Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vikings in the Rain



Last night, a couple Vikings and I were at a dinner party with several other folks (a real dinner party - lasagna, wine, desert - not a campfire with venison on skewers although that would have been good too...) when a pretty good thunderstorm blew in. We had finished eating and were gathered here and there "having adult conversation" which was nice, when the house started booming and the lights began flickering.

And then my wife remembered she had her goats tied out. You see, everyday, she removes them from their pens and ties them in the woods and woodline so they can browse on shrubbery ("Bring us, a SHRUBBERY!" - sorry, stream of consciousness there...) during the day. Goats don't like being wet. Goats can get respiratory infections and DIE - fairly easily. So the goats had to be brought in. In the pouring rain.

Our daughter had called from a friend’s house and said the rain was coming in sideways. So we quickly started our goodbyes and a woman (fellow Viking) said, "I'll come help". Wow, in the pouring rain, in the dark, goats on rope (a "goat rope").......she's cool that way.

Truth be told, I actually wanted to leave anyway - I had gone to bed late the night before and then gotten up at O-dark-thirty and done Crossfit (a particularly brutal one)then had come home and continued working on my super wood shed - hauling pieces of OSB and 2x8 lumber (overkill, I know but it was free), cutting, carrying, lifting, screwing, hammering) and now with a belly full of lasagna ....I was starting to get sleepy.

So we left.
In the sideways pouring rain. Reminded me of Southeast Asia and the monsoons.
We got home and what greeted us at our door?

A baby copperhead slithering along the wall.
I didn't want to shoot into the concrete so I ran inside and secured a fireplace shovel - you know those cute little brass ones - and came back out to dispatch the critter while my wife changed into her goat-ropin' clothes (which are quite different from dinner party clothes). Yeah....think that snake was still there? Nope.

So I go hunting - in the rain. I look behind the box we built for mail packages to be delivered to (so our dog would not eat them) - not there. I looked behind the mini dog house (why do we even HAVE this?) – not there. I look behind the large Vari-kennel with plastic draped over it that serves as our newest puppy’s home - not there. Did I mention it was raining on me? No longer sideways rain but rain nonetheless. Then I look in the puppy house – we have a t-shirt and some blankets in there for him – but he really rather enjoys living in the barn with the cats which is where he was. No snake.

“Okay, forget it – it’s gone”. Yeah, right - about a week ago, my wife blew the head off a 38” long copperhead about 20 feet from this area – how many babies can one have at one time?
But I’m done. Our friend showed up and the ladies headed off into the slackened rain to round up goats. Then they milked some of them. I, on the other hand, changed into lounging attire (shorts and t-shirt) poured myself a glass of Pinot-Noir and settled down to watch a Chris Janowsky video another Viking had given me the day before.

I could feel the tension slipping away (see, despite my chosen lines of work, I’m actually an introvert and after a lot of public “face time” I really crave some quiet alone time) and the sleepiness creeping up on me. I may not finish this video…

And then my wife burst in the back door. “JOE!” Uh, oh – that tone.
“Joe – Bobcat!”
I love my wife – she knows how to communicate very well with very few words when she needs to.

We have had a juvenile bobcat stalking our critters for the past two weeks. It is particularly fond of ducks. My wife got a shot off at it a week ago but it was 8-shot from a 20 gauge at about 30 yards so it really didn’t do anything but scare it away.

As I slip on shoes she explains that she found a big pile of duck feathers out by the bee hive and then as they were looking around they could see the bobcat’s eyes in some bushes. He really is a dumb bobcat – the night my wife shot at it she saw it chasing a duck, it saw her, she went inside and grabbed her shotgun, came back out and it was still there.

I grabbed a Maglite and my deer rifle and off we jogged – in the rain. Our friend was down in the bottoms by the bees and was shining her headlamp at the bushes. "It’s right in there!"

We shined lights around and THERE – I saw the glowing eyes – rifle up, and…..they weren’t there. I also did not like the angle as my neighbor’s house is in the direction I was aiming and even though he is about a quarter mile away – a .308 round would get there very fast. So I maneuver a bit to the flank and we continue to shine our lights – this time I’m holding the Maglite under the rifle and looking through the scope. Big lesson here – I’m going to get a light mounted on that puppy (I’ll take it off for deer season so I don’t get in trouble). One of the women saw the eyes and called me over – this cat was only about 20 yards into this very thick brush – and hanging around – we figured he had the carcass in there with him.

Anyway, I sent my wife back to the house to get her shotgun which has a light on it and told her to make sure it was loaded with buckshot. She came back and decided she was “going in there after it”. Well, she just took a Gabe Suarez shotgun class so she was feeling pretty confident. Through the barbed wire onto my neighbor’s land (we have a free ranging agreement) and into the bushes – thick bushes.

BAAM!
I’ll shorten a long story – she missed. She saw the eyes in her gun light and fired but her shotgun is shooting left (so they told her at the course last week – I need to check it out). Our friend and I clambered through the fence and we searched the brush for awhile – in the rain, in the cow pies, in the urine from some critter (cows?, deer?, the cat?) that was all over the bushes, in the poison ivy……..in shorts). My wife was angry – angry woman with a gun – look out! But we decided to call it a night. Our friend went home, my wife and I took a shower and went to bed.

I am happy to report I don’t have poison ivy (symptoms) this morning.

Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house. – Ezekiel 12:2
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If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

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2 Comments:

At 13/9/10 05:25, Blogger Bitmap said...

A critter departing while you go to get a tool is common.

As for bobcats, I use a large live-catch trap. It's big enough for a mountain lion or large dog. I caught two earlier this year that had been raiding my chickens. When the attacks started I started keeping the chickens inside their cages 24/7. The cages are 8'x8' or bigger. With no more free range birds the bobcats started attacking the pens. The bobcats would wait outside the cage for one of the birds to stick it's head out to peck something in the grass and then grab the bird by the head. Since the birds wouldn't fit through the cage the bobcat would end up pulling it's head off. Then they would reach in and tear off what meat they could from the body. The remains of the kill made good bait to catch the bobcats returning the next night.

I spoke with a guy that used to trap a lot and he said there will often be two or three in the same area. Usually a mother and her year old offspring.

Good luck.

 
At 15/9/10 07:14, Blogger Dirty Butter said...

WOW! I lead a boring life....

 

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