The ducks have been taking quite the beating this week. On Sunday, Josh noticed that two of them were getting roughed up by the other ducks so they were moved into the g-animal house for their own protection. So we thought. Two days later, one duck was dead and the other was barely clinging on to life. The culprit? A Stoat, otherwise known as an ermine or short-tailed weasel. The wounded duck was killed and prepared for dinner Tuesday night.
We also noticed that the rest of the duck population was in danger. More than one had been attacked though no more had been killed. They were relocated to a more secure chicken coop on Wednesday.
Yesterday was going along like most any day. I was doing some work on the the kiosk, updating it with 2011 information. Just before lunch, I went out to chip the ice away from the door on the sugar shack in preparation for boiling. Although we are still waiting on the sap to really start running. While walking back up to the community building, I could hear some strange noise. As I got closer, I saw Dustin running by and found out that it was the chickens this time that were under attack.
I made my way over to the g-animal house and began to witness the chaos.
There was one chicken inside, a group was huddling next to the door at the top of the ramp, one was under the ramp, a few more were out deep in the snow with the rooster, and one rogue had made it over the fence to the pig area by itself. Dustin, Regina, and I were stationed in various locations trying to figure out the situation. The ermine reappeared and started attacking the chickens even with us present. I watched the ermine chase a chicken into a corner of the fence. I was on the other side. It was very intense to see this little critter attacking a chicken, many times it's own size, literally no more than a foot away from me. I beat on the fencing and got the ermine off the chicken. It ran back and started chasing another one through the snow. As Dustin came around it eluded capture and found a hole down into the foundation of the g-animal house. We had the little bugger seemingly trapped. He would poke his head out, inside and outside of the building, but we were unable to capture or kill it at that time.
We rounded up the scattered and frightened chickens and got them inside and locked down. We had no fatalities, though one had a slight wound on the back of its neck.
We set a live trap inside the greenhouse with some food scraps as bait. Later that evening the ermine was successfully secured inside the trap.
Yesterday we also welcomed 10 new piglets to the farm. It was great timing being just two days after getting the pig house cleared and prepared for the pregnant sow. She gave birth to the first around 5:30pm and the rest came along in the following two hours. The sow and the piglets all seem to be doing well at this time.
My name is Matt. I am a new intern here. I’ve been here just over three weeks now. I’m from Wisconsin and have really been enjoying my stay. The work can be challenging at time but it has been well worth the effort.