Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday Fun

I've got to use up my 4 days of PTO before my job is done at the end of February, so I'm slowly easing my way into unemployment by taking every Friday off, with yesterday being my first day off. Wow, what a fun day I had. It's great to be home with just me and the pets, doing whatever we want. I knitted and watched a movie (Transsiberian) in the morning with Sophie and Penny sitting next to me on the couch. I washed a bunch of clothes and hung them out on the line to dry.

I had a visit from my friendly neighborhood possum. Here, the possum tried out the mineral block that the deer have never touched.

Then Sophie saw the possum in the backyard and got pretty upset, so I let her out, knowing exactly what would happen. It's funny to see her reaction when the critter immediately "dies" and she doesn't have anything to chase.
I finally dragged Sophie back in the house and went back out to be sure the possum was OK. I think because it was a little chilly and windy, the possum took a bit longer to "wake up, " but within 5 minutes it was showing signs of life and it finally resurrected completely and scuttled away to the safety of the brush pile.
This poor little half-bald squirrel also showed up in the backyard yesterday. Does anyone know what might make them lose their hair like that? Can they even stay warm enough to survive the winter with only half their hair? I felt kinda sorry for this squirrel.
Here's something that I almost never see--2 male cardinals this close together. In a few more weeks, territory skirmishes will begin and I'm sure one of these males will be banished to a more distant part of the backyard.
I was happy to see this pretty little male Common Redpoll heading down to the nyjer feeder on my deck.
Later on in the afternoon, I happened to look out the kitchen window because I noticed some bird activity on the ground next to the "treestump" feeder I have out here. (I've been putting seed on top of the treestump all winter, but lots of it has blown off and the ground around the stump is covered with seed.) A closer look with the binoculars revealed lots of Common Redpolls! Check it out! They blend in really well with all the seed on the ground. This is what I saw on one side of the stump......
.....and here's what I saw on the other side (I added colored arrows to make it easier to spot them). I was amazed to see I had so many of these cute little birdies in my yard!
Now, I'm on the lookout for White-Winged Crossbills. They've been spotted in counties east and west of us, so I'm hoping some will be stopping by one of the pine-cone laden evergreens in the backyard soon.


Shellmo said...

I was laughing at that possum playing dead and the look at Sopie's face! Enjoy your fridays!!

RuthieJ said...

I know Shelley, it was so funny! Sophie barked and barked at that possum and it just laid there.
I can't wait to see what good things are in store for next Friday!

Anonymous said...

Sophie can't quite figure out that possum, it was alive a second ago. That puzzled look is priceless. We don't have one redpoll by any of our feeders, and we have lots of them. Thanks for the pics of the redpolls at least I can look at them on your blog.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Just think Ruthie, you will be able to keep a close eye on your bakyard soon. You can enjoy the spring thaw.

Beth said...

Another nice post, RuthieJ. I'm sorry that I missed the one where you told us about your layoff. That really stinks, I hope it all works out for you soon but at least you have a lot of interests to keep you busy. Take care.

Mama Pea said...

What fun for you to have Fridays to look forward to, Ruthie! With the short weeks . . . omigosh, you don't even have three full weeks of work left before your 'retirement!'

I'm sure getting a kick out of seeing your possum. What a funny little creature. But that poor squirrel. Do they get mange? He just doesn't look too good.

We've had a good sized flock of Redpolls for a couple of weeks now. What busy little birds. Mr. Cardinal is sitting right outside my window at this moment but I've almost given up trying to get a picture of him.

So glad you're feeling okay about this last month at work even though it's got to be kinda hard. Just remember it's the beginning of what I know will be a new adventure for you!

Ruth said...

What a great possum story. It really does look dead. We have hoards of Redpolls here lately and they never come in ones. Our Crossbills are moving on.

Lynne said...

I hope you get the Crossbills. They were seen near me in Plymouth for a week and I went out on three different days but couldn't find them.
That opossum is really kind of cute! I like his little pink toes. I just pretend not to see the icky hairless tail!
I don't know about the hairless squirrel. Do squirrels get mange? I've seen coyotes and fox with mange.

Kallen305 said...

Great possum picture. I am so envious of you with those redpolls! I can't get over how many were in your yard.

Jknits said...

Love the possum story. I'm sure my pup would be absolutely as befuddled as yours.

Priscilla said...

"Ruh-roh": LOL!

In the more-bad-news department, another brother-in-law got laid off yesterday. It's not a good time to be employed in Michigan--or Minnesota either, huh?

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
Sophie's such a goof.
I was happy to see all those redpolls. I wonder how much longer they'll stay around?

Hi Lisa,
Spring thaw can't come soon enough--March 20th is right around the corner!

Thanks Beth. I think I'll find plenty to do at home once I'm unemployed.

Hi Mama Pea,
Fridays off will be nice, as long as I can stick to the plan and actually get some work done at home too. An 8-hour day at work never goes by as fast as 8 hours at home!

Hi Ruth,
I'm fascinated with the possums and they add a little variety to the backyard. Do you think your crossbills are heading back north already? I'm still hoping to see some here in southern Minnesota this winter.

Hi Lynne,
I suppose squirrels could get mange just like any other furry mammal. I was shocked to see the poor hairless critter though. It would be really ugly to see a possum like that, wouldn't it?

Hi Kallen,
I was surprised to see all those redpolls too! I thought there were just a couple coming to the nyjer feeders.

Hi Jknits,
Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's been years since Sophie encountered a possum and I'm just glad she didn't hurt it.

Oh Priscilla, that's not good news at all about your BIL. I hope he has a chance to find other employment somewhere.

Kelly said...

...I have never seen a possum play dead...very funny. And those redpolls, so many of them!! I would just like to see one... I hope the crossbills make it over to your house soon.

Mel said...

Wow, they do blend!
I've never seen a possum or its act besides TV or cartoons... cool!!

Jayne said...

That is so funny to see the opossum playing "'possum" with Sophie!
Love the pretty Redpolls and so glad you have some visiting Ruthie. :c)

Richard said...

Looks like an early spring this year. The squirrel is pulling out or rubbing out the winter hair to line a nest. Quite common in the spring.

NCmountainwoman said...

I loved the 'possum! What a lucky shot. Perhaps you can knit a little sweater for the hairless squirrel. The knitting will be easier than getting it on him, though.

Marsha said...

How fun that you captured the possum "playing possum" on Sophie! I'm glad you are enjoying the time spent at home but I guess technically it is still vacation time so easier to enjoy. The pine siskins seem to have left my yard as I haven't seen any for a couple of days and you can send that extra male cardinal NW :-) Great shots, all of them!

Red said...

Maybe Sophie will learn to play dead as good as the possum? LOL!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Kelly,
It's interesting to see the possum play dead--I couldn't even detect that it was breathing! Fortunately it survived with no ill effects.

Hi Mel,
I stood there quite a while waiting for the possum to wake up, but wasn't brave enough to touch its fur. Their teeth look REALLY sharp!

Hi Jayne,
I'm sure from the house Sophie probably thought that possum was a cat--I usually let her out to chase feral cats away. So she must have been quite surprise when this "cat" didn't run away!

Thanks for the info, Richard.

A squirrel sweater--that mental image makes me chuckle Carolyn--especially thinking about getting it on the little critter.

Hi Marsha,
I counted 15 cardinals in the yard around sunset this evening--at least 6 of them were males, so I have a couple to share!

Hi Red,
Even at 11+ years old, Sophie is still a bundle of energy and loves to run in the backyard more than anything (except maybe eating!)

mon@rch said...

Opossum, Siskings, Redpolls . . sounds like a great day! Glad the Opossum didn't bite your puppy, they have many teeth!

Mary said...


I've been a very, very bad blogger. Please forgive me?

I missed your redpolls!

Have fun on Fridays! I always try to get out a few hours early on Friday afternoons to have a little "Mary" time to do what I want.


Mary C said...

Ruthie, you should have an extra long weekend next week. Or don't you get Presidents' Day off? That is also the GBBC weekend. Are you planning to participate, or were you planning to attend another event? I loved your redpoll pix and the cardinals, too. I also thought "mange" when I was reading your post about the squirrel. I've never heard about squirrels using their own fur to line their nests. Besides, I think it's too early for them to be lining their nests there in your neck of the woods.

Anonymous said...

Oh red polls...I haven't had any this year..I have a friend who rehabs squirrels. I will ask her to take a look at the photo. I am thinking mange....Michelle

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mon@rch,
It was a great day. I'm glad Sophie didn't get bit too, but I couldn't get over how small this possum actually is once I see it up close. Now that I got the "playing possum" picture I wanted, I'll be making sure Sophie doesn't chase them anymore.

You're forgiven Mary and it's not like you've been out of touch anyway, right?

Hi Mary C,
No Presidents Day holiday, but having Friday off will work out nicely for the GBBC, I'm looking forward to it. I hope my redpolls are still hanging around then!

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for stopping by to visit my blog. I would really appreciate it if you can let me know about that poor little squirrel and if there's anything I can or should do to help it (once you've checked with your friend)

troutbirder said...

What a neat possum story and pics. In all the years spent in the woods I have never ever seen a possum. How can that be??? Mr.Science gave me call yesterday to rush over and see a "dozen" redpolls ( that would be a "lifer" for me. When I got there he said" they move a lot". Sure

Anonymous said...

My friend who rehabs squirrels suggested that it is probably mange. You could ask a squirrel rehabber about it. Here is the one I found in your state.

Minnesota, South Central region, Hennepin County (Minneapolis)..... 612-729-8937 or 612-673-4058

Elyn Kirchner, Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release, Inc.

Wildlife Species: squirrels

Comments: Leave urgent messages on both phones please. E-mail opened only M-F, not on weekends.

Diane C. said...

Fascinating photo of your opossum playing dead! That tactic seems to work so well that I wonder why more animals don't play possum.

Larry said...

Common Redpolls-cool! I know they're around but haven't seen any yet this winter. Poor squirrel-where's the guy from Ronco with the spray on hair when you need him?

Meggie said...

Wow! That's quite a bit of activity in your own backyard, Ruthie. Quite a variety also. I, too, have a regular visiting possum. I don't mind it eating the catfood on my porch but when it wants to occupy the doghouse, I draw the line.