WP's Farm Animal Farm


Home sweet Animal Farm

Villa Villekulla

Unsealed driveway
30 square meters (~ 223 sf) unsealed driveway: you are welcome!

Entitled like George Orwell's book, but that's all that's common. The outskirts' garden kept rather close to nature offers numerous species a hiding place and a place for living. Water biotopes in the neighborhood and own bird bathes enrich the habitat and provide a living space even for amphibians. The sunny and sandy south-west incline is appreciated by lizards. Where lizards live slow-worms are not far. Not only a lot of small animals and birds appear, also mammals like squirrels and hedgehogs.

Not a rattle, but a ring snake

Even »exotics« show up. For instance hornets, toads, cross-vipers, black woodpeckers or during the winter feeding even ten(!) pheasants at a time.
A view through the window - especially with the binoculars - often is much more interesting than watching TV.

Each of the animals becomes used to humans more or less. One gets on with each other or one simply keeps out of the others' ways. If established the contact quickly surpasses the sole acceptance of the feed opportunity or the judgement »mostly harmless«. Often a friendly trust relationship arises which even includes direct communication.

Enlightening: I needn't go to the zoo - the zoo comes to me.


Just visiting

Extra animal stories from the nearer wild - Farm Plus extension:



Extra watering of the newly planted wall had chased some lizards. The next evening rustling again when I retired. On the third evening six lizards expected the drinks delivery. Without timidity they sleeked the water drops from the leaves and during the following days they drunk out of water puddles I had made just in front of them. And hand-feeding worked as well.
Real aquanauts: for some years a pair of grass frogs stayed in the garden, hardly separated by more than one meter. On hot days they sought cooling in the freshly filled bird bath and it was almost possible to touch them.

Fairies' curtain

Exciting is to watch the brood care of the daddy-long-legs spider (vibrating spider). The mother spider watches over the egg cocoon and later over the baby spiders for some days. When one puts a prey animal in the web, the spider mom very carefully steps across over its babies. Once the young spiders had chosen a fluorescent tube for a first rest. Whenever it turned warm they side by side in dozens roped down an appropriate distance. It looked like a hazy shade of curtain. When after switching off the lamp turned colder they climbed up step by step again.


Fast food

Eck - feeding a spider, is this really necessary? During a walk-around in the garden I discovered the web of a house spider in a dry stone wall. With a shaky blade of grass the almost full grown spider (diameter like a coffee cup) I succeeded to lure her out of her burrow. Even more, she followed the air draft until the edge of the web and angled for it with her legs. There is somebody hungry! Thus I waited for some mosquitos to approach me, feed, there it is. I bent down to the web with the gnats on my hand and there she came immediately. From the edge of the web she grabbed for my hand and slowly pushed onto the palm. She just took some gnats at once and leisurely retired into the burrow. In the following period Charlotte reacted on her name (i.e. certain vibration) and left the borrow and carefully took gnats I offered her between my finger tips. I presented them over Charlotte's web and she rose and supported herself against my fingers with her front legs. Some spectators turned very pale by that...
Once I had found some ant eggs. She accepted one (my offer ;-), but did not know what to do at first. For some ten seconds she turned it between her jaw claws until she bit finally. Succeeding she seemed to be really surprised, because the food was already ready! (Spiders do not own jaws for biting but inject digestive secretions with their jaw claws and suck the pulp then.)


Wasp douche

Solar fountains in the greens
Terrace Fountain and Blue Lagoon, spa and wasp douche

Especially the small things often surprise. At a decoration well wasps picked up cooling water for their nest under the hot tile roof. Most of them landed on the rim and crawled to the water, whereas the pros made their touch down on the water surface directly. Some beginners, however, sled or tumbled into the water at first. Therefore I was worried when in the evening I noticed a wasp balancing around the outlet, not that she would have been washed away. The concern was completely baseless - with caution and painstakingly she successively stretched her abdomen, head, legs and each wing separately under the waterfall and washed herself thoroughly. From day to day the numbers of workers taking a shower increased.



Enjoyable solar terrace fountain has a big fan club. For stray cats, thirsty squirrels and possibly hedgehogs and various bird species as well it provides a spring and for the latter a bath. The blue tits are really nuts on it. The small basins obviously afford the right whirlpool size and the flowing water supplies freshness and can just be used as shower. So I don't need to wonder about the loss of water.


With swimming pool attendant

Established by the blue tits due to comfort. Once when I intent to pass they do not flee or so, but really rumble at me out of their bath tub - »Don't disturb! Don't you see we are taking a bath?« - and make me turn in a distance of more than one step.
Usually only one bird of the couple takes a bath, the other one is on watch. But meanwhile the couples sign up with me for their common bath when I'm browsing in my neighboring reader's corner, and pass me the warning of predators.


The birds

Early bird, of course, all the culture followers like mice, blackbird, magpie, jay, squirrel, titmice (six species), woodpeckers and robins are well represented. Especially the last get very human friendly. Well, the young titmice now and then land on one's hand waiting for feed. Meanwhile even European Goldfinches brooded in the magnolia.
Just with the great spotted woodpeckers it's another matter. I can remember those times they hastily left the garden, when one just had moved behind a window. Nowadays one is clearing the path of snow and in less than two meters distance a woodpecker clambers crying about a tree: »bird fat balls are out!« Hardly one had mounted a ball and is just turning away the hungry woodpecker immediately clung at it. Nuthatch and treecreepers are guests, too.
Even bats (mammals, no birds but they fly as well ;-) come for a rendezvous speedy and smart, the swallows of the night.


Queen of the night in blossom
Also in the garden: Queen of the Night

Don't talk to strangers?

Even if behavioral scientists had their problems with it in the past - animals talk to us. They watch us, judge us - obviously beyond of mostly harmless - and consider us worth making contact. Not only that they know where feed is available or that there is somebody to feed them. It is even more than just begging for feed. During the years I repetitively had epiphanies. So on flight level as high as my head a great tit passed me almost in hover flight loudly beeping when I opened the door of the hut in order to enter. It was clear, the bird wanted to caught my attention intending to look for feed inside the building and I should not close the door. Because when I just said anything, not even attempting to leave the hut again, the bird hurried out.


Vulture Wally

Evidently the tit was facing problems with its molt or was sick. The flight was ponderous due to probably missing flight feathers, the pea sized head even was completely naked. All chased it off the feeding site or even picked on it. One day I discovered it some meters away in a bush and asked it with an inviting gesture to approach. Almost immediately it flew to me and started a silent whisper »beep, beep, beep ...«. Less than a hands' width away it took the offered nut crumbs. And as time passed by the feathers grew again.


Wag the squirrel

Enemy protection can be gained by nearness to humans. The adult birds, however, do not really appreciate when one stands near their nesting box. One day loud and angry twitter of a couple of great tits drew my attention to a black squirrel actually hanging and fingering at their nesting box. I carefully approached and tugged at the squirrel's tail. It took up like a rocket! immediately afterwards the tit parents really sang for me so I suppose only less was missing and they would have slipped a worm to me expressing their gratitude for the support.
Some days later I noticed the male tit carefully stalking up on a dozing red squirrel and pulling its tail.

Temporary fellow-tenants

Everything and all for nothing but the cat:


Even now and then the scientific curiosity or the helpfulness demand more. Then deeper contact takes place. Who does not want to thoroughly watch the metamorphosis of frogs? Or who wants to let perish a helpless animal baby?

That enables the deeper concerns about the individual behavior and the nuanced interactions with humans. Thereby it just scratches a bit the rather mechanistic approach of the traditional behavioral biology.
Not to mention the real domestic animals or pets.

Real love for animals: during the bicycle tour discovering a puddle with tadpoles just before drying up and saving them in the drinking water bottle. Or even like my aunt: cycling home, returning with the camper and filling up the puddle out of the drinking water reservoir.


Thieving magpie

They have a magpie in the belfry...

Entering as foundling brought by a friend, the magpie chick was called Hansi. (It is not unusual that young magpies leave the nest although they are not yet fledged. In general they are fed by the adult birds further on.) The magpie chicken showed very great shyness concerning humans and tried to flee. Although he was obviously exhausted he refused any food offered. Even water he didn't accept.

Not until I spent some time, used tricks and cunning and a little bit force as well, I was able to stuff a small ball of minced meat into his throat and force him to swallow. But then Hansi accepted the second piece voluntary and asked for more.
After that he was allowed to make himself comfortably on the backrest of a kitchen chair and surprised us because he started to turn restlessly under crying, better whining - young hazels are house-trained! Thankfully he accepted an offered piece of newspaper and then fell asleep.

Hansi was allowed to move by his own choice and slept on a backrest of a kitchen chair. In the house or in the garden he ran after one. The most popular game was turning stones. I rolled over stones in order to find adequate nourishment. Hansi had great fun. Even when he obviously had no more hunger, he curiously checked the base of every stone I turned.

He showed no urge to fly as if he didn't know he would be able to do so. Even when he should have been full-fledged. Not until I softly threw him in the air he started to flutter. First he had sought refuge in the trees higher and higher and spent moaning the whole night there. On the next morning he tried to directly hit the open kitchen window in the second floor. Too high! Out of the roof gutter he managed to get back to the trees. Second trial: too deep! Again back in another roof gutter to the trees. Not until I came back from school he took heart. From limb to limb and tree to tree he made his way downstairs and touched down in the lawn with a somersault after slithering over a sun umbrella, but he was in fear of punishment. After he calmed himself down and had eaten and drunk for three days he felt asleep for a complete day.

Even so when he learned to fly he stayed with us on his own decision. He slept on a clothesline in the cellar with a window providing free access. In the morning he sat on the windowsill of the kitchen waiting that somebody let him in for breakfast. Then he followed his people to the car, to school, to the shopping tour ... He landed on one's shoulder on demand (or even so). Imagine that: suddenly a big black and white bird dives from the deep sky stopping in last moment to land soft like a feather on one's shoulder. Witnesses were upset.

During the day he strolled through the house and the garden. In the evening he »told« sitting on one's shoulder, what had happened during the day.
The play instinct was very strong. He liked to fill sleeping grandpa's ears with gleaming pebbles. In the house he was a fan of glittering paper of sweets. First he watched me snipping it from the table, then he flew with it on a cupboard and let it glide to the ground. The only thing he theft was father's pipe stopper made of shiny metal. All other valuable and shiny things we kept away from him.

Indoor he seldom flew, but when then impressively. In general magpies are not considered as good flyers, however, when he poised on the spot or even backwards(!) like a hummingbird one wouldn't claim so further on.

His social behavior was striking. Thereby an inhibition existed. Never he etched closer with his beak pointing towards one's face or even eyes. Within a certain distance he was forced to turn his head to the side. (Well, therefore the proverb: »A crow does not pick an other's crow eye.«) He, however, insisted to examine my teeth - starting with carefully scrapping to fierce knocking. He seemed to be deeply impressed.
And sometime I risked one eye at least when he intended to practice social body care: obviously the aesthetic feeling of magpies and humans is not very different. He just pulled out the hairs in my nose. Spreading hears of my eyebrow he bent in form with tongue and beak edge. If they were too unruly, he picked them out. He de-twisted my eyelash very carefully and arranged the hairs parallel. He never pulled out one of them.

After several weeks two adult magpies entered the garden and carefully etched closer and closer day by day. Somehow they made him clear that he usually belonged to them. Finally he toured with them. This seems not to be unusual. I have already heard and read of that adult magpies fetching young magpies from human custody.
In real we were quite happy, because he showed no shyness towards people, played sometimes the (uninvited) surprise party guest in the neighborhood and he had just been caught already. Now and then he visited us and obviously he could convince the adult magpies that we were harmless. Because even they came closer, too.


Hedgehogs - Meckis and Mickis

Hedgehog Mecki I is in the house

Easy convention - all male hedgehogs were called Mecki, all female ones Micki.

Only animals with underweight (under about 500 g; about 1.1 pound), which strayed around in late autumn and would have not survived a hibernation were helped to get through the winter. Most hedgehogs, however, one gets in that way are sick or have parasites and worms. Consulting the vet is almost obligatory.
Nevertheless, passing the winter is a delicate job, therefore in some regions the private care is not permitted. We get off, too. Very important: do not offer undiluted milk or better milk at all!

The first hedgehog called Mecki joined us for winter in the middle of September. He had a weight of 85 g (less than 0.19 pound) only. First he formed the popular hedgehog ball, but then he got confidence. He really made friends with us. Due to moving free through the flat (covered with newspaper, hedgehogs aren't house-trained!) Mecki followed and used almost every occasion to snuggle. He let himself turn on the back, let his belly scratch gently and therefore in delight bit in one's fingers. In this position he liked to be fed, too. After that he slept in one's arms or on one's knees. He showed no shyness towards humans and reacted on them, e.g. by switching to day activity.
In early spring he was set free with a weight of more than 1 100 g (2.4 pounds), but staid in the vicinity.

A female hedgehog showed the complete range of the attitude towards humans. Micki was to be seen just two times. Once when she arrived from a chicken farm and ticks and fleas were removed and twice when she was set free with imposing 1 300 g (2.9 pounds). In the meantime one saw a wool wood tangle only, which moved to the food bowl, smacked and retired after a while.
Only once Micki freaked out: when I presented her a hen's egg the sound of my finger nails on the eggshell made her jump just like a rubber ball. Obviously she was familiar with eggs.


Rabid Bambi

A handful of deer

Emergency case called Rehlein (Engl.: Deerly) came as orphaned foundling to my aunt. His mother had been ran over by a mowing machine.
My aunt brought up the really tiny and helpless baby with the feeding-bottle and he got completely tame. He showed no shyness towards people. He got along with my aunt's cats, too.

First the deer had the permission to move through the entire garden. After he got older he liked to ram his head and later his horns with increasing pressure against one's legs or whatever was in his way. That wasn't as harmless as it seems, because one didn't recognize the danger of the situation. He came up slowly walking and with bowed head, aimed and then he pressed with maximum force. A typical behavior, which also Konrad Lorenz already described in He talked to the cattle, the birds and the fishes.

Finally my aunt gave him away to an open-air enclosure. But she visited her Rehlein regularly.

Summer feed

Extraordinary cold July made it hard for the great titmice to rise their second breed. One was not able to stand by and watch the misery any longer. A handful of sunflower seeds put on the veranda table should support the completely exhausted adult birds. They were accepted with thanks. When the young birds left the nest their parents brought them to the table. After a critical view onto the humans they landed aside one, skipped to the seeds, snatched one and pecked it open on a neighboring twig so far as they were not fed. The adult birds also discovered that the seeds could be easily clamped into the stitches of the tablecloth for opening.
The snack stall got around. A couple of bluetits, two nuthatches and several crested tits approached, too. Temporarily also a red and a black squirrel and even two jays glanced around.
In the morning the flock of birds was already awaiting one if not even the crested tits flew into the house. It was hard to have the heart to stop it again.
Meanwhile the summer feed has become established and has gotten around. Even by marsh tits, robins, chaffinchs and woodpeckers.
During the summer and winter feeding as well one is amply rewarded by the sight of the feathered friends sitting in the tree like Christmas balls.

The turn around one

Caution - don't bite the hand that feeds me!

No fear of contact, not in the least

Extensive winter feed had made the (European) squirrels gain trust. During summer feed one of them, Eric the Red, carefully moved closer to the table and much more carefully took the nut between one's fingers. Also Redder was almost in this state. One day he sneaked around the corner of the house, just approaching us. Alarmed he turned round and jumped away. Ten feet further he suddenly stopped, looked over his shoulder and threw a long glimpse on the humans - well, the notorious BIG nut dispensers, mostly harmless. He turned round, then almost ran over our feet and waited on the table for the nut he picked out between my fingers now, too.

After countless feedings one can claim some kind of friendly relationship. Once suffering hefty sciatica and almost immovably sitting on a garden chair I was not able to feed, he slowly approached, climbed up a chair leg and quietly(!) sat down on my knees. After a along and intense view in my face - »Something wrong, Bigfoot?« - he carefully edged away.

A lazy Sunday afternoon. In a branch fork about eight feet above me a squirrel was preparing to a short nap after a nut snack. I stretched out in my garden chair to browse in a book. Suddenly a loud and clear »Hu Hu?«. I rose my view and noticed the squirrel's head nodding to me down from the branch »Hui ui ui! Huju ui jui ujuu...«.

Meanwhile, within less than a year, at least half a dozen squirrels is more or less handtame. And over the thumb at least fifteen squirrels are guests.

Master and Commander

I don't own a cat. My knees - Micky's secondary residence

Evident, the way to one's heart is through one's stomach. Thus one should be convinced the feed does it. But the taming also works through the respect one offers to the »wild creatures«. If you do not press them hard you will quickly recognize that the human presence is definitely appreciated. After all one keeps away predators, like e.g. bird of preys, and conveys safety, in words a safe rest and sleep location. When you warn against a cat on still hunt with loud hand clapping, it can happen that the squirrel just not bold enough to get close during feed sweeps around your feet (thankfully?), although it could have easily steered clear off you.
In general all warn against cats and foreign languages are obviously understood interspeciesly, in hunting jargon called »mobbing against the enemy«. I am neither a hunter nor I am usually branded. So what happens, when the cat jumps on my knees? For sure fifty meters one can trace the travel or better secret path of the cat. When finally approaching me the hue and cry finds its end. And when it lays on my knees, I am obviously expected to control the cat. Then with ease one dares to etch closer than two meters for feeding. Also some kind of respect.


Extend the [TOUR] to some Cats' Farm insights.