Sunday, April 13, 2014

Where the Wild Things Are

No, they're not ours. Who's mane is more gray?
Despite my silence, Flat Top Mountain has been bustling with activity the past couple of weeks. Spring announced itself on April 9th, when we were wakened in the wee hours by the blood-curdling screams of a bobcat in heat. For the record, it's a godawful sound that should bring goosebumps to the hardiest of souls. Nick the Dog, who is the least hardiest of souls, responded with frantic barking and excessive backbone fur fluffage.  The first time I heard it, I thought a woman was being attacked in our woods, which turns out to be not far off from the actuality.

Quick on the heels of the bobcat was the woodland equivalent of the car alarm: Mr. Whipporwill. A whipporwill is a tiny little brown bird of no noteworthy note, until he whistles his annoying little song as soon as the sun sets and picks up speed at dawn before silencing for the day. His song is this repetitive little siren that repeats about 20 times (yes, we count it out), each within nanoseconds, and trust me, it sounds just like a car alarm. Now that spring is here, we sleep with the windows open, and as charming as Mr. Whipporwill sounds, he's annoying as hell.

Then, on Tuesday, four horses showed up in the woods just in front of our cabin. By evening, they had made their way up to the "neighborhood" lake. By Wednesday morning, they disappeared, only to reappear that evening in our back yard, going to town on my plush lawn. I pulled out some carrots from the fridge and made four new best friends. But they were chowing down on so much grass, I was worried I'd be left with nothing, so Mason ran them off.

The next morning, about 7 a.m., they were back, joined by a friend, Horse No. 5. I let them go at the front lawn for a good 30 minutes, then I decided to run them off. But apparently my high wimpy voice was less than intimidating. But it did wake Mason up, who wandered out to the front yard in his birthday suit and belted out this clearly Texan "WHO-YA" holler, and off ran the horses. Then he went back to bed.

The horses tried to return later that day, sneaking in on our back trails in a bid to get some more of my tasty fescue grass, but we ran them off again.  Side note: On our dog walk that day, we took a bucket and a shovel and got some seriously sweet manure for the compost pile.

We think a bear clawed through the trunk of this maple in search of food.
And in the final chapter of wild things: Bears. Something went to town tearing into this 70-foot-tall maple tree near the back of our property, and a neighbor told us it likely was a bear.  YIKES!

Bears aren't common here, but apparently they can wake up in the spring to find few berries to feed their hunger. Desperate, they'll hunt bugs and apparently this maple had something tasty in it. Whatever dug into the tree, it shredded 3 to 4 inches deep into trunk.  Looks like a tree bound for firewood come Winter 2015-16.

Check out that firewood! See those three stacks? We have about eight more just like that ready for next winter.

As for winter 2014-15, we're just about done stocking up next season's firewood. As for the winter we just survived -- the worst Chattanooga has seen in 30 years -- we had exactly just enough firewood to ward off the cold until the nights turned warm. How's that for good luck? OH, I mean, good planning...