Turkeys and whitetails and bears, oh my!

We originally bought a fifty-five acre parcel as recreational land and an investment. Only gradually did we realize how the abundance of wildlife captivated us and inspired us to find a way of living with these creatures in peaceful coexistence. Most of our property has been farmed for close to two hundred years already, though the steep ridges and the mountain meadow you see in the pictures here are really not suitable for traditional cultivation. Primarily this is because there is no water source at this height, and cattle would have to tread daily up and down the steep slopes to drink. So we decided to convert this seven-acre upland meadow into wildlife habitat and hold it in reserve as an emergency pasture in the event of a severe drought. Federal programs like Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) helped me to create edges, which are transitional boundaries between open and forested land areas, and hedgerows. These provide important cover for fawning deer, nesting turkeys, and hopefully someday the bobwhite quail. Our efforts have been quite fruitful, as these pictures illustrate.

Mama Bear with two cubs, dancing through the spring clover. In the back center is a relatively rare butternut tree, a cousin of the black walnut.

Mama Bear with two cubs, dancing through the spring clover. In the back center is a relatively rare butternut tree, a cousin of the black walnut.

Bearded gobblers forage in my winter wheat field in the early springtime.

Bearded gobblers forage in my winter wheat field in the early springtime.

A whitetail doe in spring oats.

A whitetail doe in spring oats.

Occasionally we have exotic visitors! Sometimes this is because people deposit the animals they can't properly care for on our back country road and we end up having to take care of them. We fed the peacock for a week and tried to capture it but failed and it flew off. We feared the coyotes got it, but it came back a few weeks later and we lured it into the garage with food, called animal control, and had it taken away to find a good home.

Occasionally we have exotic visitors! Sometimes this is because people deposit the animals they can't properly care for on our back country road and we end up having to take care of them. We fed the peacock for a week and tried to capture it but failed and it flew off. We feared the coyotes got it, but it came back a few weeks later and we lured it into the garage with food, called animal control, and had it taken away to find a good home.

Our pool gets lots of intersting visitors!

Our pool gets lots of intersting visitors!

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