Others who shared our farm

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(Host) Commentator Will Curtis reflects on some of the critters that he and his wife Jane have had as neighbors over the years.

(Curtis) We may have believed that we were the sole owners of Sugarbrook Farm but there were a number of other creatures convinced their ownership was as valid as ours. There was the woodchuck family who lived under the horse barn. Fortunately for them, the barn was situated conveniently next to the vegetable garden and many a delicious early morning breakfast they enjoyed of our carrots and peas. They were professionals in dealing with fences and Ph.D’s when it came to negotiating electric wires.

One of the more amazing co-owners of our house was the bat family who occupied the tiny, narrow space between the outside of the kitchen wall and the chimney. We could scarcely poke a pencil in the opening but every summer evening as we sat on the porch, out they would stream, dozens of them, and swoop about snatching up insects. Between the bats and the swallows, who nested in the cow stable, we never had to worry about mosquitoes.

The frogs who had wintered in the bottom of our pond, started their mating in April. The frogs shared the pond with muskrats who lived in the banks and the trout, but one day a wandering snapping turtle came to visit and that was the end of the trout.

Two creatures not entirely welcome as far as Jane was concerned were rats in the stable and snakes in the compost pile. She has always said she doesn’t mind snakes as long as she knows where they are. But it did upset her when she went to put away the hose one evening, only to have it slither away. As far as the rats in the stable, there wasn’t much one could do except to let the barn cats do their job.

One very welcome summertime occupant of our land was the bluebird family who had a nest near our porch. Border, our cow dog, enjoyed sitting on the porch with us after the day’s chores and one afternoon, hearing some commotion near the nest, we looked up to see a baby bluebird swoop down and make a safe landing on Border’s broad head. We sat there trying not to laugh while Border, holding perfectly still, rolled his eyes about trying to see what was perched up there.

Now we live in a village but I know that that there are a number of others who live here with us: a family of chipmunks living under the garden steps and a pair of crows who scream with delight whenever we deposit some leftovers on the compost pile. There is space enough for all of us.

This is Will Curtis of Woodstock, Vermontt.

Will Curtis is an author and naturalist.

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