WILDLIFE: THE REVOLTING AND THE SUBLIME
It was cold this morning and since I had a few extra chores down at the barnyard I took the quad to speed things up. I fed the barn cats who accepted breakfast eagerly. Then, it was a bucket of rolled oats for the three late-weaned calves and a couple of lame “hospital cows.” The cattle were more reluctant than the cats. They are used to being fed by Ron who is away for a couple of days and they gave me a “Who do you think you are?” look. Eventually, however, the lure of oats won out and they trooped up to the trough. Off I went on the quad, not the warmest means of transportation, but I sat on a wool blanket and pulled the end of it up over my legs so I was okay. The dogs said they were coming along so I had to drive about 6 kms an hour so old Pepper didn’t have to run hard. There was thicker ice than yesterday but it was still not hard to chop. However, there was a surprise waiting under it. Ice worms! Or at least that’s what I call them, in recollection of Robert Service’s famous poem, The Ice Worm Cocktail. I know nothing about them, other than that they are ugly little suckers, up to about an inch long, tan-colored, and alive there in the water. I’ve seen them in springs in the winter before and I guess they do no harm-but I’ll pass on a refreshing drink of spring water, thank you. After checking the bales set out in various locations for the cows to “bale-graze” I headed home. There, along the woods trail, there was movement on a nearby tree. The pileated woodpecker! One of my favorite birds. What a fellow he is! The biggest of our woodpeckers he is larger than a robin, dressed neatly in black and white, with a longish, rather scrawny neck, topped by a blazing red crest. He reminds me a little of artists’ representations of the flying dinosaurs. But when he gets to work prospecting for ants, you know a true woodsman is at work as his beak strokes echo all through the woods. Just seeing him was worth the trip.