Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring visitors

Spring brings such a flurry of activity. We all begin cleaning our houses, dusting off what winter left behind. The flurry of activity extends even more so to nature in spring. It is a time of vibrance, renewal, birth, and - inevitably - babies.

We have had several spring visitors at the Ranch over the last couple weeks. 

First, the dogs discovered a nest of 10 day old wild baby bunnies in the long grasses in the field by our barn.

One didn't survive. Alas, this is unfortunately a part of spring too.

But several others did! To keep the rest safe from the dogs, we took them inside and kept them under a heat lamp until we could transport them to a wildlife rehabilitation specialist in town.

10-day old wild baby rabbits were among several spring visitors at the Ranch

The girls enjoyed having the bunnies as our guests for a couple days.  

Elise in bunny Heaven!
Sophie managed to feed each bunny a dropper-ful of Ensure® so they had enough nutrients to last through the night. 

We took them back to the nest initially so their mama could come back to feed them, but she never returned. Mama rabbits return to the nest right at dusk for a quick feeding session before they're off again. Surprisingly, mama's milk is so high in nutrients, this is all infant rabbits need to help them grow.
The baby bunnies were transported to a wildlife rehabilitation specialist who will raise them until they are big enough to survive on their own, and then release them into the wild. 

But the fun was just beginning....

Last weekend, one of our chickens, Reggae, who is featured in this post, caught what she clearly thought was a large worm while free ranging. As the other hens came near her, she ran away from them, quickly defending her prize "worm." I could see from a distance, however, that this was no worm. As I ran up to her, I wrestled the prize from her beak only to realize it was a baby snake!

The "worm" our chicken, Reggae, found: an Eastern Milk Snake

I took it inside long enough to identify what type of snake it was, then quickly released this little guy back into the tall grasses around our property. It was quite feisty and quick to attempt to strike, despite that the teeth of the Eastern Milk Snake are unable to penetrate human skin.

Finally, we had a visitor of a more domesticated nature.

Meet Ninja, our new Americauna rooster, who thinks he is "all that." Sophie's friend who is involved in our local 4-H hatched this guy on her property this past November. They already have several roosters, and offered us this guy over the weekend. He was hand-raised, and is sweet...once he is caught!

Ninja stepping high beside our barn

Ninja puts on quite a show for our 15 hens. As the lone rooster at the Ranch, he is quite proud of himself and struts around our yard beside our barn boldly, puffing himself up, shaking his feathers and flapping his wings in a valiant display of chicken masculinity.

And, as far as roosters go, he is gorgeous.

I like the novelty of having one token rooster at the Ranch, too.

But don't tell Ninja that. If his ego gets any bigger, he won't fit in the barn :)

Enjoy Spring!

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