Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wild Life....and Free Books

by Laura Crum

No, my life is not really that wild. It may have been at one time, but now I am pretty sedate. But yeah, once upon a time I liked to go bar hopping and hang out with cowboys…not to mention I hauled my horses from cutting to cutting (and then roping to roping) all over the western United States. These days I prefer sitting on the porch with a margarita in hand, contemplating the horses grazing and the roses blooming. I have had my fair share of the wild life, thank you very much.

However, living in these brushy hills by the Monterey Bay, I am surrounded by wildlife of various kinds. My horses are so accustomed to these critters that they barely glance at them, whether said critters are strolling through the corrals, or we meet them on the trails. And this is really an advantage. No de-spooking needed.

I actually love seeing the wild animals, and consider them to be every bit as interesting and delightful as the plants in my garden, which is a good thing, as the deer eat the roses, the bobcats, coyotes, hawks..etc eat the chickens, the raccoons eat everything they can find, and, well, the list just goes on and on. So today I thought I’d share some of my “wild life” with you all.

Our commonest visitor is deer. Below you see a doe and her two fawns in my yard.

Here’s a buck behind my house. I see deer on the trails all the time; I frequently see them in the horse corrals. The horses are very used to them and barely react to their presence.

Horses don’t care at all about this critter below, either. But the chickens are very bothered by her. This is a female that I saw often—she eventually brought her kits out and I saw them, too—but I didn’t get any good photos of the babies. We call her a bobcat, but she’s really a lynx. They are very common in these hills.

I often see wild animals when I go down to feed the horses in the morning. Here’s a coyote by the driveway. Horses don’t react to him at all. But the cats and chickens are scared of him—for good reason.

Many of the wild critters are drawn here by a desire to eat our chickens. Here’s a Cooper’s Hawk actually sitting on the chicken coop observing the poor things (the chickens get locked up from time to time when the predators have been taking too many).

Some wild animals are more benign. The tree squirrels don’t do any damage.

My son took this photo of one of his favorite wild things.

A wren raised her babies in a nest above our back door. My husband is six foot seven and he could reach up and take photos of them in the nest. The picture below was taken the very morning that they fledged. I watched over them all day and they successfully made it up into the brush—the mother stayed with them and took care of them. Yay!

Some wild things are a little creepy. My husband let this tarantula crawl on him, trusting in the wisdom that they can’t actually bite you. Not me.

But I do love these little fence lizards. We have lots of them.

And here’s another critter in my garden—but this one isn’t wild.

OK—there’s my wild life today. Doesn’t much resemble the wild life I had in my twenties (!)

And on the subject of books—I have been a total slacker and failed to finish editing my eighth book, Forged, in time to have it up on Kindle this week. I’ll try to get it done by next week. In the meantime, for those who don’t know, the first seven books in my western horse-themed mystery series about equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy are now available on Kindle for 99 cents. If you’d like to try them, follow this link. The order is Cutter, Hoofprints, Roughstock, Roped, Slickrock, Breakaway and Hayburner. For more about these titles go to Next week the 8th book, Forged, should be available for 99 cents, too. And the first five titles are available for free as a "borrow", if you're part of Amazon Prime (until June). The last four titles in the series-- Moonblind, Chasing Cans, Going Gone, and Barnstorming-- are still in print and are controlled by the publisher. They are available on Kindle, too—for $9.99.

But…if you’d like FREE copies of the last four books in my mystery series, you can have them (or some of you can) by contacting Susan Daniel at and requesting review copies. This offer is limited to the first six people who request the books. Your only obligation is to review the books on Amazon. Can be a three sentence review, but you need to review all four books. So, those of you who are reading the series in order, this is your chance to get the last four books for FREE. You must review the books on Amazon, though.

(For those who are wondering why the reviews must be on Amazon, its because Amazon is now such a huge influence on book sales that having quite a few reviews for each book is very helpful. This is why the publisher is willing to give away six copies of each of the four titles. And any fan of the series who wants to do me a big favor—post a positive review of one—or more—of my books on Amazon. I don’t “expect” any one to do this—its an annoying little chore-- but if you happen to do it, I’ll be very grateful. And again, the first six people who request them can have the last four books in the series for FREE, in exchange for reviews on Amazon.)


Funder said...

Oh I'm on that! I sent her an email - I'll do proper reviews.

Love everything except the tarantula. Eeek! Your poor chickens have short lives, probably.

Laura Crum said...

Well, they're banties, so they'll raise their chicks. The predators do take them, but they reproduce and we keep things in balance most of the time.

Thanks for the reviews!

HorseOfCourse said...

Love your wildlife, and your house!
Thanks for sharing, laura.

I got an Eureka moment (yes, a very delayed such) that I could order your books on Kindle a week ago.
So now I have started on Cutter, and I love it!
Unfortunately they do not have the 99 cent offer overseas, but I still believe that the price is very reasonable.
As all our bookshelves are overloaded I buy most of my books in Kindle formate now. Very practical as I have it on my phone, so I do not need to carry around books when out travelling.
I will submit a review when I am done Laura.

Laura Crum said...

Thank you so much, Horse Of Course. Let me know when you post reviews--I would love to hear what you think of the books. I am so happy you're reading them--and I did not know that the 99 cents offer does not work overseas. Can you tell me how much they cost? Since we set the price on the older titles ourselves, it kind of annoys me that Amazon has arbitrarily made them more expensive.

Our bookshelves are overloaded, too, and my husband just bought a KIndle. I am sure I will be reading on it soon (!)

Francesca Prescott said...

Lovely photos! How about some photos of your previous "wild-life"?! Blue hair? Weird clothes? Dodgy antics?!

Seriously now, you really live in such a beautiful place.

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, Cesca. And no, I never had blue hair. That craze was WAY after my youth. I was a California cowgirl/surfer type--long blond hair and a tan. You know, bikini top and cowboy boots as I rode the horse to gather the cattle. But plenty of dodgy antics (!)

horsegenes said...

Such great pictures!

Thanks for sharing.

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, kel.

White Horse Pilgrim said...

If you tell us about your dodgy antics then I'll share some of mine.....

Seriously, the wildlife pictures were nice. Yesterday an owl flew around Brena and I in broad daylight. Such a pleasant surprise, though a superstitious person might have taken a distant view.

Laura Crum said...

whp--Should we trade stories of past exploits? And I love seeing and/or hearing owls. I don't mind the superstition against them.

White Horse Pilgrim said...

I'll trade a (printable) tale or two about crazy antics. When I have a moment I'll post a tale as a challenge - not to brag but to celebrate the optimism and energy of youth.

I loved seeing that owl. The person in my life who would have viewed that owl as a bad omen is dead already. It's almost as if the owl came to say: "I'm not a bad character, just getting on with my life. To prove it I'll fly all around you without doing anything bad."

Owls can do bad things. A naturalist brought a trained owl to our school years ago to show the pupils at assembly. It was a splendid sight flying around the hall. Then it crapped on a teacher, who had to go home and change his clothes because owl poo is exceptionally smelly.