It’s been three months since we’ve moved into our house in Conifer, Colorado. To be honest, it sometimes still feels like we’re squatting in a vacation home. Until I have to write a check for the plumber. Or the surveyor. Or the garbage collection company, which, by the way, still hasn’t given me the bear-proof garbage can I’d requested.
You hear a lot about guarding your garbage against black bears up here. They’re basically the raccoons of Shadow Mountain. In fact, while I have seen one live black bear up here (cutting through our yard on Fourth of July, much to the delight of visiting family. As one said, “That’s a big motherfucking bear.”), I’ve only seen one raccoon — and that poor guy was dead on the side of the road.
Only one bear. And no mountain lions yet. Thankfully. But plenty of other animals hang out in your yard. We even have a young eight-point buck who spends large parts of the day under our deck. A fun thing he and I like to do is forget that the other exists, so when I step out onto the deck, we scare the shit out of each other and he goes bolting off. (He now bolts off all of a hundred yards and waits for me to go back in or settle down.)
This is him bouncing away one day when I had to get under the deck in my ongoing battle with the hot tub.
But he’s not the only one. We went for a hike on a recent Saturday and saw no wildlife. While puttering around the house that same afternoon, I noticed we had a visitor helping himself to the aspen trees out front.
The ladies come through as well. Here’s a mama mule dear with her twins.
There are approximately six million bird species — two million of which are woodpeckers — but it’s harder to shoot video of them. Thankfully, some wild turkeys obliged for the camera. Sorry for the vertical video, but I was excited. They didn’t hang around once the dogs noticed and started barking.
Like I said, we haven’t seen a mountain lion. While we have seen the local moose in the general vicinity, she has not made an appearance in our yard. The bear was too fast and the light was too poor for me to get any kind of decent photo.
For now, the star of our front-yard nature show is the fox. He’s been around since we moved in, rain, snow, or shine. He sleeps in the bushes. He sleeps on the deck. He sleeps under the deck. Hell, he tried to follow me into the garage one day. It turns out some of the locals feed him, which is something I want to do, but which is also something I absolutely will not do. He can help himself to the chipmunks.
But he’s a photogenic guy, as you can see from the photo up top. Here he is living his best life in the sun.
Here he is living his best life in the snow.
Clearly, he likes to nap. Here he is waking up from a nap, then realizing that he’s a fox and has nowhere important to be, so settling in for a nap in a different spot.
I’ve got more photos and videos, but after a while, they all tend to look the same. I did get video of a Northern Goshawk, but the video is vertical and of such crappy quality, there’s really no point.
At some point, we’ll get a bear on camera. Maybe even the moose. While I wouldn’t mind seeing a mountain lion, I’m not sure I want to. And I’d hate for the mountain lion video to be something you see on the nightly news as, “This is the last known moment Wheaton was alive.” And mostly what it is is a super close-up of whiskers and teeth.
Anyway, Happy Monday.