It's fine to be cute and all, but this homestead ain't big enough for my poultry and one hungry Pine Marten. Guess who's gonna go?
Now, the preamble to this story is that Annie Blue, our little cat, goes outside all the time in the summer and sometimes in the winter. When she is ready to come back in, she generally jumps up to the windowsill of the room I'm in to say she's ready to return inside.
So, yesterday morning, I bumble my way downstairs first thing in the morning and stumble into the kitchen to put the coffee on. There, at the window, is Annie Blue asking to come in. Quite fervently, actually. As I walked towards the window, I realized, "Wait a minute. Annie Blue's inside. Besides, she isn't brown. Matter of fact, that's NOT a cat. What the . . . ?!"
Yup, a cute but crafty Pine Marten was trying to convince me that I should open the window for him/her to pop in for a bit. Maybe have a bite of food, a sip of coffee.
I called Tom where he was working out in his office (in the garage) right away, but, of course, the little critter was nowhere to be seen when he got to the house. But, his/her very existence did explain some strange happenings. Some happenings that, okay, I'll admit it, we'd blamed Maisy for. Like finding the drip pan from the barbeque grill in a nearby snowbank. Or the BIG new chunk of suet Tom had just hung being GONE and the twine holding it chewed clean through. Or the peanut butter feeder being found between a certain Golden Retriever's paws outside on the shoveled path (Maisy might be chewing on it now, yes, but HOW did it come off the hook?). So, Maisy is absolved of (most) sin, but now I have bigger worries. Namely, the chicken yard. Dum-dum-dummmmm . . . .
I knew that I had to get the Have-A-Heart trap out and bait it. But, you know how the time goes and the days fly right by . . . . With that in the back of my head, I made sure to close the critters up early last night. But I still hadn't gotten that trap set.
All was well when Tom opened the chicken house for me right away this morning, but the minute I opened the door of the (human) house to go out to do chores today, I heard something. Something "not quite right".
As I neared the chicken yard, I heard squawking and saw - what was that - a crow? Something was WAY up in a birch tree outside the chicken yard. As I got closer, I saw that it was one of my White Faced Black Spanish. Mad as ANYTHING! Tom the Turkey was doing his best to guard Talulah and the ducks in the yard, and most of the chickens were hiding inside.
My gaze flew around the chicken yard, and THERE was that little bugger: half-way up the inside of the 8' high fence . . . on his way back OUT of the chicken yard!
Up to the storage area above the garage I tromp to find the trap. Can't find it. Oh, right, I kept it in the CHICKEN HOUSE last time I used it 'cause I knew that's where I'd need it again! (Obviously, too obvious.)
Down to the house I tromp to hack a piece of frozen deer meat off a chunk of venison. Pine martens like "raw meat", the 'Mammals of Minnesota' book says. Do live chickens, a turkey, ducks, and a goose count as "raw"?
Back up to the chicken yard and down along the path the dogs have worn outside the perimeter of the chicken yard . . . just like border patrol guards. I find the spot of most activity and set my trap. It's perfect. I should have the little bugger in no time.
So, tonight I head out to do chores & close up. I don't have to turn my light on for most of the chores since the moon is so bright, but I can't see the trap. I clomp back outside of the pen and down the canine patrol path. Where the heck is the trap?
That little @*#)! Pine martens are very smart, too. Did I mention that? S/he had rolled the trap down the hill until the meat was on the TOP of the cage (now acting as the bottom). And now instead of having to walk over the trip lever to get the meat, s/he had by-passed that entirely and could walk in, pretty as you please, to get the venison while the trip lever hung over her head, useless.
So, back into the garage I troop. Tom's already in bed, but WHERE does he keep the bungies?! Eventually, I find two and with them and the trap in hand, I head back up to the house. A hunk of bison sausage from the refrig, and I'm ready for Round Two.
The trap is now BUNJIED onto one of the deck railings. Right next to the bird feeder s/he cleans out nightly. In order to knock the trap over this time, both bungies will have to be chewed through first. Do I think s/he can figure that out? Yes. But I'm counting on hunger & greed to be my allies!
Stay tuned to what the morning brings. (I'll probably have caught a chickadee.)