Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Till Spring

"Woodchuck" - graphite on bristol board
(private collection)

I had some difficulty putting a title to this post...nothing really makes sense descriptively, but I'll go on.

When we first moved here in the fall of 2002 we found Woodchucks nearly everywhere here on Prairie Hill Farm. Heads would pop up out of holes in the storage shed dirt floor whenever I'd walk in to get the mower or find a shovel. A head even popped up between my feet one day in the crib lean-to when I sat down to do some welding. (that was a little disconcerting)

I'd had plenty of exposure to Woodchucks growing up. Woodchucks (Ground Hogs to some) were something we marveled at - once we caught one in a cage trap and totted it home for a "pet". The snarling and gnashing of teeth made us decide it wasn't the "best" candidate for a "pet", so we carried it back and let it go. (Mom did have something to say about it)

I've taken a few photos of Woodchucks through the years...they're fun to watch in grassy meadows or wood lots where they readily climb trees. The young ones are really fun to photograph as are just about any small mammal, but I'm afraid the "fun" had run out on Woodchucks here in the yard and buildings some time ago.

I've repaired many doors on the out buildings here...all Woodchuck damaged, they love chewing through wood doors to get into any building. I've had to fill in huge tunnels under supporting walls and big holes in the middle of floors. I even caught one trying to tunnel under the house!

One day Georgie and I were sitting at the breakfast table looking out toward the barn and saw a Woodchuck up on the barn roof running around. What the heck!? Well, sure enough there was a new hole chewed through the barn roof! They love to climb into the hay loft, and chewing through the wood shingles and roofing planks to gain access to a roof frolic was not beyond these guys.

Since that day Woodchucks were no longer "cute" or "fun" here...the neighbors probably just shook their heads and thought "I could'a told you that!" Funny how it takes large doses of reality to look at something in a different way.

Well these guys were no longer welcome in the yard or buildings and the "enforcement" of this curfew has held pretty well over the past few years.

Last week I went out to the shop behind the studio to use the table saw...the shop is a metal lean-to attached to the back of the studio...its unheated with a sliding door and has a dirt floor. Right next to the table saw was a "big" hole in the floor with a lot of dirt piled around it. I guess someone snuck in for last minute winter quarters...

It's too late to do anything about squatters at this point. Woodchucks hibernate non-stop till early spring. I don't blame them...I understand. So I threw a door over the den need to give skunks or coons the idea I'm running a bed and breakfast for them as well! Come spring, I'll notice if our stow-away is up and about, then I'll put out the unwelcome sign again.

We're having great sunshine for Thanksgiving this year. We're not going to complain about the weather as all the snow has melted once again and that's just the tip of the ice berg as to what we have to be thankful for!

I do want to stop and take a moment to wish all of you out there a great Thanksgiving as well...God Bless!


Anonymous said...

I love the Pencil!


Prairie Painter said...

Thanks Re!

mary-klein said...

I love the detail in this drawing, Bruce - and how you've composed it with room for the ground hog to gaze. Very nice!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Prairie Painter said...

Thank you Mary, happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Diane L. Dodd said...

I love your work! I just randomly stumbled across your far are you from Turin? We've recently moved to here from Atlanta, GA and I'd love more info on your work and your shows... I'm a photographer and I'd love some advice on getting started showing/selling some of my shots in and around the Loess Hills.

Prairie Painter said...

Hi Diane, thanks for the nice comment. We're north and slightly east of Sioux City about 65-70 miles or so.

I enjoyed your blog. You even have a mailman that'll find and put up your mail box for you...that's pretty good! And you've already found the little red school house down in the hills; you're one up on us - we have been by many times but are always on our way to someplace so never stop. My wife and I used to make it down through Turin and into the hills a couple times a year with the cameras. We still go but don't make it each year now.

If you have any specific questions about Loess Hills photographs and related, you can email me at my business email any time.


Welcome to Western Iowa and enjoy Orange Ave...