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Friday, February 4, 2011

Cats, cats, cats

Yesterday, as I composed my post, I heard an odd percussive noise emanate from the other end of the house. I surveyed the main floor of the house and saw nothing out of the ordinary so I got back to work. About a half hour later, I hit "publish post" and took my coffee mug to the sink. I turned on the faucet and almost no water came out. At that instant, R bolted from his bed and started dancing and whining by the door.

It was one of those moments when I knew that there was probably a lake forming in the basement but I also knew that R was about to have an accident (he's been drinking obsessively since his exercise was curbed by the -30 degree temperatures). I put a leash on R, stepped outside the door, and he proceeded to spend FIVE minutes peeing, periodically switching which leg he lifted because he got tired. I urged him to "hurry up" and used other exhortations but his bladder must have been close to bursting. I just wanted to go stop the gushing water in the house!

I finally tugged him inside and ran downstairs. It was raining in the basement with water dripping from a large section of the ceiling. I vaguely remembered how to turn off the water to the whole house but first I needed a flashlight. With water dripping down around the light fixtures, I wasn't going to risk turning them on. After more sprinting around, I finally cut off the water coming from our well.

We all have our "go-to" friends, the ones we call when the ceiling is raining. I called that friend and he was here in minutes. This morning, he capped off the burst pipe (which had finally thawed yesterday afternoon), and turned our water on. More work remains but the immediate crisis is over.

The Duo again had a curtailed exercise session yesterday afternoon thanks to the pipe. I let them romp crazily for a short time as it snowed in our meadow.
This morning, the storm was gone, and a winter wonderland awaited us. K rolled in the fluffy new snow, wriggling and grinding her scent into the snow. I've begun to think that this behavior is not just fun and games but rather a scent-marking strategy. I've noticed that canines pee in the spots where other canines have wriggled - this observation includes both coyotes and domestic dogs. I wonder if K's hiatus from wriggling while her paw was painful reflected the fact that she didn't have the confidence to mark her territory, and now that she feels better, she's marking myriad times per ride or hike.

She didn't look very serious just after one of her wriggles!
But soon she collected herself and looked much more like the matriarch of our forest.
Snow on a chocolate nose...
Of all of us, I think that K is the happiest about the warmer weather. Her "bad" paw seems to bother her a lot on arctic days and a boot doesn't help much. Today, she was back to her frolicking self.

The dark clouds over the Divide behind K looked more ominous than they were but they provided a beautiful backdrop for the mountains and K.
When I headed out to ride solo, it was a day of cat tracks. A perfect layer of snow fell yesterday and the animals were stirring again after the deep freeze. A bobcat walked in the faint remnant of my snowbike track.
Later, I found hulking cat tracks - a big male mountain lion had walked near where the elk herd had spent the night. His heel pad (the big triangular one) was 55 mm wide at its base, clearly telling us that he was a male (females generally have pads less than 52 mm wide). Also, in some of his tracks, I could see the bicuspid apex on his heel pad, a trait seen only in cats.
Just to give you a sense of perspective, I placed my foot next to a pair of his tracks, a left front paw on the bottom and a left hind paw on the top. His paws seemed very big as I compared my foot to them.
I followed the tracks a distance in each direction. He appeared to be hunting, meandering from the plateau where I was riding down toward a draw and then up toward a ridge. His final trajectory was generally toward our neck of the woods. I wonder if he'll pass through, perhaps even visiting a wildlife camera? I hope so!

The most distinctive feature of these tracks, compared to other lion tracks, was how messy they were. Usually, lion tracks are very precise with each foot placed carefully down and no signs of dragging the paws. This lion dragged left and right paws in the shallow snow, leaving furrows leading to the each paw print. I wonder if he was an older lion, walking with a stiff gait, like we saw in a video of a walking mountain lion last summer.
Any day when I see mountain lion tracks is a good one! I'm so glad that these shy predators are flourishing here.


  1. So sorry it was raining indoors and that you caught it somewhat quickly -

    The pics were all fantastic with K's shadow running shot my favourite -

    And WOW on those 'khytty' tracks!

    Hope you can snag some wildlife cam shots!

  2. Hi Y'all!

    So hope the burst pipe did minimal damage to your home. That is one problem we run into in the southeastern mountains here and our temps don't get anywhere close to as low as yours.

    So happy y'all took the time to once more record the fantastic beauty of your winter world and share it with us all.

    BrownDog's Momma

  3. Ha - I broke my toe several years ago and the cold weather still bothers it - I can see why K wouldn't like it either. I just loved that photo of K with the silly ear:) I just can't get the sibes ears to do that - lol.

    Have a great and hopefully warmer, dripless weekend.

  4. There is nothing better than snow on chocolate nose!
    Sorry to hear about your pipe bursting but I had to laugh as I was reading about R taking the longest pee in the world:)I know the feeling!

  5. Yikes those are big kitty kat prints
    Benny & Lily

  6. Cool tracks! Congratulations on the new sightings. I'm glad things are back under control at your house. I'm sure the clean up is a pain, but thank goodness you were home to shut off the water, even though R tried to sidetrack you with the marathon pee session. Have a great weekend!!

  7. We have had some frozen pipes here, not where they burst but where they just freeze up and No

    We have also had the furnace go out a couple of times. That will guarantee Frozie pipes. Having your furnace checked before heating season is well worth the $$$ it costs you.

    Oh, lets just go back to singing Baby its Cold Outside!


    Jo and Stella

  8. I've been hoping that you got the water pipe problem fixed! What a mess! I had to laugh about the five minute pee session, though. Why is it that they have to go the longest when you're either in a big hurry or it's freezing cold outside?

    The cat tracks are pretty exciting. I hope you catch that big boy on the camera!

  9. Yikes! So sorry about the pipes. Hope the damage isn't too bad.

    The bobcat prints in the photo look like they're in reverse: rising up instead of pressing down into the snow. Interesting effect.

    Perhaps the mountain lion is ill? Or starving? Or, as you posited, just old. Rough, no matter which it is. Could it have been dragging something to a more comfortable spot to eat or preserve it? Do you carry some kind of protection when you ride alone, in case a mountain lion is desperate enough to look to you for a meal?

    Jed & Abby

  10. Poor R. The sound of that running water in the basement must have been too much for him to bear !

  11. Yikes on the water pipe. After our own water saga this summer, hope yours gets fixed quickly and the damage is minimal.

    Those tracks compared to your foot - amazing!

  12. Indoor rain is definitely high on the undesirables list. Glad your friend was able to deal with it quickly!

  13. That lion is walking like I feel after my big race this morning!

    Your pal, Pip

  14. I hope that your pipes don't give you any more trouble.

    Those tracks are amazing. Sometimes, I look out of my window and wonder what the creatures in my little woods are doing at that very moment. How wonderful that you have mountain lions to wonder about.

  15. Oh no! I hope those pipes don't cost too much to fix. Sounds very unpleasant to say the least.

    We saw our bobcat this morning! We almost ran right into him, actually. Matt was walking down towards the edge of the water near our home and almost intersected paths with this beautiful cat. He was about 15 ft away and just kept sauntering on. Arwen was intrigued, but thankfully didn't go nuts.

    Great pics as usual - love that goofy one of K ;)

  16. Im sick of it raining outside let alone inside...

    Frosted Schnoz!

    We hope the critters pass by the camera too so we can have a squizz at this creature

  17. OH my dawg, i woulda freaked if that happened. we did have a leak inside our basement too, but we just turned off the outside faucet and it fixed it (too complicated to explain).

    yes, you did tell me about your SAR dog and hips/spine issue. that's why i was thinking of taking care of juno's hips now rather than later. but we don't know if the spine issue is 1. an issue at all, 2. from her hips, 3. genetic, 4. infectious, 5. injury related/slipped disk nothing to do with her hips...

    sigh. all i know is she's lots worse these days and the neuro appt can't come soon enough (monday morning)...thanks for your SAR story though, that helped a lot with me going forward and decision making...

  18. I hope all the water got sopped up from the rain in the ceiling. Jeepers.. when it rains, it pours.
    The photos of K and R frolicking are spectacular.... their happiness makes my heart sing,.
    And wow- those mountain lion tracks.. holy smokes.


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