Lions and Turkeys and Skunks, Oh My!

I swear I’m going to stick to my previous schedule of early a.m. writing — sitting at my computer beside an upstairs double window, where I have a tunneled, limited view.  Where it’s safe. And I don’t know what’s going on around me. No more six o’clock walks! It’s dangerous out there!

The Crossing is under construction. I was the fourth one to live on my street. Three other neighbors moved in weeks after I did. Now, there are three more houses, one sold but not occupied yet, two not sold. There are houses going up all over the neighborhood, and there are some empty lots — with tall weeds, Johnson grass that loves this drought and shoots up higher and higher after a rain — and things lurk in those high weeds! (We all have to keep our yards looking nice — not sure why the builder doesn’t mow the five-foot weeds!)

Walking this morning, I saw turkeys. Just across and down the street. I’ve seen them feeding across the intersecting street at the end of mine, in the cleared fields that butt up to a creek and woods. Dozens of them. But this morning they were in the middle of the subdivision. They walk through empty lots with high weeds, cross streets, and go into yards. Nicely groomed yards, with low grass, cut to perfection, flowers, shrubs, all clean and well taken care of. Wild animals! There were about six that went into my neighbor-from-Missouri’s yard. Three more paraded through the high Johnson grass in the lot next to hers and … disappeared.

I’ve seen feral cats in our neighborhood. They live in the sewers under the street and then feed off what the construction crews throw out. McDonald’s leftovers, cantaloupe rinds, sweet sugary remains in Coke bottles, tortillas (yes, you heard me!), chips, and all sorts of menus remain on the ground for weeks, or until the house is finished. Yep, nobody’s mama of all the men who work for this builder taught them to throw their trash in a garbage bag and dispose of it properly.

My friend down the street tells me that deer walk up our street at night. “It’s about one or two in the morning. And they have these big horns.” Coyotes, too. I hear them when a fire truck sounds its siren. Looks like they could catch the feral cats. Crows, they’re here, too. They fly in every morning to see what the construction crews have left them for breakfast.

The worst of it, though — skunks. My next door neighbors say they see skunks at dusk when they walk their bulldog, Spartacus. I’ve smelled skunks in the night. My neighbor, Jim, told me a skunk lived in a lumber pile in my backyard during the time my house was constructed.

As I rounded the circle on my morning walk, I saw movement in the Johnson grass in an empty field to my right. Black and white movement. A skunk. Hell. Yes. A skunk. Twenty feet from me. Damn. What do I do? Keep walking. No, run. I turn around and run backward as it is crossing the street. It is standing up watching me. Will it chase me? I run a bit further.

I stop and watch. The skunk runs between an apparently occupied house (I’ve never seen anyone there) and a house under construction. It runs all the way around the new house and then into the crawl space. Those construction crews have probably been throwing food under there.  Come Monday morning, those men are gonna wish their mamas had taught them how to throw away their garbage!

Then, next door! Turkeys. Nine of them, that I could see. Some might have been hiding out in the tall weeds on the adjoining construction site. There were young ones! Those birds have been having sex in the Johnson grass! Male turkeys mate with as many hens as they can. And there are many out there! They’ve got the best of all worlds here. Privacy in the weeds for making love. A creek only feet away. Woods as shelter to sleep in. Rubbish, or um, dinner, provided by the building team on a daily basis. Turkeys also eat insects, amphibians, reptiles like lizards and snakes, seeds, nuts, berries, roots, and even from backyard bird feeders! Thank God, I have a fence! Well, but I hear they can climb a bit, or fly a bit. Oh my! Turkey populations can reach large numbers because of their ability to eat different types of food — from a Big Mac to frog legs to a juniper seed. What more could a wild animal want?

Me, from now on, I’m staying home, inside, and working on that book!


2 Comments on “Lions and Turkeys and Skunks, Oh My!”

  1. Hello, Kathy!

    I enjoy your posts. I “follow” them and they come to me through my email. I hope you will become a “follower” of my blog, also.

    When I lived in my Donelson condo (2 miles from where I worked at Irving Materials, Inc). I had a deck off my LR with steps down to a second, lower deck surrounded by a round garden with a tree in the middle. The previous owner had converted most of the yard, front, side, and back, into gardens so mowing was easy. Keeping up with all the gardening not so much.

    One day I came down the steps into the yard to smell the flowers and there in one side garden came this cat-sized furry black and white creature with a long high tail. “Oh, my!” I exclaimed . . . as he scurried back into the neighbor’s yard from whence he came.

    For a time I had a box turtle. I started leaving veggies out for him which disappeared regularly for a couple of weeks. I think he lived under the lower deck. Then he disappeared. I think the neighbor’s dog got him.

    One day, after working in the yard, I came inside, went into my half bath, stripped off my garden clothes, and dropped them into the washer located across the hall from the half bath. Went upstairs to my master bath, took a shower, and came back downstairs. I went back into the half bath and lifted the toilet seat (why???) and there sat a little green frog. I screamed. He jumped.

    Recovering, I closed the door, went to the kitchen and got a glass jar, returned to the bathroom, got him into the jar, and released him onto the tree in the garden surrounding the lower deck. The next day I told my little tale at work.

    My birthday was about a week later. I came to work that morning and my office door was closed. We never close our office doors.

    I opened the door to discover my office “friends” had decorated my entire office with green and white streamers hanging all over from the ceiling and frogs – all sizes and shapes – stuffed and ceramic – were sitting all over my desk and computer and table!

  2. Gloria says:

    My introduction to the world of skunks was a year ago when I opened the door to my patio for an evening walk and there was a white skunk with a black stripe waddling along at the foot of the steps. No spray, but it took my breath away. I later learned she was probably on her way to my fountain for a drink of water. I goggled “white skunks” and learned they can be many, many combinations of black/white.

    Earlier this summer as I was leaving the house in my car, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a little flutter of the plants near the chimney overhang and fence to my patio. I backed up in my car and sure enough, the flutter was baby skunkssss. I drove to the next cul-de-sac and told my fearless friend, who was working in her yard, to get in the car. We came back to my house, she gets out of the car, walks toward the flutters and says, “There are four or five babies. They’re too young to spray. You need to call the naturalist over at Warner Park.”

    “No, YOU need to call the naturalist.”

    The Warner Parks are near our house and we see all kind of wildlife around here. She called later and gave me this news. “If you can be patient, they will probably leave. The mother has probably left them in a safe place and will return and they will follow her to the woods. They are not lost little babies. They are coming in for the water in your fountain. Plug up all the holes in your fence so they can’t get back there. Be patient.”

    The next day I’m resting on my sofa and hear a little action under the chimney overhang. I peek out the window and there are four young skunks weaving in and out under the hosta’s. One white with black stripe, one black with a white stripe, one black with white socks, and one almost all black. They’re actually pretty cute, playing under the hosta’s.

    The following day, no signs or sounds of any skunks. Nothing for three days. Then my neighbor calls and leaves a message. “You’ll be happy to know the skunks are now at my house near the edge of the woods.” I emailed her, be patient, they will probably leave, and I know they’re in good hands.

    Kathy, maybe your skunk is the mother, and the babies are under the new construction house in your neighborhood. Be patient. If I write and essay on my experiences I think I will title it, Hoe Cakes Bakin’ and 4 Skunks R Under the Hosta’s.

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