Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh, Hawk!

We've been very lucky at our little urban farm.  Because of the geese, we've had no problems with foxes, coyotes, raccoons, or neighborhood dogs.  Our flock of hens, ducks, and geese, have thrived and multiplied.  So far, we've had almost no trouble with predators.

That may be changing.  The other day, I looked out the kitchen window in time to see a large hawk swooping down into the chicken yard.  I ran out the door in time for the bird's second run.  Fortunately, both were unsuccessful.  Emma and I managed to call the chickens into the smaller enclosure that is covered.  The ducks, having the run of the yard, were able to find a place under the bushes where they were out of sight and relatively safe. I wasn't worried about the geese.  They can manage on their own.  The hawk swooped down one more time, landing on our roof, then flying up into the trees next door.

It took Emma and I awhile to catch our breath and stop shaking from the adrenaline rush. We were grateful that all the birds were safe, at least for the moment.  We went back inside and related the story to Patrick.  He, too, was grateful that all the outside critters had survived.  "But," he said wistfully, "it would have been funny to see the hawk carrying away Napoleon."

Napoleon, of course, is our little rooster, who is Very Fierce.  It would have been funny, but only if we could have heard what he was saying:

"Squawk!  Let me at ya. I can fight you with one wing tied behind my back. You gonna come quietly or am I gonna have to mess with ya.  Still not tawkin?  You gonna be sorry as soon as you put me down.  I'm packin' 4 inch spurs, ya know."


He wouldn't have quit fighting or squawking even after the hawk ate him.  Knowing Napoleon, he would have given the hawk the worst case of indigestion imaginable.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Squirrel Stew

The squirrels got to the garden first this year.  The problem is, they have no natural predators in our backyard.  It's an interesting phenomenon that our geese are amazingly good at scaring away the large predators like foxes, coyotes, and raccoons, but the squirrels and mice go freely into their pen and share their grain.  The squirrels, in fact, our getting fat.  The are also procreating at an amazingly fast rate. I've seen more baby squirrels this year than I've seen in the last twenty years we've lived here, and they are all well fed.  They've eaten most of our plums and apples, our sunflowers, many of our tomatoes, and they've figured out how to take the lid off the chickens' grain bin.

I've begun to consider the possibility of cooking up squirrel.  If it was legal, I might actually try it.  I found one recipe that sounds pretty good.  You simply soak the squirrel legs in beer, then coat with various yummy spices, then wrap bacon around each leg and grill.  The only problem would be catching them and preparing them. Even fattened up, I'm not sure there's enough meat to make it worth the work and it might take a bit to convince our daughter to try them.  I talked to my dad.  He's eaten squirrel.  He says it tastes like chicken.  I could possibly convince our daughter that she was eating chicken but then she might think it was one of OUR chickens.

This brings me back to the matter of our chickens.  It's that time.  We should be looking seriously at preparing some of our birds for eating.  I've done it before and I can say without a doubt that I am looking forward to it with the same enthusiasm I reserve for root canals and math tests.  It's a nasty job.  Killing them is the easy part; it's everything else that comes after, like dunking them in hot water, plucking them, and getting all the inside stuff out, that is unpleasant, to say the least..  The smell alone could convince one to become a vegetarian.

I would mind being a vegetarian.  I like vegetables and grains.  I wouldn't give up dairy because that would mean giving up such wonderful things as cheese and ice cream.  On the whole, a vegetarian diet would suit me just fine.

If only I could grow my own vegetables.