Yesterday, when I went out to feed Hattie, the feral cat who lives in my yard, I was startled to discover an opposum hiding in the back of Hattie’s feeding station. It was very dark inside, and I didn’t want to startle it by trying to take a photo, so the picture here is not the actual animal.
Hattie was hungry, and fortunately, the weather had been dry and in the 30’s all day, so I was able to set her bowl of food on the back steps. I waited for her to eat to make sure the opposum wouldn’t chase her away from her food.
Then I headed to the internet to learn a bit about possums.
They rarely if ever get rabies, so I didn’t need to be concerned about that.
They rarely are seen in daylight, either. They often come out of their dens in early spring when they’re hungry, and since it was dusk here, I figured it was looking for food.
This one was quite reticent and unwilling to communicate telepathically. Perhaps it wasn’t fully awake, as it’s energy seemed a bit dazed.
I suspected it was in the feeding station because the snow here is still over 3 feet deep and it could sit on Hattie’s mat and keep it’s feet warm after licking up any food remnants from Hattie’s breakfast bowl.
The site I visited also said that if you frighten them they not only become comatose (hence the expression, “playing possum”), but they express their anal glands and leave a terrible smell behind. I definitely didn’t want that inside Hattie’s feeding station because I won’t be able to clean it or air it out until things warm up quite a bit here and all the snow melts.
I asked Hattie how she felt about the opossum moving into her “house.”
HATTIE: It’s temporary. It won’t stay. I’m not concerned.
NEDDA: Do you know why it’s here? It won’t talk to me.
HATTIE: Looking for food. It cleaned up the breakfast I didn’t finish.
NEDDA: Are you getting too much to eat?
HATTIE: NO! I just didn’t finish breakfast this morning.
NEDDA: OK. Just asking. It’s been so cold and I’ve been trying to make sure you’re warm enough from the inside out.
HATTIE: [quizzical image] Inside out?
NEDDA: I mean that your body is warm enough even in the terrible cold nights we’ve had.
HATTIE: Yes, I’m warm. I’m shedding, too.
NEDDA: Yes, I noticed. Is there anything you need from me that you haven’t been getting?
HATTIE: No. I’m doing fine.
NEDDA: Good. I don’t think I can do anything about the opossum.
HATTIE: Not your job to do anything. All is in balance in your yard. Just allow.
NEDDA: Good advice. Thank you.
For those of you who don’t live in New England, we’ve had the coldest February in all of recorded history of weather information. We also have mountains of snow everywhere. I’m hoping for a slow melt because if it warms up too fast, the flooding will be terrible.
I’m delighted to hear from Hattie that she’s doing fine. Hattie’s at least 15 years old and quite wild, so it’s amazing to me that she has survived with the tiny amount of help she gets from me – namely food and water. She won’t stay in any human made habitat, even on the coldest of nights. I know where her “cat den” is, but I can’t really see it so I have no idea what it looks like or how she stays warm, except that has a long, very thick coat of fur.
Since we’re all eager for spring, the “sign of the possum” gives me a joyous sense that the seasons are changing.
Catching a Lost Baby Mouse.
This year, a young man named Bill is mowing my lawn for me. He’s using my walking mower and I have to pick him up and take him home because Bill doesn’t drive. Bill has autism, but that shouldn’t be his defining characteristic. Bill is kind and gentle, very intelligent, loves animals, and has a wry sense of humor.
It can be challenging to work with someone like Bill, but there are many benefits. Today, he saved the life of a baby field mouse.
Bill took the lawn mower out of the garage, checked the gasoline level, and started it up. To my horror, out from under the machine came a mother field mouse (brownish in color), dragging 3 grey babies who were attached to her tits nursing and wouldn’t let go. I immediately had Bill turn off the mower. I was horrified, while at the same time delighted that the mother had gotten away with all 3 babies unharmed.
Momma mouse, still dragging her babies, ran into some low creeping plants next to my driveway, and disappeared. That she had been living under the mower, which hadn’t been used for about a month, told me that there was cut grass stuck to the bottom of the machine that needed to be cleaned out.
So Bill tilted the mower up for me and I started scraping out the moldy stuff with a long stick.
Suddenly, a fourth baby mouse fell out of the bottom of the machine. Completely terrified, the mouse froze for a moment, and then ran — in the opposite direction from where his mom and siblings had gone. This didn’t bode well for the baby. I stopped what I was doing and tried to see where it had gone, but once it got into the grass, it was invisible.
I finished with the mower, and Bill stared mowing the lawn on the opposite side of the driveway from where the baby mouse had gone.
Meanwhile, I came inside, sat down, and called in the Overlighting Deva for my property, the Overlighting Deva for all mice, and the Spirit of Field Mice. I explained the situation, and asked them to please take care of the baby who was on its own next to the pine tree along my driveway. I asked for the baby to be protected from harm and I sent love to the mouse.
It takes about an hour to mow my lawn, and Bill was about 3/4 of the way finished when I heard him call me from the kitchen doorway. He wasn’t there waiting for me when I arrived in the kitchen, so I went outside to find him. There was Bill with his hands gently holding the baby mouse. “What should I do with it?” he asked me.
“Let’s put it in the flower bed where the mother ran with the others. Then I can tell her telepathically to follow her trail back and she’ll find her missing baby. That way the baby will be hidden and relatively safe for awhile.”
Bill placed the baby where I suggested and headed back to the lawn mower. I was elated and kept thanking him for finding the missing mouse child. “May I give you a hug?” I asked as I thanked Bill profusely for finding the lost mouse. But of course, most autistic people don’t like to be touched, and Bill declined my request to share my joy with him in that manner.
Bill went to finish mowing and I went back inside. I informed the 3 spirits I had spoken with earlier of our success in finding the baby and where we had placed it. I also contacted the mother mouse telepathically and told her where to find her missing child.
Later on, as I drove Bill home, I thanked him again. I had tried to find the baby right after it ran into the grass, but had been unsuccessful. “How did you manage to find him?” I asked Bill.
Bill said that he had moved into the area by just shuffling his feet, rather than taking steps. This, he explained, makes the baby move so you can see it, and help you avoid stepping on it. I hadn’t known any of this, which was probably why I was unable to find the baby myself.
The last part of this story may remain unknown, but at least, with Bill’s help, we’ve set the scene for a very positive outcome.
Meanwhile, I plan to feed Hattie, the feral cat who lives in my yard, an unexpected dinner so she doesn’t need to hunt this evening. If the mother doesn’t find the baby quickly, of course, Hattie catching and killing it will be a mercy. But for tonight, I’m hoping mother mouse finds a new place for her young and goes back to rescue her lost baby in time to save it’s life.
I looked out the window this morning, so early, the sun wasn’t up yet, and there was an unexpected visitor in my yard.
There are many people where I live who deny that there are big cats around, and this is a BIG cat – maybe 8 to 10 times as large as any of my domestic felines, and Sakhara is a hearty 11+ pounds. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a live bobcat in my yard or anywhere in the wild, so I was excited.
At first it was difficult for me to be sure what kind of cat this was. It was crouched down at the far back of the yard and I could tell it was a tawny color, but my distance vision isn’t what it used to be. When I got out the camera and started zooming in, I was certain that this was either a big bobcat or a small mountain lion. There have definitely been mountain lions spotted in southern Connecticut, but I haven’t heard of any this far north.
It was the ears that first gave confirmation that this was a bobcat.
It wasn’t very bright outside yet, and the cat was crouched close to the ground and it’s head was very low at first. This made it hard to see any stripes or spots, but when the cat turned it’s head further away, I could see the ear markings. Definitely a bobcat!
I don’t know what he was hunting. Something up in one of the trees kept commanding his attention, but I couldn’t see what it was.
Hattie, the feral cat who lives in my yard and who had already had her breakfast, was nowhere to be seen. That’s Hattie’s fail safe way of staying out of the way of predators.
So I just kept on snapping photos.
I didn’t even take the time to speak with this magnificent beauty. I got 129 photos all together, although most are now in the computer trash bin.
Bobcat was perfectly at home and acted as though this space belonged to him.
Finally it was time for a bath. Both forefeet and forelegs required attention before the bobcat finished grooming.
If you’d like to experiment chatting with a very wild feline, you might tune into this exquisite beauty. I can’t guaranty that you’ll be able to have a conversation, as some wild animals have no interest at all in speaking with us. But if you do, please share some of it in a comment on this post.
One final photo to show off his magnificent self before disappearing.
I turned away for just a moment, and when I looked back, bobcat was gone without leaving a trace.
Nedda Wittels, Moderator
A Bedding Upgrade
Hattie, a semi-feral cat, has been living in my backyard for more than seven years. Her feeding station is a large box covered with a tarp to keep out the wind. It’s large enough for her to have a water dish, a food bowl, and some bedding, so I’ve been using old bath mats to give her a place to curl up during the day and keep her feet warm and dry.
Hattie is an excellent hunter, and during the winter her feeding station becomes littered with bird feathers. Now that spring is here, at least in theory, since this is New England, I was planning on washing her mat on a warm day when there was enough time to dry it and replace it for her.
A few nights ago, at dusk, I spied a raccoon hanging out beneath the bird feeders. The feeders are only available in the late fall, winter, and early spring because the bears are awake in the summer and will knock everything down.
The raccoon seemed content to eat off the ground, or so I thought. The next morning, one of my feeders had had the top opened and was now empty. It was clear that the squirrel baffle, which worked just fine at keeping the squirrels on the ground, was not a challenge for this very beautiful raccoon.
So I decided to bring that particular feeder in at night, since the other one couldn’t be opened so easily, and didn’t give the matter any additional thought.
Then yesterday morning, when I went out to give Hattie her breakfast, I was astonished to discover that the floor mat inside her feeding station was completely missing. There was no damage to anything, but it just was no longer there.
This particular mat I had purchased especially for Hattie. It’s 100% cotton and very thick, and I had folded it in half, so the insulation was excellent.
I asked Hattie if she knew what had happened to her mat, but she didn’t. She told me it was gone when she got up that morning. The water dish had not been knocked over or even knocked into, as the floor of her station was dry.
Bears don’t care about floor mats, and the remaining feeder was undisturbed.
My surmise is that the raccoon, who had been washing her feet in the Hattie’s water dish after eating, had discovered the mat and decided to take it home. I suspect she’s planning on using it for a litter of babies. It probably smelled just great to her, as it had some of Hattie’s fur and bird feathers attached to it.
Of course, Hattie has another mat now, as I contributed one of the house ones that had gone into the wash earlier that morning.
As for the raccoon?
Nedda: “Hi. I’m one of the people whose bird feeder you’ve been eating at.”
Raccoon: “Oh, yes. Thanks for the food.”
Nedda: “Did you take anything else while you were in my yard?”
Nedda: “Was it soft and dark brown in color, and something you had to drag away? If so, I would call that a ‘mat’.”
Raccoon: “I’m not bringing it back.”
Nedda: “Of course not. I wouldn’t ask you to do that. I just wanted to know if you took it.”
Raccoon: “Yes. It’s for my nest/babies.”
Nedda: “I thought that might be the case. I hope you and your babies enjoy it.”
Raccoon: “Best bedding ever!”
Hattie says she likes her new mat even better than the old because it’s fluffier. So if I buy her a new one, I’ll be sure get a fluffy one next time. For now, she’s content, and so is the raccoon!