Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Typical Day

Hi Folks! Thanks for stopping by again!

A lot of people wonder what I do all day, so I thought I'd describe a normal day in the life of the Critter Lady. Mind you, today's events don't happen every day (thank goodness for that!), but you'll get an idea of what I'm up to.

I got an email last night from the woman who feeds my gang of ducks on the weekends. Liz read about me in the local paper a while back and got in touch with me, volunteering her services. I've been relying on her ever since.

In addition to feeding the ducks, Liz is also my eyes and ears at McKinnon's Pond. She sent me an email a couple of months ago, when she became concerned about one of the Pekins. She thought maybe he had a leg injury. After I checked him out, I told her that no, he's not injured; Puddleduck's just bow-legged! I sure am grateful for the observations, though!

In any case, last night's email told me that Liz had come across a dead goose at the pond. She didn't know why the poor creature had died, or what to do with the corpse, but she wanted me to know about it. I immediately replied and asked if she was sure it was a goose, and not one of my guys. She reassured me that the dead critter in question was, indeed, a Canada goose. I told her I'd check it out today.

I had a holiday open house to go to this afternoon. Julie, the pottery instructor at the studio where I make stuff (vases for animal charity events, to be specific), has her own gallery up the road in the quaint and historic town of Watersedge. It's a thirty-minute drive from Whoville, but all the Watersedge shops are open for the event, most of them set out free cookies, and there are carolers and horse-drawn wagon rides, as well.

It's a festive occasion (although, due to our current economic woes, it was also rather subdued this year) and Julie always has good stuff in her gallery. She features a number of artists in different mediums, and my favorite is the boiled wool lady, who makes catnip mice out of wool.

For reason I can't explain, cats in general seem to like wool, and my cats in particular are no exception. Every year, at Julie's holiday open house, I avail myself of the free food and pick up a couple of wool mice for the cats' Christmas stocking. And every Christmas Day, my cats get stoned out of their minds on those mice!

I stopped off at McKinnon's Pond on the way to the open house. I decided to give the ducks an extra helping of cracked corn before I looked into the dead goose issue. I figured that if they were occupied with food, my gang wouldn't follow me all over the place like they occasionally do. Sometimes, I get to feeling like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, except with ducks instead of rats. One day, I had over forty ducks (mostly wild mallards) following me in search of extra corn!

After I dumped a pile of feed near the boathouse, I followed Liz's directions and walked half-way around the pond before I found the corpse. He seemed to have a neck injury, and when I turned him over, I found a big, yucky, maggot-filled wound on his belly. I'm guessing that a raccoon got him because they never seem to eat what they kill. I think a dog would've played with the corpse, and a coyote would've made a meal of it, but it seems like only raccoons kill an animal, make a hash of the body, and then leave it without eating. What a waste.

In any case, I had with me the empty paper sacking that the cracked corn had come in, along with a lawn-and-leaf bag, for disposal. I wrapped up the goose in the paper, then put the whole package in the plastic bag. I headed back around to the boathouse, putting the carcass in a garbage barrel along the way. The Whoville City garbage collectors will come around next week and take care of the rest.

The ducks, having eaten every last piece of corn in the six minutes I was dealing with the goose, all took a renewed interest in me and started heading in my direction. I spent some time reassuring them that there was, in fact, no more corn, then climbed into my car and drove to Watersedge.

As I travelled, I reflected on the thought that while an untold number of people use the park and pond every day - for duck feeding, as well as exercising dogs, and making clandestine cell phone calls - I seem to be the only one who's involved to the point of handling dead critter issues.

There is, of course, Animal Control Officer Jeff, who I usually call in such situations. Part of his job is disposing of just this sort of unfortunate creature before children start playing with them and catch some disease or other. But since it was Sunday, I decided to give Jeff a break and handle it myself. Besides, a maggoty dead critter is a lot easier to deal with in winter than in summer!

I wish there was good news to report on the wool mouse front, but by the time I got to the gallery, they were all sold out. Julie assures me that she can hook me up with some before Christmas arrives, though, so that's all right. I sure did enjoy spending some time among the living, savoring the thin, wintry sunshine, wandering the antique shops and listening to carolers as I did. There's just something special about a quaint old village that puts me in the holiday spirit.

Any day now, I'll start putting up my Christmas decorations. My all-time favorite thing is a stocking that a friend of mine cross-stitched for me, some years ago. It's a picture of a white cat lying under a Christmas tree, playing with a string of lights. It is, of course, the cats' stocking. Every good-smelling thing that goes into it (like catnip mice) has to be sealed into a Ziploc bag, first, lest the cats get curious too soon! On Christmas day, I'll pull out all the new toys and snacks and let the cats have at 'em. It's the best part of my holiday!

So that's a day in the life of the Critter Lady. Fortunately, there aren't always critter deaths to deal with! A typical day is usually about feeding and nurturing living animals, which makes dealing with the occasional death a little more tolerable.

I hope you all have your own special winter critter traditions - whether it be feeding the wild birds or putting out a salt lick for the deer (but please, no hunting!), or buying a nice new blanket for that old horse in your pasture. May you all be as blessed with wonderful critter characters as I am!

That's all for now, Folks. Thanks again for stopping by, and until next time, please be kind to all the critters.