Where the Wild Things Are
One of the things I love about living at the farm is the frequent wildlife sightings. No matter whether the farm visitors are large wildlife such as deer or elk, colorful birds such as the western tanager or evening grosbeak, or more common creatures like tree frogs and sparrows, they always bring a smile to my face. This week however, I saw something I had no idea lived at the farm and is not such a welcome visitor – a long-tailed weasel! Although the weasel is fairly small, not much bigger than a squirrel, I was somewhat alarmed by the sight of its sharp teeth and claws. I did some research and was not comforted by what I read. One website described it as follows “the long-tailed weasel may seem as endearing as a curious, lively kitten, but in fact, ounce for ounce, it ranks as one of nature’s most relentless and ferocious predators. Indeed, it has been called nature’s psychopath.” It went on to say “it attacks its prey, sometimes several times larger than itself, with unbridled ferocity. It kills small prey by driving its sharp incisors into the head. It ambushes larger prey, clinching to the back and biting into the neck, inflicting a lethal wound. Although it is much more likely to attack rodents and other pests, it has been known to invade a poultry coop and, in a killing frenzy, slaughter every chicken within the enclosure.” Well geez, that did not exactly put my mind at ease. Although to be fair to the weasel, we do have a ton of rodents that have been digging up the garden and being somewhat of a nuisance by doing things like eating most of the strawberries. That could very well be what attracted the weasel to the garden, and if the weasel contents himself to dine on rodents that would actually be a good thing for the garden, so I’m crossing my fingers that’s the case. Without further ado here’s the story of my encounter with the weasel.
I let Coco Puff and Millie out of their coop as I was headed up to the garden to do some weeding. As usual Lil’ Red Rooster was on point to guard the ladies. Coco, Millie, and Red followed me up to the garden which is unusual as they typically prefer to scratch about in the grass a bit closer to the house. I had my back turned to the ladies while I was weeding when Lil’ Red Rooster began making an alarm call. This is a pretty frequent occurrence as he makes an alarm call anytime he sees a bird, no matter how small and unthreatening it may be, fly overhead. Usually the alarm call lasts only a few seconds, but this call he was making sounded a bit different and he kept repeating it over and over. After about 30 seconds or so of his non-stop squawking, I got up and walked over to see what the fuss was about. He was staring at the raised bed with leeks and onions in it, and I followed his gaze to see a weasel standing with his paws on the edge of the raised bed and sniffing the air in the direction of my sweet little chickens! Oh, the horror! I scooped up the ladies and carried them outside the garden fence and put them down on the lawn close to the house. I went back for Lil’ Red Rooster who seemed reluctant to leave the scene, but I finally got him to follow me back down to the ladies’ coop. I put some kale in their coop to occupy them since obviously outdoor playtime was over for the day. I let Lil’ Red into the ladies coop so he could enjoy treat time with them as thanks for being such a good protector to the ladies.