Sunday, April 23, 2006

Disasters


Today the sun has finally come out after a week of dismal weather. Grey cloud and cold damp weather does affect my mood without a doubt and the glimpse of the sun today helped a lot.

This has been a weekend of disaster. Once more a mink has gotten into the barn and played havoc with the chickens and ducks. Fifteen chickens were killed and all the ducks injured. We presumed that it was a small weasel or mink because the ducks weren't killed but all had been attacked from behind with varying degrees of injuries. One poor little Khaki Campbell male is in serious shape and may not recover. Luckily the mink didin't reach the pens with the goslings and ducklings, likely because the adult geese were nearby.


This image of of a mink that was trapped earlier this year. It measured about 24 inches long. The trap killed it instantly and I have to admire the animal for its shape and coat and ability to move. However, they are likely the most vicious, nasty creatures that I have come across. We discovered one in an outdoor duck pen last summer that had killed four ducks. Caught in the act, it stood defiantly, hissing at us, defending its kill. Horrible creatures.

After blocking off a hole that he must have come in from, the animal was trapped in the barn. Going into the barn a little later, it had just killed another hen then was disturbed and hid behind some crates. It was then shot.

This is the 3rd mink caught in the barn. We also have to contend with coyotes, foxes and hawks. It becomes disheartening to lose birds to these predators. And by now the initial venture of trying to build a stock of heritage birds has been all but abandoned as the expense and heartache of losing them to mink or others is not worth it.

Perhaps I need to get a big old mean barn cat...or ten.

To soothe my soul, I draw. This is a sketch of a Cornish Rex cat, though I haven't developed it enough to show the ruffled irregular fur that this breed has. I love the elegant, Egyptian look of these cats with almost sculpted features. I don't think this one will make a good barn cat somehow...

To top it off, one of the horses escaped the enclosure and went prancing around the garden, through flowerbeds, over grass and with the ground so soft at this time of year left craters everywhere she went. When I went out to stop her she knew she was in trouble and stood there, like a child caught in the act, head down, looking at me sideways. She reluctantly came when I called her but fought me everytime I tried to lead her with my hand on her halter. She's a big horse and still young and goofy at 4, which makes her a bit of a handful at times. Her escapade set off the other horse who was still inside the enclosure and she got caught up in some rope in the confusion. Just one of those weekends, I guess.

This photo is of the culprit, Kit, taken in the field while the snow was still down. She loves to roll in the snow like a dog. Now she likes to try to find mud to roll in. Sigh.

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4 comments:

Karl Zipser said...

I think the drawing of the Cornish Rex cat is excellent in its unfinished state. The dark background makes an interesting "frame". It almost seems like a shadow of a dog, this dark area.

Katherine said...

Gosh Jeannette - what a tale of woe! I hope the next time I'm complaining about the traffic in London I remember to realise that the country idyll I aspire to might have its downsides as well!

Jeanette Jobson said...

Thank you Karl. The image would take on a whole new view without that darkness to set it off. that would be an interesting touch, wouldn't it? A shadow of a dog...might explain that look on the cat's face. :o)

This past weekend, Katherine, I would happily have been stuck in traffic in London rather than dealing with the animals - both wild and domestic!

vickyth said...

I've only ever experience mink from the "observing wildlife" persepctive and now I'm glad of it! We've contemplated keeping ducks and/or chickens, but your story is making me think twice about the potential chaos!

Lucky you, having a horse (or is it a pony?). With three dogs (two of the border collies) and a toddler, I suspect a horse would be biting off more than I could chew.

Animals are wonderful to have in your life, but boy can they be work!!

Here's hoping the next week is better!