Top photo: Frogs are such beautiful creatures. They come from nowhere in the spring to mate by our many ponds. The symphony (some say cacophony) of mating songs is deafening. We have many kinds of frogs from medium ones to teeny ones, in colors ranging from brick to green. In the garden, they help keep slugs and insects down. In turn, they are preyed upon by garter snakes and blue herons. This one here is meditating on a lily pad in one of our 14 ponds.
Living with wildlife
Wildlife abounds at our homestead. There are always 4 or 5 eagles perching atop a fir snag. Then there are the beavers who engineer dams and ponds and chew through sizable trees for use on their projects (and for food). Deer, of course, are everywhere.
Being city people, we were in awe of the vast expanse of our homestead and the variety of wildlife to be found there. After ten years of living amidst beavers, blue herons, eagles, pheasants, fowls, owls, frogs, and deer, among other things, we are still amazed at their beauty and top-notch instincts.
Hummingbirds are so beautiful and always welcome in the garden. We love hearing the hum as they buzz here and there and everywhere in the garden.
This beaver is the tamest of the three living at our pond. Here she is just 3 feet away from me. Though seemingly not afraid of me, she always keeps one eye trained on me while going about her usual business of cutting trees, debarking, and arranging her stash on the bank, ready for transport to the beaver family cottage.
Baby swallows look almost extraterrestrial, don't they? They wait patiently at the hole for their mother to come with food.
The pileated woodpecker is quite small. One male used to wake us up early every morning during mating season when he "pecked" (banged was more like it) on our metal chimney as part of the mating call.
Dragonflies resting by our swimming pond after a long and exhausting mating flight through the air and pond surface. Their mating ritual is something to behold. I wonder what color the offspring will have with iridescent blue and green parents. The male attaches on to the female from above, effectively turning the pair into a double-decker flying machine that slices through the air in perfect unison.
Newts are so cute. We often find them among our stored lumber.
Splendor in the grass: The only thing wild about Sesame is her hair. She doesn't have a single mean bone in her body. I just had to include her here because she's a major part of our homestead. Here she is imbibing in the moment. Sesame is perfectly well-behaved from birth. She's a toy poodle-Jack Russell- Bichon Frise mutt with the perfect temperament and smart as anything. She gets along well with our feral cats, chickens, ducks, and geese, too.
Bee cottage. Bees go into these drilled holes and lay their eggs, one at a time, then seal the egg off with clay from the creek, then they lay another egg and seals that one off, on and on until that hole is full. Then they start over again in a new hole. It's fun watching them build their clay houses (these bees are called mason bees or solitary bees, as opposed to the honeybees which live together in a colony ruled over by the queen).
Birds on a wire, in this case the guy wire that anchors our wind turbine.
A Nigerian dwarf, one of the original goats we had. She was very lovely, rescued from pet zoo retirement. She died shortly after we got her. They don't live long, in part due to their being intensively bred. At one point we had 8 goats. We tried milking — true to the lore, the goats would patiently stood there to be milked and then kicked the bucket over when the milking was done. It was all good fun for them. They were dwarf Nigerian goats and Pygmies and were a bit too lively for our lifestyle. They jumped fences, dug under fences, climbed everywhere, ate everything (including our beloved fruit trees), and all in all were impossible to control. So we gave them away to neighbors who were happy to have them keep the brambles and wild grasses down.
Spotted black-tailed deer aren't too shy at our place. They are always alert, though. During mating season, the buck chases the doe over long distances. You can feel the earth shake as they jump and run and jump again in amorous pursuit. After the ritual that often lasts for days and sometimes weeks is over, the male drops the antlers, from sheer exhaustion if for no other reason. This fact may have something to do with why Chinese men eat ground-up deer antlers to enhance their potency.
We have lots of snags at the top of the cliff where our cabin is and bald-eye eagles love to sit on them. Here is a rare photo of one eagle who decided to sit on one of the lower branches instead.
The resident beaver in our ponds. She swims up and down the creek and makes use of all of our eight ponds. She cuts down big trees with her oversized teeth and use the branches and trunk to dam up the creek and the twigs to add to her underwater store of food. This was an enchanted meeting. I was walking my dog and stopped by the pond for a look and merely 2 feet away was this big black animal, wet, drying its fur on the bank. I reached for my camera when I realized it was beaver. My dog didn't bark and the beaver didn't slide into the pond and flap their tail in alarm. Instead, it proceeded to swim back and forth right in front of us in a figure eight pattern for almost half an hour. I even got footage on video!
Like us, deer love apples with a passion. Come apple season, they hang around the orchard waiting for windfalls. Or they prop their front legs up against the trunk of the tree and reach if there aren't enough on the ground.
Big birds love sitting atop snags for an eagle's eye view of the world. Our property has a few snags over a hundred feet tall at the top of the 110-foot cliff. Our homestead is on Denman Island, British Columbia, in the Strait of Georgia.