November 11, 2014

11 Unique Facts About Turkeys



Turkeys in East Weymouth, Mass.

Turkeys in East Weymouth, Mass.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Its traditional dinner is centered around turkey.

How well do you know about turkey? Or the wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo?

Each year the current president gives two turkeys a pardon. Allegedly, the first presidential pardon was given by Harry Truman in 1947—to a turkey—spurring an annual tradition of allowing two turkeys (one for the president, the other for the vice president) to be spared each Thanksgiving. Some of these pardoned turkeys have gone to Frying Pan Farm Park in northern Virginia. More recently they have gone to Washington’s Mount Vernon.*****

Turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that are highly social. They create lasting social bonds with each other and are very affectionate; rather similar to dogs.****

America’s turkeys almost went extinct in 1930 from loss of forest habitat and overhunting.  Recovery efforts over 80 years have succeeded. Now an estimated 7 million wild turkeys in North and Central America.*****

I’ve prepared a quiz for you, 10 questions with an 11th bonus question. Use it during your Thanksgiving festivities. Let me know how well you and your family/friends do.


  1. A young poult (baby turkey) is up, out of the nest and walking around searching for food within _______ hours. It is one of up to _____ siblings. Can a hen (female turkey) lay a fertilized egg without mating?
  2. Which state is tops in turkey production?
  3. Name the two United States towns named Turkey. Also name the town in Pennsylvania’s Somerset county which includes the word Turkey.
  4. How many feathers does a turkey have at maturity?
  5. What do the turkey and the octopus have in common?
  6. Besides feather color, how can you determine a turkey’s gender?
  7. What disease do turkeys share with the humans who dine on them?
  8. How did the turkey get its name?
  9. How fast can turkeys run?
  10. How many distinct vocalizations do you hear from turkeys, in addition to the male’s distinctive gobble which can be heard a mile away?****


How much turkey did the typical American devour in 2009? What is the average weight of the turkey on the Thanksgiving table? How much did the heaviest turkey ever raised weigh?

To learn the answers click on MORE


November 6, 2014

The Owl



 Bo Brocious, guest poet

The January 5, 2015, WordPress prompt is Daring DoTell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. How did you prevail?

As I groggily aroused myself from my mid-afternoon siesta my husband Monte rushed into the family room, retrieved his garden-soiled sneakers, and quickly slipped them on his feet.

 “There’s a bird caught in the deer netting (around our garden),” he said, grabbing a pair of scissors. The grogginess disappeared with my adrenalin rush. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my camera, and raced to the garden. Sure enough, there was a bird in the netting. A big bird.

“It’s an owl,” Monte said, hesitatingly moving towards it to examine the situation. The black netting was wrapped around the bird’s feet tightly enough that Monte might need a surgeon’s skill to cut it without injuring the bird. He poked it gently with the handle of the umbrella he’d grabbed on the way to the garden.

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Still, he had to try. While using an umbrella handle to stabilize the owl he gingerly began snipping at the netting with pink-handled scissors. The owl, equally intimidated by us as we were of it, kept trying to reach its beak to where it could nip Monte’s hands.

My task was easier. Since I wasn’t going to risk the bird’s beak I stood back, waiting to offer Monte medical attention if it were necessary. And I studied the owl, wondering if it was one of the screech owls I kept hearing in the wee hours of the night—a noise that, when I initially heard it, made me want to call 911 to rescue whatever woman was being beaten. Then my trigger finger took hold as I attempted to shoot a prize winning photograph, which was difficult as I was repeatedly startled by the owl’s wildly flapping wings.

“Calm down,” I said—as if the owl could understand. However, it looked at me as if to say “what’s happening?” and calmed down somewhat.

After a harrowing ten minutes Monte freed the owl’s feet, but its beak-hold on the netting kept him trapped. It took a few minutes before it realized that if it loosened its grip it could free itself to leave. Standing back we watched it fly few feet. Its lift wasn’t high enough so it flew into the netting on the opposite side of the garden. We thought we would have to free it again, but this time, with a little trouble, it cleared the netting and flew into a tree and rested for a moment.

“It’s probably pretty exhausted,” Monte said as it opened its wings, gathered steam, and rose to become hidden by the trees.

When Bo Brocius read about this owl experience in the article It’s Been an Animal Day she responded by (more…)

September 28, 2014

Tarantulas: Those Scary Creeping Things




SCRIPTURE: Genesis 6:7   So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them.”  (KJV)

REFLECTION:     Many people would be happy if somehow the creepy, creeping tarantulas were destroyed, removed from the earth. But some people set out to save sick ones.

The June 5, 1999 AP headline captured my attention: Sick tarantula getting top-notch care.

2 ½ ounce Goliath, No. 79011, had an infection oozing from her side and an abscess the size of a quarter. The infection gave the salad-plate sized eight-legged critter value. She could teach doctors about medical care of tarantulas in captivity.

The antibiotic wasn’t working. Veterinarians planned CAT scans to identify problems during surgery that hopefully would correct Goliath’s problem.

Goliath, with her dark brown hair and turret of eyes atop her flat head, able to make a fearless person arachnophobic, must be a special spider. Such great lengths to save a creature that has “a habit of showing her fangs and shooting barbed hairs from her rump” doesn’t seem like something I might consider.

One of my pre-married era boyfriends would think differently. Stanley, my senior prom date, attended (more…)

July 24, 2014

Cat Tales: Two



Hug for


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Cats have demonstrated many talents through time. Recently a cat’s talent was blamed for a man criminal acts —stealing a car, robbing a bank, and ramming a police car.

When the Fayette County, Pennsylvania, man was caught, he told state troopers that a “cat told him to take the car and get the money with the plastic gun.” He stole the mid-size car when the same cat “jumped up on the car and told him to steal it.” He wasn’t as successful getting the money. As he exited through the bank’s front door he dropped a plastic bag filled with cash, scattering $582 in 50s, 20s, 10s and other denominations. He next backed the car into the front of a pursuing state police vehicle, stating that the “cat was telling him to hit the cops.” He fled. Troopers took him into custody when he lost control of his car, causing the pursuing police car to hit him.

Chalk up one for a cat in control. Perhaps a cat needs to get his tongue. Maybe he would talk less.

In ancient times, a criminal’s punishment sometimes including have his tongue cut out; the tongue was fed to the King’s pets. Hence, there is some     historical truth to the phrase “cat got your tongue?”

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Oscar, a Rhode Island cat, has a different talent. He can predict when someone is going to die. Because of his gift he is portrayed as a furry grim reaper or four-legged angel of death.

Oscar was raised as a therapy cat in a nursing and rehabilitation center after being adopted from an animal shelter when he was a kitten. Patients at the center suffer severe dementia and/or are in the final stages of various illnesses.

From the time Oscar was about six months old the staff noticed that he curled up to sleep with patients who were about to die. He has accurately predicted about 50 deaths.

There is no scientific evidence to explain Oscar’s abilities, but the thought is that the cat might be responding to a pheromone or smell that humans simply don’t recognize.

Or perhaps he knows something that scientists are still studying—that a death fluorescence, observed as a glowing blue color within worms, spreads predictably from cell to cell until the entire creature is dead.

Apparently this isn’t science fiction, as the strongest colors perceived by cats are purple, green, and blue.

Whatever the root, Oscar exhibits a special gift that has been acknowledged by families who thank him, in obituaries, for providing some comfort to persons in their final hours of life.

At one time, people believed that fur and blood drawn from various parts of the cat’s anatomy cured all ailments.

Early American colonists believed that a broth made from boiling a black cat would cure tuberculosis, but no one wanted to risk the bad luck that would befall them if they killed the cat.

DSC02737E  090728Cat owners are generally fiercely protective of their feline friends, which may be why a new website, “Cats to Go,” calling for the eradication of New Zealand’s domestic cat population is gaining attention. It states that we must overcome our denial and acknowledge that we are harboring a natural born killer, a serial killer.

The premise behind the eradication of the cat population is conservation: protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s native fauna, even supporting a predator-free country. The web site claims that New Zealand’s domestic cats have helped drive nine native bird species into extinction and that the remaining 33 endangered native bird species are endangered.

The request isn’t that pet owners kill their cats, but that once these pets have died they not be replaced.

Fierce cat lovers are giving the website backlash demanding  it not deprive them of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family. Scientists say eradicating cats is a too simplistic solution for revitalizing the bird population: cats kill rats, which also kill birds.

Some people who wanted to get rid of a cat but were afraid of the consequences went so far as to hire professional feline “hit men.”



Stay tuned for more cat tales in the future.



Honey’s Coming Home! Our cat must recuperate

Honey went home—She’s romping in animal heaven

It’s Been an Animal Day

July 22, 2014

Cat Tales: One

Filed under: Cats — carolyncholland @ 3:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Hug for


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Monopoly fans voted. The iron is history.

But don’t throw away your iron token. Save it—I suspect will soon become a collector’s item, since it will no longer be a player’s choice to march around the playing board. The sometimes-detested home appliance received the least amount of clicks in a “save this token’ online vote held between January 9 and February 5, 2014.

The iron will be replaced by a shiny shorthaired cat wearing an “M” on her collar.

cat-monopoly-600In an earlier competition determining what token would compete with the iron, the cat token was chosen over a new guitar, a helicopter, a diamond ring, and a robot—claiming 31`% of that vote.

In the future I expect the cat to give the Scottie dog a run for the money—and, of course, out-beat the dog a good percent of the time.

Which is as it should be. Cats are “the man,” as they say.

A stand-in for Idgie

A stand-in for Idgie

The Scottie dog token could take lessons from a real life Florida dog named Idgie—the Scottie could befriend the cat token, becoming the friend that everyone, even a feline, needs.

Idgie, a two-year-old Dachshund, was found by the Seminole County Animal Services by a gated driveway, where he was protecting a 7-month-old (more…)

July 19, 2014

Photos of A Deer in a Fenced Garden

Filed under: CREATURES,PHOTOGRAPHY,WordPress prompt or post — carolyncholland @ 9:00 am



First thing this morning, before I even poured my cup of coffee, my husband Monte called to me. “There’s a deer in the garden.”

I grabbed my camera. Below are a few of the shots I captured of the deer who stood feasting on weeds at least three feet away from me—the least he could do since previously he’d feasted on my snow peas, beans, potted plants and tiger lilies.

The photos fit the July 18, 2014, WordPress photo prompt, containers: show us something that contains something else.

The deer fencing (netting) was somewhat contained the deer in the garden. However, he somehow figured out how to bypass the deer netting to enter and leave the garden.

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May 20, 2014

A Dog Biscuit, A Lost Dog, and A Funeral



As my husband Monte shut the door I gave him my typical message: Wait, I’ve forgotten something. Returning to the kitchen I went to a gallon jug on the counter, pulled out a large dog biscuit, and stuck it in my coat pocket. Then we drove to the funeral home to pay our respects to our friend Henry, who had just passed on.

When we arrived I greeted his wife, Margaret, giving her the ritual hug. However, this time I held on tighter and longer than usual, enabling me to whisper softly in her ear: I have something for Henry.

I wasn’t certain how she would take my “bizarre” token to him. “I know what it is,” she responded, smiling. “Place it among his military medals. Henry will love it.” I carefully placed tucked the dog biscuit among his medals. Visitors from that point on wondered about it, but few dared (more…)

April 27, 2014

Adopted by a Cat Now Named King…


Hug for King’s brother


 A message to the persons who abandoned two gray cats on the streets of my community in July 2013: we want you to know that both adopted loving homes.

It was a risky act to abandon these wonderful cats. They could have gone the way of feral cats, cats without owners to boss around. But these were lucky cats.

I just wanted you to know…

IMG_1945E  131126In 2013, just before my husband Monte and I left for a one-month trip traveling up the New England coast a large regal, all gray, cat showed up on our doorstep.

“It’s been hanging around our house for a while,” said my daughter Sandy. “We can’t keep him—we already have three cats and a dog.”

“Feed him on our patio while we are gone,” I suggested. “When we come back we’ll see what his situation is.”

We returned. The cat was still at our house. It was still truly skinny, like it hadn’t eaten well for a while. Although Sandy called him Bob, my friend Lois named him King (or Queen—we couldn’t decide if it was a boy or a girl) Bony Maroni.

There was still a sign posted on the stone pillar at the back entrance to our community: Gray cat found. The cat looked like the cat that was being fed on our patio. I jotted down the phone number down and dialed it.

“I’m calling about the gray cat,” I said.

“Well,” the man said, “no one answered the ad and we decided to keep him. We took him to the vet last night.”

“Oh,” I said. “He’s down here now.”

“No, he’s right beside me.”

Oops. What was going on?

We decided (more…)

April 10, 2014

Little Dog (a cat) Adopts Us



Hug for Little Dog


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The cold, damp, wind that blew rainy slush against my face startled me. I quickly reached my kitten-filled hand down, deposited the kitten on the stoop and drew myself back in.

As I shut the door against this onslaught I saw small the white paws of the kitten, which barely reached up to the door’s screen inset. The face looking up at me had a pathetic, yearning, abandoned look in the eyes. The orange teardrop shape under the kitten’s right eye cemented the pathos.

The tiny white cat with orange and black calico markings splashed over its back, with a calico tail that looked like an afterthought, was a (more…)

December 22, 2013

Turtle Doves (2nd Day of Christmas)



Hugs for Fran and Jim


  On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree
Two turtle doves…


A couple of years ago I was in Buffalo, New York, during the Christmas season. While at the home of my (Kensington) high school friend, Pat, I examined the ornaments on her tree. I was taken aback when I recognized that numerous ornaments were familiar—they were ones I’d sent her through the years.

This often happens, as our family Christmas card has, for 42 years, been a tree ornament. My sister Sally has a tree set aside to display our ornaments.

One goal on my “bucket list” is to complete one ornament representing each of the gifts listed in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Because the ornaments are interspersed with other timely themes, I have many to do.

Couldn't use photo of baby doves

Couldn’t use flash…nighttime…best photo of baby doves

In June my friend watched doves nesting in a planter hung on her porch. I was fortunate to see the baby birds shortly after they hatched and the day before they left the nest. It was even more fortunate that I photographed the latter.

Ready...set...not yet...

Ready…set…not yet…

The picture of two now-adult (or late adolescent?) doves provided the theme for this year’s ornament—On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves… In the musical piece the doves represent (more…)

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