We have a rule here on the homestead – everything here has a place in the cycle of life. Animals that we raise here are healthy, happy and enjoying life.
Chickens enjoy their chickeness; pigs enjoy their pigness. They can go outside whenever they like, they can chase bugs and search for worms; they can plow up their pastures. Pretty much, whatever they like to do, they get to do it. This is Rule #1.
When it comes to wild animals, the same rules apply. Go forth and multiply (unless you are a rabbit – could you please start using condoms?). Enjoy your time on earth and try to stay away from predators. Sometimes, that includes people, right?
Graham is a hunter and we both love fishing. We don’t really do catch and release, unless the fish are too small. We fish because we love to enjoy a great day on the water. But it’s always a hope that we come home limiting out on fish, that we then grill, smoke or deep fry. Working towards filling our freezers is part of our life here.
When it comes to wildlife on our property, rule #2 can kick in. Not always but often it does. Especially if something is trying to get into our garden, eat our fruit trees or damage property. Rule #2 is “If you eat what is mine, I will eat you”. The rule doesn’t apply outside of hunting season, which can lead to a few four letter words and having to come up with alternatives to get the animal to move on.
We had a young buck deer bedding down in the barn breezeway a few years ago – he was a nuisance and seemed a little entitled. He just had to have a place in the shade, preferably with hay so he could have a comfortable bed! When we wasn’t at our place, he relaxed in the neighbours carport. Silly boy, I was hitting him in the rump with a pellet gun, but he just didn’t want to move on.
Although we never shot him, intending to kill, obviously someone did because he hasn’t been seen here for a few years now. And it was only a matter of time; he had developed zero fear for humans and much desire for his own comfort level. If he had still been here in buck season we would have taken him.
Sometimes deer get into our garden, even with the yellow rope we ran around the perimeter. We have had does in there, in Spring, so we just know she has fawns somewhere. But it is not only out of season to dispatch her, we don’t want her fawns dying because they are still dependent on their Mama.
The worst thing is, all Mama is teaching them is to hang out around our place – there are lots of greens and healthy veggies to nibble on (and destroy). All these fawns learn is to return to this area when they are ready to have their young. Then it becomes a different kind of cycle – the kind you don’t want.
Is it frustrating? It sure can be, but we won’t sacrifice the young to be rid of the nuisance. And so we wait…wait to see if she moves on. Usually she doesn’t and so we wait till deer season opens and then she is legally dispatched. Then we butcher and fill our freezer. Her young are old enough to make it on their own and we hope against hope, they go away and don’t come back.
We are so fortunate that there is so much wildlife in this Valley -moose, bear, deer, rabbits, grouse etc. We love seeing wildlife in its natural element – bears especially are so beautiful. So black and shiny, so healthy looking. We saw a bruin a few years old coming home the other day. He was magnificent.
But, he and all the other wildlife need to keep our rules in mind. We are higher on the food chain than they are. If you eat my garden, I will eat you. It is really that simple.
Do you hunt and fish to help fill the family freezer? What do you do to deter wildlife from your gardens and yards?
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