Saturday, October 3, 2015
It's Vermin Season and Sustainable Variables
The last couple of days have been cold and windy here. No rain of course. We haven't had rain in over a month now. It seems like these days we either have way too much of something or nowhere near enough. No in between and just perfect periods. However the dry spell did work out great for getting the main hay harvest up so as usual there is a bright spot to whatever condition we are struggling through I guess.
This cold snap kinda shook some things up around here along with my leveling out of the big wood chip pile and the dry conditions. We have been finding snakes every where.
I removed the little foot long Garter Snake above trying to get under the door into the kitchen. I have cleaned two dead juvenile King (or Black) snakes from the various water tanks around the place. The chickens were pecking at a little Ringneck snake out behind the barn and the dogs were carrying around an adult King snake that was completely dead yesterday. When I tried to take it away from them they ran out into the Soybean field with it.
Every building has it's resident Tree Frog (or three) hanging out and the mice are moving in as well. They are all looking for water and warm hiding holes for the Winter now.
Except for the attempted entry of the Garter Snake though most seem to be failing to make it past the guard dogs, cats and chickens this year. I have even noticed a marked decrease in mice damage to the feed bags recently. I know Rocky the Rooster has run down at least one mouse and consumed it and I saw a group of hens pecking at another one just the other day.
Mouse control was a side benefit to getting the chickens I never even considered but I am happy about it!!!!!
The Moles have moved into the woodchip and raised bed areas though and only the dogs do much about them. The canine cure to moles is often more damage than it is worth however. My guess is the Moles move under the wood chips, old hay piles and mulch because the soil stays so moist and the worms and grubs go there. I was cleaning up the last remains of a round bale from the horse pasture yesterday and got the largest mole I have ever seen forked up with a clump of hay. Scared the beejeebus out of me when it fell out of the hay onto my boot.
I must say though that the annual Black Cricket plague was NOTHING this year. I still don't know if it was the new chickens or the timing of when I cut and baled the main hay field that did it. I saw literally millions of the crickets out in the field after I cut it but this year they did not make it much passed the barn lot. The chickens were running around catching and eating any that were in or around the barn but that doesn't explain the open areas they don't venture out into. I did see some much larger than usual Quail coveys and Dove flocks out there this year so another theory I have is the short grass and new well cropped sheep pasture created the perfect hunting and kill zone for the wild birds to catch the crickets.
The up side to that theory is when/if the need comes I can hunt the Dove and Quail. Wild life management on the Small-Hold is almost as important as domestic stock management so if I am doing something right that increases the game bird numbers I want to continue it.
Oh one comical side to the increased Dove population and Chickens was watching Rocky chase the Doves out of the barn lot. Whenever a large group of the Doves would come in to pick over the remains of the sheep feed Rocky would run over and chase em off. It was pretty entertaining to watch.
I am constantly amazed at the long term cause and effects of organic farming even on the small scale I have been doing it. Change one way of doing something or the time you do it, add in another step to the ladder or a different weather/climate variable and you change the entire outcome. I can see why diversity in farm life was an important factor because with so many variables it's really hard to guess which part of the whole is going to be booming and which lacking from one year to the next.
Sure it's interesting now when it doesn't mean the difference between eating well all Winter and starving but a grid down collapse scenario is not the time you want to be figuring all of this out either.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!
edit: Oh ya I was suppose to announce that Mrs. PP DID find and bring back the camera cord from work so we DO NOT have to order a replacement. Not sure why she insisted I add this but I will do anything to increase the happiness level of the Wife :)
Was that good enough honey?