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Pull Up a Chair: Wild Times

Time was, when we thought our biggest garden menace were the groundhogs, though we have always found that if we ‘encouraged’ outdoor kitties in the area, the amount of détente that could be achieved in the tooth and claw area was enough to establish a certain balance in our garden. Not that I really like sharing produce, mind you; I have a vivid memory of watching in fascination as a rather roly-poly groundhog, made his way up a row of ‘the big garden’ (which was actually rather far from the house – that might have been a cue right there – we have had ‘the little garden’ which is literally right across the driveway and which I can hit with a rock if I, ahem, so choose), literally pulling up carrots and onions, taking a bite, and moving on down the produce aisle. All that was missing was a basket.

We love outdoor kitties and although I know there are a lot of folks here who love their kittehs and keep them indoors, I am more than happy to encourage cats who like to take up the odd residence in our garage and barn. Not that we feed them or anything, but I certainly don’t chuck rocks and we have had over the years some very homebound felines who we took to the vets for spay/neutering/shots and so on, just to keep things in the family so to speak.

But the other afternoon, after the DH and our son came in from the barn, they mentioned that they had seen a creature out in the field that they had never seen before. Upon description, I knew that our ‘wild kingdom’ episodes would be taking on a whole different dimension because this, my friends, is no ordinary little bit of fluffy wildlife. We have seen all sorts of critters up in the field and have seen the results of visits from bears and other creatures, but to see one of these sent a chill from my head right down to my toes.

Fisher, or as some people call them, ‘fisher cats’ (versus ‘pole cats’ which is a name for their weasely cousins, the skunks). This is number two in size on the land-dwelling Weasel Hit Parade, after Wolverines. Fishers, depending on which sex, can range from 30 inches to 47 inches and can go up to 11 pounds. In the last century, they were hunted and trapped to near extinction but have made a huge bounceback in the Northeast.

They are also ferocious predators of literally anything, which means that any wildlife that wants to get into our garden is a target (Yay! Fisher Cat!), and our chickens and turkeys will be in danger as well (Boo, Hiss). On the other hand, they are the only predator which will successfully, and for choice, go after porcupines. They climb anything, including trees.

So, the trick is to make getting AT the livestock just annoying enough that they move on to other more lucrative wildlife, like the bunnies and woodchucks, and won’t bother the chickens. I realize that we might have some losses this year, but we are in hopes that the moveable pens are tight enough and hug the ground closely enough that they can’t wiggle under and grab anything for a quick drive by meal.

At least, that is the theory. So, if I had to put out a menu for them, I’d have to go with Fricassée de lapin and Chuck de bois rather than Coq au vin.

(photo courtesy of guppiecat )

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Snarky housewife from Upstate New York. Into gardening, fiber arts, smallholder farming.