Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Woman Who Talks to Pigs

The last two weeks have provided some interesting moments in terms of wildlife encounters. The Sunday before last, for fun and exercise, I hauled myself up to the top of a pretty good hill, and as I'm resting, catching my breath and starting to get out my water jug, I heard loud rustling in the underbrush about 75 feet in front of me. Cool, I think, deer, maybe I'll see them as they bound away. No bounding, more and louder rustling, from at least two places. Oh, it's cows. See a glimpse of medium-sized (not large cow-sized) critter, darkish. Starting to question why I'm there now, and then hear the grunting and squealing. "Oh goodness gracious, my heavens", I think, "wild pigs!" (Sure, believe that language.) Fear winning out, I slowly and deliberately started walking right on back down that hill, keeping an ear out and glancing behind me to make sure they weren't deciding that I was getting on their nerves.

Saturday last, I got to feeling antsy and took off on a walk. I headed back up the same hill where I saw the wild pigs last week, thinking surely they would have moved on. They weren't at the top of that hill, and since I was a little bored with my route, instead of going straight back down the hill, I thought I could do a little cross country to the next hill over and walk up that one. Meanwhile, I knew of a good spring on the way where I might see some good birds so I headed for that. As I made my approach, and got up to about 50 feet away from the spring, I'll be darned if I didn't hear that same scary squealing that I did the week before. This time I saw the pig plain as day - it didn't like me much and took off downhill through the creek bed. I waited for my heart to stop pounding and caught my breath and pondered whether I wanted to continue with my plan or again make a retreat. I have to say that I had a feeling that there wasn't just the solitary pig, but I wasn't hearing or seeing any more. So I called out, "Hey is it safe to go down there? Are there any more pigs?" Instant boilup of pigs - maybe 8 or 9, all coming up out of the spring area. One of them started running in the wrong direction, i.e. toward me, so I waved it off - shoo shoo pig! What else could I do? Anyway, that tactic worked and they all went one way and I went the other.

I always thought that wild pigs were wily and wary and it was hard to get close to them. It isn't as if my approach is subtle - I just tromp along in my boots, rustling dry leaves and snapping branches, surely you would think they could hear me. I'm sure if I had had ill intent, they would be a million miles away. And yeeps, two weeks in a row!

I did continue my walk which only had one more eventful moment when I woke up a snoozy bobcat who had been taking a siesta under an oak tree.

When I got back from that excitement I had my lunch and watched several minutes of hijinks a la acorn woodpecker on the bird bath. There were three or four of them tussling and I grabbed the camera and got this shot.

More wildlife doings: some weeks ago, the Dinosaur found an empty Western Pond Turtle shell and brought it back to the house as a point of interest. Evidently, he put some saddle soap on it in the hopes of preserving the turtle leather. Lo and behold, waiting for us this weekend: evidence of coyote tampering. Guess they don't like soap.


Tom Hurley said...

Whoa! Pigs! They can be mean! You’re brave to go on those solo hikes. As for the bobcat you awoke, he's probably the one I’ve befriended. Is it a blonde cat?

Praying Horse said...

I'm not sure that I would characterize the bobcat as blonde, but I wouldn't say that I've seen so many bobcats in my life to be able to distinguish variations. It is certainly possible that it's the same one - he was just below our gate into the new property, just a hop skip and a jump downhill from you guys.

Tom Hurley said...

It sounds likely. Their territories are pretty big, what with the need to fill up on squirrels and mice daily. This particular cat is very light in color, more so than any other bobcat I’ve ever seen, which tend to be a few shades darker in order to blend in with tree trunks and rocks. This guy/gal blends with dead grass.

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