Sunday, November 24, 2013

Midnight Frolics

A recent night of light snow helped to solve a little mystery that has been going on lately here on the Farmlette.  Every afternoon, during chores, I put out some crunchy kitty kibble for the boys outside.  They get fed by a little homemade bench made out of a re-purposed twin headboard, right next to the house.  And every morning, when I go out to do morning chores, the food bowls are waaaaay far away from their feeding station.  As in, nearly in the street far away--and I'm pretty sure that the cats are pushing them over there.  It's nearly 15 feet!  Nothing was every destroyed, just moved and emptied with a disturbing thoroughness.  The chickens weren't bothered at all, and the cats seemed fine--just hungry for breakfast.  (Trust me, they are not starving!)

So when the snow fell, I was a little startled by the amount of traffic my front yard receives.  There were cat prints everywhere, not surprising but some of them came directly from the neighbors' in the back yard.  I've had my suspicions that a fat, orange and white feline visitor has been coming and noshing.  But then I found a whole slew of these, emerging from the cornfield across the street and angling in the general direction of the forest behind the school.

Notice the four paws, pacing close together, and the drag line of a tail...not a fluffy tail, as it is smooth instead of feathered lines that would suggest a wide, furred tail.  This little creature is who has been moving my bowls around!  There's five toes to each print, with one toe slightly offset, almost like a thumb.  After some discussion with friends who know animals, and little internet research, I believe the mysterious nibbler is...
courtesy of
Oh yikes.  These little guys are notorious for wanting to devour chickens.  I think I'll be spending some time today reinforcing the chicken coops and hen yards.  So far, he's only been interested in the delicious kitty kibble...and I'm sure he's been in the yard before, hunting mice and other things...but still, I don't want him to eat my Ladies!  I may also investigate the option to borrow a Hav-a-Heart trap, and see if I can't catch this little guy during one of his visits.  I'd like to say I'll rehome him...but that would just mean passing another predator on to someone else's farm.  Sigh.  I really don't mind sharing my yard with all sorts of wild things--I mean, heck, as you can see by the first picture, I have a nightly deer visitation, the neighborhood rabbits frolic in the gardens, AND I have a groundhog hibernating under the car hut.  It's just, well, the ones that can and may devour my chickens are really not so welcome.

While the discovery of who is visiting is not so welcome, it was still pretty cool to see all the nightly visitors to my front yard!

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