Friday, July 8, 2016

Mice on the Menu

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Summer

Over the past year the chicken coop and surrounding area has become home to an rapidly increasing number of mice, fat little rodents who live well off of all the grain scattered about for the benefit of the poultry.  I didn't want to set out regular traps for fear the chickens would  injure themselves trying to claim the cheese treats.  I used some of those "sticky" traps for a few days, but finally quit because I didn't want to see the nuisance mice suffering unnecessarily.

So I began looking for a "natural" cure.  My neighbor gave me two kittens, one of whom quickly disappeared, while the other proved to be well suited to the job at hand.  The new kitten, still without a name - but answers to "Get the Hell Out of My Way!" - stays in and around the chicken coop and never strays up to the house, a huge plus.  She also does not bother the chickens.   She had seemed to be ignoring the mice until one afternoon last week when I discovered her playing with one that she had captured.  She tormented the poor thing for at least an hour before the exhausted rodent finally disappeared - most likely into the belly of the beast.  Yesterday morning the kitten was playing with another mouse which, too, disappeared.

I also heard that ducks are ravenous for mice, so I hatched out four in my new incubator.  They are currently living in the nursery which is adjacent to the chicken coop.  I have seen a mouse or two scurry across the floor of the nursery, but so far the ducks haven't engaged.  I am hopeful that they will develop a blood lust by the time I turn them loose into the general farm population.

When the black ducklings were born (June 17-19), they were small enough to fit comfortably into a teacup, individually.  Now they are so large that only two, or perhaps three, could snuggle up together in a bread box.  And, they are still covered in fuzz.

Little Cosmo, on the other hand, the peacock who was much larger than the ducklings (and feathered) when he was born in the same hatch, is now tiny compared to the monster ducks.  He is about a quarter in size of any one of the giant fuzzy ducks.

Cosmo gets along well with his duck brothers and sisters, but there are times I will find him sunning alone in the nursery.  He seems to instinctively know that he is the ugly duckling.

Just you wait, Cosmo.  Just you wait!

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