Wildlife observing with Jade

Susan Manzke
A doe viewing the Manzkes from the neighbor’s corn.

Every evening — weather and mosquitoes permitting — Bob and I take our cart down our farm lane to the woods to observe wildlife. It’s about a half-mile off the road, so it’s pretty quiet there, except when distant sounds drift in on still nights. 

Mostly, it’s just the two of us and our dog Sunny…and for the past two weeks, Jade, our daughter’s dog — Jade gets to vacation on the farm when her usual family is off on some adventure.

Jade loves her rides in our cart, mostly. The poor puggle has allergies. I think she’s allergic to August. She gets a pill with peanut butter every day. It helps some, but too often she scratches. We’re constantly telling her to “Stop that, Jade!” so she doesn’t hurt herself.

Bob and I enjoy our ride, but the dogs seem to appreciate it more, which is why we make an effort to take them out every evening.

Bob gets the golf cart out and we load the dogs — which isn’t always easy. Sunny’s spot is between us, so Jade has to ride in the back — this didn’t work once when both dogs tried to get in at the same time and Jade ended up under Sunny. Let’s just say that Sunny wasn’t happy with his companion.

Now Bob holds Sunny to the side while Jade climbs from the ground, onto the floor, and then to the seat. From there our short-legged friend climbs into the back dump bed. Sunny then is allowed onto the seat next to Bob, and then it’s my turn to sit if I can manage to find enough seat left next to Sunny — all this time I have binoculars and my camera hanging from my neck, which adds to the difficulty of wrangling the dogs.

Both Sunny and Jade have a leash attached to their collar. We don’t want any run-aways if either gets too excited seeing deer. When everyone’s ready Bob eases the cart forward and we’re off.

A buck running through Sunnybook Farm soybeans.

There’s a notebook in the cart where we keep track of animal sightings. Bob and I try to accurately count deer, turkey, and crane in this notebook. There’s really no need to do this, yet, we do for the fun of it.

Bob usually stops the cart on a high spot in the lane so we get the best view of the landscape. When we’re settled — including the dogs — Bob and I get out our binoculars.

It can be difficult viewing distant animals, especially when there’s a panting dog between us. Also, Jade’s leash is attached to my arm and she often tugs at the exact time a deer comes into view — I’ve missed many a photo this way.

Jade loves it when she sees a deer or a turkey. The trouble is that she’s usually looking the wrong direction. We try to guide her to see, but she has a mind of her own and turns away. 

One Wednesday after attending Music in the Park in Seymour, Bob and I thought about not taking the dogs for their evening outing. It was near dark. Still, the dogs were waiting for their ride.

“Should we just take them around the buildings?” I asked Bob. There would have been animal sightings as barn cats were roaming the area, yet Bob decided to take us down the lane.

With headlights on, we ventured into the wilderness. Both dogs looked intently at the dark landscape. They enjoyed their ride, even though they saw nothing.

Jade will be heading home soon and I know she’ll be happy to see her real family. Still, I’m sure she enjoyed her time on the farm with Grandma and Grandpa.

FYI: Absolutely last notice! Send a summer Christmas/holiday greeting to us (enclosing a loose postage stamp for a return greeting). You’ll then be entered in my new book giveaway. The winner will receive a signed copy of The Growing Years 1988-1989 — drawing end of August so don’t wait.

Also, I’ll be speaking at the Chilton Public Library on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, 6 pm. My topic is Saving Family Stories. If you’re in the area, come join the fun. 

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;