Friday, May 25, 2018

Scary Critters and Clutzy Denisa

After our Mother's Day weekend, we were on our way back towards Kansas City. But we took the long way, stopping for a couple days at Mark's brother's place near Tulsa. Lucky and Liz are great hosts, giving rides around their property that we refer to as "the barn." That's Mark's Mother in the front seat, enjoying a day at the barn. No, these aren't the scary critters mentioned in the title of this blog. You have to read to the end to understand that title.

We realized that we took lots of pictures of critters while we were there. This is the same place that we had parked the motor home last month. If you remember from the blog titled, "Solving the Mysteries," this was where we found our generator running when we came home. We determined that a resident raccoon started it, and today we got a picture of the perpetrator. He was eating the food coming out of the automatic deer feeder, looking very guilty with his permanent mask.

He was hanging out among the pecan trees that circle the barn. As if the raccoons around here aren't fat enough, Denisa gave them watermelon rinds to munch on too.

Our favorite "critters" at the barn are Lucky and Liz's granddaughters, who came out to visit while we were there. We had a fresh load of sand to play with in the sand box.

The oldest niece is almost as tall as Denisa, but both can still fit in the go-cart.

The next critters were the little kittens. They have grown considerably since we saw them last time.

On our last visit, Denisa divided her time socializing each of the new kittens. But with five kitty-huggers, we each had one.

Mama cat didn't appreciate us moving her family around, as she was trying to transport them back to the play house.

One reason for making this trip was to deliver more critters to the barn. These horses were transported from the panhandle of Oklahoma, where grass is scarce. We couldn't get a picture with their heads up, because they were so excited with all the green grass to eat.

They made a pretty picture, running through their new home where they were blinded by all the green.

After 4.5 inches of rain the first night, there were lots of mud puddles. The horses haven't ever seen so much rain, and the sorrel enjoyed a mud bath.

After looking at big critters, we almost missed this little guy in the middle of the road. Even though they are smaller than the other critters we photographed, luna moths are some of the biggest moths in North American. By the tattered look of his wings, we are guessing he is close to the end of his normal seven-day life cycle. 

They are normally only active at night. During the day these big eye-like markings on his wings are designed to confuse its predators.

This ugly critter actually belongs to the neighbor. But like the raccoon, he comes visiting because the food is plentiful at the barn. Also like the raccoon, this muscovy duck is hiding behind a mask.

We rescued this critter from the cattle guard, where he had fallen between the rails and couldn't get out. It looks like this box turtle had met with something that cracked his shell, but that didn't seem to slow him down once he was rescued.

We also saw this critter perched on top of the fort that serves as a zip-line platform. This "monkey" was being watched by his Mother, who was enjoying her first visit to the barn in a while.

You can't see the zip-line cable in the pictures, but it stretches for 100 yards among the pecan trees. Denisa will confirm that the trip seems pretty fast as that final tree trunk gets closer.

So far, the critters have been friendly. But on the last day we were inspecting the bridge where the rain had swollen the creek up over the ten-foot-bridge two nights before. 

Lucky jumped a little when he spotted a water moccasin (aka cottonmouth snake) among the rocks close to the water. When the snake took cover under a rock, Mark used a (very short) stick to try to persuade the venomous snake to come back out in the open.

Lucky didn't get a very clear shot, but we felt pretty sure the snake was dead. Only the tail was now sticking out from under that big rock, and it wasn't moving any more.

Later that evening, Denisa decided to walk back down to the bridge. She wanted to confirm that the snake was dead, and Mark volunteered to go with her. We were careful walking among those big white rocks under the bridge, and we were disappointed to find no tail sticking out from under the rock pictured above. At that moment, Denisa looked to her side, and screamed something about the snake right beside her. We were so busy looking for a snake tail under a rock, that we totally missed the cottonmouth out in the open that was now between us. It's at that point that Denisa spun and started running up that steep, rocky incline. This is where the clutzy part of the blog title comes in.

That quick departure dislodged one of those rocks, causing her to fall flat on her face. She hit her chin, arm, shin, and other miscellaneous body parts on those white boulders. It hurt so bad that she laid prostrate on the ground just a few feet away from the venomous snake that started all this. Mark managed to get her up the rocky hill, then he ran for the gun. We didn't get close enough for a clear picture of the dark brown cottonmouth snake, but we can confirm that this one really was dead. While they were shooting this one, Denisa (now perched safely on top of the bridge) saw another cottonmouth swim down the narrow creek.

Denisa spent the rest of the evening with ice packs on her wounds, once again embarrassed to be such a clutz. But we had a great time at the barn, even though we're not big fans of some of the critters that live here.

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