Saturday, April 26, 2008
Kingdom of Weasel
I was sitting with a smoke on top of the Ark , watching the buds of the horse chestnut pop open yesterday morning, when a weasel came out of a hole in the trunk, ran out on a limb, and disappeared.
The chestnut tree is thriving in its limbs, but it is hollow and colonized by a flock of starlings, which raise their young there. Right now they are hauling out some of the old nests parts and bringing in new material, including a lot of chicken feathers. This year there is also competition from a pair of gray squirreles which haven't ordinarily been seen much up here because the nut trees are further down the hill, but they have been encouraged by the sunflower seeds and corn scratch which Davey spreads around for the chickens. This also draws the mice which also are drawn by the heated house itself, into which they like to move in the winter.
I suppose that when I saw him, the weasel had been prospecting for eggs to suck. He could be anywhere now, he could be in the tree, in the ark, or in my pants. You don't see them much because they are faster than the eye, but they are everywhere around here, and are not only the t the most numerous predator on this old farm, but the greatest threat to chickens and the most viscous, unsporting predator. Weasels are are less sporting than the worst of humans, more pugnacious even than roosters, and probably more numerous than anything but the mice on which they mostly live. It is specifically the Least Weasel, I am referring to here, as it predominates here and in most of the world, being most effective because it is no larger than a large penis, and so can go anywhere a mouse can go.
This feral farm now produces mostly foreign invasive ornamentals, sumac, grass ,and seeds. The livestock are mice, and the chief reapers of the realm are the weasels.
It is an old hill top farmstead with a limited water supply. The original hand dug wells, which are six feet wide and twelve feet deep, only hold water in the bottom six feet, which were chipped into the saturated shale . At some point a a six by twelve basement cistern was added to collect and hold rainwater from the roof, but when there was no rain for more than a few weeks, or less, depending on usage, there could never been enough water from all that for more than a small family, a cow, a pig, and some chickens.
But there is enough moisture in the grass for mice to thrive without another water source, and plenty water in a juicy mouse for the weasels.
The chickens do chase down and kill some of the mice, and the weasels seem to hunt chickens only occasionally and for sport, but the weasels actually persue mice right into the walls of the house, chase down the tunnels through the fiberglass and do more than Davey's tin cat life traps, to keep the place mouse free, as it is at the moment.
If I can work out a way to ship weasels as mouse control agents, I thinks, we may be able to get an Ebay sustainable farm going here, but despite all the time I have spent living out doors, and the lack of reports of weasel attacks on humans, the least weasel is the animal I am most afraid of.