We have been having issues with local wildlife the last few weeks. One thing we love about living in the Rockies is the beautiful assortment of wildlife we get to view daily. But when trying to have a backyard farm and living side-by-side with that wildlife, issues tend to arise.
First, we had a red-tailed hawk that maimed a chicken in the barnyard. Tundra kept it from being able to eat it or get away with it, but the damage was done and she had to be put out of her suffering. The hawk came into the yard, despite the web of fishing line we put up after the two attacks on chickens by an owl this spring. So we just spent another 2 hours adding more line to the web, shrinking the existing holes. We are hopeful it will prevent future attacks.
We have a vole that moved into the garden. It has completely killed all the snow pea plants, taken out several of the celery plants, and damaged some of the tomato plants. We harvested all the celery this evening to protect it from him. Some of it could have grown longer, but what is the point if he is going to eat it all anyway? So we chopped it up and froze it for use in soups this winter. We set a bunch of traps around his holes in the ground, hopefully we will catch him tonight.
Some unknown small critter is snacking on the almost-ripe squash and pumpkins in the pumpkin patch. There is no fence around it, so it could be anything. Rabbit seems most likely, based on the bite marks. Nothing we can do about it except harvest what we can pre-ripening, once it gets to the point we know it can ripen indoors, and hope the rabbit doesn’t take out too much of everything.
And lastly, our property has become the main highway for three different local bears. We have named them Big Guy (he’s a big, dark brown/black one with a nice healthy coat), Scraggles (this one is a young one, probably 2 or so, and has brown sides and a blonde strip from head to tail, his fur is very scraggly and bedraggled), and Three Legs (yup, this one has an injured front leg and walks on his other three legs). Big guy comes through every single evening between 7:50-8:10 pm and walks the exact same path across the middle of our property, including down the stone steps and under the porch, walking within a few feet of the house for the entire width of the house. Scraggles has been spotted all over the property, including on the stone steps right next to the house and near the barnyard. He is seen at all hours of the day, including mid-day. And Three Legs crosses over the north end of the property at dusk. Three Legs and Big Guy have shown no interest in anything on our property, and just seem to be in a hurry to get where they are going. They have not approached the barnyard or backyard at all. But Scraggles is another story. He has us all on edge. Not only is he around at all hours of the day, but he also has been seen approaching the barnyard, and he has been where the kids ride their bike during the hours that the kids would be out riding their bikes. The good news is that he is really skittish, so when we see him and make aggressive noise at him he leaves at a run. But it has made it so we are leery to let the kids play outside of the fenced yard unless an adult is with them. Hopefully all three of them will move on soon and not cause us trouble in the meantime.
Living with wildlife is a wonderful and sometimes frustrating experience. But we wouldn’t trade it for anything.