank goodness for the fence.) I went out to get him and chased him around the yard some before he decided to go in. The moose did not budge.

Last night around the same time I got up to close the curtains and looked out into the meadow. There they were again. Mamma at one mineral lick and Baby Girl at the other.  We watched them for a while from the porch and could even hear them licking and smacking. Once it got dark Rick went out with the flashlight and could not see them so we let the dogs out. Turns out, they were both there in the aspen forest and Destin started to bark. They just stood there and Destin said oh what the heck, and stopped barking. No big deal. Just the moose again. It would be great if he got used to them being around and didn't bark at them. 

Now that we know she's here a lot of the time we need to take extra precautions when we go for walks. (Destin always wears a bear bell when we have him off-lead.)

Note: By the way we know it's a baby girl moose because all female moose have a white anal patch just under the tail.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Unexpected Demise of a Pack Rat

Ah, pack rat season has begun. Last week there was a little "gift" left for us by the door on the back deck. It always starts this way. A little leaf, a chewed-off flower or maybe a pine cone or some other treasured little piece of pack rat paraphernalia. Sometimes the gifts change daily, almost always artfully arranged. Also artfully arranged is the beginning of a nest under the hood of our vehicles. 

Although extremely cute, they are nasty little beggars and stink to high heaven. They also chew through wires under the hood and once we even had one get tangled up in the serpentine belt of our Surburban, kiling the rat and throwing the belt right off. And trust me, the truck doesn't go anywhere without it. In short, they are a nuisance. And, every year at this time of the year it's the same old routine as the rats prepare to bed down for the coming winter.

So, we've been setting the no-kill trap evey night, baiting it with pupperoni dog treats because they smell so much. Each night the bait is taken, but the trap is not tripped. Last night while laying in bed I thought I heard the clang! of the trap springing shut. This morning, sure enough, there was the pack rat in the trap. (The bait this time was an apple slice.) He was not very happy. For some reason I just couldn't feel sorry for him.

We loaded him up in the Ranger and drove off to find a spot in which to release him. We stopped, pulled over to the side of the road, opened the trap and released him. Instead of running for the wide open meadow the stupid creature tried to run over my feet and promptly ran right under the Ranger. It did not come out the other side. sigh. There aren't too many places underneath the Ranger where he could hide, but we didn't see him. We knew he was there and we sure didn't want to drive him right back home with us, so we went for a ride hoping to lose him along the way.

I told Rick he should step on the brakes really hard and maybe that would jar him loose. He did so and we immediatley smelled the stench of pack rat. Rick said, well I guess we at least mananged to make him pee himself ... but we didn't see him anywhere behind us. We drove around for a little while, jamming on the brakes here and there but to no avail as far as we could tell. We took the bumpiest way home we could think of. Still nothing.

When we got home I got out of the Ranger and could smell pack rat stench. I looked down at the right front tire and saw bits and pieces of what used to be the pack rat lodged in the wheel. So that was where the critter was hiding! When Rick washed the wheel out he found the remains of the rat almost intact. Sorry, rat, we tried our best to save you but you had to be a smarty-pants.

So much for our no-kill trap.

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