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Sunday, June 5, 2016

What is a peaceful co-existence, anyway?

All over the countryside, farmers are raising your Thanksgiving dinners. We brought our turkey chicks home a couple weeks ago. The Farmer had carefully shored up the convertible horse stalls again. They have been used in the past to raise chicks, birth cattle and protect newborn lambs, as well as their intended purpose which was of course to shelter our two horses. Now that we no longer have horses we use the stalls because they are small and close to the house. So we can easily be roused if there is a ruckus therein.
This morning the call of turkey chicks attracted me to the barn. I noted the Farmer had put a live trap on the back porch in the attempt to catch the fat, lazy raccoon who eats the cat food every night. At first I wondered why the cat’s water bowl was full of mud every morning. Then one night I flicked the porch light on after dark and there she was. The roundest, fluffiest raccoon I have ever seen was crouched there over the feeding station, carefully washing the cat kibble in the water bowl before stuffing it in her mouth. I hissed at her and she gave me a look of disdain, then waddled away.
We need to catch this raccoon, because one night a couple years ago either a skunk or raccoon took all 57 of our chicks in one night. So far she has evaded us by being too large for the live trap. I hate to think we can’t live in peaceful co-existence with all beasts on the farm but sometimes an animal ventures too far into forbidden territory and their basic instincts kick in. Next thing you know, we’ve got a massacre on our hands. It ain’t pretty. I am going to research how to scare away raccoons. It’s for her own good.
It’s getting nice and warm out now, and my daughter wants to take the baby in the pool. The Farmer cleaned and treated the pool, and it’s warming up nicely. The only problem is we have strategically placed bird droppings all around the pool ledge. In the fifteen+ years the pool has been there, we have never had bird droppings on the ledge.
I scraped the poop off the pool ledge, cleaned it with bleach spray and then attempted to place uncomfortable-looking, colourful objects around the perimeter to deter the bird. A pool brush, a dustpan, a few floating candles. It did not deter the birds. They returned, and what they did next really surprised me.
As I watched in amazement, the bird landed precariously on the pool ledge in between the assortment of colourful objects. She carried some sort of sac in her beak. Placing the sac on the ledge, she flew off. Moments later she returned with another sac, and placed it a few inches from the first sac. She continued this activity – or perhaps it was more than one bird helping out – until the north edge of the pool was once again covered in tiny sacs of bird poop. I went online to find out what the heck was happening.
My bird expert friends explained. A grackle has been cleaning her nest by depositing her babies’ fecal sacs on the edge of our swimming pool. Charming, and yet disgusting all at the same time.
The good news is, when the baby birds leave the nest, there will be no more deposits on the pool ledge. I was happy to hear that, because the last time I watched, she was dropping the sacks directly into the pool.
Maybe if we bought a pool blanket the bird would have to take her little bags of poop elsewhere. Because the bird experts say she really wants to deposit them beside a pool of water. She can carry them to the creek as often as she likes and I won’t say a word.
There is one type of animal on the farm who seems to be taking this peaceful co-existence thing a bit too far. The barn cats seem to be confused about their job descriptions. Not only are the birds free to soil the pool unchallenged, but I just saw a mouse walk by.
Farming takes a lot of patience and understanding.


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