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Say Hello to Mr. Hooters

December 26, 2008
By Kerry Hoffman

As I take this time to relax, please enjoy another previous column. I hope one and all had a memorable Christmas, surrounded by friends and family you love the most. Merry Christmas!

Living on a farm, surrounded by green pastures, blue skies, one flowing river and plenty of woods, lets us experience a few things that most city dwellers don't.

We're surrounded by some not-so-wild life and some really wild life that we usually get to see on a daily basis.

Some not-so-wild life include chickens, cows that escape from the pasture by busting through an electric fence and then run over to the neighbors and tromp through their garden (I guess they could be considered "wild" life.); and baby calves that also like to escape their pens. Baby calves don't go too far; they tend to stick around by the big cows.

We can allow our chickens to be free-range chickens. They can roam wherever they want. Chuck, the rooster, likes to crow long before the sun comes up over the eastern horizon. He, and his three girlfriends roost in the tops of our Blue Spruce trees and he feels all mighty and powerful at 4:30 in the morning. He appreciates being able to crow all he wants and not having to worry about the neighbors calling the chicken cops.

Living on the farm we get to see all kinds of wild life. I regularly see coyote, mice, `possum, raccoons, squirrels, two young boys engaging in a wrestling match on the trampoline, rats and tons of birds. Sometimes these animals, other than the children, are lying on the side of the rode, or as Steve likes to say, "Napping in a very bad spot."

Sometimes Chopper brings wild things home that are napping between his teeth. He's a rat terrier doing what rat terriers do best-keeping rascally pests and varmints at bay.

One year we had a pair of young eagles, and one parent eagle, living in the top of our century-old cedar trees. The eagles didn't stick around long. I suppose there was too much activity for their comfort.

Nothing beats the wildlife I saw Wednesday morning while up in the compost barn retrieving cows for the morning milking.

It was better than observing little mice scurrying out of the skid loader when I start it for scraping the manure out of the barn. I don't mind if the mice run away from the skid loader. It's when the run a circle around me inside that freaks me out.

It was better than the time Menna, our exchange student, wished she could see a wild raccoon and wouldn't you know it, just minutes after she said that, a sickly-looking raccoon ran across the yard, in the middle of the day.

Nothing has excited me beats the animal I saw Wednesday morning.

It flew into the barn from the east. At first I thought it was just another stupid pigeon, but it quickly dawned on me that it was something else.

It landed on the rafters and just kept looking at me. Then he must have thought Steve was cuter because he started staring at him for a real long time.

"Oh, my God, that's an owl," I said to Steve.

Steve shined his flashlight on the bird so I could commit its description to my memory and later check out my bird book to identify it. Now I know why the owl kept staring at Steve, it didn't trust him one iota.

Steve said, "I hope it stays in here; they're supposed to keep other birds out of the barn. I suppose we should give it a name."

"What's the name of the owl from Winnie the Pooh?" I asked.

"Um, I don't know," Steve said. "How about we call it Mr. Hooters?"

Although he denies it, I don't think he wasn't particularly talking about the noise an owl makes.

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