Wild America in my backyard

There are days that make me glad I am once again living in rural southern Ohio. Singular events can put the weeks of moaning and complaining about rain and mud completely out of my mind.

For those that don’t know, my yard is considered a wetland. This spring has thankfully been a wet one, and it has taken until now for my lawn to finally dry enough that I could mow most of it. The grass was knee deep in the areas that stay the wettest during the spring. This morning I raised the deck of the mower and was mowing the grass at a level that would leave six or eight inches, but would take a foot or more off the top. Tomorrow I plan on dropping the mowing deck and re-mowing the entire yard to a more manicured level.

I was mowing in the back corner of my property when a young white-tailed deer buck came running straight at me from the corner of our house. His pace was swift, but it did not appear that he was in panic mode. I came to a dead stop on the lawn tractor. When he noticed me, he altered his path and passed in front of me. He was about thirty feet away. White-tailed deer are remarkably graceful animals. This one just seemed to glide. He was close enough for me to see the variation of colors in his tawny fur. His small antlers with two prongs each were still covered with the fuzz of new growth. There is no fence between my property and the farmer’s field to the rear of my place, and the deer continued on into what for the past five years has been a hay field. The hay is deep enough that at some spots all I could see was his head bobbing above the tall grass waving in the breeze. I expected to see him jump the fence and enter the cow pasture that butts up against the hay field, but I never did. He must have cut over to the small stand of trees that line the diversion ditch to the north.

Most of the time when I mow I only see the crayfish that live in my lawn. Crayfish live in wetlands, not just creeks and streams. Occasionally I will see a garter or other small snake. About the most exciting thing I see on a recurring basis are the barn-swallows that dip and sail around me catching the flying insects that my mowing stirs up.

It has been years since I was this close to a white-tailed deer in the open. I find I am just as thrilled and enthralled as I was when I was a kid. I love nature.

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7 Responses

  1. I went to school around Chillicothe (I’m sure I just spelled that wrong) and really liked the outdoors area there. Down here in Texas, however, a little nature goes a long way.
    Anytime I drive to West Texas, I’m liable to see any number of White Tail Deer grazing right by the road – but that also means that I have to be really carefull not to hit them (it’s really hard on your car and none too good for the deer).
    Plus, nature in West Texas usually means Rattlesnakes.

  2. You spelled it correctly. It is about 15 miles north of here. There is a place on US23 between Chillicothe and Waverly that deer graze quite a bit. Hitting a deer can total a car, that is for sure. I saw a timber rattlesnake here in Ohio when I was a kid, but have not heard of a sighting for many years now. People use to go out of their way to kill them.
    I forgot to mention the rabbits that live in the brush at my property line fence. Lots of rabbits. Lots of hawks and falcons as well.

    Sold any stories recently?

  3. Shedding Skin came out in Neo-opsis last month. I’ve got another (Graveyard of the Cloud Gods) scheduled for an anthology in July. That’s actually it for sold stories.

    I’ve got one that is in a line by line edit stage with another anthology. They specifically said it wasn’t a guarenteed acceptance, but I think it shouldn’t be a problem getting it where they want it. That one’s not scheduled until early 2009.

    I’m (once again) taking a stab at turning my day spent as a hostage into a book or maybe long article. I’ve tried a couple of times, got distracted and moved on to other things (I’m really a pretty lazy writer). I’m probabaly jinxing it by even mentioning it, but that at least explains why I haven’t put more out there.

    And isn’t the Timber Rattlesnake endangered?

  4. A day as a hostage? That sounds…fascinating and scary. Don’t tell me about it… I read it when it gets published.

    And, yeah, the timber rattler is on the Ohio endangered list. I am not sure about the Federal list.

  5. The Timber Rattlesnake was on the endangered list in California. So it’s either on the national list or it is just endangered in a lot of states.

    I know about the ballence of nature and all of that – but coming from Diamondback country, it’s hard to get too worked up over a thinning rattlesnake population.

    The Western Diamondback is a nasty, mean and dangerous creature. I also read in the Dallas News recently that that there have reports of a more toxic rattlesnake – as if their venom is evolving. Bite deaths were up last year and they’re preparing for snake bite season down here and in the desert.

  6. I did some checking and it is specifically the “Eastern Timber Rattlesnake” that is on Ohio’s endangered list. It is a shy snake, only rattling or biting when cornered.

  7. It’s a little hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that all rattlesnakes aren’t necessarily like the western diamondback.

    Around here, when someone says that another person is as “mean as a snake”, it is the diamondback that they are referring to. As snakes go, it is not particularily shy.

    The western diamondback’s venom traditionally isn’t as potent as the eastern diamondback or even the eastern timber rattlesnake – but it’s a lot more likely to bite you.

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