Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lucky Certainly Was

Lucky, shortly after she joined our hilltop menagerie.

Lucky today.  She's grown a little, but not too much.

Living in the country, several miles from any town, we see the occasional pet that gets abandoned along our road. Lucky was one of the drop-off dogs.

A few months ago, our hired man came roaring up the drive on our neighbor's quad.  Working for the neighbor that day, he saw his dogs attacking a small black dog.  He yelled at the bigger dogs, then grabbed up this frightened little dog.

She didn't appear to be badly injured, though she did have a canine tooth hole in her back right leg.  He handed the dog to my wife. "Can you take care of this little one.  The neighbor's dogs attacked her. I had to get her out of there."

My wife, Sharon, is a Registered Nurse.  Her occupation has been taking care of sick and injured people, so caring for a small frightened dog was certainly something she knew how to do.

We put the shivering little dog in our kennel to contain her, and so our dogs wouldn't frighten her, though we were sure they wouldn't hurt her.

The next day she visited our vet. We learned the wound on her leg wasn't at all serious, and she didn't have a chip so there was no way to tell where she came from.  The vet said she was two or three years old, and in good health.

It was soon apparent we had expanded out hilltop by one more. She was a gentle and loving dog, and fit into the family easily. We decided an appropriate name should be Lucky, for she had the tremendous good fortune to land in our kennel. We didn't know just how lucky she really was though.

As she became acclimated to our hilltop, she began eating well and gaining weight. One day, after having been gone a few days, I was startled to see the size of Lucky's tummy. "Sharon, you've gotta stop feeding this little dog so well.  She's getting huge."

Uh oh, that's puppies, not from good meals.  Back to the vet for a pregnancy test, then an x-ray to see how many fetus there were.  This tiny dog had eight babies, and they seemed to be growing at a prodigious rate.

We had to assume Lucky had been bred by a large dog. Knowing there was a difficult, if not impossible delivery in the offing, she'd been dumped along our road by her original owners.  It wasn't medically practical to let her carry them to term, nor to let her deliver them, so she was quickly spayed.

Today, Lucky has joined our hilltop, giving Tinker Bell our chihuahua, and Beau our aging boxer, company.  Tinker and Lucky love to chase the rabbits and squirrels.  But Lucky is amazingly fast.  We're pretty sure she is at least part Jack Russell Terrier.

And of course, Tinker and Lucky sleep on the bed with us, burrowing under the covers for comfort.  Beau crawls up there some nights, but usually sleeps on a pad in front of the closet.

Somehow, Lucky doesn't seem quite sufficient, but Unbelievably Fortunate doesn't fit on a name tag well.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Hummingbirds of the Hilltop

A few of the six feeders hanging on my front porch. Each one holds one quart of fluid.  I long ago ceased putting color into the sugar-water. It did no good, went straight through the birds, and ended up on the cement on the porch.
Several years ago, my wife Sharon and I began feeding the hummingbird population residing around our hilltop.  At first it was only a few birds who entertained us with their feeding.  That was soon to change, as the number of hungry hummers kept increasing.

Over the years we've expanded to having six of these one-quart feeders hanging on the front porch.  When they birds come shortly after dawn, and again just before dusk, the air around the feeders is absolutely filled with the tiny birds.

Each feeder has six small holes through which the birds stick their beaks, and then run their tongues into the liquid. At maximum feeding time it is usual to see twelve birds on the bottom of each feeder, two at each hole.  They take turns sipping and gathering their nourishment.  Surrounding every feeder is a cloud of additional birds trying to find a spot to sit down and eat.

With six feeders, each with twelve birds eating, there are at least 72 birds eating there.  But when you add in another five or six birds hovering nearby, the number of birds feeding on our porch quickly approaches 100.  Of course, getting a firm count is impossible because they are constantly on the move, so the best I can do is an estimation.

Not a huge bunch of birds, but quite a few.  There appear to be roughly six or seven hummers at each feeder and there are a total of six feeders.
The sound of that many birds, wings flapping at a rapid rate, makes a humming, buzzing sound that is quite spectacular. I've actually had birds fly into my face, coming close enough to feel the air move, when I take down feeders at maximum feeding times.  I've never had one bump me, but have felt the air from their wings many times.

We buy granulated sugar in 25 pound bags, for we store hummer juice in six one-gallon plastic jugs,  If Sharon helps me I can fill all six hanging feeders in 10 minutes, and on the days I have to resupply the plastic jugs, it takes at least another 20 minutes.

But, all the time, effort, and even the money, are worth it when we can watch the amazing birds out the kitchen and family room windows.