A Turduckin About Covers It

In today’s blog, I’ll share my experiences with animal identification at the farm.

This is the first time we’ve captured a moose on our trail cam since we’ve moved to the farm.

When I was in high school I took the hunter’s safety course, and along with it came a large proportion of study on animal identification….understandably. I remember when it was time for the final exam, the instructors had displayed several images on tables, and our job was to label what kind of animal they were. We were to be very specific on the animal’s gender as well. (On a side note, isn’t it funny that this would all be done through technology now? The idea that pictures were laying on tables – and they were probably calendar pictures – for us to look at seems almost archaic now!) My friend and I were shuffling along the perimeter of the tables, looking at the pictures, looking at each other’s answers, and silently nodding to each other when we knew we had properly identified the animal. When it came to the moose, I looked over to her answer to see that she had written “bull cow”. Bull cow? Bull cow! How on earth am I going to stop myself from laughing now? She could see by my face that I was about to lose it. We continued to shuffle along, pretending we didn’t have that experience for the sake of passing the test, muffling our laughs all the while. She passed the test, as did I, even with the non-binary moose description. She said she was covering all bases. Makes sense in retrospect even though at the time, we laughed like the goofy teenagers we were.

On the bottom right hand corner, you can see a furry little critter peeking his head out.

Well, who’s laughing now? I had my first real face to face experience with a groundhog this weekend, and apparently, I don’t know much about groundhogs. It all started when I noticed my dog being quieter than usually and attentively sitting in the corner of her yard. She was in hunt mode, for sure. I went over to see what the silent fuss was about, and lo and behold, there was a large, beaver-ish, rodent like, cute animal perched on a rock sunning itself a mere 30 feet away. Willow barked at the rodent’s rudeness of not spontaneously jumping directly into her mouth. The animal ran under The Love Shack, and re-emerged on the other side….cute….but not very smart. Willow watched and barked for at least a good hour.

Fast forward to later in the day. As you may or may not know, our Willow is part husky and as is true to the breed, she is a runner. She doesn’t necessarily know how to get back after running though. I will share more stories about that in a future blog. Let it just be said that we have gone through a lot of efforts to keep Willow close by. Our latest get up involves a chest harness, a long rope and a ten pound weight, in that order. Willow likes it because she has more freedom than being either left in her yard or having herself attached to my waist with a two way leash. (Sometimes I wonder who is walking who.) If she wants to run, she can, but she gets pooped pretty fast. Eventually she’ll have herself trained enough to easily pull that 10 pound kettle bell, but we’re ready with the 15 pounder when she is buff enough for it.

Willow and the kettle bell weight.

On Sunday afternoon, Brad, Willow and I were hanging out around the barn, working on setting up a small mechanics shop for Brad. From the corner of my eye, I could see a metal ball bouncing in the air, and a black flash of fur running down the road. Willow was back in hunting mode and this time she was free from her yard, and as could quickly be seen, also free from her harness which lay on the ground in a tattered mess. Oh snap. We have a problem here.

Ripped herself right out of her chest harness!

I was able to catch up to Willow who was in a deadly face off with a large rodent. Seriously, dude, why did you move away from the safety of the Love Shack? Apparently these rodents aren’t too smart. Willow didn’t know what to do with this beast. I could almost hear her thoughts; it’s bigger than a mouse! How am I going to eat this? What do I do? I will paw at it! I will snap at it but I am not sure how to go about doing this hunting thing. This is awesome!!!

Meanwhile, I was thinking, What the eff is that thing? Holy crap! I hope it’s not a porcupine! (We haven’t had good experiences with porcupines around the farm.) It looks kind of like a beaver, but it doesn’t have the big beaver tail and teeth. It looks like a hedgehog, but do we have hedgehogs around here? Never in my life have I heard anyone in Canada say, “There was a hedgehog in my yard.” So I don’t know why that was in my head. You see? Animal identification is not my strongest feature. While all of these thoughts were going through my head, I was screaming absolute bloody murder for Willow to get back over to me. To my absolute surprise and relief, SHE ACTUALLY LISTENED TO ME! I guess she figured she best off not to eat a massive mouse after all. I watched as the little rodent waddled away, safe from the grips of a wild animal and a screaming banshee; at least for now. By the way, Brad was totally oblivious to all of this going on. I am sure if he was part of the action, he easily would have been able to identify the little bugger for me.

After the excitement was over, and Willow was napping, I set out on the task of getting Willow’s harness back in running order, and as you know, I don’t sew. Thank goodness for duct tape, that’s all I have to say. Now Willow has a flashy blue harness that not only makes her look like Super Dog, but also slightly red neck in a funny, farm way. Red Green would be proud! We were back in action. And so was the rodent.

The next day, the little gaffer was back under the Love Shack continuing to do its thing. I sent Brad a text (we have to do that at the farm because there’s a lot of distance between us sometimes) asking for help in identification. This was the text I sent him….

Sigh. He laughed as he watched his wife and dog, standing in the corner of the fenced yard staring at something that was apparently a miraculous anomaly to Willow and I. Instantly, as soon as he saw it, he said, “Groundhog.” Boom. No hesitation. No having to do an image search on Google for specific identification. Groundhog. Drop the mike. I said, “Yeah? With the red on the fur like that? With the spiky looking fur?” Yeah? You sure?” I really wanted it to be a hedgehog for some reason. No, it is definitely a groundhog.

So it is. I can identify the common northern animals: the moose, deer, bear, wolf, coyote, whiskey jack, raven and so forth, but when it comes to groundhogs, I’m as out of my league as my friend was with the bull cow. We all have our limits. Apparently, mine is in hedgehog identification.

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It's pretty obvious that this is a picture of a moose, but when it comes to groundhogs and other ground like rodents, it is a bit difficult to identify them! At least for me. Read this blog to find out all about identifying wildlife at The Farm.House.Studio. #Canada #Canadianwildlife #wildlife #wildlifeidentification

Author: theclevercorvidsfarmhousestudio

Rhonda (Bobinski) Beckman left Red Lake, Ontario, after high school to obtain her Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Degree, then continued on to receive her Bachelor of Education Degree at the University of Manitoba. She then returned and taught Visual Arts at Red Lake District High School for almost 20 years while continuing to make her own art on the side. In 2014, Rhonda established herself as the sole proprietor of The Clever Corvid Art and Art Workshops, where she runs artistic workshops for all ages and abilities in the community and beyond. She is now working on the next stage of her artistic career as she and her husband slowly transform 167 acres of land just outside of Dryden, Ontario, into a future artist's retreat. Rhonda can be found at local festivals and on Facebook, peddling her creative wares that are inspired by the beautiful nature that surrounds her.