Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

August 23, 2016

The Little Raccoon That Could

As some of you are aware, we have a family of Raccoons living down at the back of our property, just over the fence.

This is a common sight for me, day and night.

For them, they picked a very safe sturdy place to live... as long as they aren't found out by the property owners. They live in the roof of a detached garage just near our shed. The entry is on the back side of the roof and pretty much hangs over the fence line. We are on a crescent and it really can only be seen from our property.

Now don't go thinking I let this go by without trying to tell them. I'm a good neighbour and as much as I love our wildlife, I will inform a fellow human if something is going wrong on their property. Okay, maybe not so much for the human, but for the animals as one day this may come back on them.

3 years ago Squirrels had made a hole in this roof. I saw someone who lives in the house and I tried to explain to them what was going on. The person looked at me like I had 10 heads. Not because of my mop of hair but because they don't speak English. Worst was he didn't even try to figure out what I was saying, like he didn't even want to know, or even get someone else to come and speak with me. There used to be a guy there I spoke with often over the back fence but have no idea what happened to him, the house was never up for sale.

 So, the following year a Raccoon got in and here we are 2 years with Raccoons in this roof. I still see these people almost every weekend since it's summer, BBQ'ing, playing music, they never acknowledge me... well except one time a few weeks ago when a male guest of theirs was checking out my backside. The guy I tried to speak with before told him I was a male. I never turned around, and while this was in Spanish, I knew what was going on.

I worry about the Raccoons in that roof but really there is nothing I can do. I watch over them and hope nothing tragic happens if they get discovered. I will step in that day, language barrier or not.

Another neighbour feeds them most summer nights. She's been doing it for a few years now. They love to watch the "kids" come out and feast on their leftovers. The sad thing is come the first cold nights in the fall, they shut the door to these animals who have gotten used to the free meals. The people never think anything of it.  I tried to discuss this with them in the past.  Then the door opens again the following year when a new bunch of little Raccoons come out.  I know that food offering is not all they eat in a night. They still search the area for food either in compost bins...

Trash bins.  Someone stuck in ours July 24.  Please always check your garbage bins for them.

And of course release them.

They do find natural food as well. I watched one catch moths in the air one night, grabbing them in it's paws and chowing down on them.

I cleaned out our wasp traps one night, they were inches deep in dead wasps and hornets. The traps reeked of fermented sugar water and insects. I dump them in the garden and witnessed the young Raccoons come out and eat up all the insects.

A few people grow grapes and come August, the Raccoons are ready when the grapes are.

So, that's a little back story for you all, now on to what this blog is really about...

With every new family we get, there's always that one kid. The boldest of the bunch. The more curious. The one who really stands out. A couple years ago it was one who often came up, sniffed our shoes or Angie's butt one night. He licked my leg a couple times when I got too relaxed in the deck chair (falling asleep). He was good for helping himself to the peanut bags and bird seed if I filled the feeders at night.

Here he is, like he was watching the show being me.

I'm pretty this is him a little more grown up.

This year we have one but he's not a food whore like that one. This one is quite mischievous, he loves to explore and find things to touch and play with. He's quite fascinated with shiny things. He knows how to get in the shed and has found a bounty of shiny things to play with... screws! I found a couple on the lawn one night last week and wondered what was up with that? A few nights later I busted the culprit.

Do you see the screw he is holding?

Crop job...

The funniest is with me looking at him, mere feet away, he didn't care. We make eye contact and then he just goes back to toying with it. He is very lucky it is our shed he is making his fun house because I know far too many others who would not tolerate such a thing. I'm just glad he's not taking them out of the wall and he's not using our shed as a latrine.

The following night.

Another night. If you look closely at his left paw, you will see he's got another screw. I don't keep that big bag of peanuts in the shed. I once did, in a large metal tin and the Squirrels sniffed them out, chewing a hole in the door to get into the shed and trying to have at the nuts. Once again, they are lucky they did that here because, well, I won't speak of the horrors I know that other people would do.

The shed doors never closed properly since we put it together and a smart Raccoon can easily gain access if he tries. The hole the Squirrels made sure help. A hole big enough for a Squirrel to pass through or a Raccoon to peek out.

I once tried to block the hole up which prompted the Squirrel to try and chew another hole elsewhere. One hole is enough thank you. And peanuts are not left in the shed anymore.

A couple other pics of our friend you might get a laugh out of.

Checking out an old bird house that I cannot part with. I'm hoping to have another one made just like it one day. So many memories from this box and a few Black-capped Chickadee families too.

It's like Christmas for him.  "What's in this box?"

"Squirrel proof feeder, bet it's not Raccoon proof."

"It's thirsty work being an adventurer."

Good thing I have my own drinks, especially on Wednesdays.  LoL!

He decided to bunk in the shed once, making a bed from a tote and a tarp.  Me accidentally disturbing him sent him scurrying off after I went back to the house.  One thing they don't like is being disturbed when trying to sleep.  I doubt he will go and try this again.

There is a part of me that says I shouldn't entertain this, I should not tolerate it and start scaring the hell out of him. But I can't. It's not in my heart especially since it's nothing upsetting to me. He's not shitting in there and if he breaks some stuff, who cares, it's just stuff. No expensive tools or anything at this house. I will admit I enjoy the encounters. Some fun photo ops after dark when I get home from work. It also allows me to keep a better eye on him and our property. Come home and do this or come home and turn on the television? There will be plenty of cold nights coming in a few months for the television.

Maybe if me coming home and it was like a welcoming committee with him charging at me, climbing on me like Pierre the Pigeon does, that would be different.  I believe that since he's seen me from day one when he first looked out into the big wide world from that hole in the roof, he's seen me so often, that I am just a part of the territory.  I'm almost always there, even if for a brief moment.

I love our Raccoon neighbours and I tell people you have to learn to live with them as they aren't going anywhere.  Don't be lazy about your garbage or your property.  Keep a close eye on your house, especially the roof.  We trim the tree branches back around the house so they can't get up there unless they fall out of the tree which did happen one night last summer.  Poor little one up there didn't know how to get back down.  I had to go and get the ladder, lean it up against the back of the house and step away,  He soon figured out that this was the way down and was quite grateful to reunite with his family in the garden.  Good thing I was home and heard the thud when he hit the roof.

It's a wonderful experience for a wildlife enthusiast like myself; and helps with my animal blogs.

I am pro Procyon! Look at that face, what's not to love? Amazing my patience with them and I have so little for a lot people.

August 2, 2016

I Just Want to Help

Saturday afternoon I took notice to an odd looking Pigeon on a neighbour's roof 3 doors over. At first glance, his wings and overall appearance had the pattern of a Snowy Owl. I knew it was not that but definitely a unique looking Pigeon of some sort.

Neighbours next door to where the Pigeon was were outside, saw me looking/taking pics of the bird, and we got chatting. Seems the bird had been hanging around for a couple days now. They knew it was a domestic but didn't know what to do with it, about it, and just fed it bits of white bread.

I asked if I could come over for a closer look at the bird. What a beauty he was! He did not appear to be banded.

We discussed how a wild life is not for such a bird. He's been raised for shows or maybe was someone's pet. Life on his own in the city would be a short life.

They agreed to help me catch him. They'd keep watch and when he came down to their backyard for some bread crumbs or a sip from their kiddy pool, they would either try to catch him or call me over.

In the meantime I went back home, posted a photo of the bird and started asking for help from others on what to do with this bird when we caught him. I guess I should have worded it differently because we never did catch him. He's not been seen since.

The next day I saw this particular cat on the roof of the house where the bird was. The homeowners allow their cats to roam freely which is infuriating. I was told the cat would never harm a bird. Hmmmm? Why did it suddenly end up on the roof of the house? Why was their teenage son climbing up there to retrieve it?

Thanks to my Facebook post, I did find out he's an Oriental Frill.

I also got some great contacts on where he could go to hopefully get a new home, if not, at least a safe temporary one until a permanent one was found.

I've not stopped keeping my eyes open for him. How I wish he would follow the flock of Pigeons to our backyard. Surely their actions led him this far!

It is disappointing how quickly this went from a potential rescue situation to nothing. It's much like the Skunk with the garbage stuck around his neck. Another animal I'm still keeping watch for.

People joke and call me things like "Dr. Doolittle" or some kind of animal whisperer because of my unique moments and interactions with some creatures. Where are these so called powers now?

I'm hoping to spot this beauty soon somewhere around the 'hood this week..

Funny thing is while this was happening here, a friend mere blocks away was encountering a lost Budgie showing up in his backyard. These poor birds.

July 29, 2016

Little Bits B4 the Long Weekend

Good day! Is it just me or is this one blazing hot summer in Ontario? Apparently not as this has been floating around social media...

Where I work, the building (warehouse) has no A/C and with all the propane forklifts driving around, plus all the machinery making our products, it's almost unbearable and exhausting some days the last number of weeks. When the work day is done, I don't want to do anything, even sitting in the A/C house and blogging. As much as I have wanted to be lazy, a lot of the time I am not, and cannot.

The Skunk hunt continues although I've decided to not put the trap out until I really start seeing him again, and not just a tail fleeing the yard in the dark. That blog is here. I've caught a number of other birds and animals in the trap. The most "interesting" to extract has been the Opossum. A big creature who barely fit in the trap but did manage to squeeze himself in for the ice cream. Ice cream?!?! Yes, I figure if the Skunk had a hankering for a McFlurry, then baiting him with some ice cream seemed like a good idea. But the 'Possum got to it first.

When I opened the trap, the 'Possum didn't do a thing. I thought perhaps he was stuck and needed some help. I was not about to try and pull him out with my bare hands though, even by his tail. I held the trap above ground, with the opening facing the ground. I shook the trap for a number of minutes before he finally started to slide out... very slowly. It was like trying to get thick ketchup out of the bottle. Finally his weight pulled him out with my shaking. No lie, the animal dropped at my feet. He lay there on top of my feet, looking up at me, for at least a minute before he finally scurried off for safety under the shed.

The Raccoons are having a blast with the trap because they know some good food is within. Momma knows how to get the grub out without getting trapped. The kids love to monkey with the trap, push it around, trigger it and even risk going in, getting trapped, just so they can have the food. I've released them and they quickly run off to a waiting mother nearby.

Nothing but trouble these young'uns are but we love them and they add to our summer.

The other morning I found one stuck in our garbage bin. They are at that age where they are exploring the 'hood and quickly learn good things to snack on can be found in the bins. We rinse our containers and we separate our trash but they still go in on occasion. Lucky for him it was me who found him! He was also lucky to be inside here while we experienced one very intense long lasting thunderstorm. It may have been hot in there but at least he stayed safe and dry.

He sure was happy to get out! To do this, I slowly and gently lower the bin on it's side, and I back away, letting him come out on his own.

I watched him race off home, which is at the very back of our property.

Mom was waiting for him.

I wonder what our furry neighbours think of me? They see me daily, early morning and after dark. I say nothing to them, just do what I'm doing, which is often sitting quiet and still. I make use of sitting by the shed, and set up a little barrier with a cinder block. They come around the corner and look at me. The block seems to be a border and they feel safe with it there, separating us. Of course I see photo ops with this.

No wonder people post Raccoon things on my Facebook wall, eh?

I've been keeping busy with Toronto Wildlife this summer but that's for another blog.

And I guess the biggest news of late is our pal Pierre the Pigeon celebrated his 4 year anniversary of coming to visit us on July 21st. I know not everyone is big on Pigeons, often calling them flying rats or even worse. But come on, this bird deserves some love and respect. He is a survivor! How many of his flock I have seen become Hawk food, get carried off by some free roaming cat or just not come back for one reason or another (none of them good). Sure he gets a good meal from me but other than that, there's nothing else I can do for him, I can't protect him from all the danger out there with predators, Pigeon haters, sickness and so on.

Pierre July 2016

The first day we met back in July 2012

A bitter cold winter day where it was in the -30's with the wind chill

I made this on his 2 year anniversary with us

A birding bud whom we've not yet met created this.  Thanks Jeff, still makes me laugh!

Thanks for stopping in, thanks for not giving up on me and my blog! Have a great long weekend, if you have one. Cheers!

I posted this on social media not too long ago, and I guess it is good for here too.

July 17, 2016

A Birthday I Will Never Forget

Today, July 17th, would have been Meadow's 13th birthday.

I actually felt sad today as I thought about that.

I grieved for a long time after her passing. Do I grieve now? Maybe. I miss her, and I always will. Sometimes I am not sure if the two are different or not.

I remind myself how truly fortunate I was to have a cat like her. She was my best friend. Anyone who knew of Meadow, knows this.

I acknowledged this day and probably will again next year, perhaps the year after. I will eventually stop keeping track because really, imagine 15 years from now I am blogging on July 17th and be like "today would have been Meadow's 28th birthday".

Of course I love our cats Merry and Molly.

All living beings are individuals, none can ever be replaced. They are family too.

It's funny that we can see some of Meadow in each of them. Merry seems to have that love for me, being "daddy's girl" while Molly has her playful side, enjoying the odd items that really aren't cat toys and loves to tear up the house just like Meadow did.

I always tell people that the love from an animal is genuine and that the bond is eternal. I truly believe that.

Happy birthday Meadow. I think about you every day, that is no lie. Today though you are in my thoughts much more.

July 14, 2016

Never a Dull Backyard Moment

Hi everyone,

I just realized that I never gave an update on my Squirrel friend. Sadly, he did not make it. He had some serious injuries within including spinal trauma and in what would be best for him, he was put to sleep.

I know he wasn't a resident of the backyard or too close since I didn't see him daily. I suspect he did some traveling to get here when he did come to visit. My guess is in his travels he may have been clipped by a car.

It sucks but at least he is not in pain any longer.

I will miss him.

Rest in peace my friend. Thank you for the friendship and memories. You touched my heart in those few short months.

And now it's time for another backyard rescue to take place. This photo was taken on Tuesday July 12.

I had just gotten out of bed. I'm not a speedy "waker-upper" kinda human these days. I'm rather zombie-like and desperately need a coffee and a few minutes (sometimes more) to come to life. But a cool backyard critter can give me the jolt I need as well, like this Skunk.

It was around 7am. I'm excited to see him in the morning light. I quickly get dressed, grab my camera and go out the front door, and then sneak up the side of the house so as to not spook him. As I got him in my sights, it was then that I noticed the "trashy bling" around his neck. I snapped off half a dozen photos, watching him move about the garden, and started thinking about what to do. We recently bought a live trap since we've had to borrow one numerous times over the years to trap injured mammals. It's too early to call Toronto Wildlife about this but with my experience in the last couple years as a volunteer I know this... #1 contain him, #2 call them about the situation, and from there things would get moving rather quickly to help him.

Unfortunately he was already heading off to bed by the time I got my s**t together, getting the cob webs out of my brain and grabbing the trap and some bait (was going to try some chicken).

I still set out the trap because I have seen them come through as late as 10 or 11am some summer mornings, when I thought they had gone off to bed already. I was home for the morning so I was going to check the trap periodically. NEVER LEAVE A LIVE TRAP UNATTENDED FOR LENGTHY PERIODS OF TIME!

I called Toronto Wildlife and told them of the situation.

Since then, it's been a waiting game for his return.

I was out back Wednesday at 5:30am, setting the trap and waiting. No luck.

I set it up again this rainy morning too. No luck... yet.

I will try again tomorrow, and through the weekend if need be.

I cannot leave the trap set all night because we have a couple Skunks, a couple Opossums and a family of Raccoons that cruise our backyard. It must be done in my waking moments. The brutal humidity of this week has not made things any easier or enjoyable. I'm a gross mess by the time I get home from work at 10:30pm. We have no a/c in the warehouse. So after 8+ hours away in this nastiness, I just want to shower and chill out in the comforts of home. I do have a quick peek for him before I go into unwind mode.

I've since named him "Mick". I got the name after a brief conversation with Andrew from TWC. He made mention of the lid being from a McFlurry treat from McDonald's.

I do hope I can catch him sooner than later if the lid does not somehow come off through his travels, or he miraculously squeezes out of it.

Angie and I are very conscientious about our trash, ensuring nothing going in the bins is going to get some wild animal into trouble later on. It's shitty not everyone thinks like that. This waste may have been thrown from someone's car window or it came from an over packed recycle bin. Who knows? I never thought about these lids needing to be cut, but then again, I don't consume such treats and don't come across anything with such lids. But if I ever do in the future, I will certainly make sure it is cut apart.

Someone shared this link with me. Give it a read if you have a moment. As you can see, this problem is everywhere. Some of the animals are lucky to stumble into the right backyards and get the help they need.

June 29, 2016

Sparrow to Spider

Crazy story which some may or may not enjoy. I'm guessing more for "not". I saved a little House Sparrow last week (see blog here) and this week it's a big a$$ spider. Although this spider is smaller than the Sparrow, he's still big in the world of spiders, especially for ones ever to be seen in Ontario. Spoiler... this one is not native to Ontario.

Friday evening I'm at work. One of the guys comes up to me and says "Rob, there's this spider on the other side of the building that you have to see!" Most know my passion for everything furry, feathered, creepy, crawly, slimy, scaly. Glad I can count on a few to help me see interesting things and in some of the most peculiar places.

So I get to the area where the spider is. I'm looking around and don't see it. I ask where it is. My bud Mark points to the floor and says it's under that coffee cup. I'm like "okaaaaaaaaaaay". I move in closer, kneel down and as I am about to lift the cup up, still not sure what to think of everything at the moment, Mark and another co-worker who are behind me, quickly back up. I'm looking at them like they are completely whacked. How big is this spider?

This is how big. At least 4 inches in diameter when stretched out.

I lift the cup and let out a big ol' "holy shit!" as I watched this monster of an arachnid suddenly sprint across the floor. It's going all over the place, trying to get away from us. Meanwhile my co-workers are trying to get away from it. I will admit that I was rather freaked out by this beast as well. Especially how fast it was moving across the floor. Mark puts on his big boy pants once again and helps me contain it under the cup, then slide some paper under the cup and tape it up. Nice and secure. No way he's getting out now.

The spider made for a bit of fun the next bit after word got out of it being here. I took the cup outside and relocated him to a large clear plastic cup with a good lid. I figure best to do this outside in case I accidentally let him go, that way he's not in the building any longer. He was sure to be squished or run over by a forklift if he remained on the loose inside. I also took him out to my truck, away from everyone.

How did he get in the building? Where did he come from?

Well, we have outside storage during the warmer months. Pallets and other necessary things for a warehouse. The spider was living out there in the mass of skids. Mark had brought some lifts of pallets in, unknowing that there was such a hairy monster within. The spider jumped out at Mark, or was probably trying to make an escape from the whole situation once inside.

We figure the spider came from a grocery store, where it came in with some produce, being shipped up from somewhere like Arizona or Texas. I worked one summer at the Ontario Food Terminal on the Queensway and saw some pretty bizarre looking creatures come in with fruits and vegetables from various parts of the world.

I kept thinking Tarantula as I looked at him but something didn't sit right about that one. Others were thinking Brown Recluse and getting pretty freaked out. No, that wasn't it either. Not that I've ever seen one but some Google searching and I was convinced (and relieved) it was not one of them.

I brought him home, to try and figure out what he is, plus take care of him with some cricket feeding. We have a good supply here because of our Gecko "Norbert" and Frog "Ash". The spider took to the cricket offerings in no time at all, like a couple minutes. He stalked the cricket, watching it move about, feeling the vibration and then it would drop down and grab it. I've witnessed this a few times since he came home with me.

Angie isn't overly impressed with him being here and he's actually living in our shed, contained, for the time being. I get that since there is much to learn about the spider. Also we have 2 young cats and one would really get obsessed with this new visitor. Ya, that be Molly.

My "baby" finger across the top.

There's been a lot of research and pleas to the world through social media on helping ID him. Gotta love social media for such things as this. Turns out he is a Huntsman Spider. I'm unsure how many varieties there are in total. Seems they originate from Australia and have made their way to the southern USA. As I mentioned earlier, he must have stowed away in some produce and ended up here in Ontario.

I've named him "Hunter" and he will be living here for a few more days until he goes to his new home. Someone we know has offered to take him in. We could release him back to the wild but it wouldn't be fair as come the fall, he would probably die at first frost. Or if someone else chanced upon him, they might stomp him flat to the ground.

So ya, crazy story, or am I the crazy one?

And yes, he is kinda poisonous. All spiders are. If a healthy adult got bit by him, they'd most likely suffer some flu like symptoms for a few days such as fever, fatigue, sore muscles and apparently could even experience some heart palpitations on top of it all. Not too much fun in my books especially as we are about to enjoy a week of vacation here at home.

I'm sorry if this creeped you out. Here's a couple cutie photos to help you forget what you just read and saw.

Merry and Molly who just celebrated their one year anniversary with us. Angie blogged about it here.

Awww, look at the cute Groundhog I saw while monitoring the nest boxes this past Sunday (that blog is coming soon).

One more, some of our Raccoon family at the back of the yard.

Say what you want, but spiders need love too. They do serve a great purpose on our planet. I hope you didn't read this before bed and have unpleasant dreams. Where is that devil emoticon?

Here's a fun video for yas, Vincent Price and Alice Cooper on the Black Widow.

This is probably the fastest blog I have ever keyed out. Gotta love being in a hurry! Cheers!