Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter is Here. Let Indoor Hunting Season Begin!!!!

Homesteading in the middle of nature invites lots of opportunities to interact with wildlife. While most of my experiences are outdoors, some of them  (by no invitation) occur in my house.  When cold weather arrives outside, it heralds the arrival of field mice...and Indoor Hunting season.

On the first sighting of a mouse turd, Indoor Hunting season begins! I am in full blown Terminator mode to assassinate any rodent who dares cross over the line into my "indoor dwelling space."  Every mouse turd is interpreted as a sign of defiant disrespect. Every turd is a mark of REBELLION to my decree that all rodents stay OUTSIDE and eat only from the bird feeder.

If you've ever trapped mice, you've probably found one still alive. Not every assassination attempt is successful. Occasionally, I'll find a mouse trapped and practically unharmed. They might be caught by a leg or the tail. Live mice in a trap is not something I want to find. I want them DEAD in the trap.

The only good thing about catching a live mouse is the opportunity to revert to Plan B: Catch and Release. This means that I walk my trapped quarry out to the edge of our yard, and release them into the "wilds" at the edge of the property. I do this ONLY to create fear and panic in the local rodent population. The freed mouse can share with its brethren personal Intel of the horrors that await them if they enter my house. So far, I have not caught any mice that I previously trapped.

So far, the I. H. season has been good. In 3 weeks, I've had 5 kills and one C.n.R.  I even almost caught one by the tail with my bare hands! It tried to escape off my pantry cart while I was rolling it out into my kitchen. It just barely got its tail out of my grasp as it dived off the side of the cart. You should have seen the mirth on my husband's face as I excitedly told him how CLOSE I was to pegging that mouse and escorting him by the tail back out into the wilds! I don't know if that mouse ended up dead in a trap or the one I released. Either way, he is NOT in my house.

I have upped my I.H. game this year. I am deep cleaning areas in search of mouse nests (found one nest under my kitchen sink in my food gloves box). I am using more snap traps and have changed up the baits available.

Currently, I am rotating between  seriously sharp cheddar cheese, natural peanut butter or almond butter for bait.  I figure if this is their last meal, the first taste should be a LASTING one....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chickens, Mulch Nirvana and Good Neighbors

There is an old song "When life hands you lemons, start making lemonade" that is pertinent to what has been happening here for us on the homestead.  There are perks and pains with all things in life and lately...we've had more pains than perks.

It all started with having to get rid of my chickens. They were roaming off our property and bothering our neighbors. We penned them up and they still found ways to go rearrange our neighbors perfectly manicured and mulched yard.

Anyone who has chickens KNOWS that a mulch pile is the perfect "chick magnet" for them. What we see as a mulch pile, they see as "chicken nirvana" and will travel miles to pay homage to it. After a number of trips to keep the chickens out of the neighbors yard, I called up a couple farming friends and found homes for them. It worked out well, as I can still get eggs from some of my girls. They are on farmsteads where they can free range and go "bugging" to their hearts content.

I miss my chickens but, I don't miss the anxiety of them wreaking havoc with our neighbors. Growing up farming I completely understand the concept of "good fences make good neighbors." When you have animals, it is your job to keep them fenced in. Even with living in the boonies, you can have neighbors who prefer a golf course yard and perfectly manicured flower beds.

I like my neighbors and cherish our relationship with them. I also understand that we are the "newcomers" and therefore need to conform to the area we moved into. This credo is something I understand as I grew up just outside of an Old Order Mennonite community.

When you move into a community, you need to conform to the standards set, not try and change the standards. I witnessed this many times as an adult living in the suburbs. It seem "Burbs people" don't like farm smells, following along behind tractors, seeing animals have farm sex, etc. it baffled me that these people love the "idyllic country side but don't want to deal with the life style that makes it so idyllic to start with.

Oh well, if you can't take the farm smells you need to go back to the city. I'd much prefer following a tractor than bumper to bumper traffic and smelling manure instead of exhaust fumes. Most of us have a choice where we live and "to each their own" as the saying goes.  I also have my "own" and I choose the COUNTRY!