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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Close encounter of the worst kind

Here in Eastern Iowa, we finally got a short reprieve from the all-too familiar wet, cold weather that has plagued us this past summer and early fall. Over the last couple of weeks we have had a welcome stretch of unseasonably warm, dry weather. The temperate conditions offered a much needed opportunity to get some outdoor projects completed and to ready the barns for the coming winter months. It was finally dry enough for the neighbors to get their combines out into the fields and get this very late harvest underway. What a very strange year it has been in the weather department!
Unfortunately, as of yesterday, our stint of Indian summer seemed to be drawing to a close as we returned, once again, to the rainy cold weather that we have become accustomed to over the past several months.....I knew it was too good to last!
Some of the flora around our farm is as reluctant as I am to let the nice weather slip away. Granted, they look a bit bedraggled, but I still have potted plants that are blooming...on the 18Th of November...strange indeed.
Of course dandelions are near impossible to kill, but to have a few still happily blooming amongst the fallen leaves in mid-November is quite odd.

My Asparagus is all decked out like a Christmas tree.

With the fall harvest in full swing there are always wayward critters that have been displaced from their homes and end up seeking shelter closer to the farm buildings. We never see a live mouse during the summer....we see lots of tails and maybe a leg or two here and there. Occasionally the barn cats will find it necessary to deposit a mouse or rat carcass in it's entirety somewhere that I will be sure to find it...that is always a pleasant 'good-morning' surprise...my cats are so thoughtful. This time of year, however, I don't think the barn cats can quite keep up with the influx of illegals that come seeking refuge. I have had a several instances over the last few days where I had the lovely surprise of opening a feed bin to find different members of mousy varmint family scampering about trying to hop their way out of the bin with too-full bellies, only to have their efforts thwarted and instead be scooped up by the waiting barn cats.....

We suspected a similar problem recently with the barn cats' food, it was disappearing at an alarming rate. We keep a large bowl of food out for the cats and I normally fill it once a day. Several mornings when I have gone out to do chores the bowls have been completely empty...not even a crumb - that is not how the cats leave it. I decided that we had better start picking up the food dish at night and only leave it out during daylight until we can identify the culprit.

Last night I didn't get outside until way after dark.....considering it gets dark at, like, 4 o'clock...that probably doesn't give you a point of reference...it was late...like 9 o'clock.. I KNOW.. past my bedtime........anywaaay. I went out to the barn and as I flipped on the light something caught my eye in the back corner.

It was a large opossum. I had been buying cat food to feed a giant rat! Of course I told it to wait there until I got my camera....
I am not sure why people always say that these little vermin are shy, every time I have run across one they are in no way intimidated by my presence...or the cats. In fact, this guy was at arms length away and wasn't really making any effort to get away. He just stared at me with those beady little eyes and turned his naked little tail toward me...I think he even asked me to fill up the food dish again!
Sure you're interesting with your fancy little prehensile tail and your little baby pouch-not to mention the whole playing dead routine, but a possum in the barn is unacceptable, you carry a lot of diseases that can endanger the health of my animals....so, my little marsupial adversary, the live-trap is coming out tomorrow, there will be some yummy kitty food for you in there.....we'll see who wins this match!

13 comments:

Handmade Sunshine said...

Ah yes, the Possum. A large hissing rat if I've ever encountered one. We had one inside the house a few years ago. If followed the cat in. We just had to leave the door open and wait for it to decide to leave as the broom method was worthless. Good luck to you in ridding you barn of your new "pet".

fullfreezer said...

Oh. Yes, large, hissing rat is a good description. I saw one run across my driveway last night as I was taking my son somewhere. Of all the wildlife I have encountered, they are the one animal that I don't find cute in some way. Good luck with the live trap.
Judy

Candy T said...

Thanks for the heads up about the possum. Our cat dish is empty every day too. I was hoping it was just a few ferals stopping in for a treat. I'll have to pay closer attention.

clink said...

Ahhh .... so there is where my possum went. Suddenly, we HAVE cat food in the bowl in the morning!!!

Well -- you can have him. I hate those things!!! And hissing rat is the perfect description.

tbsomeday said...

lol--what a fun surprise
i used to have a dog that would bring me opossums often
they were still alive--but playing dead quite effectively--it saved many a little rats life

yesterday a coon was heading for the coop when it was mauled by the dogs
i was at work and glad to miss the event
coon's die hard

good luck with the trapping!

IsobelleGoLightly said...

I think they are kind-of cute but my lady told me that if I ever see one of those giant kitties in my barn that I have to tell her right away! She said that they are NOT good to have around us at all. She has a Havahart trap and she said she'd give it a "kitty-ride" if she caught it.
We once had a baby giant kitty get into our ladies old cabin. He came in and ate the cat food with the cat and when our lady opened up the bedroom door there he was sitting with her cat! She said she screamed, which is something I'd like to see. Then she had to get the baby giant kitty out of the house, which must have been funny.

Rayna said...

And yet I still think they're so darn FREAKING CUTE. *sigh* lol. Good luck getting rid of him. We've never had them in previous years, but they're starting to move north now.

Claire said...

Oh but it's sooooo cute!!! I love it! Can I keep it?! I suppose that wouldn't be a good idea, but I love possums. They look so cuddly to me. I would have one curled up on my lap while spinning. I hope you can put it into the possum relocation program rather than the possum decapitation program. We have had a lot of mice lately and we don't have any barn cats. The chickens like them though.

Jenny Holden said...

That must have been a surprise, have to admit that I'd be pretty excited to see one so close. What diseases do they carry? On the farm where I first learned about sheep, the shepherd killed any stray cats going into the hay shed because of the diseases they could pass on to the sheep.

Michelle said...

Jenny, some possums carry EPM (Equine Protozoal Myelitis - sp). Look it up; it's NASTY!

WeekendFarmer said...

Ran into your blog. Loved it!

That picture of soybean and clouds is amazing! You should sell prints of it : )

corinne said...

Oh, Sunshine, I am so glad that I didn't have one in the house!

Judy, I agree, I don't find anything endearing about the little critters.

Candy, we have also had problems with raccoons and skunks from time to time....hopefully you will catch your catfood-eating culprit!

Clink...I will send him back!

Tabitha, It is a good thing your dogs got the coon, you could have lost a whole lot of chickens.

Isobelle, keep an eye out for those nasty critters and let your lady know if you see one!

Rayna, if you think they are so cute I will send a load of them to Minnesota for you : ).

Claire, Claire, Claire...what are we going to do with you?????


Jenny, they carry all sorts of nasty things that are a threat to livestock as well as humans, as Michelle mentioned they carry EPM which effects horses, they also carry leptospirosis, tuberculosis, coccidiosis....most of the osises LOL. Lots of other stuff too.

Hi Weekend Farmer, thanks for stopping by. I checked out your blog too-very nice. I will add it to my list as well as the others who have left comments :).

Anonymous said...

I never thought of it before, but Possum fur looks like it would be good for spinning...pretty color. Wonder how it wears.

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