Sunday, November 24, 2013


This post is much longer than usual, so you might want to grab a cup of coffee first.

My husband and I used to manage recreational vehicle parks and resorts that varied in size and amenities. We always lived on site. The first park we did was listed as a small quaint park in a rustic setting - in other words - it was a dump! I didn't want to take the job, but my husband thought it was a good place to convert a bus. But that's another story. This tale is about tails - many different types of tails.

The piece of property sat on ten acres at the edge of a small town, and along two sides of the property there ran a trickle of a creek. Being a "rustic" place we saw our share of stray cats and dogs, possums and - because of the creek - there were also raccoons. I could write a whole story just about them, but this story is about the diversity we had there. Most of the property was unused by humans, so a family of coyotes took up residence where we humans did not tread. And why not? They had a varied menu right at their doorstep. Their den was cleverly hidden by vegetation on the side of a berm.

Aside from the more common critters, we had the occasional visit from more exotic ones. There was a ferret who set up housekeeping in the side yard for awhile. We never did find out where he came from or where he went when he left, but he was a riot to watch while he was there. He'd run up and down the trees and disappear in a flash down a gopher hole. We called him Ralph. And yes, we had our share of vermin, but I don't want to talk about them.

Another time we helped rescue a llama that was found strolling down the narrow country road that led to the park. We sheltered him in a fenced area until his owner tracked him down. He was such a gentle creature and so easy to care for. Some of our human visitors could have taken lessons from him. (That's an actual photo of him). We were sad to see him leave, but we got a tour of a llama ranch as our reward.

Now on to the many feathered friends that visited. We started out with the average back yard variety of birds, but over time had sightings of birds not common to the area. There were too many to mention here, but two really stand out in my memory. One was a male cardinal - so not common to that region. I had a visitor in my office who was from Minnesota and she was stunned when she saw the bird at one of the many feeders that we had built and set up throughout the back yard.

The other bird was a mystery. He was the size of a parakeet and despite my researching efforts, I never did find out what he was. This tiny visitor landed on husband's shoulder one day as if he was a long lost friend. He would frequently search for my husband and follow him around. And although we had set up a sheltered place for him to live, like many of our visitors, he eventually moved on. We hoped that he had been someone's pet and found his way home.

By this time my husband had tamed the wild growth on the property and created a trail for our visitors to walk their dogs. While walking our own dog one day, we noticed that the water in the creek had risen. We learned that a nearby wetlands area was being enlarged and the water was coming all the way from the base of the foothills. Our local raccoons were thrilled as their menu of fish increased. By this time the coons had taken up residence in a nearby clump of bamboo and would come up on our deck at night to share a meal with our cats and a local possum.

The engineers in charge of the wetlands project kept their eye on the creek, so we weren't concerned about overflow until an unusual winter storm headed our way. Concerned about the tenants who were closest to the creek, my husband decided to rent a tractor and widened the area where the creek turned at the corner of the property creating a nice sized pond. Within seconds the ducks started flying in to claim the newly created pond. This was a good example of "build it and they will come". In time, their numbers increased to the hundreds, which suited me just fine. 

Then the shore birds that were displaced from all the construction activity at the wetlands area followed along. I especially loved seeing the white egrets. Unfortunately several of the other shore birds discovered our little back yard fish pond and routinely emptied it of its contents. This was a different pond from the larger one.

There was a blue heron that would alternate from fishing in the big pond to waiting patiently for a gopher to emerge from a hole out in the field. Whenever he was spotted in the field, the people driving out of the park would turn around and go out the other way. Nobody wanted to disturb our feathered friends. 

Now back to the ducks. There were so many that we ended up buying large bags of duck food and we'd go out to feed them every morning and late afternoon. We started out laying the feed in a clearing by the pond, but sometimes they arrived before we got down to that area. So we'd find them waiting for us in a clearing closer to the park office.

One morning we slept in and were awakened by the phone ringing. We were told we had visitors waiting by the gate. Thinking that we had early arriving RV'ers, we dressed quickly and ran outside to check them in. What we found instead were dozens and dozens of ducks patiently waiting for their breakfast. What a treat that was. Not only did we enjoy our feathered visitors, but all the tenants in the park did as well. One tenant took a picture of the ducks walking up to the office from the pond. It was strange that they didn't fly up - I guess they realized how small the landing area was and didn't want a mass collision. I wish I could have found that photo to show you.

So that's my tale of tails. Now it's time to feed the little bundle of cat fur that has been sitting next to my keyboard waiting for her breakfast. Thanks for reading. See you in a few days. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday this coming Thursday, I'll put out my next post on Wednesday.

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