I have lived in the country for nearly three years and sometimes I wonder if I’m going to catch farm fever. That someday I will wake up with a desperate need for chickens or goats or a pumpkin patch. At any inkling of such an idea I usually sit down and let it pass and flood my self with the idea of cold winter mornings and coyotes and I come quickly to my senses.
Everyone else is enamored with chickens and tomato vines why not me? Then I think about 2 high energy children, 3 giant dogs with health problems, 5 cats with bathroom issues, 4 elderly parents and an old house and I know that I have done all the care-giving that I can for now and freedom calls me.
So I’ve decided to enjoy ‘no care’ pets instead. I still have my cats Persy and Timmy but they only take about 30 seconds a day to feed and a good vacuuming of the carpets weekly. The thought of any more work than that send me into shivers. So luckily the countryside comes with all the no-care pets I desire. Let me tell you about my menagerie.
Right now my great joy comes from chopping vegetables and looking out the kitchen window to see my precious birds. Titmice, chickadees, hummingbirds, wrens, doves, cardinals, gold finches—-so much joy from such tiny creatures. They flit in and out of the near-by bushes and drink from the old birdbath. They are so close I could touch them through the window. I love their colors and beautiful voices, fluffy feathers and little spats over seeds. All these joyful moments from just filling the bird feeders every few days.
Now on to my turkey friends. I see them almost weekly, on their own, in a cluster or a big gaggle walking down the road. I’m so happy to hear their chattering and see their awkward walk. One even came up and was eating the bird seed under my kitchen window. One summer, “turkey friend” would check out what I was reading by flying into a nearby tree to see the cover of the book. They know that they will never be a holiday meal as long as they live on my land. UPDATE: A beautiful tom turkey has taken up residence in the front yard and he struts around the driveway every morning fluffing his feathers and gobbling. It is like having a rooster or peacock but without the work.
My beautiful deer love to skirt the edges of the yard coming in twos in the evening or wandering across the ridge right outside my bedroom window. I see hundreds of deer every year and I still catch my breath as though they are the most exotic animal on earth. I think about that darling fawn I rescued a couple of summers ago.
How about the raccoon mama and her three babies when I forgot the garbage was on the back porch. What a sight to see the skittish adolescents eating cantaloupe rinds, so unbelievably darling. I did shut down the raccoon buffet the next day after a massive cleanup but it was worth it to see their antics up close and personal.
I drive two miles down the road to walk in a neighborhood by the lake and that is where my other wild friends live. Recently a fox has made friends as he hunkered down to give me a good looking over right where I park. Then, a few weeks later he was showing me his swiftness as he headed toward a thicket near the water. I always take the magic the fox brings since they are “crafty” creatures and are a symbol of alchemy.
The Canadian geese know how to pick a good spot and a large group have made their home by the lake and turn the road in to a bit of an obstacle course with their droppings. But one of my favorite times of the year is September when the fog is coming off the lake and I hear the call of the geese as they fly through the mist calling to each other to keep the V perfect. At the last minute, they come into view and I hear their beating wings. A pure mystical moment.
There are also herons on the edge of the lake. I don’t get too close to them but I love the long thin bodies standing still, waiting for a fish and their distinctive crook neck as they fly. The last wonderful wild friends are the local osprey family. Each year they choose a different chimney to nest in. They build big stick nests and make a mess all over the roof. Soon after they are done I hear the little chicks start to make chirping noises. Mom and Dad swear very loudly at me as I walk by, making sure that I don’t get near their babies nearly thirty feet in the air. I reassure them that they have babies so ugly they are cute but I’m happy to admire them from afar. In the end, the babies are kicked out of the nest and the nest destroyed making a mess of pick-up sticks for the lucky home owner.
I’m in love with my animal friends. They don’t always know about me but they bring me daily joy. All the fun of pets and none of the work. They restore my soul without requiring anything of me but admiration. They are ordinary wildlife but extraordinary gifts.