Wildlife on the Farm  
One of the delights of the farm, from the very beginning, has been the abundance of wildlife we see daily. In the early years, we saw foxes regularly. They were usually healthy with big brushes. They were after the huge rabbit population. One early morning, just after dawn, a red fox was spotted meandering its way up the driveway, not 8' away.

Bears use our sand hill in the back pasture as part of their highway to the river west of us. Their beaten path runs from the sand hill down the north side of the farm on the other side of the swamp. For several years, we frequently saw a sow with twin cubs every year.

In 2008, just after the cows arrived, we noticed they were acting very protective of the calves out on the back pasture. They were bunching together with the calve sin the middle. They would not come past a certain point in the back pasture. After a time, they went back to acting normally.

That evening we went out and came back with people who wanted to see the chickens. As we walked up the driveway, we saw what we first thought were cow tracks, but quickly realized they were moose. It had probably been what had alarmed the cows. This was just after the 4th of July, so it had probably been spooked into our area.

Deer are around nearly the whole year. They do some damage going through the fences to get the clover in the pastures. Because the pastures are so lush, they have only gotten into the vegetable gardens 1 time since the gardens were started.

There are several owls in the woods to the north and we hear them every January when they start mating. Very occasionally we see them. Hawks, on the other hand, are seen several times a day. If we don't see them, we hear their piercing cry. There are lots of red tails, a few Coopers, kestrels, and in 2015 a rough shanked got one of the layers.

Eagles have become a common sighting now there are several nesting pairs on the Connecticut River, only a couple miles away. An odd sighting, a few years ago, was a sand hill crane, of course, on our sand hill. We hadn't seen one of those since we moved off the ranch in Florida in 1982.

In 2010 we had a baby vulture that checked out the inside of the barn to see if it was a good place to live. It moved on later in the day. But it sure was odd to come into the barn and find him perched on the side of a stall, across from the chicken coop.

We have the usual complement of squirrels, both gray and red, chipmunks, groundhogs, possums, skunks, and raccoons. We also had a weasel that lived in a stump by our son's toy storage. He loved to watch it play on the bank of the swamp. We've also seen fisher cats, bobcats, and twice a mountain lion out by the barn.

Coyotes moved into the area about 15 years ago and the fox population dipped sharply, as did the rabbit population. The coyotes are bold, crossing between the house and the barn in broad daylight. They have frequently been seen lying in the pastures, watching us work. The pack howling at night is a very eerie thing. Since the cows came in 2008, we don't see them acting as boldly any more. During an open winter 2011 - 2012 most of the coyotes were wiped out by hunters. The following months brought a huge increase in rodents. In 2015, we still have not seen the coyotes come back in force. The rodent population has started to regulate and reduce, probably due to food competition.

We have the usual population of juncos, bluebirds, titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, mourning doves, red finches, mockingbirds, robins, sparrows, flickers, swallows, and wood peckers. We have 3-4 types of woodpeckers that come to the suet feeders, and there's a pileated woodpecker in the woods north of us. Sometimes we see an indigo bunting, and orioles nest in the neighbor's willows. We have a wood duck that has nested in the woods to the north for many years but we've never found the tree it nests in. We have several dozens of turkeys around each year. And occasionally a pheasant will appear.

We once found a box turtle wandering around on the farm. We've also seen painted turtles, which are now endangered. We have the usual snakes, frogs, and toads. Sometimes we find salamanders. In 2012 we found a copperhead snake alive on the road near our leased pastures.

About the only large animals we've not seen here are lynx, wolves, and wolverines. Smaller animals not seen are beaver and muskrats.



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