Rats in my house? Wait, they are babies….


DSC_0388I think I mentioned in a previous blog of my war on the rats that have gained access to both the house and the roof area. The traps that I set in the roof have met with limited success and have killed a couple of big rats and there has not been any activity that I can hear of the rats still up there. Of course, it is bloody hot up there so probably any smart rats would find a cooler environment.

However, work on the living area of the house has also resulted in a few kills but recently, nothing to talk of although I have suspected that at least one rat still has a hiding place that so far neither I or the dogs have been able to locate.

Further proof of that came a couple of days ago when Pete, the Chihuahua was intently looking at something on the floor. I have seen him do this with large bugs and even a bit of fluff it it happens to blow around so I went over to investigate in what was so interesting. I should mention that it was around one o’clock in the afternoon just to put things in focus so several hours had passed since we crawled out of bed. Much to my surprise, what Pete was looking at started to wiggle and I could see that it was a baby rat. It was a tiny little thing and I started looking around and on the hearth, found another one of them still very much alive. They were both quite active as I watched them trying to think of what I should do. It was a bit of a quandary as on the one hand, I was trying desperately hard to kill the mother and any other full grown rats and here in front of me was one of the miracles of Nature, two baby rats. They were so small and so vulnerable that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish them off. I grabbed a small syringe and tried to feed them some milk but their mouths were no bigger than a pinhead and I could tell that it wasn’t doing much good and besides, it was covering them in milk. I was afraid that my human smell would cause the Mother to reject them if she came back.

Meanwhile, Pete was not finished and had located three more of the little guys. I collected them and added them to the original pair and then took a careful look around to see if there were any more. I went on Google to find out a little bit about Rats and learned that they could have as many as twelve babies which got me looking even harder. I was not able to locate anymore but that doesn’t mean the the Momma might not have had more somewhere else. I would have thought that she would have been a bit better prepared and if she is so well hidden from me, had them wherever her hiding place is..

That still left me in a difficult position. I could not find it in my heart to kill them just as I don’t think I could kill an adult rat if it faced up to me. Sure, I do it the cowardly way by setting traps although in my defence, I usually set a catch and release trap as well and when I have caught the rats in that trap, have driven to where the open fields are with no houses around and released them.

So, I came up with a plan. I placed the babies on a paper towel in the middle of a folding fence so the dogs would not get to them and left them there overnight hoping that the Momma rat would carry them off. Morning came and there were the rats just as i had left them but scattered around a bit as their wiggles caused them to separate. All five were still alive but the paper towel was gone and I still have not located it two days later. I hope Momma Rat has not built a nest with it if she has other babies. Incidentally, I placed traps of both kinds along with food inside the folding fence overnight but the Momma Rat ignored them all. She may have fed the babies for all I know.

DSC_0384On Day 2, the babies spent the entire day in the same spot only showing any type of movement when they wiggled around. By the evening, I could tell they were getting weaker but I left everything as before overnight. In the morning, there were only four of them left on the floor and they were all dead. I located the fifth one back up on the hearth where the Momma  must have  moved it but it too had died. I collected them up glad that this little episode was over and at the same time a little sad over their deaths. I still felt a bit of a quandary with my desire to rid the house of the adult rats and at the same time, be faced with these babies. I am also very surprised  that the Momma Rat was not better prepared to have her babies in some sort of “safer” place instead of having them on the fireplace hearth out in the open. They were tough little buggers as they lasted at least forty eight hours on their own out in the open with the AC going full blast.

Now to get back to the serious business of ridding the house of the adult rats. On second thoughts, maybe I should not try too hard as Momma may have babies stashed away somewhere and if I catch her then I will be faced with the problem of dead rat smell. On the other hand, grown babies mean more trouble for me. What a quandry….

 

 

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Reimers Ranch 7-24-2017


DSC_6368I went to Reimers Ranch with the intent purpose of taking bird pictures or if I was lucky, maybe even get to see a Wild Turkey, as I had this new long distance lens that I have been working with these last couple of hikes.

Consequently, I parked in the very last lot and after gearing up in my usual fashion set off along the Turkey Trail at a slow pace looking not only for the Turkeys but also for any birds that may be around. Birds tend to fly out in front of you as you walk and are always a distance away. I was using the long distance lens as a bino but it is way too heavy to just hold up and look through for any length of time so I guess I need to invest in a good pair of binoculars. I managed to get a few bird pictures including a couple as I was sitting on the bench at the end of the Turkey Trail.

I wandered down the Multi Purpose Trail towards the very end of the Park where the creek intersects with the river. Along the way, two White Tailed deer ran past me and disappeared into the brush. As usual, I was not prepared for anything that quick and missed the shots. Using two walking poles as I do, restricts carrying a camera in my hands or around my neck and although the harness I wear is pretty slick, it is not built for a quick draw McGraw and would be no good in a gunfight.

It is really pretty on that part of the multi use trail with some nice Oak trees on the one side and Spruce trees close to the creek. As I approached the end of the trail, I spooked a blue heron who took off and landed a couple of hundred yards further away downstream.DSC_6360

The trails at this end of the Park.

I sat for a while contemplating on my next move whether to backtrack or to go along the bottom trail which is much easier now that the Parks people have mowed and cleaned it up. As I dislike back tracking if I can avoid it, I decided to take the lower trail which leads me past the rock climbing areas. I was on the lookout for more birds as I walked and spotted a couple of warblers . There were some people climbing as I heard them talking but they were not on any of the faces that I could see.

There are still a few wildflowers out making a nice break and adding to the color.

I stayed on this trail for a bit before taking one of the trails leading up to the middle Parking Area. From there, a nice slow walk back to the lot where my car was parked along the main gravel trail that is on top of the bluff overlooking the river. This is an easy walking trail and fairly level.

Some of the views of the interesting rock structure and the lower trails.

Arriving back at my car, I was the only car left on the lot which is another reason I like hiking through the week. It was extremely hot with the temperatures creeping up towards the one hundred degree mark. I had drank almost two bottles of water and covered a little over 5 miles and as usual, was totally soaked with sweat. Good job I always bring a change of clothes or my car would be a worse mess than it already is.

Altogether, another nice hike but I do need to brush up on my camera preparedness somehow…I should mention that the original intent was to locate and take pictures of as many birds as possible but sitting around is boring and I ended up walking, as usual.

On the way back home, I decided to take another drive and turned West to follow RR 3238. Follow this link for this story.

Another Drive


white-tailed-deer_1

I walked a while at one of the Parks
taking pictures along and throughout the day
the weather was extremely hot
not many birds flying my way
I could hear them singing in the trees
but it was so hard to see
and although I got a couple of shots
the picture I wanted was not to be
I saw a couple of white tail deer
bounding along away from me
but as is usual in this case
my camera was not free
I missed the best shot of the day
as I watched the deer run away
quickly to disappear from view
as the animals are apt to do.

I finished walking for the day
and started driving to my house
instead of taking the quick way home
I chose instead that I would roam
and drive the countryside once more
such is the beauty that it holds
and had not gone for a mile or two
as in the distance big and bold
a big brown deer standing aloof
waiting to cross with her tiny hoofs
I slowed the car to let her cross
but the deer turned and I was at a loss
as she jumped the fence and she was gone
the picture missed as I took too long.

I watched her go and something caught my eye
not far away half hidden in the grass
with a Momma Skunk leading the way
and four young Kits not stopping to play
as they followed behind in a single line
with Momma not giving them much time
as into the bushes away from the car
and out of my view travelling far
I continued driving along the road
thinking of what I had just seen
and even though no pictures to show
I knew It had not been a dream
and once more Mother Nature’s display
helped to make a wonderful day.

Hiking on a Weekend…


DSC_0314I never really had any intent
to hike today thinking instead
I would stay inside and write in my blog
out of the sun and my thoughts to log
onto the page of the next blog I write
hoping to make it a wonderful sight
so that others can read the words on the page
and hope gain something as they engage
in reading this blog fresh from my mind
stories to share of the Nature kind.

I try not on a weekend to hike
not that it doesn’t give me delight
but I like to stay away from the crowd
as noisy and raucous as I have found
that out on the trails solitude makes
happiness when there are pictures to take
especially of animals and birds that need quiet
so as to not get their picture spoilt
a difficult time that often fails
approaching anything live on the trails
as my walking poles make so much noise
and there is no way to disguise
that something is coming and it’s time to flee
and they are gone before they see me.

As much as I like on the trails to meet
other people who are using their feet
getting around out on the path
walking and talking and so I ask
“Can I take your picture” as they walk by
and most of them give me a short reply
“Certainly” as I explain
that I write a blog but I refrain
from using their names just a picture or two
showing them smiling in my view.
I give them my card and wish them well
as I go forward on up the hill
one foot in front of the other I place
sticking to my usual slow pace
and like the tortoise who beat the hare
I reach the end of the trail that I share
with others like me who really feel
Nature’s serenity and beauty is something real.

This is Texas and It Is HOT…


DSC_5375Now that Summer is finally here
and temperatures are beginning to sear
and every day is hotter than most
and the sun is making everything toast
rain is just a thing of the past
I can’t remember when it rained last
and when it did it was over quick
nothing that was going to stick
just a shower, a few drops of rain
and then back to 100 degrees again.

We still lead an outside life
as used to the heat with nary a strife
start early before the heat of the day
makes it impossible to go out and play
for no one wants if they have a choice
unless of course if you have no voice
and outside work is what you do
with anything else you haven’t a clue
so you slap on the lotion and fill your jug
drink plenty of water lots more than a mug
and brave the heat a living to make
and everything is for your family’s sake.

Me, I take walks in ninety degrees
hoping like hell to be under the trees
knowing that around the next bend
could well be a field or a hill to ascend
either out in the open the sun blazing down
or climbing steeply to reach up to the crown
hoping that shade is a coming up fast
and maybe this hill will be the last
sweat pouring off me my clothes are all soaked
near the end now and I’m getting stoked
as I finish yet another hike
out on the trails with the end in site.

Why do I do this I have to ask
an answer comes forth from my distant past
when as a kid I spent my time
out in the woods with a friend of mine
and together we covered many a mile
close to Nature’s wonderful smile
and learned about how Nature does show
us the way forward in case we don’t know
we spent hours upon hours in her company
and seventy years later she is what I see
and if I could do it all again
my whole life would not be the same
instead I would be as a young kid
and work close to Nature my life to commit
in preserving everything she unfolds
working for her was one of my goals.

Alas, an old man I have grown
my dreams and my thoughts I have not shown
except in my walks and the stories I tell
and the pictures I take and wishing like hell
that I could do it over again
and work with Nature which sounds rather tame
for what we are doing to this earth
troubles me more than a dearth
as no one is more ignorant than man
who was not here when it all began
but thinks he owns the universe
and can take what he wants with no reimburse.

One day Mother Nature will see
just what in all reality
Man is inflicting in so many ways
and will take time off to reappraise
her goodness will end and she will defend
what little is left to the bitter end
to rise again at a later date
this experiment over for failures sake
as Man is not worthy to make this his home
he came, he wasted and now he is gone.

Be kind to your Mother…

McKinney Falls State Park 7-21-2017


DSC_0291-PanoI called my friend BJ to see if she wanted to take a walk but she had other plans so I decided that I would go out on my own anyway. I figured that as we have not had any rain to talk of these past two months, I might be able to cross over Onion Creek to get to the trails on the other side. I have been to this park many times but have not been able to cross due to high water levels.

I set out early (for me) and arrived at the park around 9:30 am. As to be expected, there were already several cars ahead of me as I waited to pay my $3:00 and sign in. I made my way to the Lower Falls parking area which has a large swimming hole and was where I needed to cross the river.

I changed into my hiking boots and then geared up with my two camera harness and my backpack. I also carry two bottles of water as I had the experience of running out on a hike at Pedernales Falls on a hot day and I vowed not to let that happen again. I use Hydroflask metal bottles that are vacuum sealed to keep the contents cool. One contains 21 oz and the other at 24 oz. They work well and keep the contents very cool but they do add a bit more to the weight I carry on these hikes. Well worth it though.

I grabbed my walking poles without which, nowadays I would not do so well on the hikes and made my way towards Onion Creek. There is a very large expanse of limestone to cover before actually hitting the Creek and it is interesting to see how the water has worn it in different ways over the millions of years of its existence. I stopped to take pictures of the White Egrets including one that was in the shallow waters and was busy chasing something in the water. He put on quite a show. There was also what looked like a Willet doing his thing in another shallow. All this before I hit the river.

As I suspected, the pool was already busy with a lot of kids with their families already set up under the shade or in the water or camped out around the edge of the pool. Also visible were several large turtles although none were actually sunning probably due to the amount of activity going on around them. The kids of course were in the water both to cool down and to have fun. There is a lot for them to explore in the big pool.

DSC_0296The water in the Creek was very low and I had no trouble in crossing to get to the trails on the other side. The first thing I came across was a sign describing the Mill that used to stand on this spot. Remnants of steel rods and cut outs in the rocks are all that are left. I took the Homestead Trail wanting to walk the big loop which I deemed would be enough for one day. The trail was well worn and was shaded most of the way which was just as well as the temperatures were expected to reach 100 degrees later in the afternoon.

I came across the McKinney Homestead which was probably a very imposing structure in its day. It still retains an air of Southern beauty and one wonders what ghosts walk the ruins and what stories they can tell. Interesting that it was built by slaves although I guess I should not be too surprised.

I moved on along the trail until eventually I arrived back at the pool. By now even more families had arrived and there were more of them in the water. I took a couple of pictures and made my way back across the Creek.

Along the way on the trail, I had met several people including one couple that stopped to let me take their picture. There were others including a couple of young female runners using the trail to work out and a Father and Son out for a walk. A couple of bikes passed me as well as it is a multi use trail.

All in all, a very enjoyable hike. I covered 6 miles and by the time I was through around 1:30 pm, it was really warming up. Interestingly enough, even though I could hear them, I never really saw any birds or wildlife enough to take any pictures which is one of the reasons I carry the heavy telescopic lens and camera. There were not very many flowers. I only saw two.

I did hold an interesting conversation with a young man who I believe said his name was Jeng(?) who is a visiting student currently staying in Houston and was in Austin for a couple of days. He was trying to hit as many of the local parks as he could find so I directed him to my favorite Park, McKinney Roughs.

I plan on going back in the next few days to hit the trails that I have not yet hiked now that I can cross the river. This is southern Texas after all and the chances of any amount of rain in the summer that might make the river impassable are extremely remote.

A Hike and Taking Pictures.


DSC_5435I went for a hike the other day
I felt that I needed to get out and play
out in the country and breathe the fresh air
knowing that I hadn’t a care.

Life is good and I’m still alive
and you could say that I even thrive
on walking miles out in the sun
for my race is not yet run.

My pace is slow as I amble along
not in a hurry my pace long gone
just happy to be out in the sun
that Nature provides to give me fun.

It gets a little warm out there
as I walk along without a care
stopping when something catches my eye
to take pictures of the wonderful sky.

Or maybe a bird or a tree or two
whatever it is that is in my view
something that has caught my eye
and I have to know the reason why.

I really like to record the scene
whatever it is that make me serene
as I walk off the miles in my quest
to take a picture of the very best.

At the end of the trip I always feel tired
and hot with clothes soaked as I perspire
and I change before getting in the car
so I drive in comfort even though it’s not far.

When I get home and look at my shots
half of them are not so hot
as I toss them away and look at the best
knowing my computer can do the rest.

A tweak here and another there
before the picture I wish to share
is ready for others to review
in the hunt for perfection, if they only knew.