Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Death to the Weasels!

Ha, I bet you're expecting another diatribe about the Wall Street Grand Casino.  Nope.

At the moment, anyway, we're talking about actual weasels.  So, I'm getting ready to finally put the guinea pen together- and as I walk out by the windmill- here on the path is- a dead weasel.  

My first reaction was- "oh, no; the damn dog has killed a weasel!" - because- in the larger scheme, weasels are our friends on this farm, big time.  They eat mice.  And more mice.  Tons of mice.  Mice are huge pests and crop thieves.  Big bucks.  I love weasels, mostly.

And this one was beautiful- a full grown male Short-Tailed weasel; also known as an Ermine.

Then it dawned on me (not too much later, and before I really started chewing Bruce (the pup) out) - this weasel had been in the perfect place to wipe out our guineas- in one fell swoop.  They are known to kill more than they can eat- they're really good killers.  And the guineas are all babies- no adults to fight back, at all.

And, though this is a serious predator, one our cat would never think of attacking- it's so slender it might actually be able to just squeeze right through regular chicken wire.  No kidding.  Which is what I had just been about to install.  Did I know that already?  Yes, I did.  Idiot that I am, I seem to have needed the additional reminder of having a dead weasel in my hand in order for that to truly strike home.

Ah, reality.  This weasel was in the wrong place.  And Bruce, who is turning out marvelously, with more common sense than most people, had just been doing the job we hired him for- protecting us.  There's plenty of room on the farm for weasels still- just not so close to home.

I'd been murmuring "no, no- don't do this, Bruce..."  (he understands English perfectly) - but when I realized - he'd probably saved our entire guinea flock; with no instructions needed, that changed to loud "GOOD dog, Bruce; good dog!"  He understood.

He hasn't eaten it; though I've seen him eat bunnies.   (Sorry).  Weasels stink, pretty uniformly, and most likely taste bad to boot- few things eat them.  Owls do.

So here I am, inside, not putting up the guinea wire.  Because pretty clearly- where there is one weasel, there will be more, and the wire we have is not good enough.  Plus, we have yet another species of weasel here- the Least Weasel; which is only about 1/4 the size of an Ermine- but plenty capable of killing chicks, and maybe even adult guineas or chickens.

The darned thing is going to have to be a fortress, Bruce or not.  He did a splendid job- but even he has to sleep sometimes.  More money; and a trip to town for wire- wire more expensive than chicken wire, for sure.  Sigh.

The guineas are an education, of course.  For all of us.  We started with 33 new keets (chicks).  We're down to 28.  That is what usually happens- a few of them just won't make it.   In our case, I successfully brought all 33 through the first 10 days- but then 5 of them just- failed.   Quit growing.  Lay down, and died.

Smidgen already knew a little about death, in the abstract- even children's books and movies are full of it.  But here was her first real acquaintance with it.  Scary, for a parent-

I think it was harder on Spice and I than it was on Smidgen, though.  She did cry, just a little.  But the reality was right there- death is natural; part of life.  The rest of the keets go on.

Off to town; more gas, more money, more time.


Kelsie said...

Skin the weasel! Nice, warm, ermine...

A strange first comment in your blog, I know, but I've been lurking for weeks...which makes me sound even creepier.

I was followed by an ermine once, in Montana. He stayed about five feet behind me on my hike. I'm not sure what he wanted, but judging by those teeth, I'm glad I didn't try to pet him!

Beelar said...

Holey smokes, that is a beautiful bull weasel. (I doubt that's the right term, but it sounds good). Nice shot of the teeth, too. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to inspect/handle a weasel skull, it is an impressive thing. It has two things in it: an enormous brain case, and big nasty pointy teeth. Obvious what kind of life it leads, just from looking at the skull. Very nice to have in the fields, less so in the coop.

Did Bruce manage this without getting even slightly mauled? Do you suppose he'll be able to learn to leave them alone in the fields?

Unknown said...

I don't see many weasels around my area, but we sure do have the groundhogs!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Bruce is growing up to be a handsome dog. Our female dog became a fabulous hunter after our children were born, hence the nickname "Molekiller". I keep telling her that I'm not about to skin and cook mole because it is too much work for too little meat.

Mostly she hunts rabbits, moles, birds, squirrels, and the occasional mouse. Earlier this summer, however, she took on a 5 to 6 foot long rat snake. That was the day that I discovered that black rat snakes and the local water mocassins look very much alike and I'm not brave enough to get close enough to a really angry snake to id it. LOL For days, I refered to her as "my beautiful, brave but incredibley stupid border collie." (To her credit, the snake was in a part of the yard near where the children play.)


Greenpa said...

Kelsie - lol. welcome! Summer pelt, though- not too toasty...

Beelar- no visible marks on Bruce. My guess is he'll chase them wherever they are- but he spends just a lot more time around home, of course.

Bobbi- that fact that you don't SEE weasels doesn't meant they aren't there!

Anonymous said...

Nice Post, the kind I like. We have the mongeese, about 50% of them are rabid. Quite a problem. For the keets you better use heavy galvanized 5/8 inch mesh. I think it is 5/8 X 3/4.
Here we call it rabbit wire.
The guineas when they are bigger run in a flock and will scare off small predators. They'll set up an alarm if attacked day or night. They really want to be in a nice cage at night. Most people put the cage away from the house so the guinea calls are not so loud, but they don't scream and cackle like chickens do and not as loud.
The full grown guineas like a large cage, why not build it now?
I think you were talking about an earth sheltered one, that sounds good.
You recently mentioned that you had traveled 2200 miles to deliver your greenhouse product. I know what I thought when I read that. Care to reveal what it was? It must have had a very high value when picked.

Anonymous said...

> that fact that you don't SEE
> weasels doesn't meant they aren't
> there!

And now you expect me to sleep at night? I'm imagining earweasels.

Nancy M. said...

Wow! I have never seen a weasel. Not sure if they live here or not. I'm glad your dog saved the day. We used hardware cloth on our pens to keep other predators out.

knutty knitter said...

Nice job Bruce:) Skilly got a mouse in the kitchen the other day. She's a great ratter too - deserves to be called skillsaw I think. She's now 12 but still catches rats etc.

We didn't really need another cat when we found her....but what can you say to a small approximately 6 week old wild kitten trapped in a garbage can.

viv in nz

Farmer's Daughter said...

Don't you just love dogs? My Golden Retriever Duke weighs 100 lbs and will kill any bunny he sees. He likes to eat their brains, yuck. My parents have an Old English Sheepdog named Eddie, who's so old he's blind, but he can still kill woodchucks. There are about 7 other dogs on the farm, and some do their job better than others!

Greenpa said...

Oops. it's NOT an Ermine- it's a new species for us here, one I've never seen a sign of before; this was a Long Tailed Weasel; considerably bigger than an Ermine.

Anonymous said...


Greenpa said...

Folks- This blogI just got SHUT DOWN- as a "spam blog". Whatever the heck that is. Blogger has, they say, "fuzzy robots" policing for spam blogs, and they promise to "review it" and fix the problem; but when I got to Blogger Help- there were a pile of messages from people who've also been nailed- some saying they'd been waiting MONTHS for any response from Blogger. Who, incidentally, promises to delete your blog, within 20 days, if you don't fill out their forms. So far- when I go to their "forms" page- there's no form.

You and I can still comment here- but I cannot make any new posts, until this is fixed.

A bunch of those complaining on Blogger Help were mentioning their intention to shift to Wordpress, pronto, if things weren't fixed. Evidently Wordpress will perform a total import. Any thoughts?

Not a happy camper here.

homebrewlibrarian said...

Greenpa - If Blogger can't get you up and running soon, I'd switch to Wordpress. The website for the library network I'm getting up and running uses Wordpress and I'm pretty happy with it. Although I'm not the one who built the site and I've never blogged a day in my life other than as a commenter. My understanding is there are LOTS of Wordpress geeks out there who are extremely loyal. Has to mean something, eh?

Kerri in AK

Anonymous said...

Speaking of weasels, eh?

The Blogger help group is full of complaints. I suspect someone did a mass complaint about ecology oriented groups, but it could just be those are the ones I notice.

I did find this that worked for one other blogger:
If you have already submitted a request from your dashboard, and
you have not heard back after four business days, please submit your
URL below:

Anonymous said...

Blogger Status
Friday, August 01, 2008

Some blogs have been mistakenly marked as spam. Affected users are not able to post to their blog and received an email indicating Blogger classified their blog as spam. We are actively working to correct the issue.

Posted by Siobhan at 15:38 PDT

I'd think this promising, but I know they have a really sophisticated go-in-circles-email-equivalent-of-voicemail-hell-google-bot answering system.

Hope this one's human. Good luck there.

Anonymous said...

PS, I'd be cautious about WordPress. I keep seeing it at the top of lists of hackable, spoofable, with known vulnerabilities not fixed. Just one such (caution do NOT follow example links in the following page, as it warns you there).

I dunno anything, just pointing to what I read here.

Weasel Killer said...

We've been having what I think is a weasel problem. We got (actually had) 6 chicks and one 3 year old hen. The chicks were about 2 and a half months old. The past few nights we lost 2 chicks. They are locked up in the barn for the winter, and I was planning on letting them out to the pen, but now I will delay it till our thieve is gone.

Some friends told us that it is a weasel probably. There was a small gap under the door to the chickens but I have blocked it off. We have cats but they have never bothered our chickens. We used to have chickens running freely into the barn and sat with the cats, and the cats sometimes sat on their eggs! But now the cats cannot get to them.

I locked the cats up upstairs to keep away from the livetrap I have set near the chickens, it has chicken liver and an egg in it, hopefully I catch the thieve tonight. I don't want to keep losing chickens