Our dogs passed away a few months back. I didn’t talk much about it. I didn’t really know what to say.
We had them before we even had kids. Two black labs, Harley and Ellie. They were very old, and we knew their time was drawing near. First poor Harley, and then, without her mate, Ellie went steadily and quickly downhill too.
This is our first spring without them, and let me just tell you that it is clear to us all now that they were not just barking their fool heads off for no reason at all, they were fending off legions of critters!
First there was Matilda. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of her since that first day, but I see evidence of her all the time. Biggo snout shaped holes along our garden path let me know that she’s doing her part to help with the fire ant problem.
Then of course, there are the wretched squirrels that have become epidemic in the absence of dogs.
And now this. I give you Polly:
Oh yes, that’s a baby opossum. And it’s wee little brother was a few feet away.
It’s cute right?
We thought so too. In fact, we even cut up bananas for her. and watched her for a good long time, giggling and talking about just how fabulous it is that all these wild critters see fit to hang out in our yard.
We got SO excited that we got online to find out all we could about opossums. Nocturnal. Marsupial. Give birth to LARGE litters… and wait, what’s that say…. “a particular pest to poultry farmers!… has been known to continually raid nest boxes and even kill full grown chickens.”
Oh but wait, there’s more… This sweet little fella has been visiting our garden.
We think it was born under our deck and thereby knows no other way of life. It’s not one bit frightened of boys running around in the yard or even chunking unfinished pancakes at it.
Oh yes that’s correct, we’re feeding the garden devil too! It’s actually quite tame, and will come within a couple of feet of my fellas to chomp away on the spinach.
So, you know, whatever idealistic visions I had of gardening and chicken farming are quickly being colored by irrigation issues, increasingly complex coop plans (and the costs involved), stinky pen cleaning jobs, and now varmints.
But, as always, I have my Momo to look to for homespun wisdom. When I was a little girl, I once opened the cabinet under her sink and found a big old country rat, dead in a trap. I screamed my hair right out and brought my Momo running from the other side of the house. When she saw what I was screaming about she laughed, picked it up by it’s tail and said, “What? This old thing? It ain’t nuthin’ but a rat!”
Picked it up by it’s TAIL!!!
She was a tough old bird, and I’m hoping some of it rubbed off on me. I think I’m going to need more than visions of bucolic harmony to see this spring through. I’m going to need good old fashioned farm girl grit.
Lord love a duck! What have I gotten myself into?