"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What A Weasel Does

A weasel got in one of our chicken pens and killed 14 birds two nights ago. The havoc wrought by a weasel is that of a teenage vampire movie. They bite off the heads and drink the blood. But this isn’t a movie; this is life on the farm. It looks idyllic from afar. Many think we have it made. They haven’t gone outside on a blustery winter morning (when will this wind abate?) to find a slaughter.

Three more were killed last night in similar beheading fashion. The surviving chickens were very happy to see my husband this morning. Chickens are skittish (wouldn’t you be?) but once they got over the initial startle, they hung around his feet like a child under her mother’s skirt. After the cleanup he needed to go to the pharmacy and refill a blood pressure prescription he’d let lapse. This work will kill you in more ways than one.

He buried the beheaded in the compost piles—manure recently hauled out of the barnyard and spread in heaps along the field beyond the chicken area. It serves a dual purpose. One must get rid of the carcasses lest more vermin be attracted to the area, and digging in this frozen ground would probably put him in it.

It’s a devastating loss, and I’m sure it’s as crushing to my husband as agent rejection of my writing is to me, (though he shouldn't take it personally). Our fear is the weasel will be back, him and his buddies. It’s winter and food is scarce. He’ll be back. We have traps but weasels can weasel out of them, just as they can circumvent chicken wire. A friend suggested we put a radio out there. Play a little AC-DC or Alice In Chains. How about a little Marilyn Manson music for the weasel? I’m afraid he'd like it.

7 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

Of course if I were a chicken and someone played me AC/DC I might just die on the spot.

I'm sorry for your loss. 17 chickens is a lot of money, eggs, and perfectly good livestock.

Perhaps if you put a scarecrow in the chicken coop it might deter the little buggers? Might also confuse the chickens.

C. N. Nevets said...

I think it's the non-idyllic nature of farm life that has always appealed to me. While I don't relish going out in wind chill -10F to do morning chores and finding slaughtered chickens everywhere, there's part of me that has an existential craving for being forced to confront the world that way. I don't know if that makes any sense at all.

That's a huge loss, as Anne said, and I hope you find a good way to thwart the weasel. Have you checked with your local extension office to see if they have advice on weasels?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Marilyn Manson scares me!
What about a dog barking? Would a tape of that scare away the weasel?

Perri said...

So sorry about your flock. We had a fox issue this summer and it is a helpless feeling indeed.

The thing that seemed to work for use was dogs. We left our dogs out during the fox's favorite attack times.

Might also be helpful to figure out where the weasel is getting in and
shore up the coop.

Good luck!
Good luck!

Laura Canon said...

Sorry to hear it.
Have you ever read Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson? Your post brought it to mind...it's life written entirely from the weasel's point of view.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Anne,
Yeah, me too! Thank you.

Nevets,
Actually that makes total sense. And that's a great idea about the extension office. We hadn't thought of that. Thanks!

Alex,
Hi! It probably would. We should get a dog. Thanks!

Perri,
Thanks! If we had a dog we probably wouldn't be having this problem. It's very perplexing. We can find no point of entry. A nice border collie would probably do the trick.

Laura,
No, I haven't heard of that book. How interesting. But I probably wouldn't be very sympathetic to the creature's point of view! Thanks!

foldingfields said...

Farm life is not idyllic. My father and his side of the family have farmed, which brings out worry like (anyone but) you wouldn't believe.
I think a dog is the best solution...a Border Collie will catch anything it sets its sights on!