Monday, January 25, 2021

Late January

The days are quiet. We see maybe one vehicle a day. We work in the mornings and let it warm up a little then head out with Jax for a hike mostly around the property looking at things we have to accomplish. 

Installing a fifth dish for wifi on the bathroom at the Last Hurrah hogans tomorrow. That comes out to nearly $1,000 a month for wifi. It's crazy.
A deep sink came in for the bathroom at the hogans so will have that installed shortly. Be much easier for hogan guests to do their dishes and clean cooking materials.

Usually when somebody doesn’t like something I’m doing, or not doing, and there’s no shortage of them, they send me some anonymous email or post on some blog or board I don’t even know exists and read it years later when it’s too late to defend myself. Then sometimes there are cases where you have to decide between doing something illegal because it's the right thing. Fortunately in the feeding the critters situation it’s not a choice I had to make. It's not often but at least a couple times a year somebody posts somewhere or emails me to leave the critters alone and not feed them and I've heard it's happened again so I'll go through it again.

When I moved here in 2007 I found dead house finches around the property. Usually one eye would be swollen shut and sometimes they’d have big knots on their heads. Looking it up I found the disease to be primarily with house finches but other birds can get it. Conjunctivitis spreads from a bad water or feeding source. I put a bird water bowl out front. It’s still there plus later I put one in the back. In time I began putting feed out for them spread on the ground in three locations. I think I saw one dead bird last year of conjunctivitis. Clearly it’s working. I’m comfortable house finches prefer a good food source and clean drinking water versus having their eyes pop out of their heads and walking around in circles looking for food because they can only see out of one eye?

I read nationally 50% of raccoons die of starvation before their first birthday. Most families that use to come to the porch had five or six babies. Now they have three or four because nobody dies of starvation. Mother Nature adapted to not so many of them dying young and they have smaller families now. You can read studies where they go to extinguish coyotes in an area and the coyotes have bigger families to compensate for it. I’m comfortable the raccoons prefer me messing with their lives versus starving to death.

I had a mouse and pack rat problem when I bought the place in the early days. After I fed ringtails that problem all but vanished as they hang around and kill the mice and pack rats as do the skunks. Ringtails use to be called miners cats because they used them for the same purpose. I’ve decided the lodge is better off without pack rats and mice. But that’s me. Maybe everyone doesn’t feel that way. 

In each instance of the critters that come to the porch there was a reason and if you’ve stayed here you know they all have their safe place to get fed so no one kills them and they don’t kill each other. The thing that surprises me and not much does anymore is that generally only the young critters hang out. Once they reach maturity and can fend for themselves I rarely see them anymore.

I too have read that in time they’ll lose their ability to find food on their own. If that’s true then why don’t the parents stay? How come now, in winter, when you’d think they’d have the biggest problem finding a food source do I only get one raccoon showing up periodically where I use to get a dozen every night when they were young?

I’ve been feeding critters well before I ever hosted guests at the lodge. Though guests now gather most nights in the summer and fall to see the critters come to the porch it’s been going on for at least ten years. I have no guests at the lodge for most of this month but I still go out every night and feed whoever shows up. Having guests see animals in their natural habitat is a bonus. But I don’t feed them just to entertain guests. The measures I’ve taken to feed have eliminated conjunctivitis, mice, and pack rats. Things that could prove to be a danger to humans.

I've heard  “and not to mention it’s illegal.” I’m glad they didn’t mention it. If they’ll go on the Division of Utah Wildlife website it will only take an article or two to learn it’s not illegal to feed wildlife. It is in federal parks, federal lands, some cities, probably California, and in some cases homeowner associations have made rules for feeding critters. Fortunately for the house finches, ringtails, raccoons around here and others like them, I’m not any of those. It’s not illegal in Utah and it’s not illegal on private property and I am both. Hope that helps.

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