The varmint alert is over and earlier warnings have gone from fire engine red down to mossy green. I wake up early at 5:45. Whenever I'd get up to use the bathroom, I'd frequently peer out the upstairs windows at the area in front of the barn illuminated by two floodlights. Nothing appeared to be moving. I shelve the idea of getting a dog. The live trap, baited with bacon and cat food is empty. The Pooch hears me moving about downstairs and follows me into the entryway. I slip on an old sweater and my muck boots.
Yesterday something dug up a corner of the corn garden. I laid landscape fabric as a test along the south side of this patch and planted leftover cabbages in slits cut in the fabric. My experience with the black fabric is that weeds like to grow on top of the fabric. The varmint dug up a corner to get at bugs and worms under the fabric. It also pawed a three foot area along the chives plot. I'm convinced this is a possum. The behavior is a bit odd. Digging at the stake at the end of the wax bean row, the possum ignored more beans in the row. The Pooch is following my trail in the garden plots. I check the cabbage transplants. Disheartened because so many were drooping in yesterday's sun, I wrote off 50% of the harvest. Now at six am in the cool, dewy morning all transplants are perky. Their leaves are poised up toward the morning sun. Along the garden plot where new buttercruch lettuce is beginning to appear are tracks. Deep tracks. In one track near the end of the row, I see a bunch of fur. Guard hair from a deer. I look around at all the crows and weird birds and Heckle & Jeckles with cigars drooping from their maws. "Nice job of scaring off the deer." I mutter.
On the highway a little bit to the west of the barn, crows are jostling on the gravel apron. A doe lies on her side. I surmise the doe was probably the one grazing in the garden the past few days. No possum or raccoon would pass up the teat in the live trap. "That'll learn ya," I sneer. I walk back to the house.
Anatomy of decision making: I stand at the rear entrance, musing. Fresh deer road kill? Am I that poor, I need to eat road kill? Dawn doesn't care for venison. What about all that venison jerky and sausage? Do I need to call the sheriff? By the time I call the sheriff and what not, the deer will be rotting and bloated. Can I drag it off without anybody seeing me? What if they catch me? I've got a morning of processing chicken broth and meat scraps from the backs and necks. I don't have the time to butcher a doe. What to do? What to do?
I drag the doe to the barn. There's no traffic. Inside the barn, I examine it. Poking the ribs I can find no broken bones. The neck is intact. No limbs are broken. On the highway there was a small amount of blood coming from the muzzle and a little green bile. I poke some more. The stomach is curiously distended. It appears to be bloated. I imagine gutting it and a huge blast of gas escaping. Eeyew. The Pooch is curious and tries to sneak in the barn. I walk to the house and he follows. When I attempt to pick him up, he hisses at me. Whoa, that's weird behavior for a normally lovable tabby. He jumps down, I pick him up. He hisses and crawls under the woodpile. Strange. I lure him out from under the woodpile, pat him on the head. He appears to be a little sheepish for getting angry with me. Of course, he follows me back to the barn. I chase him back to the house and drag the doe back up to the highway. This critter died from eating something poisonous or possibly died from CWD ( chronic wasting disease). No one drives down the highway, but Dawn stands at the upstairs windows watching my antics. I quickly wash my hands and go back the making coffee. I tell the Pooch to stay away from the highway. If he can read my mind when I pick him up to put him in the house then he read my thoughts about the highway.
Before I go to the blog, I check the weather. The low temperatures on Saturday have been revised down from 35 to frost and freezing temperatures. After my morning of processing chicken broth ( ten chickens cut into legs, thighs, breasts and wings fill a basket in the bottom of the upright freezer) I'll need to make preparations for covering all the peppers and tender plants. This is no small feat.