Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader. Short excerpts with links are welcome.
When you live in the country, you get used to living with animals. We’ve seen tracks from and heard a big cat and know of but have never seen bears in our area. Periodically a coyote pack circles around the property–and therefore our “barn” cats come in every night. The first night I stayed alone here, a screech owl parked itself in a tree next to the back porch and screamed all night. Most of our critters are much less threatening and quieter, although we don’t always want them. We had a skunk for a while. The amazing thing was that she (he?) never sprayed us. The skunk also cleaned up caterpillars in the yard. A raccoon loves to visit the back porch when the June bugs are drawn to the lights. He’ll scoop them up and clean them off, leaving the porch bare. Some animals try to solve our giant slug problem. We really appreciate them!
All photographs are from the first week in January 2010.
Seasonally, we have lots of deer, which come for apples in the summer and fall and an occasional handful of corn through the winter. They could pose a threat to the garden, but I have 5-foot high fences, and I always plant a little outside for them to enjoy. They serve two purposes for us. First, they are a good early warning system for threats to the cats. Mostly, though, they are just beautiful to watch.
And here’s the armadillo, which is aerating the yard as it looks for grubs. I could never dig up as many bugs as this guy gets! I suspect he was so active because he knew that the snowy, frigid weather of early January 2010 was coming before we did.
A year or so ago, the New York Times published an op-ed piece titled “Peter Rabbit Must Die.” In the article as well as the comments area, many new gardeners lamented fuzzy creatures and talked about all the ways they’d devised to get rid of them. Some of the gardeners’ attitudes and methods of dealing with critters were terrifying–like bludgeoning them with shovels. Here in our little Ozark homestead, we recognize that we’re living in these animals’ territory; I’m willing to give up a little up to them in exchange for the services (like reducing our need for bug control) that they provide to us. Even Peter Rabbit gets to live here–as long as he steers clear of the cats, who have their own attitudes about our Ozark animal neighbors. In future blogs, I’ll cover how we encourage our critter neighbors to stay away from our veggies, without resorting to violence.
You may also be interested in this post: https://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/ozark-relations-deer-in-the-backyard/ .