We Live in a Zoo… A One Post Break from the Bike Tour

A long blacktail deer looks in a window in the Applegate Valley.

The deer often look in our windows, checking out the strange two-legged creatures who live in a cage. Or maybe they are looking for apples.

We’ve been working hard on the bike trek— me writing and you reading. It’s time for a one post quicky, one long on cute photos and short on words.

I  sometimes think that Peggy and I live in a zoo, but we are the ones in the cage (house) while the animals run around free. When we returned in June from our ten-week revisit of my 10,000 mile bike trip, a herd of deer had encamped around our house. They had taken over. There was even one sleeping on the doorstep to our sunroom!  Who needs a dog?

This young buck has decided we are part of his family and comes around everyday for a while in between grazing.

Little Buck has decided we are part of his family and comes around everyday in between grazing. Here he is resting on the door mat of our sunroom. A giraffe sculpture is off to the left.

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that Peggy and I live on five acres of land in southern Oregon. The Applegate River runs through the front of our property while a million acres of national forest land are out the backdoor. It’s no surprise that a number of wild animals and birds consider our property part of their territory. Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, bears, deer, and skunks wander through our yard at will. There have even been cougars and wolves spotted in the area. Bigfoot is rumored to hang out in the Red Butte Mountains you can see from our deck (grin).

The Red Butte Mountains as see from our deck, front room and sunroom. They are 10 miles away in Northern California. Don't they look like an ideal home for Big Foot.

The Red Butte Mountains as seen from our deck, front room and sunroom. They are 10 miles away in Northern California. Doesn’t this look like an ideal home for Big Foot?

Except for the skunk who wants to live under our house and the bear who is known to go a few rounds with our garbage can on occasion, they are all welcome. The skunk was particularly irksome when it got excited as the toilet flushed and decided to spray under the house. Then there was the time he got in a territorial battle with a raccoon in our back yard and let go. (I caught that one on my night camera.)

The bear earned a barrel of demerits when he tackled my heavy Weber Grill and tipped it over on our back porch. Our daughter, Tasha, was visiting at the time and sleeping in the bedroom next to the porch. “CURTIS!!!” she screamed. Did you hear her? I’m surprised she has been back. And we still haven’t convinced her to let the grandkids sleep outside.

The deer (along with a variety of birds including wild turkeys) are the most obvious day-time visitors. They camp out in the shade, receive regular lectures from Peggy about not eating her flowers, and try to wheedle apples out of us. Here are some shots we’ve taken in the last few weeks. Enjoy. I’ll be back with the bike trip in my next blog.

The moms have started bring their kids by to introduce them.It is one of our favorite times of the year.

The moms have started bringing their kids by to introduce them.It is one of our favorite times of the year.

It almost seems like this doe is doing a curtsy. "Let me present my two babies."

It almost seems like this doe is doing a curtsy. “Let me present my two babies.”

The fawns are so tiny at first.

The fawns are so tiny at first.

This tyke has a long ways to go to grow into its legs.

This tyke has a long ways to go to grow into its legs.

"Who are these two legged creatures, Mom? I bet I can out run them."

“What are these two-legged creatures, Mom? I bet I can out run them.”

Mom has to work hard to get enough food to feed her babies, especially when she has twins. Here she is working a white oak in front of our house. Peggy has worked had to find deer resistant plants. The deer are welcome to the oak leaves.

Mom has to work hard to get enough food to feed her babies, especially when she has twins. Here she is munching on white oak leaves in front of our house. Peggy struggles to find deer resistant plants. The deer is welcome to the leaves.

Five bucks hang out on our property. These include Big Buck seen here, a bigger buck, a forked horn, a spike and Little Buck.

Five bucks hang out on our property. These include Big Buck seen here, a bigger buck, a forked horn, a spike and Little Buck.

He really is handsome, and seems to know it.

He really is handsome, and seems to know it.

His antlers are still growing and in velvet. By September the antlers will lose their velvet and Big Buck will be ready of his lady love, or, as he prefers, lady loves.

This forked horn’s antlers are still growing and in velvet. By September the antlers will lose their velvet and this fellow will be ready to pursue his lady-love, or, as he prefers, lady loves. The action around our place gets pretty hilarious.

Little Buck is too small to get in on the action. It isn't that he won't have it in mind, but the bigger bucks, which is just about everyone, will chase him away. Here he seems to be commenting on the fact.

Little Buck is too small to get in on the action. It isn’t that he won’t want to, but the bigger bucks will chase him away. Here he seems to be commenting on the unfairness of it all.

My last photo for the day. Little Buck looks cute in hopes of earning an apple.

My last photo for the day. Little Buck looks cute in hopes of earning an apple.

 

Ghost Bird… An Unusual Photo

Mourning dove leaves ghost-like impression on window. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A crash-landing Mourning Dove left its impression on a window of our home on the Applegate River in Southern Oregon. It looks like a ghost bird hovering outside.

“This can’t be good,” Peggy commented from her office. I suspected that the deer were chowing down on her flowers and walked in to watch. Instead, neatly imprinted on her window, was the image of a bird with a 16-inch wingspan. It looked like a ghost. The Mourning Doves now had something to mourn about. One of them had taken a beak-dive into our window. I grabbed my camera– like what else was there to do– and recorded the crash landing from inside and outside of the house.

Black tail deer visits the Mekemson house in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

What I expected to see– a hungry black tail deer lusting after Peggy’s flowers.

Impression left by dove after crashing into a window. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

What I saw instead. I took this photo from the outside looking in with our trees being reflected in the window. Note the eye. Eerie, isn’t it?

I fully expected to find one very dead birdie on the ground, but none was to be found. Peggy and I are hoping that the dove picked itself up after the incident and flew off, a wiser bird with a headache.

Since I decided to put up a blog between blogs today, here are a few more photos from yesterday that I took while Peg and I hiked a section of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail. The trail follows an historic 26-mile ditch that was built in 1870s to carry water to Sterling’s hydraulic mining operation outside of Jacksonville, Oregon. Its relatively flat nature makes it an excellent beginning of the season trail. Backpacking season is coming soon and Peggy and I have to get in shape! In the next couple of months we hope to explore the Red Butte mountains that look down on our home and I have a 40-mile hike along the Rogue River planned.

Peggy and I have looked out on the Red Buttes since we moved here three years ago. Now it is time to meet them up-close and personal. Recent snows may delay our backpacking trip.

Peggy and I have looked out on the Red Buttes since we moved here three years ago. Now it is time to meet them up-close and personal. Recent snows may delay our backpacking trip.

Peggy will be floating down the Rogue River in late May with our friends Tom and Beth Lovering. Since I need the exercise, I am going to hike the 40-mile backpacking trail that follows the river. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Peggy will be rafting down the Rogue River in late May with our friends Tom and Beth Lovering. Since I need the exercise, I am going to hike the 40-mile backpacking trail that follows the river. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Photo of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Southern Oregon taken by Curtis Mekemson.

The historic 26-mile Sterling Mine Ditch Trail wanders through a variety of terrains ranging from dry, brush covered slopes to cool, pine and madrone filled valleys.

Shooting Stars found along the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Southern Oregon.

Early spring flowers, including Shooting Stars, added color along the trail.

Oregon Grape flower found along the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Southern Oregon.

We also found this impressive Oregon Grape flower, which happens to be the state flower of Oregon. Later in the summer these flowers turn into berries that wildlife find quite tasty and supposedly make good jelly.

Old tree stump along the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Southern Oregon.

A rotting tree stump caught our attention for a moment. You can see tunnels left by insects as they feasted off of the wood.

A vine-twisted madrone tree found on the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail.

Our most interesting find of the day. Peggy and I love Madrone trees and their silky, almost sensuous bark. But we have never seen one twisted like this. Close inspection showed that it had been caused by a vine that had worked its way up the tree.

NEXT BLOG: My choice for the title of the book on my Peace Corps experience.

At Home in the Woods of Southern Oregon

 

This view from our patio features the first snow of the year. You are looking south at the Red Buttes, which are part of the Siskiyou Mountains that form the border between California and Oregon.

Two years ago Peggy and I decided to ‘settle down’ in Southern Oregon after travelling around North America for three years in our small RV. It was a good decision. We ended up purchasing five acres of property. The beautiful Applegate River flows in front of our house. Our back property line is the gateway to over a million acres of National Forest land.

The Applegate River, in front of our property, displays fall colors.

Walking out the back door and up our road leads to over a million acres of National Forest Land.

This graceful Madrone with its strange, pealing bark, provides shade for our home. It is one of numerous trees on our property. Other trees include Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, White Oak and Red Cedar.

Morning mist outlines one of the Douglas Firs.

The same Douglas Fir, this time set off by the evening sky.

Peggy loves rivers and I love wilderness. It is a perfect match. Every morning we wake up with smiles on our faces.

Deer, bear, squirrels, foxes and numerous species of birds consider our property as part of their territory or at least a convenient stop off place. Last year a bear tipped over our bar-b-que. A couple of weeks ago a skunk let go under our house. This summer Peggy waged an unceasing war against ground squirrels that discovered her garden.

It all comes with country living. Mainly, we are amused by the antics of our furred and feathered friends.

Which way is the garden?

Is it here on your back porch? ( Junior has a better idea about where to find food.)

Surely you can’t resist feeding me? “Our” deer herd has trails running all over the property. Every day we get to see bucks, does, fawns and teenagers go about their lives.

At 2000 feet, we don’t get much snow… just enough to create a beautiful white wonderland. The deer, BTW, are Black Tail Deer. (Note the far deer.)

I used a Have-a-Heart trap to catch the ground squirrels and founded a new colony down the road and across the river on BLM land. The little buggers always went for the zucchini bait. I told them Peggy would be much less merciful. She was starting to practice with her pellet pistol.

We have been enjoying a beautiful fall and feel a slight tinge of regret that we are leaving to travel. I suspect the cruise of the Mediterranean with its extensive stop offs will make up for any regrets. Peggy and I do love to wander.

Gorgeous fall colors keep me running outside with my camera. I am admiring this beautiful Oregon Maple out the window as I type this post.

Another view from my writing chair. With fall arriving and temperatures dropping to freezing, this Geranium is one of Peggy’s last flowers of the season.

I thought about blogging while in Europe but I want to spend my time exploring.

So I’ve decided to focus my blog, Wandering in Time and Place, on my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. The stories are already written. Every other day I will post a new one chronologically in chapter format. When I get back in two months, I intend to publish the tales both digitally and in print as a book.

In the stories you will meet Boy the Bad Dog who ends up as guest of honor at a village feast, learn how to wage war against Army Ants, attend the hot machete trial of the Woman Who Wore No Underpants, and discover why the Liberian government felt the second grade reader I wrote was a dangerous revolutionary document. And that’s only the beginning…

I hope you will join me on the adventure.

The main street of Gbarnga, Liberia in West Africa where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.